We ask you to SIGN THE PETITION to keep Katyn memorial in Exchange Place.
As you might all already know, there’re plans to remove the Katyn memorial from Exchange Place that is due to be redeveloped into a recreation park. The news has been announced recently by the mayor of Jersey City, Mr. Steven Fulop. According to Mr. Mike DeMarco of Exchange Place Special Improvement District, the statue is “not exactly a politically correct idea nowadays”.
Mr. DeMarco also said: “I don’t think the statue’s appropriate for a major metropolitan area… It’s a little gruesome … I can’t imagine how many mothers go by and have to explain it to their children.”
We cannot allow this to happen, the memorial is not only a part of Polish history and the tribute to those who were murdered but also a caution to the new generations what could happen in dictatorship run states.
Moreover, the plans for removal of the statue were not consulted with the local community, especially with the Polish community that financed the monument and got the permission to have it erected in 1991.
Downtown Councilman James Solomon said he’s concerned that the city’s Polish community was not consulted about moving the Katyn memorial.
I haven’t seen a proposal so it’s hard for me to say pro or con, we need more green space in the area. Can you incorporate more green space around the statue? Probably.
Downtown Councilman James Solomon
Let us remind you the very words on the plinth of the statue:
“On the seventeenth of September 1939 the Polish Army, engaged in fierce combat against the Germans, was attacked from the rear by the Soviet Army. In conspiracy with Hitler (The Ribbentrop – Molotov Pact) ,Stalin seized forty-seven percent of Polish land and annexed it to Soviet Russia. Two million Polish citizens including children, women, and senior citizens perished en route to Siberia and at torturous work in Soviet labor camps. From 1944 to 1956, thousands of Polish patriots — soldiers of the underground armies of the A.K., NOW, NSZ, and WIN — were heinously murdered by the Soviet Secret Police (the NKVD). This monument is dedicated to the millions of Polish citizens and heroes who offered their lives in the fight against communism for our and your freedom. Let them have honor and glory for all time.”
Here’s a copy of the petition:
Dear Mr. President,
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. Unfortunately, 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.
Photo source: Jersey City Upfront