Monday, 2 February 2009

Sikorski Exhumation: Part 2

by Kathryn Hadley

Two months ago, the body of Władysław Sikorski, the Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile in London during the Second World War, was exhumed in order to find the cause of his mysterious death. Prosecutors were specifically investigating a communist sponsored crime in the belief that he was murdered by the government of the Soviet Union at a time of increasingly tense diplomatic relations between Poland and the Soviet Union. Prior to his death, Sikorski had notably called for an investigation into the massacre of more than 20,000 Polish officers in the Katyn forest and the finger was being pointed more and more towards the NKVD. Tension was further heightened by Soviet moves towards the creation of a communist sponsored Polish government for the postwar period.

The results of the forensic tests, published at the end of last week, reveal, however, that Sikorski was not murdered and was alive when the plane in which he was returning to London from the Middle East crashed on July 4th, 1943. Thirty-four x-rays of the body showed fractures in the left eye socket, forehead, ribs, clavicle, right hand and leg as well as a splinter of wood in his skull. His hyoid bone was, however, not damaged leading experts to exclude strangulation. Tests did not reveal any trace of poison or shot wounds and tension on several muscles suggests that he was alive at the time of the accident. Experts concluded that Sikorski died of multiple organ failure of the kind typically sustained in a plane crash or in a fall from a great height.

The Institute of National Remembrance, Commission of the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation, which is notably responsible for the investigation of communist and Nazi crimes in Poland during the Second World War and post-war era, is still considering whether or not sabotage caused the plane to crash. The Institute of National Remembrance was established by the Polish Parliament in December 1998 in order to research and preserve the memory of Polish history between 1939 and 1989. It is also designed to ensure that crimes against peace, humanity and war crimes during the period are prosecuted against and that the victims of such crimes, when human rights were disobeyed by the state, are granted adequate compensation. It is headed by a president whose duties are independent of the state authorities.

The website of the Institute of National Remembrance provides further information about its activities:

For more information on the exhumation of Sikorski’s body, read our article published in November


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Daniela said...

Interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll likely be coming back to your blog. Keep up great writing.

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