Poland reburies 35 victims of Stalin-era terror
WARSAW: The bodies of 35 victims of a Stalin-era campaign of terror in Poland were reburied at a solemn ceremony on Sunday after being exhumed from mass graves and identified.
Digs carried out recently at a military cemetery uncovered a number of mass graves and have led to the exhumation of around 200 bodies of victims of the Stalinist regime in Poland following World War II.
“We are now attempting to discover the fate of each one of these victims, so that, as far as possible, no one remains anonymous, to put a name to the communist reign of terror of 1945-1956, to document it and portray it,” Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said at the ceremony, which was broadcast live on television.
The 35 wooden coffins were placed in a new mausoleum at the Powazki cemetery in Warsaw.
The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which oversees a vast programme of excavation work across the country, hopes to find and identify the remains of Witold Pilecki, a Polish partisan who infiltrated the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp, in order to share his experience with the world.
Pilecki escaped from the camp after three years, but was arrested after the war by Poland’s communist authorities loyal to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, accused of espionage and sentenced to death. His body was never found.
The institute believes that around 50,000 people were killed during the post-war campaign of terror, with many still in mass graves.
Digs are under way across the country that have led to the exhumations of more than 600 bodies, 41 of which have so far been identified through DNA. – AFP