The main observance ceremony took place at the Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East, in Warsaw, on Sunday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
In attendance were Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and senior state officials, including Culture Minister Piotr Gliński, as well as war veterans and residents of Warsaw, accompanied by Polish army soldiers.
President Andrzej Duda, who is making a visit to the United States, issued a letter to participants in the memorial event in Warsaw.
Prime Minister Morawiecki told the gathering that “September 17 is a symbolic date that has been etched in the memory of Poland and Polish people,” and should be remembered across Europe.
Poland to prepare report on WWII losses caused by Soviet Union: PM
He added that the Soviet invasion and occupation of Poland during World War II had been followed by 45 years of Soviet rule, when “an estimated 10 percent of Polish GDP went to the Soviet Union.”
Morawiecki announced that the government was preparing a report about “all the war losses inflicted on Poland by the communists and the Soviet Union.”
The prime minister stressed that “today, Russia is a totalitarian, colonial, imperial state,” and declared: “the report will be ready on time.”
‘The 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland serves as warning about Russian imperialism’: president
Meanwhile, President Duda wrote in his letter: “Today’s date reminds us, Polish people, about one of the most tragic events in our modern history, namely Soviet Russia’s invasion of Poland. Together with you I would like to pay tribute to all the victims of this aggression, carried out in coordination with Hitler’s Germany based on the secret provisions of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.”
He added that Polish people had “a duty to remind the world about these tragic events that started World War II.”
Duda cautioned that “today, Russia’s new dictator is seeking to revive this dark empire.”
He added that the Kremlin leader “questions the right of nations to self-determination and the right to independence of countries that chose their own path to the future.”
The Polish president stressed that Russia “is seeking to seize territory and subjugate the Ukrainian nation.”
Duda stressed that in view of past experiences, “Poland and other countries of our region of Europe… are firmly against Russian neo imperialism.”
He added: “And that’s why, as every year, we are reminding the world about September 17, 1939, so that it serves as a warning to the whole free world.”
The 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland
At dawn on September 17, 1939, Soviet troops invaded Poland following a secret agreement with the German Third Reich.
Poland was then caught between German Nazi forces advancing from the west and Soviet forces from the east.
Following the invasion, some 250,000 Polish soldiers were captured by the Soviets, who later executed thousands of prisoners of war.
Mass deportations of the civilian population followed, with up to 1.5 million Poles transported away into the Soviet interior, mainly to Siberia and Kazakhstan, according to some estimates.
Tens of thousands of ethnic Poles killed in the former USSR before the 1939 Soviet invasion were remembered at memorial ceremonies in Warsaw last month.
Sunday is day 571 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.
Source: IAR, PAP