A viewing of the Academy Award nominated film on the Soviet mass execution of Polish officers in the Katyn forest in 1940.
Presented by Crossroads Cultural Center and The John Paul II Cultural Center, in cooperation with the Embassy of Poland
With an introduction by Kyle PARKER, Policy Advisor, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Free and open to the publicUnder 17 parental permission recommended
Poland 1940: the unspeakable year. In the aftermath of the German annexation of the West and the Soviet occupation of the East, Hitler had declared, “Poland will never rise again… This is guaranteed not only by Germany, but also… Russia.” By the Summer of 1940, Nazi and Soviet authorities carried out plans to murder tens of thousands of Polish elite – political, military, cultural and religious – in an effort to seal that fate. We know the rest of the story: The Nazis lost and the Communists won and, after all that, Poland did rise again. What matter then, that 22,000 of those men were killed in the Katyn forest massacre at the hands of Stalin’s secret police as opposed to the Gestapo? What matter that the Germans tried to launch a propaganda war against the Russians with their finding of the mass graves? Or that the Soviets would not admit their responsibility for the killings until fifty years later? What possible difference could these incidental facts make to the widow of a Polish general, or the grieving sister of a slain pilot or to us gathered here to watch this film 70 years later?
Truth be told: because the truth matters. The truth has always mattered to the human heart, because the truth is what links a man to the meaning of his life and the destiny of the world. Ideologies, of whatever ilk, may start out in defense of some ideal – justice, love of nation, pursuit of happiness – but somewhere along the way, the love of truth is relinquished in exchange for power. Those in power tend to inflate the importance of a grain of truth and equate it with the whole truth: and thus it becomes a lie. “Error,” G.K. Chesterton reminds us, “is a truth gone mad.”
And we, too, in 2010 have cause to ask ourselves if the world has gone mad. Ideology – Nazism, Communism, or the conformism of our day – tends to force one of two alternatives: either joining the party, which implies forgetfulness of the true dimension of our humanity and its cry for total justice and happiness – or the elimination of everything and everyone which does not fit into the small scheme imposed by the powerful. Unless something unpredictable were to happen: that the voice of the human heart rise above the controlled crowd so as to inflame the embers of any other true heart standing by ready to listen. The witness of truth and freedom remains our best weapon against the loss of humanity in any age.
About this EventDate: Friday, October 29, 2010
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center
3900 Harewood Rd., NE, Washington, DC 20017
About the SpeakerKyle Parker
Policy Advisor for Eurasia for the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe