After the Smolensk Crash: “A New Community” of Poland and Russia?

220px-AdamMichnik01Mar2006 Adam Michnik in the NYRB blog:

Something touched our hearts.

Four days after the April 10 tragedy of Smolensk, the Russian President declared: “It is obvious that Polish officers were shot at the command of the then leaders of the USSR, including Joseph Stalin.”

The crime of Katyń has divided Poles and Russians more than any other event of the twentieth century. For the last twenty years in both of our countries an arduous search continued for the truth and for the remembrance of that crime of the totalitarian Stalinist regime. Right from the beginning, some of the most outstanding Russians were involved in this effort. They were statesmen, scientists, civil servants, and regular people, and to them many a time Poland expressed her gratitude and respect.

The Smolensk catastrophe broke something in our Polish and Russian hearts. In the hearts of the leaders and of regular people. It was as if a gigantic dam opened—a dam behind which unexpressed words and gestures were piled up. In the last days, the entire world learned about the Katyń crime. And, in the face of this new tragedy, Russian politicians decided to act in an unprecedented way, a way that will remain in history.

The showing of the film Katyń by Andrzej Wajda on the most viewed channel of the Russian television; the words of President Medvedev about the guilt of Stalin; the earlier gestures and words of prime minister Putin – these are the foundation for new relations between Poland and Russia. As are all the flowers and lighted candles on the site of the Smolensk tragedy, in front of the Polish embassy in Moscow, and Polish consular offices in other cities of Russia. And the openness of the Russian side in cooperating with the Polish experts in explaining the reasons of the catastrophe.

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