Katyn – symbol of genocide

Polish soldiers of  gen.  Anders Army in Italy and 1st Army in Eastern Front have significant experience that no Western Allies soldier has. It is being witness of genocide on their Nation. After Soviet agression 17th September 1939, according to Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty Eastern Poland was conquerred by Red Army.  Secret protocol of treaty contents an agreement of cooperation in suppression of any Polish resistance.  In the mountain town of Zakopane in 1939-1941 NKVD and GESTAPO have meetings to coordinate genocide. German “Action AB” was targeted against Polish elite. University professors were interned. Politicians, enterpreneurs, artists, priests and other educated men were murdered in Palmiry forest near Warsaw. Uneducated people were sent for slave work in German industry and agriculture. Jews were sent to Getthoes and finaly almost all genocided. Poles helping Jews were killed on spot with all family members according to German law in occupied Poland.

Polish soldiers captured by Soviets in 1939

Order of killing Polish officers signed by Stalin

Soviets deported men to Gulag koncentration camps in Siberia and women with children to cold steppes in Kazakhstan. First were educated people, owners, policemen, officials, priests, enterpreneurs and their families. They work as slaves and were dying for attrition.

Polish 20 000 reserve officers taken POW were shot in several places in USSR in April-May 1940. According to Polish conscription system they were university graduates. The main reason of their execution was that they were an educated elite of Nation.  So even with relative small number of killed compared to  usual  Soviet practice, execution of officers  is a regular genocide.- see text below about Katyn massacre.

Polish government in Exile and Stalin 1941-43

When Germans attacked USSR Polish government in exile (in London) made an agreement with Stalin about forming Polish Army in USSR.  Survivors of deportation and Gulags were allowed to join gen. Anders (former POW) the new commandfer of Polish forces in USSR.  Anders asked about 20 000 officers that were POW in USSR. Stalin answered “we made with them a great mistake”. Army was evacuated to Iraq in 1942 due to British needs in Mid East. Gen Anders did not trust to Stalin and preffered to secure Army under British command. This Army formed II Polish Corps in Iraq and Palestine in 1943. Most famous success of II Polish corps was capture of Monte Cassino in 1944.

One of the mass graves in Katyn

Germans have found  mass graves of Polish POW officers in Katyn in summer 1943. Poles wanted special investigation about it, but Stalin refused.  Then  Stalin stoped cooperation with Polish government in exile because of “being offenced by distrust”. It was an excuse to start forming his own Polish Army led by communists and renegade col. Z.  Berling. Army has Polish National and Catholic character just to make an impression it is a real Polish Army.  It was formed from Polish survivors of Siberia that were to late for Anders Army. Main problem forming units was a complete lack of Polish officers that were either killed in Katyn or left with Anders. So 60% of officers and specialists were from Red Army but uniformed as Poles. It was the Polish Army that finally was fighting in Berlin.

Katyn Massacre

The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre  (Polish: zbrodnia katyńska, ‘Katyń crime’), was a mass murder of Polish nationals carried out by the Soviet secret police NKVD in April-May 1940. It was based on Lavrentiy Beria’s proposal to execute all members of the Polish Officer Corps, dated 5 March 1940. This official document was then approved and signed by the Soviet Politburo, including Joseph Stalin.   The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000, the most commonly cited number being 21,768. The victims were murdered in the Katyn Forest in Russia, the Kalinin  and Kharkov prisons and elsewhere.  About 8,000 were officers taken prisoner during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, the rest being Polish doctors, professors, lawmakers, police officers, and other public servants arrested for allegedly being “intelligence agents, gendarmes, saboteurs, landowners, factory owners, lawyers, priests, and officials.”  Since Poland’s conscription system required every unexempted university graduate to become a reserve officer, the NKVD was able to round up much of the Polish intelligentsia, and the Russian, Ukrainian, Protestant, Muslim Tatar, Jewish, Georgian,  and Belarusian intelligentsia of Polish citizenship.

The term “Katyn massacre” originally referred specifically to the massacre at Katyn Forest, near the villages of Katyn and Gnezdovo (ca. 19 kilometres (12 mi) west of Smolensk, Russia), of Polish military officers in the Kozelsk prisoner-of-war camp. This was the largest of the simultaneous executions of prisoners of war from geographically distant Starobelsk and Ostashkov camps, and the executions of political prisoners from West Belarus and West Ukraine, shot at Katyn Forest, at the NKVD headquarters in Smolensk, at a Smolensk slaughterhouse, and at prisons in Kalinin (Tver), Kharkov, Moscow, and other Soviet cities. The Belorussian and Ukrainian Katyn Lists are NKVD lists of names of Polish prisoners to be murdered at various locations in Belarus and Western Ukraine. The modern Polish investigation of the Katyn massacre covered not only the massacre at Katyn forest, but also the other mass murders mentioned above. There are Polish organisations such as the Katyn Committee and the Federation of Katyn Families, which again are inclusive of victims of the various mass murders at the various locations.

Nazi Germany announced the discovery of mass graves in the Katyn Forest in 1943. The revelation led to the end of diplomatic relations between Moscow and the London-based Polish government-in-exile. The Soviet Union continued to deny responsibility for the massacres until 1990, when it officially acknowledged and condemned the perpetration of the killings by the NKVD, as well as the subsequent cover-up.

An investigation conducted by the Prosecutor’s General Office of the Soviet Union (1990-1991) and the Russian Federation (1991-2004), has confirmed Soviet responsibility for the massacres. It was able to confirm the deaths of 1,803 Polish citizens but refused to classify this action as a war crime or an act of genocide. The investigation was closed on grounds that the perpetrators of the massacre were already dead. The Russian government also does not classify the dead as victims of Stalinist repression, which bars formal posthumous rehabilitation.

More about Katyn Massacre in Wikipedia

See German AB-Action in our website

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