Although the awareness of Katyn Massacre seems to be widespread in Poland, few people managed to visit the victims' burial sites. Being aware that not everyone can afford to go to Russia, we want to make this place as accessible as possible through the "Katyn Pro Memoria" project. With the help of an interactive portal, users will be able to visit the Polish War Cemetery in Katyn and experience it in a special way.
Often in the perception of Poles, these places are perceived to be located somewhere far away in Russia or Ukraine. An insurmountable obstacle is the distance of thousands of kilometres and visa requirements, but also the uncertainty of what can be found there. Meanwhile, Katyn, a symbol so important for Polish and Russian history, is a particular place on earth. A walk along its paths moves the visitor in a completely different way than a book or film.
The first element of the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding project is the publication Katyn. In the Footsteps of the Crime, which tells the story and geography of the murder of Polish prisoners of war in Kozelsk, transported to Gnezdovo, shot and buried in the Katyn Forest, where today the Polish War Cemetery is located. Our goal is to offer our readers a study combining basic historical information with practical advice on how to navigate the field and local specifics.
The second element of the project is the internet portal "Katyń Pro Memoria", a virtual walk around Memorial. The three-stage narration allows the readers to feel the sensations in that place, to immerse themselves in the Katyn forest and, walking around it, to rediscover the events and places known from the tragic pages of Polish history. It allows the users to see thousands – or maybe at least a few selected ones – of Poles, heroes, people of blood and bones under the cover of the bronze Katyn myth. The more curious visitors can go beyond the symbolic area of the forest and see the cemetery as it looks thanks to a series of video materials, get to know the story behind every part of the Memorial and broaden their knowledge about the people resting there, and about the Katyn Massacre itself, thanks to the interactive in-depth content included in the films (see the portal).
The third element of the project is the social action " TheLightOfMemory". The aim of the portal is to commemorate the victims killed in Katyn. We would like to restore the individual dimension of the Crime and name each of the victims. As part of the action, an application has been launched on the portal which allows to light a candle for those killed in Katyn. Its symbolic lighting will allow users not only to honour the victims but also to discover their stories and see their faces. Our goal is to light as many virtual candles as possible for all the 4415 people buried in Katyn on the 80th anniversary of the 2020 Crime.