Don't miss




EU election observers say Guinea's presidential vote was 'valid'

Read more


Human rights on the back burner

Read more


The Saudi Dilemma (part1)

Read more


Barbara Hendricks lends her operatic voice to the refugee crisis

Read more


Shanghai shuts hundreds of polluting factories for Disneyland park

Read more


'Can France kill French citizens fighting in Syria?'

Read more


Fired Yemeni workers protest oil giant Total, and more

Read more


Andaman Islands: Exploring a rare paradise

Read more


'Nudes Are Old News at Playboy'

Read more

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



2015-10-12 Barack Obama

Palestinian unrest 'does not look to be organised'

Dennis Ross is a former US envoy to the Middle East. He claims the current flare-up in Israel and the Palestinian territories is not a planned operation but warns that it could...

Read more

2015-10-10 Syria

'Putin can become a hero and make a deal with Assad'

Retired US General Paul E. Vallely tells FRANCE 24's Armen Georgian why he believes it's still possible to cut a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria and unite...

Read more

2015-10-07 environment

Climate change: Who will pay for developing countries?

Climate change is high on world leaders' agendas. The crucial UN talks here in Paris, where the world will try to agree on a global deal to curb carbon emissions, start in less...

Read more

2015-10-06 Ghana

Ghana’s leader talks democracy, corruption

Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama is in Paris as Ghana becomes the 50th member of the OECD's development centre. He spoke to FRANCE 24’s Georja Calvin-Smith.

Read more

2015-10-03 Vladimir Putin

'Putin is trying to build his own coalition' in Syria

Michael Weiss is a senior editor at the Daily Beast and co-author of the book "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror". He analyses Russian President Vladimir Putin's aims in Syria.

Read more