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Remembering Lech Kaczynski Draws Out His Critics

Many people are quite legitimately upset and shocked about the sudden death of the Polish president in Russia.  However, in all the memory-making going on in this period of mourning, there have been some misunderstandings of Kaczynski’s history, which was in many uniques, influential, and sometimes positive, but not without some significant flaws domestically.  Wiktor Osiatynsky takes to the pages of the New York Times to remind everyone to avoid making a martyr out of the tragic death of his president.

Not everyone agrees with the glorification of Mr. Kaczynski’s death. The well-known psychologist Wojciech Eichelberger was one of the first to express disdain for the reaction in the press, saying we should not confuse stupidity with heroism. The decision to bury Mr. Kaczynski in the Wawel crypt has likewise spurred demonstrations in Krakow and Warsaw. Yet most of Poland is, for now, enamored with the idea of Mr. Kaczynski as our latest national hero.

In the end, Mr. Kaczynski has become strangely aligned with Katyn. Had his planned celebrations taken place, they would have most likely had only a slight effect on his popularity. Instead, Mr. Kaczynski became a hero, because in Poland, any death in or near Katyn sounds heroic — a reaction that does disservice both to Mr. Kaczynski himself and the memory of those murdered by the Soviets.