WARSAW, June 22. /TASS/. The opening ceremony of the renewed memorial to Soviet soldiers who crossed the Oder River in 1945, has taken place in the Mikolin village in western Poland on Thursday, when Russia marks the Day of Remembrance and Sorrow. The memorial was renovated by members of the Kursk Polish society which restores monuments of gratitude to the Red Army.
"This is a very nice initiative put forward by the Kursk society," Andrei Omelchenko, a member of the Civic Chamber of Russia’s Kaliningrad region, told TASS. "We would like the initiative to serve as an example for a large number of Polish citizens," said Omelchenko who participated in the ceremony of laying flowers to the memorial.
"The situation surrounding the Red Army memorials in Poland has not been improving in the recent years," he went on to say. "However, history does not forgive such attitude. Attempts to overwrite your own history are useless and dangerous," he added expressing hope that "reason will prevail." "Most Polish people do not support the barbaric attitude towards memorials that the country’s elites have been showing," Omelchenko pointed out.
The Mikolin memorial was installed in the place where the battle to cross the Oder River took place 72 years ago - a battle in which more than 40,000 Soviet soldiers and officers fell. According to Jerzy Tyc, the head of the Kursk society, the renovation of the memorial became possible thanks to the financial support of such Russian foundations as the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral and the Revival (based in the city of Kursk), as well as one Polish foundation and activists from the Russian city of Kaliningrad who ran fundraising campaigns in the internet. "The notable thing is that locals helped in every way they could, particularly providing construction supplies," Tyc noted. "We can say that the memorial was renovated through the joint efforts of the Russian and Polish people," he added.
Nearly 600,000 Soviet troops fell in the battles to liberate Poland. In the recent years, memorials are often defaced by vandals, moreover, some of them have been illegally demolished. In 2016, Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance came up with an initiative to pull down more than 200 such war memorials across the country as reminders of its communist past. On Thursday, the lower house of the Polish parliament adopted a bill on amending the decommunization law.
The Kursk society is the only Polish organization engaged in the renovation of Soviet war memorials. Its members have already restored and renovated dozens memorials across the country.