Death and state funeral of Lech and Maria Kaczyński
Lech Kaczyński, the fourth President of the Republic of Poland, died on 10 April 2010, after a Polish Air Force Tu-154 crashed outside of Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 aboard. His wife, economist and First Lady Maria Kaczyńska, was also among those killed.
After the death of Kaczyński was announced, a week of mourning was declared by the acting President of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, spanning 11 to 18 April with a state funeral for the couple held on 18 April. Several countries observed a day of national mourning on the date of the funeral. The couple were buried together in a crypt in the Wawel Cathedral, Kraków, afterwards.
On 10 April 2010, a Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft crash landed near Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 passengers and crew. Those killed include Kaczyński, and his wife; the chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers; the president of the National Bank of Poland; Poland's deputy foreign minister; Polish government officials; 12 members of the Polish parliament, including vice-speakers; senior members of the Polish clergy; and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre. They were en route from Warsaw to attend an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. The site of the massacre is approximately 19 kilometres (12 mi) west of Smolensk.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. According to preliminary reports, the pilot attempted to land at Smolensk Airbase in fog which reduced visibility to about 500 metres (1,600 ft), The plane was too low as it approached the runway, striking trees in the fog, turning around and falling to the ground 200 metres (660 ft) from the airfield in a wooded area, where it broke into pieces.
Declarations and tributes
At least 96 countries, 13 international organizations and several other entities expressed their reaction on behalf of the incident. An official mourning was proclaimed in 18 countries other than Poland.
Period of mourning
A week of national mourning was declared in Poland. Poles around the world mourned Kaczyński and set up shrines in the week that followed. Many wept openly. Flags flew at half staff in Poland. Sports fixtures, including women's U-17 UEFA Championship elite qualifying phase game Poland versus Republic of Ireland in Ukraine, were postponed. Concerts were cancelled, streets emptied.
11–13 April 2010 (repatriation, lying in state)
A two-minute silence was held on 11 April 2010. Tens of thousands of Poles held a vigil in Warsaw. Kaczyński's coffin was flown to Warsaw that afternoon where his daughter, the Acting President, and the Prime Minister were among the dignitaries to greet it at the airport. The coffin was draped in the flag of Poland. A small ceremony took place there then the coffin was given a military escort to the Presidential Palace, Warsaw. Tens of thousands of Poles lined the streets of Warsaw to witness the occasion. The palace's entrance gate was laid with candles, crucifixes, flowers and the flag of Poland. A public viewing then took place and Kaczyński lay in state from 13 April when his wife arrived home.
On 12 April, Russia had a day of mourning, with flags being flown at half staff and no advertising allowed in the media. Ukraine also marked a day of national mourning on this date. The European Union had a day of mourning on 12 April, and a minute of silence was observed at NATO headquarters in Brussels . Neighbouring Lithuania had a three-day period of national mourning.
14–16 April 2010
17 April 2010 (commemoration ceremony)
A public noon commemoration ceremony in Warsaw's Piłsudski Square was attended by more than 100,000 people on 17 April 2010. Sirens sounded and bells tolled around the country. A three-gun salute was fired. People waved the flag of Poland complete with black ribbons and the names of those who died in the crash were read out from a white stage decorated with a giant cross and photographs of the dead. The crowds bowed their heads.
18 April 2010 (funeral)
The couple's coffins were driven at a slow pace through the streets of Warsaw, passing Warsaw's city hall and a museum dedicated to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising which Kaczyński favoured. The coffins were then flown from Warsaw to Kraków.
The funeral ceremony began at 14:00 (12:00 UTC) with a Mass held at Kraków's St Mary's Basilica, with thousands of mourners in attendance. Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, Archbishop of Kraków, presided over the ceremony and addressed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev personally: "The sympathy and help we have received from [our] Russian brothers has breathed new life into a hope for closer relations and reconciliation between our two Slavic nations."
After the funeral, Kaczynski and his wife were buried at Wawel Cathedral, amidst controversy.
Several leaders and monarchs were unable to attend due to the air travel disruption around Europe in the aftermath of the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. Poland closed its airspace on 16 April, along with many neighbouring countries, preventing many leaders from making the plane trips to attend.
