Today concluding my translation/summary of this piece by Dmitry Bavyrin. Where we left off: The Soviet government suddenly found itself the proud owner of half a million Polacks, and didn’t know what to do with them. As we saw, the vast majority of these unfortunate Poles (up to 96%) survived. But what about the 20,000 or so that the Soviet government considered to be dangerous and unredeemable? According to Bavyrin (and, well just about every other historian on the planet, other than Grover Furr), they decided to shoot them.
Execution of this bloody deed was assigned to Stalin’s henchperson, Lavrenty Beria; along with Beria’s #1, Vsevolod Merkulov, whose biography we examined yesterday. Knowing that international public opinion would not approve (as these POW’s were all Polish citizens, not Soviet citizens), the perps needed to be crafty in the commission of their crime. Hence, they decided to frame the Nazis! The actual shooters used German bullets, as they carried out the shootings, not just the ones in the Katyń forest, but also in the NKVD camps.
A year went by, the fragile “peace” with Germany was coming to an end, and war was on the horizon. The very same Beria was now proposing to organize Polish auxiliary units within the Red Army; this would consist of Polish soldiers, and they would be goaded into liberating Poland from the Nazis, in the event of a German invasion of the Soviet Union. Beria and Merkulov visited a bunch of Polish officers who were still being kept in a camp near Moscow. It wasn’t hard to convince them to sign on to the plan. But then the thorny issue started to poke its head out: Where were all the other Polish officers? What happened to them? People started asking about all these specialists, it would be really good to recruit them… Ulp! In a private conversation, confirmed by multiple witnesses, Merkulov confessed: “Ooops, I think we made a mistake back there…” No shit…
When asked to explain, with his back against the wall, Merkulov tried to wiggle his way out of it, claiming that the Polish officers that he had in mind, had been turned over the Nazis. [And, in fact, this was the case with a couple of thousand Poles, at least.] The Germans denied having them. And the relatives of these Poles were actively trying to locate them. And suddenly started noticing, that nobody had heard from them (they used to get letters) since the spring of 1940. This despite the fact, that the Soviet government was always pretty good about letting prisoners send letters.
And then, the catastrophe: The Nazi invasion of the USSR. One of the side effects was that the Soviet Union recognized the Polish Government in Exile, in London. This recognition only served to increase the flurry of questions regarding the missing Poles. The government in exile demanded the return of all their citizens, and an accounting for all the missing and dead.
In response, the Soviet government started to get very crafty and deny the obvious, and even make up stories. Because Stalin had to deal, not only with an ineffectual Polish-exile government, but, more importantly, with its main protector, London! At a meeting of one of the delegations in the Kremlin, when asked by the Brits where the Polish officers were, Stalin looked these guys straight in the eye, and told them they had run off to Manchuria!
Goebbels Has A Field Day
In 1942, ordinary residents of the Smolensk area, now occupied by the Germans, discovered the corpses of around 5,000 Polish officers buried in the Katyń forest. The residents reported this to the local authorities, i.e., the Nazis. This was like a precious gift to Nazi propaganda mastermind Goebbels. Who saw a way to split up the always-shaky alliance between the Soviet government and the Polish government-in-exile.
The Nazis didn’t care a fig about dead Poles — they were busy killing so many themselves — until around the time of the Stalingrad battle. Hitler was so worried at this point that he decided to resort to High Politics and Misdemeanors. He charged his people to incite a quarrel between the USSR and its allies.
To this end, the Nazi administration of the Smolensk area went all out collecting specialists and forensic scientists and so on, to conduct an elaborate investigation of the Katyń corpses. The Nazis were so confident that they became unusually (for Nazis) transparent, inviting anybody with a camera to come and photograph the crime scene.
The criminal case was conducted under the leadership of Goebbels himself. Goebbels directed his propaganda towards two goals: (1) to cause a quarrel between the Allies; and (2) to show the world what would happen to people if the Bolsheviks won the war.
Bavyrin: “Goebbelsian propaganda” is usually a synonym for “lying”, but in this case it was actually the truth. Propaganda is simply a method that seeks a certain result. It can use lies, when needed; but it works better when it uses the truth. In this sense, the Katyń shootings were a perfect use of propaganda on behalf of the Third Reich.
And, in conclusion, it wasn’t just the Soviet Union which tried to cover up this huge “mistake”, Stalin also had some help from Churchill, and even the United States.
During the last year of the war, it was no secret to anybody, what had actually happened in Katyń, nor who dunnit. However, there wasn’t much will to really pursue the matter. The Polish government-in-exile was bankrupt, and the Anglo-Saxons relied heavily on the Soviet Union, which was doing most of the heavy lifting in the war against Hitler. As a result, Cynicism was the rule of the day. Polish diplomat Jan Karski complained bitterly about British dismissal of his pretensions; and at times the Brits even started sounding like Soviet apologists, as in: “Mr Karski, the Red Army are busy saving humanity, and you’re whining and criticizing Stalin! How dare you, you Polish swine!” [yalensis: I have to assume that Karski is exagerrating, no?] Karski was horrified and disappointed that the Brits were pretending to adopt the Stalin line that the Nazis did Katyń. Most of all, they didn’t want him rocking the boat at that delicate time.
When the war ended, the Soviet Union continued the cynical cover-up, and even brought the Katyń matter up in the Nuremberg Trials, as one of the charges against the Nazis. But the Nuremberg Tribunal saw through this B.S. and even acquitted the Nazis of this particular crime, when the Nazi attorneys mounted a vigorous defense. Not long before this, Nuremberg Deputy Soviet Prosecutor Nikolai Zorya decided that he didn’t want to go through with this farce. He was too honorable for that. He requested an audience back in Moscow to plead his case that the Katyń matter did not have the required “evidentiary” basis to prosecute in Nuremberg. Before he was able to get to Moscow, Zorya was found dead in his hotel room. Suspicious death! Somebody probably decided to shut him up.
On the other hand, what else could Stalin do at this point? The Soviet Union was trapped in its own lie, and there was no way out. To admit the truth would be to place in jeopardy the entire post-war Security system. Not to mention threaten the vital post-war alliance between the Soviet Union and Poland, the very foundation of the Warsaw Pact and security system. The very rock upon which stood the post-war security and safety of the USSR and all its millions of citizens.
[yalensis: Well, if it was me, and I was the Soviet leader, and I knew it was a lie, I’d go ahead and tell the truth, with explanations, of course… I don’t see why this would have to shake the international security system, what’s a few thousand dead soldiers, in the scheme of things, and given all the other untold millions of dead? And, realistically, what could Poland do about it anyhow, at that time?]
And it has to be noted that, in the immediate postwar years, even the United States and Great Britain decided to keep their mouths shut about this case, not wishing to rock the post-war boat too much. Bavyrin posits that the world leaders made a deal personally with Stalin, probably at one of their summits, to just let him have this one lie. For the sake of world peace. And, let’s face it, those other world leaders were sociopaths too.
Bavyrin concludes his piece with this paragraph:
In conclusion: Even if one is able to close one’s eyes on the issue of morality, the Katyń shooting turned out to be a mistake. A mistake that one cannot justify even on the grounds of RealPolitik. Barely months passed before the NKVD troops were fighting shoulder to shoulder alongside that very same “reactionary Polish element” from which they felt they needed to excise themselves, not all that long ago, in the NKVD camps. Not only that, but the Soviet government was forced to spend enormous amounts of energy trying to cover up this crime; and yet the Truth still came out eventually, striking a huge blow at the USSR’s reputation; and to this very day continues to poison our relations with Poland.