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'Murdered in Katyn' - Memorial publishes major work on Katyn massacre (International Memorial Society)

posted 28 Sep 2015, 05:58 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 Sep 2015, 08:56 ]
23 September  2015

By Anton Dubin

Source: Memorial

On 17th September 2015 before a packed conference hall of the International Memorial Society there took place the launch of a 930 page commemoration book Murdered in Katyn (Убиты в Катыни, Memorial Society, Zvenya, Moscow, 2015). The work on this was led by Memorial’s Polish programme together with the Warsaw non-governmental KARTA Centre. The publication itself has been funded by the individual contributions of citizens (the majority are Russian), collected on the website Planeta.ru.

Arseny Roginsky
, chair of the board of the International Memorial Society led the presentation. He emphasised the importance of preserving the memory of the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September 2015. “We have been specially put on display the Soviet map from 1940 when there was no such country as Poland; in place of it is a dark brown stain on which is written ‘zone of state interests of Germany’, and next to it a large red area: the Soviet Union. There is no country of Poland on the map. In this respect the memory of 17th September, of course, will always stay with us.”

Roginsky mentioned by name those in the hall who took part in the production of the book: Aleksandr Guryanov, director of the Memorial’s Polish programme; Anna Dzenkevich (from KARTA Centre); Andrei Rachinsky; editor of Zvenya publishing house, Larisa Eremina; the book’s artist Boris Trofimov; archivists Olga Zaitseva and Liya Shtanko; historians and pioneers on the subject of Katyn, Natalya Lebedeva and Inessa Yazhborovskaya and Anatoly Yablokov (“that prosecutor of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office who, in 1994, closing the investigation into Katyn, classified the crime as a war crime and a crime against humanity”); staff of the Katyn and Mednoe memorial complexes…

Roginsky also reminded the audience why Memorial had taken up the issue of repression against Poles and Polish citizens at all, and in particular the Katyn topic. Firstly: “… we felt this to be our civic responsibility for those crimes carried out at one time by the leaders of our country in the name of our nation.” Secondly: “.. we wanted to secure the rehabilitation of all victims of the Katyn massacre by name, in accordance with the Russian law on rehabilitation. After all, what do the authorities tell us: even after half a century of lies about Katyn they have acknowledged that all this took place [committed by the then Soviet leadership], and the Chief Military Prosecutor has admitted that that this was the case, but [the authorities present the crime] as one committed by against a largely undefined category of people. Yes, there were shootings, but who was shot – they say this still needs to be proved, there are not enough documents, and on these grounds there have been endless refusals to rehabilitate individuals, and we have lost many cases in court.

The chair of the board of Memorial thanked the foundations that helped in preparation of the book Murdered in Katyn, including the Polish International Solidarity Foundation. But: “.. for us it was important that this book was published not on the money provided by one foundation or another or by a wealthy ididividual, we wanted to publish it from our own money and it is really great that we have managed to do this.”

Aleksandr Guryanov
talked about the main contents of the book: biographical materials (4,415 people), lists of names of prisoners in the Kozelsky camp who were shot in the spring of 1940 on the decree of the Politburo Central Committee VKP (b). However, “.. similar lists of names have frequently been published in the course of previous decades. Therefore it is very important to understand what we could contribute to this area that is new and what reasons we have to take up this work. In this light we discovered that there are many archival documents and sources, including printed ones (including Soviet, German and Polish documents)) which were not used in the making of previous publications. These allowed us to establish exactly the names of all victims.”

(For reference: in carrying out the decision of the Politburo Central Committee VKP (b) issued on 5th March 1940 more than 14,500 prisoners of war held in Kozelsky, Ostaskhovsky and Starobelsky NKVD camps were sentenced to death without trial, and also more than 7,300 of those who had been arrested and were held in prisons while under investigation in the western regions of the Ukrainian SSR and Belarus SSR were shot. In the spring of 1940 almost 22,000 Polish citizens were shot in the Katyn forest outside Smolensk, in Smolensk itself, in Kalinin, Kharkov and other places otherwise referred to by the generic name of the Katyn massacre.) [Read more in Russian]






Translated by Frances Robson
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