Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

#TECH 24

Station F: Putting Paris on the global tech map

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Davos 2017: 'I believe in the power of entrepreneurs to change the world'

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

French education with a difference: Teachers who think outside the box

Read more

#THE 51%

Equality in the boardroom: French law requires large firms to have 40% women on boards

Read more

FASHION

Men's fashion: Winter 2017/2018 collections shake up gender barriers

Read more

ENCORE!

Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan speaks out about her time behind bars

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Threat of economic crisis still looms in Zimbabwe

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

DAVOS 2017: Has the bubble burst?

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

DAVOS 2017: Summit overshadowed by geopolitical changes

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

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

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

2017-01-20 Africa

Davos 2017: 'I believe in the power of entrepreneurs to change the world'

Tony Elumelu is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the chairman of leading pan-African financial services group the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and the founder of the...

Read more

2017-01-18 Donald Trump

Moving US embassy to Jerusalem would be 'a terrible mistake'

Our guest is Daniel Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to Egypt and Israel. He believes US President-elect Donald Trump's choice of David Friedman to be US ambassador to Israel is a...

Read more

2017-01-17 Israeli-Palestinian conflict

'Donald Trump is a great friend of Israel'

Our guest is Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party in Israel and a former Israeli finance minister. He reacts coolly to France hosting a Middle East peace conference...

Read more

2017-01-13 Russia

US policy towards Putin's Russia: A new era?

Our guest has been making waves recently with her outspoken criticism of US strategy towards Russia. Whether it likes it or not, she says, the West is already at war with Russia...

Read more

2017-01-11 Barack Obama

'Yes we did': Obama defends his legacy

Barack Obama has delivered his farewell speech in Chicago, where it all began for him. A message of hope but also a warning about the frailty of democracy. He was hoping that...

Read more