The Ukrainian parliamentary speaker, Ruslan Stefánchuk, spoke about reconciliation regarding the mass murders in World War II that have caused tension with their neighbor and strategic ally, Poland, for 80 years. In his speech to Polish MPs, he emphasized that all human life has equal value regardless of nationality, race, gender, or religion. He expressed Ukraine’s willingness to stand with Poland and embrace the truth, no matter how uncompromising it may be.
This comes as Poland marks the 80th anniversary of the 1943-44 massacre of around 100,000 Poles by Ukrainian nationalists in Nazi-occupied Volyn and other areas. Whole villages were burnt to the ground and inhabitants were murdered by nationalists and their supporters who aimed to form an independent Ukrainian state. Poland refers to the event as a massacre, and an estimated 15,000 Ukrainians died in retaliation.
Stefánchuk thanked Poland for its support in providing military and humanitarian aid in Ukraine’s war with Russia. He also extended his condolences to the families of those killed in the Volyn massacre and proposed a joint effort to identify and commemorate all victims buried in Ukraine. Poland has long sought permission from Kiev to exhume, identify and commemorate Polish victims.
The parliamentary speaker stressed that it was a common moral duty to identify and honor the victims’ identities without barriers. He believed that taking a communal approach to painful history would be a “test of exceptional necessity” that opens the way for both forgiveness and seeking forgiveness. He referred to the words spoken by Polish Catholic bishops to German bishops in the 1960s as the foundation for reconciliation between Poland and Germany after World War II. Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Lau praised Stefánchuk’s speech, saying that it showed that both countries were on the right track towards reconciliation.