Piotr M. A. Cywiński member of the Moscow Memorial Society
In September 2015, the board of the Memorial Society in Moscow decided to accept as a member of the organization Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
‘I construe this decision as a very important step towards a growing mutual thinking and actions to the memory of so many innocent victims of the big totalitarian regimes of the XX century. I also see it as decision in favour of issues inextricably related to the observance of human rights and fundamental civil liberties,’ said the director Peter Cywiński.
‘For years, we have been strengthening the exchange of experiences with various people of the Memorial, whose attitudes and personal dedication I strongly appreciate and admire,’ he added.
Director Cywiński have been on numerous occasions a participant, along with activists of the Memorial, in many events dedicated to the memory of former prisoners of Soviet labour camps, among others on the premises of the recently closed Museum of Political Repression in the area of the former camp for political prisoners Perm-36 at the foot of the Urals. Since 2012, the head of the Memorial, Arsenij Rogiński is a member of the International Auschwitz Council.
The "Memorial" is an independent Russian non-governmental organization dedicated to documenting and disseminating knowledge about the victims of communist repression and the protection of human rights in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union. Officially, it has been operating since 1989. Its founders include among others Andriej Sacharow i Siergiej Kowalow.
At the turn of 2014 and 2015, the existence of the memorial had seemed to be under threat. The Russian Minister of Justice put in a motion to the Supreme Court for the dissolution of the Memorial as in his opinion it did not meet some of the new requirements of the Russian law. Upon effecting changes in the statute, the court dismissed the motion to dissolve of the Memorial.
An essential part of the Memorial’s activities is studies on Polish victims of the repression, including the Katyn massacre. To this end, in 2005 the Polish Commission of the Memorial Society was founded, and which is coordinated by Aleksander Gurjanow. Since 1992, the Memorial has worked closely with Ośrodek Karta (KARTA Center), creating an Index of the Repressed, a comprehensive documentation of names of Polish citizens repressed by the authorities of Soviet rule in the years 1939-1956. The verified data is published in the form of volumes covering different categories of victims of the repression.
In 2012, the Polish minister of foreign affairs Radosław Sikorski honoured the Association with the award Pro Dignitate Humana (For human dignity), for its struggle in disclosing the truth about Katyn.
On 18 September, this year at the headquarters of the Memorial in Moscow the newly released volume ‘Killed in Katyn’ was presented. It contains information on each of the 4,415 Polish citizens shot by the NKVD in the spring of 1940 in the Katyn Forest. The Society has announced that it plans to release similar accounts of the memory of the Polish prisoners of war executed in other places of the NKVD crimes.