Poland removes four Soviet-era monuments amid Ukraine war

Poland removes four Soviet-era monuments amid Ukraine war

Poland has dismantled four communist-era monuments as part of a renewed effort to emphasise its disapproval of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The monuments, mostly concrete obelisks, were erected in 1945 to commemorate Red Army soldiers who fell while fighting Nazi German troops.

Workers used drills and heavy equipment to destroy the memorials at four different locations across Poland on Thursday.

Poland has since moved to remove symbols of Moscow’s post-World War II domination amid the Ukraine war.

The head of the state historical institute, Karol Nawrocki, claims the monuments represented a system that was guilty of enslaving and murdering its own people and other nations, including Poles.

"This is a monument to disgrace, a monument of contempt of the winners over the victims," Nawrocki said, speaking in the southern town of Glubczyce.

“In 1945 the Soviets did not bring liberation, they brought another captivity,” he added. “They were capturing Poland and treating it as booty.”

Other monuments were removed from former burial sites in Byczyna, in the southwest, and in Bobolice, in the northwest. The remains of the soldiers were exhumed and moved to proper graves in the 1950s.

A stone monument was also taken apart in the woods near Staszow, in the south of Poland.

Nawrocki stressed that Russian law prosecutes and provides up to three years in prison for anyone removing Soviet army monuments, even in foreign countries.

Ever since Poland ditched communism in 1989, the country has been taking steps to eradicate symbols of Moscow’s domination from its public spaces, removing monuments and plaques, while excluding graveyards or burial sites. Some have been moved to special storage.

Poland has backed Ukraine against Russia politically, militarily, and economically, and has taken in around 1.4 million Ukrainian refugees.