Official urges Poles in US not to vote for Jersey mayor

A senior Polish official on Monday urged Poles living in the US not to vote for the mayor of Jersey City amid a trans-Atlantic row over plans to remove a statute honouring the victims of a 1940 Soviet massacre.

The head of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), Jarosław Szarek, said millions of Poles live in the United States. He called on them to make their presence felt.

“Not a single Polish vote for the mayor… for the party he represents,” Szarek said.

Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance is an organisation whose brief includes prosecuting crimes against Poles during and after World War II.

Szarek’s call came amid a trans-Atlantic spat over plans to remove a statute in Jersey City in the US state of New Jersey which honours the victims of a 1940 Soviet massacre of thousands of Poles in the Katyn Forest, western Russia.

Members of the Polish community in the United States and officials in Warsaw protested after Jersey City last week announced that the statue would be removed in order to redevelop a public square that has been the monument’s home for 27 years.

Mayor Steven Fulop said the monument – at Exchange Place in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from New York City – would be put in storage while the space is converted into a park.

Call for apology

Polish Senate Speaker Stanisław Karczewski called the plan “really scandalous” and “very unpleasant”.

Fulop responded on Twitter that Karczewski “is a joke.”

“The fact is that a known anti-Semite, white nationalist + Holocaust denier like him has zero credibility,” Fulop said on Thursday.

The Polish ambassador to the United States has called for an apology from Fulop.

Karczewski said he had taken legal steps over the mayor’s accusations.

The monument at the centre of the row features a 10-metre-tall bronze figure of a soldier – who has been gagged and bound and impaled by a bayonetted rifle – mounted on top of a granite base containing soil from the Katyn Forest in western Russia where thousands of Poles were murdered by Soviet secret police during World War II.

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