On 10 April 2010, a special TU-154M plane with the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and the First Lady Maria Kaczyńska on board took off from Warsaw to Smolensk. On that very day the members of the official delegation were to participate in the ceremonies taking place in the Katyn War Cemetery, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the crime committed there. The aircraft carried 96 people, including members of the highest state authorities, representatives of various social circles and religious denominations, high-ranking military commanders and the plane’s crew. All the flight passengers died in the air disaster which took place during landing at the airport near Smolensk.
The delegation heading for the Katyn celebrations on 10 April 2010 consisted of representatives of the Polish elite, holding diverse political, social and religious beliefs. It included deputy speakers of Sejm and Senate, a group of parliamentarians, top commanders of Polish Armed Forces, Presidential Chancellery, officials of state institutions, clergymen, representatives of ministries, members of veterans’ and social organizations, and accompanying persons. Ryszard Kaczorowski, present aboard the plane, symbolically connected contemporary Poland to the Second Republic’s elites and tradition.
Those on the flight to Smolensk headed to Katyn in order to pay tribute to the victims of mass executions carried out in the Katyn Forest, Mednoye, Kharkiv, Bykivnia and Kuropaty by NKVD in Spring 1940 under the order of the Soviet Union’s head authorities. The Katyn massacre took lives of the Polish prisoners of war, among whom were officers, academics, clergymen of all faiths, civil servants and officials, representatives of free professions and entrepreneurs – members of the Second Republic’s elite. The Katyn crime and Smolensk plane crash are two symbols of tragic events in the history of Poland.
Because of the catastrophe of the TU-154M aircraft, President Lech Kaczyński did not have the possibility to deliver the speech prepared for the 70th anniversary of the Katyn crime.
“Let’s have the Katyn wound finally healed and turned into a scar,” wrote the President then.
His message message that he could not convey on 10 April 2010, resounds today, after ten years, equally powerful.
The events of that day shocked millions of Poles, as well as the international public opinion. Those on board of the flight will live forever in our memories. (MFA Press Office)
on the photo HE Lech Kaczyński, the President of Poland, and the First Lady Maria Kaczyńska