The IPN delegation headed by President Jarosław Szarek began their visit to Odessa by laying flowers under a plaque commemorating the late President of Poland, Lech Kaczyński and at the memorial site at the II Christian Cemetery, where the IPN representatives visited the Polish quarters. The IPN representatives were accompanied by Polish Consul Andrzej Szmidtke, the Director of the State Regional Archives in Odessa Petro Łukjanczuk and Poles from Odessa representing the ‘Polska Nuta’ organization.
The exhibition "Order No. 00485. Anti-Polish Operation of the NKVD in Soviet Ukraine 1937-1938", prepared by the Archive of the IPN in cooperation with Ukrainian archivists, was officially opened at 10:30 in the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Odessa. The ceremonial opening was conducted jointly by Bishop Bronisław Bernacki, ordinary of the Diocese of Odessa-Simferopol, the President of the IPN Dr Jarosław Szarek, the Consul of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Szmidtke, the Director of the State Regional Archives in Odessa, Petro Łukjanczuk, and the Head of the department of culture in the regional administration Jarosław Reznikow and Paweł Zielony from the Archive of the IPN.
The exhibition, prepared by the Archive of the IPN, consists of 16 boards presenting the fate of people persecuted as part of the "Polish operation" carried out by the NKVD in the Soviet Union in 1937-1938.
The first five boards show the situation of Poles after the Treaty of Riga and the course of the "Polish operation" in the USSR. The following ones portray the personal stories of the repressed. Additionally, 3 boards present photographs of the reenactment of arrests, interrogations and shootings.
The exhibition is based on photos and documents from the collections of the Ukrainian State Regional Archives in Vinnytsia, Khmelnytskyi and Odessa as well as documents obtained from the Memorial Society and the Center for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding.
So far, the exhibition has been presented in Vinnytsia and in Khmelnytskyi.
After the ceremonial opening of the exhibition, a round table discussion devoted to the activities of social organizations commemorating the victims of political repression in the region of Odessa took place. The IPN was represented by the Director of the National Education Office, Adam Hlebowicz and the senior specialist from the Archive of the Institute of National Remembrance Paweł Zielony. During the meeting, lectures were given by: - Dr Ołena Sztepko, Dr Lidia Kowalczuk, Jewhen Biłyj, Aleks Köhler and Adam Hlebowicz.
The representatives of the Institute also paid a visit to the headquarters of the Odessa archives, where they were able to see documents, among others, produced by the Soviet special services. Dr Jarosław Szarek, the President of the Institute of National Remembrance and the Director of the IPN Archive, Marzena Kruk discussed future archival cooperation between the two institutions with Director Petro Łukjanczuk.
During the next day in Odessa, on 10 September, the delegation of the Institute of National Remembrance headed by President, Dr Jarosław Szarek, the Director of the IPN Archive Marzena Kruk and the Director of the Historical Research Office, Adam Hlebowicz, together with Consul Andrzej Szmidtke, laid flowers on a mass grave located on the route to Ovidopol. Fiodor Bartkowski, a descendant of Poles shot there in 1938 and the person who marked the exhumation site with a cross in 2007, was their guide.
Then, representatives of the Institute laid flowers at a plaque commemorating the victims of Stalinist repression at the place of burial of the exhumed remains, at the Western Cemetery and paid a short visit to the parish of St Margaret the Virgin, where they met with Father Aleksander Wioncek.
In the evening, the delegation met with Father Bernacki, the first Catholic bishop in the Odessa-Simferopol Diocese, and visited the Poles of the "Polska Nuta" ["Polish Note"] Association.