A whole row of Polish graves containing soldiers who died while fighting in 1944 and which had been consecrated just 20 years ago have been leveled to the ground, according to the Association of Poles in Belarus. The action looks to have been organized by the Belarusian authorities, as it involved bulldozers.
The Polish Foreign Ministry called the destruction of the cemetery of the Polish Home Army in Mikulishki “an unprecedented act of atrocity and an incomprehensible challenge to the mutual obligations of Poland and Belarus to protect memorials.” The ministry added that Poland condemns all acts of insulting the memory of soldiers and called on the Belarusian authorities to stop this practice.
Polish MP Robert Tyszkiewicz published photos of the destroyed graves on Twitter, calling it “a barbaric act of state vandalism against soldiers of the Home Army (AK).”
On Tuesday evening, the Polish Embassy in Belarus announced that Poland’s charge d’affaires in Belarus, Marcin Wojciechowski, laid flowers and lit candles on the graves of the Home Army (AK) soldiers in Mikulishki.
“The Polish places of remembrance in Belarus will not be forgotten. Glory to the heroes!” the post on Twitter reads.
Last Thursday, the Polish Foreign Ministry criticized a series of incidents involving the defiling of Polish soldiers’ graves in Belarus. Łukasz Jasina, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Poland “deplores the atmosphere of tolerance for such practices in Belarus. They have been fueled by hostile anti-Polish rhetoric in the Belarusian mass media.”
Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy, the head of TV Belsat, which broadcasts from Poland into Belarus, blames the Belarusian authorities for the incident.
“No one brought in bulldozers in secret. You can secretly spray a building but not level graves to the ground. This was done at the will and at the behest of the authorities,” she told portal wpolityce.pl.
The head of Belsat was openly angered, writing on Facebook that those who took part in the action are totally alien to European civilization, which respects the burial ground where soldiers have fallen. She added that to bulldoze a cemetery is something that defies words.
“To call it barbarism actually insults barbarians who probably did have some respect for the dead,” she said.
Romaszewska-Guzy admitted that some monuments commemorating the Red Army in Poland have been taken down, but cemeteries of both German and Soviet troops are maintained and protected by the authorities.