Sunday, September 9, 2007



With the conclusion of the Second World War in Europe, Soviet behavior toward Eastern European peoples and German civilians raised concerns about the actual intent of our Soviet ally in these areas. The 17 June 1946 issue of Time magazine included an article entitled "`You Cannot Shoot Us All.'" Time documented the Communist-dominated Polish government's intensifying campaign of terror against the Polish Peasant Party led by Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, who had taken over the Polish Government-in-Exile after General Sikorski's death in July 1943.

According to Time, Mikolajczyk had sent the following message to his wife and son in Britain, "You may let them know that I do not know what can happen to me. I may be killed. I may be deported."

Mikolajczyk was actually quoted telling Communist Vice Premier Wladislaw Gomulka, "You cannot shoot us all." This was rather rash, considering that he must have been aware that Stalin's exterminatory methods had already obliterated millions of Russians, as well as hundreds of thousands of his fellow Poles. However, like Katyn, such massive murders had been disputed in the Western press by its Moscow correspondents.2

Also appearing in 1946 was the third volume of Waverley Root's The 40 Secret History of the War, entitled Casablanca to Katyn. Root devoted forty-six pages to defending the Soviet version of Katyn.3 Gamely, Root even included Merkulov's admission that a "great blunder" had been made concerning the Poles, rationalizing that Merkulov was referring to the Poles being left behind to the advancing Germans.4 However, Root had already betrayed his naivete about the Soviets when he stated: « According to the German report, bodies of Russian civilians were found beneath those of the Poles. Was it the German contention that the Russians had murdered their own nationals as well? Russians might be expected to murder Poles, perhaps, but not Russians. Germans had systematically murdered both.» 5

During the war, in his 3 May 1943 "Backstage of the War" column, Root had been only slightly more responsible when he concentrated on the political implications of the Katyn-precipitated Soviet-Polish rift--as noted on page 14 of this study.

Whatever the opinion of Western journalists and the confusion among their publics back home on the issue, the staff at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow after the war well knew that the Soviets had killed the Poles at Katyn, according to Martha Mautner, a new foreign service officer assigned to the Moscow post at the time.6

In 1947, the book The Dark Side of the Moon, authored by General Sikorski's widow, Helena Sikorska, was published. It was her account of the suffering of Polish people in Soviet custody and exile, written and completed in manuscript form during the war. Although the mystery of the missing Polish officers was mentioned, Sikorska did not accuse the Soviets of the crime.7 Only in the "Epilogue," authored by "an Englishman," was Katyn mentioned--and then only to defend General Sikorski's request for the Red Cross investigation.8 Nonetheless, the victimization of Polish captives by the Soviet regime was compellingly portrayed.

Then, in 1948, I Saw Poland Betrayed, a book by former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Arthur Bliss Lane, was published. In his initial coverage of Katyn, Lane did not directly accuse the Soviets of the Katyn Massacre.

The identity of the perpetrators of the outrageous massacre of Katyn, contrary to all laws of war and of humanity, has never been definitely established. Perhaps it never will be. But I was to obtain evidence in Poland from Poles whose veracity I had no reason to distrust, which leads me to question seriously the sincerity of the outburst of Soviet indignation over the Polish Government's approach to the International Red Cross.9

Later in the book, Lane finally and directly challenged the Soviet denials of guilt, stating: «Even though the Soviet Government has tried to avoid responsi-bility for the Katyn incident, with violent protestations of innocence, the accusing finger of public opinion in Poland is still pointed at the Kremlin; for that liquidation of ten thousand Polish officers would be consistent with the Soviet policy of systematically destroying all elements representative of Polish nationalism. Not only were the Nazis and Soviets in agreement on the annihilation of the Polish state, but they employed similar police-state measures to snuff out the spirit of Polish independence.» 10

There were also postwar accounts by Polish survivors of Soviet captivity, such as Lieutenant General Wladyslaw Anders and Josef Czapski, who directly challenged Soviet denials of guilt for Katyn.11 The Nazis and the Soviets had not succeeded in eliminating all the Polish intelligentsia, and the survivors fought back with the one, very potent weapon they had: the pen.

Also in 1948, the wartime memoirs of Polish Peasant Party leader Stanislaw Mikolajczyk were published. He had escaped Poland and death at the hands of the NKVD, after all. In The Rape of Poland: Pattern of Soviet Aggression, Mikolajczyk devoted an entire chapter to Katyn, leaving no doubt that he was convinced that Stalin was guilty of the executions, saying, "But the order--`Liquidate'--was signed by Stalin himself." He based this contention on remarks made by a Red Army military attache in London.12

In his 1949 book, An Army in Exile: The Story of the Second Polish Corps, General Anders recounted his reconstruction of the Polish Army from the labor camps of the Soviet Union and its subsequent political betrayal by the Allies. Time magazine titled its review of Anders' book, "Polish Tragedy." Without mentioning Katyn, the review described Stalin's "feigned innocence" as he accepted from Anders and General Sikorski the list of "4,000" missing Polish officers, many of whom were later disinterred at Katyn.13 This was not necessarily in reference to the Katyn Massacre itself, but to the aforementioned list of missing officers.14 Later in the book, Anders had mentioned the total number of 15,000 missing Polish officers in detail, and described his growing anxiety about them as he left the Soviet Union.15

In Anders' book, the chapter titled "The Katyn Murders" clearly indicated his certainty that the Soviet Union was guilty of Katyn: « On April 13, 1943, the Germans broadcast a report that the corpses of thousands of Polish officers had been found buried at Katyn. The German radio was naturally suspect, but nevertheless we were already well aware that something dreadful had happened to the missing officers; our efforts to trace them in Russia had been unavailing, and the Russians had been suspiciously silent about their fate. There was therefore unfortunately only too much reason to believe the German report, for we well knew the Russians were quite capable of committing a crime of such magnitude.»16

Anders later cited Stalin's anti-Semitism and a Soviet attempt to smear Poles with the taint of anti-Semitism (during the evacuation of Polish refugees from the Soviet Union in 1942).17 Nonetheless--remarkably, considering the fact that that his son was missing somewhere in Eastern Europe--Anders was trying to accept the situation as positively as possible: «I and other Polish soldiers had, in spite of our personal experiences, entertained some hopes at first that after the defeat of Germany, Russia, free from any menace from the West, would not only change her attitude towards her neighbours but transform her internal regime into a more liberal and democratic one. We were influenced by the pledges given by the heads of the N.K.V.D., though we received these with natural caution. We wanted to forget the past. But our confidence resulted not only from a kind of wishful thinking, but also from our insufficient knowledge of Russia and our tendency to judge things in Russia by European standards.»18

Also in 1949, the book The Katyn Wood Murders, by Joseph Mackiewicz, was published in London. Mackiewicz, a Polish journalist, was brought by the Germans (with the approval of the Polish underground) to Katyn in 1943, to record the disinterment.

Among other items, Mackiewicz described the eighth, and last, mass grave which contained the final one hundred officers murdered in May 1940. These victims were distinguished by their lighter, warm-weather clothing. German propagandists, unaware of the other two killing sites, had claimed there were ten to twelve thousand Polish officers buried at Katyn, and the total figure of 4,243 was an embarrassment to their case.19

Mackiewicz's book is interesting in that it detailed the murders of Polish, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian civilians by the NKVD at the time of the Soviet withdrawal from the German invasion in Summer 1941. The NKVD was even executing Soviet airmen, presumably in retaliation for the successful German knock-out attacks on the Red Air Force early in the invasion.20 (Like the execution of commanders of the Western Special Military District, this may have been to eliminate embarrassing witnesses, since the NKVD had been responsible for airfield construction and preparedness on the USSR's western frontier.) This was further, important evidence that the NKVD's extermination of the Polish officers and cadets was consistent with Soviet policy toward captured territories and populations.

At the end of the book, Mackiewicz theorized that if the Germans had murdered the Poles at Katyn in August 1941, they would have attempted to accuse the Soviets of the crime immediately, to confuse their own crime with the Soviet atrocities they were discovering. Furthermore, he went on--bravely, in a book published during Stalin's lifetime--to observe: «But for once, with the Katyn crime, the Germans did not need to conceal any clues. They were not guilty and they were only too anxious that the world should know the truth. It is a strange paradox and a very sad conclusion that this truth is still unbelieved or wholly unknown. Furthermore such ignorance contains a danger for the future. Because if the culprit of such a crime [Stalin] is not brought to the dock--what will his next crime be? Or should we not rather ask--who will be his next victim?»21

Also in 1949, journalist Julius Epstein assembled a private committee--with former Ambassador Lane as president--to conduct public hearings on Katyn, collecting any evidence and testimony possible about Katyn.22 In addition to Epstein and Lane, the committee included such notables as former OSS chief William Donovan, former foreign intelligence operative Allen Dulles, Polish American Congress president Charles Rozmarek, and journalists Max Eastman and Clare Booth Luce, among others.23 Although the committee gathered much testimony and evidence, its credibility suffered from a lack of legal procedure.

In 1950, the fourth volume of Winston Churchill's wartime memoirs and history of the Second World War, The Hinge of Fate, was published. Churchill, presumably mindful of British national secrecy and Foreign Office credibility, did not directly declare the Soviets guilty of the Katyn Massacre. He instead candidly stated that General Sikorski had a "wealth of evidence" to support the German accusation against the Soviets and that, in reply, he told Sikorski, "If they are dead nothing you can do will bring them back."24 Discussing the credibility of the 1944 Soviet re-investigation of Katyn and counter-charge that the Nazis killed the Poles, Churchill ruefully commented: «This version, to be believed, involves acceptance of the fact that nearly 15,000 Polish officers and men, of whom there was no record since the spring of 1940, passed into German hands in July, 1941, and were later destroyed by the Germans without one single person escaping and reporting, either to the Russian authorities or to a Polish Consul in Russia or to the Underground Movement in Poland. When we remember the confusion caused by the German advance, that the guards of the camps must have fled as the invaders came nearer, and all the contacts afterwards during the period of Russo-Polish co-operation, belief seems an act of faith.» 25

Even after the war, in the late 1940s, the U.S. State Department (as well as the British Foreign Office) continued to suppress official mention of the Katyn Massacre.26 Nonetheless, interest in Katyn and its significance began grew in the West during the early 1950s.

On 18 September 1951 the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously adopted House Resolution 390, which created the "Select Committee to Conduct an Investigation and Study of the Facts, Evidence, and Circumstances of the Katyn Forest Massacre." There were three apparent motives for the resurrected Congressional interest in Katyn. First, Communist atrocities against U.S. prisoners of war in Korea had enraged the American people and were similar in method to the Katyn killings.27 Second, the Epstein-Lane committee's investigation of Katyn had raised national concern and a sense of guilt about America's postwar betrayal of East Europeans. Finally, Democrat Congressmen needed a 1952 election year issue to prove their opposition to Leninist-Stalinist Communism to American voters who had seen the loss of Eastern Europe and China to Communism under Democrat administrations.28 It also gave supportive Republicans a chance to court American voters of East European descent.29

The Katyn hearings began, unexpectedly, on 11 October 1951.30 John J. Mitchell--no relation to Attorney General John Mitchell of the Nixon Administration--was chief counsel. Young lawyer Roman C. Pucinski of Chicago, Illinois, was the committee's chief investigator. Congress-man Ray J. Madden (D--Indiana) was the chairman. Hearings were to be held in Washington DC, Chicago, London, Frankfurt, Berlin, and Naples. The London hearings were held, despite resistance and difficulties presented by the British Foreign Office.31 Scores of witnesses were interviewed, exhibits studied, and depositions taken.

Additional revelations had occurred during the hearings. During their investigation, the Germans had brought in captured American and British officers to verify the forensic conclusions. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel John H. Van Vliet, Jr.--a fourth-generation West Point graduate, Class of 1937--was the senior American prisoner-of-war taken to Katyn by the Germans to witness their investigation. Immediately upon his arrival in Washington, D.C., on 22 May 1945, after his release from German captivity, Van Vliet had filed a personal report with Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall's Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Major General Clayton Bissell. Bissell immediately classified the report "Top Secret" and, at Van Vliet's own request, issued him an order not to discuss the report with anyone. Sometime after that, the report vanished--inexplicably.32

The input of the American Army officers was termed "the most significant testimony of the independent witnesses."33 Van Vliet stated that although he hated the Germans, he was convinced of the 1940 killing date by the excellent condition of the victims' boots at the time of their original burial. Personal experience had convinced these American prisoners of war that boots could not survive more than a few months of prison camp life in such fine condition.34 The suppression of Van Vliet's judgement was given larger, strategic implications in the second conclusion of the Committee's Final Report: "In justifying his actions for designating the Van Vliet report "Top Secret," General Bissell said he was merely carrying out the spirit of the Yalta agree-ment.35" and, later, ". . . this committee believes that had the Van Vliet report been made immediately available to the Department of State and to the American public, the course of our governmental policy toward Soviet Russia might have been more realistic with more fortunate postwar results."36

Despite the Committee's efforts, no link could be established between General Marshall and the disappearance of the Van Vliet report. General Bissell's responses to intensive questioning do raise doubts about this, though. After having acknowledged that he classified the report "Top Secret," because it was a potential political bombshell which might wreck U.S.-Soviet relations and disrupt Soviet cooperation in the final military defeat of Japan, General Bissell stated, concerning the report: «There is a possibility that I may have mentioned it to General Marshall or to the Secretary [of War]. I have no distinct recollection of having done so, and I don't see much reason why I should have.»37 Such studied credulity from a career intelligence officer sorely tested the good faith and patience of his Congressional listeners, and his questioning was the bitterest of the hearings.38

Van Vliet has always supported General Bissell's decision to suppress the report, in consideration of the Soviets' contribution to victory over the Nazis and the overriding need for their pinning of the powerful Japanese forces in Manchuria in 1945.39 However, it is well beyond credence that General Bissell would permanently suppress such a strategically political report on the basis of his own judgement and authority alone, without consulting the political judgement of General Marshall or someone else.

