(5 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Poland’s President, Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria, and much of his cabinet, and all the passengers have been killed in a terrible airplane crash near Smolensk, Russia, when the ancient Tu -154 Tupolev carrying them missed the runway in thick fog and went down. There were no survivors.
“We still cannot fully understand the scope of this tragedy and what it means for us in the future. Nothing like this has ever happened in Poland,” Paszkowski (foreign ministry spokesperson) said. “We can assume with great certainty that all persons on board have been killed.” Airplane crashes are such a tragedy and rarely occur, but when they do, many passengers will look to sites like this to seek legal support in the process if they were to receive any injuries at all. Unfortunately in this instance, this was not the case, and all passengers are believed to have been killed.
The crash is likely to be a setback in Polish-Russian relations which had been improving of late after being poisoned for decades over the Katyn massacre.
Russia never has formally apologized for the murders of some 22,000 Polish officers, but Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s decision to attend a memorial ceremony earlier this week in the forest near Katyn was seen as a gesture of goodwill toward reconciliation. Rossiya-24 showed hundreds of people around the Katyn monument, many were holding Polish flags, some of them were weeping.
In a case of horrible irony, President Kaczynski and his army Chief of Staff and Deputy Foreign minister were to attend a memorial service to mark the Kaytn Massacre, or Zbrodnia Kaytnska, near Smolensk, when about 22,000 Polish POW officers were murdered by the Soviet Secret Service NKVD during World War 2 by order of Stalin, in 1940. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K…
During that time, Nazi Germany announced discovery of the hidden graves in the Kaytn Forest near Smolensk, Russia, in 1943, which ended diplomatic relations between Moscow and the (exiled) Polish government, and the Soviet Union did not admit to it and their cover up until 1990. Kaytn continued to be “officially” covered up during the Cold War, and was a forbidden topic in Poland until the fall of the Eastern Bloc in 1989, and a memorial put up earlier by the Solidarity Union was taken away. In 1989, Soviet scholars finally revealed that Joseph Stalin had ordered the massacre, and Mikhail Gorbachev let a Polish delegation visit the site for the first time. By April 13, 1990, the 47th anniversary of the discovery of the forest gravesite, the Soviet Union formally expressed “profound regret” and admitted responsibility. In 2008, several Russian newspapers tried to shift blame for Kaytn back to the Germans. Russia’s Putin called Katyn a political crime, and invited the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, to an April 7 Katyn visit.
Per wikipedia, “relations between Tusk and President Lech Kacynski have often been acrimonious due to different political ideologies.”
In early 2010, the 2007 Polish documentary Kaytn was shown on Russian state television in preparation for the upcoming commemoration memorial service.
There are also serious diplomatic considerations for the United States, as Poland is a NATO ally with troops in Afghanistan, and has made a deal (under GW Bush) to host the Patriot long range missiles. When this upset Russia, President Obama recently redid what sorts of missiles and when they would be installed in Poland.
The huffpo link has updated with information from Rossiya 24 that the presidential plane which crashed was recently overhauled in December in Russia.
President Dmitry Medvedev has sent condolences and says Russia shares the grief and mourning of Poland. The Kremlin says that Putin has been put in charge of the commission investigating the crash.
Here is Polish video of the crash scene from dziennik.pl “Katastropha Smolensk, Prezydent Lech Kaczynski Nie Zyje”
While the text under this is not in English,
even a non Polish speaker can pick up the words “prezydent” “kastastrofy” and “mordu” (dead)
It must be Russian video from the banner underneath.
I tried google translator on the name “Lesie Katynskim” and google pulled up the Gazeta Wyborcza and got roughly translated thus:
“He was a dull thud and burst into flames”
“According to witnesses the plane was flying very low. He had a strong tilt to the left. Wing caught on a tree. – If you would tilt to the left, have gone over the trees. There was no explosion. There was a dull thud and the flame – a witness told reporters. The plane broke into pieces, most chassis flew away. – The remains of the aircraft are scattered over a 100-200 meters – says one of the witnesses to the crash TVN 24th ”
“Prime Minister Berlusconi: the great grief seized Poland”
“Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that Poland possessed great mourning after plane crash, which killed President Lech Kaczynski”
“Believers of all faiths pray for the victims of disaster”
“Jews, Orthodox, Muslims and Catholics – believers of all churches and denominations come together in prayer for the victims of the presidential plane crash”
“We advise that the land in Minsk” “Instrumentation is not enough, the need for an efficient airport”
” It is not excluded that it was human error because the crew were landed here at your own risk, because the local airport advised that landed in Minsk”
It also pulled up a short, gruesome black and white documentary film done about the year 1943, when the Germans first discovered the mass burial grounds in the forest in Katyn.
