Now the whole world will hear about Katyn

Czeslaw Ryszka

Exactly 70 years ago at the site of the Katyn genocide, the place where the flower of the Polish nation was murdered, the plane crash happened and the flower of the Polish politicians: the President and the First Lady, the former President-in-exile, the Deputy Speakers of the Parliament and the Senate, the Presidents of the most important state institutions, the Army Commanders and many of my Friends – MPs and Ministers – lost their lives.
The question about the sense of this tragedy comes to us, the living, question about some reason for this great loss for our nation. Has the world not heard enough about the Katyn massacre? Was this sacrifice needed for the Russians to believe what their countrymen had done to Poles in 1940? Did it happen so that we must forgive them?…
Undoubtedly, this tragedy gives a new, symbolic dimension to this place that is so dear to Poles, and although it is in the Russian land it will always be connected with Poland.
As 70 years ago the Polish officers gave their lives in Katyn for their love of Poland so the present sacrifice should be seen as giving life at the service of our Homeland. They died as patriots, going to honour thousands of the Polish officers murdered in Katyn. Now we honour them. The Sigismund bell rang sorrowfully. The bells at Jasna Gora and in thousands of Polish parishes rang for a long time. The flag on the Presidential Palace was lowered to half mast. The Parliament Speaker announced one week national mourning. Masses are held in the cathedrals. One can see Polish flags with black ribbons in people’s homes. Silence, reflection and meditation have overwhelmed us. But we also ask silent questions: why did it happen?
Indeed, it is a difficult and incomprehensible experience for Poland and the world. Several hours ago we were discussing serious Polish matters in the Senate; we were making decisions concerning the bill on the Institute of National Remembrance. Its president spoke to us. The ombudsman and the presidents of the Senators’ Club of Law and Justice fervently defended the independent character of the Institute of National Remembrance. The session was presided over by the Deputy Speaker who was a member of the Citizen’s Platform. It is hard to accept that they are no longer among the living. It is hard to understand because many of them were as if members of my closest family. We were united by work and first of all, by our aim: the Homeland, its present situation and its future. That’s why I think it is the biggest tragedy that could fall on us. Unbelief. Despair. Lack of words, too few tears; we can pray and have confidence in God’s mercy for Poland.
I return to my first thought. Katyn has demanded the truth again, taking the sacrifice of those belonging to the political, social and cultural elite of our state. I think that now the world will not be silent about the occasion of the visit of the Polish President and the delegation to this place. I hope that this tragedy will open wide the Russian archives so that we could pay homage to all Poles who were murdered by the Soviets in 1940. Perhaps now this crime, passed over in silence for years, associated with the name ‘Katyn lie’, will shine in full truth and contribute to true reconciliation between both nations. Certainly, it was the patriotic, last service of today’s ‘Katyn’ victims. They gave their lives for the truth about the genocide in Katyn. We thank them for that.
Personally I thank many of those killed for their friendship. I trust that since they gave their lives on the eve of the Divine Mercy Feast, on the day of the liturgical remembrance about John Paul II’s dying and death, which happened five years ago, God will show them his mercy.

"Niedziela" 16/2010

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: