Macquarie University
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Narrating 'Katyń': (re)membering the event through myth, memory and justice

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posted on 2022-03-28, 16:44 authored by Vanessa Fredericks
"This thesis offers a critique of narrative structure via an analysis of Polish WWII narratives of history, with a specific focus on the Katyń massacre. The word 'Katyń' has come to represent the massacre of around 22,000 Polish citizens who, under Stalin's orders, were executed and buried in mass graves during the Second World War. The first of the mass graves were discovered in 1943 by German soldiers in the Katyń Forest. The German government publicly announced the discovery of the graves and accused the Soviets of mass murder. The Soviet government denied responsibility for the massacre and retaliated by accusing the Germans of committing the crime. Successive Soviet governments maintained the narrative of German guilt, until documents that proved Soviet involvement were released under Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. Katyń has become the source of much tension between Russian and Poland. This is evident in narratives on Katyń which are marked by a complex interplay of competing national myths, narratives of national identity, collective memories, conflicting histories, definitions of 'truth', and interpretations of justice and reconciliation. These narratives are the key focus of this thesis. My interest in these narratives is not motivated by an attempt to legitimate any one particular narrative or to uncover 'truths' within them. Drawing on poststructuralist theorists Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, and Jacques Derrida, this thesis proposes a critique of the tendency inherent in narrative structure to promote a particular version of events and present this as absolute 'truth'. I aim to locate these narratives within the particular contexts that they are constructed in order to identify the discourses that inform them and the meanings that are (re)produced." -- Abstract


Table of Contents

1. Narrativisation(s) of 'Katyń' -- 2. Martyrs, messiahs and the myth(s) of the Polish history -- 3. Memory and memorialisation -- 4. Towards an ethics of justice -- Conclusions.


Includes bibliographical references A thesis submitted to the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University in fulfilment of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Nikki Sullivan


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Vanessa Fredericks 2013






1 online resource (vii, 217 pages)

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