Re: Katyn -- 1952 US Congressional findings
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David Thompson wrote:
In 1952 a Select Committee of the US Congress issued a final report: "The Katyn Forest Massacre," House Report No. 2505, 82nd Congress, 2nd Session (December 22. 1952). Here is the section of that report which deals with the massacre, in the first of 2 parts:
• * * * * * •
The committee's first public hearing was held in Washington on October 11, 1951. It heard the testimony of Lt. Col. Donald B. Stewart, a United States Army officer, who as a German prisoner of' war, was taken by the Germans to view the mass graves at Katyn in May 1943. (See pt. I of the committee's published hearings.)
The next set of hearings was held in Washington on February 4, 5, 6, and 7, 1952. Seven witnesses appeared and rendered an account of their knowledge relating to the Katyn massacre. (See pt. II of the published hearings.)
In Chicago on March 13, 14, 1952, eight other witnesses were heard by this committee. (See pt. III of the published hearings.)
In London on April 16, 17, 18, and 19, 1952, 29 witnesses were heard. (See pt. IV of the published hearings.)
In Frankfurt, Germany, on April 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26, 1952, 27 witnesses were heard. (See pt. V of the published hearings.)
In Berlin, Germany, on April 25, a subcommittee heard testimony from members of the German Commission on Human Rights and received approximately 100 depositions which had been taken by that organization.
In Naples, Italy, on April 27, testimony of Dr. Palmieri was heard.
In Washington on June 3 and 4, 1952, testimony was heard from five witnesses.
In the course of the hearings held by this committee to date, testimony has been taken from a total of 81 witnesses; 183 exhibits have been studied and made part of the record, and more than 100 depositions were taken from witnesses who could not appear at the hearings. In addition, the committee staff has questioned more than 200 other individuals who offered to appear as witnesses but whose information was mostly of a corroborating nature.
LETTERS OF INVITATION
The committee unanimously agreed that in order to make this a full, fair, and impartial investigation, it would be willing to hear any individual, organization, or government having possessions of factual evidence or information pertaining to the Katyn massacre.
Letters of invitation were forwarded to the Government of the U.S.S.R., the Polish Government in Warsaw, the Polish Government-in-Exile in London, and the German Federal Republic. The
German Federal Republic and the Polish Government-in-Exile accepted the invitation.
The Soviet Government rejected the invitation of the committee with the statement that a Special Soviet Commission (composed of all Russian citizens) had thoroughly investigated the Katyn massacre in January 1944 and consequently there was no need for re-opening the issue. However, the Soviet Government did attach to their reply the special commission's report and it later was made part of the permanent record of this committee. (See pp. 223 through 247, pt. III of the published hearings.)
The Polish Government in Warsaw transmitted to the American Embassy a note likewise rejecting the committee's invitation, part of which is quoted as follows:
"The attitude of the Polish Government re the activities of this committee was expressed in the declaration of the Polish Government published on March 1, 1952, and the Polish Government does not intend to return to this matter again."
The entire note may be found on page 504 of part IV of the public hearings of this committee.
The attitude of the Polish Government as quoted above was revealed by the vicious propaganda blast issued in the form of a press release and circulated to all newspaper correspondents by the Polish Embassy in Washington. The chairman of the committee published this press release in its entirety in the Congressional Record on March 11, 1952, and called upon the Secretary of State to take prompt action relative to the propaganda activities of the Polish Embassy here in Washington. The Secretary of State on March 20, 1952, delivered a stern reprimand to the Polish Embassy regarding such press releases and greatly restricted its activities in this field.
HOUSE RESOLUTION 539
The first two series of hearings definitely established in the minds of this committee that it would be impossible to conduct a thorough investigation without obtaining the testimony of available witnesses in Europe. Consequently, the committee went before the House of Representatives on March 11, 1952, with House Resolution 539 which amended the original, House Resolution 390, and requested permission to take testimony from individuals and governments abroad. The House approved House Resolution 539 on March 11, 1952.
This committee unanimously agrees that evidence dealing with the first phase of its investigation proves conclusively and irrevocably the Soviet NKVD (Peoples' Commissariat of Internal Affairs) committed the massacre of Polish Army officers in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, Russia, not later than the spring of 1940.
This committee further concludes that the Soviets had plotted this criminal extermination of Poland's Intellectual leadership as early as the fall of 1939—shortly after Russia's treacherous invasion of the Polish nation's borders. There can be no doubt this massacre was a calculated plot to eliminate all Polish leaders who sub-
sequently would have opposed the Soviet's plans for communizing Poland.
