Keep Katyn memorial in Jersey City
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We, the Polish Americans stand united in our rejection of the plan to move the New Jersey statue commemorating the massacre of 22,000 Polish citizens from the Exchange Place. The plan was announced via Twitter account of Steven Fulop, Mayor of Jersey City yesterday. Mr. Fulop and Mike DeMarco, CEO of real-estate firm Mack-Cali and chair of the Exchange Place Special Improvement District push the move of the statue without public input, especially without listening to dissenting voices of New Jersey's Polish Americans.
The Katyn monument commemorates a series of mass executions of 22,000 Polish officers, policemen, professors, teachers, physicians, lawyers, priests, rabbis and public servants carried out by the Soviet NKVD in April and May 1940. The Katyn memorial, depicting a bound-and-gagged soldier impaled in the back by a bayoneted rifle, has been a fixture at Exchange Place since 1991. The statue symbolizes also the tragic history of Poland. The eastside of the pediment has a bronze relief depicting the starvation of Poles sent to Siberia. The reason for the massacre, according to the historian Gerhard Weinberg, was that Stalin wanted to deprive a potential future Polish military of a large portion of its talent. Unfortunatelly, Stalin's plan was successful: The slaughter in Katyn forest paved the way for the postwar Soviet occupation of Poland.
Today, 78 years after the Katyn massacre an important part of Polish identity, history and soul should make room for a real estate project of an investor and former banker who does not deem it necessary to consult his plans with the members of your City Council and with Polish Americans.
Krzysztof Nowak, a Polish American from New Jersey and president of the committee that organized to commission the statue, told The Jersey Journal that the statue should remain where it is. "You want to put a couple of benches around the monument? Put a couple of benches around the monument. Do you want to put a tree next to the monument? By all means", he said.
We urge you Mr. President to ensure that the plan to move the Katyn monument is abandoned and other stakeholders, particularly Polish Americans, are actively involved in the decision process.
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