Eighty years ago today, Stalin gave order for Katyń massacre
On March 5th, 1940, the Soviet Politburo decided to shoot Polish prisoners of war, as well as Polish prisoners held by the NKVD in the pre-war eastern provinces of Poland.
The horrific result was the Katyń massacre – a series of mass executions of 22,000 Polish officers, professors and other members of the intelligentsia.
Now, a new project by the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding, shows the harrowing details on a new website.
By visiting the website Katyń Pro Memoria, viewers can discover the appalling history of what happened.
Announcing the initiative, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński said: “We meet today on a special day, on the 80th anniversary of the criminal decision regarding Katyń.
“It was on March 5th, 1940 that the Politburo of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, i.e. the Bolshevik party, made the decision to deal with 14,700 prisoners of war in in Kozielsk, Starobielsk and Ostaszków, as well as 11,000 arrested in the eastern provinces of the Second Polish Republic, occupied by the Soviet Union.
“The cases were considered under a special procedure without summoning the arrested and without charges, without the decision to conclude the investigation and indictment, but with the highest penalty – shooting.”
The Katyń Pro Memoria project is a way of commemorating the victims, as well as presenting their fate. The first level of the narrative leads through the Polish War Cemetery in Katyń symbolically divided into five areas: "Entrance", "Kurhan", "Graves", "Altar Group" and "Death Pits".
As viewers venture deeper into the forest, they discover the "Voices" of victims, loved ones, exhumation witnesses, and documents.
They are read by Polish actors, including Jan Englert, Piotr Fronczewski, Andrzej Chyra and director Ivan Vyrypaev. Through the second stage of the narrative, the more inquisitive can go beyond the symbolic space of the forest and see the Cemetery as it looks in reality, thanks to a series of specially made films enriched with the narrator's voice and interactive elements.
The Katyń Pro Memoria project is accompanied by a guidebook written by Jadwiga Rogoża and Maciej Wyrwa. The guidebook is available online and describes the history and locations of the Polish POW’s from the Kozielsk murder - their transport to Gniezdowo, shooting and burial in the Katyń Forest, where today the Polish War Cemetery is located.
The last element is an app, which allows users to light a symbolic candle for specific to the victims by clicking on their name.
As well as from paying tribute, through a short biography, users can learn about the history of any given victim.