In its final report published on 22 December 1952, the Committee concluded, on the basis of all the evidence amassed and "beyond any question of reasonable doubt," that the Soviet NKVD "committed the mass murders of the Polish officers and intellectual leaders in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, Russia." The Committee was "equally certain" that the 11,000 other Polish officers had been similarly murdered by the NKVD elsewhere.40

The relevance to the Korean War was emphasized in the sixth, and final, conclusion of the Committee: «6. This committee began its investigation last year, and as the committee's work progressed, information, documents, and evidence was submitted from all parts of the world. It was at this same time that reports reached the committee of similar atrocities and violations of international law being perpetrated in Korea. This committee noted the striking similarity between crimes committed against the Poles at Katyn and those being inflicted on American and other United Nation troops in Korea. Communist tactics being used in Korea are identical to those followed at Katyn. Thus this committee believes that Congress should undertake an immediate investigation of the Korean war atrocities in order that the evidence can be collected and the truth revealed to the American people and the free peoples of the world.» 41

American news magazines recorded the progress of the hearings. A photograph used by the magazines was of a hooded witness holding a pistol to the back of the neck of a man whose hands were held behind his back, to describe how the prisoners had been "bound and shot." In an article which pointed out that 6,000 American soldiers were missing in Korea, a Special Committee member was quoted as saying that "Katyn may well have been a blueprint for Korea."42

One typical article, titled "Who Is Guilty of the Katyn Massacre?," appeared in the July 1952 issue of The Readers Digest In this piece, Oxford history professor G.F. Hudson, whose April 1950 scholarly article on Katyn is described in the following chapter, assessed the evidence and pronounced the Soviets guilty of the crime. As to the significance of Katyn, he concluded: «No one knows better than the Communist leaders how deeply the truth about this bestial crime can hurt their cause. But the more the Soviet Union obstructs the uncovering of the truth, the more certain it becomes that the men who lie dead in Katyn Forest lie also on the conscience of the Soviet Union.»43

Coverage of the Katyn hearings, even the one held in London, was much more circumscribed in Britain. No journal article on this matter was listed at all in the (British) Library Association's Subject Index to Periodicals annual volumes for 1951, 1952, and 1953. The Times of London did publish several small articles, particularly in 1952. One was on 21 April 1952, a week after the London hearing, and was titled, "Katyn Forest Massacre: Alleged Statement by Mr. Stalin's Son." It referred to a Polish emigre's claim that Yakov Stalin had told him that the Polish officers had been "liquidated" and that doing so "was necessary, but that the Russians would do it in a humane way."44

Facts on File covered the development of the Katyn case in the early 1950s. In the 1950 volume, the 18 September 1950 publication of Lieutenant Colonel Van Vliet's report by the Department of the Army was recorded.45 The 1951 volume recorded the unanimous 18 September 1951 U.S. House of Representatives vote authorizing the hearings.46

The 1952 volume covered the Committee's visit to Europe, the Soviet counter-charges of U.S. germ warfare in Korea, and the acknowledgement (to some Allied officers) of Stalin's responsibility for Katyn by Stalin's own son (Yakov) in a German prisoners-of-war camp. More sensational was Congressman Thaddeus H. Machrowicz's charge that Anglo-American commander (and 1952 Republican Presidential candidate) Dwight D. Eisenhower had ignored reports of Katyn. (Eisenhower was recorded as promptly replying on 29 April 1952 that he had been "fairly busy" with other matters at the time of the political, diplomatic controversy wrought by Katyn.) 47 What would be the last coverage of Katyn in Facts on File until 1988 was the report of the Committee's unequivocal findings that the Soviets were responsible for the Katyn Massacre.48

Also interestingly, even though Committee hearings were held in London and throughout Western Europe, the British-published Keesing's Contemporary Archives would continue to omit any mention of Katyn until 1988.

After the Congressional hearings and final report, little transpired in the Katyn case. The Soviets and the pro-Soviet Polish government continued to attempt to blame the Germans for the massacre. Under Soviet occupation, the Polish people seethed with hatred and frustration about Katyn and other Soviet atrocities and injustices.

In 1956, the Polish people's uprising against a hardline Communist regime was motivated in part by continuing anger about Katyn. In a chapter entitled "Legacy of Hate," Anglo-Polish author Konrad Syrop described in his 1957 book, Spring in October: The Story of the Polish Revolution, 1956, the significance of Katyn for Poles enduring Soviet Cold War domination: «The horrible crime at Katyn became a symbol of Polish-Soviet relations. In vain the Russians tried to shift the blame for it on the Germans; they failed to produce any convincing evidence to support this charge and the International War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg made no reference to Katyn in its findings. . . . In any case the responsibility lay in the cruel and ruthless Soviet system, and the mass graves at Katyn containing the bodies of more than four thousand Polish officers strengthened the already existing wall of hatred between Poles and Russians.» 49

At the moment of the Poles' victory--evidenced by a Soviet agreement to a more moderate Polish leadership--the "insistent" chant, "Katyn! Katyn!" was heard in the streets.50

Also in 1956, the popular, influential book, Deliver Us from Evil, by U.S. Navy doctor Tom Dooley, was published. Dooley chronicled the atrocities inflicted on Vietnamese by Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh Communists during the Communist takeover of North Vietnam in the early 1950s. Dooley described such Viet Minh barbarities as the ripping off of left ears of children of a Catholic province who were caught listening to the "evil words" of the Lord's Prayer.51

Dooley's description of the bungling attempts by an International Control Commission (CIC) to enable refugees to escape safely from the Communist North contained an echo of Katyn. He wrote: « Within the CIC committees there arose the same problems that arise in all conference bodies containing representatives of Communism. The Poles seemed determined to be stumbling-blocks and I personally witnessed their obstructive tactics many times.

I would take a refugee to the CIC, a refugee who had been horribly beaten up by the Viet Minh. There would be a council meeting. The refugee would tell his story. After hours of wrangling, he would be sent back to the camp. It seemed that the Polish representatives always wanted proof that obviously was unobtainable. Certainly this poor peasant had been beaten--that could not be denied--but what hard-and-fast proof did he have that the bullets which had torn into his arm were Communist bullets? The peasant would have to present something substan-tial in the way of proof, which of course he couldn't do, and not just his maimed body and feeble voice.»52

Perhaps a proven ability to rationalize away Communist atrocities against fellow Poles--as in the case of Katyn--uniquely qualified these Polish Communists for their membership in the CIC, to represent Communist interests.

In 1960, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities produced for the public record the illustrated booklet, Lest We Forget! A Pictorial Summary of Communism in Action, to remind Americans of the methods of terror practiced by the Soviets. In addition to commentary and photographs of the Ukrainian Famine of the early 1930s, of the starved condition of Polish survivors of Soviet Siberia, and of the political exterminations hastily executed by the NKVD during the 1941 Soviet withdrawal from the Baltic states, Katyn was included with the following comments by the principal author and researcher, Klaus Samuli Gunnar Romppanen: «May I call your attention to exhibit No. 49, which is a view of an incident, if we can call it an incident, that the free world has long known but appears to have quickly forgotten. (P. 35.)

It is the view of the mass graves in the Katyn Forest, where 4,242 Polish Army officers were murdered, not in armed conflict on the field of battle, but murdered in cold blood because they were not regarded as trustworthy by the Communists.53

In the West, Polish emigre communities observed the anniversary of Katyn. In journal articles and books, a few writers pieced together more testimony and evidence as it became available.

The carefully researched book about Katyn which is usually cited as the most credible, scholarly source is Janusz Zawodny's Death in the Forest, published in 1962. In popular reviews, it was well-received. For example, in Saturday Review of Literature reviewer H.C. Wolfe opined: «An objective, painstakingly documented report that, unless additional information is revealed some day from Moscow's secret files, will remain the definitive work on the subject. . . . Scrupulously sifting every shred of available evidence from farflung sources, interviewing numerous survivors of Polish prison camps in Russia, and weaving a tortuous way through tangled wartime politics and propaganda, Dr. Zawodny pieced together a mosaic of facts that shaped themselves into a finger of accusation. . . . The murder victims were . . . the very men who would have provided leadership for postwar Poland. Their loss was tragic both for their families and the new Poland. Dr. Zawodny's findings indict the Kremlin. »54

Further discussion of Zawodny's book appears in the following chapter of this study which deals with academic coverage of the issue in the West.

In 1962, New York Herald Tribune journalist Seymour Freidin mentioned Katyn in his book, The Forgotten People. Freidin's description of Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe included this introductory passage about Poland: «The man, now in Britain, was not a Jew. On the cinders of the old Ghetto, however, it was hard to reconcile anti-Semitic feelings with the Polish plight. Under the Germans, they had both suffered as inferior peoples. There also was the concentration camp, Auschwitz, in Poland, which will live forever infamous in man's memories. At the same time, Poles, even the younger ones, never forget that their officer corps was liquidated in the Katyn Forest during the war. "The Russians did it, of course," Polish students have told me repeatedly."It was the Nazis, but they left a suspicion of doubt," was the way a Polish [Communist] central committee member described the episode to me.»55

More significant to the public record was the U.S. Government's 1963 publication of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1943, Vol. III, Diplomatic Papers. These documents revealed that even before the Katyn controversy, U.S. State Department officials had been aware of anti-Polish Soviet activities. Concern about the Soviets breaking off diplomatic relations with the London Polish government had been expressed by General Sikorski, and President Roosevelt had felt moved to send him, on 12 April 1943, a letter reassuring him of American support.56

The Katyn affair, itself, consumed many pages. Its diplomatic repercussions were felt through the summer of 1943. Significant was President Roosevelt's 26 April 1943 telegram to Stalin, wherein he stated, "In my opinion Sikorski has in no way acted with the Hitler gang but instead he has made a mistake in taking up this particular matter with the International Red Cross."57

Russia at War: 1941-1945, by wartime Moscow correspondent Alexander Werth, was published in 1964. Werth clearly indicated his opinion that it was "more than probable, if not absolutely certain" that the Soviets had been responsible for Katyn. Werth was strongly sympathetic to the wartime suffering of the peoples of the Soviet Union, and his verdict about Katyn carried considerable weight.58

In 1965, an English translation of the 1948 book, The Crime of Katyn: Facts and Documents, was published in London by the Polish Cultural Foundation. The 1948 preface and 1965 foreword were both written by General Anders. In careful detail, the book reviewed the sequence of events and evaluates the evidence of the German and Russian investigative commissions. It contained first-person testimonies, including that of one Ivan Krivozertzev, a local Katyn resident who had worked as a laborer for the occupying Germans. Krivozertzev first drew the Germans' attention to the Polish graves, in 1943. He later fled the returning Soviets and in Autumn 1946 finally arrived in Ancona, Italy, at Polish 2nd Army Corps headquarters, where he reported his experience. (In 1947, he was found hanged in a barn outside a "displaced persons"--refugee--camp in Britain.)59

The 1965 edition of The Crime of Katyn includes material not in the 1948 version. For example, the testimony from U. S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Van Vliet during the Congressional committee hearings is mentioned.

In 1971 there appeared Khrushchev Remembers, the first volume of the memoirs of post-Stalin Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev. Although Khrushchev refrained from any mention of Katyn, a prefatory note by Sovietologist Edward Crankshaw to the "Advance into Poland" subchapter mentioned the NKVD's killing of the Poles at Katyn and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Polish people to Siberia.60

A veritable crusader on the issue of Katyn was Louis Fitzgibbon, who had a number of books published in the 1970s bringing forth the contemporary evidence accumulated. In 1971, his book Katyn presented some of the most graphic and compelling evidence of Soviet guilt. While he acknowledged the Western Allies' reluctance to embarrass their Soviet ally with an inquest about Katyn during the war, Fitzgibbon's comment on the postwar silence in the West reflected the Soviets' continuing, extreme sensitivity to the issue: «After the war Russia greatly increased its strength, its territorial possessions and its potential danger to the other powers in Europe. It would have seemed, and still does appear, imprudent to irritate or provoke so powerful a country, and further mention of Katyn would have done just that. So a conspiracy of silence descended on the matter, and various efforts, presented as appendices to this book, have failed to produce a clear and positive international proclamation of the truth.» 61

In 1972, British Foreign Office records declassified (after the standard thirty-year waiting period) included wartime British Ambassador to Poland Owen O'Malley's secret report on Katyn. This resulted in a Time magazine article titled, "Poland: Death in Katyn Forest," describing the moral significance of the Western Allies' wartime coverup of the Soviets' killings.62

Also in 1972, journalist Louis Fischer's new book, The Road to Yalta, devoted an entire chapter to Katyn, "Murder in the Forest."63 Fischer left no doubt about his conviction that Stalin was guilty of the crime. This is especially significant, since Fischer was a respected Sovietologist who had been sympathetic to Stalinism in his reporting as a correspondent in Moscow during the 1930s and the early part of the war. Along with New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty, Fischer was later accused of having had omitted reports of the Ukrainian Famine in the early 1930s, to maintain his favored status with the Soviet regime.64

Two books by Soviet emigres appeared in 1972, as well. Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars was written by Peter Deriabin, a former NKVD counterintelligence officer. Deriabin mentioned Katyn, in the context of the wholesale deportations and exterminations of Poles in 1940-41. However, he used the inaccurate Nazi figure of 10,000 as the toll of victims at Katyn.65 Boris Levytsky, who dedicated his book--The Uses of Terror: The Soviet Secret Police, 1917-1970--to his liquidated parents and brothers, murdered by the Soviets, did not mention Katyn, even though he did describe the incarceration, suffering, and eventual release (of some) of the Polish deportees.

One interesting postwar development--viewed by some commentators as an example of how far the Soviets would go in their attempts to blot out the memory of Katyn--was the erection of the Soviet war memorial at "Khatyn," to 149 Russian villagers massacred by Nazi German troops in Spring 1943--the same time of the announcement of Katyn by the Germans.66 This was chronicled in (the 1983 English translation of) the 1978 edition of The Great Soviet Encyclopedia. The "Khatyn" article gave the opening date of the "complex" as 5 July 1969. Its centerpiece statue, "The Defiant Man," won a Lenin Prize in 1970.67 There was, of course, no mention of Katyn--as a geographical place or even as the site of a "fascist atrocity"--in the Encyclopedia.

In 1974, U. S. President Richard M. Nixon--attempting to salvage his tottering presidency with a collegial visit to Soviet leader Brezhnev at Minsk--visited the Soviet Khatyn memorial and obligingly refrained from any mention of Katyn, on up the road to Moscow, which could have embarrassed his hosts and hampered continued progress toward detente. Nonetheless, and to its credit, the New York Times felt constrained to point out the difference in a separate article.68

Of the hundreds of villages massacred by the Nazis, it was suspicious that the Soviets chose one having a name so similar to Katyn for their memorial. In 1987, the accusation was made that "Khatyn" was, in part, "an Orwellian memory hole" intended to disinform the Western tourists and peace activists taken to it by their Soviet guides.69

In September 1976, the erection of a Katyn memorial in London was boycotted by the British government, because it had the inscription, "Katyn, 1940," indicating Soviet guilt. The British weekly, The Economist, acidly observed, "Last week the British foreign office made a diplomatic but ill-judged and unsuccessful attempt to protect the reputation of Joseph Stalin."70 An accompanying article indicated The Economist's own opinion with the title, "Almost Certainly by Russia."71

Even the Royal British Legion, a veterans' organization, was refused permission to send a bugler, until protests by a "Mr. Winston Churchill MP"--the former Prime Minister's grandson--proved compelling.72

Katyn became an issue of controversy again during 1980. In the Gdansk shipyards, according to British journalist Timothy Garton Ash, its mention epitomized and steeled the uncompromising anger which produced Polish Solidarity.73 A Solidarity monument to Katyn, specifying the date of the killings as 1940--and, therefore, the guilt for it being the Soviets'--was raised in Warsaw and then torn down by the Polish Communist government.74

Indeed, the Soviet massacre of the Polish leadership in 1940--of which Katyn was only one instance, albeit the best known--was the crime which underlay and made illegitimate Poland's Soviet-installed Communist government. Katyn's memory (or, worse yet, any Soviet admission of it) was a direct threat to that government's continued existence. Realizing this, an earlier Polish leader, Wladyslaw Gomulka, had once even declined Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's offer to admit Soviet responsibility for Katyn.75 Katyn was the "Achilles Heel" of Soviet domination of Poland, and control of Poland was the keystone of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.76

The 1982 book, Poland: Communism, Nationalism, Anti-Semitism, by former Polish Army counterintelligence officer Michael Checinski, described the postwar persecution of Jews by the Polish Communist regime and by anti-Communist rebels who held Jews responsible for the Communist takeover. Checinski estimated that the takeover cost as many as 100,000 lives, and that 8,000 pro-Communists--about 20 per cent of whom were innocent Jews--were killed in return or revenge.77 As to the resettlement of some of the lands Poland lost to the Soviet Union, Checinski wrote: «True to the Stalinist doctrine of collective guilt and organized genocide, over 150,000 civilian Ukrainians were forcibly deported from their land and "resettled" in the Recovered Territories in western and northern Poland. During this "resettlement action," known as "Operation Wisla," thousands of children, women, and old people were killed, sometimes being burned alive in their villages.»78

In his only reference to Katyn, Checinski wrote that the Polish Army officer corps had been so decimated by Katyn and postwar Stalinist purges, that "some 15,000 Soviet officers, including at least 40 generals, served in the Polish armed forces."79 The coincidence of that number with the military toll of Stalin's Spring 1940 massacres of Polish officers at Katyn and elsewhere is noteworthy.

Nonetheless, the Polish people nurtured the memory of Katyn. On pages 166-67 of the 1982 picture book, Portrait of Poland, there was a photograph with the caption,`Poland is not yet lost . . .'--the first line of the national anthem stands over the patch of grass in the Warsaw municipal (and formerly military) cemetery which in 1981 was spontaneously made into an unofficial memorial to the victims of the Katyn massacre.

A cross that was set up here was removed overnight by the secret police, and the Mayor of Warsaw thereupon issued a public appeal for donations to institute an official memorial. The bodies of more than 4000 Polish officers were found in 1943 in a mass forest grave at Katyn (now in Soviet territory). [Actually, Katyn has always been in Russian-Soviet territory.] The officers had been captured by Soviet forces when they occupied Eastern Poland in October 1939, and the Russians stand accused of the massacre; but they have never, even in periods of de-Stalinization, acknowledged responsibility. The Poles have not forgotten.80

In August 1982 some Scandinavian peace marchers, who were sympathetic to the Polish Solidarity movement, had the moral courage to boycott the Soviet "Khatyn" memorial, citing "unanswered questions" regarding Katyn. This enraged their Soviet hosts, including propagandist Yuri Zhukov, who accused the Scandinavian peace group of containing "Nazi sympathizers" who had instigated the boycott.81

Typically, though, American visitors were more naive and pliant. An example of this was a 1984 account of a visit to the Soviet memorial at Khatyn, by Reverend James O. Watkins Jr. of the Presbyterian Peace-making Program.82 Subsequently informed about Katyn and requested to distinguish between the two placenames in his "Peace Notes" column, he only did so under considerable political pressure.

In the 1984 book Fearful Warriors, author Ralph K. White bewailed the probability of thermonuclear war and had challenged the motives and mindsets of the opposing Western and Eastern blocs, much as English author A.A. Milne had done in his book Peace with Honour, in the 1930s.

After beginning the book with a chapter entitled "Empathizing with the Soviet Government," White rendered his version of a comparative history of the East-West conflict. Although he mentioned the border dispute between the London Polish government and the Soviets, he omitted any mention of Soviet guilt for the Katyn Massacre or of Soviet inaction during the Warsaw Uprising being two of the early causes of anti-Soviet feeling in the West.83

However, the Poles were carefully escalating their opposition to the Soviets, and in 1985 Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev agreed to respond to some Polish concerns, in an attempt to defuse the anti-Soviet rancor. During a meeting with Polish First Secretary Wojciech Jaruzelski, Gorbachev agreed to set up a joint Russo-Polish historical commission to examine what Solidarity leaders had called the "blank spots" of their two nations' mutual histories.
Items to be studied included Stalin's 1938 extermination of the Polish Communist Party leaders, the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact which eliminated Poland, mass deportations of Poles to Siberia and other regions of the Soviet Union in 1939-40, and the Red Army's failure to relieve the siege of Warsaw in August 1944. The blank spot initially considered too sensitive to examine was Katyn.84

This ill-advised omission only infuriated the Poles. Finally, in March 1988, one member of the Polish national political assembly, the Seym, even had the audacity to break the taboo against the use of the word "Katyn." Even more explosively, Ryszard Bender raised the Katyn issue as a test of "Glasnost"--Soviet leader Gorbachev's new policy of openness--demanding to know, in regard to the unknown fate of the other Polish officers, "Where are their graves? Do we have `glasnost' or not?"85 Bender specifically stated that the truth about the Katyn Massacre had to be divulged before Poland and the Soviet Union could have genuinely friendly relations.86

Meanwhile, in February 1988, fifty-nine prominent Polish dissidents had submitted a letter to the principal Soviet press agencies, demanding an open Russo-Polish investigation of Katyn and the truth.87 At the same time, Soviet members of the historical commission became noticeably more intractable on the issue of Katyn.

Responding to its people, and to the heat of their outrage, the Polish government stopped blaming the Germans for Katyn in March 1988.88 At the Poles' instigation, Katyn became a formal agenda item for the "blank spots" commission. Polish commission members simply demanded more documents from the Soviets about the Polish officers and cadets who had been in their care.

The Katyn issue had now become the "blank spots" commission's most important issue.89 On his June 1988 visit to the Soviet Union, Polish Cardinal Glemp emphasized the importance of the truth about Katyn to Russo-Polish relations. As RAND/UCLA Center for the Study of Soviet International Behavior analyst, Thomas S. Szayna, commented: «In doing so, he cut to the very heart of the matter: as horrible as the massacre was, it was not so much the event as the deceit, the lies, and the official falsification of history surrounding it that caused Polish bitterness toward the Russians.»90

The book Katyn Killings: In the Record, by U.S. Marine officer John H. Lauck, appeared in 1988. This was largely a compilation of facts and documents which had been previously published, particularly pertinent excerpts from the Congressional hearings.91

The issue of Katyn was so powerful and compelling that it could be utilized as a potent political weapon even by an individual citizen. This was demonstrated when I used it to temper the anti-military, pro-Soviet fervor in Alaska in 1988. On 21 April 1988, the very day before the arrival in Juneau of longtime Gorbachev friend and "glasnost" spokesman, Gennadi Gerasimov, the Juneau Empire published my article, "Sunday, April 24th: A Day to Remember Katyn." Basically, I asked my fellow Alaskans to pause to consider that despite Soviet promises of good will and good faith--epitomized by the "Glasnost" concept of openness--the Soviets still had not admitted their responsibility for Katyn.92

The article was well received and, with local support, Alaska Governor Steve Cowper--a Democrat--responded by issuing his back-dated 1 April 1988 executive proclamation making 30 April 1988 "A Day to Remember Katyn" in Alaska.93 Chicago Alderman Roman Pucinski called Governor Cowper to express his thanks. (Copies of both the article and proclamation followed Mr. Gerasimov back to Moscow.)

One method used by some journalists and intellectuals in the West to dispute Katyn and other examples of Communist exterminations--thus assisting the coverup of such atrocities--was to demand unnecessarily high standards of proof. Typical of "experts" who have rationalized their denial of the extent of Stalin's crimes is Alexander Cockburn. In his 3 March 1989 New Statesman and Society article, "Purging Stalin," Cockburn mocked Russian historian Roy Medvedev's claim that 20 million people died in Stalin's purges and exterminations. Cockburn contrasted that with revisionist historians' claims that the dead from collectivzation were as few as 3.5 million--half the conservative figure--and vaguely surmised that an estimate of "tens of thousands" of 1930s political purge victims (which he attributed to George Kennan), rather than (many) more than a million, was "quite conceivable, maybe even probable."

While Cockburn attempted to trivialize the importance of total numbers, he also claimed "Evil though he was, Stalin did not plan or seek to accomplish genocide, and to say that he and Hitler had the same project in mind (or as right-wing German historians now argue, that somehow Lenin and Stalin put Hitler up to it) is to do disservice to history and truth." Cockburn specifically attacked the contention of "Bukhtain" [sic]--Bukharin--biographer Stephen Cohen that "Judged only by the number of victims, and leaving aside important differences between the two regimes, Stalinism created a holocaust greater than Hitler's."94

What is at stake is the still-significant question of whether or not mass murder on the basis of race or nationality--the classic definition of genocide--has killed significantly more people in this century than mass murder on the basis of political correctness. For example, more people were murdered in Cambodia by their own fanatically Maoist-Communist Khmer Rouge countrymen than have been murdered by the ethnic strife in what was Yugoslavia--so far.

Cockburn's own working figure is reflected in his statement "The task is obviously to arrive at truth, but many such estimates evidently have a regulatory ideological function with an exponential momentum so great that now any computation that does not soar past ten million is somehow taken as evidence of being soft on Stalin."95

Nevertheless, Soviet leader Gorbachev still refrained from mentioning Katyn, as hoped, during his July 1988 visit to Poland. Gorbachev's own position in the Soviet Union could have been jeopardized by a premature concession of the truth about Katyn, now--finally--recognized as a pivotal act of Soviet terror.96

Evidence of Soviet guilt continued to accumulate, inside and outside the commission. In September 1988, the U. S. government disturbed its silence on Katyn when the National Endowment for the Humanities agreed to fund a printing of a translation into Polish of Janusz K. Zawodny's book, Death in the Forest--for mass, covert distribution within Poland, apparently.97

Eventually, international media pressure on Jaruzelski and Gorbachev proved overwhelming. In February 1989 the official Polish weekly magazine, Odrodzenie, published evidence of Soviet guilt in an article titled, "Report from Katyn: The Confidential Report of the Polish Red Cross," and early in March 1989 the Polish government publicly blamed the Soviet Union for the massacre.98

Once again, Katyn had again become a public issue in the West. In addition to coverage by the larger newspapers, small town papers were running articles about it. The Macomb Journal published the Associated Press article, "Historian: Soviets behind Massacre," on 22 August 1989. The article quoted Polish co-chairman of the Polish-Soviet "blank spots" historical commission, Jarema Maciszewski, officially stating there was "no doubt" the Soviets were responsible for Katyn.99

By summer 1989, even Soviet officials were beginning to acknow-ledge, unofficially, Stalin's responsibility for Katyn. In March 1990, The Moscow News quoted Soviet historian Natalya Lebedeva's findings that all 15,131 Polish officers and cadets had been executed by the NKVD between April and May 1940.

She also stated the apparent motives. She cited Stalin's longstanding grudge toward the Polish officer caste that had defeated the Bolsheviks in 1920. She further noted the intent to erase Poland as a nation. Finally, she discovered that the Soviets also needed the detention camps to house leadership-class prisoners of the newly occupied Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.100

In early April 1990, in a "Special Report," the May 1990 issue of the internationally circulated Reader's Digest had another article on Katyn, concluding with a call to Soviet President Gorbachev to acknow-ledge Soviet responsibility and express his regret. The article included a map and color illustrations, with one drawing graphically depicting a bespectacled Soviet executioner pointing his pistol at the back of the head of a bound and hooded prisoner kneeling at the edge of a corpse-filled pit.101

Also in April 1990, U.S. Senator Allen Cranston's role in the Office of War Information's wartime suppression of the facts of the Katyn Massacre was detailed in the conservative political magazine, The American Spectator.102 (Under attack for a number of reasons, including the savings and loan scandal, Cranston did not run for re-election in 1992.)

Finally, on 13 April 1990, President Gorbachev handed over to Polish President Jaruzelski some indirectly incriminating NKVD documents and officially acknowledged Stalin's responsibility for the Katyn Massacre with an expression of regret.103 After fifty years of Soviet denial, stonewalling, and disinformation, the historical truth of the Katyn Massacre had finally won out--but not completely.

