Soviet Union, NKVD, and Katyn Massacre

Nov 2011
8,848
The Dustbin, formerly, Garden of England
#22
To answer the OP rather than descending into slagging off a particular nationality, the Western Allies were aware (secretly) of the Katyn and other massacres of Poles through intelligence reports even before the Germans began to publicise their discovery of the mass graves--in the film "Enigma" the decoding at Bletchley Park of Wehrmacht reports of finding the graves and lists of victims is the main plot device, but sadly, is not supported by any evidence--but then, in the film it was suggested that all records were destroyed and everything hushed up. In the real world, intelligence came from good old fashioned spies and pieced together over many months. At the highest levels, Britain and America were in no doubt of the truth about the Soviet actions but considered the alliance with the USSR too important to disrupt and publicity accepted the Soviet line--this became an issue with the Polish Government in exile that had substantial forces fighting under British command. Within a fee weeks of the German invasion of Russia the Polish Government in exile, led by General Władysław Sikorski re-opened diplomatic relations with the USSR , leading by the end of the year to military agreements whereby the Soviets would release "interned" Poles (actually mainly Gulag prisoners) to join the Free Polish Armed Forces in the West. In time the Poles noted that a large number of fairly important officers could not be accounted for and pestered the Soviets for news of them more or less continually before the Katyn revelations in April 1943 confirmed what they had previously suspected. The subsequent row between the Polish Government in Exile and the USSR and within the Polish military command led to Stalin breaking off diplomatic relations and in the fullness of time all his promises about the restoration of Poland's pre-1939 borders and structure of the post-war Polish State. Sikorski himself--a very influential figure in the Western alliance did with a month in a mystery air crash off Gibraltar, so a lot of pressure that he was bringing to bear on Churchill & Roosevelt vanished. His "removal" allowed the "BIG TWO" to more of less bury the issue and there was no public condemnation of the Soviets--no was the matter brought up formally at any level of diplomatic discussions--while the press was easily controlled in the UK, it took a personal order from FDR to suppress the story in the US with the head of AP being threatened with imprisonment, while both FDR and WSC colluded in not "rocking the boat", a fact confirmed by telegrams between the two.
BUT---behind the scenes the upper crusts on both sides of the Atlantic knew who did it, although official documents were not declassified in the US until 2011 and some British ones remain sealed until 2043--and this DID have a major effect on how the two Western Powers looked at Soviet propaganda, it especially affected Soviet reports about the Holocaust in the East. While many reports of massacres of Jews, Poles and others filtered through non-Soviet sources, by 1944 much was being reported by the USSR as they recovered territory--with the Polish massacres much of the Soviet "intelligence" was discounted or assumed to be another cover-up for their own crimes. Also, after the war, at the Nuremberg trials, evidence presented by the Soviets regarding Katyn in pursuance of indictments against specific German officers was discounted by the Western judges and thrown out without objection from the Soviet judge and in other trials soviet "evidence" tended to be treated as supplementary by Western judges and prosecutors alike.
Here is a sad postscript. At the end of hostilities in October 1939 the Polish State ceased to exist, in addition to civilians under their control, Germany held some 450,000 PoWs, too many for them to adequately feed and house as prisoners. While many were "de-mobbed" and conscripted into forced labour units, some native to the region were transferred to the Soviet zone, just in time to be killed or sent to the Gulag.
 
Dec 2018
75
Cheyenne
#23
If you think I am exaggerating you can always google on relations between Poles and their neighbours.
Every group in history has a gripe with one of its neighbors or another ethnicity for some past grievance or stereotype. Let me guess, the group you identify with is perfect and nobody hates?
 

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