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The Officer's Wife

History is a tale written by the victors, and not always with objectivity. Ask any Pole with a relative buried in the forest at Katyn, where in 1940 the Soviet army slaughtered as many as 27,000 captured Polish soldiers and buried them in mass graves. The site was discovered by the Nazis in 1943 and filmed as a record of Stalin’s atrocities. But because the war ended with the Russians as American allies, it was never investigated aside from a feeble attempt by Stalin to blame it on the Nazis.

Katyn was only part of a series of atrocities committed by Stalin against Poland. Two million Polish citizens were sent to Siberia, most as slave labor. Among those were Cecylia, the wife of a Polish officer, and her three children. She survived and wrote down her story, which sat in a safe deposit box owned by her son until his death. There it was discovered by her grandson, Piotr Uzarowicz, who discovered a family history he never knew about.

The Officer’s Wife is Uzarowicz’s documentary about one of the 20th century’s greatest but least known crimes. His grandmother’s plainspoken memoir is a personal entry into a story that has been covered up by history because it was inconvenient, for the Western powers who didn’t want the crimes of an ally to dilute the story of the designated villain, Adolph Hitler, as well as for the Communist government of Poland that took power after the war.

The Russian government continues to stonewall efforts to expose what is admittedly only one of many outrages committed by Stalin, recognizing that the only survivors of the era were children then and are elderly now. That Uzarowicz has compiled testimony from survivors makes this documentary important; that he weaves a complicated story with enough skill to make it understandable makes it compelling viewing.

The Officer’s Wife will be screened at 4pm on Sunday at the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center. Director Piotr Uzarowicz will be present. It will also be screening in Rochester on 3pm Saturday at the Little Theater (240 East Avenue).

Watch the trailer for The Officer's Wife

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