Katyń

The Polish Banknote Printer and the REDUTA PWPW Foundation participated in the celebration of the Day of Remembrance of the Katyń Crime Victims which falls on the 13th April. This is a continuation of action in defence of remembrance of the history of Poland. A historical exhibition related to those tragic events was presented on the fence of the Printer.

The crime was done on almost 22 thousand of Polish prisoners of war and prisoners held in special NKWD camps in Kozielsk, Ostaszków and Starobielsk and in prisons in western Ukraine and western Belarus. It was done by NKWD officials in the spring of 1940 by motion from Beria and Stalin's order.

The exhibition consists of 25 charts and presents photographs of places associated with the Katyń crime (i.a. the camps in Kozielsk, Ostaszków, Starobielsk, the Katyński Wood, places where the bodies were hidden – Katyń, Miednoje, Charków, Polish war cemeteries), important documents (Beria's motion to Stalin of 5th March 1940 about murdering the Polish prisoners of war and prisoners, fragments of death lists from the NKWD headquarters with a list of names), fragments of articles from the Polish underground press with information about the crime, photos from German (in 1943) and Polish (in the nineties) exhumations.

The exhibition also presents the victims of the Katyń crime – photos, private documents and letters, offered by the families of the deceased, make the portraits of some victims more familiar. Among them there are i.a. major Adam Solski, whose notes make one of the most important pieces of evidence of the Katyń crime and his brother, captain Kazimierz Solski. In tribute to the Victims of the Katyń Crime and to celebrate the remembrance of all those murdered by the NKWD by order from the top authority of the Soviet Union of the 5th March 1940, the Sejm of the Republic of Poland announces the 13th April the Day of Remembrance of the Katyń Crime Victims.

By decision of the top authorities of the Soviet Union, under a secret resolution by the Political Office KC WKP(b) of the 5th March 1940 (the so-called Katyń decision) almost 22 thousand Polish prisoners of war and prisoners held in special NKWD camps in Kozielsk, Ostaszków and Starobielsk and in prisons in western Ukraine and western Belarus were murdered. They were Polish soldiers (with particular focus on officers, to the rank of general), who were seized prisoners of war after the USSR assault of the 17th September 1939, also soldiers of the Border Defence Corps, officers of the Public Police, the Border Guards and Prison Service. The motion to Stalin about murdering the Polish prisoners of war was submitted to Stalin on the 2nd March 1940 by Ławrientij Beria – the head of the NKWD. And not surprisingly the crime was done by the NKWD officials.

Since the 3rd April 1940 the Polish prisoners of war were transported to Katyń, Charków, Kalinin, Kijów and Mińsk, where they were they were executed in prisons and NKWD centres according to lists delivered from Moscow. The NKWD torture cells were in operation day and night …

The few who survived were taken to the camp in Juchnowo. Those killed were buried in mass graves which were later discovered in: Katyń, Bykownia, Miednoje or Piatichatki (today a part of Charków). However, the burial places of a few thousand victims have not yet been determined.

The majority were killed by a shot in the back of the head – this was later called the "Katyń method". The first mass graves of the victims of this crime were discovered in Katyń, in 1943.

There are various hypotheses as to the reasons for this crime. One of them said it was the will to deprive Poland of her leader tier, in form of intellectual elites, hadn't similar actions against Poles been already carried out by the 3rd Reich?  A large part of those murdered consisted of reserve officers, among them those who were mobilized in September 1939, i.e. people who in everyday life worked as lawyers, doctors, scientists, engineers, teachers, public administration officers, entrepreneurs etc.

Why was the date fixed on the 13th April? On that day Germans published official information about the discovery of the graves of officers of the Polish Army.

Exhibitions-The Katyń crime