MOSCOW – NEWLY released World War II documents allegedly confirm a long-held belief that the United States covered up Soviet responsibility for the infamous 1940 massacre of Polish soldiers in the Katyn Forest.
NDJ World | Published: Sep 11 2012 Europe→World News
The papers lend weight to the belief that the mass executions of about 22,000 Polish soldiers and other prisoners were hushed up by the U.S., because then US president Franklin Roosevelt, did not want to anger Russia’s Joseph Stalin, whose forces were essential to defeating Adolf Hitler.
The documents, about 1000 pages of declassified files – the declassification was requested by two US politicians – were put online by the US National Archives, and include coded messages from American soldiers captured by the Germans.
They reported in 1943 seeing rows of partially mummified corpses in Polish officer uniforms in Katyn, near Smolensk, proving they could not have been killed by the Nazis, who seized the western Russian region in 1941.
The National Archives says a US congressional panel, called the Madden Committee, concluded in 1951 that the Soviet People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, or NKVD, was responsible.
The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria’s proposal to execute all members of the Polish Officer Corps, dated 5 March 1940. This official document was approved and signed by the Soviet Politburo, including its leader, Joseph Stalin.
The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000 and were murdered in the Katyn Forest in Russia, the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons and elsewhere.
Of the total killed, about 8,000 were officers taken prisoner during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, another 6,000 were police officers, with the rest being Polish intelligentsia arrested for allegedly being “intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials and priests.”
The term “Katyn massacre” originally referred specifically to the massacre at Katyn Forest, near the villages of Katyn and Gnezdovo (approximately 12 miles west of Smolensk, Russia), of Polish military officers in the Kozelsk prisoner-of-war camp.
The archives state on its website that the question of the US staging a cover-up so as not to antagonize ally Stalin ‘was less clear cut’ but added that the Madden Committee concluded that US Officials failed to assess properly and act on ‘clear danger signals in Russian behavior evident as early as 1942′.
The murders at the Kozelsk prisoner-of-war camp was the largest of several simultaneous executions of prisoners of war.
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