Katyn massacre must be tried in international courts: President Duda

Polish President on Wednesday commemorated the victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre which saw around 20,000 members of the Polish intelligentsia killed by Soviet troops.

We must fight ‘distortion of history’: President Duda on Katyn crime

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“The Soviet regime and its functionaries who committed the Katyn massacre have never been brought to justice or received punishment. But the crime of genocide is not subject to a statute of limitations, so we will demand that it be tried before international courts,” Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote in a letter read during the Solemn Appeal of Remembrance on the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Katyn Massacre.

The Katyn Forest Massacre in western Russia was a series of mass executions of Polish POWs, mainly military officers and policemen, carried out by the Soviet NKVD security agency in April and May 1940. The killings took place at several locations, but the massacre is named after the Katyń Forest in western Russia, where some of the mass graves of the victims were first discovered.

As the President pointed out, the event was one of the greatest tragedies in the history of Poland. It constituted another chapter in the centuries-long struggle to strip the nations of Central and Eastern Europe of their freedom and identity and claimed the lives of over 20,000 members of Poland’s military and state elite.

Andrzej Duda wrote that the perpetration of the Katyn massacre was beyond doubt, but Moscow denied responsibility and for half a century tried to shift the blame, maintaining its own deceitful narrative of the crime.

“We, Poles, never believed this lie, although it was forbidden to speak the truth aloud,” he stressed. “The truth did however, eventually prevail. The Soviet evil empire crumbled.”

For decades, under Soviet rule, the event was banned from public discussion. No mention was made of it in Polish history books, schools, or other publications.

President Duda emphasised the merit of the researchers, intellectuals and Katyn families. “I thank them today for this on behalf of our homeland,” he wrote. The Katyn Massacre Victims’ Remembrance Day was established by Poland’s Lower House (Sejm) on November 14, 2007, and has since been celebrated on April 13. It commemorates the anniversary of the announcement of the discovery of mass graves of Polish officers in Katyn near Smoleńsk in Russia.