The anniversary of the Smolensk plane crash


Friday 10 April 2020

It is 10 years since the Smoleńsk plane crash, which killed 96 people, including Polish President Lech Kaczyński. The victims included MPs, heads of central institutions, army generals, clergy, members of associations and all crew. They live on in our memories.

Lech Kaczyński and Maria Kaczyńska

The tenth anniversary of the Smolensk plane crash

On 10 April 2010, a special TU-154M plane with the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and the First Lady Maria Kaczyńska on board took off from Warsaw to Smolensk. That day, in the Katyn War Cemetery the official delegation was to participate in an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the genocide committed on site. The aircraft carried 96 people, including members of supreme state authorities, representatives of social circles and Churches, high-ranking military commanders and the plane’s crew. All the flight passengers died in the air disaster which took place during landing at the airport near Smolensk.

The delegation heading for the Katyn celebrations on 10 April 2010 consisted of Polish elites that represented various political, social and religious beliefs. It included deputy speakers of Sejm and Senate, a group of parliamentarians, top commanders of all Polish Armed Forces, officials of the President’s Chancellery, chiefs of state institutions, clergymen, representatives of ministries, members of veterans’ and social organisations, and accompanying persons. A personage who joined the modern Poland with the intelligentsia and tradition of the Second Republic was the last President of Poland in Exile Ryszard Kaczorowski, present on board.

Those on the flight to Smolensk headed to Katyn in order to pay tribute to the victims of mass executions carried out in the Katyn Forest, Mednoye, Kharkiv, Bykivnia and Kuropaty by NKVD in Spring 1940 under the order of the Soviet Union’s head authorities. The Katyn massacre took lives of the Polish prisoners of war, among whom were officers, academics, clergymen of all faiths, clerks and officials, representatives of free professions and entrepreneurs - members of the Second Republic’s elite. The Katyn crime and Katyn plane crash are two symbols of tragic events in the history of Poland. Due to the catastrophe of the TU-154M aircraft, President Lech Kaczyński did not give a speech prepared for the 70th anniversary of the Katyn genocide.

“Let’s make the Katyn wound finally heal and turn into a scar,” wrote the President then.

His message which failed to be spoken out on 10 April 2010, resounds today, following ten years, equally powerful.

The events of that day shook millions of Poles, as well as the international public. The participants of that flight will always stay alive in our memory.

MFA Press Office