Poland: Controversy Over Polish President's Burial‎ Location

Today's announcement that the Polish presidential couple killed in the tragic aircraft accident over Smolensk last Saturday would be buried on Sunday at 2PM in Krakow‘s Wawel Castle raised a lot of controversy.

Lech Kaczyński's family was given a choice of three burial locations: the Wawel Castle in Krakow, as well as St. John's Cathedral and the Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw. Stanisław Dziwisz, the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, announced [PL] today that they had decided in favor of Wawel, and this announcement later sparked a series of public protests.

Some 400 protesters gathered [PL] in front of the Metropolitan Curia of Krakow tonight to voice their concerns: the authorities’ failure to consult with the nation; the fact that Wawel is a resting place of kings, military leaders, representatives of the Polish literature and other historical personalities considered heroes of the nation; the fact that none of the spouses of the heroes resting there had been buried along with them. The protest was organized through several Facebook groups, such as this one (currently 2,143 fans), this (23,369 fans) and this (11,782 members). Nearly 1,400 people have signed this online petition [PL] related to the protest as well. The scale of the protest on Facebook did not go unnoticed in the Polish mainstream media [PL].

To understand the sentiments of the protesters, let's look at some of their posts on Facebook. Maciej Sadkowski expresses the dominant opinion of one of the groups opposing the decision [PL]:



Gabi Wielesik points out [PL]:


Not only that suddenly the person everyone laughed at suddenly becomes a national hero, now this…paranoia…maybe we should bury [Gosiewski], [Szmajdziński] and others in Wawel, too? they died [in the plane crash] as well…

Paula Rettinger believes [PL] that the president's place is in Warsaw:


I protest against the burial of [Lech Kaczyński] in Wawel. Brother of my grandfather died in Katyń. As well as my mother's uncle. The topic is close to my heart. The only reason to call Kaczyński a hero is his accidental death. It's an irresponsible, foolish decision taken under the pressure of a constant propaganda flow of condolences to the deceased couple. The Warsaw Cathedral is a necropolis for presidents, and it is where the president should rest.

Izabela Wójcik refers [PL] to the image of Poland abroad:


I also oppose it, as all my friends I've talked to. But it is not only our internal matter because now the entire world will see how after a short period of unity the Polish nation divides and argues again. Try to look at this image: the cortege with guests from all around the world and a demonstration in the back of it. How will it look like to the world? Why multiply conflicts with decisions of this type? Eh…

Piotr Tomula points out [PL] the past sentiments of the Kaczyński family towards Krakow:


He did not receive the honorable citizenship of Krakow, so now his brother pushes him in through the back door for even more, this is exactly how the duckies [a slang word for Kaczyński brothers, derivative of the word ‘kaczka’ – ‘a duck’], NO HONOR, only VANITY…

Kuba Bielecki speaks [PL] with irony:


If my family decides where we should be buried, I will tell my brother that I want it to be Wawel, but hand in hand with Sobieski, well actually Mickiewicz would satisfy me, too.

Agata Kol is one of the few voices [PL] supporting the decision, though:

Kaczyński was a head of state, just as kings from the Piast or Jagello dynasties. He was also chosen democratically.

Gazeta.pl posts a survey [PL] on the topic, asking the public for their opinions. Here are the current results (as of 11PM):


What do you think of the plans to bury Kaczyński in Wawel?

63% Should be buried in Warsaw

26% Brilliant, is is exactly his place

11% It does not matter, his family should decide

Piotr Kowalczyk's tweet [PL] sums up the general direction of the discussions:


Wawel will not unite the Poles, but divide them.


  • Anna Szechynski

    It is very sad and disheartening to see what is and has been happening to the Polish nation since it has fallen under “democracy”. I think the late President definitely deserves to be buried along national heroes and all those people who are opposing it are actually proving it…. He stood for what very few in Poland and the world are afraid to stand up for, true freedom, MORALS (which barely exist anywhere) and basic human principles, yes in my eyes and in the eyes of many he is a hero. Comments that I have seen ridiculing him just proves how cruel humans can be to eachother, let him and the other victims of this tragedy rest in peace, where ever that may be.

  • edyta

    We are almost 40 million people nation and the most of us support this decision to bury Mr. President Kaczynski, his wife and Mr. President Ryszard Kaczorowski in Krakow, even if there is “several Facebook groups, such as this one (currently 2,143 fans), this (23,369 fans) and this (11,782 members)”, who are against it. They deserve respect and the history will judge us and his presidency.

  • I think I also saw a Facebook group supporting the decision which was set up today – am I right?

  • Spiro

    This is great idea with Wawel as the resting place for deceased President Lech Kaczynski and first lady Maria Kaczynska.

    Lech Kaczynski was a great leader, patriot who always and foremost was thinking and doing everything in his power to secure the best for Poland. This man was a great advocate of reforms but reforms that would improve lives of all citizens. He was a man of his word, straight shooter ready to support other countries which were very often bullied by bigger wealthier nations. Was he able to satisfy all citizens, was he perfect? Of course not, show me a person that is. He erred but he was genuine article a true gentleman, a statesman. He was formidable partner for his European counterparts who can appreciate one’s convictions.

    President Kaczynski was on his way to be re-elected despite long years of permanent smear campaign by commercial media backing Tusk and his cronies. Lech Kaczynski’s approval ratings were rising and he was about to surprise yet again as he did the first time when he was elected upsetting Mr. Tusk. Tusk who supposedly as now Komorowski was a forerunner and who was promised presidency by the pollsters and people holding commercial media but to no avail when millions of voters chose Kaczynski. That event started vicious smear campaign against President Kaczynski and which only ceased with his tragic death. Unfortunately you can still find people who have business in bad mouthing late President Kaczynski. They do it by using the same tactics which is vile gossip, suppositions and half baked speculations always pointing finger and accusing President Lech Kaczynski.

    Wawel is fully deserved burial place for President Lech Kaczynski who lost his life on a mission to honour and fight for full recognition of Katyn massacre perpetrated by Soviets on 22000 unarmed POW officers.

    May They Rest in Peace.
    We will remember all of you forever.

  • Spiro

    By now you should know that it is the very main stream media that for years conducted slander campaign against President Kaczynski so why would you show and rely on fake survey from Gazeta.pl(Agora corporation), TVN or Polsat?

  • Ola

    If you support the idea of president’s burrial in Cracow join in


  • Maybe he wasn’t the best president but for the last 30 or so years he fought for the freedom of speech in our country, for Poland free of communism and that in my opinion gives him any right to be buried at Wawel. We all seemed to be united by the tragedy which happened on Saturday but I was wondering when would Poles start arguing and why…
    Here we go, we didn’t have to wait too long!

  • You are right Spiro – showing example of one survey might look like I am biased, however I am also quoting numbers and people’s actual reactions from outside of mainstream media. As for the survey itself I would be more than happy to refer to one which appeared outside of the mainstream media (which is why I am posting about the petition) but myself I could not find one – would you be so king to point me to one? The more opinions we have the better the global audience can understand the current sentiments.

  • Ola,
    thank you for pointing out – your group has 2 members, but I saw yesterday another one supporting your opinion with larger membership – have a look around. I see the discussions are heavily moving on Facebook, this one:
    called ‘We are ashamed of the war for Wawel’ has currently almost 6,000 members.

  • Magda, what you are saying seems to be the general sentiment after the decision.

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