Passengers boarding the special train to Smolensk at Warszawa Zachodnia station on 9 April. Photo Michal Dukaczewski, RMF FM.
(RMF FM has published a gallery of photos showing passengers boarding the train. Click on the image to go to the gallery.)
The faces are grave and solemn. They are making a journey to remember their fathers and grandfathers who were executed on Stalin’s orders 70 years ago. The journey is long and tedious. Passport formalities and bogie changing on the Polish – Bielorussian border seems to take forever. At last they are at Smolensk where coaches are already waiting. It is just a 20 km drive to Katyn. Wreaths are laid in the forest. Private prayers are said. The President’s party is awaited. Time passes. A rumour sweeps the crowd, there’s been a plane crash, but everybody is safe. A man says loudly, everybody is dead. Someone makes a megaphone announcement, there’s been a plane crash and everybody is dead.
The train leaves four hours early. All the signals are that blue colour which in countries of the former Soviet Union serves instead of green. Bogie changing is completed in record time. The train reaches Warsaw just before 08:00 hrs, barely 15 hours before leaving Smolensk. Relatives wait on the platform. There are no smiles. Someone says, now the whole world will know about Katyn.