Katyn – Unwritten Will Testimony

My very own personal experience.

unwritten-will   The book of polish heritage is a testament written by our ancestors. Some of its pages were written in red…Every generation would like to imprint their life, experience, fights, struggles and achievements. Every generation should pass on to us what they had so that we would know how to live a better life. However, there is an empty page in this book, it is entitled “Katyn”. Is it because 21 thousands officers, generals, representative of intellectual elite, husbands, fathers, brothers, and grandfathers did not have a thing to share with their future generations?  For me personally, the history of my grandfather "officer Joseph Libura", who as many others did not come back from Kozielsk, Starobielsk, Ostaszkow, was not something I was interested in or proud of. It was sad and fortunately very far. Luckily, I was separated from it by one generation. It made it easier to ignore or even erase it completely from my memory!

   Only few years ago, when I accidentally watched the program directed by Father Peszkowski, who was the witness of the very last moments of life of some prisoners, something happened to me...  This was a breakthrough moment that made me realize I share a bond with the person I never knew. That was the bond of heart and blood ... I started to feel what my grandfather could feel in the last moments of his life. Not only did I understand the deep pain of my grandmother after the loss of her husband and of the children after the loss of their father but also the  pain of my grandfather who died without a farewell, without any message, without a will and finally without assurance that people close to his heart will ever learn about him.

   It wasn’t a coincident that in that moment I was the same age as my grandfather when he was shot. Only then did I realize my very own personal relation with my grandfather. I heard the challenge that he left me and next generations in Katyn Forest as well as in Charkow, Miednoje, Bykownia, and other unknown places of their massacre.

   I learnt that they did not have to die... As prisoners, they were very careful investigated for their readiness to compromise and to show disposition to fit to the communistic system. The purpose of the violence was not only to kill them. They were being punished for their values and for anti-conformist attitude towards the totalitarian system that was based on lies and deception. This was a shot in their core values such as their hopes, the meaning of life and their love for their country. Although they remain silent, they left for us "unwritten will"…

   It was a great privilege for me to participate in the project “Katyn – Unwritten Will” that was the initiative of “Memory and Identity” association – members of “KatynFamily” here in NYC. It was my very own personal encounter with the history of Katyn and touch of wounds that needed desperately healing. It helped me to realize that my grandfather’s heritage of honor, unbroken spirit, courage, integrity of character and boldness in standing for such values like freedom, independence and Christian faith. These values are important directions for young generation and should be foundation for my personal life. I understood that polish people, unfortunately so often depressed, feeling ashamed and embarrassed about their history, need to discover the real meaning of their past. Having such heritage of heroes should be a real challenge for us - young generation. We should continue to live based on these values and stay strong despite many different storms and trials that life brings.

Jolanta Libura