While Soviet credibility recovered a bit, with Gorbachev's revelation, the British Foreign Office was severely criticized by reporters for its complicity in the Katyn coverup. In the 15 April 1990 Sunday Times, the well-respected Oxford historian Norman Stone emphasized the central importance of Katyn by titling his article, "Katyn: The Heart of Stalin's Darkness," and stating, "Katyn . . . became the greatest symbol of Polish-Soviet enmity."104

In the 23 April 1990 Times, columnist Bernard Levin's article, "Britain's Complicity in a Chronicle of Shame," censured Foreign Office handling of Katyn during and after the Second World War. Levin characterized that handling as "giving off each time a stink of appeasement that could make a hippopotamus retch half a mile upwind." Wrote Levin : «I have not the smallest doubt that the FCO is at this moment urging the Foreign Secretary to say nothing on the subject; after all, Kaganovich, the very last of Stalin's closest entourage, is still alive at the age of 98, and he might be greatly offended.»105

Late in 1991, a popular, but well-documented account of the effect of Katyn on three Polish families, Katyn: the Untold Story of Stalin's Polish Massacre, was published. Author Allen Paul produced a well-researched account of the massacre and of its manifold implications. Commenting on the diplomatic rift directly caused by Katyn, Paul wrote: «Both men [Churchill and Roosevelt] were accustomed to constant quarreling between the Poles and the Soviets, but neither expected a rupture. Its timing was particularly disturbing. The war had barely taken a favorable turn and dangerous distractions were to be avoided at all cost. The Soviet break with the Poles was the first such rift within the United Nations and had the potential to cause great embarrassment. The war effort might suffer.»106

Paul also attempted to expand public understanding of the significance of Katyn: «This book is an attempt to present the crime in a complete context. To do that, the murders must be examined as part of a massive effort to Sovietize Poland. The executions at Katyn came to symbolize that effort in all its horrible consequences, for two reasons. First, the Katyn murders were the most dramatic and clear-cut example of the brutal methods Stalin used to eliminate Poland's educated class; . . . . Second, Stalin cleverly manipulated the circumstances in which the Katyn murders were finally discovered in 1943 to deal the legitimate government of Poland a lethal blow. . . . Katyn thus became a complex symbol of Polish suffering at the hands of Stalin. Existing work on the subject does not, in my view, approach the crime in this manner.»107

The 6 October 1991 issue of the London Observer contained a lengthy feature article by journalist Nicholas Bethell, titled "The Cold Killers of Kalinin." It described NKVD execution methods at the final killing site identified: Kalinin--previously, and now again, named "Tver"--to the northwest of Moscow.108 (In his 1993 book, Vladimir Abarinov specified the site as "Mednoye near Tver."109) Bethell's article also described Red Army investigators' efforts to interrogate the surviving NKVD commanders and executioners responsible.

That Katyn remained a delicate, explosive issue for the Polish people was a fact apparent from the May 1992 public outcry in Poland at the omission of any mention of Stalinist crimes against the Poles and Poland, discovered in the draft of a Russian-Polish friendship treaty.

The 22 May 1992 New York Times article reporting the uproar to Western readers described the essence of the debate between Poles who do not want the grim Russo-Polish past forgotten and other Poles who want a new beginning in Russo-Polish relations.110

The book Truman was published in 1992 and was authored by American historian David McCullough. McCullough quoted the opinions of others, regarding Truman's performance at the Potsdam Conference in July-August 1945: «. . . Kennan, who was not present at Potsdam, would later despair over Truman's naivete. Harriman, who was present throughout, found himself so shut out of serious discussions by Byrnes that he decided it was time for him to resign.»111

As to Katyn, McCullough described the episode where Truman had raised the question of what had happened to the Polish officers, Stalin had icily replied, "They went away." McCullough then wrote: «Still--still--Truman liked him. "I like Stalin. He is straightforward," he wrote to Bess near the windup of the conference. Stalin could be depended upon to keep his word, he would later tell his White House staff. "The President," wrote Eben Ayers, "seemed to have been favorably impressed with him and to like him." Stalin was a fine man who wanted to do the right thing, Truman would tell Henry Wallace. Furthermore, Truman was pretty sure Stalin liked him. To Jonathan Daniels, Truman would say he had been reminded of [Kansas City, MO, political boss] Tom Pendergast. "Stalin was as near like Tom Pendergast as any man I know."»112

British journalist Mark Frankland's book, The Patriots' Revolution: How Eastern Europe Toppled Communism and Won Its Freedom, was published in 1992. Katyn was mentioned most poignantly in reference to an invitation extended by Poland's last Communist Prime Minister: «. . . The Communists' contribution to the resistance, the Armia Ludowa (People's Army), had been puny by comparison. For many Poles the Communists were usurpers who could never be forgiven, and the bitterness scarcely faded over the years as was shown in early 1989 when Poland's last Communist Prime Minister, Mieczslaw Rakowski, invited a ninety-eight-year-old hero, General Stanislaw Maczek, to return to Poland from exile in Britain to attend ceremonies marking the fiftieth anniversary of the war's outbreak. Maczek and others like him who had fought on the Western side in the war had been pronounced traitors by the post-war Polish Government. The General had been wronged, Rakowski now wrote in his letter, but he himself had always considered Maczek "a paragon of a patriot and a soldier." If he came back he would be greeted "with all due reverence, as a national hero." The old soldier's family declined politely. "What did Rakowski expect? A general fraternisation? It's impossible," was the comment of Jozef Czapski, who as a survivor and then researcher of the long-denied Soviet massacre of Polish officers at Katyn was an authority on truth that is told too late.113

Later in the book, Frankland noted Poles' disappointment in "Gorbachev's avoidance of the matters that interested Poles, above all the Soviet NKVD's massacre of the Polish officer corps at Katyn, . . ." during his July 1988 visit to Poland.114
Still missing was any actual document, signed by Stalin (or Beria), which directly authorized the killings of the Polish officers. It was not until 15 October 1992 that this was discovered. At that time, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took over the office buildings which former Soviet President Gorbachev's "foundation" had been allowed to use after his departure from office. Documents embarrassing to Soviet Communism, including Stalin's 1940 approval of the extermination of "20,000" Polish officers and officials in Soviet internment camps like Katyn, were found.115

Again, Katyn's power as a political weapon was demonstrated: «According to [Russian presidential spokesman Vyacheslav] Kostikov, Mikhail Gorbachev has long known about the real organizers and instigators of the tragedy. Kostikov said that the Sixth Division of the Central Committee archives, which held documents relating to the Katyn tragedy, had become Gorbachev's personal archive. But Gorbachev kept silent and thus helped delude public opinion. Moreover, Kostikov quoted some papers of recent years, including the ordinance of the Soviet President of March 3, 1990, in which he instructed the Procurator General's office and the K.G.B. to continue investigations although he knew where all the archival documents were kept and what was in them.116

A 26 October 1992 Newsweek article amplified the importance of these final revelations about Katyn: «But that was what made the lie about Katyn all the more infuriating: the authorities insisted on it while knowing perfectly well that no one believed them. As Vaclav Havel spelled out in his early dissident essays, the communist system was based on lies that did not have to be believed, so long as people felt compelled to participate in public rituals that affirmed accep-tance of those lies. It is no exaggeration to say that Eastern Europeans liberated themselves once they summoned the courage to proclaim historical truths in public as well as private.117

Concluding, author Andrew Nagorski quoted a Czech emigre's gloomy observation that ultimately everyone lets everything be forgotten. Nagorski, in contrast, quoted a poem by Polish emigre poet, Czeslaw Milosz:
You who wronged a simple man
Bursting into laughter at the crime,
Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
You can kill one, but another is born.
The words are written down, the deed, the date.
It was all there last week--the deed, the date. For Poles and
everyone else who fought against the system of lies, this was the ultimate moral victory.118

As 1992 drew to a close, Katyn continued to make headlines, and finally in Russia itself. The Constitutional Court, judging (among other things) whether or not the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) committed sins so grave as to deny it eligibility for political participation in the new Russian state, was examining the alleged coverup of Katyn by former Soviet Communist President Gorbachev.119

In her January 1993 article, Radio Free Europe analyst Louisa Vinton made a number of observations on the contemporary significance of Katyn: «For Poles, Katyn thus became what Polish President Lech Walesa has called a "test of truth," a measure of Soviet willingness to respect Polish sovereignty. In the years after Mikhail Gorbachev's assumption of power as the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), it became an international litmus test for his policies of glasnost and perestroika. Without an unequivocal admission of Soviet responsibility for Katyn, Gorbachev's efforts to fill in the "blank spots" in the history of relations between the two countries remained little more than hollow declarations.

Gorbachev's eventual acceptance of Soviet responsibility for Katyn--in April 1990--came only after the communist system had collapsed in Poland, and thus after the admission had lost much of its political relevance. Moreover, Gorbachev's was only a partial admission that limited blame to the NKVD. The official admission of the communist party's responsibility had to wait two years.120

Citing the approving signatures of Stalin, Voroshilov, Molotov, and Mikoyan on the first page of the memorandum from Beria which proposed the extermination of the Poles--actually, 25,700 in number--Vinton echoed the Yeltsin government's accusation that the true guilt lay not just with Stalin and his henchman, Beria, but with the Soviet hierarchy and system itself.121 Russian President Boris Yeltsin had accused Communist leader and former President Gorbachev of concealing the memorandum to conceal the responsibility of the CPSU for the Katyn killings.

This accusation seems unfair and overeager. Any Politburo member refusing to sign the memorandum could have confidently expected to have been "liquidated" by Stalin. Katyn was the actual responsibility of Stalin and Beria--the partnership which produced "Stalinism" at its homicidal worst--alone. A more relevant accusation or question might be about whether or not Stalinism itself is an inevitable culmination of Marxist-Leninism.

Vinton drew further analogies to contemporary affairs: «What made the Katyn massacre so horrifying was not simply the total loss of life but what the killings revealed about the nature of Soviet policy toward Poland. The 1940 documents offer further evidence to support the theory that Stalin was, to use contemporary terminology, engaging in a combination of "ethnic cleansing" and "class cleansing." The object of this policy was to dispose physically of an entire elite dedicated to the reemergence of an independent Polish state. . . . Moreover, only the Poles among the 18,632 prisoners of various nationali-ties in Poland's occupied Eastern territories were marked for death.122

As to the history of the Katyn issue and the question of Soviet guilt, Vinton claimed (questionably), "It is important to note that the facts of the case were indisputable as early as 1943; the truth was accessible to anyone willing to contemplate the possibility of Soviet guilt." Vinton then described reports indicating that the NKVD's individual personal files of the Poles exterminated in Spring 1940 were apparently destroyed by the KGB in late 1959 with Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev's permission.123

Vinton asserted that the recently released documents, concerning Katyn, were significant because they portrayed the breakdown of the Katyn coverup and the desperate, defensive political maneuvering of the Gorbachev government. She described a futile Soviet effort to transform Katyn into an "archival"--academic--question, rather than to allow it to continue to grow out of control as an emotionally charged political issue. The Soviet moves were transparent to the Polish people and actually only aggravated Polish outrage.124

While such Polish unrest and impudence would have been ruthlessly suppressed by Stalin--and possibly even by Khrushchev or Brezhnev, at that advanced stage--Vinton noted that "Gorbachev's passive acceptance of Poland's transformation did indeed represent a major departure in Soviet policy."125 She then went on to quote selections from a 6 March 1989 report by Soviet Communist Party International Department chief, Valentin Falin: «The Katyn problem has grown more acute. A majority of Poles is certain that the death of the Polish officers came at the hands of Stalin and Beria and that the crime itself was committed in 1940. . . .126

Also concerned that an emotional issue like Katyn could become a personal threat to the members of the Polish Communist Party, Falin specifically stated, "The problem nonetheless remains. In the event of a further complication of the domestic political situation in Poland, the Katyn problem could become a pretext for settling accounts."127

Vinton also described a 22 March 1989 report co-authored by a special CPSU Central Committee subcommittee on Katyn composed of Falin, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, and KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov. Their joint recommendation was to reconsider the usefulness of the Katyn coverup, in view of the worldwide knowledge of Soviet guilt. As to the importance of the Katyn issue in that spring of 1989, they wrote: «The Katyn topic is now artificially forcing into the background even questions associated with the outbreak of World War II and the German attack on Poland. The subtext of the campaign is obvious--to suggest to the Poles that the Soviet is not better, and perhaps even worse, than the Germany of the time; that it has no less responsibility [than Nazi Germany] for the outbreak of the war and even for the military defeat of the Polish state of the time.»128

The committee members then outlined a schedule of half-truths and semi-revelations to acknowledge indirectly Soviet guilt for Katyn and to slow down the pace and intensity of the issue. These phases went into action in early 1990, so that Gorbachev could acknowledge the basic truth of Katyn on its fiftieth anniversary, in April 1990. However, Vinton then described how in Summer 1992 an information "leak" from members of the Russian Memorial Association (serving as experts in the Russian Constitutional Court's hearings on the CPSU) discovered evidence of Politburo Resolution 144 of 5 March 1940, which was the document that directly sealed the fate of the Polish officers.129

Vinton concluded her article by noting the growing importance of Katyn to the Russian people's own efforts to face a terrible past: «In contrast to his predecessors, Yeltsin had understood that revealing the full truth about the criminal nature of communism [with the example of Katyn] was essential in order to keep moving forward and forestall nostalgia for the past. "The truth about Katyn and the concept of reformed socialism are incompatible," Walesa said.»130

Also published in 1993 was the English translation of a 1991 Russian book by Literaturnaya Gazeta special correspondent Vladimir Abarinov, The Murderers of Katyn. Abarinov's chronicle of the Katyn killings from the perspective of the Soviet NKVD was based on his research of Soviet archives. His book included the sensational allegation that U.S. State Department functionary Alger Hiss was "the Soviet agent" who "lost" Lieutenant Colonel Van Vliet's report.131
In contrast, the memoirs of Reagan Administration Secretary of State, George P. Shultz, published in 1993, include no mention of the significance of Katyn in the breakdown of Soviet control over Poland and Eastern Europe generally. The omission is inexplicable.132

Katyn-related articles continued in the public press with Bernard Levin's 13 April 1993 follow-up article in the Times of London, "Stalin's Authorised Massacre." Levin hammered home the significance of Katyn's reflection of flawed Western institutions: «The British Foreign Office had had sufficient evidence of the truth since 1943, and possessed conclusive proof by 1952. But the traitors there (what, you thought Philby, Burgess and Maclean were the only ones, you dear sweet innocents?) sat tight, and as decade followed decade, and the baton was handed on, the story and the mendacity marched shoulder to shoulder, saying every time: there is insufficient evidence to decide the matter.

True, 25,421 murders are nothing when put beside Stalin's hecatombs, which ran into many millions, but somehow this crime stands out from the rest; it was so cold-blooded and so wicked, and so ghastly were the words used to order the massacre. Some time ago, I told in detail the infinitely shameful story of how both Tory and Labour governments, together with the Church of England, conspired to stifle the truth, and to prevent any commemoration of the 25,421 Poles slaughtered by the communists.

. . . Then, when Gorbachev admitted the truth, claiming that he had just discovered it (he had known it since 1970), the Foreign Office told its most monstrous, final lie, in these words: "We have long called for everyone to be open about this incident. We therefore now welcome the revelations from Moscow." (Yes, they did call the slaughter of 25,421 innocent men "this incident.")133

The subtitle to Levin's article, "History Will Not Believe That Men of Our Century Could Organise Mass Murder in Cold Blood as the Russians Did at Katyn," seems fanciful, considering the many other, graver holocausts of this century.

