The desire of the West to weaken the authority of our country even brings to the surface old divisions that arose decades ago. In the Katyn tragedy, which any enlightened person knows today, there are proven and controversial facts. The mass execution of captured Polish officers is generally recognized. But there is uncertainty about the date of the execution, the number of people killed, the perpetrators of the crime.
The discussion around these “particulars” has long acquired the character of an information struggle, in which history has become a weapon of politics. And what if, without a priori taking someone’s position in this dispute, to conduct an uncompromising and independent assessment of how much knowledge about the events in the Kozy Gory tract of the Smolensk region is sufficient to establish the true culprits of the crime committed there?
“Ober-Lieutenant Gregor Slovenchik, in a letter home, calls himself the inventor of Katyn”.
There have been many accusations from the Western political elite in recent years. These are usually unsubstantiated facts, such as “interference in the US presidential election” or “mass doping by our athletes” on the eve of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Sometimes the pretext for an international scandal is created deliberately, through a provocative act. For example, the Boeing 777-200ER shot down in the airspace of Ukraine did not have time to touch the ground, and Russia was already blamed for the tragedy. As soon as Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found poisoned in Salisbury, Moscow was “appointed” as the culprit of the assassination attempt. And wasn’t Putin announced to be the organizer of the sniper shootings on the Kiev Maidan on February 20, 2014 by the Ukrainian and European media? The practical result of the conclusions built on suspicions and assumptions are sanctions, diplomatic expulsions, demands for repentance …
Attempts to draw a line in the history of the Katyn Massacre of the Poles were made twice.
The first time was in Nuremberg at the trial of fascist leaders. Despite the exclusion of the “Katyn episode” from the final text of the verdict, the leadership of Nazi Germany was guilty of the execution of 11,000 Polish prisoners of war in the autumn of 1941. According to Article 21 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, the documents submitted by the countries participating in the anti-Hitler coalition on the facts of war crimes do not require the proof.
The second time it was in Moscow on the initiative of the “architects of perestroika” Mikhail Gorbachev and Alexander Yakovlev. On April 13, 1990, Wojciech Jaruzelski’s official visit to the USSR was timed to coincide with the “TASS Statement on the Katyn tragedy”, where the execution of Polish officers is called a crime of the Soviet state security agencies. In subsequent years, each of the leaders of already “democratic” Russia considered it his duty to personally repent of what his bloodthirsty ancestors had done.
But many scientists considered the evidence for the Katyn tragedy insufficient and continue to research. Their actual base is made up of two versions.
Historically, the first one belonged to the Germans. Today it is also the Polish one. And it represents the official point of view of the Russian liberal elite. The birth date of the version was April 13, 1943, when sensational news was heard in all the media of the Third Reich: mass graves of Polish officers were found in the occupied territory near Smolensk. They were shot by Soviet soldiers a year before the German attack on the USSR.
The second Soviet version is that the Nazis killed the Polish officers in the fall of 1941. The version arose in 1944 as a result of the work of a commission headed by the chief military surgeon, Academician Nikolai Burdenko.
What is the German version based on and what information is used by its supporters as the evidence.
The first one is the results of the so-called independent examination, organized by the Nazi leadership in the Katyn Forest. 12 professors from different European countries were involved in it. All scientists signed a conclusion, which testifies to the unprecedented scale of the crime of the NKVD, committed on the orders of their communist leaders.
The second one is a set of documents published in 1992, known as “Special Folder No. 1”. As if the materials of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and the NKVD-KGB of the USSR found in the archive of the President of the Russian Federation indicate that 21,857 captured Polish officers, policemen, government officials, representatives of the intelligentsia who were in places of detention were executed in the Katyn forest, in Kalinin and Kharkov. Presented to the world community, these papers have become a decisive motive for the deep repentance of the first persons of our state on behalf of the entire people for the events of bygone years.