In the course of its investigation, this committee has observed a striking similarity between what happened to the Polish officers in Katyn and the events now taking place in Korea. We unanimously agree that this committee would be remiss in its duty to the American people and the free people of the world if it failed to point out that the identical evasions by the Soviets to the Polish Government while the Poles were searching for their 15,000 missing officers in 1941, appear again in the delaying tactics now being used by the Communists in Korea.
This committee feels that Katyn may well have been a blueprint for Korea. Just as the Soviets failed for almost 2 years to account for the missing Polish officers, so to this day the Communists in Korea have failed to account for many thousands of captured United Nations soldiers. Among these are 8,000 Americans whom General Ridgway described as atrocity victims in his report to the United Nations last July, and the estimated 60,000 South Koreans still unaccounted for.
The Communists' delaying tactics in the Korean peace talks today may be from the same cloth as the nebulous replies received from the Soviets by the Poles in 1941-42 while they searched for their missing officers.
II. STATEMENT OF HISTORICAL FACTS
On September 1, 1930, Germany declared war on Poland and consequently World War II began.
On September 13, 1939 the Polish Ambassador in Moscow was handed a note by the Soviet Government which stated that the Soviet Government was no longer in a position to remain neutral and that the Soviet Government had given orders to the supreme commander of the Red army to close the frontier of the Polish Republic. This note was without provocation and terminated the Soviet-Polish Treaty of Nonaggression.
Then on September 17, 1939, the Soviets crossed the Polish border and, under the guise of coming to the Poles' assistance, occupied the eastern part of Poland.
On September 28, 1939, the German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty (commonly known as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) was announced to the world. Under this treaty Poland was divided—with Germany taking 72,806 miles, population 22 million; the U.S.S.R. taking 77,020 square miles, population 13 million.
From September 1939 through March 1940 a deliberate well-organized plan was executed by the NKVD to separate Polish Army officers and intellectual leaders from the mass of other Polish prisoners and the placing of those selected in three camps in Soviet Russia, namely, Kozielsk, Starobielsk, and Ostashkov.
On June 22, 1941, the Germans attacked the U.S.S.R. On July 30, 1941, the U.S.S.R. and Poland signed an agreement renewing diplomatic relations. Under this agreement, all Poles interned in Soviet prison camps within the territory of the U.S.S.R. were to be released by the Soviets. The same agreement provided for the forma-
tion of a Polish Army whose commander was to be appointed by the Polish Government-in-Exile in London.
On August 14, 1941, the Polish-U.S.S.R. military pact was signed. On August 16, 1941, General Anders began his fruitless search for the missing Polish officers.
On April 13, 1943, the Germans announced the discovery of the mass graves at Katyn Forest in Russia containing bodies of Polish Army officers, intelligentsia, Government officials, and clergy.
On April 15, 1943, the Polish Government-in-Exile in London appealed to the International Committees of the Red Cross to send a delegation to investigate on the spot the true state of affairs at the Katyn Forest, near Smolensk, Russia.
On April 25, 1943, V. M. Molotov, the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. sent a note to Mr. T. Romer, Polish Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. Ambassador Romer refused to accept the note.
On April 26, 1943, the U.S.S.R. severed diplomatic relations with Poland because Poland had approached the International Committee of the Red Cross to conduct a neutral investigation.
On April 30, 1943, a medical commission of leading representatives of medical jurisprudence and criminology from 12 European universities and neutral countries, selected by the Germans, signed a protocol establishing these Polish officers were massacred in the spring of 1940.
On January 24, 1944, the Soviet Special Commission To Investigate the Katyn Massacre released its own report stating that the Nazi Germans had committed the atrocity after the Poles fell captive to the Nazis in July-August 1941.
On July 1 and 2, 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg heard testimony from both German and Russian witnesses concerning the Katyn massacre. No decision as to guilt was announced by the tribunal.
III. TESTIMONY OF SURVIVORS OF THE THREE CAMPS
Thousands of Poles were taken prisoners by the Soviet after its invasion of Poland in September 1939. These prisoners were grouped in some hundred-odd camps in Poland's eastern territories and the western provinces of the Soviet territory. However, three of these camps were especially designated for the confinement of Polish officers, lawyers, doctors, clergy, professionals, government officials, and intellectual leaders—most of whom were reserve officers in the Polish Army.