President of the United States Barack Obama cancelled his planned attendance, speaking of his regret in a statement that blamed "the volcanic ash that is disrupting air travel over Europe". German Chancellor Angela Merkel was stranded somewhere between Lisbon and northern Italy, so Germany was represented by President Horst Köhler and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who travelled to Poland in a helicopter. The Prince of Wales from the United Kingdom also cancelled his visit due to the air travel conditions. President of Ireland Mary McAleese announced she was to attend but was later forced to change her mind due to the spread of the volcanic ash plume. Spanish King Juan Carlos I, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and South Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-chan both confirmed they were unable to attend. Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, along with members of the opposition parties, also cancelled their planned attendance due to the air travel disruptions in Europe. Governor-General of Australia Quentin Bryce attempted to travel to the funeral but found herself delayed in the United Arab Emirates on the day it was due to take place. Malta's ambassador to Poland was stuck in Istanbul on his way and missed the funeral of the Polish President on Sunday.
President of Israel Shimon Peres could not attend as the funeral clashed with the state ceremony for Yom Hazikaron (Israel's memorial day); despite this, Peres released a statement in which he referred to the Polish President as a "righteous gentile" and a man who was a friend to Israel and the Jewish people. Many government members in Israel expressed their sorrows over the death of the Polish President, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
More than two dozen European leaders, including President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, were the main dignitaries to join the hundreds of thousands of Poles. Many planned alternative travel arrangements over land. The President of Slovenia Danilo Türk drove around 850 kilometres (530 mi) during 16 April. The President of Romania Traian Băsescu flew by helicopter to the northwest of his country before driving on through Hungary and Slovakia. The Prime Minister of Estonia Andrus Ansip drove for 18 hours for 1,300 kilometres (810 mi). The President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus used car and train to travel the required 525 kilometres (326 mi). The President of Slovakia Ivan Gašparovič drove 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Bratislava. The President of Hungary László Sólyom and his Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai drove from Budapest. Former President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko and his wife set out by road from Budapest.
Representatives from Morocco flew into Kraków in a Cessna on 17 April ahead of the funeral.
|Chairman of parliament Hovik Abrahamyan|
|Prime Minister Artur Rasizadə|
|Chairman of the Senate Barys Batura|
|President Václav Klaus|
First Lady Livia Klausová
Prime Minister Jan Fischer
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka
|Prime Minister Andrus Ansip|
|President of the Parliament Jerzy Buzek|
Vice-President of the Parliament Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou
|President Mikheil Saakashvili|
First Lady Sandra Roelofs
|President Horst Köhler with wife Eva Köhler|
Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle
|President László Sólyom|
Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai
former Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
|President Fatmir Sejdiu|
|President Valdis Zatlers|
First Lady Lilita Zatlere
|President Dalia Grybauskaitė|
|Acting President and Speaker of Parliament Mihai Ghimpu|
|Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi|
|President Traian Băsescu|
|President Dmitry Medvedev|
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov
|President Ivan Gašparovič|
First Lady Silvia Gašparovičová
Prime Minister Robert Fico
Chairman of the National Council Pavol Paška
|President Danilo Türk|
|President Viktor Yanukovych|
former President Viktor Yushchenko
former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
Minister of Foreign Affairs Kostyantyn Hryshchenko
After the ceremony, the coffins were brought in procession through Kraków. They then moved to Wawel Castle and Cathedral, where a 21-gun salute was fired. Screens broadcast the events to the masses who shouted on the streets, "Lech Kaczyński! We thank you!"
Lech Kaczyński and Maria Kaczyńska were buried together in a sarcophagus, placed in the antechamber to Józef Piłsudski's crypt in the Wawel Cathedral, Kraków on 18 April 2010; Kaczyński's family revealed this decision on 13 April. This decision was considered controversial by many Poles who felt his achievements were not in the same league as others buried at Wawel causing objections.
