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    The open-air exhibition “Katyn Massacre 1940. The murder of Polish elites”

    It is now eighty-one years since the Soviet murdered in April and May 1940 almost 22 000 of our compatriots who were the elite of pre-war Poland. On 13th April the Polish Parliament established the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Katyn Massacre. On this occasion, the Ministry of Justice presents an open-air exhibition, which can be seen on the fence in front of the Ministry of Justice headquarter in Warsaw.

    Exhibition “Katyn Massacre 1940. The murder of Polish elites”, was prepared in cooperation with the Institute of National Remembrance. It succinctly presents the origins of the Katyn Massacre: from Stalin’s alliance with Hitler enshrined in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, by the Soviet assault on Poland of 17 September 1939, the detention of Polish officers in prisons and camps of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs), until the decision of the Political Office of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of 5 March 1940 to shoot prisoners held in camps in Kozielsk, Starobielsk and Ostaszków and 11 thousand Polish prisoners from the eastern territories of the Second Republic. The creators of the exhibition described how the crime was carried out: transport to the scene of the shooting, shot on an occiput, burial in a mass grave. Thanks to the collected photographs, we can see the faces of the executioners, and short testimonies of their participation in the murder were also given.


    The next part of the exhibition is the story of the search for missing Polish officers, the discovery of the cruel truth about their deaths and the fight against attempts to hide it by the Soviet authorities and the Polish communists collaborating with them. We should not forget that until 1989, Katyn lies were officially taught in Polish schools, attributing the Katyn Massacre to Germany. That is why cultivating the memory of its victims remains so important to our national identity.


    The greatest emotion is undoubtedly caused by the pictures of the killed Poles and fragments of their logs and letters. Thanks to them, we have the opportunity to look into the eyes of the victims and hear their voice, full of optimism and faith in returning home. 


    The murderers were the elite of the Polish army and society. Among the 21,857 people murdered were 12 generals, about 8,250 officers of the Polish Army, more than 6,300 police officers, gendarmerie, prison guards, soldiers of the Border Protection Corps, intelligence and counterintelligence personnel of the Second Republic of Poland and 7,305 people from NKVD prisons. In addition to professional military and police officers, a large group were reserve officers – in civilian life performing various professions. Among those killed were 920 doctors and pharmacists, 770 scientists and teachers, 650 engineers, 450 lawyers, politicians, local government representatives, officials, landowners, priests and military settlers. 



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