In that same month, there was an article in Time magazine about the discovery of a North Vietnamese report in Communist Party archives in Moscow, which indicated that more than 600 American POWs had disappeared while in North Vietnamese custody. The similarity to Katyn was noted: «When news of the report's discovery broke last week, several old Vietnam hands, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, said they were impressed with its apparent authenticity. Brzezinski went even further, publicly speculating that the Vietnamese were guilty of a massacre similar to the infamous execution of 4,500 Polish officers by the Soviet secret police in the Katyn Forest in 1940. »134

Finally, there appeared in the 26 August 1993 New York Times a photograph of Russian President Boris Yeltsin kneeling before a Polish priest and kissing the ribbon of the wreath he had lain at the foot of the Katyn Cross in Warsaw. According to the accompanying article, Yeltsin and Polish President Walesa issued a joint statement pledging that the perpetrators of Katyn would be punished and that families of the victims would receive compensation.135

As to any news summary coverage since 1952, only the final, recent developments of the case of Katyn have been covered. In 1988, thirty-five years after the last coverage of Katyn during the Congressional hearings, Facts on File noted the significance of Gorbachev's refusal to acknowledge Katyn during his visit to Poland of that year.136 In 1989, it reported the Polish government's accusation that Stalin was responsible for the crime.137 In 1990, it described the Soviet government's admission and expression of regret for Stalin's massacre of the Poles, and it included the discovery of the second mass grave in a forest outside Kharkov.138

The 1991 volume of Facts on File described the article in the British newspaper Observer about the executioners of Kalinin, the third killing site to be identified.139 In 1992, there was an article about Russian President Yeltsin's release of Stalin's Katyn execution order. Significantly, it was titled "Polish Genocide Orders Revealed."140 Most recently, in 1993, Facts on File described Yeltsin's visit to the Katyn Memorial in Warsaw and his laying of the memorial wreath as "a symbolic gesture of Russian penance."141

In Britain, Keesing's Contemporary Archives also resumed its coverage of Katyn in 1988, with coverage of the Russo-Polish historical commission's treatment of Katyn. In the case of Keesing's, the gap of coverage of Katyn had been forty-five years. The article gave the wrong number of victims at Katyn.

The most controversial matter to be investigated was the massacre at Katyn Forest near the Soviet city of Smolensk, where more than 14,000 [sic] Polish officers were executed and buried in many graves, apparently by their Soviet captors in 1940.142

In 1989, Keesing's reported the Polish government's official accusation of Soviet NKVD guilt and, in 1990, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's acknowledgement of Stalin's responsibility for the executions.143 Ironically, there is no mention of Katyn--not even of the historically important Observer article published in Britain--in Keesing's in 1991. However, the 1992 Keesing's, described Polish President Lech Walesa's visit to the Katyn shrine, while he was in Russia in May, and the October release of the Katyn execution order bearing Stalin's signature.144

The sparseness of coverage of Katyn by these news summaries, Facts on File and Keesing's, in the intervening years typified most Western journalists' general lack of understanding of Katyn and its political and historical significance, until the 1980s when the Polish people themselves would no longer accept the lies about Katyn, and its coverup.

In retrospect, though, special mention should be given to the reporters and editors of The New York Times. While the newspapers of Chicago, Detroit, and other major cities with a large Polish-American population could be expected to publish articles about Katyn periodically, The New York Times has long been the newspaper of national record in America. From 1974 on, it consistently published significant articles about Katyn, in contrast to its rival, The Washington Post.


CHAPTER 3. Katyn as a Postwar Public and Political Issue in the West pp. 40-80

1. "You Cannot Shoot Us All" Time, 28-9.
2. See James William Crowl, Angels in Stalin's Paradise: Western Reporters in Soviet Russia, 1917 to 1937, A Case Study of Louis Fischer and Walter Duranty. Washington DC: University Press of America, 1982.
3. Root, 419-64.
4. Ibid., 459.
5. Ibid., 456-7.
6. Martha Mautner, interview with Louis R. Coatney, 20 May 92.
7. Helena Sikorska, The Dark Side of the Moon, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1947), 226.
8. Ibid., 277-8.
9. Arthur Bliss Lane, I Saw Poland Betrayed: An American Ambassador Reports to the American People, (Belmont MA: Western Islands, 1948), 19.
10. Ibid., 255.
11. Wladyslaw Anders, An Army in Exile: The Story of the Second Polish Corps (London: Macmillan, 1949); and Josef Czapski, The Mystery of Katyn (Bombay: The Indo-Polish Library, 1946).
12. Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, The Rape of Poland, (New York: Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill, 1948), 38.
13. "Polish Tragedy," Time, 25 July 1949, 82.
14. Anders, 85.
15. Ibid., 119-20.
16. Ibid., 140.
17. Ibid., 90, 112-3.
18. Ibid., 118.
19. Joseph Mackiewicz, The Katyn Wood Murders, (London: Hollis & Carter, 1951), 168.
20. Ibid., 56.
21. Ibid., 230-1.
22. Robert Szymczak, "The Unquiet Dead: The Katyn Forest Massacre
as an Issue in American Diplomacy and Politics," Ph.D. diss., (Carnegie-
Mellon University, 1980), 189.
23. Zawodny, 196n.
24. Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. 4, The Hinge of Fate, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950), 759.
25. Ibid., 760.
26. Zawodny, 186.
27. Ibid., 187, 190; and Szymczak, 195, 198.
28. Szymczak, 212.
29. Zawodny, 257-66.
30. This was sooner than February 1952, as planned, because testimony had to be taken hurriedly from Lieutenant Colonel Donald Stewart before he left for duty in Japan; Hearings, Pt. 1, 1.
31. Roman Pucinski, Interview by Louis R. Coatney, 20 March 1992.
32. Van Vliet's lineage was determined from the Register of Graduates and Former Cadets of the United States Military Academy, (West Point NY: Association of Graduates, 1990), 447, and my 6 November 1992 telephone interview of him. Some of General Bissell's comments on the mysterious loss of the 22 May 1945 Van Vliet report are in the Hearings,
Pt. 7, 1850-4.
33. Final Report, 29.
34. Ibid., 29.
35. Ibid., 8.
36. Ibid., 11. Interestingly, though, Van Vliet himself still supports Bissell's 1945 decision to bury the report in the files. According to Van Vliet, the overriding concern of that moment was the million or so troops the Japanese had in Manchuria, with which they could have made an invasion of the Japanese home islands even more prohibitively expensive than they would have been anyway. The Soviet land invasion of Manchuria, to pin these troops down--the Soviets did indeed annihilate the supposedly elite Japanese "Kwantung Army" in a textbook operation of mobile, armored, "deep battle" that would have gladdened purged Red Army Marshal and theoretician M.N. Tukhachevsky--was seen as vital to the success of the impending United Nations seaborne invasion and to the moderation of Allied casualties. John H. Van Vliet, Jr., interview with Louis R. Coatney, 6 November 1992.
37. Hearings, Pt. 7, 2309.
38. Paul, 312.
39. Van Vliet, John H., Jr., Interview by Louis R. Coatney, 6 November 1992.
40. U.S. Congress, House, Select Committee to Conduct an investigation and Study of the Facts, Evidence, and Circumstances of the Katyn Forest Massacre, Final Report, 82d Congress, 2d Session, 1952, House Report No. 2505, 37.
41. Ibid., 12.
42. "Katyn Killings: The Real Story," U.S. News and World Report, 5 December 1952, 22.
43. G.F. Hudson, "Who Is Guilty of the Katyn Massacre? Examination of the Evidence Leaves Little Room for Doubt," The Readers Digest (July 1952): 127-30.
44. "Katyn Forest Massacre: Alleged Statement by Mr. Stalin's Son," Times (London), 21 April 1952, 5b.
45. Facts on File, 1950, 212P. For reasons he still does not understand, Van Vliet had been ordered in 1948 or 1949, while stationed at Fort Lewis, WA, to rewrite his report on Katyn for the Department of the Army. John H. Van Vliet, Jr., interview with Louis R. Coatney, 6 November 1992.
46. Facts on File, 1951, 297F.
47. Facts on File, 1952, 78M, 125L, 135L-M.
48. Ibid., 206J-L.
49. Konrad Syrop, Spring in October: The Story of the Polish Revolution, 1956, (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1957), 4.
50. Ibid., 146.
51. Tom Dooley, Dr. Tom Dooley's Three Great Books: Deliver Us from Evil, The Edge of Tomorrow, The Night They Burned the Mountain (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1970), 17-18.
52. Dooley, 78.
53. Ibid., 33.
54. H.C. Wolfe, Saturday Review of Literature 45, 24 November 1962, 39; as quoted in Book Review Digest, 1963, 1106.
55. Seymour Freidin, The Forgotten People, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1962), 24.
56. United States, Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1943, Volume III, Diplomatic Papers, (Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1963), 372-4.
57. Ibid., 395-6.
58. Alexander Werth, Russia at War: 1941-1945, (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1964), 662.
59. Polish Cultural Foundation, 229-40.
60. Edward Crankshaw in Khrushchev Remembers, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970), 136.
61. Fitzgibbon, 183.
62. "Poland: Death in Katyn Forest," Time, 17 July 1972, 31.
63. Louis Fischer, The Road to Yalta: Soviet Foreign Relations,
1941-1945, (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 76-89.
64. Crowl, op. cit.
65. Peter Deriabin, Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars, (New Rochelle NY: Arlington House, 1972), 218.
66. Crister S. and Stephen A. Garrett, "Death and Politics: The Katyn Forest Massacre and American Foreign Policy," East European Quarterly 20, Winter 1986, 443.
67. "Khatyn," The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, Vol. 28 (New York: Macmillan, 1983), 577b.
68. "Nixon Sees Khatyn, a Soviet Memorial, Not Katyn Forest," Time, 2 July 1974, 3.
69. Joseph O. Douglass, Jr., "Soviet Strategic Deception," in Raymond S. Sleeper, Mesmerized by the Bear: The Soviet Strategy of Deception (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1987), 225-6.
70. "Katyn Memorial: Cover up," The Economist, 25 September 1976, 26-7.
71. "Almost Certainly by Russia," The Economist, 25 September 1976, 26.
72. "Katyn Memorial: Cover up," The Economist, 25 September 1976, 26-7; and Who's Who, 1993: An Annual Biographical Dictionary (New York: St. Martin's, 1993), 353.
73. Timothy Garton Ash, The Polish Revolution: Solidarity, (New York: Scribner's, 1983), 40. In the preface to his 1988 book, The World that FDR Built, Edward Mortimer specifically thanked Ash whose spoken and written views on Germany and Eastern Europe he found to be "immensely illuminating as well as entertaining." Edward Mortimer, The World that FDR Built, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988), ix.
74. John Darnton, "Polish Dissidents Quietly Mourn Wartime Massacre," New York Times, 4 May 1980, 3.
75. Thomas S. Szayna, "Addressing `Blank Spots' in Polish-Soviet Relations," Problems of Communism, November-December 1988, 50.
76. In his 15 April 1990 Sunday Times article, Oxford University Professor of Modern History Norman Stone wrote, regarding the importance of Katyn after its discovery, "Katyn then became the greatest symbol of Polish-Soviet enmity." Norman Stone, "Katyn: The Heart of Stalin's Darkness," Sunday Times [London], 15 April 1990.
77. Michael Checinski, Poland: Communism, Nationalism, Anti-Semitism, (New York: Karz-Cohl Publishing, 1982), 64.
78. Ibid., 65.
79. Ibid., 59n.
80. Jan Krok-Paszkowski, Portrait of Poland: With 78 Color Plates, Photographs by Bruno Barbey (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1982), 166-7.
81. John F. Burns, "Soviet Union Irked by Nordic Visitors: Some in an Antinuclear Group Boycott Rally over Link to World War II Massacre," New York Times, 1 August 1982, 4.
82. James O. Watkins, Jr., "Presbyterian Peacemaking Program," Auke Talk, October 1984, unp.
83. Ralph K. White, Fearful Warriors: A Psychological Profile of U.S.-Soviet Relations, (New York: Free Press, 1984), 230-1.
84. Szayna, 38.
85. Andrew Tarnowski, "Poles Challenge Soviets to Open Files on Katyn Massacre," Washington Times, 23 March 1988.
86. Charles J. Gans, "Polish Official Raises Issue of World War II Massacre," Juneau Empire, 11 March 1988.
87. "For a Polish-Russian Dialogue: An Open Letter," New York Review, 28 April 1988, 60.
88. Tarnowski.
89. Szayna, 53.
90. Ibid., 55.
91. John H. Lauck, Katyn Killings: In the Record, (Clifton NJ: Kingston, 1988).
92. Louis R. Coatney, "Sunday, April 24th: A Day to Remember Katyn," Juneau Empire, 21 April 1988, 5.
93. Steve Cowper, Governor of Alaska, "Executive Proclamation: A Day to Remember Katyn, 1 April 1988" (Juneau AK), [30 April 1988].
94. Alexander Cockburn, "Purging Stalin: Revisionists Are out to Bump up the Number of Stalin's Victims. Alexander Cockburn Recounts the Millions," New Statesman & Society, 3 March 1989, 17.
95. Ibid., 17. While Cockburn may not have the scholarly stature of a D. F. Fleming, or even a Gabriel Kolko, his article was published in a widely read magazine. In fact, he had stirred up enough controversy with his views that, in October 1989, commentator Christopher Hutchins wrote an article appearing in Nation magazine, purporting to defend Cockburn from accusations of Stalinism. Christopher Hutchins, "Minority Report, " Nation, 9 October 1989, 375.
96. William Echikson, "Katyn: The `Blank Space' Soviet Leader Did Not Fill," Christian Science Monitor, 12 July 1988, 7.
97. Robert Pear, "Book on Massacre of Poles Gets U.S. Funding," New York Times, 18 September 1988, 4. During our interview, Dr. Zawodny--who has refrained from direct, partisan involvement in the political issue of Katyn--shared his scholar's sense of sublime satisfaction that his book needed no correction for inaccuracies, whatsoever, for its republication. There was a minor addendum, describing more recent information on the location of the killing sites for the prisoners fromthe other two internment camps, but Zawodny's objective rendering of the facts of Katyn known in 1962 had proven to be definitive. Dr. Janusz K. Zawodny, Interview by Louis R. Coatney, 13 December 1993.
98. "Soviets Blamed in '42 [sic] Massacre," Chicago Tribune, 17 February 1989, 4. The title was in Louisa Vinton's article, "The Katyn Documents: Politics and History," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Report, Vol. 2, No. 4, 27n.
99. "Historian: Soviets behind Massacre," Macomb Journal, 22 August 1989, 11.
100. "Moscow Paper Blames Soviets in 1940 Deaths," New York Times, 23 March 1990, A9.
101. Rudolph Chelminski, "Katyn: Anatomy of a Massacre," Reader's Digest, May 1990, 73.
102. Buck Long and Lawrence V. Cott, "Allen Cranston's Big Lies," The American Spectator, April 1990, 16-8. The political assessment of The American Spectator is made in Magazines for Libraries: Seventh Edition, by Bill and Linda Sternberg Katz, eds., (New Providence NJ: R.R.Bowker, 1992), 859.
103. Paul, 339.
104. Although Stone's article was generally accurate, there were mistakes in detail. For example, he wrongly associated the International Red Cross with the Germans' "international commission." Norman Stone, "Katyn: The Heart of Stalin's Darkness," Sunday Times (London), 15 April 1990.
105. Bernard Levin, "Britain's Complicity in a Chronicle of Shame," Times (London), 23 April 1990, 12.
106. Paul, 219.
107. Ibid., xi.
108. Nicholas Bethell, "The Cold Killers of Kalinin," Observer (London), 6 October 1991, 23.
109. Abarinov, 329.
110. "Pact with Russia Angers Some Poles: Draft Is Silent on Questions of Stalin's Acts during War," New York Times, 22 May 1992, A7.
111. David McCullough, Truman (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 451.
112. Ibid.
113. Mark Frankland, The Patriots' Revolution: How Eastern Europe Toppled Communism and Won Its Freedom (Chicago IL: Ivan R. Dee, 1992), 33.
114. Ibid., 163.
115. Celestine Bohlen, "Russian Files Show Stalin Ordered Massacre of 20,000 Poles in 1940," New York Times, 15 October 1992, 1,6.
116. "Moscow's Statement on Katyn Massacres," 6 October 1991, New York Times, 6.
117. Andrew Nagorski, "At Last, a Victory for Truth: Moscow Admits to an Infamous Massacre," Newsweek, 26 October 1992, 41.
118. Ibid.
119. Tolz, 27-33.
120. Vinton, 19.
121. Ibid., 20.
122. Ibid., 21.
123. Ibid., 24.
124. Ibid., 25-6.
125. Ibid., 26.
126. Ibid., 27.
127. Ibid.
128. Ibid., 28.
129. Ibid., 29.
130. Ibid., 31.
131. Vladimir Abarinov, The Murderers of Katyn (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1993), 287.
132. George P. Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State, (New York: Scribner's, 1993).
133. Bernard Levin, "Stalin's Authorised Massacre: History Will Not Believe That Men of Our Century Could Organise Mass Murder in Cold Blood as the Russians Did at Katyn," Times (London), 13 April 1993, 14.
134. "Said Delores Apodaca Alfond, president of the National Alliance of Families, and organization that has long accused both Washington and Hanoi of duplicity on the POW-MIA issue: `Finally, we've found the smoking gun. It all seems to be falling into place now.'"
Stanley W. Cloud, "Who Was Left Behind? A Newly Discovered Document Fuels the Argument over the Fate of American POWs," Time, 26 April 1993, 39.
135. Jane Perlez, "Yeltsin Seems to Accept Polish Bid for Role in NATO," New York Times, 26 August 1993, 3. As to what may be the longterm political effect of the sight of a Russian president kneeling before a Polish priest, that remains to be seen.
136. Facts on File, 1988, 543B-D2.
137. Facts on File, 1989, 149A-C1.
138. "Poland," Facts on File, 1990, 468D-E2.
139. Facts on File, 1991, 804E-G3.
140. Facts on File, 1992, 883E2.
141. Facts on File 53, No. 2752, 26 August 1993, 636B3.
142. Keesing's, 1988, 35655-6.
143. Keesing's, 1989, 36535; and Keesing's, 1990, 37383-4.
144. Keesing's, 1992, 39155.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Polish Holocaust victims living in poverty

