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Polish election row over Katyn massacre

From the BBC.

Polish election row over massacre

An acclaimed film director has accused the Polish government of exploiting a wartime massacre for electoral gain.
Ceremonies marking the 1940 Katyn massacre were brought forward several months to Friday, three weeks before parliamentary elections.

Andrzej Wajda, who has made a film about the massacre, has called for the services to be pushed back to November.

The government said the ceremonies were brought forward to coincide with the release of Mr Wajda's film.

Up to 20,000 Polish officers - including Mr Wajda's father - were killed by Soviet troops in Katyn in 1940.


President Lech Kaczynski has rejected any suggestion that the government is trying to make electoral capital out of the massacre.

His brother, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is seeking re-election as prime minister in the October poll.

Poland's opposition believes the governing Law and Justice Party is intent on stirring nationalist sentiment for political advantage.

The party has adopted a nationalist and anti-communist stance at regular intervals since coming to power in 2005.

Gabriela Puzdrakiewicz-Gizewska, whose father died in the massacre, wrote in a letter to the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper that she did not want "the tragic death of my father... to be made the subject of political horse-trading during an election battle".

The head of the Katyn Families Federation said he would boycott the event, at which the president is expected to give posthumous promotions to many of the dead.

"Most of us believe the ceremony cannot take place at this time," Andrzej Skapski said.

Mr Wajda has called for the ceremony to be held on 11 November, Poland's independence day.

Re: Polish election row over Katyn massacre

Question; how could the Katyn Massacre be political? Are there political elements that consider it to have been a good thing?

The opposition should have shown up en-masse at the commemorations regardless of schedule and all they need have said is “we disagree with the current government on many issues but the entire nation, today and everday, stands in condemnation of the atrocities and honors the victims”

By quibbling over the timing the opposition becomes petty and effectively politicizes the issue.

The opponents of PiS seem ignorant of one of the rudiments of politics and that is not to play solely to your base but to campaign to the undecided middle.

Re: Polish election row over Katyn massacre

A few recent national commemorations (e.g. Army Day) have been bigger than in normal years and the premier delivers speeches that are quite political. There is also the issue of which politicians are invited and where they are seated in relation to the events and the cameras. I think this is what it is about.

Re: Polish election row over Katyn massacre

This is what Andrzej Wajda himself has said:

"I am not taking any photos with politicians, I am not giving any political interviews. I am not taking part in the elections - apart from as a citizen, of course. So I am trying to do everything to save my film from being used as a means of political propaganda."