International Day of Memory about Katyn Genocide Victims

Slawomir Blaut

In 2007 the Polish Parliament passed a resolution to celebrate the International Day of Memory about Katyn Genocide Victims on 13th April. This year the celebrations were moved to Good Friday on 10th April. Homage to the victims was paid by field bishops of the Polish Army (Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran) and an imam, members of the Katyn Family, representatives of the Republic of Poland, the army and scouts. Field Bishop General Tadeusz Ploski celebrated the Good Friday service in the intension of the Katyn genocide victims. Currently, we are celebrating the 69th painful anniversary of the Katyn genocide, committed by the Soviets. They murdered the elite of the Second Polish Republic. There are still lies about the Katyn genocide. Present Russia, as the ideological successor of the USSR, does not want to assume responsibility for the extermination action that had been prepared in detail and realized with all cruelty by the Soviets. It does not want to call it the crime of genocide (this crime does not fall under the statute of limitations in the light of international law). The Russian General Prosecutors’ Office claims that ‘the murdered Poles were not victims of Stalin’s repressions’ (in spite of the fact that the order to murder Polish officers as ‘enemies of the Russian authorities’ was signed on 5 March 1940 by Stalin) and that ‘there is no possibility to establish the legal qualification on the basis of which the Poles were sentenced to death.’ But it was in Moscow that the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was sighed in August 1939. The secret protocol attached to the treaty of non-aggression between Germany and the USSR concerned the division of Poland by those two countries, prepared a plan of the fourth partition of Poland, which was realized after 17 September 1939. The main political aim of both occupants was to eliminate the social and political Polish elite. The Katyn genocide (which embraces the crimes committed in Katyn and other places) with its list of victims embracing ca. 22,000 Poles, mainly army officers and policemen, is placed in the tragic balance of the Russian actions against the elite of the Second Polish Republic. Rev. Msgr Zdzislaw Peszkowski, chaplain for the Katyn Family and the Murdered in the East, a prisoner in Kozielsk who was saved in that inhuman land, managed to get two important documents – evidence of the genocide. The first document is a note written by the chief of the NKWD Lavrenti Beria, dated March 1949, which is a command to murder without any legal trial ca. 22,000 imprisoned Polish officers. The other one is a note of the KGB chief Alexander Shelepin directed to Nikita Khrushchev dated 9 March 1959, in which he confirmed that the NKWD had committed the crime on the Polish officers. For several decades Fr Peszkowski carried out various fruitful activities in the international forum aiming at preserving remembrance of the genocide and making the international opinion aware of the Katyn genocide, committed by the Soviet state. Thanks to his efforts military cemeteries were made in Katyn, Charkov and Mednoye, many monuments to the victims of the Soviets and remembrance tablets were erected. The decision of the Russian prosecutors and its scandalous, devious justification is a return to the lies about Katyn. This new lie about Katyn humiliates Poles, especially the children and grandchildren of the victims of the Katyn genocide. It is a provocation against Poland. On every anniversary of the Katyn genocide we have the chance to see the shocking photographs – documents of this crime. The pictures of the death graves in Katyn are extremely moving. It does not matter whether we have seen them before – we will never be indifferent towards them. All people who look at the pictures, especially young people, must be fully aware who and why committed this genocide. It is first of all a testimony of the truth about the tragic fate of the Polish elite and another clear proof that no genocide will remain hidden, falsified and forgotten.

"Niedziela" 17/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: