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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Understanding Polish history 'impossible' without Katyń: president

13.04.2020 13:00
The Katyń massacre, a mass murder of Polish officers by the Soviets in 1940, “remains a symbol without which the understanding of the Polish history is impossible,” President Andrzej Duda wrote in a message marking the 80th anniversary of the crime.
A virtual exhibition commemorating the victims of the Katyń massacre.
A virtual exhibition commemorating the victims of the Katyń massacre.Image: ipn.gov.pl

As Poland marks the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Katyń massacre on Monday, a special website with a virtual exhibition commemorating the victims of the crime was launched by the president’s office.

In a message accompanying the exhibition, Duda wrote: “Katyń is also a symbol of remembrance nurtured in Polish homes despite half-a-century-long bondage and distortion of history by the communist regime. Today, we commend and express our gratitude to all its depositaries.”

“Let us bow to the heroes of the free Republic of Poland. And let us pass on to the young generation of Poles their ethos and legacy,” Duda wrote.

Following the Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, thousands of Polish officers were deported to camps in the Soviet Union.

On April 3, 1940, the NKVD - a forerunner of the Soviet Union's secret police organization the KGB - transported 4,400 Poles to the Katyń Forest near Smolensk, western Russia, where each was shot in the back of the head.

There followed transports to other locations in a campaign that lasted a little over a month. Killings took place at various points across the then Soviet Union.

The 22,000 dead were mainly Polish army officers but among them were also policemen, artists, doctors, teachers, lawyers and other members of the intelligentsia.

The Katyń Massacre was officially kept under wraps by the Soviet Union, and later Russia until 1990.

(jh)

Source: IAR/ipn.gov.pl