Katyn- 66 years ago...

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by v2, Mar 5, 2006.

  1. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    One of the earliest--and certainly the most infamous--mass shootings of prisoners of war during World War II did not occur in the heat of battle but was a cold-blooded act of political murder. The victims were Polish officers, soldiers, and civilians captured by the Red Army after it invaded eastern Poland in September 1939. Strictly speaking, even the Polish servicemen were not POWs. The USSR had not declared war, and the Polish commander in chief had ordered his troops not to engage Soviet forces. But there was little the Poles could do. On 28 September, the USSR and Nazi Germany, allied since August, partitioned and then dissolved the Polish state. They then began implementing parallel policies of suppressing all resistance and destroying the Polish elite in their respective areas. The NKVD and the Gestapo coordinated their actions on many issues, including prisoner exchanges. At Brest Litovsk, Soviet and German commanders held a joint victory parade before German forces withdrew westward behind a new demarcation line.
    Official records, opened in 1990 when glasnost was still in vogue, show that Stalin had every intention of treating the Poles as political prisoners. Just two days after the invasion began on 17 September, the NKVD created a Directorate of Prisoners of War.It took custody of Polish prisoners from the Army and began organizing a network of reception centers and transfer camps and arranging rail transport to the western USSR. Once there, the Poles were placed in "special" (concentration) camps, where, from October to February, they were subjected to lengthy interrogations and constant political agitation. The camps were at Kozelsk, Starobelsk, and Ostashkov, all three located on the grounds of former Orthodox monasteries converted into prisons. The NKVD dispatched one of its rising stars, Maj. Vassili Zarubin, to Kozelsk, where most of the officers were kept, to conduct interviews. Zarubin presented himself to the Poles as a charming, sympathetic, and cultured Soviet official, which led many prisoners into sharing confidences that would cost them their lives The considerable logistic effort required to handle the prisoners coincided with the USSR's disastrous 105-day war against Finland. The Finns inflicted 200,000 casualties on the Red Army and destroyed tons of materiel--and much of Russia's military reputation. That war, like the assault on Poland, was a direct result of Stalin's nonaggression pact with Hitler.
    The Soviet dictator offered Helsinki "remarkably moderate terms," in the words of British military historian Liddell Hart, taking only territory needed to defend the land, sea, and air approaches to Leningrad. The difference between Stalin's treatment of Finland and Poland underscored his imperial ambitions toward the latter. Moscow and Helsinki even exchanged prisoners once hostilities had ceased. (Stalin, however, dealt harshly with his own soldiers who had been in Finnish captivity. At least 5,000 repatriated troops simply disappeared from an NKVD prison and were presumably executed.
    Stalin was anxious to settle with Finland so he could turn his attention to Poland and the Baltic countries, which the Red Army would soon occupy and the NKVD would "pacify" using terror, deportations, and executions. Militarily, the war was over by late February, though a peace agreement was not signed until March. NKVD interrogations were completed about the same time. The Poles were encouraged to believe they would be released, but the interviews were in effect a selection process to determine who would live and who would die. On 5 March 1940, Stalin signed their death warrant--an NKVD order condemning 21,857 prisoners to "the supreme penalty: shooting." They had been condemned as "hardened and uncompromising enemies of Soviet authority."
    During April-May 1940, the Polish prisoners were moved from their internment camps and taken to three execution sites. The place most identified with the Soviet atrocity is Katyn Forest, located 12 miles west of Smolensk, Russia. For years historians assumed that the grounds of an NKVD rest and recreation facility were both an execution and burial site for nearly a fifth of the unfortunate Poles who found themselves in Soviet captivity. Post-Cold War revelations, however, suggest that the victims were shot in the basement of the NKVD headquarters in Smolensk and at an abattoir in the same city, although some may have been executed at a site in the forest itself. In any event, the Katyn Forest is--and will probably long remain--the main symbol of the atrocity, even if it was not the actual killing field.
    The Katyn Forest massacre was a criminal act of historic proportions and enduring political implications. When Nazi occupation forces in April 1943 announced the discovery of several mass graves, propaganda minister Josef Goebbels hoped that international revulsion over the Soviet atrocity would drive a wedge into the Big Three coalition and buy Germany a breathing space, if not a victory, in its war against Russia. (A headline in the May 1943 Newsweek read: "Poles vs. Reds: Allied Unity Put to Test Over Officer Dead.") But Goebbels miscalculated. Despite overwhelming evidence of Soviet responsibility, Moscow blamed the Germans, and for the rest of the war Washington and London officially accepted the Soviet countercharge. When the Polish government-in-exile in London demanded an international inquiry, Stalin used this as a pretext to break relations. The Western allies objected but eventually acquiesced. Soon thereafter, the Soviet dictator assembled a group of Polish Communists that returned to Poland with the Red Army in 1944 and formed the nucleus of the postwar government. Stalin's experience with the Katyn affair may have convinced him that the West, grateful for the Red Army's contribution to the Allied military effort, would find it hard to confront him over Poland after the war.
    Those who died at Katyn included an admiral, two generals, 24 colonels, 79 lieutenant colonels, 258 majors, 654 captains, 17 naval captains, 3,420 NCOs, seven chaplains, three landowners, a prince, 43 officials, 85 privates, and 131 refugees. Also among the dead were 20 university professors; 300 physicians; several hundred lawyers, engineers, and teachers; and more than 100 writers and journalists as well as about 200 pilots. It was their social status that landed them in front of NKVD execution squads. Most of the victims were reservists who had been mobilized when Germany invaded. In all, the NKVD eliminated almost half the Polish officer corps--part of Stalin's long-range effort to prevent the resurgence of an independent Poland.
     

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  2. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    I thought there was also a bunch of Military Cadets that were executed as well..... It was a horrible thing to happen and I think the Russians should be held responsible, even today...
     
  3. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    Don't forget the slaughter of German civilians living in Poland, by Polish forces when the Germans invaded ... easily forgotten.
     
  4. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    :?: :?: :?:

    Stalin's order for the KATYN FOREST MASSACRE


    Top Secret

    5 March 1940

    USSR People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs

    Moscow

    To Comrade Stalin

    A large number of former officers of the Polish Army, employees of the Polish Police and intelligence services, members of Polish nationalist, counter-revolutionary parties, members of exposed counter-revolutionary resistance groups, escapees and others, all of them sworn enemies of Soviet authority full of hatred for the Soviet system, are currently being held in prisoner-of-war camps of the USSR NKVD and in prisons in the western provinces of Ukraine and Belarus.

    The military and police officers in the camps are attempting to continue their counter-revolutionary activities and are carrying out anti-Soviet agitation. Each of them is waiting only for his release in order to start actively struggling against Soviet authority.

    The organs of the NKVD in the western provinces of the Ukraine and Belarus have uncovered a number of counter-revolutionary rebel organisations.

    Former officers of the Polish Army and police as well as gendarmes have played an active role in all of these organisations.

    Amongst the detained escapees and violators of the state borders a considerable number of people have been identified as belonging to counter-revolutionary espionage and resistance organisations.

    14,736 former officers, government officials, landowners, police, gendarmes, prison guards, settlers in the border regions and intelligence officers [more than 97% are Poles] are being held in prisoner-of-war camps. This number includes soldiers and junior officers.

