The ceremony on 9 July began with a Holy Mass in Ostrówki (Ukraine). Representatives of the Institute of National Remembrance paid tribute to the murdered by laying flowers and lighting candles at the cemetery in Ostrówki and Zasmyki. Leon Popek, a historian from the IPN, and Ukrainian citizens who had previously helped the IPN staff in the preservation and conservation of the graves of Poles resting there, also participated in the event. Oleksandra Vasiejko, better known as Grandmother Shura, also attended the ceremony. She did not let her murdered neighbors be forgotten and for several decades prayed over the graves of Poles which had been pointed out to her by her father. Later, after the fall of the communist system, she helped Polish archaeologists find the burial places of many more victims. It was largely thanks to her efforts that these people were finally given a dignified burial.While paying tribute to those who lost their lives at the hands of Ukrainian nationalists, it is important not to forget the Ukrainian Righteous - people who - sometimes risking their lives - rescued their Polish neighbors by warning them of imminent danger, providing them with food, water and shelter on their farms.
The preservation and conservation works at memorial cites and cemeteries constituting the resting places of Poles murdered during the Volhynia Massacre were carried out on 4-7July 2022. Approximately 20 volunteers worked in Ostrówki, Zasmyki, Kysylyn and Pavlivka. In addition to the necropolises, preservation and conservation works at such memorial sites as mass graves marked with crosses, the graves at the former Strażyc,Trusiuk and Suszko farms, as well as the cross located in front of the former church in Ostrówki were also carried out.
During the official visit, IPN Deputy President, Prof. Karol Polejowski also took part in a Holy Mass celebrated by Bishop Vitaly Skomarovsky at 10:00 a.m. in Lutsk Cathedral, where flowers were laid and memorial candles lit at cemeteries and monuments dedicated to Polish victims of the OUN-UPA in Kysylyn and Pavlivka (formerly Poryck).
The commemorative events are co-organized by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance and the Polish Consulate General in Lutsk.
The Massacres in Volhynia
The massacres in Volhynia were anti-Polish genocidal ethnic cleansings conducted by Ukrainian nationalists. The massacres took place within Poland’s borders as of the outbreak of World War II, not only in Volhynia, but also in other areas with a mixed Polish-Ukrainian population, especially the Lwów, Tarnopol, and Stanisławów voivodeships (that is, in Eastern Galicia), as well as in some voivodeships bordering on Volhynia (the western part of the Lublin voivodeship and the northern part of the Polesievoivodeship). The time frame of these massacres was 1943−1945. The perpetrators were the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists−the Bandera fraction (OUN-B) and its military wing, called the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Their own documents show that the planned extermination of the Polish population was called the “anti-Polish operation”.
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