Katyn. In the Footsteps of the Crime”

Author: Jadwiga Rogoża, Maciej Wyrwa
Publisher: The Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding
Edition: 1st
Publishing date: 2019
Binding : hardcover
ISBN: 978-83-64486-77-7

An unusual guidebook that describes not only the Polish War Cemetery in Katyn but also the history and geography of the Katyn Massacre. This publication is intended for those who are planning to visit Katyn and those who will never go there.

The knowledge of what happened in Katyn seems to be widespread in Poland, but few people have managed to visit the burial sites of the victims. Poles often tend to imagine these places as located somewhere far away in Russia or Ukraine. There seem to be some insurmountable barriers: not only the distance of thousands of kilometres and the visa requirements, but also the uncertainty as to what can be found there. Meanwhile, Katyn, a symbol so important for Polish and Russian history, is also a very concrete place on Earth. By publishing this guide, which presents the history and geography of the massacre and, on the other hand, contains a description of the cemetery and practical information, the Centre wanted to bridge the existing gap and encourage readers to make a journey to the East. Our goal was to offer a guide that would combine essential historical background with practical tips on how to move around the grounds and on some local realities.

With the help of this guide, we would like to encourage readers to acquire a personal insight into the events and places known from the tragic chapters of history, and to see the thousands of Poles, heroes, real people behind the Katyn myth, or maybe just the chosen few. Being aware that reading itself is unlikely to satisfy the desire for experience, we want to leave some space for personal discoveries of the history of the crime, for example by wandering around the Katyn Cemetery from one bronze nameplate to another, from one human history broken off in the spring of 1940 to the next.

The publication also aims to help Polish readers to understand the significance of Katyn in Russia. While Katyn has been an unchangeable and unambiguous symbol in independent Poland, the memory of this event in Russia, as well as the cemetery and museum complex, have become the subject of political and ideological power play in recent years. Once again Katyn has become a burning issue and a determinant of the status of Polish-Russian relations, as well as tensions within Russia itself.

There is a great need for a publication like this, a guide to places which are connected with the broadly understood topic of Katyn in the minds of people interested in the most recent history of Poland.

Izabella Sariusz-Skąpska, PhD, President of the Federation of Katyn Families

“Katyn. In the Footsteps of the Crime” is a thoughtful idea. Katyn is not only part of Polish history but of the Russian history as well. The guide will help Polish readers to understand where contemporary Russia stands, in terms of its history.”

Alexander Guryanov, PhD, Memorial Society, Moscow