Poles commemorate WW2 massacre
The massacre of Wolhynia is being commemorated in Poland this week. On 11 July 1943, known as “bloody Sunday”, Ukrainian nationalists murdered tens of thousands of Polish civilians in Nazi-occupied Western Ukraine. Only an honest approach to history can lead to a reconciliation between these two peoples, press analysts believe.
Ukrainians know nothing about the mass murder
Different versions of history are still dividing Poland and Ukraine even after more than 70 years, writes Jagienka Wilczak in an analysis for the news magazine Polityka:
“Poland and Ukraine have been divided on this question for years. This massacre was never described as such in independent Ukraine. And it was certainly not regarded as genocide. ... For the Ukrainians the Ukrainian Army of Liberation (UPA) is a legend and the origin of Ukrainian identity and freedom. In the minds of ordinary Ukrainians Wołyń [the location of the massacre] simply doesn’t exist. And no one there knows anything about the butchery inflicted on the Poles. People are profoundly convinced that the UPA fought together with the communists. The historians are the only people in both countries who have been talking about this for years.”
Debate about past offers chance for reconciliation
Rzeczpospolita, on the other hand, sees the current dispute over the past as an opportunity to settle historical conflicts:
“The most recent tensions, which provoked the statements from the Polish and Ukrainian parliaments, could even provide an opportunity for the truth to finally come to light. … It is important that our two nations reconcile. But the prerequisite for this process is that they recognise their sins, condemn their crimes, ask each other for forgiveness and forgive. The gesture made by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko when he laid flowers at the monument to the victims in Warsaw last Friday could be a step in this direction.”