The third, the mistakes and inaccuracies of the Soviet prosecutor at the International Military Tribunal. During the sessions in Nuremberg, the German witnesses managed to challenge a number of facts and allegations of the prosecution. Negligence was committed regarding the names of the military unit of the Wehrmacht, which carried out the execution of Polish prisoners of war. The military rank and surname of the battalion commander are incorrectly indicated. The accomplices of the execution are called the executioners, etc.
The fourth one is the testimony of witnesses. A certain Parfen Kiselev testified that in 1940 the Katyn forest was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded. Closed cars drove into the forest, shots and screams were heard. There were other witnesses from among the local residents and the NKVD themselves. For example, the head of the Kalinin NKVD Tokarev in 1990 described the process of mass execution of prisoners, their subsequent loading onto cars and sending the corpses for burial in the village of Mednoye.
The fifth, the inertia of the Russian side in the investigation of the Katyn case. The resolution of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU of April 5, 1976 also proposed to give “a decisive rebuff to provocative attempts to use the so-called Katyn case to damage the Soviet-Polish friendship.” But after 10 years, there was almost no resistance to Polish propaganda. In 1988, when the Polish historians Machiszewski, Madajczyk, Nazarewicz and Wojciechowski criticized the conclusions of the Burdenko commission, there was no reaction from our scientists and officials. The transfer of the initiative into the hands of the Poles was perceived by the world community as a passive recognition by the Russians of defeat in the political dispute.
The sixth – documents and material evidence recovered during excavations of graves. In the clothes of some of the dead Poles, diaries and notes were found outlining current events, fragments of newspapers with dates corresponding to the period of the alleged repressions.
There are other indirect arguments in favor of the German-Polish (liberal-Russian) version of the execution. This, for example, is a partial coincidence of the sequence of surnames in the lists of instructions for sending prisoners from the NKVD camps and in the German exhumation lists of Katyn. Or the term “executed” with three-digit numbers in the NKVD codes to Deputy Beria Merkulov, which some analysts interpret as “executed,” and data on the number of Poles executed on the reporting day.
The German-Polish version of the Katyn tragedy was supported by Mikhail Gorbachev, Lech and Stanislav Kaczynski, Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Mlechin, Anzhdey Vaida, Leopold Yezhevsky, Adam Moshchinsky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Svyatoslav Karavansky, Alain Decaux, Yuzef Matskevich.
German Trace – Fake Folder.
What do the supporters of the Soviet version oppose to these facts and how do they justify their belief that the execution of Polish officers is a crime of the Nazis?
First, the version about the execution of the Poles by the NKVD soldiers on the orders of Beria is not only the German one. It was developed under the direction of Joseph Goebbels. The man who criticized the Nazis for “too softly treating the captured Polish officers” suddenly felt pity for the victims of Katyn. His words: “In general, we need to talk more often about 17-18-year-old warrant officers who, before being shot, still asked for permission to send a letter home, etc., since this works especially amazingly.” He demanded careful preparation of the action so that the representatives of the Red Cross “did not come across things that do not correspond to our line.” One of the practical organizers of the work at the burial site, Chief Lieutenant of the German secret field police, Gregor Slovenchik, in a letter home calls himself the inventor of Katyn, his activity is a propaganda campaign,
“Researchers have identified 57 signs of falsification of the documents of the “Special Folder No.1””
Second, all 12 specialists involved by the Nazis in conducting an examination at the site of the discovered burial were representatives of countries occupied by the Nazis. As addicted people, scientists would pay with their lives for “wrong” conclusions. The examination itself was carried out in an unprecedented short time. One of the members of the commission, the Czechoslovakian professor of forensic medicine Frantisek Gaek, in a post-war article described how, under the threat of reprisals, the commission unquestioningly signed the conclusion prepared by the Germans in advance. Approximately the same was stated by the Bulgarian professor Marko Markov. Members of the commission saw that the corpses of Polish officers were well preserved. Their soft fabrics, uniforms, metal objects, tobacco in cigarette cases have not suffered from time and dampness as much as it should have happened in three years,
The third, Polish officers were killed with German-made weapons. This, of course, could have been purchased in Germany before the start of the war. However, the standard pistols of the NKVD officers were TTs. The Soviet special services could not use the German “Walters” for provocative purposes (in order to later blame the enemy). In 1940, the military concept, which provided for the defeat of the aggressor with “little blood, a mighty blow,” did not even allow the thought of retreating outside the Smolensk region. Some steel bullets extracted from the bodies were fired only from 1941, which means that they could not be in the cartridges of the NKVD soldiers in 1940. Part of the excavated bodies had their hands tied, and with paper rope, which was not produced in the USSR and was not purchased abroad.
