WWII Massacre: Memos Show US Cover-Up of Stalinís Katyn Slaughter
The US has
long held in its possession verified documentation proving the
1940 Katyn forest massacre of several thousand Polish POWs was
committed by the Soviet Union. Why did Washington conceal it:
to cover-up for its wartime ally Josef Stalin.
Press has seen newly declassified documents illuminating the Katyn
Massacre, which are being released and put online by the US National
Archives on Monday.
1,000 papers include encrypted messages from American Prisoners
Of War (POWs) kept in German captivity during the World War II.
B. Stewart and Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet Jr. were among a group
of American and British POWs taken to witness a grisly 1943 scene
at a clearing surrounded by pine trees: mass graves tightly
packed with thousands of partly mummified corpses in well-tailored
Polish officers uniform.
the corpses' advanced state of decay, the US officers
said the killings took place much earlier in the war presumably
before the Soviets lost control of the territory in 1941.
They also saw
Polish letters, diaries, identification tags, news clippings and
other objects none dating later than the spring of 1940
pulled from the graves. The most damning evidence indicating the
time of the tragedy and the country responsible for it was the relatively
good state of the men's boots and clothing: the state of the mens
uniforms showed that had not likely lived long after being captured.
papers now prove that the US officers informed their country of
the concealed murder scene and the evidences some months after
their 1943 visit.
military intelligence unit tasked with coordinating ultra-secret
communications and intelligence gathering missions with POWs sent
a coded request to Van Vliet asking him "to state his opinion
of Katyn." The papers state "it is also understood Col.
Van Vliet & Capt. Stewart replied."
who spoke with the Associated Press called it the most dramatic
revelation as it shows that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
and his administration were getting information early on from
credible US sources illustrating it was the Soviet Union behind
further supports suspicion that regardless of the verified knowledge,
Roosevelt chose not to make it public and wrangle with Josef Stalin,
an ally whom the Americans were counting on to defeat Germany
and Japan during World War II.
also contain other illuminating evidence. One of the most important
messages that landed on Roosevelts desk was an extensive
and detailed report from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Written by the British ambassador to the Polish government-in-exile
in London, Owen O'Malley, the document pointed to Soviet complicity
in the Katyn massacre.
is now available a good deal of negative evidence," AP quotes
O'Malley as writing, "the cumulative effect of which is to
throw serious doubt on Russian disclaimers of responsibility for
In the early
years after the war, a special US Congressional committee was
set up to investigate Katyn. In a final report released in 1952,
it declared there was no doubt of Soviet guilt. It found that
Roosevelt's administration suppressed public knowledge of
the crime, but said it was out of military necessity. It
also recommended the government bring charges against the Soviet
Union at an international tribunal.
conclusions, the White House maintained its silence on Katyn.
has always denied it involvement in the Katyn shooting, claiming
that Nazis staged the killing in 1941 after taking control of
was a sore spot between Russia and Poland until Soviet responsibility
and the subsequent cover-up were officially acknowledged and condemned
in 1990.Moscow then officially apologized for the tragedy.
conducted by the Prosecutor General's Office of the Soviet Union
and the Russian Federation was able to confirm the deaths of Polish
citizens, blaming Stalin and other Soviet officials for having
personally ordered the massacre.
In 2010 the
Russian side began to release documents related to the Katyn mass
execution to the Polish authorities.
documents also show the United States maintained that it could
not conclusively determine guilt until Russias admission
say the new material helps to flesh out the story of what
the US knew and when.
with permission from Russia