Authorities, families commemorate Volhynia massacre victims

Victims of the Volhynia massacre were commemorated in Warsaw on Saturday, on the 77th anniversary of the genocide. July 11 marks the National Day of Remembrance of Victims of Genocide perpetrated by Ukrainian nationalists on citizens of the Second Republic of Poland during WWII.

Ceremonies began with laying flowers by the commemorative plaque in the Cathedral of the Polish Army, then laying wreaths and lighting candles at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, attended by the relatives of the victims and WWII veterans.

State authorities, including the deputy PM and Culture Minister Piotr Gliński, head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister Michał Dworczyk, as well as the vice president of the Institute of National Remembrance Krzysztof Szwagrzyk also participated in the ceremonies which took place without making speeches.

On July 11-12 1943, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) began a coordinated action to exterminate Polish civilians in Volhynia, a region which was part of Poland until 1939. In the years 1943-1945, around 100,000 Polish people were murdered in what is now Western Ukraine. The anti-Polish actions reached their climax on Sunday, July 11, 1943, when Ukrainian nationalists attacked Polish citizens living in around 150 towns and villages. People present at houses of worship at that time were killed and around 50 Catholic churches were burnt to the ground.

According to historians, around 100,000 Polish nationals were killed in the massacre, including 40,000-60,000 in Volhynia and 20,000-40,000 in Eastern Galicia, and at least 4,000 on the territory of today's Poland. According to Poland's National Remembrance Institute, some 10,000-12,000 Ukrainians were killed during Polish retaliatory operations by the spring of 1945.

The National Day of Remembrance of Victims of Genocide perpetrated by Ukrainian nationalists on citizens of the Second Republic of Poland was established by the Polish parliament in July 2016.

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