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Surviving Katyn

Stalin's Polish Massacre and the Search for Truth

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The Katyn Massacre of 22,000 Polish prisoners of war is a crime to which there are no witnesses. Committed in utmost secrecy in April–May 1940 by the NKVD on the direct orders of Joseph Stalin, for nearly fifty years the Soviet regime succeeded in maintaining the fiction that Katyn was a Nazi atrocity, their story unchallenged by Western governments fearful of upsetting a powerful wartime ally and Cold War adversary. Surviving Katyn explores the decades-long search for answers, focusing on the experience of those individuals with the most at stake – the few survivors of the massacre and the Polish wartime forensic investigators – whose quest for the truth in the face of an inscrutable, unknowable, and utterly ruthless enemy came at great personal cost.

'A gripping reconstruction of one of the most gruesome and haunting crimes of the Second World War. Jane Rogoyska’s sensitive yet dispassionate use of the harrowing evidence provided by victims, perpetrators and survivors makes for utterly compelling reading, and lays bare its toxic legacy.'

– Adam Zamoyski, author of Poland: A History

‘A well-researched and beautifully written narrative of the appalling fate of the Polish officers captured by the Soviets in 1939 and massacred in 1940. Through the testimony of the few survivors and the investigators, Jane Rogoyska brings to life the suffering of the Poles which continued for decades after the war as Soviet culpability for the crime was denied across the world.’

– Halik Kochanski, author of The Eagle Unbowed

One Second World War crime to escape judgment at the Nuremberg Trials was the massacre of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest in western Russia at the early stage of the war. The judges failed because, on their panel, they had the representatives of the perpetrator: the Soviet Union.

Jane Rogoyska offers a riveting story of the crime, the cover-up and the search for the truth, which is far from over even today. In bringing the story of Katyn up to date, Rogoyska helps us understand not only the crimes of the past but also the political manipulations of the present.

– Serhii Plokhy, the author of Chernobyl and Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front: An Untold Story

'If you don't understand Katyn you don't understand the second world war, you don't understand Europe, you don't understand crime and you don't understand lies. And you can't understand Katyn without reading this brilliant book. It is, I'm afraid, as simple as that.'

– Daniel Finkelstein, Times columnist