We see dense fog, an airplane slowly sliding into it, crashing in the woods. The news rush across the globe. On the plane were Lech Kaczynski, then president of Poland, with his wife and 94 other passengers of high esteem. Poland is under shock, it seems the country’s whole elite was wiped out at one blow. The country mourns, the lacklustre president, conservative, a hater of homosexuals, is buried like a hero, with pomp reserved to very few. The site of the crash, Smolensk, in Russia, denotes a national loss that Poland had already experienced once. In 1940, Stalin had ordered his secret service to kill more than 20 000 members of the Polish elite in the woods of Katyn. Lech Kaczynski in fact was, with his people, on the way to Katyn to commemorate that crime: Smolensk – Katyn, Katyn – Smolensk. That could be the title of this film.
The title of Christoph Draeger’s new film, the man who stole the moon … , especially produced for this exhibition, refers to two important events in Lech Kaczynski’s life: his early fame as child actor beside his twin brother Jaroslav in the successful movie The Two Who Stole the Moon (1962) and his tragic death, surrounded by myths, on April 10th, 2010. Draeger takes the death of the president as an example to demonstrate how, even today, history surrounds the life of prominent people, and how such an unexpected death, especially with the help of the global media, nourishes myths and theories of conspiracies. The unbelievable is told, over and over again, everybody feels entitled to search for evidence and traces of foul play and to publish them. It becomes clear that historiography, today, not only takes place in the World Wide Web and on television but that it never comes to an end, never will be brought to an end. Each event leads back to a historic double, thus demonstrating that a lot is left open in history.