Katyn– the Soviet massacre of over 21,000 Polish prisoners in 1940 – has come to be remembered as Stalin’s emblematic mass murder, an event obscured by one of the most extensive cover-ups in history. Yet paradoxically, a majority of its victims perished far from the forest in western Russia that gives the tragedy its name. Their remains lie buried in killing fields throughout Russia, Ukraine and, most likely, Belarus. Today their ghosts haunt the cultural landscape of Eastern Europe.
This book traces the legacy of Katyn through the interconnected memory cultures of seven countries: Belarus, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltic States. It explores the meaning of Katyn as site and symbol, event and idea, fact and crypt. It shows how Katyn both incites nationalist sentiments in Eastern Europe and fosters an emerging cosmopolitan memory of Soviet terror. It also examines the strange impact of the 2010 plane crash that claimed the lives of Poland’s leaders en route to Katyn.Drawing on novels and films, debates and controversies, this book makes the case for a transnational study of cultural memory and navigates a contested past in a region that will define Europe’s future.
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"An informative survey of the debates occaasioned by the crimes of early 1940."
Times Literary Supplement
"A fine example of international research collaboration."
"An important corrective to most recent studies of imperialism, which rarely transcend the national optic."
Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research
"This book, a rare example of collective scholarship, is more than path-breaking. It manages to move around the furniture in an entire field, that of memory studies, one that is shared by literary scholars, linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, historians and others. This exploration of memory events is essential reading for all students in the social sciences and the humanities."
Jay Winter, Yale University
"In an exemplary way, this multi-disciplinary in depth case study reconstructs the symbolic legacy of Katyn as a transnational trauma. The book is a unique collective achievement with genuine potential to integrate this key event into European memory."
Aleida Assmann, University of Konstanz
"The crime of Katyn has bedeviled European memory for decades, and only an ambitious pan-European effort such as this one can reveal every angle of the problem – and some of the solutions."
Timothy Snyder, Yale University
Alexander Etkind is Reader in Russian Literature and Cultural History at the University of Cambridge.
Rory Finnin is Lecturer in Ukrainian Studies and Chair of the Cambridge Committee for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Cambridge.
Uilleam Blacker is MAW Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Cambridge.
Julie Fedor is MAW Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Cambridge.
Simon Lewis is a PHD candidate at the University of Cambridge.
Maria Mälksoo is Senior Researcher at the University of Tartu, Estonia.
Matilda Mroz is Lecturer in Film and Visual Culture at the University of Greenwich.