An unthinkable tragedy has befallen Poland. All of Poland's leaders from the President on down, military and civilian, were wiped out in a plane crash while trying to land in Russia.
The pilot made three unsuccessful attempts to land before the crash. On the fourth try, the plane fell apart, Interfax said, citing officials at Smolensk’s interior ministry.
In Russia, there are no accidents.
Alas, Poland Bruce
The pilot was told Smolensk airport was closed because of thick fog, according to the news agency Interfax. He was offered a choice of landing instead in either Moscow or Minsk, the capital of Belarus. But he decided to continue with the original flight plan and land at Smolensk.
The pilot made three unsuccessful attempts to land before the crash. On the fourth try and plane fell apart, Interfax said, citing officials at Smolensk’s interior ministry.
[...] Kaczynski was visiting Smolensk to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, which took place in forests outside the town. The massacre of Polish officers by Russian secret police was one of the most notorious incidents of the second world war, and has long been a source of tension between Warsaw and Moscow.
On Wednesday, Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk attended a joint ceremony at Katyn with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Kaczynski, who had poor relations with the Kremlin, was making a separate trip to the spot.
(April 10) -- Poland's president, his wife and some of the country's most prominent military and civilian leaders died this morning when their plane crashed while coming in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia. There were no survivors aboard the plane, which carried 97 people.
President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria were heading to Russia's Smolensk region to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, where Soviet secret police killed thousands of Polish officers during World War II.
"The Polish presidential plane did not make it to the runway while landing. Tentative findings indicate that it hit the treetops and fell apart," Smolensk's governor, Sergei Anufriev, told Russian TV. "Nobody has survived the disaster."
Russia's Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu said there were 97 dead, 88 of whom were part of the Polish state delegation. Initial signs pointed to an accident with no indication of foul play.
Local media showed footage of the crash site, where firefighters sprayed water on smoldering wreckage strewn through a wooded area. A tail fin with Poland's red and white flag colors stuck up from the debris. The plane reportedly went down less than 400 yards from an airport runway.
For those of you who don’t recall Katyn, I wrote about it last August.
Katyn: In 1962, one of my later mentors published the first definitive book proving that the Soviets committed the massacre of Poland’s military elite at Katyn. This is a very important key to understanding the Captive Nations outcome of WWII and the Cold War. I just rented the film, Katyn, directed by Poland’s most famous director. Anne Applebaum, steeped in Soviet history, has an interesting review of the film, “A Movie That Matters.” An excerpt:
"Certainly its Polish viewers know how it will end, long before they enter the cinema. Katyn, as its title suggests, tells the story of the near-simultaneous Soviet and German invasions of Poland in September 1939, and the Red Army's subsequent capture, imprisonment, and murder of some 20,000 Polish officers in the forests near the Russian village of Katyn and elsewhere, among them Wajda's father. The justification for the murder was straightforward. These were Poland's best-educated and most patriotic soldiers. Many were reservists who as civilians worked as doctors, lawyers, university lecturers, and merchants. They were the intellectual elite who could obstruct the Soviet Union's plans to absorb and "Sovietize" Poland's eastern territories. On the advice of his secret police chief, Lavrenty Beria, Stalin ordered them executed.
"But the film is about more than the mass murder itself. For decades after it took place, the Katyn massacre was an absolutely forbidden topic in Poland, and therefore the source of a profound, enduring mistrust between the Poles and their Soviet conquerors. Officially, the Soviet Union blamed the murder on the Germans, who discovered one of the mass graves (there were at least three) following the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941. Soviet prosecutors even repeated this blatant falsehood during the Nuremberg trials and it was echoed by, among others, the British government.
"Unofficially, the mass execution was widely assumed to have been committed by the Soviet Union. In Poland, the very word "Katyn" thus evokes not just the murder but the many Soviet falsehoods surrounding the history of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939. Katyn wasn't a single wartime event, but a series of lies and distortions, told over decades, designed to disguise the reality of the Soviet postwar occupation and Poland's loss of sovereignty."
Obama snubbing Poland for 70th anniversary of WWII? Poland was the most screwed over country going into, during, and after WWII. Those of its soldiers who escaped the Nazis and Soviets were among the bravest fighters with the Allies. Poland and Poles deserve more respect.
Wonder what hollow words President Obama will utter now?Today’s loss is devastating to Poland, to the United States, and to the world. President Kaczynski was a distinguished statesman who played a key role in the Solidarity movement, and he was widely admired in the United States as a leader dedicated to advancing freedom and human dignity. With him were many of Poland’s most distinguished civilian and military leaders who have helped to shape Poland’s inspiring democratic transformation. We join all the people of Poland in mourning their passing.
As usual from Obama, contradicted by his undercutting of Poland volunteering to host anti-missile defense and his disdain for Polish President Lech Kaczynski when alive. Israel surely gets the point.
UPDATE: The horror is incomprehensible -- partial list (thanks to Jane) Via Wiki
Presidential and governmental figures
Kaczyñski, President of * Maria Kaczyñska, First
Lady of Poland * Mariusz Handzlik,
Undersecretary of State in the Office of the President of the RepublicPoland
* Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last President of the Polish government-in-exile
* Andrzej Kremer, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
* S³awomir Skrzypek, President Poland
* W³adys³aw Stasiak, Chief of the Office of the President of the Republic Poland
* Aleksander Szczyg³o, head of the National Security Bureau
* Pawe³ Wypych, Secretary of State in the Office of the President of the
Lieutenant General Andrzej B³asik, Chief of the Polish Air Force
* Major General Tadeusz Buk, Commander of the Land Forces
* General Franciszek G±gor, Chief of the Polish Army General Staff
* Vice Admiral Andrzej Karweta, Commander-in-chief of the Polish Navy
Bochenek, Deputy Speaker of the Senat
* Janina Fetliñska, member of the Senat
* Stanis³aw Zaj±c, member of the Senate
Deptu³a, member of the Sejm
* Grzegorz Dolniak, member of the Sejm
* Gra¿yna Gêsicka, member of the Sejm
* Przemys³aw Gosiewski, member of the Sej
* Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, member of the Sejm
* Sebastian Karpiniuk, member of the Sejm
* Aleksandra Natalli-¦wiat, member of the Sejm
* Krzysztof Putra, Deputy Speaker of the Sejm
* Arkadiusz Rybicki, member of the Sejm
* Jerzy Szmajdziñski, Deputy Speaker of the Sejm
* Jolanta Szymanek-Deresz, member of the Sejm
* Zbigniew Wassermann, member of the Sejm
* Wies³aw Woda, member of the Sejm
* Edward Wojtas, member of the Sejm
Archbishop Miron Chodakowski, Orthodox Ordinary of the Polish Army
* Tadeusz P³oski, bishop of the Military Ordinariate of the Polish Army
* Ryszard Rumianek, Rector of the Stefan
Kochanowski, Polish Ombudsman for Citizen Rights
* Janusz Kurtyka, Historian and president of the Institute ofNational Remembrance * Piotr Nurowski, President of the Polish Olympic Committee
* Maciej P³a¿yñski, President of the Polish Community Association
* Andrzej Przewo¼nik, Secretary-General of the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites
* Anna Walentynowicz, free trade union activist, member of Solidarity movement