My grandfather was saying that one day the whole world will hear about Katyn. He died before 1989. He did not see free Poland he so waited for.
If you want to understand why is my nation mourning in such an extravagant way, you need to watch the movie “Katyń”. It is available as Watch Instantly on Netflix. Directed by A. Wajda, an Oscar winner, this movie was nominated for the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2008, original music is written by Penderecki.
70 years ago, after Hitler’s aggression on Poland, Russians crossed the border on the East. Stalin and Hitler became friends for a while. They have decided to join their forces conquer Poland quickly and the plan was to annihilate everyone who would try to resist, therefore their first aim were the elites of Poland: political figures, university professors, army high officials and officers, clergy, physicians, lawyers, engineers, pilots and journalists.
In the spring of 1940, Soviets murdered over 21 000 Polish officers and army men and this has become a tragic event called Katyn massacre. Poles were hopeful that after WWII, when they will live in a free Poland again, they will uncover the whole story and pay respect to the fallen soldiers. Freedom has never come, as Poland was “sold” during Yalta conference. Nuremberg Trials did not even mention Katyn. Right after the WWII, Communist regime of Poland, being faithful to their Soviet counterpart spread a propaganda about Katyn, informing the public that Nazis were responsible for this act of terror. Even mentioning Katyn became politically incorrect, as the name of the place brought huge repercussions to all of the families who did not want to compromise the story. Many had to pay for sticking to the truth about that tragic event. It lasted for a long time.
Russian president Yeltsin released the top-secret documents and agreed to construct memorial complexes at Katyn and Mednoye . In March 2005 the Prosecutor’s General Office of the Russian Federation concluded the decade-long investigation of the massacre. Chief Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov announced that the investigation was able to confirm the deaths of 1,803 out of 14,542 Polish citizens from three Soviet camps who had been sentenced to death. He did not address the fate of about 7,000 victims who had been not in POW camps, but in prisons. Savenkov declared that the massacre was not a genocide, that Soviet officials who had been found guilty of the crime were dead and that, consequently, there is absolutely no basis to talk about this in judicial terms.
A number of Russian politicians and publicists continue to deny all Soviet guilt, call the released documents fakes, and insist that the original Soviet version – Polish prisoners were shot by Germans in 1941 – is the correct one.
Last years has brought many hopes and many dissapointments for all of the Poles who are trying to get closing on Katyn. In april prime minister Putin invited Polish prime minister to Katyn for the official 70th anniversary. Lech Kaczynski, Polish president, whose death our nation is mourning, was going to commemorate Katyn massacre also. He wasn’t invited officially by Putin, but he wanted to assist the family members who lost their loved ones 70 years ago and traveled with his cabinet, Katyn’s families and parliament dignitaries to pay respect to the victims.
This is his speech that was never delivered:
Honorable representatives of the families of the Katyn massacre victims:In April 1940, over 21,000 Polish prisoners of war from NKVD camps were murdered. This crime against humanity was committed by the will of Stalin and under the orders of the highest authorities of the Soviet Union. The alliance between the Third Reich and the USSR, the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, and the aggression against Poland on 17 September 1939 dramatically culminated in the Katyn crime. Not only in the forests of Katyn, but also in Kalinin, Kharkov, and other known and as yet unknown places were the citizens of the Second Republic murdered, citizens who were the basis of our nationhood. At the same time, the families of those murdered and thousands of those living in the “Kresy” [territories subsequently lost to the Soviet Union] were deported into the depths of the Soviet Union, where their untold misery marked the path of the Polish Golgotha of the East.
The most tragic station of this path was Katyn. Polish officers, clergy, administrators, police personnel, border and prison guards were annihilated without trial or sentence. These were the victims of an undeclared war. Their murder was an offense to the laws and conventions of the civilized world. Their dignity as soldiers, Poles and human beings was trampled underfoot. The trenches in which they were buried was to hide their bodies and the truth of the murder. The world was never to know. The families of the dead were robbed of their rights to mourn for their loved ones and remember them. The earth covered the traces of the crime, and the lie was to erase it from the memory of man.
The cover-up of Katyn–a decision of those who commissioned the crime–became one of the fundamental aspects of post war Communist politics in Poland; it was the foundational fraud of the Polish People’s Republic. It was a time during which the memory and the truth of Katyn carried a high price. Nevertheless, those who were close to the victims and other brave people endured with the memory, defended it, and passed it onto future generations. They carried it through the period of Communist rule and preserved it for a free and sovereign Poland. That is why we are indebted to them all, and especially to the families of the victims, and owe them our honour and gratitude. In the name of the Republic, I offer them the deepest and most sincere gratitude, for their defense of this memory of their loved ones, for they have rescued an important dimension of our national consciousness and identity.
Katyn became a painful wound in Polish history, and has for many decades poisoned the relations between Poles and Russians. May this wound fully and finally heal. We are already on this path. We Poles acknowledge and value the actions of Russians of recent years. This path, which is bringing our nations together, we should continue to travel, not halting on the way or retreating back.
All the localities associated with the Katyn crimes must be revealed and investigated. It is important that the innocence of the victims be acknowledged in accordance with the law, and that all documents in relation to this crime be made available. So that the lie about Katyn disappears forever from public discourse. [?] We demand these actions above all else for the memory of the victims and the suffering of their families. But we also demand this in the name of common values, which must form the foundations of trust and partnership between neighbouring nations within all of Europe.
Let us pay our united respects to the murdered victims and pray over their heads. Glory to our heros! For their memory!
Now you understand a little bit more about us. Now the whole world hears about Katyn.