Senate Speaker says removing NJ Katyń statue would be scandalous

“The idea of removing the Katyń statue from the square by the Hudson River in Jersey City is a really scandalous” commented the Speaker of the Senate.

The Speaker of the Senate, Stanisław Karczewski, was asked on Wednesday on Polish Radio, whether the Polish Senate will deal with the case of the relocation of the statue in New Jersey, commemorating the Soviet massacre of Polish officers in 1940 in Katyń, western Russia.

“Perhaps the Polish Senate will give a statement on this matter. Perhaps the Senate will adopt a resolution.” replied Stanisław Karczewski.

He added that the topic will also be discussed within the Polish Diaspora Advisory Board at the Speaker of the Senate.

"It is a really scandalous and very unpleasant situation for us,” stressed Karczewski. He added that the Katyń Memorial in Jersey City "speaks of Polish heroism, Polish heroes, and also speaks of tragic events."

The memorial to the 1940 Katyń massacre was erected at Exchange Place in Jersey City in 1991. The city plans to put it in storage during a planned transformation of Exchange Place plaza into a public park, provoking concerns that the statue may not return to its current location.

The project of creating a park in the area where the statue stands, in front of Manhattan, was posted on Twitter by the Mayor of Jersey City Steven Fulop on Twitter. It was not consulted previously with the Polish Diaspora and Polish Embassy in the USA.

Regarding this situation, Poland's ambassador to the United States, Piotr Wilczek, wrote a post on Twitter on Monday about plans to relocate a statue. He said that he is concerned about the sudden announcement that the memorial may be moved and by the "lack of dialogue" between the city and the Polish-American community.

He also reminded his readers of the efforts of the Polish-American community that lasted a decade, aimed at erecting the memorial.

The Head of Institute of National Remembrance in Poland, Jarosław Szarek made an announcement on Tuesday, saying that "the plans to remove and relocate the Katyń memorial from Exchange Place in Jersey City were received with great concern" and added that the Institute of National Remembrance opposes this action. Szarek recalled that "created by Andrzej Pityński, the Katyń statue was unveiled in May 1991 on the prestigious Exchange Place in Jersey City and became a permanent testimony to the Polishness in America and the truth about the Soviet crime committed on Poles."

Jersey has around 20,000 Polish inhabitants , while US has around 10 million people of Polish origins, according

"It is not a coincidence that the Katyń statue in Jersey City was a refugee work, created by the efforts of Polish immigrants and World War II veterans, who, struggling with German and Soviet totalitarianism, sought freedom and shelter on American soil," the announcement reads.

The Katyn massacre affected the 21,768 officers, doctors, policemen and other public servants captured by the Red Army in 1939 and was mainly shot in Katyń forest near Smolensk in western Russia and in several other places early in 1940. Mikhail Gorbachev admitted in 1990 that the Soviet NKVD was to blame for the massacre, after a half-century of the Soviets blaming it on Nazi German troops.