In 2008 the Katyn Memorial Complex was opened at the site where in 1940 the NKVD murdered 4,241 Polish officers who were taken prisoner when the Soviet Union invaded Poland. Originally the Nazis were blamed for the crimes and only in 1990 did the USSR admit that the NKVD was responsible. The site has become a national place of pilgrimage for many Polish people, even more so after the plane carrying Poland's delegation to the Katyn anniversary event crashed nearby in 2010 leaving 96 dead including Polish President Lech Kaczyński and his wife, senior Polish military officers, politicians and clergymen, as well as relatives of the victims of the Katyn Massacre.
The entrance into the memorial takes the form of a kurgan (burial mound), which also houses an exhibition centre. Beyond this is an example of the closed wagons used to transport prisoners and then a small square with arches separating the entrance into the Russian and Polish burial grounds.
The Polish section includes walls engraved with the names of victims and the execution sites marked with religious symbols. Also included are the graves of two Polish generals and an altar for religious services. Overall the complex serves as a poignant reminder of crimes committed during this terrible period of history.
It was not just Poles who were executed here by the NKVD - it is estimated that in addition to the Polish officers another 6,500 victims of Stalinist repression are buried here. The Russian section is simpler than the Polish section with the execution sites marked by fencing and Orthodox crosses.