• May 24, 2023
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IPN: The Katyn massacre concerns not only Poles, but also Lithuanians.

“Echoes of the Katyn Massacre – victims, chaplains, archives and memory” – is the title under which a two-day scientific conference that began on Wednesday is being held in Vilnius. Marek Jedynak, director of the Białystok branch of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), and co-organiser of the event told PAP that the aim of the conference is to present the latest research on the Katyn massacre and to point out that this crime concerns not only Poles but also Lithuanians.

PAP (  Polish Press Agency)

“The Katyn Massacre was a crime against the Polish nation, but also a crime committed against the multiculturalism known from the period of the Second Republic of Poland,” says Jedynak. – In the Katyn mass graves rested not only people of Polish nationality but also Lithuanian and Jewish citizens of the Republic.”

According to the director of the Bialystok branch of the Institute of National Remembrance, the conference is being held in Vilnius because “both Poles and Lithuanians have in their history, in the history of their nations, crimes committed at the hands of the Soviets against those who fought for the independence of their countries”. “By presenting the Polish point of view, pointing out historical similarities and points of connection, we want to build cooperation,” Jedynak said.

He also stressed that “Poland and Lithuania share a border with the Russian Federation and this is an active opponent in the current political situation” and that “this is a country that still does not allow the explanation of this difficult and very intricate history from the Second World War”.

The conference, which is being held at the House of the Polish Culture in Vilnius on Wednesday, began with the presentation of the latest IPN publication ‘When silent graves speak. The archive of Dr. Jan Zygmunt Robal’ and a meeting with its co-authors. The publication contains diaries, notes, postcards, letters, and other documents excavated from nameless graves in Katyn during their exhumation in 1943, providing valuable testimony to the Soviet crime committed in the spring of 1940.

“Dr. Rogala researched the Katyn massacre and secured artefacts excavated from the death pits. This book is about the history of objects that spoke about the fate of the victims after their death,” says Marek Jedynak.

The conference brings together academics from Poland researching the Katyn massacre and local, Vilnius-based researchers. Much attention is paid to the clergy, who were the victims of the regime. Patryk Pleskot, Dr hab. prof. of the University of Rzeszów, presented, among other things, ‘Portrait of chaplains murdered by the NKVD in 1939-1940’. Dr hab. prof. Danuta Jastrzębska-Golonka of Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz presented the topic ‘Religious life in Kozielsk in the light of memoirs, notes, and records of Polish officers from the years 1939-1940’.

A double lecture on the Katyń crime concerning the Vilnius region was also presented. Dr. Ewa Kowalska from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) gave a lecture on ‘Victims of the Katyn massacre with links to the Vilnius area’, and dr hab. Jarosław Wołkonowski, a researcher from Vilnius, gave a lecture on ‘Polish soldiers from the Vilnius region murdered by the NKVD’.

Two documentary films will be screened as part of the conference: “Dulce et decorum est pro Patria mori”, directed by Marta Telakowska, and “Chaplains of Golgotha of the East”, directed by Bogusława Stanowska-Cichoń.

On the second day of the scientific conference, Thursday, there will be an educational workshop for young people on the Katyn massacre with the participation of senior class students from Vilnius schools with Polish as the language with which they are taught.

“Young Poles must know about the past, about their roots, about this crime. They should remember the sacrifice of their ancestors for the future, for the next generations.” – said Marek Jedynak, director of the Białystok branch of the IPN.

The organisers of the scientific conference “Echoes of the Katyn Massacre – victims, chaplains, archives and memory” are the Institute of National Remembrance Branch in Białystok and the Polish Institute in Vilnius. The conference is held under the patronage of the Polish Press Agency.

Translated by Jakub Teleszczuk within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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