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The USSR denounced the first genocide of the WW2… but it was the USSR itself who
perpetrated it!!!
We must avoid any investigation about the Katyn
Massacre and dilute this issue which could
endanger our alliance and the final victory.
Winston Churchill
There was an issue during the WW2 that jeopardized the
coalition against Hitler and almost broke it. The Katyn
Massacre is considered a crime of war, a crime against the
Humanity and a genocide: more than 22,000 people,
belonging to the intelligentsia and command ranks of the
Polish II Republic were killed in 1940. The massacre was
perpetrated by the Soviet Union, probably with the Nazi
acquiescence, and was instrumentalized in 1943 by the III
Reich as a propaganda tool intending to break the unity of
the Allies and to pull Poland out of the coalition. The
perseverance of the Polish government for clarifying the
facts was the pretext that Stalin argued to break the
diplomatic relations with Poland. The false proofs prepared
by the Soviet government were used to acuse Germany
during the Nuremberg International Military Tribunals in
After invading Poland in September from the East and the
West simultaneously, the URSS and Germany started to
actions to exterminate the Polish Higher Command.
Map of the Katyn Massacre in 1940 Lonio17
The secret clauses of the German–Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Demarcation signed on
28th September 1939, planned the collaboration between both political policies, the Gestapo and the
NKVD, to eliminate Polish independentist organizations: Both parties will tolerate in their territories no
Polish agitation which affects the territories of the other party.
They will suppress in their territories all beginnings of such
agitation and inform each other concerning suitable measures for
this purpose. The representatives of both agressors held several
meetings in order to plan the methods of their fight against the
Polish nation. The first meeting took place in Brest on 27 th
November 1939 and focused on the combat against the Polish
independentist conspiration. At the end of November they met
again, in Przemyśl, and discussed about the exchange of POWs
and the ways to exterminate the Polish nation. The next GestapoNKVD conferences happenned on 20th February 1940 in
Zakopane and in March in Krakow. It is very likely that in
February 1940 the very Chiefs Heinrich Himmler (ReichsführerSS y and Head of the RSHA , Reich Security Main Office) y
Lavrentiy Beria (Head of the People's Commissariat for Internal
Affairs) met personally in Puszcza Rominska and discussed at
Note prepared by Beria and approved
on 5th March 1940 by all the
Politbureau Members, the legal base
to perform the massacre (PD-RUexempt)
higher level the extermination of the Polish society and the actions against the Polish underground
resistance. Some experts (i.e. Prof. George Watson from the Cambridge University) consider that the lives
of the Prisoners of War was decided during one of those talks.
The President of the Republic of Poland did not declare formally the state of war against the USSR right
after the Russian agression to Poland in September 1939, but the Chief Commander and Prime Minister,
general Władysław Sikorski, declared that Russia betrayed us when helped Germany and stuck a knife in
our back (…) since then we are in state of war against the Soviets as well as against the Germans. On 14th
December 1939, the intense lobby by the United Kingdom, France and the government of Sikorski
managed to get the Soviet Union expelled from the League of Nations, because of its attack to Finland; this
move deepened the attitude of Stalin against Poland. On 24 th January 1940, chairing a Council of
Ministers, Sikorski said that the shipment of Western troops to help Finland would start a real war
between France and the UK against the USSR, which was highly desiderable for Poland. On 9 th February
1940 it was created the Polish Independent Highland Brigade, which the Polish government offered to
fight with the Allies against the USSR in the defense of Finland.
In 1939, Polish POWs were transferred, against all the international conventions, to Red Army prisons
and then to camps ran by the NKVD. Among the
detainees were reserve officers (physicians,
scientists, engineeers, lawyers, professors,
officials, entrepreneurs and members of liberal
professions). More than 7,000
policemen and officers without the status of
prisoners of war were moved by the Russian
government to prisons in East Poland territory
occupied by the Soviet Union.
