OPERATION WISŁA IS REMEMBERED AFTER 70 YEARS

April 28, 2017

OPERATION WISŁA IS REMEMBERED AFTER 70 YEARS

RENEWED HOPE OF RECONCILIATION AFTER TRAGIC POST WAR EVENT
 
       Many people may have never heard of “Operation Wisla” or “Akcija Wisła”, but after 70 years the scars are still visible and in some case the social wound still fester. Yet on 28 April 2017 many people throughout the world mark the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Wisla Operation (Akcja Wisla) which was the forced deportation by the post-World-War-II Polish government of Ukrainians from their ancestral lands in what is today eastern Poland. Ukrainians living in the Lemko, Boyko, Nadsianna, Kholm and Pidliashia regions were deported to territories in the north and west of post-WWII Poland.
 
The forced deportation of the ethnic Ukrainian population from the region of "Zakerzonnia" was followed by the expropriation of Ukrainian property by the Polish state and the intentional assimilation of the Ukrainian ethnic population. Some 150,000 Ukrainians were forcibly deported. The development of the Ukrainian language, culture and faith were prohibited in Communist Poland. Today we remember and honour the victims of this dreadful period in history.
 
The Ukrainian Catholic Bishops in Poland asked that the faithful light a candle today and spend time in Prayer and reflection. They asked that in every church a panakhyda (memorial service) would be prayed for the many that died during the “operation” and afterward and were buried far from their homes. In their pastoral letter, which can be read [HERE], the bishops state, the homelands “were left orphaned: burned and abandoned churches, towns and houses, abandoned cemeteries with the bodily remains of loved ones that were buried there for centuries. A silence was imposed during which our language was not heard, nor were our prayers or songs…. weeping was heard for the lost homeland and our church, which was then banned.” The letter goes on to mention the forced marches and transportation to the other side of the country. For many everything was lost. Loved ones died and, if determined to be necessary, were killed by the soldiers executing the order. The Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukraine, as a whole, made a similar pastoral reqiest of the whole Church to serve a Panakhyda on Sunday April 30th in the local chuches and light a candle or remembrance. His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, will issue a pastoral letter on Operation Wisla this weekend.
 
A Consultative Committee of the Presidents of Ukraine and Poland, where representatives of Presidents Poroshenko and Duda met on April 11 and agreed to develop a roadmap of reconciliation between the Ukrainian and Polish peoples. The goal of this document is to "ensure the constructive character of bilateral dialogue and promoting mutual understanding between the two peoples to further strengthen the strategic partnership between Ukraine and Poland."
 
A Statement (in Ukrainian) by the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko to the Ukrainian Community in Poland to on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the beginning of this tragedy can be found [HERE]
 
Brief History of Akcija Wisła in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine found [HERE]. As the Ukrainian Canadian Congress reports, many Ukrainians that moved to Canada from Poland are also commemorating this tragic past that they or their parents experienced personally.

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