Witamy! A warm welcome to Andrzej Wajda


This week, as part of the Polish Film Festival, Ukrainian audiences were able to see the film “Katyń”.  It was presented first in Kharkiv by its renowned producer, Andrzej Wajda

There was every reason for the film to be shown in Kharkiv.  It is dedicated to Pan Wajda’s parents.  His father, Jan Waida, an infantry captain was taken prisoner by Soviet forces in September 1939, sent to the Starobelsk camp for prisoners of war, and then murdered in Kharkiv in the spring of 1940. His mother to the end of her life never knew whether her husband had died since his name was not on the list of victims, found at Katyń in 1943. 

In September 1939 Poland was carved up by two murderous regimes: Nazi Germany and the USSR. The Polish officers and others taken prisoner of war at that time were held in three camps and later, without any trial, shot in three places: Katyń near Smolensk, Mednoye in the Tver region and Kharkiv.  22 thousand Poles were murdered.

There is no grave to mark where the last earthly remains of Jan Wajda lie.

“I now understand much better the state of anxiety in which she lived, and therefore the main part of my film I dedicated to the fate of the women who waited for their husbands to return.”

“It was only after I made the film “Katyń” that I had the grounds to come here and visit his grave”, Pan Wajda explained before the film showing in Kharkiv. “My father was a witness to the Katyń Crime, and my mother lived through the Katyń lie. This true crime was directed mainly against the Polish intelligentsia since it was they most of all who opposed Stalin’s plans to subjugate Poland”.

Andrzej Wajda writes himself on his website ( ):

“The creation of the screenplay about Katyn 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 Katyn on the facts these materials related”

As we know, the terrible crime committed at Katyn was first discovered by the Nazis.  The Soviet Union denied any involvement until 1989.  It is to be bitterly regretted that in the last few years there seems to be have been another turn around with Russian officialdom and sycophantic media trying to avoid the whole issue. 

“On 21 September 2004 the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation terminated the investigation into the “Katyń Case” which had continued since 1990. Iin March 2005 it declared that of 183 volumes of the “Katyń Case”, 115 were classified as “secret” or “for official use only”, with the Military Prosecutor’s Resolution on terminating the investigation also being classified as “secret”.

  From a recent letter to the Russian Federation Prosecutor General from “Memorial”

In the light of concern expressed by people that the film could be “anti-Russian”, Pan Wajda’s words to a gathering in Russia just over a month ago are worth remembering.

Responding to remarks about Russian guilt, he replied:

“I should say that the film did not raise this question and I have no such claims. Poles understand very well that this was how Stalin’s regime treated people. It was not only Poles who were its victims.”

Among viewers in Kyiv was President Yushchenko who also awarded Andrzej Wajda with the Order of Yaroslav the Wise.


(Halya Coynash)

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