Through a letter to the participants of a ceremony in Palmiry, near Warsaw, Polish President Andrzej Duda paid tribute to the memory of those who were executed by Nazi Germans in a forest between 1939 and 1943.
“As we do every year, we bow before the graves of Poles killed in the forest in Palmiry,” states the letter. “At the same time, we think about many other places, where members of the Polish intelligentsia and social activists were murdered during the years of the German occupation, thus decimating our elites,” wrote the Polish head of state.
These people, who had achieved much “for Poland, for Polish science, economy, sport, for Polish society, were slain because they could have done something good, something big and valuable” for the country, noted the president.
He wrote that “violence and oppression wreaked destruction and brought disgrace upon the perpetrators”, as the mass killings of Poles and Jews did for the Nazi Germans.
“Today we bow our foreheads before, and remember, the victims of Nazi terror,” President Duda added.
“We summon them to the roll call today, on the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence,” he stated, “to give assurance that we are carrying on their work.”
He emphasised that “it is a big obligation for us to carry Polishness through the next generations, to look after the common good and nurture the sense of community.”
In addition to the president’s tribute, central and local government officials laid wreaths at the Palmiry cemetery, as a roll call was read out and a three-volley honorary salvo of shots was fired.
The mass killings were carried out by Nazi Germans in Palmiry village in Kampinos Forest in December 1939. Some of the first victims included the famous runner Janusz Kusociński and top pre-war lawmaker Maciej Rataj, these kicked off a wave of executions of Polish elites. The killings continued in various places around Kampinos until 1943.