The Katyn Massacre

Franck Fernandez – translator, interpreter, philologist

They say that the winners write history and this is the case of many fragments of history related to World War II in which France, England and the United States were allies of the Soviet Union and ignored many things. Today, I want to talk about a forest called Katyn, on the outskirts of the Russian city of Smolensk.

At the end of the First World War, Poland regained its independence that it had lost in the 18th century when its territory was divided among Prussia, Russia and Austria, territories to which Germany and the Soviet Union had already adapted as their own.

We also know that World War II began on September 1, 1939 with the invasion of German troops into Poland from the west, but the interests of the alliance with the Soviets always wanted to hide from us that, on September 17, Soviet troops invaded from the east the Polish territories that had not been taken by the Nazis. This was a secret clause in the agreement of the Foreign Ministers of the Soviet Union and Germany, Molotov and Ribbentrop, by which Poland was divided into two halves, almost as they had already been in the 18th century. I do not want to minimize all the horrors committed by the Nazis, but it is necessary to be very clear about those committed by the Soviets. In the area that they occupied, there were great persecutions of the military, high and low rank, Polish intellectuals, doctors, religious and artists, of all notable person considered an enemy of communist ideology.

When the Germans invaded their former ally, the Soviet Union, in 1942 with Operation Barbarossa, they sent slave laborers to create new roads to facilitate their invasion. Thus, large mass graves were discovered in the Katyn Forest. Thousands of Polish bodies were discovered, many of them still with their clothing and personal belongings, which the Germans used as anti-Soviet propaganda. The generic name of Katyn has been wanted to be given to a whole series of other places (prisons and concentration camps) where massacres were also perpetrated against the Poles. The Soviets immediately reacted by saying that the massacres had been perpetrated by the Germans themselves, because the bodies in the mass graves at Katyn had bullets from the German Walther PPK pistol and ammunition found in the bodies also made in Germany. Later it was discovered that these bullets were part of lots that Germany had sold to Estonia between the years 1920 and 1926 and that these had fallen into Soviet hands when invading that country. Although the bullets were German, the bayonet markings on some bodies were from Soviet weapon bayonets, and the ropes with which they had tied their hands behind the victims’ backs were also from the same source.

The Americans and the English people still in the first years after the end of the war bet on the hypothesis of a genocide by the Nazis. However, for the Polish government-in-exile in London, there was never any kind of doubt regarding the real culprits. The truth came to light with Glasnost and, first Gorbachev and then Yeltsin, they released original documents of the time with which undoubtedly confirmed the responsibility of Stalin and his clique. Putin had to come to power to try to hide again the horrors perpetrated by the NKVD, the former Soviet security organization from which the KGB was born, the body in which Putin himself worked as a high-ranking officer.

First, Putin began to say that among Stalin’s documents there were forged documents. He later said that if the weapons were German, the killers had necessarily been the Germans. At the end, faced with such reality and unable to hide the truth further, he said that the murders were perpetrated as revenge for the murders carried out by the Poles in the war that Poland declared to the newborn Soviet Union in 1920 in order to recover all the lands lost in the 18th century still in Soviet hands.

Almost 22,000 bodies are buried in Katyn alone, not only of officers but also of all intellectuals who could resist the new occupants. As these prisoners had been allowed to write to their relatives, the Soviets knew their addresses and 60667 relatives were deported to concentration camps in Kazakhstan, of which 80% were women and children.

Today it is already clear who was responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of Poles in Katyn and other concentration camps and prisons. All the documents show that it was Stalin and his adherents who planned everything. However, this was not only the destination for thousands of Poles. 10% of the population of the three Baltic republics was sent to the gulags in Siberia and the northern Karelian Peninsula, where temperatures never rise above zero degrees. It is a way that this type of regime has to eliminate everyone who can be considered an enemy. After what happened in the Soviet Union, in Cambodia 1 out of 3 Cambodians died in the most horrible ways, worthy of the Middle Ages, at the hands of the Khmers Rouges. In Cambodia, the mere fact of wearing glasses, having hands without calluses or speaking another language were signs of being an enemy of the revolution.

Peoples who do not remember their history are condemned to repeat it.

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