On 30 October, marking the Day of memory of victims of political repression on the territory of the “execution” of the complex Katyn in the Smolensk region there are new graves. The solemn ceremony of reburial of 348 people who were executed here in the years of Stalinist repression. The remains of these hundreds of victims were found by accident – during the work on the landscaping of the complex.
The memorial in the Katyn forest, located 20 kilometers West of Smolensk, now widely known. Not so long ago this place was secret, and only few people knew about the tragedy that occurred here. In the 1930-1940-ies in the woods between the villages of Gnezdovo and Katyn, there was a landfill, where the NKVD shot “enemies of the people” – not only Soviet citizens but also the poles. Only in the post-Soviet time on the territory of the landfill excavations began of mass graves, was created a memorial complex.
Its territory is conventionally divided into the “Polish” part, where there are 4.5 thousand of the poles, and “Russian” where more than 8 thousand Soviet citizens. Due to the large and very painful attention, which show the power of modern Poland to the old tragedy of Katyn, when you create a public memorial in the first place was decorated appropriately to the “Polish” part of it. But the place around the graves of executed Soviet citizens, until recently, remained little presentable form. As explained by General Director of the Museum of contemporary history of Russia Irina Velikanova, “works on improvement of the Russian part of the memorial began in 1990-ies., but it was not completed.”
Finally, in 2017, the Russian military-historical society with the Museum of contemporary history of Russia, with the support of the Ministry of culture, was resumed at the full accomplishment of the Russian part of the Katyn memorial. During construction were found and raised from the earth the remains of 348 people were shot here in the first half of the twentieth century. Solemn reburial decided to coincide with the Day of memory of victims of political repression.
– We are restoring historical justice. The Katyn tragedy is a bitter and severe page in our history. It is no less important than the pages of the victories and triumphs, because that is an important lesson for present and future generations, – said at the ceremony Irina Velikanova.
As told in the press service of the Russian military-historical society, improvement project of the “Russian” part of the complex was developed by the Chairman of the Union of artists of Russia Andrei Kovalchuk. In the new corporate style prepared modern navigation system on three languages: Russian, English and Polish. Special attention is paid to the so-called “Valley of death” where victims of the repression. On the “wall of memory” will be immortalized more than 8 thousand names of Soviet citizens who were executed in the Katyn forest during the “great terror”. The emotional center of the complex will become a monument to “the Shooting”, created by Andrey Kovalchuk.
The memorial will soon open new exhibition center, where will be presented the exposition telling about the history of Russian- (Soviet-) Polish relations in the twentieth century, including the Soviet-Polish war of 1919-1921, the joint struggle against Nazi Germany in 1941-1945, the postwar Soviet-Polish cooperation. And, of course, the most important part of the exhibition will remain “Katyn case”. It is planned to expand essentially presents visitors with information about these tragic pages of history.
The new exhibition center branch of the Museum of contemporary history of Russia – will be able to accept up to 200 visitors at a time.