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The Katyn massacre was a series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD ("People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs", the Soviet secret police) in April and May 1940. Secondly, none of the numerous Polish artifacts, such as letters, diaries, photographs and identification tags pulled from the graves, were dated later than the spring of 1940. Cienciala and Materski note the commission had no choice but to issue findings in line with the Merkulov-Kruglov report, and Burdenko was likely aware of the cover-up. [59] Shortly afterward, however, on 24 April 1943, the British government successfully pressured the Poles to withdraw the request for a Red Cross investigation,[59] and Churchill assured the Soviets: "We shall certainly oppose vigorously any 'investigation' by the International Red Cross or any other body in any territory under German authority. 2430). An internationally-staffed medical commission organized by the Germans excavated the area in early spring 1943. [26] Of them 4,421 were from Kozelsk, 3,820 from Starobelsk, 6,311 from Ostashkov, and 7,305 from Byelorussian and Ukrainian prisons. [43] In early 1943, Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff, a German officer serving as the intelligence liaison between the Wehrmacht's Army Group Centre and Abwehr, received reports about mass graves of Polish military officers. Official publication of the Polish government Agency of Combatants and Repressed", "Goetel, Skiwski, Mackiewicz. [22] It is uncertain how many members of the commission were misled by the falsified reports and evidence, and how many actually suspected the truth. [64], In 1947, the Polish Government in exile 1944–1946 report on Katyn was transmitted to Telford Taylor. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. [22] Earle concluded the massacre was committed by the Soviet Union. [9], Once at the camps, from October 1939 to February 1940, the Poles were subjected to lengthy interrogations and constant political agitation by NKVD officers, such as Vasily Zarubin. [22] Altogether, during the massacre, the NKVD executed 14 Polish generals:[28] Leon Billewicz (ret. [66] Documents released by the National Archives and Records Administration in September 2012 revealed Stewart and Van Vliet sent coded messages to their American superiors indicating they saw proof that implicated the Soviets. His superior, Major General Clayton Lawrence Bissell, General George Marshall's assistant chief of staff for intelligence, destroyed the report. Some post-1991 revelations suggest prisoners were also executed in the same manner at the NKVD headquarters in Smolensk, though judging by the way the corpses were stacked, some captives may have been shot while standing on the edge of the mass graves. [30], Detailed information on the executions in the Kalinin NKVD prison was provided during a hearing by Dmitry Tokarev, former head of the Board of the District NKVD in Kalinin. A complex edifice of deception has been thoroughly dismantled by patient and persistent perseverance and pressure. Two of the 12, the Bulgarian Marko Markov and the Czech František Hájek, with their countries becoming satellite states of the Soviet Union, were forced to recant their evidence, defending the Soviets and blaming the Germans. by Charles Scaliger September 11, 2012. The investigation was closed on the grounds the perpetrators were dead, and since the Russian government would not classify the dead as victims of the Great Purge, formal posthumous rehabilitation was deemed inapplicable. [49], Having retaken the Katyn area almost immediately after the Red Army had recaptured Smolensk, around September–October 1943, NKVD forces began a cover-up operation. The Soviet government officially accepts blame for the Katyn Massacre of World War II, when nearly 5,000 Polish military officers were murdered and buried in mass graves in the Katyn Forest. [69] In 2014, a copy of a report Van Vliet made in France during 1945 was discovered. The Russians responded to the German claims that Russia’s secret police did it, by claiming that the massacre was carried out by the Germans themselves. ISAAC KAPPY EXPOSING THE TRUTH. ), Aleksander Kowalewski (ret. [63], At the beginning of 1944, Ron Jeffery, an agent of British and Polish intelligence in occupied Poland, eluded the Abwehr and travelled to London with a report from Poland to the British government. [14][15] Of the group of 12,000 Poles sent to Dalstroy camp (near Kolyma) in 1940–1941, mostly POWs, only 583 men survived; they were released in 1942 to join the Polish Armed Forces in the East. No. The victim was told to kneel in the middle of the cell, and was then approached from behind by the executioner and immediately shot in the back of the head or neck. [22], On 5 March 1940, pursuant to a note to Joseph Stalin from Beria, six members of the Soviet Politburo — Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Kliment Voroshilov, Anastas Mikoyan, and Mikhail Kalinin — signed an order to execute 25,700 Polish "nationalists and counterrevolutionaries" kept at camps and prisons in occupied western Ukraine and Belarus. The declaration also called for the massacre to be investigated further to confirm the list of victims. Corrections? [29] It is estimated about 8% of the Katyn massacre victims were Polish Jews. We shall be able to live on it for a couple of weeks". [24] The reason for the massacre, according to the historian Gerhard Weinberg, was that Stalin wanted to deprive a potential future Polish military of a large portion of its talent. [106], Archive searches are continuing in Belarus state archives for one of execution lists containing names of 3870 officers whose identifies and exact place of execution (presumably Bykivnia and Kuropaty, as mentioned above) were not yet established. [95][107][108], In June 1998, Boris Yeltsin and Aleksander Kwaśniewski agreed to construct memorial complexes at Katyn and Mednoye, the two NKVD execution sites on Russian soil. In the aftermath, a number of conspiracy theories began to circulate. On 30 October 1989, Gorbachev allowed a delegation of several hundred Poles, organized by the Polish association Families of Katyń Victims, to visit the Katyn memorial. After Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union concluded their Nonaggression Pact of 1939 and Germany invaded Poland from the west, Soviet forces occupied the eastern half of Poland. People from the Kozelsk camp were executed in Katyn Forest; people from the Starobelsk camp were killed in the inner NKVD prison of Kharkiv and the bodies were buried near the village of Piatykhatky; and police officers from the Ostashkov camp were killed in the internal NKVD prison of Kalinin (Tver) and buried in Mednoye. [3] Stalin severed diplomatic relations with the London-based Polish government-in-exile when it asked for an investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross. [86] On 13 April 1990, the forty-seventh anniversary of the discovery of the mass graves, the USSR formally expressed "profound regret" and admitted Soviet secret police responsibility. [54], In January 1944, the Soviet Union sent another commission, the Extraordinary State Commission for ascertaining and investigating crimes perpetrated by the German-Fascist invaders to the site; the commission's name implied a predestined conclusion. Truth about Katyn Forest Massacre In 1940-Dr William Pierce. [18] Up to 99% of the remaining prisoners were killed. I gave instructions to make the widest possible use of the propaganda material. The NKVD took custody of Polish prisoners from the Red Army, and proceeded to organise a network of reception centres and transit camps, and to arrange rail transport to prisoner-of-war camps in the western USSR. Maurycy Broch.JPG 178 × 212; 5 KB. In his memoirs, he refers to the 1944 Soviet inquiry into the massacre, which found the Germans responsible, and adds, "belief seems an act of faith". [26] The head of the NKVD Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees, Pyotr Soprunenko [ru], was involved in "selections" of Polish officers to be executed at Katyn and elsewhere. [103] On 6 December 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed commitment to uncovering the whole truth about the massacre, stating "Russia has recently taken a number of unprecedented steps towards clearing up the legacy of the past. [1], The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000, with a lower limit of confirmed dead of 21,768. Collier. [14][15] IPN estimates the number of Polish citizens who died under Soviet rule during World War II at 150,000 (a revision of older estimates of up to 500,000). It was confiscated by the police and replaced with an official monument with the inscription: "To the Polish soldiers—victims of Hitlerite fascism—reposing in the soil of Katyn". [120][121][122] A number of Russian historians and organizations such as "Memorial" openly admit the Soviet responsibility, pointing out inconsistencies in the alternative versions – primarily the fact that another major mass execution site in Mednoye was never under German occupation and contained remains of victims originating from the same camps as those killed in Katyn, killed at the same time, and even though it was only exhumed in the 1990s it contained well preserved Polish uniforms, documents, souvenirs as well as Soviet newspapers dated 1940. The Katyn Forest MassacreUnravelling One of the Many Secrets of the Second World War 3. In November 2010, the Russian State Duma approved a declaration blaming Stalin and other Soviet officials for ordering the massacre. The first transport, on 4 April 1940, carried 390 people, and the executioners had difficulty killing so many people in one night. [112] Before the visit, the 2007 film Katyń was shown on Russian state television for the first time. [95] The resolution stressed that the authorities of Russia "seek to diminish the burden of this crime by refusing to acknowledge it was genocide and refuse to give access to the records of the investigation into the issue, making it difficult to determine the whole truth about the killing and its perpetrators. We will continue in this direction". The Katyn massacre was committed in 1940 by the Soviet NKVD and killed an estimated 22,000 Poles. They totalled 15,570 men. With Andrzej Chyra, Maja Ostaszewska, Artur Zmijewski, Danuta Stenka. [22], In the Soviet Union during the 1950s, the head of KGB, Alexander Shelepin, proposed and carried out the destruction of many documents related to the Katyn massacre to minimize the chance the truth would be revealed. ), Leonard Skierski (ret. [citation needed] The body was carried out through the opposite door and laid in one of the five or six waiting trucks, whereupon the next condemned was taken inside and subjected to the same treatment. S. Congress,Central Intelligence Agency … House. [22][54] Its members included prominent Soviet figures such as the writer Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, but no foreign personnel were allowed to join the commission. [f] According to estimates by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), roughly 320,000 Polish citizens were deported to the Soviet Union (this figure is questioned by some other historians, who hold to older estimates of about 700,000–1,000,000). [27], Those who died at Katyn included soldiers (an admiral, two generals, 24 colonels, 79 lieutenant colonels, 258 majors, 654 captains, 17 naval captains, 85 privates, 3,420 non-commissioned officers, and seven chaplains), 200 pilots, government representatives and royalty (a prince, 43 officials), and civilians (three landowners, 131 refugees, 20 university professors, 300 physicians; several hundred lawyers, engineers, and teachers; and more than 100 