On the graves of the Smoleńsk victims there appeared a lot of flowers and grave candles. Similarly as during the celebration of All Saints’ Day in the recent years, but in a slightly different way

Last year it would have seemed that families of the Smoleńsk catastrophe casualties, going to the graves of their relatives on 1 November, can be certain that their relatives are resting in the graves. Now this certainty has been shaken. What’s more – they are not certain towards the last events. And although the opinion of Ewa Kochanowska, the widow of Janusz Kochanowski – the advocate of civil rights, that families of only five Smoleńsk catastrophe casualties can be certain that their relatives are resting in proper graves (only those whose relatives were probably exhumed), seems exaggerated, there are more and more doubts.

The anxiety of Ewa Kochanowska was raised by the medical documentation sent by the Russians. Reason? It is incomplete. – I do not know who it concerns because it is very superficial. It may concern my husband or not – says Ewa Kochanowska, adding that she is not allowed to speak about it. – The documentation of photos concerns my husband, whereas the descriptive documentation does not include some elements which it should include.

She looked as if she was sleeping

It is felt by many people, surely the vast majority of Smoleńsk families. Many of them had an impression that there was haste accompanying incompetence, so that funerals would be as soon as possible. In order to close this matter and the crowds from Krakowskie Przedmieście would go away. Certainty seemed to be among people who had been personally in Moscow for identification of their relatives. Małgorzata Wypych was there as well, a widow of Paweł Wypych – minister in the President’s Lech Kaczyński Office. – And luckily I managed to do it. The identification was very quick, a coffin with the body of my husband was among those who had arrived in Poland as the first ones – says Mrs Małgorzata. – In my case there was a possibility of personal identification. Thanks to it I am sure that my husband is in the coffin.

However, there was the exhumation of the body of Anna Walentynowicz later and the statement that she is not lying in her grave in Gdańsk but in a grave in Warsaw. But her son – Janusz Walentynowicz was in Moscow and recognise his mother. – She looked as if she was sleeping. There were no scratches, bruises, wounds or injuries or open fractures or on her body or other body distortions which might have made the identification difficult – emphasizes Janusz Walentynowicz. However, later the graves were swapped. Experiences were traumatic not only for two most interested families; also for other Smoleńsk families.

And later there were still reports of Joanna Racewicz, wife of the deceased functionary of Office of Government Protection and doctor who said what a mess there was just after the catastrophe. Joanna Racewicz had been in Moscow since the moment when the lid of the coffin was soldered. However, there are no doubts now. Because what if somebody mistook something for something else? Later there was reading of the Russian documents in which nothing was agreed, even the blood group. He was a healthy, very fit man, and in the Russian documents he was described as ill, after open fractures, with emphysema, with ill kidneys and liver.

Janusz Walentynowicz emphasizes that towards all doubts which appeared, from the family point of view, even though comprehensible probably for all of us, who experienced the loss of the relatives, the application for exhumation was necessary. Thanks to the exhumation it was possible to state explicitly that in their family grave in the Stebrzysko graveyard in Gdańsk, his mother had not been lying next to his father till the half of September.

For commemoration of 96 victims

Two and a half years after the catastrophe, many Smoleńsk families feel a similar dramatic anxiety. However, it is not going to influence the All Saints’ Day. The families miss their relatives very much, who were killed in the Smoleńsk catastrophe, and their visiting graves, not only on 1 November gives them a kind of closeness.

Eight children of the late Krzysztof Putra, a vice-marshal of the Seym, miss their father whom he orphaned. Especially the younger ones, whose contact with their father nothing is able to replace. – We will not be certain if our father is in the grave on the graveyard in Białystok, no, we won’t – says Sebastian Putra, son of the late marshal – but we are going to pray at him because it is the base of our faith. We believe in God and trust people who were to control the situation when the body of their father would be in the proper grave. Although, in fact, trustfulness is definitely lower.

It is so low that more and more families are thinking about applications for exhumation of their relatives. Also Joanna Racewicz, whose peace disturbing after her death could seem barbaric earlier. But on the other hand – she will surely lie in the same grave one day. – I would like to be sure that I will lie next to my husband but not another man- she said in an interview. – I hope that our son will light candles on the grave of his both parents. Among us, girls, who come to the graveyard, relations were created which will last till death. We call one another as a neighbour because one day we are going to lie next to one another. Because each of us also wants to lie next to our own husbands.

Most Smoleńsk families will appear on the Military Graveyard in Powązki in Warsaw on 1 November where in a special place most, because nearly 30 catastrophe casualties were buried. The commanders of Military Forces, parliamentarians, ministers, social activists, functionaries of the Office of the Government Protection. Their graves are an integral part of the monument of the catastrophe casualties. The atmosphere of the place, the inscription: ‘For commemoration of 96 air catastrophe casualties at Smoleńsk on 10 April 2010. They devoted their life to the service of the homeland on their way for the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the crime in Katyń and a list of the casualties causes a tear in the eye of many people not only on 1 November.

Magdalena Merta goes to the Warsaw graveyard in Grabów with her three orphaned children on 1 November. – We all are going to be there, to light candles on the grave of my husband. A different thing is that it will turn out if it is his grave, because I have made an application for exhumation – says Mrs Magdalena. She would like to believe that she cares about her husband’s grave. – But if it turned out that Tomek is not in this grave, it is a Smoleńsk grave. – I am often at the graveyard, nearly everyday, because it is 5 minutes away from my home – she says. – The grave is guarded, cared for and …….so beloved.


"Niedziela" 45/2012

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl