Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Andrew Aisenberg

Reader 2

Corey Tazzara

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© 2022 Julia Messina


The Katyn Forest Massacre is one example of an event where the recorded history and collective memory do not align. At times when events are misrepresented through media and intentional deception, those who remember what actually took place pass on the knowledge collectively, allowing a collective understanding that spites the historical record. These intersections are defining moments for national identity, where the image a state presents to the world conflicts with how their actions are actually perceived. This is true for Katyn. For decades, the event was denied and misrepresented by the Soviet Union who denounced accusations and convinced foreign leaders not to ask questions. The fight for the truth about Katyn is joined with the atrocity itself, both coloring the lasting national identity of the Soviet Union. This thesis explores the context and implications for the controversy surrounding the Katyn Massacre, looking at the investigations, denials, and attempts to memorialize the atrocity through the lens of collective memory. The legacy of the event remains in the global collective consciousness, particularly relevant in light of current Russian military actions.