Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Never Forget

This side of the Katyn monument also depicts the starvation of Poles sent to by the Russians to Siberia.

          This startling monument is a memorial to the Polish officers, soldiers, and civilians executed by the Soviet secret police in or near the Katyn Forest in Russia in 1940.
          To read more about the monument itself, which is in Jersey City, NJ, and its sculptor, Andrzej Pitynski, click here.
          To read about the massacre, and the coverups, misinformation, and finger-pointing subsequent to it, click here.
          To read about recently declassified documents that show the Allies were involved in the coverups in order to maintain the alliance with the Soviet Union that they felt was crucial to winning WWII, click here.
          I actually only intended to discuss the monument itself, which is strikingly original and very compelling from an artistic point of view, but the facts of the massacre are complicated, ugly, and painful, as history often is, and the monument is a jarring reminder of how common the desire of one group to annihilate another is.  When you see it from the front (this photo is taken from the back), you also have a view across the Hudson River to the empty space in the New York skyline where the Twin Towers once stood, and the exhortation to "Never forget" the September 11 terrorist attacks is also fitting for the Katyn Massacre.
          What I would like us to Never Forget, though, is not the acts themselves, but that fear and ignorance breed the kind of anger and mistrust that feeds these horrific acts. We should never forget that we are all of us capable of great cruelty in the service of our fear and ignorance.
          And we should above all never forget that we are capable of greatness pure and plain when we refuse to let fear and ignorance rule our actions.

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