Red Army monuments stood for a system that was guilty of enslaving, murdering its own people, Polish official says
Poland on Thursday dismantled four communist-era monuments to Red Army soldiers in a renewed drive to remove symbols of Moscow’s post-World War II domination and to stress its condemnation of Moscow’s war on neighbouring Ukraine.
Workers used drills and heavy equipment to destroy the 1945 monuments at four different locations across Poland. Most of them were in the form of concrete obelisks dedicated to Red Army soldiers who fell while fighting to defeat Nazi German troops.
The head of the state Institute of National Remembrance, Karol Nawrocki, has called for the removals. He said the monuments stood for a system that was guilty of enslaving and murdering its own people and other nations, including Poles.
“This is a monument to disgrace, a monument of contempt of the winners over the victims,” Nawrocki said in Glubczyce, in the south of Poland, as workers were readying to remove the figure of a Red Army soldier prior to dismantling the entire monument.
“In 1945, the Soviets did not bring liberation, they brought another captivity. They were capturing Poland and treating it as booty,” Nawrocki said in an emotional speech.
He claimed that the Russian Federation, which is killing civilians in Ukraine, still possesses the spirit of that system.
Nawrocki emphasized that anyone found removing Soviet army monuments, even those located abroad, would be subject to prosecution and a sentence of up to three years in prison under Russian law.
The other monuments were taken out of the former graves in Bobolice and Byczyna, both in the southwest and northwest, respectively. In the 1950s, the soldiers’ remains were exhumed and relocated to appropriate graves. In the southern woods close to Staszow, a stone monument was also destroyed.
The institute investigates, prosecutes, and remembers national heroes who fought against oppressors in relation to Nazi and Communist crimes against Poles.
Ever since shedding communist rule in 1989, Poland has been taking steps to remove from the public space the symbols of Moscow’s past domination, taking away monuments and plaques. Some have been moved to special storage. The drive does not include cemeteries or current burial sites.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year has added urgency to the efforts. Poland is backing Ukraine’s struggle against Russia politically, militarily and economically.
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