MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia's parliament on Friday declared Stalin responsible for ordering the Katyn massacre of Polish officers in World War II, a
crime Moscow spent decades blaming on the Nazis to the fury of Poland.
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This has to be one of the greatest all around coverups of World War II. The Katyn Massacre was the execution of over twenty thousand Polish military
officers, government leaders, clergymen. The rest being intellectuals including over three hundred scientists, university professors, teachers, and
the social elite. The term "Katyn Massacre" refers to the massacre at Katyn Forest, between the cities of Katyn and Gnezdovo in western Russia. It
is believed that this mass killing was one of several simultaneous executions of Polish POWs. This, along with two other mass executions that took
place at POW camps at Starobelsk and Ostashkov. Also included in these executions were political prisoners from Western Belarus and Western Ukraine
who were shot at the Katyn Forest. The Polish investigation into these massacres in the 1980s and 1990s not only the massacre at Katyn Forest, but the
other massacre's mentioned above.
This massacre was raised after the Axis invaded the USSR in June of 1941 when the Polish government-in-exile and the Soviet government when the
Soviets and the Poles signed the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement. It was during these meetings that then Polish general Wlayslaw Anders began inquiring on
the whereabouts of the Polish army officers. The Soviet governement under Joseph Stalin assured that all Polish POWs had been released and their
whereabouts were not accounted for due to "because the Soviets lost track of them in Manchuria. It would be just close to a year until the first
discovery came about. Sometime in 1942, Polish railroad workers discovered the first of the mass graves near Katyn. Upon this discovery, the discovery
of this mass grave was reported to the Polish Secret State. However, this first discovery fell on deaf ears with the Polish government-in-exile in
London. This could have been due to the Polish people refusing to believe that so many dead were in fact in these graves.
However, the world did not have to wait long for the shear brutality of these killings to come about. In April of 1943, soldiers of the German
Wehrmacht under the command of Rudolf von Gersdorff, discovered a second mass grave containing over four thousand bodies of the missing Polish
officers. The finding of this grave in the forest near Katyn, was one of the driving forces behind Josef Goebbels' intent to drive a wedge between
the Polish government, the Western Allies, and the Soviets. The Nazis themselves brought in a team of forensic scientists to determine how long the
soldiers had been in these graves. These forensic scientists determined, by examining bone fragments and tissue, that the bodies had been there long
before the invasion of the Soviet Union. The Soviets quickly dismissed the charges and claimed that these Polish POWs were working on a construction
project west of Smolensk in August of 1941 and that these POWs were captured and executed by the Germans. On that note, the Allies had been made aware
of the discovery by British intercepts of German radio transmissions. German experts and an international committee were invited later on in 1943 to
come in and investigate the corpses that were found at Katyn. It was soon concluded, by way of physical evidence, that the massacre took place in
1940. At the very same time when this area was still under the control of the Soviet Union. Also in 1943, Prime Minister Churchill admitted to General
Sikorski in a private conversation that the Nazi revelations on this discovery were true.
In 1944, Franlin D. Roosevelt assinged his specail emmissary to the Balkans, Navy Lt. Commander George Earle to come up with a special report on the
massacre. This report concluded that the Soviets, and not the Germans, were in fact the ones responsible for the Katyn Massacre. However, this report
on the killings was rejected by those in Roosevelt's White House. The reason given was Roosevelt being convinced by the Soviets that the Nazis had
perpetrated this act. However, a written order to desist was written and sent to Lt. Com. Earle in late 1944 after the commander had requested that
his findings be published. After the cease and desist letter was sent, Lt. Com. Earle was reassigned to American Samoa, where he spen the rest of the
war. It wasn't until 1945 that the true nature of the massacre would come into light. Two former U.S. POWs, U.S Air Force Lt. Col. Donald Stewart and
Col. John Van Vliet, revealed that they had been taken to Katyn by the Germans for an international news conference pertaining to the mass graves
being found. A report by Col. Van Vliet also concluded that the Soviets were responsible for massacre. However, this report was stifled by Maj. Gen.
Clayton Bissell, Gen George Marshall's assistant chief of staff on itelligence, so as to not antagonize the Ally the United States had still needed
assistance in fighting with Japan.
It is believed that these reports were stifled by both the British and United States governments at the time. When it was clear to the Nazis that the
Soviets were in fact responsible for the atrocities. One piece of evidence that came out against the Soviet Union was the type of clothing that the
bodies were found to be wearing. The German investigators found that the bodies were dressed for the harsh Soviet winter. This was to the contrary of
the Soviet "conclusion" that said the POWs were captured and executed by the Nazis during the invasion of the western Soviet Union in August of
1941. As for why the reports on the massacre where stifled and, most likely, destroyed was due to three things. At the time the first of these reports
came out, the Soviets had just become on of our Allies in fighting the Germans and the Japanese. The first report was stifled because we, the U.S. and
the British, did not want to drive a stake between the Allies and the Soviets who were also fighting Japan at the same time as well as the Nazis. The
second possible reason was due to the fact that the Soviets had convinced the Allies that the Nazis had perpetrated this henous act. Which, again,
goes against what the Nazis had in fact proven that they were in no way responsible for the killings by the evidence they had collected. However,
there is one definative reason as to why almost all information on Katyn Massacre was hidden. We, the Allies, needed another reason so that War Crimes
and charges of Crimes Against Humanity could be brought up against the Nazis during the trial at Nurembourg.
I for one do believe that this has to be one of the greatest coverups coming out of not only World War II but the Soviet Union itself. The Soviets
tried for years, and succeeded, to keep the secrets behind the massacre under wraps. If the Soviets were, supposedly, not behind the killings near
Katyn and Smolensk.Then why was it silenced by the Allies? One member of the German Wehrmacht who had been indicted on the massacre by the Soviets in
Leningrad in 1946 later recanted in the mid 1950s. Even though the charges were brought up by Soviet General Roman Rudenko stating that these officers
were executed by the invading Nazis. This Wehrmacht soldier in fact escaped the death penalty since he had confessed to being involved with buring the
bodies, even though it was not due to the executions themselves. In this recantment, the Wehrmacht soldier stated that he had, in fact, been forced to
confess by the Soviet investigators. As for why the Allies covered this up for so long, it was due to the Allies needing another eason to bring up
charges against the Nazis. It wasn't really until the early 1990s that the shear aspect of the brrutality came to light when Mikahil Gorbachev
admitted that the N.K.V.D., or The People's Commissariat on Internal Affairs, had been responsible for the killings of the POWs. Gobachev also
revealed that two more sites like Katyn, Menoye and Piatykhaty, had been discovered as well. This was after the 1989 revelation that Soviet scholars
had revealed that Stalin himself had ordered the killings of these officers.