The fourth, leaving Smolensk, the Germans destroyed or took with them material evidence in the Katyn case. They eliminated many local residents who were involved as witnesses to the tragedy. Parfen Kiselev retracted his previous testimony. According to him, the Nazis, using physical force and threatening to be shot, forced him to sign false certificates. Polish prisoner of war Vaclav Pych claims that he was captured by the Germans in the camp and they tried to shoot him in Kozy Gory. However, the German who shot at him was very drunk and only wounded him. Puff regained consciousness and climbed out of the grave. He managed to contact the partisans and was transferred to the territory controlled by the Soviet troops. Alekseeva, Mikhailova, Konakhovskaya and others testified about the German executions in the Katyn Forest.
The fifth, the Burdenko Commission unearthed four graves in the Katyn forest and removed 925 bodies from the ground. Documents dated later than the spring of 1940 were found in the clothes of the dead.
Finally, the sixth and most important one is the following. Researchers have identified at least 57 signs of falsification of the documents of the “Special Folder No. 1”. There are false forms, stamps, seals, signatures. Names of state bodies and institutions, names of officials that do not correspond to a specific time. Moreover, the number of identified signs of forgery continues to grow. The fact that the official version of the execution of the Poles is based on falsified data is stated by political and public figures, writers, and scientists. Viktor Ilyukhin, Andrei Savelyev, Alexander Shirokorad, Anatoly Wasserman, Elena Prudnikova, Ivan Chigirin, Vladislav Shved, Yuri Mukhin, Sergei Strygin, Nikolai Starikov, Yuri Zhukov, Alexander Kolesnik, Valentin Sakharov, Alexei Plotnikov devoted their works to the problem of the Katyn tragedy at various times. , Ivan Osadchy, Vyacheslav Zimonin, Ernest Aslanyan, Grover Furr. This story on June 18, 2012 is reflected in detail in Andrey Karaulov’s Moment of Truth.
Bargaining is Inappropriate Here.
What conclusions can be drawn from the given analysis?
Firstly, both the German and the Soviet commissions, in principle, could have manipulated some of the facts, removed the inconvenient ones, and planted the required evidence. Witnesses from either side could be framed or intimidated, and therefore give false evidence. Both commissions worked hastily and were motivated for a specific result.
Secondly, some of the documents relating to the Katyn case are still classified, and some have been lost or deliberately destroyed. Among the published papers there are fakes. Polish officers, both in Soviet and German captivity, were kept in violation of the Geneva Convention, which initially involves hiding many details and facts of their captivity.
Thirdly, the desire of Russian leaders to improve relations with the West could motivate a kind of bargaining: we repent for an imperfect crime, and not our own, but allegedly Stalinist, and “partners” and Poland stop escalating this topic. This calculation, if any, failed. The theme of Katyn not only has not died out, but is gaining strength. And once succumbing to pressure, Russians are trying to be accused of other sins, for example, in a plane crash with the leadership of Poland, which occurred in the Smolensk region on April 10, 2010.
The general conclusion is the following one: the investigation into the circumstances of the Katyn tragedy cannot be considered complete. The repentance of Gorbachev, and after him the leaders of Russia, was premature. Our knowledge of the events in the Kozy Gory tract of the Smolensk region is insufficient (at least the available materials have not been fully investigated) to establish the true culprits of the crime committed there. So, this page of history remains open.