And this translated article by Francis Krzysiak 3/10/2010 in the Polish version of Newsweek
“I was in the Katyn Forest and Hatyniu too !”
which describes his attempts to educate other people he meets about the massacre. This piece must have been written for this weekend’s activities. Some of the paragraphs are not completely coherent, but the meaning is absolutely clear:
The human condition of denial is universal.
There is a paragraph where he describes walking with a friend and a stranger in 1980, while in the military, and a car drives up and asks directions for a German nameplace, and he switches into speaking German to answer the question politely. After the car drove off, the stranger tried to berate him for being Polish and speaking German, when he replied, “the language you need to know is (that of the) enemy, so, you (are a) wielder of Russian…. ”
Later that year, saying that it was time to open up Polish history and speak the truth of Katyn, and say it was not Germany, but the Russians who made the crimes against the Poles, he was declared mentally ill and discharged from the navy. (!!!)
“Which performances ( long Polish word, roughly = fail) simple propagandists resorted to change the subject (eg in US Negroes beat) and as they failed to lied, lied, lied. ”
Defenders of the murderers were vigilant. Pseudokoledzy (MW officers) were afraid to talk to me. Political leper!
Before I describe my experiences with Katyn, I feel the need to clarify the problem of the village with a similar version that is Hatynia.
It was a great disinformation in the former USSR, and even with us. As a foreign tour guide I was able to carry hundreds of conversations not only with the average citizens’ Sowieckawo Sajuza, but with different officials. Some of them tried to accustom themselves to the talks by putting provocative questions and talking about our citizens niesympatycznych behavior during paszportowo-customs clearance.
He describes asking many people questions about when did the Soviet Union join the war, and what happened in 1939. In Minsk, Belarus, he visits a war memorial monument, Hatyn, for the villages destroyed in Belarus by Hitler’s forces, http://www.splatteroflight.com… and asks a woman if she had ever heard of Katyn. “and explained the difference.”
She admitted that she had never heard of the word. And after further illus minutes acknowledged that her grandmother was Polish, and that has a deep sympathy Poles, and that now will be to understand the behavior of some of our visitors.
When I put the words Hatyn and Belarus in the search to pull up a descriptive link, which one I put first brings up vastly different results. One is a list about Hatyn Memorial, and the hundreds of villages destroyed and millions of villagers murdered by Nazis in Belarus. The other query asks me “DID YOU MEAN Khatyn?”
For there is a village named Khatyn, in Belarus, that was destroyed, also, in 1943 by the Dirlwanger Brigade, a Waffen SS brigade made of of Germans who were already criminals. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O…
This article is about the 1943 massacre of Belarusian civilians. For the 1940 massacre of Polish officers, see Katyn massacre.
In the Brezhnev era of the USSR, much attention was paid to this Nazi crime, possibly with the intention of diverting attention from the Katyn massacre of Polish officers. According to Norman Davies, of Wolfson College, Oxford, the village was chosen and the memorial created by the Soviet authorities in a calculated policy of disinformation, designed to create confusion with the Katyn massacre.
Viktor Zhelobkovich, a seven-year-old boy, survived the fire in the shed under the corpse of his mother. Another boy, 12-year-old Anton Baranovsky, was left for dead due to a leg wound. The only adult survivor of the Khatyn massacre, 56-year-old village smith Yuzif Kaminsky, also wounded and burnt, recovered consciousness after the Germans had left. He supposedly found his burned son who later died in his arms. This incident was later artistically honored in the form of a statue at the Khatyn Memorial.
Khatyn became a symbol of mass killings of the civilian population during the fighting between partisans, German troops, and collaborators. Hundreds of similar settlements had shared the fate of Khatyn during World War II.
In other words, the Polish people tended to be very upset with the Russian Kremlin management over the years for trying to pass off their word “Katyn” and their WW 2 massacre of Polish POWs by the Russians near Smolensk, instead as a Belarusssian torching murder of “Khatyn,” in a town in Minsk, by the Nazi Germans run by Dirlewanger’s SS Sturmbrigade, whose job was tormenting and murdering civilians. (This SS scum was used against the Warsaw Uprising.)
at the end of this Newsweek Polish article by Krzysiak, there was this comment:
It is not meant to be ….
Today came the sad day, because he died the flower of Polish politics and intelligence. During the flight at the ceremony at the airport Siewiernyj Katyn near Smolensk plane crashed…
Today, came the sad day, indeed.
cross posted at Antemedius
edit added url for newsweek, polish edition
edit update 11:49 Pacific Standard Time USA: Because the number of crash fatalities keeps changing in the news media, I have changed the original count from the 132 in the Huffpo at 7 am this am to “scores”. The count is currently between 86 and 96, depending on the source. Newsweek is saying the President of Poland and 95 others.