Polish Sejm names Volyn Massacre a genocide

23.07.2016568
Credits: Sejm's Press Office

Credits: Sejm’s Press Office

22 Jul. — The Polish Sejm adopted a resolution on “recompense for the victims of the genocide perpetrated by Ukrainian nationalists against citizens of the Second Polish Republic in 1943-1945.” The resolution was supported by 432 out of 442 deputies, 10 abstaining.

The deputies draw attention to the complicated history of the Kresy (Eastern Borderlands, the name of certain territories now located in Western Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania but that were once part of Poland) during WWII.  In the deputies’ opinion, the actions of Soviet and German troops fomented ethnic hatred between the Polish and Ukrainian inhabitants of the eastern provinces of the country, and attempts to find a common understanding were unsuccessful.

“In July 2016 we commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the apogee of crimes committed by parts of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA), as well as the SS division ‘Galicia’ and as other Ukrainian formations working with Germans operating in this territory against the civilian population of the Eastern Borderlands of the Second Polish Republic,” the resolution states.

However, the Polish lawmakers note that “in remembering the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists, one must never downplay or justify the retaliatory acts” committed by Poles against the local Ukrainian population. It is noteworthy that the resolution initially contained wording like “fratricidal war” but this was deleted due to pressure from the Law and Justice Party (PiS). “Use of the word “fratricidal” would mean that we consider those who murdered with intent as equal to those who tried to defend themselves,” stated Sejm deputy from the PiS Dariusz Piontkowski.

According the author of the resolution, Michał Dworczyk, the document was not directed against Ukrainians as a nation but only those criminals who carried out the mass killing of Polish civilians. “With this resolution we indicate the murderers and their criminal ideology. This is not the Ukrainian nation but the several thousand specific individuals who committed this crime,” underscored the politician.

In this context, it is reasonable that the resolution simultaneously calls for paying respect to and rewarding those Ukrainians who helped Polish people and resisted the nationalists in those years. Additionally, the document expresses solidarity with “Ukraine, fighting against foreign aggression for the preservation of its territorial integrity”.

However, politicians in Ukraine paid attention only to the recognition of genocide. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed his regret and suggested that the resolution would be used for “political speculation”. The parliament’s committee on foreign affairs issued a harsher statement in which the resolution is called “anti-Ukrainian”, “provocational”, and “destructive of all constructive political and diplomatic achievements”.

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