This article originally appeared at Strategic Culture Foundation
The Polish social democratic political party Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) considers the Ukrainian parliament’s recent recognition of the UPA as fighters for independence to be an insult to Poland and its President, Bronislaw Komorowski, an SLD representative stated at a press conference on April 12. The UPA is the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). In the days of the Second World War it collaborated with Hitler’s Germany, including the Wehrmacht, police and security services.
On April 9, the Ukraine’s parliament (Verkhovna Rada) passed a “Law on the Status and Memory of the Participants in the Struggle for Independence in the 20th Century’, several hours after Komorowski’s visit. On the second – last day of his visit to Ukraine the President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski delivered a speech at the session of Ukraine’s parliament. He said that Poland has “stretched out its hand to Ukraine and is doing everything – and will do everything – so that other states and peoples of the free Western world stretch their hands out to Ukraine as well.”
Commenting on these words of President, Krzysztof Gawkowski, the leader of Democratic Left Alliance party, said the Volyn massacre should not be forgotten. According to him, “the Ukrainian parliament has forgotten what happened in Volyn, Just imagine President Komorowski say there has been no Holocaust. It’s sad that the Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada honor and glorify UPA leaders responsible for the Volyn massacre. Bronislaw Komorowski desecrated the memory of Volyn victims. We call on the President to distance himself from the actions that insult Poles.”
Polish media emphasizes that the new Ukrainian law says the fighters for Ukrainian independence in the twentieth century, including OUN-UPA, played a major role in the restoration of the Ukrainian state and introduces special decorations and privileges to the fighters as well as member of their families. The law envisions punitive measures for those who would display disrespect towards “veterans” or doubt their merits.
“The Ukrainian Insurgent Army is being glorified, and a law has been passed recognizing the special role played by the UPA in Ukrainian history, designating that on its basis anyone who questions the fact that the UPA is a criminal organization involved in the genocide [of Poles] can be punished; this is a disgrace. It is a slap in the face to the Polish people and to President Komorowski,” SLD deputy Tomasz Kalita stated. Kalita considers UPA to be a criminal organization, and has appealed to the Polish President, who had visited Ukrainian parliament, to “distance himself from the Ukrainian nationalists, to condemn the law and to speak critically about it.” He said, the Volyn massacre was a crime and UPA was a criminal organization. This fact should be kept in mind and efforts should be applied to ensure that people know the truth about what happened in Volyn.”
The assessments of Polish politicians, both right wing and left wing, seem to get closer when it comes to the relationship between Warsaw and the regime in Kiev. Janusz Ryszard Korwin-Mikke, the creator of a Polish liberal political party Coalition for the Renewal of the Republic – Freedom and Hope and Member of the European Parliament, told Rubaltic.ru that Poland gets more and more frustrated with Ukraine and is losing illusions. The Polish government continues to behave like a friend of Ukraine, but the majority of Polish people do not share these sentiments. The government acts according to the instructions coming from Washington, and, sometimes, Berlin.
Two events on October 2014 gave rise to growing discontent among common people in Poland. First – Ukrainians voted for the new Self-Help Party, called the party of Volyn massacre. Second, on October 14, Petro Poroshenko signed a decree proclaiming October 14 to be the day of celebrating Day of Defender of Ukraine instead of the post-Soviet analogous holiday celebrated on February 23. This day the Ukrainian neo-Nazi traditionally stage torch marches to mark the anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The decision sparked a wave of indignation in Poland. Protests hit the streets. The demonstrators picketed the Ukraine’s diplomatic offices demanding to stop heroization of OUN-UPA that is responsible for killing thousands of Poles during WWII. Protesters marched in Przemyśl, Krakow, Wroclaw and Warsaw under the slogan «Lasting Shame to OUN – UPA Murderers from SS Division Galicia».
Thousands of Poles went to the parliament. They wanted MPs to remember that a few years ago the lawmakers defined the Volyn massacre as genocide. On July 15, 2009 the Polish parliament (Sejm) approved the resolution «On the Tragic Destiny of Poles in the Eastern Frontiers» saying the Ukrainian Insurgent Army carried out an anti-Polish action in the eastern frontiers (Kresy of Rzeczpospolita) – mass-scale massacres that had the nature of an ethnic cleansing and the signs of genocide. A commission at the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) works to investigate the crimes against Polish people. The protesters held posters «Stop Bandera’s fascism», «No to UPA Heroization»; there were also placards with the names of populated areas where the population was exterminated during the Volyn massacre.
Solidarity pickets also took place in Rzeszów, Szczecin and Zielona Góra. The demonstrators made public an open letter to Poroshenko to protest the glorification of criminal and anti-human organization OUN-UPA. Andrzej Tomasz Zapasłowski, a Polish politician and a Member of the European Parliament, said, “We want cooperation and good relations with Ukrainians, but we’ll never accept the fact of OUN-UPA and Bandera glorification. The organization is responsible for killing 200 thousand Poles.” In Wrocław a manifestation took place near the Ukrainian consulate. Professor Paez from the Wroclow University took part in the action. He said that he was worried because Ukrainian nationalists were represented not by groups of extremists but by political parties… He wondered what else was needed to make the Polish government react. There is no such thing as friendship at any price. The ball is on the Ukraine’s side. Ukraine has to admit the guilt and tell the truth. In Warsaw a meeting at the Ukraine’s embassy condemned the crimes committed by OUN-UPA and the SS division Galicia. The protesters said they represented thousands of innocent Poles fallen victims to UPA militants and soldiers of the division.
Last December the Polish citizens indignant by the fact of glorification of OUN-UPA and the connivance of Polish government at the activities of successors of Bandera who seized power in Kiev sent to Petro Poroshenko a parcel with children’s belongings soaked in blood. The accompanying letter said, “We send you the things that belonged to children who will never go to school because your army killed them. You sent your killers to the Donbass to wreak havoc and death…the murderers hope to have their hands clean after killing small children. You hope the genocide will be unpunished. No! Sooner or later the mothers of dead children will get you and the so called ‘elite” of Ukraine, who unleashed the fratricidal war to serve the interests of the United States. You’ll pay dearly for what you have done. You got blood of Slav children on your hands! This blood can never be washed away!”