Archeology of crime

PICTURE OF THE YEAR in GRAND PRESS PHOTO 2012

On the 17th of 1939 Soviet Union invaded Poland. 250 thousand polish soldiers were taken captive. In spring of 1940, by the shot at the back of the head NKWD (People’s Commission of Interior USSR) murdered 21768 Polish citizens. Among them there were Polish Army officers, reserve scientists, physicians, artists, civil servants and teachers and also officers of State Police, Border Protection Corps, Border Guard and Prison officers. The victims were buried in mass graves in Katyn and Miednoye at the territory of present day Russia, Kuropaty in Belorussia, in Charkov and Bykovnia near Kiev in Ukraine. For 50 years Soviets blamed Nazis for Katyn Crime. On 13th of April 1990 they regarded it to be the Stalinism crime.

This story was nominated for the 2nd Edition of Ryszard Kapuściński Award by Polska Agencja Prasowa (PAP).

W maju 2011 roku przyjechałem do podkijowskiej Bykowni. Zdjęcie Roku Grand Press Photo 2012 było jednym z moich pierwszych, które tam zrobiłem. Właśnie wtedy odkopano pierwsze na tym cmentarzysku szczątki polskiego oficera w położeniu anatomicznym. Pierwsze i ostatnie tak ułożone. Archeolog zawołał, bym przybiegł nad grób. Było to dla mnie ogromnie emocjonujące i bardzo ważne. To co tam zobaczyłem, wiele mnie nauczyło, nie tylko w wymiarze fotograficznym i wizualnym,  ale przede wszystkim ludzkim.

Projekt dofinansowany ze środków Narodowego Centrum Kultury w ramach programu Kultura Interwencje.

Ten fotoreportaż został nominowany do II edycji nagrody PAP im. Ryszarda Kapuścińskiego 2013.
In that forrest are buried about 1980 polish soldiers murdered in 1940 by Stalins NKVD.
That old relict of cold war is still being used by an old russian prosecutor who took part on exhumations in the 70s. At that place in Bykownia's forrest arouse it strange feelings.
It is a really hard job to find someone to bury in s mass grave to collect bones. Some old prisoners sentenced to death in the past announce themselves as a volunteer. A tattoo with Lenin effigy could save life before an execution.
Even 0,5 m under the ground one easily is able to find many skulls and bone.
Bykownia's treasure lead to political turbulence. No one wants to take responsibility for that act of terror.
The average life time of a butterfly can be up to 6 weeks. That soldier had waited 70 years to unveil the truth.
For many polish families is that red star very significant. Especially in a grave of polish soldiers murdered in 1940.
The symbolic death is in that forest very easy of find.
Without truth and education about the horrible Bykownia story it will be very difficult to built a normal partnership between countries and straight people as well.

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