Memorial site dedicated to World War II Poles More than 400 attend ceremony in Inner Harbor

September 30, 1996|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

More than 400 politicians, community activists and Polish Americans dedicated a round plot of grass yesterday in Inner Harbor east to the memory of 15,400 Polish soldiers and intellectuals killed by Russian soldiers during World War II.

At a roundabout at Aliceanna and Felicia streets, under a sunny afternoon sky, the crowd heard descriptions of the killings from Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and about a dozen other dignitaries.

Those who were killed in April and May of 1940 in the Katyn Forest of western Russia, were some of Poland's most educated and talented doctors, lawyers, soldiers and clergy.

They had been prisoners of war ordered killed by Josef Stalin to suppress opposition to the Soviet Union's invasion of Poland.

Many who attended the site dedication said they wanted to remember the war crimes, and to help remind others of atrocities that should never happen again.

"Thousands of innocent souls were brutally murdered," said Alfred B. Wisniewski, chairman of the Baltimore-based National Katyn Memorial Committee Inc. "To not leave a trace of them would be unforgivable."

Beside the stage, a 10 1/2 -foot plaster bronze-colored abstract sculpture depicted scenes from that spring in Katyn: Large swirling flames engulf Polish soldiers, their hands bound, as they cry out against their captors. At the center, the shape of an eagle, symbolizing freedom, is formed by empty space around the flames.

"Here you see the officers of the army, from Poland and the world," said sculptor Andrzej Pitynksi, gesturing to the figures. "In the flames, they are being released into freedom."

The sculpture is a model of a 44-foot bronze sculpture to be mounted at the center of the site, Pitynksi said. Creation of the final product, still under construction, has been stalled for more than six years because of lack of funds, he said.

The cost of materials alone will be more than $450,000, according to Evelyn Burns, spokeswoman for the memorial committee.

The city has donated the land, its upkeep and creation of a foundation where the sculpture's base will stand.

Pub Date: 9/30/96

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