Volhynia: joint Polish-Ukrainian commemoration

On 11 July Poland commemorates the victims of the Volhynia Massacre. Between 1943 and 1945, Ukrainian nationalists murdered tens of thousands of Polish civilians in what is now western Ukraine but was occupied by the German Wehrmacht at the time. After the two countries adopted a more conciliatory tone on the issue for the first time last year, this year Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Polish Head of State Andrzej Duda attended a joint commemoration ceremony in Lutsk to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of the Massacre.

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Memories of a monstrous bucha

Rzeczpospolita sees this as a step down what is still a very long road:

“In the past 80 years almost everything has changed, the best example being the opening of Polish homes to Ukrainian refugees. ... The memorial service in Lutsk is a good sign. But there is still a long way to go. The words that were spoken are very cautious. ... The word 'genocide' is used in today's war to refer to war crimes committed by the Russian invaders - such as the killing of several hundred residents of the town of Bucha near Kyiv in March last year. Volhynia was a monstrous Bucha.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Confronting the past strengthens moral legitimacy

It would strengthen Ukraine to take an unsparing look at the dark chapters in its own history, Tygodnik Powszechny believes:

“The juxtaposition of Russian murderers and Ukrainian nationalists from 80 years ago is certainly not easy for Ukrainian society to stomach. Nevertheless, it is precisely this confrontation with the realities of the genocide of Volhynia and Eastern Galicia that would lend greater moral legitimacy to the demand for the international community to recognise the Russian genocide of the Ukrainian people as such.”

Ukrainian Radio (UA) /

Acknowledge mistakes and focus on the future

Lowering partisan expectations could help, writes historian Andrii Rukkas on the website of Ukrainian Radio:

“We have to accept that there will be no monument to [murdered Ukrainian nationalist Stepan] Bandera in Poland. Just as the Poles must realise that there will be no monuments to Polish chauvinists in Ukraine. ... If we keep the memory of the past alive and remember that we too made a mistake, just as they did, and realise that this mistake was exploited by our western and eastern neighbours - Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union - then we will always be in a win-win situation.”