Polish Holocaust victims living in poverty
By Jacky Rowland
Most of them were bore in Poland.
Question from Alex Bajan
where are the $100 billions from Germany and whre are the $10 billions from Switzerland
are all the funds go to buy all the latest and the best military supply and lobby the US Gov?
What about the people
and Poland will not pay more!

Click here to watch Jacky Rowland's report on the
Holocaust survivors' call for more support
The Israeli government has been criticised for "severe shortcomings" in its treatment of elderly holocaust survivors.

A report from the state comptroller's office blamed red tape for preventing effective assistance being provided and urged action to help the ageing victims.

Leopold Rosen measures the world by the pipe that connects him to his oxygen machine. He suffers from several chest complaints dating back to when he hid from the Nazis in a forest in Poland.

The German government pays him compensation every month and he gets a small pension from Israel, but he can barely pay for both his drugs and his food.

"I was born of the 5th of June, 1922. Do I have time to wait for help from the government? There are a lot of people in the same position. They don't have time to wait," he told Al Jazeera.

Holocaust survivors have been trying to embarrass the Israeli government into action.

At a recent event, protesters wore symbols from the Nazi-era to drive home their point.

There are about one quarter of a million Holocaust survivors in Israel and official figures say that one in three of them live below the poverty line.


"We don't need any charity. We need for people to live at the end of their life with some kind of dignity," Colette Avital, the deputy speaker of the Knesset, said.

"Even though the problem was not caused by the state of Israel, the state bears a responsibility to its citizens."

"Even though the problem was not caused by the state of Israel, the state bears a responsibility to its citizens"

Colette Avital, deputy speaker
of the Knesset
In many ways the experience of the Holocaust defines the state of Israel but until now there has never been a specific government allowance for survivors. That is something the government says it has been trying to address.

The first problem they encountered was that there was no real definition of a Holocaust survivor. So ministers commissioned a report which found that the state needed to set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to help them.

"It's clear that if it rolls out over a few years, thousands of them will pass away," Isaac Herzog, Israeli welfare minister, said as the government continued negotiations with survivors' groups over plans to increase welfare payments.

"So our intention as a government, is to award a stipend of the highest level as soon as possible to the oldest echelon, that is 80 years or older," he said.

Holocaust survivors occupy a unique position in Israeli society so the government is under particular pressure to help them before time runs out.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Exile in the USSR (continued)

Exile in the USSR (continued)
Life there was awfully hard. We survived by selling some of the things we had brought from Poland. In summer we children would gather berries in the forest and we would sell them for a little money which helped us pay for our bread and soup. Summer in Siberia was very beautiful. After such a winter it was amazing that anything survived under the snow. There were beautiful flowers. One of my jobs was to gather the water from the Churga and bring it to the house. The path was so slippery and during the winter it was all ice. I don't know how I didn't fall into the icy water below. I do know that God looked after us. He didn't want us to die there.

Tadeusz Dobrostanski was just 6 years old when he was deported with his 36-year-old mother and 10-year-old brother to a settlement named Lobva, north of Svierdlovsk, in Siberia. He remembers it as:

a picturesque place in forest near a beautiful river. All the houses were log cabins. We were given half a house to share with a couple of Polish Jews and their son. Digging between the logs of the cabin, we found little rolls, like cigarette papers, saying that this log cabin was built in 1863 by Polish deportees after the 1863 uprising. Their names were recorded. So we were not the first Poles in that area. Very soon they organised work brigades and Mother was given an axe and hand saw. She became a wood chopper in the forest. This was the first physical work in her life because she was a dramatic actress; her life was theatre so this was very hard for her. Somehow, she managed to establish communication with our family in Lwów. We were allowed to send letters, all written in Russian and heavily censored. Through these letters to our family in Lwów she established a correspondence with my father, who had been deported to Rybinsk near Vologda, along with other Polish army officers. My father was trying very hard to get transferred to us, without success. I still have the original letters.

My brother and I were sent to a Russian school. To us it was a great adventure and we were quite happy. We never appreciated the seriousness of the situation. Very soon I was converted to a young communist singing Russian songs and drawing pictures of red stars and shouting 'long live Father Stalin'. They were brainwashing very young and vulnerable brains. My mother was very patriotic, like most of the mothers, and she wasn't too happy, but this was the only option for us because it was the only school and we had to go to school. But she was very particular to make sure that we also learnt Polish and that we would never forget that we were of Polish nationality.
ile in the USSR (continued)
Young Elizabeth Patro was only 5 years old when her family was deported to Siberia. She recounts how, after her father had been sent away to work:

Mother got orders from the authorities to send me to school before fall. She vehemently objected, claiming that I was too young - but no-one listened. I, on the other hand, could not understand why? After all I knew the Russian alphabet. I could count to a hundred and I even learned how to use the abacus. At last the day arrived. Loaded with a cloth school bag with two long handles, a perfectly planed pine board, two soft pencils, and an abacus I marched to school. At that time paper was very scarce, so the pine boards were used for writing. Almost every day after school it had to be re-planed and re-lined ready for the next day.

I did like school and tried very hard. A few weeks later I was called to the front of the class and the teacher informed me that I had become an atlicznica - an excellent student - and, with a great reverence, she handed me a small red triangular scarf, which was placed on my shoulders to the clapping of the class. In conclusion the class sang a lively Russian song, which I did not know. Greatly excited I ran home that day. Bursting through the door I suddenly stopped, my mother with tears in her eyes slowly pulled off the red scarf and told me very seriously never, never to bring it home again. 'Why?' I wondered. 'Why?'

Like Tadeusz Dobrostanski, Elizabeth Patro recalls the attempts to indoctrinate the children to Stalinist ways.

On 21 December 1940 when we were awaiting Christmas, the order came from the school authorities for all children to appear on time at the communal hall. Once there, we were separated. The Russian children were assembled near the fireplace and the Polish children at the opposite corner. The celebration of Stalin's birthday commenced with the hymn of glory of Russia, then one of the teachers came unexpectedly to the group of Polish children and asked, 'Do you believe in Christmas?' After a long pause some of us answered 'Yes'. 'Do you believe that God whom you call Father was born at Christmas?' No-one moved and no-one spoke. 'If you believe that there is a God', he continued, 'pray to Him for lollies'. 'The ones who do not believe in God can go and join the Russian children near the fire, they know there is no God', he continued. Only two slowly crossed the floor, while we watched.

Kneeling down in the middle of the cold Russian floor, on the cold Russian morning, the small group of cold Polish children prayed as they had never prayed before - and nothing happened. After a long pause the Russian children were asked if they believed in God and they shouted 'No!' They were asked if they believed in Batko Stalin (Father Stalin). 'Yes!' they shouted. 'So ask him for lollies', suggested our teacher. 'Batko Stalin, Batko Stalin give us sweets', they chanted and suddenly lollies fell from the ceiling all over the children near the fire. Somehow that memorable day in Russian school opened my eyes and even then, at six, I did know that I was witnessing a lie. God did exist, I was sure of it, and as for lollies, they did not count.
Helena Lancucka had been a 36-year-old school teacher in East Poland before she and her 4-year-old son Krzysztof were deported to Kazakhstan in April 1940:

The journey from Poland took about eleven days. It was a very heavy winter and they put us down in the fields where the snow was very, very deep. It was nearly twelve o'clock at night and there was a horrible, cold wind.

There were some Polish people who were resettled there before and they already had huts made of mud and grass. Each hut had two rooms where two families lived. There was nothing in the huts, just an earth floor where we put our belongings. In winter time there was no shelter and the snow would come down the chimney. It was hard to get out of that place in winter because the snow was so high. You had to dig your way out and we were mostly women and children so it was hard to cut a tunnel out of the hut. There was no wood for cooking so we had to collect grass to burn. There was hardly any room, especially no room for cooking but there was very little to eat anyway. We had some wheat and we exchanged whatever clothing we had for food but there was very little and there was nowhere to buy that stuff. At first we didn't have to work because we were told that we were brought there to die. But God helped us. It was God's will that we lived.

Wieslawa Paszkiewicz (nèe Wojtasiewicz) was twelve and a half years old when she arrived in Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan. They were then taken by truck another 140 kilometres to a small Kazak kolhoz where they arrived on the first of May holiday. To celebrate the holiday, all the children were given lollies, courtesy of 'Father Stalin'.

Then they dropped us in a paddock and told us to go and look for some room to sleep. Kazaks have small huts made of mud and we had to pay for this because we were supposed to be rich people. They didn't take us for work. We just had to live on what we had. We stayed about nine months like this. When winter came, we had nothing to live on. They brought trucks and took us to another village, a Russian village. This was much better because the Russians had better houses.

By spring time we were told if we wanted bread we had to work. They took all the kids from twelve years of age to the steppe to cut the hay. I had never seen anything like that because I came from a big city, and I was an only child so I was not used to working. I had to learn how to drive the ox on the harvester. For our work we got 400 grams of bread and soup. The soup was cooked from oats, like the horses eat. It was very hard on your throat and when you went to the toilet you could see it wasn't good for you. There might be one piece of fatty meat in the soup but that was it. We worked all day and that was what we were fed all this time. Sometimes we might get some buckwheat. All summer was like this.

Nine-year-old Jerzy Mazak, along with his mother, grandmother and aunt, was also taken to a kolhoz in Kazakhstan.

They told us that we were to assimilate with the locals and the locals were told to take us into their houses, which were basically mud and peat huts. There were about 300 people at that collective farm. Not one single toilet and only one well to draw water. The climate was hot in summer and -50o C in winter. The only fuel available for cooking and warmth was cow dung and straw so all the women collected the dung and made it into bricks of about 40 x 20 x 20 centimetres. They were made in heavy wooden frames, sun dried and stacked for the winter. Later the children were involved in collecting the dung.

We moved in with a Kazak family and soon after, on the 25th of May, Grandmother died of pneumonia. The coffin was taken by bullock and she was buried at the settlement.

There was Mustafa, his wife Minka and their young 7-year-old son. Their house consisted of an entry, on the left a barn with the sheep, and on the right their room, which had mud floors. In the corner of one room they had a big copper which was used for cooking. There were bugs and lice, and one would see women sitting de-licing each other. People survived by exchanging what they had. The locals did not have much, only a cow or some hens. We were here from May 1940 until April 1941.

