Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

WWII massacre: Memos show US cover-up of Stalin’s Katyn slaughter

Published time: September 10, 2012 18:53
Edited time: September 11, 2012 00:18
A picture taken on April 1, 1943 shows men digging out bodies of Polish officers from a mass grave in Katyn. More than 22,000 Polish officers were killed by Soviet security forces in the Katyn forest and other sites in 1940.(AFP Photo / Files Pap)

A picture taken on April 1, 1943 shows men digging out bodies of Polish officers from a mass grave in Katyn. More than 22,000 Polish officers were killed by Soviet security forces in the Katyn forest and other sites in 1940.(AFP Photo / Files Pap)

The US has long held in its possession verified documentation proving the 1940 Katyn forest massacre of several thousand Polish POWs was committed by the Soviet Union. Why did Washington conceal it: to cover-up for its wartime ally Josef Stalin.

­The Associated Press has seen newly declassified documents illuminating the Katyn Massacre, which are being released and put online by the US National Archives on Monday.

Among the 1,000 papers include encrypted messages from American Prisoners Of War (POWs) kept in German captivity during the World War II.

Capt. Donald B. Stewart and Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet Jr. were among a group of American and British POWs taken to witness a grisly 1943 scene at a “clearing surrounded by pine trees: mass graves tightly packed with thousands of partly mummified corpses in well-tailored Polish officers uniform.”

Judging by “the corpses' advanced state of decay,” the US officers said the killings took place much earlier in the war – presumably before the Soviets lost control of the territory in 1941.  

They also saw Polish letters, diaries, identification tags, news clippings and other objects — none dating later than the spring of 1940 — pulled from the graves. The most damning evidence indicating the time of the tragedy and the country responsible for it was the relatively good state of the men's boots and clothing: the state of the men’s uniforms showed that had not likely lived long after being captured.

Polish people gathered in Katyn, USSR, on October 31, 1989 to mourn the Polish officers killed by the NKWD (Stalin′s secret police) in the forest of Katyn in 1940. Families of the murdered Polish officers were allowed access to the symbolic tomb in Russia. (AFP Photo / Wojtek Druszcz)
Polish people gathered in Katyn, USSR, on October 31, 1989 to mourn the Polish officers killed by the NKWD (Stalin's secret police) in the forest of Katyn in 1940. Families of the murdered Polish officers were allowed access to the symbolic tomb in Russia. (AFP Photo / Wojtek Druszcz)

­

The released papers now prove that the US officers informed their country of the concealed murder scene and the evidences some months after their 1943 visit.

The MIS-X military intelligence unit tasked with coordinating ultra-secret communications and intelligence gathering missions with POWs sent a coded request to Van Vliet asking him "to state his opinion of Katyn." The papers state "it is also understood Col. Van Vliet & Capt. Stewart replied."

The historians who spoke with the Associated Press called it “the most dramatic revelation” as it shows that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his administration were getting information early on from credible US sources illustrating it was the Soviet Union behind the massacre.

The finding further supports suspicion that regardless of the verified knowledge, Roosevelt chose not to make it public and wrangle with Josef Stalin, an ally whom the Americans were counting on to defeat Germany and Japan during World War II.

The records also contain other illuminating evidence. One of the most important messages that landed on Roosevelt’s desk was an extensive and detailed report from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Written by the British ambassador to the Polish government-in-exile in London, Owen O'Malley, the document pointed to Soviet complicity in the Katyn massacre.

"There is now available a good deal of negative evidence," AP quotes O'Malley as writing, "the cumulative effect of which is to throw serious doubt on Russian disclaimers of responsibility for the massacre."

In the early years after the war, a special US Congressional committee was set up to investigate Katyn. In a final report released in 1952, it declared there was no doubt of Soviet guilt. It found that Roosevelt's administration “suppressed public knowledge of the crime, but said it was out of military necessity.” It also recommended the government bring charges against the Soviet Union at an international tribunal.

Despite the conclusions, the White House maintained its silence on Katyn.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin kisses the ribbon of wreath he laid August 25 at a monument in Warsaw to Polish officers murdered by the Soviet NKVD security police at Katyn forest near Smolensk during World War Two.(Reuters / Stringer)
Russian President Boris Yeltsin kisses the ribbon of wreath he laid August 25 at a monument in Warsaw to Polish officers murdered by the Soviet NKVD security police at Katyn forest near Smolensk during World War Two.(Reuters / Stringer)

­

­


Moscow however has always denied it involvement in the Katyn shooting, claiming that Nazis staged the killing in 1941 after taking control of the area.

The issue was a sore spot between Russia and Poland until Soviet responsibility and the subsequent cover-up were officially acknowledged and condemned in 1990.Moscow then officially apologized for the tragedy.

An investigation conducted by the Prosecutor General's Office of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation was able to confirm the deaths of Polish citizens, blaming Stalin and other Soviet officials for having personally ordered the massacre. 

In 2010 the Russian side began to release documents related to the Katyn mass execution to the Polish authorities. 

The declassified documents also show the United States maintained that it could not conclusively determine guilt until Russia’s admission in 1990.

Historians say the new material helps “to flesh out the story of what the US knew and when.”

­

A red rose lies at the monument dedicated to the victims of Katyn, Russian forest where thousands of Polish officers were executed in 1940, in Warsaw, September 17, 2007.(Reuters / Peter Andrews)
A red rose lies at the monument dedicated to the victims of Katyn, Russian forest where thousands of Polish officers were executed in 1940, in Warsaw, September 17, 2007.(Reuters / Peter Andrews)

­

­

Comments (5)

 

Conser Pov 02.04.2014 13:27

As per usual - recycled Nazi propaganda, unsubstantiated claims, anecdotal evidence instead of factual one.

1941-i ssue German ammo.

Now that's what's called ''evidence''.

 

Regula 27.12.2013 09:38

There are in almost every country's war history very tragic, because inhuman, events. Russia apologized, thereby admitting guilt. That is the best that can be done, so long after the fact. For the US it is the millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians killed for a lost war - in hope of leaving as winner. For Germany it is the Nazi atrocities, for Turkey it is the Ottoman massacres, for Russia it is Katyn. While these massacres are immensely tragic and sad, they did take place, they can't be changed. All have to forget and forgive and move on, so the past doesn't kill the present. Peace be with them.

 

tommy27 13.11.2013 13:20

Russia was ruthless in their life death struggle of WW2. Thank God they finally stopped the NAZI war machine. 20 to 27 million Russians were lost in fighting for this marvelous victory. The fine people of Poland much to their chagrin did capitulate early on. This was understandable, but nevertheless a mitigating factor to be taken into account.

View all comments (5)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us