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Poland sparks potential outrage with monuments plan

Poland sparks potential outrage with monuments plan
Monument to Soviet soldiers in Skaryszewski Park, Warsaw (Image: Kinga under a CC licence)

29 June 2016

Poland is planning to uproot over 200 monuments to Soviet troops and move them to an open-air museum.

Originally erected to mark and demonstrate gratitude for the Soviet army’s liberation of Poland at the end of the Second World War, the Polish authorities today want them to be displayed within their historical context.

According to Andrzej Zawistowski, director of the Institute of National Remembrance’s (IPN) education department, the plan provides for the relocation of 229 monuments that refer to “what we consider as untruth: gratitude for having given Poland independence”.

Plans by IPN will see the monuments re-housed in a park at the former Soviet base at Borne Sulinowo, a small town in the north-west of Poland.

The proposals have the potential to anger the Russian authorities, who have protested the removal of Soviet monuments in recent years, claiming that it reveals a lack of gratitude for the sacrifice of Soviet troops for Polish liberation from German occupation. Russia argues that Poland must protect all war memorials under a 1994 bilateral agreement with Russia.

Poland, however, claims that the agreement only applies to cemeteries, which do not fall under the current proposals.

“The educational park will show these monuments within the right historical context,” said Mr Zawistowski, “Educational parks and institutions of this type exist equally in other states such as Lithuania, Hungary or even Russia.”

The final decision as to whether to remove the monuments or not, however, lies with the city councils.

Source: BBC