writers and journalists). [101] On 8 May 2010, Russia handed over to Poland 67 volumes from "criminal case No. [52] Sikorski died in the 1943 Gibraltar B-24 crash —an event convenient for the Allied leaders. Though the killings also occurred in the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons and elsewhere, the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered. [65], In the United States a similar line was taken, notwithstanding two official intelligence reports into the Katyn massacre that contradicted the official position. The award-winning Polish film director Andrzej Wajda begun work on a film depicting the event in 2006, the production title of which is "Post-Mortem: The Katyn story". On April 7, 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin joined Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at a ceremony commemorating the massacre, marking the first time that a Russian leader had taken part in such a commemoration. One of them, Arno Düre, who was charged with murdering numerous civilians using machine-guns in Soviet villages, confessed to having taken part in the burial (though not the execution) of 15,000 to 20,000 Polish POWs in Katyn. When Earle requested permission to publish his findings, the President issued a written order to desist. [87] The day was declared a worldwide Katyn Memorial Day (Polish: Światowy Dzień Pamięci Ofiar Katynia). The first book in English, titled \"The Katyn Wood Murders\", was published by Polish émigré Józef Mackiewicz in 1951 in New York. The discovery at Katyn Wood was to greatly embarrass the Russian government. [22] Earle was reassigned and spent the rest of the war in American Samoa. On 5 March 1940, Stalin approved, together with Voroshilov, Mikoyan and Molotov, a proposal from Beria that lead to the assassination of 21,857 Poles. The U.S. negotiators agreed to include it, but were "embarrassed" by the inclusion (noting the allegation had been debated extensively in the press) and concluded it would be up to the Soviets to sustain it. During the 1980s, there was increasing pressure on both the Polish and Soviet governments to release documents related to the massacre. However, the question of responsibility still remained controversial in the West as well as behind the Iron Curtain. [9][12], Soviet repressions of Polish citizens occurred as well over this period. The following transports held no more than 250 people. In an interview with a Polish newspaper, Vladimir Putin called Katyn a "political crime". The Soviet government refused these demands, and on April 25, 1943, the Soviets broke diplomatic relations with the Polish government in London. The Red Army advanced quickly and met little resistance,[8] as Polish forces facing them were under orders not to engage the Soviets. Since Poland's conscription system required every nonexempt university graduate to become a military reserve officer,[13] the NKVD was able to round up a significant portion of the Polish educated class as prisoners of war. [114] The passengers were to attend a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. About 16,000 to 20,000 POWs died in those camps due to communicable diseases. Monument to officers killed in WWII Katyn forest massacre during Warsaw uprising of 1940. [71], At the London conference that drew up the indictments of German war crimes before the Nuremberg trials, the Soviet negotiators put forward the allegation, "In September 1941, 925 Polish officers who were prisoners of war were killed in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk". [89], In 1991, the Chief Military Prosecutor for the Soviet Union began proceedings against Pyotr Soprunenko for his role in the Katyn killings, but eventually declined to prosecute because Soprunenko was 83, almost blind, and recovering from a cancer operation. The discovery of the massacre precipitated the severance of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Polish government-in-exile in London. The prisoners assumed they would be released soon, but the interviews were in effect a selection process to determine who would live and who would die. The Anglo-Polish agreement of 25 August 1939. Churchill said "The Bolsheviks can be very cruel". [91] He did not address the fate of about 7,000 victims who had not been in POW camps, but in prisons. [66] However, the question of responsibility remained controversial in the West as well as behind the Iron Curtain. The fate of the 22,000 Poles killed in the Katyn massacre went undiscovered until 1943 when Nazi troops found the mass grave in the forest. [84] Brzezinski commented: It isn't a personal pain which has brought me here, as is the case in the majority of these people, but rather recognition of the symbolic nature of Katyń. The fate of the missing prisoners remained a mystery. The Katyn massacre is a major plot element in many works of fiction, for example, in the W.E.B. [46] The Germans were so intent on proving the Soviets were behind the massacre they even included some Allied prisoners of war, among them writer Ferdynand Goetel, the Polish Home Army prisoner from Pawiak. Medvedev and Komorowski agreed the two states should continue to try to reveal the truth about the tragedy. His efforts were at first highly regarded, but subsequently ignored, which a disillusioned Jeffery later attributed to the actions of Kim Philby and other high-ranking communist agents entrenched in the British government. [27][34], After the condemned individual's personal information was checked and approved, he was handcuffed and led to a cell insulated with stacks of sandbags along the walls, and a heavy, felt-lined door. But after the Germans invaded the Soviet Union (June 1941), the Polish government-in-exile (located in London) and the Soviet government agreed to cooperate against Germany, and a Polish army on Soviet territory was to be formed. 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