22 listopada 2008
On 22 November 2008, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, paid a visit to Kyiv to attend the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ukraine. The Polish President was accompanied by Secretary of State at the Presidential Chancellery, Michał Kamiński, and Undersecretary of State at the Presidential Chancellery, Mariusz Handzlik.

President Lech Kaczyński went to the National Opera House to take part, together with the other guests, in the International Forum ‘Ukraine Remembers – The World Acknowledges’.

During the ceremony, the President of RP said the following:

Seventy five years ago, the communist regime committed a mass murder. I represent one of the countries which recognize the reality as it was: that murder was a genocide. Resolutions in this regard were adopted equally by the Senate and by the Sejm of the Republic of Poland in 2006. But the fight for the preservation of memory, also the memory about those murdered continues to be one of the most pressing tasks for the countries which have shed communism. It is not only because in 1932-1933 particularly cruel acts were pretreated in Ukraine, cruel even in categories of genocide. Starvation is a particularly cruel kind of death which befell millions of people, including Poles and Kazakhs inhabiting Ukraine, in particular in the vicinity of Zhytomyr, and also representatives of other nationalities, as President Yushchenko rightly pointed out. The fight for the preservation of memory is also crucial since communism was capable of perpetrating mass murders on the greatest scale and was very dexterous in concealing them. The other totalitarianism of the 20th century: Hitlerism and Nazism which took the toll of so many lives among my compatriots as well as Ukrainians, Lithuanians and Latvians, as a matter of fact did not seek to conceal its crimes. Chauvinism, violence, these were the slogans openly preached. Anti-Semitism stretched as far as genocide was not hidden, either, even if the very acts of genocide were kept secret. Whereas, as we all who lived back then remember well, communism sought to present itself as an idea or ideology or science which was almost humanist. It was shown as a necessary stage in historical development and it was meant to be means of achievement of universal happiness. Such a fallacy was readily adopted, one could even say “bought”, by the considerable part of elites, especially in Western Europe. Nowadays, admittedly, this fallacy is being removed but it has not yet been entirely done away with. The truth about the genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933, the truth about other crimes of genocide perpetrated before and after, is forcing its way through only with a great difficulty. And this is precisely why I would like to express here my great respect and acknowledgement to the authorities of Ukraine and Mr President Yushchenko personally for their commitment in the fight to restore memory. Also the memory of this genocide. The Ukrainian nation is choosing its own way and indeed has the right to do so. It is our profound conviction that this road will be leading to the West. But if it be so, if Ukraine’s history just as much as my own country’s history is to become part and parcel of the history of Europe, then all the truths contained therein must be made known. The history of Ukraine is just as much a European history as the history of France, for instance. And what is happening right now, all those efforts in the international arena, in the United Nations, UNESCO, in the European Parliament go in this very direction. Their relevance is confined to the present-day since unfortunately, we are helpless in the face of the tragedy of those people who perished 75-76 years ago. The only thing that we can give them back is memory, eternal memory. And our today’s ceremony is a proof of that memory which will not fade away, which will become a part of our common European awareness. And this is precisely the way it should be, in the name of what President Adamkus invoked in his address a moment ago. So that totalitarianism does not stand a chance on this soil ever again. For the sake of the future of our children and our grandchildren.”

In the afternoon of the same day, the Polish President returned to Poland.