JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — A plan to remove a statue commemorating the 1940 massacre of Poles prompted more opposition Tuesday as a group of city council members planned to urge Mayor Steven Fulop to reconsider. Meanwhile, a Jewish group in Poland added its voice to the opposition, days after Fulop called a Polish politician who opposed the plan “a known anti-Semite.”
The controversy over the Katyn memorial, a bronze statue that depicts a Polish soldier gagged, bound and impaled in the back with a bayonet, has sparked strong emotions in Poland, where Katyn is remembered as one of the worst tragedies to befall the nation in a long tragedy-filled history.
In recent days, plans to remove the statue have been a top news story in Poland, where many feel that it is revenge for the passage earlier this year of a new Polish law that makes it a crime to blame Poland for any of the Holocaust crimes of Nazi Germany.
The Jewish community also weighed in on the matter, recalling that among the Katyn victims were hundreds of Jews, including the Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army, Baruch Steinberg.
“All were Polish soldiers who fought together against the common enemy, were murdered together and lie together in the Katyn mass grave,” the Jewish Community of Poland said in a statement. “They had a common fate and their common remembrance should unite.”
Three council members called a news conference Tuesday to oppose Fulop’s plan to remove the Katyn memorial from a plaza across the Hudson River from New York City.
The controversy has pitted Fulop against Polish Senate Speaker Stanislaw Karczewski, whom Fulop called in a tweet “a known anti-Semite.”
Karczewski called the comments “offensive” and “entirely untrue.”
Poland’s foreign ministry said Monday it was “taking certain legal steps to immediately stop the monument’s removal.”
Gera reported from Warsaw, Poland.