20 April 2017
The Mass was attended by representatives of the Polish diplomatic mission, politicians of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, Poles Union in Lithuania, combatants, representatives of social organizations, scouts, Polish community in Lithuania. There is a plaque commemorating Polish officers murdered in Katyn at the Church of St. Raphael the Archangel Vilnius.
The mass was celebrated by the parish priest, Fr Mirosław Grabowski, who said the catastrophe in Smolensk was one of the greatest tragedies ever to befall the Polish Nation, together with the fact that Poland’s elite were killed there. Referring to the Katyn crime, Fr Grabowski said: "We are praying today that it will not happen again, praying for a criminal, who before he acts will consider for a moment human dignity".
On the 7th anniversary of the Smolensk catastrophe, a traditional roll call of honour was held in front of the Presidential Palace. Polish President Andrzej Duda made a speech during the ceremony, which was attended by the state authorities. Later in the evening, a March of Memory passed through the streets of Warsaw. Prime minister Beat Szydło, speakers of the Sejm and Senate Marek Kuchciński and Stanislaw Karczewski, as well as the chairman of the Law and Justice party Jaroslaw Kaczynski laid wreaths and lit candles on the graves of victims of the Smolensk catastrophe at the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw.
A number of celebrations were also held outside the country.
During his speech in front of the Presidential Palace President Duda said “Seven years ago the world woke up to a shocking, dramatic day especially for the state, relatives, wives, husbands, parents, children, grandchildren. These are empty places that cannot be filled in any way, and they always remain like a burned glade in the forest, like a place where nothing wants to grow, and only time can sometimes diminish the pain,” he said.
Smolensk catastrophe: The greatest tragedy in the history of post-WWII Poland occurred in the early hours of 10 April 2010. An air disaster claimed the lives of Poland’s President Lech Kaczyński, First Lady Maria Kaczyńska, the last President-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski, top state officials, members of the Polish delegation, and crew members, who were on their way to attend celebrations marking 70 years of the Katyn Crime.
Among the 96 victims were longstanding and eminent members of the foreign service: Andrzej Kremer, MFA Undersecretary of State, Mariusz Handzlik, Undersecretary of State at the Polish President’s Chancellery, Stanisław Jerzy Komorowski, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of National Defence, and Mariusz Kazana, Director of Diplomatic Protocol.
The events of 10 April came as a shock to millions of Poles at home and abroad, and to the international public. The books of condolences at Poland’s diplomatic missions were signed by politicians, well-known personalities, and ordinary citizens, who thus demonstrated their solidarity with the mourning Polish people.
The Katyn massacre: A crime against humanity, mass murder, by shooting, of not less than 21,768 Polish citizens, for the purpose of liquidating a part of the Polish national group, during the period between 5 March and an unspecified date in 1940 on the territory of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics by its state functionaries acting on instructions from the authorities of their state.
In the years 1940-1990 the Soviet authorities denied responsibility for the Katyn massacre, but on 13 April 1990, it officially acknowledged and condemned the perpetration of the killings by the NKVD. However, many issues related to this crime have never been explained.