Polish city wants Red Army monument removed from main square

AP News
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Posted: May 19, 2016 1:43 PM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — City councilors in the northern Polish city of Szczecin have decided to move a giant stone monument honoring the Red Army out of a central square and into the city's main cemetery.

There was no date set for the move of the monument, the head of the council's office, Rafal Miszczuk, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

It was erected in 1950, when Poland was under communist rule, as a sign of gratitude for the Red Army's victory over Hitler's troops in the city during World War II.

The idea to remove the monument was first suggested in 1991, shortly after Poland shed communism and a massive removal of symbols and street names related to the former regime took place. Miszczuk could not say why the monument was not moved then.

Councilors from Poland's ruling right-wing party say the obelisk-like towering structure isn't popular, is often vandalized and should be moved. It will be placed in a cemetery where Red Army troops are buried, among others. Some 600,000 Soviet troops were killed on Polish soil in battles against Hitler's army.

The vote came as the new government is planning to remove monuments praising the Soviet army, arguing that it brought Poland a brutal communist regime after World War II. The state National Remembrance Institute is planning to put them all in one place eventually as an historic exhibition.

Memorials at Red Army burial sites will remain untouched.

Moscow protested last year when local officials in the northeastern Polish town of Pieniezno started to dismantle a monument of Gen. Ivan Chernyakhovsky, who died there of wounds in 1945 and is Russia's national hero. In Poland, however, he is held responsible for the persecution of Polish anti-Nazi resistance fighters.