Poland debates adding 2010 crash victims to WWII observances

AP News
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Posted: Jul 18, 2016 1:36 PM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Veterans of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and city authorities have taken steps to prevent the names of victims of the 2010 presidential plane crash from being read out during the upcoming anniversary observances of the revolt against German occupation.

The controversy around one of Poland's most painful anniversaries stems from a decision last fall by Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz to commemorate the late President Lech Kaczynski, twin brother of the leader of the right-wing Law and Justice party that took power in November. Macierewicz wants the names of Kaczynski, First Lady Maria Kaczynska and the 94 others who died in the 2010 crash read out by an army officer at every state ceremony. The victims include high state officials, lawmakers and Armed Forces' commanders.

Macierewicz's plan is part of the ruling party's efforts to perpetuate the memory of the late president and the others who were killed on Russian territory while traveling there to honor Polish officers, prisoners of war, killed by the Soviet Secret Security during World War II. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski argues they gave their lives for a national cause. He holds observances for them every month.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has called Macierewicz's decisions "very beautiful."

However, in a letter to Macierewicz Monday, the veterans of Warsaw's ill-fated 1944 revolt sought to have only names of fallen fighters read at various observances of the Aug.1 anniversary. Some 200,000 Warsaw residents, mostly ordinary civilians, were killed during the 63 days of fighting in which the Germans razed most of the city and expelled the survivors.

Halina Jedrzejewska, deputy head of the veterans union, said the fallen fighters and the crash victims should not be mixed together.

"These two things are not equal," she said. "The insurgents fought and died in battle. We must take every effort to preserve their memory."

Also Marta Kaczynska, the daughter of the late president and first lady, said that each of these events should be remembered separately.