With its vast multicultural composition Toronto has many little historical gems that commemorate the victories and sorrows of its people. The Memorial to Commemorate the Chinese Railway Workers in Canada and the Toronto Irish Famine Memorial are just a few of the more vivid examples. There is another monument that acts as a striking reminder of the atrocities committed during WWII.
At the foot of Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighborhood rests the Katyn Monument. The large stone structure with a crack running through its centre was dedicated on September 14, 1980. Its designer, Tadeusz Janowski, was chosen out of 52 submissions.
Its plaque declares the following:
“In remembrance of fifteen thousand Polish prisoners of war who vanished in 1940 from the camps in USSR at Kozelsk, Ostashkov, Starobelsk. Of these over four thousand were later discovered in mass graves at Katyn, near Smolensk, murdered by the Soviet state security police.”
In total, Soviet secret police executed more than 20,000 Polish officers captured after its invasion of Poland in 1939. The event is now known as the Katyn massacre. To this day Russia has not issued an official apology or recognized the massacre as a war crime.
Throughout this week dignitaries have gathered at the site of the massacre in the Katyn forest to commemorate the 70th anniverary. This Sunday the Polish community in Toronto will do the same by gathering at the Katyn Monument.
To learn more about the Katyn monument visit the Torontoist or Spacing magazine. In 2007 Poland’s most celebrated filmmaker, Andrzej Wajda, released Katyn. The Oscar-nominated film portrays the massacre and the subsequent Soviet cover-up. Wajda’s father was killed in the massacre. His remains were never found.