Notes and references
|a.||^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.|
- "Poland holds state funeral for President Lech Kaczynski". BBC News. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- Kulish, Nicholas (10 April 2010). "Polish President Dies in Jet Crash in Russia". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- Polish president killed in air crash near Russia's Smolensk Archived 12 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine., RT, 10 April 2010
- "Polish president killed in plane crash". CNN. Turner Broadcasting. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
- "Tragedia pod Smolenskiem, Prezydent nie zyje, Raport" [Reports: Tragedy of Smolensk. The President is dead]. TVN24. Retrieved 13 April 2010. translate
- Wojciechowski, Marcin (14 April 2010). "Wszyscy jesteśmy winni tej tragedii" [We are all guilty of this tragedy] (in Polish). Wyborcza. Retrieved 14 April 2010. translate
- "animation of the accident". Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- Wojciechowski, Marcin; Wacław Radziwinowicz (10 April 2010). "Uratować się nie mogli" (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza. Retrieved 14 April 2010. translate
- "Chinese president offers condolences to Poland over plane crash". Xinhua News Agency. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
- "World Leaders React to Polish President's Death". Voice of America. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
- "World leaders pay tribute to Polish leader". CNN. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
- "Yudhoyono expresses condolences over Polish President's death". The Jakarta Post. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
- "Poland mourns air tragedy victims". RTÉ. 11 April 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- "Toronto Poles mourn crash victims: PM designates Thursday Canada's day of mourning for Polish president, officials". CBC News. 12 April 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
- Nicolaas van Rijn (11 April 2010). "Poland bleeds anew". Toronto Star. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- Christopher Rhoads in New York and Scott Kilman in Chicago (12 April 2010). "Across the U.S., Polish-Americans Mourn Crash". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
- "Poland mourns President's death". Irish Examiner. 11 April 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- Derek Scally (10 April 2010). "Poland struggles to absorb news". The Irish Times. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
- "Rep of Ireland v Poland is postponed". RTÉ Sport. 11 April 2010. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- Kate Connolly (11 April 2010). "'They were wiped out. It's our Katyn trauma all over again'". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- "Candles and tears for Poland's tragic president". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 April 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- "Polish president's body flown home". Al Jazeera. 11 April 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- Tony Paterson (12 April 2010). "Polish President's coffin arrives at palace". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
- Megan K. Stack (12 April 2010). "President's body is returned to Poland; tens of thousands quietly mourn". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
- Gabriela Baczynska and Gareth Jones (11 April 2010). "Polish president's coffin returns home to Warsaw". Reuters. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- "Poles to pay tribute to lost President Lech Kaczynski". BBC News. 12 April 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
- "Polish president's body to lie in state". RTÉ. 13 April 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- Honcho Profile Send a note (11 April 2010). "Poland's neighbours, allies to mourn air crash victims". Haaba. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Kaczynski family rules out funeral delay". RTÉ. 16 April 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
- "Poland mourns presidential plane crash victims". Xinhua News Agency. 17 April 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
- Kamil Tchorek in Warsaw and Matthew Campbell (18 April 2010). "Stunned Poland honours lost president". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Poles honor crash victims: Tens of thousands gather in Warsaw". Los Angeles Times. 18 April 2010. Archived from the original on 21 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- Matthew Day (17 April 2010). "Hundreds of thousands in Warsaw for President Lech Kaczynski's memorial service". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
- "Bulgaria declares Sunday 18 April day of mourning to mark Polish president Kaczyński's death". The Sofia Echo. 16 April 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
- "Doliu naţional în România" (in Romanian). Romania Libera. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
- "Kaczynski to rest among Poland's kings, heroes". CBC News. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Poles turn out for state funeral". Al Jazeera. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Poland prepares to bury Lech Kaczynski in Krakow". BBC News. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- Roger Boyes in Krakow (18 April 2010). "Polish President's funeral is local affair as volcanic ash grounds world leaders". The Times. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Volcanic ash: Obama cancels trip to Kaczynski funeral". The Hindu. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Volcanic ash keeps world leaders from Kaczynski funeral". Deutsche Welle. 17 April 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
- "Poland holds state funeral for President Lech Kaczynski". BBC News. 18 April 1980. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "President McAleese to attend Kaczynski funeral". RTÉ. 14 April 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- "Poland remembers President Kaczynski". RTÉ. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "European leaders prepare for long drive for Lech Kaczynski's funeral". news.com.au. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Kaczynski to rest among Poland's kings, heroes". CBC News. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Qantas cancels flights until Tuesday afternoon". The Sydney Morning Herald. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- "Stranded Maltese taking trains to Rome to come to Malta". timesofmalta.com. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- Greer Fay Cashman (18 April 2010). "Peres will not attend Kaczynski's funeral". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- jan (21 April 2010). "Klaus s Fischerem a Dukou jeli na pohřeb do Polska vlakem a limuzínou – iDNES.cz". Mladá fronta DNES. Czech Republic. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- "Galéria: Sólyom, Bajnai és Orbán közös fejhajtása". Népszabadság. 18 April 2010.
- "Presidential resting place". Polskie Radio. 16 April 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
- Derek Scally (14 April 2010). "Mixed reaction to Kaczynski burial plan". The Irish Times. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to President Lech Kaczyński's funeral.|