Zbigniew Stanislaw Patro was 8 years old when he arrived with his family in Kazakhstan.

We were taken to a kolhoz, a collective farm. My grandfather and elder uncle worked on tractors, my younger uncle in the milk processing plant and my mother worked in the fields. My aunt and grandmother did not work. I went to school. All nine of us lived in one room. It was a very primitive existence.

Kazakhstan is very flat and treeless, and as far as one could see there was wheat and cattle pasture. I didn't see a tree all the time I was there. We had big stacks of straw and in winter we used this for fuel. That was the only thing available. There was no wood or coal except for the workshop. To make it warmer in winter we put about half a metre of straw on the floor and when it was crushed it was replaced. The winter was very cold, one night I remember it was -60 o C. One morning we woke up and opened the front door and the doorway was completely blocked by snow. The Russians were used to it, they shovelled the snow into big kettles, melting the snow, and then threw the hot water on the snow, making steps up as they went. I remember only the chimneys were sticking out of the snow when we finally went out that day.

Teresa Sosnowska was deported in one of the last transports to leave Poland for the Soviet Union.

We were sent past the Ural Mountains to Novorsibirsk, not very far from Kazakhstan and were put in a sofhoz. A sofhoz is like a main kolhoz: twelve kolhoz answered to one sofhoz. We were put in the old school building with about eight families from Pinsk, mainly young women with one or two children. My mother was put to work digging holes. There was no reason to dig these holes. They didn't bother about human beings because they knew that they had many more who would come and do the work so it didn't matter how many died. This was not only with Polish people. They did it to their own people as well.

My aunt had not been deported: she volunteered to come with us because she knew Russia. She had been deported there before when she was younger, and she thought my mother would never be able to manage the children as well as the work. Because she was a volunteer, and because she was too old, she didn't have to work, so she stayed at home to look after us. My mother had to work for all of us.

I was eight when we were deported but when that happened I grew up very quickly. I considered myself a grown-up and I became a little thief! There was another building where they stored sunflower seeds and we used to run up the stairs when no-one was watching, eat as much as we could and steal as much as we could hide. We also learnt how to steal cabbages from the carts. By the end of the season we had forty-nine cabbages stored in our little storeroom, as well as sunflower seeds!
Exile in the USSR (continued)
Other experiences of exile
Not all deportees were sent to kolhoz in Siberia or Kazakhstan, and others who were did not stay there long. For example, Janina Pienkos (nèe Huszczo) was only 8 years old when she was exiled, along with her sister, younger brother and 35-year-old mother, to the village of Volodarowka in Kazakhstan.

We were just dumped on the street at night time and that was it. A few families got together and we found a house. Later on people could chose to work on the railways so my mother and a few of her friends went to work there. From that time we lived in railway carriages, very similar to the cattle truck we came from Poland in. The carriages just travelled around Russia. I don't remember where we went. We lived and travelled, and slept on the floor of those carriages near a little fireplace. My sister was very sick. There was a lot of sickness. The adults used to shovel snow from the railway tracks and Mother had a very bad accident. She slipped on the ice, fell and hurt the lower part of her back. I remember there was a lot of blood. Sometimes we stopped in a station and then the train would just go. Whoever had left the carriage was left behind.

When we arrived in Kirghistan they took some people off that train and sent them to work on collective farms. The rest of us, about ten families, they just left at a China tea house. That is when typhus hit our group and everybody in my family except me was sent to hospital. When my mother got out of hospital and found me, the first thing she did was shave my hair because I was covered in lice. She had to carry my brother on her back because he had malaria on top of that. After that everybody was so weak they couldn't work.

Other groups were sent almost directly to the notorious cotton plantations in Kirghistan. Often referred to as 'the Soviet Louisiana' because of the harsh living and working conditions, these became a common destination for many Polish deportees after the amnesty (see Chapter 4), as they were waiting for an opportunity to leave the Soviet Union. Tadeusz Gruszka was barely 3 years old when his family was deported to Kirghistan early in 1940, so his first formative memories are of:

cold and hunger. I was with my whole family: my two brothers, myself, mother and father. I was the youngest. We ended up in Kirghistan at first. My family was working in the cotton fields and then my father, I think, was working in the mills. Before the invasion my father was a ranger in the forestry department. In Kirghistan he had to do whatever work they told him to. I was doing nothing: just waiting for my parents to get home, with my brothers. That's how it was. There was nothing to do for us.

The winters were very heavy and we did not have much firewood. I used to go with my brothers at night to get firewood from the cotton fields. This was illegal so we had to be very careful. I must have been about four and a half or five by that time. There was not very much food. My mother and father used to go to the forest to get green plums off the trees. My mother used to cook these into a vegetarian soup made with some things like leaves that the horses used to eat. We could survive but we didn't see meat for about two years. There was a lot of sickness also, due to malnutrition and the conditions of living. My mother and one of my brothers were sick for a while, but they survived. In that part there were maybe two or three other Polish families. I know in one of them, the father died of some disease. It was very bad.

Other families, such as the Smendas, were taken to the very far east of the USSR, near the Mongolian border.

We were not deported till 22 May 1941, not long before the amnesty. We were one of the last transports with around 700 or 800 people and we were taken to Krasnoyarsk on the River Yenisei, much closer to Manchuria and China than to Europe. From Krasnoyarsk they put us on a barge and we were taken further north and dumped in a place called Sowhobuzin which was a minor administrative centre. It was mainly timber mills. We had been sentenced to 'twenty years duress' - those were the precise words. We were not in jail but we could not move outside the boundaries of that settlement without the approval of the local NKVD and a pass.

Quite surprisingly the major of the NKVD turned out to be a very reasonable human being. There are exceptions everywhere. He helped us and tried to get my mother to work as a school teacher. He insisted that my sister and I go to school rather than work. My sister Teresa won Lenin's Prize for being the best student in her year in that primary school. My mother tore it up, which is a pity because it is part of your life. We were lucky compared to many others. We were not in the Soviet Union for very long. (Janusz Smenda)

The first stage of exile drew to an end as the winter of 1941 closed in. As Królikowski (1983, p.17) observed, 'The death harvest among the Poles was terrifying'. No reliable figures exist but it is estimated that anything between a third and a half of the deported Poles were dead by the time of Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 (Ascherson, 1987, p. 93). By the beginning of 1942, almost one-half of the deportees were dead. An estimated 20 per cent of the people sent to the taiga or the steppes died each year while 30 per cent of those who had been sent to prisons or labour camps had died (Królikowski, 1983, p.17). Scattered in small communities throughout Siberia, Kazakhstan, Kirghistan and Uzbekistan, groups of Polish deportees were desperate to leave before they too succumbed to the same
Chapter 4 - Amnesty and the Journey South
The status of Polish deportees in the Soviet Union began to change when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 in Operation Barbarossa. Ultimately it led to the announcement of an amnesty which released Polish exiles from their labour camps and allowed them to travel south in search of freedom and the Polish army. This was being reformed to help fight the German army which was rapidly advancing into Soviet territory.

The personal recollections of those who survived indicate the relief they felt when news of the amnesty reached them, but also detail the hardship they encountered in their efforts to escape. It was a period characterised by uncertainty, hunger, starvation, disease and daily confrontations with death, both of strangers and loved ones. These experiences have etched themselves into the minds of those who witnessed them and this is most clearly understood when their stories are recounted face to face: the written word sanitises the emotional reality because it cannot capture the pain in many people's voices as they recounted memories which, long ago, have been put behind them.

Each individual's story was an odyssey in its own right for, even within families, experiences varied as family members were frequently separated en route. Even where families managed to stay together, both experiences and perceptions of the journey varied according to the age of the story teller, although there were many common themes and a remarkable consistency between stories. There was a marked reluctance to dwell on some of the more disturbing events of the journey and many participants requested that the tape be turned off while they recounted events they thought no-one would believe. Many cried in the course of recollections they had told few, if any, people.

Over fifty years later, the joy of being told of the amnesty remains clear in the memories of all the Polish exiles. Halina Juszczyk described it as 'a miracle for us. Suddenly we found that we were free, but where could we go from Siberia?' Zdzislawa Wasylkowska explained how the people in her camp were gathered together and told that 'a terrible thing had happened. But we were really happy that there was a war because we thought that now something might happen for us'. While the German-Soviet war may have raised the hopes of Polish deportees who had relatives able to join the Polish army, for others it meant an immediate escalation in hardship. Women who had already endured so much in trying to care for their children, often without menfolk, found themselves having to call even more on reserves of strength, reserves which had already been stretched to the limits. This part of their journey often subjected them to more physical endurance, more sickness and more death.

Many Polish women were taken for compulsory work building railways. As Helena Lancucka said, without elaboration, 'It was very heavy work, moving sand for the tracks'. For other families, scattered in isolated kolhozes where little work had been available to them, war simply meant that the intermittent food parcels which had arrived from relatives in Poland could no longer get through to them. Urszula Paszkowska recalled how conditions deteriorated for them in Kazakhstan for this reason. Although her family was given a small garden plot in which they planted potatoes, her grandfather did not survive until the summer of 1942, when the family were finally rescued from the kolhoz by a relative.

Hopes that war would lead to a change for Polish deportees proved to be well founded. Under pressure from Britain, diplomatic relations between the London-based Polish government in exile and Stalin were resumed within a month of Operation Barbarossa. This was to be no easy coalition. The Polish government in exile found itself in alliance with a neighbour who still claimed an enormous part of their territory and who had, less than two years before, launched an undeclared war on their nation. The British and the Americans requested that Poland and the Soviet Union put the allied war effort first and deal with the issue of the frontier at a later date.

On 30 July 1941, a Polish-Soviet treaty was signed in London arranging for the formation of a Polish army on Soviet soil and declaring an 'amnesty' to all Polish citizens living in camps and prisons in the Soviet Union. As Królikowski (1983, p. 26) observed, 'A strange amnesty indeed when there had been no crime! We suspected that this word was meant to be Moscow's way of deluding the West, to camouflage the outrage that had been committed'.

The estimated quarter of a million Polish troops who had been 'interned' in the Soviet Union had been largely forgotten by the West. After their first dramatic appearance on centre stage at the beginning of the war they had fallen into a no-man's-land because, technically, they were not prisoners of war as the Soviet Union had never declared war on Poland. By the time of the Soviet-Polish agreement in July 1941, Stalin needed all the help he could get, and from August 1941 Polish officers were allowed to scour the USSR collecting their countrymen for the army. In the process, they contacted many of the Polish families who had been 'resettled' throughout the USSR.

Królikowski (1983, p. 30) describes how news of the amnesty reached many Poles indirectly, often by accident, and maintains that many impediments were placed in the way of those seeking identification papers which would give them the freedom to travel south. Thus, 'slowly and reluctantly, the gates of the Siberian and Asian camps swung open, and hundreds and thousands of Poles - soldiers, women, officials, priests and even orphaned children - began to make their way towards centres where the new Polish army was being gathered. Many had already died; many were not released' (Ascherson, 1987, p. 119).
Moving South
For those who had survived deportation and exile to this time, the next task was how to escape the encroaching winter and make the dangerous journey south. Their destinations were defined primarily by an 'instinct for self-preservation' which impelled them to leave the cold of the north and head south to the warmer regions of Central Asia where, rumour had it, the Polish army was gathering (Królikowski, 1983, p. 40). Teresa Sosnowska made the point that deportees were given permission to travel in the Soviet Union only if they could prove that they had a relative in the Polish army:

not everybody could be freed because not everybody had the means. We were only able to go because our cousins, three young people between eighteen and twenty-three, were strong and healthy and had some money. They paid our fare down south and we travelled together, south to Uzbekistan. Although the amnesty was in August, we were in that sofhos till October or November 1941. It was snowing when we left.

It is not easy to give a summary account of this great exodus. Królikowski (1983, pp. 41-2) describes how Poles, merging to form a 'great human stream', came from areas as far apart as Arkhangel'sk and Vladivostok. The first flood of Polish refugees moved 'like a swollen river blindly rushing ahead' (Królikowski 1983, p. 42) with no information about where they might settle or what they might expect. Many who came from the east moved along the edge of the Mongolian uplands, travelling towards Alma-Ata in south-east Kazakhstan. A few lucky groups managed to reach the Polish embassy in Kuybyshev by travelling along the Volga River. Most found their movements controlled by the NKVD which directed many train transports of Polish civilians towards the poorest regions of Turkestan, near the Aral Sea. Thousands of other Poles made it further south to the republics of Uzbekistan and Kirghistan. The whole region was plagued by endemic infectious diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and malaria.

The scale and horror of these journeys is clear from every account. Królikowski (1983, p. 30) summarised it ironically but effectively by noting that 'freedom often seemed harder than imprisonment'. The situation was further confused by the concurrent relocation of thousands of Soviet citizens from the war zones of the west to the southern republics.

As several participants noted, you had to see the conditions of travel to believe them. Irena Makowiecka, whose 16-year-old brother had died in Siberia, observed that people could only travel with the greatest difficulty: 'It was a nightmare, much worse than getting to Russia. Out of the thirty or forty Polish families who had been taken to our camp in Siberia, only eight families left. There were eight women with about sixteen children in our group and we did it by ourselves, and had to pay for our trip too.'

Some of the older participants in this project preferred to give only a brief account of how they left the Soviet Union. This may have been influenced by difficulties discussing these events in English. For example, Helena Lancucka, now in her nineties, recalled the episode in these words:

While we were working on the train line the Germans were getting close to Moscow. Stalin was afraid and he sent for our General Anders, who had been in a Russian prison, to tell him that he would free the Poles if he organised a Polish army to fight with the Russians opposite Germany. Anders said he would organise it, but only if the Polish army fought under British command. Stalin had to let us go from Russia. After that many Polish prisoners travelled around Russia looking for their families and that is how we heard about the Polish army. So we went to Dzhalal-Abad, in the Kirghiz Republic, where our army was. I was asked to organise a school for the Polish children and that was how I managed to leave Russia with my son.