    Included are:

    generals, colonels and lieutenant colonels- 295
    majors and captains- 2080
    lieutenants, second lieutenants and ensigns- 6049
    officers and juniors of the police, gendarmes, prison guards and intelligence officers- 1030
    rank and file police officers, gendarmes, prison guards and intelligence personnel- 5138
    government officials, land owners, priests, settlers in border regions- 144
    18,632 detained people are being kept in the western region of the Ukraine and Belarus
    [10,685 are Poles]

    They include:

    former officers- 1207
    former intelligence officers of the police and gendarmerie 5141
    spies and saboteurs- 347
    former land owners, factory owners and government officials- 465
    members of various counter-revolutionary and resistance organisations and other counter-revolutionary elements- 5345
    escapees- 6127


    In view of the fact that all are hardened and uncompromising enemies of Soviet authority, the USSR NKVD considers it necessary:

    [1] To instruct the USSR NKVD that it should try before special tribunals:

    [a] the cases of the 14,700 former Polish officers, government officials,land owners, police officers, intelligence officers, gendarmes, settlers in the border regions and prison guards being held in prisoner-of-war camps;

    together with the cases of 11,000 members of various counter-revolutionary organisations of spies and saboteurs, former land owners, factory owners, former Polish officers, government officials, and escapees who have been arrested and are being held in the western provinces of the Ukraine and Belarus and apply to them the supreme penalty: shooting.

    [2] Examination of the cases is to be carried out without summoning those detained and without bringing charges, the statements concerning the conclusion of the investigation and the final verdict should be as follows:

    [a] for persons being held in prisoner-of-war camps, in the form of certificates issued by the NKVD of the USSR NKVD;

    for arrested personnel in the form of certificates issued by the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR and the NKVD of the Belarus SSR.

    [3] The cases should be examined and the verdict pronounced by a three person tribunal consisting of comrades Merkulov, Kobulov and Bashtakov.

    People's Commissar for the Internal Affairs of the USSR

    L Beria

    [Signed by: Stalin, Voroshilov, Molotov, Mikoyan, Kalinin and Kaganovich]
     
  5. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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  6. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    Read Panzer Leader, then research the incident yourself. I'm sure Poland denies it's own war crimes ...
     
  7. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    First read this:

    Bombing of Wieluń in World War II refers to the German bomb raid on a Polish city of Wieluń at the outbreak of World War II.
    On September 1, 1939 at 4.40 in the morning, the town of Wieluń was bombed by German Luftwaffe. There were no military targets in the area. German bombers destroyed most of the town centre (including the historical gothical church) and killed approximately 1 200 civilians. Approximately 75% of all the buildings in Wieluń were destroyed. Among the first targets bombed by the Germans was the hospital (despite huge Red Cross sign painted on the roof). This air raid was one of the events marking the start of World War II.
    See: http://www.historia.wielunia.webpark.pl/1wrzesnia2.html

    On their return home, 4 of the German Junkers Ju 87 bombers were shot down by Polish 36 Academic Legion Infantry Regiment stationed nearby.

    [​IMG]
    Wieluń- centre

    [​IMG]
    Wieluń- hodpital
     
  8. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    We all know about German war crimes ... everyone knows about them, because that's all we ever hear about. Just as long as you don't think your nation has a clean bill - then fine ... but Poland slaughtered many German nationals - civilians - living in Poland as Germany invaded ...
     
  9. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, give me some links about it...
     
  10. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    http://www.fpp.co.uk/online/00/12/DTel041200.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bromberg_Bloody_Sunday

    http://www.wintersonnenwende.com/scriptorium/english/archives/deathinpoland/dp00.html

    Estimated that 5,000 ethnic Germans were killed by the Polish !

    From the book Panzer Battles by Maj. Gen. Von Mellenthin -

     
  11. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it's true but:
    - it happend after war,
    - Gęborski was a communist, who murderd polish citizens too.

    About Bromberg:

    The most controversial of the cases was that of Bydgoszcz on September 3, 1939. Polish witnesses testified that early that day as the Polish Army was withdrawing through Bydgoszcz, it was attacked by members of the German fifth column. Shooting at soldiers and civilians from roofs and church towers was claimed by these Polish witnesses. The German historian Hugo Rasmus disagrees, however, and attributes this claim to the confusion and the disorganized state of the Polish paramilitary forces present.
     
