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    Minister Urges Removal of Red Army Memorial in Poland

    The Polish culture minister, Piotr Gliński, has called for the removal of a Red Army memorial in the northern city of Olsztyn, despite its creation by renowned Polish sculptor Xawery Dunikowski.

    In a statement made at the site of the monument, currently known as the Liberation of the Warmia-Mazury Region Memorial, Gliński emphasized the need to adhere to Polish laws and eliminate what he referred to as “Communist ‘souvenirs'” from public spaces.

    The memorial, often referred to colloquially as “the gallows” due to the shape of its main pillars, has been a subject of debate in Olsztyn. Gliński expressed his expectation that Mayor Piotr Grzymowicz would make a decisive determination regarding the monument’s fate, citing unambiguous rulings from relevant institutions.

    Characterizing communism as the greatest evil in human history, the minister expressed his bewilderment at Mayor Grzymowicz’s attempts to find legal loopholes to avoid the removal. Gliński reiterated that if the memorial were taken down, it would be transferred to a museum dedicated to preserving communist symbols and artifacts.

    The Culture Ministry initially issued a directive in January 2023 to remove the memorial, a decision that was reaffirmed in May by the Warminsko-Mazurskie provincial governor. In response, the city of Olsztyn filed an appeal in February, arguing that the monument’s historical significance and the artistic reputation of its creator warranted its preservation as part of a new museum focused on cautionary tales against totalitarianism.

    This controversy comes in the wake of similar actions taken by Poland’s National Remembrance Institute, which has recently overseen the dismantling of a Red Army gratitude monument in Głubczyce, a southern city in the country. These efforts form part of ongoing operations to remove Soviet propaganda memorials from Poland’s public spaces.

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