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Two Polish Sejm commissions recognize Volhynia atrocity genocide of Polish population

July 20, 9:29 UTC+3 WARSAW
The killings carried out in 1943-1945 claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people
1 pages in this article
©  EPA/RADEK PIETRUSZKA

WARSAW, July 19 /TASS/. Two commissions (for links with the Poles and for culture and media) of the Polish Sejm on Tuesday adopted a resolution recognizing genocide the atrocity committed by Ukrainian nationalists against the Poles in Volhynia, a region in the northwest corner of Ukraine, in 1943-1944 during WWII.

"We establish July 11 as an official day of mourning dedicated to the victims of genocide carried out by Ukrainian nationalists against the citizens of the [interwar] Second Polish Republic," the draft resolution said.

"The genocide carried out in 1943-1945 claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people, predominantly peasants. Their exact number is unknown. Many of them have not been buried with dignity until today," the draft said.

"The memory of the victims of those crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists 40 years ago has never been perpetuated and the mass killings have not been recognized genocide to match the historical truth," the resolution’s text stressed.

The Polish deputies also remembers the reprisals, which the Poles committed in retaliation in Ukrainian villages. "Remembering the crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists, we cannot keep silent about Polish retaliatory actions in Ukrainian villages which also claimed civilian lives," the document said. The Polish deputies expressed their gratitude to those Ukrainians who risked their lives to help the Poles. They suggested that the Polish president decorate them with state awards.

The deputies added a clause urging to establish and mark the places of fratricidal crimes and bury the remains of all the victims, if such are found, with dignity as well as to draw up the victims’ full list.

"The parliament calls for the ongoing reconciliation and the establishment of a dialogue, which was started by politicians and clergymen; for cooperation between historians, including the expansion of access to state archives; the strengthening of cooperation between the Polish and Ukrainian authorities on major issues, which is important for the future of both peoples," the Polish deputies concluded.

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) is an ultra-right political organization (banned in Russia) which operated predominantly in the territory of Western Ukraine during WWII. In collaboration with German reconnaissance bodies, OUN fought against the Soviet rule. In February 1943, Ukrainian nationalists started mass extermination of the Polish population of Volhynia. The campaign reached its peak in July-August 1943. On July 11, 1943, the units of OUN - UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) attacked about 100 Polish populated localities and killed about 100,000 Poles, mainly women, children and old people.

The killings’ main purpose was to cleanse the territory of a future Ukrainian state from all non-Ukrainians.

In 2013, the Polish Sejm, parliament’s lower house, passed a resolution, which called the Volhynia atrocity "ethnic cleansing with elements of genocide."

In 2015, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) characterized the activities of OUN-UPA as the struggle for Ukraine’s independence.

In 2016, the Ukrainian government renamed the Moscow Avenue in Kiev into a prospect named after Stepan Bandera, UPA’s chief ideologist.

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