On the night of April 12-13, 1940, the second mass deportation of Polish citizens deep into the Soviet Union took place. Its victims were the families of the prisoners of war (army officers and officers of other uniformed services) and imprisoned state officials, political activists, teachers — the Polish elite, who at the same time were murdered by the NKVD.
According to the report of the NKVD: “In April-June 1940, 60,182 people were settled in Kazakhstan. The above mentioned number was placed: in kolkhozes — 36,639, sovkhozes — 15,923, in enterprises and at construction sites — 7,630. Among the placed there are about 50% of children and the elderly, 20% adult men, the rest are women.”
According to the will of Sybiraks, this year’s festive celebrations of the 83rd anniversary of the second mass deportation were combined with the awarding of awards: the Badge of Honor for Merits to the Sybir Association and the Honorary Badge of Sybir.
The employees of the Sybir Memorial Museum received awards from Sybiracy Association, Białystok Branch. Awards were handed by Jolanta Hryniewicka, President of Sybiracy Association, Białystok Branch, accompanied by Jerzy Bołtuć, President of the Podlasie Association of Sybir Deportees Commemoration in Białystok.
Professor Wojciech Śleszyński, Director of the Sybir Memorial Museum took the floor as the first:
— For us, the employees of the Sybir Memorial Museum, this is a special moment, because we know that what we had been building for so many years met with a favorable reception. This is the most important evaluation for us. On behalf of the employees, because they were building this Museum, thank you very much for this award — emphasized professor Wojciech Śleszyński, Director of the Sybir Memorial Museum.
Next person to take the floor was Jolanta Hryniewicka, President of Sybiracy Association, Białystok Branch, who introduced the symbolism of the date chosen for the awarding ceremony:
— There are three reasons in terms of dates why we are meeting today, on April 13. 83 years ago, the Soviets deported to Siberia, to northern and eastern Kazakhstan, the families and relatives of the prisoners of war taken captive in September 1939, the victims of the Katyn massacre. The second reason related to the date is that on April 13, 1943 Radio Berlin announced the discovery of the mass graves of thousands of Polish officers murdered by the NKVD in the Katyn Forest. Third: On April 13, 1990, The News Agency TASS issued a statement of the USSR authorities, which officially confirmed that the Polish prisoners of war were shot in the spring of 1940 by the NKVD — said Jolanta Hryniewicka.
Then the awards were handed.
Both decorations are bestowed in order to honor people or institutions for special merits in nurturing the memory of the history of struggle and martyrdom of Poles deported to Siberia.
During the ceremony, the banner of the Polish Scouting Association, made by the scouts of the Siberian Hufiec in Kazakhstan in 1940, was also handed.
The celebrations ended up with the screening of the film “Głodnego Nakarmić” (“Feed a Hungry ”) telling the story of Aleksander Cymbor, a Sybirak.