Don’t hide history
Terming a statue on the waterfront in Jersey City, N.J., “gruesome,” the leader of a group planning to renovate a plaza there, facing the New York City skyline, wants it removed. City officials have agreed.
It is gruesome. And in some ways it may not be politically correct. But it needs to remain in a place where many people see it and learn about a chapter of history covered up and denied for many years.
It is called the Katyn Memorial. It features a Polish soldier who has been bound and gagged. A bayonet on a rifle impales him from behind.
It was erected to remind viewers of an atrocity in April and May 1940, when the Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany partnered to conquer Poland. On orders from communist officials in Moscow, thousands of Polish army officers and many others, including Jews, termed threats to the regime were rounded up and executed. About 22,000 victims were claimed, with many of them buried in mass graves in Russia’s Katyn Forest.
For many years, the massacre was covered up, even denied by U.S. officials after Stalin became our ally in World War II.
News the statue would be moved prompted an outcry from the Polish people and from Polish-Americans. It was announced Sunday that an agreement was reached to move the monument to another prominent location.
Good. It indeed is unpleasant to view. But attempting to hide all reminders of atrocities such as the Katyn Massacre is both wrong and a disservice — not just to the Polish people — but to all humankind. Covering up such history is an excellent way to pave the way for it to happen again.