Welwyn Hatfield Polish community mourn President killed in air crash

THE Polish community of Welwyn Hatfield has been united in grief following the death of the country’s president and several top Government officials in an air crash at the weekend.

A memorial service will be held in Hatfield this Thursday (April 15) in memory of President Lech Kaczynski, who died long with 95 others after their aircraft crashed in heavy fog as it came into land at Smolensk air-base, Western Russia, on Saturday morning.

In a tragic irony, the delegation – which included President Kaczynski’s wife Maria, the country’s national security chief, the head of Polish military and former President-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski – had been travelling to Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Forest massacre, where more than 20,000 Polish officers were killed by Soviet forces.

A week of national mourning has been declared in Poland, while Poles living in the UK held memorial services up and down the country.

Michal Siewniak, founder of the Welwyn Hatfield Polish Forum, said he was “shocked and saddened,” by the news.

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“It’s very difficult to express it in words; it’s difficult to comprehend,” he said.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of people and they’re all just in shock, no matter what their political preference.”

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Thursday’s memorial service will be held at Hatfield fire station in Wellfield Road, followed by presentations on the Katyn massacre itself and the 1980s Solidarity movement in Poland, of which President Kaczynski played a significant role.

The service will begin at 5pm. All are welcome.

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