Russian Ministry of Interior Choir and Dance Ensemble in the Vatican 2004

LS Borkowski

Comment 5, Poland, 27 September 2015

Russian MVD Choir and Dance Ensemble in the Vatican in 2004

The NKVD Choir and Dance Ensemble was established in the Soviet Union in 1939. NVKD stands for the National Committee of Internal Affairs. This organization was responsible for deaths of millions of people within the Soviet system of terror. Later, as NKVD was renamed into the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ensemble name was changed accordingly.

Interestingly, there are two ensembles using the name “Red Army Choir”. One of them is the proper ensemble of the Red Army, established in 1929 by Alexandrov within the organizational structure of the Ministry of Defense. The other is the NKVD Ensemble, later renamed into the Red Army Choir MVD Ensemble. MVD stands for Ministry of Internal Affairs in Russian. Of course, it is odd to have two ensembles sharing the same name, especially since MVD is separate from the Red Army.

When Poland was invaded in September 1939 by Nazi Germany from the west and by Soviet Union from the east, large number of Polish soldiers and officers were imprisoned in the Soviet Union. In Spring 1940 some twenty thousand Polish officers were executed by NKVD. The killing has been conducted over the course of several weeks in several locations. The best known of them is Katyn in western Russia, where officers were shot on NKVD grounds by a single gunshot in the back of the head.

Pope John Paul II invited the MVD (former NKVD) Ensemble for a special performance in the Vatican on 15 October 2004 to celebrate the 26th anniversary of his pontificate. (*) Among the songs performed that night was “Oka”, specially composed in 1943 for the Polish Communist division formed within the structures of the Red Army. That first division was the origin of the entire Communist army and a symbolic beginning of the Communist dictatorship in Poland. The concert’s repertoire was agreed upon in advance with the pope and the inclusion of the “Oka” song was no accident. The pope was “visibly moved” during its performance.

The Polish pope repeatedly turned down requests to hold a religious ceremony to pray for the Polish officers murdered in 1940 by the Soviet NKVD. Inviting the ensemble representing the traditions of NKVD to the Vatican, Karol Wojtyła (John Paul’s Polish name) unequivocally expressed his political sympathies.

The time has finally come to stop spreading lies, that John Paul II played a significant role in the “defeat” of communism in Eastern Europe. Neither was communism defeated, nor John Paul II was its adversary.

Małgorzata Głuchowska and Lech S. Borkowski

(*) Correction. It was indeed the Red Army Choir, who performed in the Vatican in 2004. The Ministry of Interior Choir and Dance Ensemble performed in the Vatican in 1988.

Polish version