The 2010 Katyń Families Association

Walentynowicz exhumed due to doubts concerning the accuracy of the Russian autopsies made immediately after the crash.


The remains of legendary Solidarity activist Anna Walentynowicz were exhumed on Monday morning in Gdansk by the order of the Military District Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw. Walentynowicz is the fourth victim of the April 2010 Smolensk air disaster to be exhumed, and as in the previous cases, the action has been taken owing to doubts concerning the accuracy of the Russian autopsies made immediately after the crash.


This time the actual whereabouts of the remains are unknown and it has been suggested that the body laid to rest in Gdansk might not have been that of Walentynowicz.


Anna Walentynowicz was one if the iconic figures of the Solidarity Movement. It was her firing from the former Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk – on account of her participation in an illegal trade union – that prompted the now legendary strike led by Lech Walesa in August 1980. First a welder, later a crane operator at the Gdansk shipyard, Anna Walentynowicz was as prominent a member of the Solidarity trade union as its leader Lech Wałęsa. In the 1980s, she walked out of the union to protest Lech Wałęsa’s decisions, in what only proves how murky the Polish past is, with its massive rallies against General Jaruzelski and the 1984 killing of Father Jerzy Popieluszko. She died on April 2010 in the plane crash that took the lives of many high-ranking Polish officials.


Advocate Stefan Hambura, a power of attorney of Anna Walentynowicz’s family, has turned to the EU Parliament, asking it to oversee the exhumation of Anna’s remains, slated for September 17 in Gdansk, and the search of her grave at the Warsaw's cemetery on September 18.


The Military Prosecutor's Office hasn’t allowed world-famous pathologist Michael Baden to take part in the exhumation and autopsy of Anna Walentynowicz’s alleged remains, just as it did in regards to previous exhumations of victims of the Smolensk plane crash. Concerns have also been raised about the exhumation procedure itself. As the whole story is taking a political turn, the European Parliament has blatantly refused to dispatch its observer to Gdansk, a surprising decision it didn’t wish to comment on.


Since 2010, the family of Anna Walentynowicz has been filing requests to exhume the body of their prominent relative only to be turned away by the Polish government, who has prohibited any exhumations of Smolensk plane crash victims. Only three families of those who tragically died near Smolensk in 2010 have been given enough evidence to prove their relatives’ identities. The last time the Walentynowicz family stumbled upon the refusal of Warsaw Military Prosecutor's Office to give the green light to Anna’s exhumation, they hired attorney Stefan Hambura, who asked EU Parliament’s Martin Schultz to back their right for this exhumation and send a monitor to oversee it. Martin Schultz refused to dispatch an observer to oversee the exhumation of Anna Walentynowicz, saying the EU Charter prohibited the European Parliament to interfere with national tragedies and effectively leaving her family at the mercy of the Polish authorities, who ignored them too.




foto: PAP/Tomasz Gzell