The Idea behind the Project

The Katyn Massacre occupies a significant place in history, but only a few people visit the locations where the victims of the Massacre are buried: not everyone has the means to go to Russia.

Through this project Katyn Pro Memoria The Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding wants to present in the fullest possible way the resting place of over 4000 Polish POWs.

The project’s first feature is Katyn: Following the Footsteps of the Crime by Jadwiga Rogoża and Maciej Wyrwa. This guide describes the history and geography of the murder of the Polish POWs imprisoned in Kozelsk, transported to Gnezdovo, then shot dead and buried in the Katyn Forest. A Polish War Cemetery now marks the site.

The guide combines historical information with practical tips on how to move around the memorial portal. It is available free of charge in printed and digital versions in both Polish and English (download it here). A Russian version will be published soon.

The second feature is the Katyn Pro Memoria, a virtual guide of the Memorial Complex.

The first level of accompanying narrative covers the Polish War Cemetery in Katyn, symbolically presented through five sections: Entrance, Burial Mound, Graves, Altar Area, and Death Pits.

On moving deeper into the forest we find Voices: testimonies of victims, relatives, and exhumation witnesses, as well as key documents. They are presented by distinguished actors including Jan Englert, Piotr Fronczewski, Andrzej Chyra and director Ivan Vyrypayev. Through the second narrative level visitors go beyond the symbolic space of the forest to see what the cemetery looks in real life, through interactive narrated films.

The third element of the project is the social campaign Katyn Pro Memoria. Light a Candle of Remembrance. We present the individual dimension of the Katyn Massacre, giving the full name of every person executed by the NKVD and buried in the Katyn forest. They learn about the history of their selected victim by reading a short biography and then pay personal tribute by lighting a symbolic virtual candle in his honour or her honour.

Authors and Partners

The portal was created by the team at the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding: Paulina Baranowska, Olimpia Bronowicka, Dagmara Kłosińska, Katarzyna Kołakowska, Małgorzata Krystyniak, Robert Śmigielski, and Maciej Wyrwa

Idea of the project: Ernest Wyciszkiewicz, Maciej Wyrwa

Project concept: Maciej Wyrwa

Web site concept: Superskrypt, Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding

Writers: Krzysztof Łagojda, Jadwiga Rogoża, Maciej Wyrwa

Translations into English: Olivia Bailey, Róża Kochanowska, Paul McNamara, Danuta Przepiórkowska

Translations into Russian: Maria Krisan, Krzysztof Tyczko, Polina Yustova

Website development: Superskrypt

Films: DogFilm Studio

Recordings of voices from the past: Jodie Baltazar, Andrzej Chyra, Jan Englert, Filip Frątczak, Piotr Fronczewski, Aiden Hoyle, Arkadiusz Janiczek, Philip Lenkovsky, Edyta Łukaszewska, Viktor Ryzhakov, Valentina Sizonienko, Vergil Smith, Ivan Vyrypayev, Andrei Zagarodnikov, Rafał Zawierucha

Film voice-overs: Ian Champion, Jan Englert, Ilya Zmieyev

Special thanks to: The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland; Katyn Museum – The Martyrdom Branch of the Polish Army Museum; and Memorial in Moscow

Other contributors: Adam Błonowski, Michał Ceglarek, Yuriy Drug, Foundation Plac Teatralny, Foundation Ośrodka Karta, Janusz Felczyński Odlewnia Dzwonów Przemyśl, Sebastian Karwat, Róża Kochanowska, Michał Kołakowski, The Warsaw Rising Museum, Małgorzata Pol, TS Software Tomasz Stasiak, Teresa Zachara

About the Centre

The Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding is a public institution established by the Sejm of the Republic of Poland to promote better mutual understanding between Poles and Russians.

The Centre builds relationships. Polish-Russian Youth Exchanges and football championships give Russian and Polish young people a chance to know each other better. Personal meetings challenge stereotypes: shared experiences and engagement help build trust and change attitudes.

The Centre supports Russian scientists who want to conduct research in Poland or promote Polish-Russian initiatives. The Centre welcomes ideas from anyone wanting to make contemporary Poland and Russia more familiar to each other.

The Centre discovers unexplored or forgotten chapters of our common history via research projects and publications. History is a main obstacle in the way to mutual understanding: solid foundations for dialogue based on accurate knowledge are essential.

The Centre’s educational projects inspire out-of-the-box thinking and a space for expert international debate. Workshops, meetings and summer schools offer an opportunity to get actively involved in future relations between the Polish and Russian peoples.

Reconciling different historical perspectives through dialogue can be a long and difficult process. But this process is indispensable in building authentic and honestly grounded mutual understanding.