Deal reached in dispute over statue marking Polish massacre
By BRUCE SHIPKOWSKI
May. 13, 2018
An acrimonious battle in New Jersey over plans to move a waterfront statue commemorating the 1940 massacre of Poles has ended.
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and local Polish groups announced late Saturday that they have reached an agreement on relocating the Katyn Memorial. Details on the deal will be announced Monday.
Fulop, a Democrat, called the deal a "win-win" in a tweet announcing the agreement. He wrote that the goal was one that "respects/cares/keeps the monument in an extremely prominent location to honor sacrifices" while also giving the city "a chance to re-purpose our waterfront."
City officials wanted to move the statue as part of a renovation of the plaza where it currently stands, on the waterfront across from downtown New York City. The head of the group organizing the renovation has called the statue "gruesome" and has said he prefers that it get a new home, according to published reports.
But the Polish groups opposed that and had sought a court order in recent days to block the move.
The bronze statue depicts a Polish soldier bound, gagged and impaled by a bayonet. It 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.
The plans to remove the statue have been a top news story in Poland in recent days, where many feel that it is revenge for the passage earlier this year of a Polish law that makes it a crime to blame Poland for any of the Holocaust crimes committed by Nazi Germany.
The Polish government said Sunday it's pleased an agreement has been reached that is satisfactory to all parties.
"Respect for the murdered Poles, Jews and Ukrainians demanded from both sides a peaceful solution of this completely unnecessary dispute," said Andrzej Pawluszek, an adviser to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. "We are pleased that an agreement that is satisfactory to all parties has been reached."
Maciej Golubiewski, Consul General of Poland in New York, said Fulop showed "real leadership" to end a potentially drawn out and acrimonious confrontation that nobody wanted.
"The Polish-Americans 30 years ago put their hearts and souls into erecting this statue," Golubiewski said. "They are happy that the monument will stay on the waterfront against the dramatic Manhattan skyline, which makes for its iconic appeal."
A Jersey City spokeswoman declined to elaborate on Fulop's tweet.
Associated Press writer Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.