Stalin’s Polish Massacre and the Search for Truth
Winner of the 2022 Mark Lynton History Prize
The Katyń 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 Stalin’s direct orders, for nearly fifty years the Soviets maintained the fiction that Katyń was a Nazi crime. The lie went unchallenged by Western governments fearful of upsetting a powerful wartime ally and Cold War adversary. Surviving Katyń 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.
Published by Oneworld. Order it here.
The extraordinary true story of one of the greatest mysteries of the Second World War
‘In a riveting narrative, Rogoyska brings the victims out of the shadows, telling their stories as well as those of the people desperately searching for them. Throughout, the author’s humanity is on full display… Rogoyska is to be commended for resurrecting this heartbreaking tale. A work of significant moral clarity and elegant precision.’
Kirkus, starred review
‘If you don’t understand Katyń 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 Katyń without reading this brilliant book. It is, I’m afraid, as simple as that.’
Daniel Finkelstein, The Times columnist
‘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: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War
‘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 Katyń up to date, Rogoyska helps us understand not only the crimes of the past but also the political manipulations of the present.’
Serhii Plokhy, author of Chernobyl and Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front: A World War II Story
‘[Rogoyska] vividly recreates the last months of the officers – artists, scientists, engineers and poets as well as career military men – who were initially held at three special camps run by the NKVD.’