The Katyń cross might not seem important when you pass by, but it means a lot to Polish people. The Katyń Cross was built in memory of people who died in the Katyń massacre during World War II.  This memorial has been on Plac Studzińskiego since 1990, which was 50 years after the Katyń massacre.

The Katyń Massacre

The massacre of Katyń happened in a forest named Katyń, near Gnezdovo village and in Kalinin (both in Russia) and Kharkiv (in Ukraine) prisons.  In 1939, the Nazis and Soviets made a pact to divide land located between them acquired through war. The Soviets wanted to control the people in the region, which included Poland, and felt they had to get rid of some people that might start a rebellion. The Soviets executed Polish  military officers, soldiers, and citizens such as priests, landowners, teachers, factory owners, and more. 22,000 polish people were shot so that they wouldn’t start or help a rebellion against Soviet rule. In 1941, the Nazis attacked the Soviets and began to invade Soviet territory. In 1943, the Nazis found the site at which the executed Polish soldiers, teachers and others were buried by the Soviets. The Soviets claimed it was the Nazis, and did not admit the truth until 1990. The massacre was a sad happening in the history of Poland and its people.

Plane Catastrophe

On 10 April, 2010, a Polish Air Force plane carrying 96 passengers from Warsaw to Smolensk North Airport near Smolensk, Russia crashed. The Polish president, Lech Kaczyński, and his wife were on board the plane, as well as many other important Polish officials. The flight was taking them to a ceremony that commemorated the Katyn Massacre when it crashed.  Though there has been controversy over the cause of the crash, evidence points to pilot error as the most probable cause.

The Katyń Cross

The Katyn cross is made of wood and was erected in 1989 near St. Giles church, at the end of Grodzka Street. The cross was built 50 years after the massacre and was made to commemorate the people who were killed in the Katyn Massacre. The cross is not only a symbol of mourning, but also asks not to repeat these horrors again.  At the base of the cross is a stone plaque that bears the names of several locations of tragic events in Polish history. On the wall behind the cross are two plaques that give a bit more information. The one on the left is to remember all the people who were killed in Katyn and Siberia at the hand of the Russians, while the one on the right is in remembrance of thousands of people killed by the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD).

The Katyn Cross
Plaque naming the places of tragic events in Polish history
Behind the Katyn Cross is the church of St. Giles
Plaque commerating Polish victims of the Soviet Communist NKVD in 1937 and 1938
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