  12. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    The story of Janina Dowbor Musnicki Lewandowska is a story of the Polish people. It is a story about faith, patriotism, loyalty and courage. It is also about the only woman--that we know of--who was executed at the Katyn massacre.
    Janina was a Polish patriot murdered by Soviet troops in the Katyn Forest along with over 20,000 Polish prisoners of war. These victims were army officers, and reservists, including clergy, doctors, teachers and lawyers. They were executed as part of Stalin's effort to crush the Polish people by killing Poland's best and brightest leaders.
    One of these dynamic leaders was Second Lieutenant Janina Dowbor Musnicki Lewandowska. She was born Janina Dowbor-Musnicka around 1910. Her father was the commander of The Polish Army First Corps. Early in life, Janina developed three major passions: flying, parachuting and singing. She excelled at each.
    By age 20, she was the first woman in Europe to parachute from a height of over five kilometers. With her beautiful, charismatic voice she was given the nickname, the Poznan Nightingale [Slowik Poznanski]. In 1938, Janina married Lieutenant Colonel Lewandowski.
    [​IMG]
    The next year, Second Lieutenant Janina Lewandowska was mobilized by the Poznan Army to defend Poland from German invaders in Wielkopolska. She was shot down and captured by the Germans, then transferred to the Soviets on September 24,1939, and taken to a camp in Ostashkow.
    From there, on December 6, 1939, along with 80 other prisoners she was sent to a camp in Kozielsk. Janina took great risks to participate in the secret productions of molds for oplatki [wafers] and routinely participated in Catholic Mass. This subjected her to harassment and repeated invasive searches by her captors who never allowed her any privacy. She was fiercely loyal and devoted to her fellow Polish inmates, insisting on being transferred when they were.
    [​IMG]
    On April 15, 1943, Second Lieutenant Janina Lewandowska's corpse was uncovered by the Germans who discovered the grave of the Polish soldiers at Katyn. Horrified to find the body of a Polish female officer and afraid of negative propaganda, the Germans simply labeled her "the corpse of a pilot officer."
    The Soviets tried to conceal the unimaginable horrors of the Katyn massacre, but they could not hide the courageous story of Second Lieutenant Janina Lewandowska and the other brave Polish patriots who died. Janina continues to serve as a model of what is best about Polish women and culture. Her story of faith, patriotism, loyalty and courage, even under the most horrendous conditions, will continue to inspire generations of Poles and especially, Polish women.
     
  13. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    Don't nitpick at quotes V2, I've read that very same article on Bromberg. And if you continue, it clearly states that many disagree with that excuse. And even some Polish historians state that the German fifth-column did not attack - German civilians were lynched by a Polish mob and slaughtered.

    And pre, during or post war , Poland commited crimes against Germans ... !
     
  14. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    But...:

    Russia says Katyń massacre was not a Stalinist crime ( 03.03.06).

    Russia’s military prosecutors have refused to recognize Polish officers murdered in Katyn forest by Stalin’s NKVD police as victims of Stalinist repressions. The documents to this effect have been sent to the Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against the Polish Nation. Some 22 thousand Poles died in the Katyn massacre. On Sunday, the Katyn Day will be celebrated in Poland, an anniversary of Stalin’s decision which led to the massacre.
     
  15. Truk

    Truk New Member

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    There is actually a Katyn Memorial statue within one minute's walking distance of where I work in Baltimore, MD.

    It's a pretty impressive statue within a fountain.
     
  16. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    Andrzej Wajda and his new film "Post mortem - the Katyn story"

    The film will tell about the fate of the women - mothers, wives and daughters - of the Polish officers murdered by NKWD in the Katyń forests in 1940. The screenplay is based on Andrzej Mularczyk's book "Post Mortem - the Katyn story". The film will be produced by Akson Studio. "This film has been expected in Poland and abroad for many years; the aim of the long-lasting work on the screenplay was to tell this unusual and unknown to the world history of Katyń in the most universal way," said Michał Kwieciński, the Director of Akson Studio.

