• December 23, 2012
  • 34

Stone commemorating Katyn displayed near grammar school

Christmas in 1939 was sad for all the Poles. Hołuba family was no exception. In December, the family received a letter from the father and husband, Bronisław Hołuba, major of Polish Army. It was sent from Kozielsk… and ended with words: ”I’ll be back soon. Wait for me”… They were waiting. His wife died in 1943 and orphaned two daughters. After the war all the distant family moved to Poland. Halina, major’s daughter, stayed in Vilnius waiting for the father. She was waiting till 50’s when her family in Poland received a book from England. It told the truth about Katyn and provided lists of victims, on which her father’s name was.

Below a note about Bronisław Hołub, as printed in guides about all officers killed in Katyn, is provided:

“Bronisław Stanisław Hołub, a retired major, son of Józef Hołub and Alina Reuter, born on the 23rd of November 1890 in Lithuanian Minsk. Soldier in Polish I Corps in Russia. In 1920 fought in the 31st infantry regiment; twice wounded. Retired. Between years 1931-1936 a commanding officer of the Headquarters of the National Reserve in Włodzimierz Wołyński. Retired in 1936. Then, a commander of the Labour Regiments of Scouts.

He was honoured with the 5th class Virtutti Militari, twice with the Cross of Valour, once with the Cross of Independence.

Married, two daughters Jadwiga and Halina.

Born on Sunday 23rd of November 1890, died on Sunday 14th of April 1940.”

Before Christmas, a stone commemorating Bronisław Hołuba was displayed near the Adam Mickiewicz’s Grammar School in Vilnius. An oak tree was planted three years ago. The tree grows, but how should the outsiders know that it is connected with Katyn? The inscription with detailed information was provided.

Jadwiga Szlachtowicz, Bronisław Hołuba’s granddaughter, worked in the grammar school for years. She was very well aware of the lack of knowledge in Lithuania (also in Polish schools) about the Katyn Massacre and the fate of Polish soldiers. In Lithuania, history course books do not mention Katyn. In Poland, people used not to talk about Katyn, nevertheless, there was some sort of social awareness. This awareness was much less common in Soviet Lithuania.

Paradoxically, the 90’s could have brought about some changes in that matter. Unfortunately, still more Lithuanians know what Chatyn, instead of Katyn, is…

The interest in Katyn increased after the Smolensk catastrophe, when Lithuanian public television broadcasted the Andrzej Wajda’s film “Katyn”. It was broadly commented in the street, at home and at work.

Lack of common knowledge about Katyn forced the school authorities and the teaching staff to provide young people with some essential information. It was easy and convenient, as this knowledge could be passed on by a person whose family members directly experienced the Katyn’s nightmare.

Quizzes about Katyn were held and the contestants could enjoy their victory. Pupils of the grammar school went to Katyn and Smolensk. The oak was planted and the plaque with the following inscription: “The oak commemorating Bronisław Hołub, murdered in Katyn in 1940” was displayed.

Source: http://www.wilnoteka.lt/pl/tresc/kamien-katynski-przy-wilenskim-gimnazjum

Tłumaczenie Patrycja Olszówka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Patrycja Olszówka the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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