Although Katyn occupies a very important place in history, not many people actually manage to travel to the place where the victims of the Katyn Massacre are buried. Knowing that not everyone can afford to travel to Russia, the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding wants to deliver as much information about this place as possible through its “Katyn Pro Memoria” project.
The first element of the project is a publication entitled “Katyn. In the Footsteps of the Crime” by Jadwiga Rogoża and Maciej Wyrwa, which describes the history and geography of the murder of Polish POWs imprisoned in Kozelsk, transported to Gnezdovo, shot dead and buried in the Katyn Forest, where the Polish War Cemetery is located today. The guide, which combines historical information with practical tips on how to move around the memorial site, is available free of charge in printed and electronic version in Polish, Russian and English (you can download it here).
The second element is the “Katyn Pro Memoria” portal, offering a virtual walk around the Katyn necropolises. After all, the Katyn Massacre is not only about Katyn, but also Bykivnia, Kharkiv, Mednoe and other burial places which we do not know yet. Perhaps also Kuropaty?
The three-stage narrative enables readers to feel the atmosphere of the place, immerse themselves in the symbolic Katyn forest and take a walk to rediscover the events and places known from the tragic pages of Polish history.
When moving deeper into the symbolic forest, we discover “Voices” of the victims, relatives, witnesses of the exhumation, as well as documents. They are presented by outstanding actors, including Jan Englert, Piotr Fronczewski, Andrzej Chyra, Katarzyna Herman or Maja Komorowska. The more inquisitive visitors may go beyond the symbolic space and see the cemeteries as they look like in reality. They can explore the history behind the cemeteries of the Victims of the Crime in Katyn, Mednoe, Kharkiv, Bykivnia, as well as Kuropaty – the place where the bodies of the Victims of the Katyn Massacre were probably hidden.
The third element of the project is the social campaign entitled “Katyn Pro Memoria. Light a Candle of Remembrance.” We seek to restore the individual dimension of the Massacre and provide the full name of each and every person executed there. Through the dedicated mobile application, visitors can light a symbolic candle to commemorate a specific victim. By doing so, they will not only pay tribute to that victims, but also learn about the history of the selected person by reading a short bio.