Proposed Amendment submitted by PAC Division Presidents

The Honorable Robert Menendez
The Honorable James E. Risch
The Honorable Richard Durbin
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,
c/o Mr. Damian Murphy, Senior Professional Staff Member Washington, D.C. 20510

Re: Presidents of State Divisions of the Polish American Congress call for amendment of S. Res. 566

We, Presidents of State Divisions of the Polish American Congress, welcome and applaud the idea of a resolution commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Katyn Massacre, introduced to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Senators Menendez, Risch, and Durbin on May 7th, 2020, now known as S. Res. 566. We appreciate the effort in bringing attention to the crimes that were committed. This communication is intended to improve and enhance the resolution by an amendment which would also reflect the moral outrage that the Polish American community ascribes to this massacre. It should, furthermore, do justice to victims of the massacre by calling it a genocide.

First, we would like to bring to your attention the wording in the proposed Resolution. It minimizes the gravity and implies a change in the character of the Katyn crime, which we believe needs correction:

“Whereas the Katyn Massacre fits into a larger pattern of Communist governments around the world persecuting their citizens and denying their people freedom, which has resulted in the deaths of up to 100,000,000 people since the Russian Revolution of 1917.” See: .

The Polish officers held as Prisoners-of-War by the Soviet Union were not murdered because “the Communist governments […] persecuted their citizens.” The Katyn victims, as citizens of the Polish nation, were brutally murdered because they valiantly defended their homeland, as Poles, against the Soviet aggression of September 17, 1939. They were not Soviet citizens and the Soviet Union was not their government. They were Soviet Prisoners-of-War, soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces that constituted a part of the Allied Coalition during WWII. They were murdered because they defended their homeland against the Soviet aggression, and remained loyal to Poland to the end.

The Katyn victims do not fit “a larger pattern of Communist government persecuting their citizens and denying their people freedom.” Instead, they fit a larger pattern of similar conduct by Stalinist Russia aimed at destroying the Polish people because of their nationality. This is evidenced by the “Polish Operation” of 1937, Katyn Operation of 1940, and innumerable mass executions and deportations to Siberia with intent of extermination. All those operations were aimed at annihilating the Polish national group as such. The Katyn victims were murdered not because they wanted to overthrow the Soviet government or demanded more freedoms in the Soviet Union, but because they belonged to the Polish national group that the Soviet Union intended to annihilate.

May 18th, 2020

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The current wording in the Resolution implies that the Katyn atrocity was perpetrated for political reasons. Hence, the Katyn crime would not meet the standard of genocide because it was not aimed at any protected national group but merely at political opposition. Such language, contrary to facts, is reminiscent of Russian anti-Katyn policy. The Katyn Execution Order of March 5th, 1940 of the Soviet Politburo states that the officers held as prisoners of war selected for execution are “Polish by nationality.” Accordingly, the Katyn Execution Order itself reveals that it is aimed at the Polish national group. According to the UN Genocide Convention, even if the motives for the atrocity are mixed, the coexistence of motives is no defense if the genocidal motive is present.

It is particularly unfortunate that S.R. 566 is submitted now, at exactly the time when in Tver, Russia – the place where thousands more Polish POWs were executed pursuant to the “Katyn Execution Order” — commemorative plaques for this genocidal act were recently removed.

We certainly do not want, or can agree, to any wording that may imply Soviet historical revisionism, or Putin’s continued attempts at denying, concealing, and distorting the truth about Katyn and the Soviet genocide of the Polish people. The Congress of the United States, the leader of the Free World, must not contribute to such efforts.

In considering this amendment, we urge you, our US Senators, to reflect on the following statement made by Hon. Dennis Kucinich in 2011 (“Kucinich Clause”):

Whereas, Katyn was aimed at eliminating the very idea of Poland, to exterminate the people and the memory of the people. Katyn presents a moral crisis to this day because the moral calculus with respect to Katyn has not been worked out. Katyn represents a marker in human history that has not yet been fully inscribed;

Based on the information noted and the above reasoning, we strongly urge you to consider and include the following statement within the Senate Resolution:

We recognize that the systematic mass murders of the Polish people, conducted pursuant to the order of March 5th, 1940 issued by the Soviet Politburo, raises to the level of the crime of genocide.

The essence of this amendment is to better reflect, on the one hand, the tremendous outrage of the Polish people, including those in the Polish-American community, and at the same time a moral indignation that the Senate itself may express about the Katyn Massacre, by exacting a price on the part of the country which committed these crimes, and to fore-stall Russia’s efforts at historical revisionism. Therefore, we encourage adoption of the amendment.

Respectfully yours,

Ann Bankowski, President
Polish American Congress- Michigan, Inc.

Jerzy Bogdziewicz, President PAC Florida Division, Inc.

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Richard Brzozowski, President
Polish American Congress Long Island Division New York, Inc.

Andrzej Burghardt, President PAC New Jersey Division, Inc.

Wiesław Gołębiewski, President PAC Florida Western Division, Inc.

Edward Jeśman, President
Polish American Congress of Southern California, Inc.

James L. Ławicki II, President
Polish American Congress Western New York Division Inc

Andrzej Prokopczuk, President
Polish American Congress, Northern California Division, Inc.

Bozena Urbankowska, President
PAC New Jersey Northern Division, Inc.

Marek Waniołka, President PAC Missouri Division, Inc.

Wiesław Wierzbowski, President
PAC Massachusetts Eastern Division, Inc.

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