    "Post Mortem - the Katyń story" is to become for the director the first intimate story about himself and the experience of his youth during his artistic career. This film is to become a particular masterpiece having the features of an emotional confession.

    Andrzej Wajda, whose father - Captain Jakub Wajda - was murdered in one of the Soviet camps, was considering for some time whether to make in the first place a film about the Katyń murder or rather about the Katyń lie. "The Katyń lie, which had been haunting us until the end of PRL, seemed to me a much more appealing plot. Treating this history in such a way shall make the film more touching. Of course, the film "Post mortem. The Katyń story" will not be lacking scenes of the camp and of the murder itself. This is a great challenge to me since I have to resurrect on the screen the events which so far have not been seen by anyone," said Andrzej Wajda.

    The film will be shot on locations in Kraków and Warsaw. The film premier is planned for the Autumn 2007.
     

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  17. mkloby

    mkloby Active Member

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    I will be eagerly waiting for that. Katyn remains yet another sad chapter in the Poles WW2 Saga...
     
  18. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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  19. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    Wajda's movie will be screened in Moscow
    The movie "Katyń" will be shown again today in the movie theater of the Polish Embassy in Moscow. Its yesterday's first screening, which was organized for people engaged in culture, foreign diplomats and human rights advocates, has made a great impression on the viewers.

    A chief of Polish Institute in Moscow, Hieronim Grala, expressed his wish in the interview with the Polish Radio that the movie "Katyń" will reach as great a number of viewers in Russia as possible. He added that the reviews in Russian media had been mostly positive. The daily "Izvestya" wrote that


    Quote:
    "The tragedy of Polish officers and soldiers is only a part of the movie. One feels no less emotional watching the way the Poles had been trying to go with their life after the war."

    "Poles, forgive us!" - said yesterday Sergey Kovalov, a known Russian dissident and human rights advocate, after watching the movie. After the final execution scene, when the viewers suddenly saw a black screen, the audience became silent. The silence lasted for several dozens of seconds. Later - also in silence - people began slowly leaving the theater. Many had tears in their eyes. An older woman felt dizzy and has slumped in a chair.

    "The movie is worth of the event, which it describes" - noticed visibly moved Kovalov. "Poles, forgive us! Not only the communists are guilty. We are also guilty because we are the majority. We, the Russians, were then the majority here. These were we who had allowed for those events to happen. Forgive us!" - said the former spokesman for the citizen rights in Russia.

    Professor Lebedeva, who has first discovered proofs in Russian archives that NKVD was responsible for the murders of Polish officers, admitted that the movie has freaked her out. "The movie has freaked me out, even though I know - more than anyone else - almost everything about Katyń. Historically faithful and artistically powerful. It does not leave anyone neutral even for a second. One feels a heartache all the time" - said she.

    Lebedeva was stressing that "this is a tragedy of the Polish nation as well as the Russian nation." "The tragedy because such terrible regime existed. God forbid for something like this to happen again. For us, the Russians, the Katyń tragedy is as important as for the Poles. We should remember this forever" - said she.

    Another historian, Inessa Yazhborovska, expressed her hope that "Russian viewers will see that movie." "The image is designed, first of all, for the Russian viewer. This is important because there had been so many lies about this subject. This will be useful for the Russian public opinion" - she noted.

    "This is how it was" - said a former military prosecutor, a retired general Alexandr Tretetzki. "I already said 17 years ago - on September 27, 1990, when I was put in charge of investigation of the murder of Polish officers - that the investigation had to be comprehensive, objective and full. And we had worked that way - for the justice to be satisfied" - said Tretetzki.

    "The entire truth must be exposed and the full stop set. Everyone should understand and accept what had happened. Understand and accept" - stressed the former prosecutor.

    According to sources close to Polish Institute in Moscow - the official presentation of the Wajda's movie in Russia is planned for March the 5th, 2008 - an anniversary of the Stalin's order to murder the Polish officers (March 5, 1940).


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRRfnK4pDA8 :salute:
     
  20. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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