• Poland marks International Katyn Genocide Memorial Day
  • Audio3.27 MB
  • 10.04.2009


Remains of a Katyn genocide victim

Due to Easter, Poland marks Katyn Genocide Memorial Day today, instead of April 13th. Celebrations are held all over the country to remember the victims of the Stalinist genocide. At the cemetery in the Russian town of Katyń, several hundred Polish families have paid tribute to the victims today.

International Katyn Genocide Memorial Day, marked this year on the 10th of April, normally falls on the 13th - which was the date when Germans revealed the crime to the world in 1943. Three years before that, NKVD functionaries, at Stalin's personal order, shot to death over twenty thousand Polish POWs, mostly officers, policemen, border guards and intelligentsia. 

The world learned about the massacre in early 1940s, but in Poland and other countries of the communist bloc, the memory was forbidden by communist censorship. Families of victims were repressed and any talk of the genocide silenced with threats and punishment. Communists propaganda spread lies about the German responsibility for the crime.

It was only in 1990 that the Soviet government admitted to the crime. Two years later Boris Yeltsin revealed first documents on the case. In the year 2000, on the 60th anniversary of the genocide, Polish cemeteries in Katyń were opened.

Today's celebrations in Katyń have been attended, among others, by House Speaker Bronisław Komorowski, deputy Speaker of the Senate Zbigniew Romaszewski, the last president of Poland in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski, and Polish Army bishop Tadeusz Płoski.

Click on the audio icon to listen to the report by Joanna Najfeld.