Hands tied at the back of one of the Katyn victims (PDPolish)
The unsecure USSR position, failing to conquest Finland and
fearing a possible Western intervention, urged its government to
accelerate its decision agains Poles’ lives. On 2nd March 1940,
Beria wrote to Stalin the confidential note number 794/B
(794/Б), in which he defined the POWs in Poland (14,736
persons, 97% of them of Polish nationality) and the POWs in
Western Belarus and Ukraine (18,632 persons, among them
1,207 officers and 5,141 policement, with a total of 57% of
Poles) as declared ennemies of the Soviet government. Beria
moreover recommended the execution of 14,700 POWs and
11,000 other prisoners with no accusation, no investigation and
no possible defence. All the authority to decide was given to the
NKVD. The Political Bureau of the CPSU signed on 5th March
1940 the secret note number 00350 “On clearing out the NKVD
prisons in the socialist republics”. On 3rd April 1940, the firsr
convoy of POWs left the Kozielsk camp to their shooting in
Katyn. The elimination of the Poles was executed in the basis of
the lists received from Moscow. Among the victims of this first
Cross in the Katyn forest. Kapsuglan
execution were 11 Generals, 1 Counter Admiral, 77 Colonels,
197 Lieutenants, 541 Majors, 1,441 Captains and 6,061
Sublieutenants of the Polish Home Army. Approximately 4,400 POWs from the Kozielsk camp were shot
on their necks in the forest of Katyn. Part of the victims were assasinated in the basement of the NKVD
internal prisons, for example in Smolensk; plus 3,800 from the Starobielsk camp in Kharkov; 6,300 from
the Ostaszków camp (mostly policemen and members of the Border Protection Corps) in Kaliningrad.
3,435 inmates from Western Ukraine were killed in Kyiv, and 3,870 other prisoners from the ‘’Belarusian
list ’’ in Minsk. Only 989 people survived, 448 alledging to be Germans, Russian agents or to have
Communist ideas. In April 1940 more than 60,000 relatives of the victims of Katyn who lived in the
Eastern part of Poland occupied by the USSR were displaced to Kazakhstan, according to the Politburo
decree presented by Lavrentiy Beria and Nikita Khrushchev.
Following the German attack to the USSR in June 1941, Beria ordered on 24th June the execution of the
political prisoners still held in the Soviet jails on Polish occupied soil. During the first days of the war
between Germans and Russians, approximately 30,000 Polish citizens died. The fate of the 16,371 Polish
military men who were around Smolensk those days is unknown. The Soviet Government was erasing in a
rush the representatives of a country who belonged to the ani-Nazi coalition.
It seems confirmed that III Reich officials witnessed the Katyn
massacre in March 1940, according to the testimonies of the NKVD
General Leonid Rajchman and other witnesses who informed the
Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland Leon Kozłowski. During the
first half of March, the Nazis gave to the NKVD the list of Polish POW
officials whose families stayed in the territories seized by the USSR.
This knowledge was used at the convenient moment for them. In April
1943 the Red Army counter attack was approaching Smolensk, hence
Germany risked to lose the control of the area were the victims of the
Katyn massacre were buried. On 11th April, German radios informed
about the discovery of mass graves of Polish prisoners killed by the
Soviet Union near Smolensk. The III Reich had a formidable
propaganda tool against the unity of the Allies, presenting the fact that
one of the Allied countries had killed almost half of the Army of
Katyn commemoration sculpture in another Ally. The German press tried to present the Katyn massacre as
Jersey City, U.S.A. fot. Dudek1337 a task carried out by jews; on 19 April 1943 the Nazis started the
suppression of the Warsaw ghetto. On 15 th April the German
goverment invited the International Committee of the Red Cross to examinate the mass graves. The Soviet
government answered with a communiqué accusing the Germans of the massacre, alledging that in 1941
the Polish prisoners were working around Smolensk until they were caught by the German Army in the
summer. On 17th April the government of the General Sikorski addressed independently to the Red Cross
in order to investigate those dozens of thousands of killings. On 19 th April Stalin took advantage of that
move to break the diplomatic relations with the government of Poland in the exile. On 25th April the
Soviet government issued a statement accusing the Polish party that While the peoples of the Soviet Union,
bleeding profusely in a hard struggle against Hitlerite Germany, are straining every effort for the defeat of the
common enemy of the Russian and Polish peoples, and of all freedom-loving democratic countries, the Polish
Government, to please Hitler’s tyranny, has dealt a treacherous blow to the Soviet Union. The German
government formed the International Medical Committee, composed by 12 experts from the Reich’s
satellite countries and 1 from Switzerland, in order to collect evidences and proofs. The Polish Red Cross,
with the agreement of the Home Army, sent to Katyn a technical committee.
On 28th September 1943 the Katyn area was recovered by
the Red Army. Immediately the special teams from the
NKVD and the military counter-intelligence SMERSH
started their work, opening the mass graves and creating
to new burial places. The NKVD officers placed there
false identity documents, prepared false witnesses and
killed or imprisoned those person who doubted to present
false testimony. On 13th January 1944, the CPSU
Politburo created the Burdenko Commission for
Nuremberg Court in 1945, picture by Raymond
D’Addario (PD-USGov)
ascertaining and investigating the circumstances of the shooting of the Polish prisoners of war by the German
Fascist invaders in the Katyn forest. The Commission worked from the 13th to the 24th January 1944,
having only access to the proofs already manipulated by the Soviet special security bodies.
