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Katyń (English version)

Andrzej Wajda

Katyń is a special film in my long career as a director. I never thought I would live to see the fall of the USSR, or that free Poland would provide me with the opportunity to portray on the screen the crime and lies of Katyń. While Stalin's crime deprived my father of life, my mother was touched by the lies and the hoping in vain for the return of her husband. The creation of the screenplay about Katyń took several years. The long, arduous process of looking through huge quantities of individual recollections, diaries, and other mementos confirmed my determination to base this first film about Katyń on the facts these materials related. And this is how the film's opening scene on the bridge, as well as the one featuring Soviet soldiers defacing the Polish flag, came to be. Most of the incidents depicted on the screen actually happened and were reported by eye-witnesses.

While it is true that the details of the Katyń crime are now known, I couldn't omit, in this first film about the event, the image of death; death that met twenty thousand Polish officers. They were murdered, one at a time, a fact that was recorded in their personal files. This is evidence that the Soviet Union failed to recognize or respect any international standards, not even with regard to prisoners of war. All the men who died did so as members of the Polish intelligentsia, and this paved the way for Stalin's subjugation of Poland.

A parallel theme to the Katyń crime is the Katyń lie and the official Soviet line that the Germans had committed the deed in 1941 after invading Soviet territory during the war. This lie had its greatest impact on the wives, mothers, and daughters of the murdered officers. For it was these women, in their struggle to discover the truth, who experienced the greatest repression from the new government following 1945.

This is why, for years, Katyń has been an open, festering wound in the history of Poland that begged for a Polish film to address this topic. The first film.

Andrzej Wajda