It was in the Katyn forest that the first bodies of the victims were discovered in 1943. The graves of the Polish prisoners-of-war from Kozelsk became a symbol of the whole crime. The Katyn cemeteries are not only places where the dead are commemorated. They are also a testament to Poland’s national remembrance and the struggle for truth. Their composition, architecture and space create a symbolic narrative.

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The cemeteries at Katyn, Kharkiv and Mednoe were opened in 2000, and the one at Kyiv-Bykivnia was opened in 2012. The architectural concept, which was common to all four sites, emphasises the unity in the fate shared by all Victims of the Massacre. The cemeteries represent a symbolic space, inviting visitors to take part in a rite of passage.


The memorial gate is the central place in all the cemeteries. Its surface, made of cast iron, is covered with the names of the Victims imprinted in it. This symbolises the mechanically executed Crime, just as the names of the Victims who were sentenced to death were mechanically typed on the typewriter. A total of 4,415 Victims are buried in Katyn.

Listen to the voices

Portret Józefa Książek

Józef Książek

daughter of Captain Józef Książek murdered at Katyn

read by Jodie Baltazar

Portret Kazimierza Wierzyńskiego

Kazimierz Wierzynski

Funeral Mass in the New York Cathedral

Read by Aidan Hoyle

John Paul II

Address to the Katyń Families during a special audience

Read by Philip Lenkowsky