The conclusions of the Burdenko Commission allowed the Soviet government to denounce the Nazi
Germany as responsible of the Katyn massacre. In 1946, during the Nuremberg Trials, the Soviet
prosecutor Roman Rudenko filed the accusation against the III Reich for the genocide of almost 11,000
Polish officials in Katyn. The affaire had no continuation, it was only for thretening the Nazi defendants to
keep silence, as they could reveal some uncomfortable facts concerning the real German-Soviet
collaboration between 1939 and 1941. The new communist government of Poland launched in 1945 an
investigation on the massacre, but it was
stopped after the assassination of the public
prosecutor Roman Martin in 1946. The
communist government of the People’s
Republic of Poland destroyed all the
irrefutable proofs about the Katyn victims
and censored any attempt to commemorate
the massacre. The monument in memory of
the Katyn Valley victims, inaugurated by in
1981, was destroyed during the night by the
political police. On 21st March 1980, a
veteran official from the Home Army,
Walenty Badylak, burnt himself at Krakow
Main Square as a protest against the
official lies concerning Katyn. In 1983 the
Embassy of th Soviet Union ordered the
demolition of a monument with the motto
We remember Katyń – Commemoration of the Heroes in
To the Polish soldiers resting in Katyn land.
Warsaw’s Marshall Józef Piłsudski Square, 10th November
The Soviet Union actively promoted a
2007, picture by Maciej Szczepańczyk (CC-BY-3.0)
desinformation campaign in order to try to
eliminate the evidences of the massacre. On 3rd March 1959, Aleksandr Szelepin, head of the KGB, issued
to Nikita Khrushchev the restricted note number N-632-Sz, proposing the destruction of 21,857 personal
dossiers of the victims of the massacre.
Katyn has been a problem also for the Western Allies. The USA administration knew already in the
summer of 1943 who committed the massacre, and the British government tried at all cost to silence the
affair before the Polish migrants by insisting in the German guilt. The Western Allies attributed more
importancy to the unity of the coalition against Hitler, because the biggest part of the war was carried out
by Stalin and the Red Army. On 22nd December 1952, the Special Commission of the Congress of the
United States presented the Madden Report on this case, and concluded that the USSR was to be blamed
for the Katyn massacre.
In 1990 the Soviet government acknowledged that the NKVD was responsible of the massacre. At the
same time, Mikhail Gorbachev, presented on 3rd November 1990 the secret note RP-979 instructing to
compile all the files and proofs of the history of the Soviet-Polish relations in which the Russian part was
damaged (it was called ‘‘Anti-Katyń’’).
In 1990-1994 and 1994-2004 Russian public prosecutors launched investigations on the Katyn massacre.
None of them was finished because the accused passed away in the meanwhile. However, on 2 nd August
1993, the Experts Commission of the General Military Prosecutor Office published the final report on the
legal classification of this massacre, considering it was to be considered a massacre against the peace and a
crime of war. On 30th November 2004, once ended the Russian investigation, the Polish Institute of
National Remembrance launched its own investigation (archive number S 38/04/Zk).
To justify the launching of a new investigation it was mentioned the criminal actions of this military
massacre (as it is defined in the Article VI.b. of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal), but it
was also considered a crime against the Humanity at its highest degree, genocide, because the oppressors
who issued the order of 5th March 1940 wanted to exterminate the Polish citizens by the sole condition of
their belonging to the Polish nation which they intended to eliminate. On 16 th April 2012 the European
Court of Human Rights in Strasburg issued its ruling on the Katyn massacre which proved the
responsibility of the stalinist government and the NKVD. The Court also considered that the Russian
Federation allowed the inhuman treatment to the relatives of the victims of the massacre.
The USSR was guilty of the Katyn genocide, one of the most horrendous massacres in the History,
breaching any possible rule about th war making. The Soviet Union had not signed the Geneva
Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, but it was a party of the 1907 IV Convention of the
Hague and the 1929 Red Cross Convention, both of them established a human treatment for the military
prisoners of the ennemy side. Later, the Katyn massacre walked its own way and was used by the III
Reich, totally distorted by the Soviet Union and let fall into oblivion in the Western countries.
Maciej Szczepańczyk