Everybody's favorite killing ground
21.05.2007 -17 °C
The Katyn forest is a slightly hilly pine forest growing on sandy soil... The pines muffle the sound and the sand makes it easy to dig.
Stalin was the first leader in the modern era to start adding high calcium soil ammendments... He buried a few thoudand dissidents and potential enemies of state there in the 30's
Then, it was time for Stalin to shoot and bury about 6000 Polish Officers prisoners of war. This was followed up by Hiltler with about 135 000 Soviet prisoners of war... All this in what today, and probably in the 30's and 40's, is a very pleasant setting that would make a fine Provincial Park in Canada.
Not surprisingly, there are no markers for the victims of Stalin's purges. More, surprisingly, this park is all about the Polish officers killed by the Soviets. This is a very public acknowledgement of a war crime committed by the Soviets.
The memorial also has steel plaques representing the major faiths of the victims... Christians, Jews, Russian Orthordox, and Muslims. The only other memorial that I have seen that had a religious component was dedicated to the war in Afganistan (also in Smolensk).
The memorial to the Russian POW victims is basically just a Russian Orthodox cross and a series of footpaths in the forest... not real markers or plaques.... very strange given the number of the victims...
I will have to research how this particular memorial was allowed to exist... It just doesn't seem to fit the pattern.
The Katyn Forest is the last official stop on my Doom and Gloom Tour. It is a tragic reminder of what men can do to each other.
Back to Moscow tomorrow for some regular tourist stuff.