Five years after the country’s president and 95 others went down in a forest in Russia, Poland’s new leaders are pouring fuel on the cover-up fire.
In 2007, the same year the first Law and Justice government, headed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, lost power, the legendary Polish movie director Andrzej Wajda released his epic film Katyn. Over the course of two hours,Katyn tells the story of the thousands of Polish prisoners of war — mainly military officers and professional-class civilians — who were murdered in 1940, in the Katyn forest, on Stalin’s orders. It is actually a film about two crimes: the execution of Polish patriots in a wood near Smolensk and the subsequent smothering of the truth.
The official version of the tragedy, propagated by the Communist government in postwar Poland, was that the Nazis had been responsible for the executions. But there were Poles who were not ready to live with the lie. One of the main characters in the movie, Agnieszka, wants to erect a marble headstone for her murdered brother simply bearing the true date of his death — 1940 — as an indicator that only the Soviets, who controlled the area at the time, could have carried out the killings. She is persecuted for spreading a conspiracy theory; she knows she is spreading the truth.