A group of local community activists and Polish-Americans is asking state officials to help fund the creation of a bronze sculpture, to be placed in Inner Harbor East in memory of 15,400 military officers and Polish intellectuals killed by Russian soldiers during World War II.
Those who were slain by the Soviet NKVD -- the predecessor to the KGB -- in the Katyn Forest in western Russia in May 1940 were some of Poland's most educated doctors, lawyers, soldiers and clergy. They were prisoners of war, ordered killed by Josef Stalin to suppress opposition to the Soviet Union's invasion of Poland.
"The massacre in the Katyn forest is an extreme example of mistreatment of prisoners of war," said Alfred B. Wisniewski, chairman of the Baltimore-based National Katyn Memorial Committee Inc. "It would be unforgivable not to pay tribute to them."
Members of the memorial committee on Monday asked state legislators to grant them a $200,000 bond to help cover construction costs for the 44-foot bronze sculpture, which will be placed in a grassy knoll at Aliceanna and President streets.
The sculpture, which also will be dedicated to other victims of wartime atrocities, has been in the works for six years. Lack of funding has stalled the project, Wisniewski said. The cost of materials will be more than $350,000, he said. To date, the memorial committee has raised $120,000 in private donations.
When completed, the piece will depict scenes from that spring in Katyn: Large flames engulf Polish soldiers, their hands bound, as they cry out against their captors. At the center of the sculpture, the shape of an eagle -- symbolizing freedom -- will be formed by the outline of the flames.
The sculpture will be based on a 10 1/2 -foot plaster model crafted by sculptor Andrzej Pitynksi. The model is on display at the Baltimore City Life Museums.
The city has donated the land, its upkeep and creation of a foundation for the sculpture's base.
Pub Date: 1/16/97