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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Monument in Baltimore Honors Katyn Victims

BALTIMORE — As a young Polish officer, Monsignor Zdzislaw Peszkowski was spared execution when Soviet troops invaded Poland in 1939. But thousands of his comrades were not as fortunate. Those fallen soldiers, buried six decades ago in unmarked graves, were honored Sunday with the dedication of a new monument near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

"It is the voice of them," Peszkowski said of the 9-meter high statue. "They are shouting here about the truth."

Located near a Polish enclave, the statue depicts Polish soldiers of the past thousand years, engulfed in gold-leaf flames.

In spring 1940, the Soviet secret police shot 15,000 Polish officers in the head and dumped most of their bodies into common graves near the Russian village of Mednoye and in the forest of Katyn.

The Katyn graves were discovered by the invading Nazis in 1943.

The slayings became a rallying symbol for Polish nationalism and a point of contention between Poland and the Soviet Union, in part because the Kremlin didn’t acknowledge the massacre until 1990.

During the ceremony, Peszkowski helped lay an urn filled with soil from the Katyn burial ground at the foot of the new monument. Among the 400 people who attended were Polish government officials.

Antonine Hubska, 60, came from Seminole, Florida, for the ceremony. The secretary of the Siberia Society of Florida, her family was sent to a Siberian camp in 1948 as part of the Soviet farm collectivization. The monument, she said, is a tribute to both the fallen soldiers and the struggles of families like hers. "We’ve been in the same shoes."