Municipalities divided on sounding sirens marking Smolensk crash

Poland’s authorities have announced that sirens will wail at 8:41 CEST (UTC+1) across Poland on Sunday, April 10, 2022 as part of a testing exercise of the township and district early warning system, and to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Smolensk plane crash. However, several municipalities, including Warsaw, have declined to follow the recommendation.

The decision to use the sirens is made by district governors, heads of townships, and city mayors, respectively.

In Poland, the sirens sound every year on August 1, at 17:00 CEST to commemorate the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. The tradition that began in Warsaw has now spread to the whole country. When the sirens wail, cars and pedestrians stop on the streets to observe a minute of silence and remember those that gave their lives for freedom and independence.

Mayor of Warsaw appeals for silence

The Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski appealed to the regional authorities who are in charge of the warning system, not to sound the sirens.

“The government has ordered the sirens to sound on the anniversary of the Smolensk plane crash, in the city that hosts 120,000 traumatised Ukrainian children, who are scared even of the sound of a flying aeroplane. The sirens are under the jurisdiction of regional authorities. I appeal to the authorities to maintain silence!,” Mr Trzaskowski wrote on social media.

Sunday marks the twelfth anniversary of the crash of the Polish presidential plane near Smolensk, western Russia. All 96 passengers and members of the crew, including then president Lech Kaczyński and the First Lady Maria Kaczyńska, were killed.

“The Smolensk plane crash will forever remain an unhealed wound for our community. We do not need to remind anyone about those days,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in an interview published on Saturday. “At the time we were united as never before. The countless crowds [in front of the Presidential palace in Warsaw] that came to pay respect to their President, have become a seed of renewed unity.”