Katyn– the Soviet massacre of over 21,000 Polish prisoners in 1940 – has come to be remembered as Stalin’s emblematic mass murder, an event obscured by one of the most extensive cover-ups in history. Yet paradoxically, a majority of its victims perished far from the forest in western Russia that gives the tragedy its name. Their remains lie buried in killing fields throughout Russia, Ukraine and, most likely, Belarus. Today their ghosts haunt the cultural landscape of Eastern Europe.
This book traces the legacy of Katyn through the interconnected memory cultures of seven countries: Belarus, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltic States. It explores the meaning of Katyn as site and symbol, event and idea, fact and crypt. It shows how Katyn both incites nationalist sentiments in Eastern Europe and fosters an emerging cosmopolitan memory of Soviet terror. It also examines the strange impact of the 2010 plane crash that claimed the lives of Poland’s leaders en route to Katyn.Drawing on novels and films, debates and controversies, this book makes the case for a transnational study of cultural memory and navigates a contested past in a region that will define Europe’s future.
List of Contributors
List of Abbreviations
List of Figures
A Note on Translation and Transliteration
Introduction: Remembering Katyn
Chapter One: Katyn in Poland
Chapter Two: Katyn in Katyn
Chapter Three: Katyn in Ukraine
Chapter Four: Katyn in Belarus
Chapter Five: Katyn in the Baltic States
Chapter Six: Katyn in Russia
Chapter Seven: Katyn in Katyn
"An informative survey of the debates occaasioned by the crimes of early 1940."
Times Literary Supplement
"A fine example of international research collaboration."
"An important corrective to most recent studies of imperialism, which rarely transcend the national optic."
Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research
"This book, a rare example of collective scholarship, is more than path-breaking. It manages to move around the furniture in an entire field, that of memory studies, one that is shared by literary scholars, linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, historians and others. This exploration of memory events is essential reading for all students in the social sciences and the humanities."
Jay Winter, Yale University
"In an exemplary way, this multi-disciplinary in depth case study reconstructs the symbolic legacy of Katyn as a transnational trauma. The book is a unique collective achievement with genuine potential to integrate this key event into European memory."
Aleida Assmann, University of Konstanz
"The crime of Katyn has bedeviled European memory for decades, and only an ambitious pan-European effort such as this one can reveal every angle of the problem – and some of the solutions."
Timothy Snyder, Yale University
- A highly original analysis of the murder of more than 21,000 Polish prisoners in Russia in the spring of 1940, its cover up and its subsequent unravelling
- A major contribution to the growing literature on history and cultural memory, developing the idea of ‘memory wars’
- Written by an outstanding group of scholars working with one of the leading figures in the field
- This book will be invaluable to scholars and students of memory studies and post-communist Eastern Europe and post-Soviet Russia