International 'Katyn' Exhibit Comes to GPC

01/28/2011
Contact: Rebeca Rakoczy
Phone: 678-891-2691
Fax: 678-891-2966   
Author: Rebecca Rakoczy   

For Immediate Release

In April 1940, the Soviet secret police at the direction of the highest levels of Soviet authority secretly carried out the mass execution of some 22,000 Polish people. Kept hushed for more than 50 years by the Soviet government, the executions in the Katyn Forest in Russia are remembered as the Katyn Forest Massacre.

In February, Georgia Perimeter College in cooperation with the Polish Club of Atlanta will be the host institution for the international exhibit, “Katyn: Massacre, Morality, Politics,” which commemorates the 70th anniversary of the massacre. The exhibit, which chronicles the tragedy with panels, documents, and photographs, will be displayed Feb. 10 through 26 on the third floor of GPC’s Clarkston Campus Jim Cherry Learning Resource Center.

On February 17, at 7 p.m. the film “Katyn,” by Andrzej Wajda will be shown in the auditorium of the JCLRC on the Clarkston Campus. “Katyn” was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film.

The exhibition was produced by Polish historian, Andrzej Przewozniak and Poland's Council for the Protection of the Memory of Struggle and Martyrdom. Its appearance at GPC is sponsored by the Polish Club of Atlanta. The traveling exhibition, which has also been displayed at the U.S. Library of Congress, comes to Georgia Perimeter College from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

The story of Katyn was known widely by the Polish people, but for decades, information about the murder of Polish military officers and members of Poland’s professional class by Stalin’s operatives was suppressed by the communist government, says Bozena Zayac, the cultural events director for the Polish Club who is coordinating the exhibit in Atlanta. Growing up in Communist Poland, Zayac remembers “all Polish students knew about the massacre, but we were never allowed to talk about it.” It has only been since the fall of the Soviet Union that documents detailing the massacre have slowly been released.

When the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Eastern Poland in September 1939, tens of thousands of Polish professional military officers and reservists, policemen, landowners, lawyers, doctors, educators and civil servants were arrested. In short, a large number of the people Poland needed to function as a nation were imprisoned. The following spring, the Soviet Politburo ordered the execution of nearly 22,000 of them.

Ironically, in April 2010, the Polish president and his cabinet were flying to Katyn to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre when the plane went down in heavy fog. All on board perished.

“Katyn is not only part of World War II history, it is part of the regional history of Central Europe, and it is one more chapter in the history of human genocide” says GPC history professor, Marc Zayac.

Feb. 10 to 26: “Katyn: Massacre, Morality, Politics,” will be at GPC’s Clarkston Campus Building L, third floor, 555 N. Indian Creek Dr., Clarkston. For information, call 678-891-3289.  The exhibit will be open during library hours, from 7:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; closed on Sundays.

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Georgia Perimeter College, the third largest institution of the University System of Georgia, serves more than 25,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit www.gpc.edu.