First newspapers to document Katyń massacre revealed

The 72 issues of ‘Goniec Krakowski have been described as ‘unique’ and ‘an important historical source.’ Siberian Memorial Museum

A collection of newspapers from 1943 detailing the horrors of the Katyń massacre have been revealed ahead of the opening of a new memorial museum.

The 72 issues of ‘Goniec Krakowski’, the first newspaper in Poland to print the list of victims of the Katyń Massacre in 1943, was described by the director of the Siberian Memorial Museum in Białystok, Wojciech Śleszynski, as ‘unique’ and ‘an important historical source.’

Goniec Krakowski was a German propaganda journal written in the Polish language which was published from 1939-1945 and was the first on Polish territory to publish the list of names of victims of the Katyń Massacre, together with exhumation photos.Artur Reszko/PAP

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Śleszynski said: “Goniec Krakowski was a German propaganda journal written in the Polish language which was published from 1939-1945 and was the first on Polish territory to publish the list of names of victims of the Katyń Massacre, together with exhumation photos.

“The paper served German propaganda aims – to present themselves in a better light.

Director of the Siberian Memorial Museum in Białystok, Wojciech Śleszynski, said: “For us, it is a historical source, because these are the first publications talking about the Katyń Massacre. It is a truly unique collection when it comes to this subject.”Artur Reszko/PAP

“For us, it is a historical source, because these are the first publications talking about the Katyń Massacre. It is a truly unique collection when it comes to this subject.”

The Katyń massacre was a series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD in April and May 1940.

The Katyń massacre was a series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD in April and May 1940.Public domain

The conference also unveiled parts of the museum’s permanent exhibition, which will feature a ‘Memorial of the Katyń Massacre’ and include 17,000 surnames of victims which will be memorialised.

The surnames have been placed on illuminated metal boards and there are also empty boards to remember the unnamed victims who are buried near Minsk – the victims of the so called ‘Belarusian List’.

The conference also unveiled parts of the museum’s permanent exhibition, which will feature a ‘Memorial of the Katyń Massacre’ and include 17,000 surnames of victims which will be memorialised.Artur Reszko/PAP

The Memorial also includes a picture of the Virgin Mary of Katyń, as well as the silhouette of a Polish officer, kneeling in anticipation of his fatal shot, who is made entirely from buttons - the item most commonly recovered from Katyń mass graves.

The Siberian Memorial Museum is due to open in September 2021 and will document the history of the deportations of Poles to Siberia from the 16th century and subsequent centuries, primarily through the memories, personal accounts and objects of deportees.