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Poland exhumes wartime leader's body for DNA tests


Poland exhumes wartime leader's body for DNA tests

Poland exhumed the remains of wartime prime minister and military leader General Wladyslaw Sikorski on Tuesday for DNA and other tests in an attempt to settle the mystery surrounding his death in 1943.

Sikorski died in a plane crash in Gibraltar after visiting Polish forces fighting with the British against Nazi Germany in the Middle East. Many Poles remain convinced he was assassinated

"This exhumation may bring a breakthrough in the investigation of General Sikorski's death," said Andrzej Drogon of the National Remembrance Institute (IPN) unit in Katowice.

The IPN, which holds Poland's communist-era files, is in charge of the investigation.

"The tests to be conducted are DNA analysis, computer tomography, radiology and toxicology tests. We shall have to wait a little for the results. They should appear within a dozen weeks," he told reporters.

Sikorski's remains will be reburied in the royal crypt at Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland's ancient capital, on Wednesday.

A Polish tailoring firm announced it had prepared an army uniform in which Sikorski's remains will be reburied. The experts conducting the tests said he had been buried without a uniform and wrapped in a blanket.

"The measurements were taken from the general's original uniform which is in the Polish Army Museum. The tailoring took four days," tailor Michal Rozanski told Polish television.


It is the second time Sikorski has been exhumed. His body was first buried at a Polish war cemetery in Britain and was returned to Poland only in 1993, after the fall of communism.

Some Poles suspect the British were behind the death of Sikorski because his insistence on preserving Poland's pre-war territorial integrity had become a major irritant in relations between wartime allies Britain and the Soviet Union.

Other Poles see in Sikorski's death the hand of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who they say wanted to remove an anti-communist patriot who would hamper his plans to install a quiescent communist regime in Warsaw after the war.

Officially, Sikorski died in a plane crash just a few seconds after take-off from Gibraltar.

The Polish government-in-exile that Sikorski had headed remained in existence, based in London, until the end of communist rule in Poland.


Re: Poland exhumes wartime leader's body for DNA tests

was he, wasn't he?

Re: Poland exhumes wartime leader's body for DNA tests

“in an attempt to settle the mystery surrounding his death in 1943.”

There is no mystery! The airplane crashed, those on board that were strapped-in (wearing seatbelts) survived; those that were not, died. The lengths to which people will go to posit a conspiracy is amazing.

Re: Poland exhumes wartime leader's body for DNA tests

Schleppy - there were survivors from that crash??
Sorry for being ignorant here.

Re: Poland exhumes wartime leader's body for DNA tests

I should not have written “those” for survivors. The pilot survived the crash and testified in the inquiry. If memory serves, some dozen and a half passengers perished. The evidence was that there was mechanical failure to some of the control surfaces. It was nothing extraordinary in a time when tens of thousands of planes were flying in difficult conditions; with marginal service at best.

Re: Poland exhumes wartime leader's body for DNA tests

My grandfather was a history professor in Poland before bailing to the Land of the Free.
He served under Sikorski during WWII and he remained convinced until his death that “The General” was murdered, citing continued British reluctance to make the records surrounding his death public. Shortly after he died, British government postponed the release of those documents by another 50 years.

I personally have never studied this so I have no idea…but the prevalent theory seems to be that Sikorski was the only Polish leader who had direct access to Stalin, hence he was creating problems for the British who wanted to end the war as quickly as possible.

Anyway – it really doesn’t matter at this point.

Re: Poland exhumes wartime leader's body for DNA tests

The Soviets did have British agents in Gibraltar.
The idea of the British govt assassinating Sikorski on Stalin's orders is risible though. The only high-level assassination the British did during the war was Reinhard Heydrich in Czechoslovakia.

Stalin was not treated as a friend by Churchill. True, the British should have shouted louder at Russian plans in eastern Europe and should have treated stranded foreign servicement with more dignity, but they never viewed Stalin as "a Christian gentleman" like Roosevelt did.