This morning at a conference in Cambridge, England titled “The Economic Crisis and the Crisis in Economics” sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, alerts on the blackberries and iPhones of the various governmental and journalistic representatives here started beeping and vibrating with news that the President of Poland Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria Kaczynska, and various other key officials of the Polish military, foreign ministry and other departments of government were killed when the President’s plane crashed while landing in bad weather in western Russia.
Here is a partial list of those killed in the aircraft disaster.
Poland and Russia were attempting to get beyond the painful historical scars rooted in the execution by the Soviet NKVD of 21,768 senior Polish military officers, government officials and intellectuals. President Kaczynski and his delegation were traveling to Russia to a commemorative service honoring those who had been killed seventy years ago near Katyn in a joint Russia-Poland service.
In October 1989, Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to Jimmy Carter and America’s most well-known Polish-American official, visited Katyn at the invitation of then Soviet President Mikael Gorbachev.
Brzezinski commented that:
It isn’t a personal pain which has brought me here, as is the case in the majority of these people, but rather recognition of the symbolic nature of Katyn.
Russians and Poles, tortured to death, lie here together. It seems very important to me that the truth should be spoken about what took place, for only with the truth can the new Soviet leadership distance itself from the crimes of Stalin and the NKVD.
Only the truth can serve as the basis of true friendship between the Soviet and the Polish peoples. The truth will make a path for itself. I am convinced of this by the very fact that I was able to travel here.
Brzezinski also stated:
The fact that the Soviet government has enabled me to be here — and the Soviets know my views — is symbolic of the breach with Stalinism that perestroika represents.
Clearly, what was meant to be a much more public confession by Russian leaders and acknowledgment and reset opportunity for Poles and Russians together at this memorial service will now be a tragedy squared.
Condolences to Poland’s citizens and to the family, friends and colleagues of those killed in this disaster.
— Steve Clemons