Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Web users in shock after AirAsia flight disappeareance

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'If the missing AirAsia plane crashed, 2014 was one of deadliest years in almost a decade'

Read more

FASHION

Fashion: What happened in 2014

Read more

WEB NEWS

Providing internet to rural areas

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Search for AirAsia jet continues

Read more

WEB NEWS

The best viral Christmas ads of 2014

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Collective behaviour problem' because of snow in Alps

Read more

WEB NEWS

290 Syrian cultural sites damaged by civil war

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France: 2014 in review

Read more

An interview with a French or international personality from the world of economics, politics, culture or diplomacy. Every Monday and Wednesday at 4.45 pm Paris time. Saturday at 7.45 am.

THE INTERVIEW

THE INTERVIEW

Latest update : 2010-04-07

Andrzej Wajda, Polish film director

Polish film director Andrzej Wajda, who directed the film "Katyn", talks to FRANCE24 about the massacre of 22,000 Poles by Soviet forces during World War II.

Filmmaker Andrzej Wajda, who directed the film “Katyn” about the 1940 massacre of Polish citizens by the Red Army in the Katyn Forest, hailed the commemoration Wednesday by Russian and Polish leaders as a step toward “historical truth”. 
 
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Polish premier Donald Tusk paid homage to those killed in the Katyn Forest massacre of 1940 in a move that filmmaker Andrzej Wajda, who directed the film “Katyn”, said gave him “great hope”.
 
“I expect more steps in the direction of explaining and reconciling what happened,” Wajda told FRANCE 24.
 
A 5 March 1940 secret order signed by the Soviet central committee, including then-leader Joseph Stalin, called for the execution of Polish prisoners of war it said were enemies of the state planning “to actively participate in a fight against the Soviet government”. The Red Army had taken some 230,000 Polish POWs after its mid-September 1939 invasion of Poland, which followed the Nazi invasion of September 1.
 
Between the March 5 order and May of 1940 the Soviet secret police, or NKVD, killed almost 22,000 Poles, mostly military officers but also civil servants, artists, teachers and diplomats.
 
For Wajda, this crime “lives on in Polish society” 70 years after the events. What happened at Katyn “was never recognised as a war crime”, he says. Thoughts of the 22,000 Polish soldiers and intellectuals who were assassinated “live on in our houses, our hearts, our memories”, he says. “They were killed to pave the way for the Soviet system in Poland, because a totalitarian system, if it wants to exist, must get the intellectuals out of the way. Even Hitler treated Polish intellectuals better than Stalin did.”
 
It has already been a long road. “In 2000 an investigation was opened, and we hoped the events at Katyn would be brought to light,” Wajda says. “But the inquest was suspended in 2004, unfortunately.” He says this situation, so painful for Poles, has remained an obstacle to any reconciliation between Poland and Russia.
 
Wajda thus dedicated his film to the Stalinist purges of the spring of 1940. Released in 2007, “Katyn” tried to show “the truth of the brutality and that the victims were not only the assassinated officers but the women who waited for them, day after day, hour after hour, while entertaining horrific doubts”, according to an introduction on the film’s official site.
 
What Wajda was putting to film was a drama at once shared and deeply personal, for his family had been personally affected. “My father was not assassinated at Katyn,” he told FRANCE 24. “My father was assassinated in the cellars of the NKVD (Soviet secret police) at Kharkov, and buried in the cemetery in that village.”
 
“Katyn” was aired for the first time on the Russian public television channel Kultura last week. “The Russian public knows of the events but, unfortunately, believes it to have been a German crime,” he says. “One must not forget that for some years the Soviet Union propagated this version of events at Katyn and maintained this version until 1989, when Poland regained its liberty” from the Soviet bloc.
 
For Russia’s official daily “Russkaya Gazeta,” last Friday’s broadcast of “Katyn” signaled “considerable progress on the part of (Russian) society on the road to restoring historical truth”. 

By Virginie HERZ

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-12-24 Tunisia

'We have to build a new Tunisia', says the president of the Tunisian Parliament

In the wake of Tunisia’s first free presidential election, is the transition to democracy complete? Mohamed Ennaceur, the new president of the Tunisian Parliament, speaks to...

Read more

2014-12-24 Tibet

'Beijing needs to revaluate its policy in the Tibetan areas', says FM of the Tibetan government-in-exile

Since 2009, at least 133 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet in protest of Chinese rule. In an interview with France 24's Marc Perelman, Dicki Chhoyang, the Foreign minister of...

Read more

2014-12-22 Boko Haram

Wole Soyinka slams the Nigerian government's response to Boko Haram

In an interview with France 24’s Fatimata Wayne, Nigerian Nobel Literature laureate Wole Soyinka reacts to the disturbing news that at least 185 people have been recently...

Read more

2014-12-17 Dalai Lama

‘China needs Tibetan culture of peace,’ says Dalai Lama

Chinese people are in need of the “peace, compassion and non-violence” advocated by Tibetan Buddhist culture, the Himalayan region’s exiled spiritual leader has said in a...

Read more

2014-12-16 Russia

'We will survive sanctions,’ says Russian foreign minister

Western sanctions will “never” cause economic meltdown for Russia, Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview on Monday.

Read more