The Black Maria and The Katyn Forest

12 04 2010

In the movie “Katyn” an officer is writing to his wife, telling her that he is finally getting off the train and will soon be escorted into a “Black Maria.” The Black Maria is a hearse like wagon that took several Polish officers to their deaths. . .The Katyn Forest was their destination. . . the place where a mass grave had been prepared.

Koch Lorber Films, A scene from Andrzej Wajda’s “Katyn,” which deals with the massacre of Poles in 1940.

In 1940 right after the Soviet Army invaded Poland, in a dense wooded Katyn, an area near Gneizdovo Village close to Smolensk in Russia, approximately 20,000 polish officers, were massacred by the Soviet Government.

On April 10, 2010 Poland  President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others including his wife Maria was killed in an airplane crash on the way to ceremonies in Russia, in which the Polish Government was to commemorate along with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin the anniversary of the massacre.

Aleksandar Plavevski/European Pressphoto Agency Poland President Lech Kaczynski

Russia’s Communist Party denies involvement in the massacre, blaming the Nazis. Although,  last week, Mr. Putin took major steps, according to the New York Times, in healing Russian, and Polish Relations by commemorating the massacre’s anniversary.

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images Mourners stood in line to sign books of condolence in Warsaw. Candles, flowers and portraits of some of the people killed were placed outside the Presidential Palace.

Lech Walesa, Poland’s first president from the transition of Communism called the airplane crash “the second disaster after Katyn.”

Photo: Adam Warzawa/European Pressphoto Agency The former president of Poland, Lech Walesa, center, attended a memorial Mass in Gdansk, Poland.

“They wanted to cut off our heads there,” he said, “and here, the flower of our nation has also perished.”

Photo: Sergei Karpukhin-Reuters, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, center, took part in a wreath-laying ceremony in the Katyn Forest on Wednesday

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