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Old December 22nd, 2019 #1
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Default In Removal Of Plaques Marking Katyn Massacre, Critics See Russian Campaign To Rewrite History

In Removal Of Plaques Marking Katyn Massacre, Critics See Russian Campaign To Rewrite History

December 22, 2019

TVER, Russia -- The historic building on Soviet Street is now dedicated to the practice of saving lives. But some still recall a time when it served the opposite purpose.

Before it was taken over by Tver State Medical University in 1954, this was the regional headquarters of the NKVD, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s secret police. For a decade and a half, starting in 1938, its basement housed a prison for enemies of his regime.

According to documents unearthed by historians and eyewitness testimony, it was here that, in 1940, several thousand Polish officers were killed by Stalin’s government as part of what became known as the Katyn massacre -- the execution of some 22,000 Poles following the successive invasions of that country in September 1939 by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which had signed a nonaggression pact and secretly agreed to divide the lands lying between them.

Every year on October 30, a delegation from Poland comes to lay flowers at the building, beneath two metal plaques that were affixed to its facade in 1991 with inscriptions commemorating those who died in its basement: the 6,000 Poles estimated to have been shot, and the many other nationalities who fell victim to what became known as Stalin’s Great Terror.

Authorities in Tver ordered the plaques taken down.

But two days before this year’s ceremony, authorities in Tver ordered the plaques taken down. In a letter to the university’s rector Lesya Chichanovskaya, the local prosecutor’s office said crucial documents relating to the plaques’ origins are missing from the archives. Their inscriptions, it said, are “not based on documented facts.”


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