Similarly, Maria Szuster-Nowak, now in her late eighties, conducted her interviews in a mixture of English and Polish which her daughter translated on the spot. Maria remembered her feelings about the amnesty and journey south clearly:

They told us we were free and could go where we liked but they didn't give us any means of transport. Some men made a raft so we could travel by river to the nearest train station. We all said, 'Never mind if we go down. We'll be finished but we must try to get away from this place'. And so we left on a raft. We lived off bread we had dried and put in bags for the journey. We would boil some water and dunk the dried bread in the water to soften it. That is how we fed ourselves and the children until we got to a place in the south where the Russian people were growing cotton. We worked there for a while until we got news that the Polish army was forming. Then we went by train to the place where the Polish army had a special post for all these people. I was very sick by then but they put me on the floor in the hospital tent because there were no more beds. The government fed the children when I was in hospital. After I recovered we were taken down south to Tehràn.

Stanislawa Jutrzenka-Trzebiatowska (Adamska) went into rather more detail:

We had no choice of where to go, we just went where they took us. All of us women were taken to a place near a railway. There I suddenly saw a soldier in a Polish uniform, with a Polish emblem. We knew little of what was happening as we had been so isolated so I ran to ask him information; it almost seemed to me that it was my husband. I asked, 'Do you know other officers, someone named Adamski?' He told me that the soldiers who were taken to Rustov had disappeared. I sought out my friend Tokarzewska, she was the daughter of General Tokarzewski's brother, who came from Poland. He told us where to stay so I went with her and her daughter. The road was so muddy and thick. We stayed in this place for a few weeks and from there we were sent to the Aral Sea, near the Syr-Darya River, which means the river of life. Here we were put on a barge to Nukus, south of the Aral Sea.

The journey took three weeks and it was very cold. To go to the toilet people had to stand on the edge of the barge. There was plenty of ice and many children slipped off into the river and were lost. From Nukus it was 100 kilometres to Uzbekistan. Many people were taken there by camels but my daughter and I went by bullock cart with another woman and her daughter. Here we worked the land which was very fertile. We grew djugara, a grain you had to grind. One day this other woman came shouting, 'They have come to take us home!' Her husband had found her. I was crying, frightened and praying because without his help I would have had to stay there. He said, 'You will come too as my wife's sister. At the moment they are not looking at documents'. He was not an officer but he had a position with some soldiers under him. I paid him by giving him my husband's boots. This is how I left Russia.

People who were younger at the time tended to give clear accounts about the mechanics of leaving their isolated settlements. For example, Boguslaw Trella, recalled how his family managed to leave:

My grand-aunt's son, who was in the army, came looking for us. He managed to get us out via Sharhrezyabz where his army unit was gathering. From the north to the south we travelled with my grandmother, my mother, my sister and myself and three other ladies that 'Uncle' managed to call cousins. The Polish government's relations with the USSR were deteriorating by this time so it had become very difficult to get the papers to get out. Uncle was a 'clever' fellow and he paid a lot of bribes to officials to get us out. At one station he bribed a woman supervisor of a carriage in a train carrying wounded Russian soldiers with an ounce of tobacco. She put us in the carriage and held back some of the soldiers.

Due to the remote locations in which many deportees had seen out the first years of the war, most had no immediate access to rail. Those brave enough, or desperate enough, set out by sledge, river craft or on foot, and there were many variations on the theme of the resourcefulness which the prospect of freedom fostered among the Polish exiles.

There was nothing organised when the amnesty came. People had to get to the Polish army as best they could, using their initiative. The mothers deserve all the credit for managing to get us out. It was very cold and we travelled by horse-drawn sleigh to the nearest station. When we got there everyone was pushing and shoving to get onto the train. Even to this day I am amazed when I think of the hardships Mother had to overcome to get my brother and myself to the southern regions where the army units were located. We owe our lives to her. (Ryszard Pawlowski)

Halina Juszczyk described her mother's situation when news of the June amnesty reached their settlement. The commandant of their camp informed them that they were free people who could now go where they liked and, six weeks before Christmas 1941, a transport was organised to take Polish women and children to the nearest station. The women had to work until the day before the transport left if they were to be allowed their ration of bread.

On the very last day Mother and Aunty went to work in the forest and about one o'clock we saw a sledge coming back from the forest with my aunty. She had broken a leg in two places. Just imagine the anguish of my mother! There she was, by herself with a family of four children and now Aunty, who had helped us survive, had a broken leg. What to do? Mother wanted very much to go with people she knew could help us on the journey but she decided we would wait until Aunty was better. Six weeks later-on Christmas Day 1941 - we left Churga settlement because the Commandant said it was our last chance to leave. Aunty's plaster was taken off but her leg was in a wood splint and she couldn't walk. There were only three sleighs leaving: Aunty was on one with my little brother and sister but my mother, older sister Krystyna and myself had to walk because we were older. I was nine and Krystyna was twelve. We had to walk about 30 kilometres in the snow through the night. Sometimes I would cheat a little and sit on the back of the sleigh but when the driver saw me he hit me. My shoes were in tatters and I had to rub my feet with snow to restore the circulation so I wouldn't lose my toes through frostbite.
Travelling by Train
Once the deportees had made it to a railway line, their troubles were far from over. Trains were redirected without notice, or failed to stop at certain stations and several people recalled a practice of detaching the last few carriages from the train, leaving the passengers isolated and without resources. Every participant had recollections of the uncertainty of train travel in wartime USSR. Boguslaw Trella explained:

If you were unable to obtain a ticket, or a permit for further train travel, you were stuck at the place where you found yourself. Your chances of reaching Polish centres in the south were small, and when Polish-Soviet relations worsened, you could find yourself in the same situation as before the amnesty.

Mietka Gruszka was not quite 5 years old by the time of the amnesty and her first memories include fears associated with train travel, of people being left behind, and stories about people whose legs were cut off because they fell under trains.

I remember things that were very emotional, or things that made a big impression. I can still hear the sound of those train whistles at night when we were standing at huge stations with miles and miles of tracks, and trains coming and going. I remember looking out of the window seeing the billows of smoke from the train engines and people rushing out of the train at the stations to see who was going to be first to grab hot water or anything that was available to buy. Also- it seems a strange thing - but I remember being put out of the little window with my seat out to go to the toilet. I was so afraid that I would fall out.

Bogdan Harbuz was 8 years old when his family left the kolhoz near Pawlodar in Kazakhstan to head south. He describes his memories of this period as 'pictures that come into my mind.' He recalled being 'packed like sardines' in cattle trucks, waiting for trains, sleeping on cold marble floors, catching a train only to be ordered off a few stations further on, and left to their own devices because the army had requisitioned the transport.

I was just a little boy, and on one of those trains an elderly gentleman asked me to sit on his lap. I sat on his lap and fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning that gentleman was dead. They took him by his feet and hands and threw him onto the platform and the train went on. At one of the stations, Mother went to find out where and how and when the next train was going and to try to get us tickets. One of my sisters went to get hot water and the other went to see if she could buy, steal or swap things for food. I was left guarding the bundles of our possessions and a big suitcase on the platform and a man came, pushed me away, grabbed the suitcase and ran. We saw some terrible things as a result of war.

Another common tale was that of being left behind when trains moved on without warning. Halina Juszczyk remembered her experience of this vividly:

It was after my younger brother and sister had died and mother was in great despair. She just sat there and didn't speak for a few days. Stations in Russia had great big boilers where you could get hot water but the trains usually stopped far away from the station. It was very hard to get on and off the train because there was a huge gap. We children jumped off but we couldn't jump back. I jumped out of the train and ran to get some water and I was almost back when the train started. There were steps in between the carriages and I was lucky to jump on one of these steps where I sat for hours, cuddled into the frozen corpse of a dead man so the wind wouldn't blow directly onto me. I was freezing but I wasn't afraid at all. I was afraid of living people but I was not afraid of the corpse. I knew I must sit there until the train stopped and then I must run to our wagon. As soon as the train stopped, I ran to the wagons at the front. Somebody opened the door and dragged me inside. My mother was crying. I had lost the little water bucket and was half-frozen myself, but all I wanted was to get back to the family.
Family Separation
Many families risked being separated in the hope of saving a member left behind. Some families were fortunate enough to be reunited within a relatively short time. For example, at the age of 14, Regina Tabaczynska was separated from her parents when her mother was left behind at a station while searching for food. Regina's father left her in the care of another Polish family while he went in search of his wife.

For well over a month I was on my own and I was sick. We went to Bukhara in Uzbekhistan and were sent to various kolhozes. After a few months, quite unexpectedly, my parents came. They were swelling with hunger. I was very sick, but I wasn't in that state. I wasn't starving. It was a miracle that they found me in all that chaos of the war because they couldn't find any trace of our transport until they began travelling with some Russian military men. One of them knew that the transport was sent to Bukhara. He even knew that I was on that train because people there were asking about my parents. So they went to Bukhara and there they met somebody from our transport who told them which camp I was in and with whom I was staying.

The Sosnowski family were separated at different times in this way. Kazimierz Sosnowski was 13 years old when he, his mother and two elder brothers left their labour camp in September 1941 because they were close to the battle lines.

I was left behind the train three times. One time it took me half a day to catch up. The next time, I got off the train to beg for some food and was left behind. I was trying to find where our transport had gone to and I was directed to a certain place. When I got there they wouldn't allow me to leave. They brought another six children from our transport and took us to a Russian orphanage. We made a big fuss. We didn't want to go to the orphanage; we wanted to join the Polish army. After a night-long argument they gave us breakfast and walked us to the station. One of the girl's mothers was waiting at the station and she took us to our train which was about seven kilometres from where we were. Then the third time it took me three days to catch up by catching different trains which were travelling faster. I don't know why our train was so slow. We finished in the Uzbekistan town of Bukhara. It took us three and a half months to reach the destination. It should have taken six weeks at the most, but that was the Soviet Union.

On Christmas Eve 1941, the three Sosnowski boys were sent to work on a kolhoz fifteen kilometres from Bukhara, where they could get food only by selling their few remaining possessions. By the middle of January 1942, they escaped to Bukhara, where they survived by begging for food at the town's cafes. After splitting up to look for food, the three Sosnowski boys managed to hitch a ride, illegally, on a train carrying Polish soldiers to Guzar. The eldest brother was old enough to register with the army and so left his two younger brothers at Karsi. In February, the second brother contracted typhoid fever, from which he died. At 13 years of age, Kazimierz Sosnowski was left on his own, like thousands of other Polish children, so he joined the cadets. Once under the care of the Polish army, he was sent to their rudimentary schools, fed and rested until August, when the cadets were railed to Krasnovodsk, marched five kilometres in the searing heat to the port and then shipped overnight to Pahlavi, where he met up briefly with his mother.

When Maria Sosnowska was separated from her sons, she was left with nothing but the canvas shoes and jacket she was wearing, and the meagre ration of bread she had managed to get from a Polish relief agency. She chased the train for two weeks, right down to the Chinese border and described searching up and down every train she came across. She travelled on foot, in the snow, still in canvas shoes, with only a piece of lepioshka, flat, unleavened bread, to sustain her through the journey.

I left at sunrise. As I was walking, the sole of my shoe came away so I had to walk barefoot until I came to a workshop where I hoped I might find some string or wire to tie my shoes up. The workshop was stripped bare and deserted, except for the caretaker, a Polish deportee of Jewish faith. He had a scarf around his neck which he took off to bind my shoe. That is how I got to Dzhalal-Abad before the sun went down. When I saw the Polish flags flying, I fell on my knees and kissed the ground over which the Polish colours were flying. There was a Polish priest running a relief centre for people like me. It wasn't much but they tried their best and advised me to leave that kolhoz and join the army before Easter, so I did and I finally left that part of the world with the army in August 1942.

In Pahlavi Maria found her youngest son in the cadets and from him she learned that her middle son had died. Maria was sent on to Tehràn with the promise that her youngest son would join her there. However, she was only in Tehràn three days before being sent to Ahvaz. Already ill with hepatitis and trachoma, there was nothing she could do except try to regain her strength before being sent to Karachi, where she launched an unsuccessful search for her eldest son. In February 1944 she was sent to Africa, to Makindu Camp in Kenya and then Tengeru Camp in Tanganyika where she was reunited with her youngest son Kazimierz in May 1944. In November, she received news from the Polish army that her eldest son had died in March 1941 in Guzar, soon after he had left his younger brothers.

Boy soldiers (junaks) 10 to 15 years of age, USSR, 1942
(Courtesy of Tadeusz Dobrostanski)

As is clear from the Sosnowskis' story, there was little assistance to be gained en route in the USSR and thousands perished on the way from starvation or disease. Those who survived travelled, stopped, slept on the stations or in parks, and tried to get food. The hot water available at most railway stations was about the only thing people could rely on. Aleksandra Wisniewska (nèe Rewaj), a child of 11 by the time the amnesty was declared, considered that for her the journey south was 'when all the trauma started. People were dying like flies from sickness and thirst. There was no regard for human beings. You only thought about yourself. Human beings are selfish in a way, especially when it is a matter of survival'. Her elder sister, Zdzislawa Wasylkowska, explained how her family lost all their identification papers on the journey south:

A friend of ours took all our papers to get bread for us-without the papers they wouldn't give you bread. This man missed the train on purpose. He just ran away leaving his wife and daughter in the carriage with us. We found out later that he had talked to the NKVD against my father, and that is why my father was arrested in Arkhangel'sk district. It was very hard after that and we were dreadfully hungry. We had to beg for bread or steal whenever we could. There were no washing facilities. There were lice everywhere and so many dead children. I saw many people thrown out from the train. It took us another month to get to Dzhalal-Abad, close to the Afghanistan border, but they did not want to take us. We moved on to Guzar where my mother and sister became sick with typhus.

Soon after that, the Rewaj family were separated, placed in different communal homes organised by the Polish relief agencies or in hospitals where 'body after body' gave way to starvation and disease. Zdzislawa Wasylkowska joined the Junaks, an 'army school' for Polish young people aged between 12 and 17 and it was in this way that she finally left the Soviet Union. Her mother and sister also survived, although she was not reunited with them until reaching Tehràn. Her father succumbed to typhus on 15 April 1942:

That was the only day I didn't visit him. It was miles across the city, and I had been there everyday. I sold the few things that we had left so I had some money which l used to buy an egg. I had to search all around to find a little firewood so I could cook it before I took it to him. The day before he died he said that he was dying but I thought he was confused. I came the next day and I was given his death certificate. I don't know where my father is buried. In the hospital they just loaded body after body on to a cart. They couldn't care less and I didn't have time to worry about it. The main thing was my life. I felt my father's death when I got to Africa but not at the time. When you are in a situation like that you don't have the same feelings that you have in real life. You think differently altogether.