These camps and the number of Polish prisoners interned in each are as follows: Kobielsk, located east of Smolensk, imprisoned 5,000; Starobielsk, near Kharkov, held 4,000 Polish officers; and Ostashkov, near Kalinin, where 6,400 Poles were interned.
The committee heard testimony from 26 Polish officers who had originally been interned in one of these three camps. Their testimony revealed that
(1) A deliberate effort has been made by the Soviets to segregate the officers into groups. The majority of higher ranking Polish military officers were interned along with hundreds of Polish doctors—all army reservists—in Kozielsk. Noncommissioned officers
and Poland's peacetime political and educational leaders—also reservists—were interned in Starobielsk. And, finally, Poland's frontier guards, home police, and public officials of eastern Poland were interned in Ostashkov. Religious leaders were interned in all three camps.
(2) There is general agreement that these special prisoners in the three camps totaled about 15,400. They comprised the elite of the Polish military and civilian leaders.
(3) This NKVD action was a planned, well-conceived, and highly organized separation of the Polish intelligentsia to pick out potential leaders of Poland after the war.
(4) These were not ordinary prisoner-of-war camps, but installations heavily guarded by the select NKVD, as contrasted to ordinary Soviet prisoner-of-war camps which were guarded by ordinary Russian soldiers.
(5) These prisoners remained at the three camps from September-October 1939, until April-May 1940.
INTERROGATION OF PRISONERS
(6) This 6 months' internment was meant as a period of political investigation and observation. Each prisoner was examined exhaustively and in each instance several times—mostly during the night, with some interviews lasting several hours.
(a) The NKVD placed great emphasis on the social origin, political views, party adherences, professional qualifications and in particular—if the prisoner had participated in Poland's successful defeat of the Bolsheviks in 1920.
(b) During the long and exhausting interrogations, discussions were held on the subject of war, its reasons and probable outcome, the attitude of the prisoner toward Russia and particularly his knowledge of the Soviet Union.
(7) It is obvious to the committee from this line of questioning and from the conclusions of the witnesses that the Soviets were trying to determine if any of these prisoners eventually could be converted to communism. Evidence clearly established that from this entire group of Poles interned at the three camps, only six subsequently joined Soviet forces.
(8) About March 1940, the interrogations were completed and it was announced almost simultaneously in Kozielsk, Ostashkov, and Starobielsk the camps would shortly be liquidated. Rumors began to circulate in the camp that the prisoners would be sent home. According to testimony presented to this committee by witnesses both in America and Europe, the camp authorities, when speaking to the prisoners, encouraged these rumors.
During evacuation of the 3 camps, groups of 200 to 300 Poles left each day, sometimes every second day and sometimes every third day.
(9) The evacuation continued in the three camps until the middle of May 1940. From among this entire group of 15,400 Poles interned in the 3 camps only 400 survived. These were taken to another NKVD camp at Pavlishev-Bor where the Soviets continued questioning them in hopes of converting them to communism.
(a) Apart from the small group of 400 Poles who survived (listed in exhibit 2, part IV of the published hearings), the world has never heard from a single other Pole who was interned in these camps between the period September-October 1939, and April-May 1940.
(b) The Polish Government-in-exile and relatives who subsequently fled from Communist Poland have tirelessly searched for these missing men for 12 years. In not a single instance have any of these prisoners been heard from or seen since May 1940, except the 4,143 identified in the mass graves of Katyn.
(c) In October of 1940, when the Soviets began to fear an assault by the Nazis, certain members of this group of 400 survivors were asked to form a staff for a proposed Polish Army in Russia. It was apparent this group did not have enough qualified men for such a staff. One witness testified in London that he asked the Soviet Minister of State Security Mirkulow why the Russians didn't select this staff from among those Poles evacuated from Kozielsk, Starobielsk, and Ostashkov. Mirkulow replied: "We have committed an error. These men are not available. We will give you others." This statement was made by Mirkulow 6 months after the Russians evacuated the three camps. (See p. 553, vol. IV of the published hearings.)
RUSS ADMIT THEIR "BLUNDER"
(d) This same witness related similar statements made by Soviet Minister Beria of the NKVD to Lieutenant Colonel Berling, one of the six Poles who turned traitor and joined the Soviet forces in 1941. Berling likewise asked Beria in October of 1940, why the Soviets didn't enlist the officers from these camps in the proposed Polish Army. Beria replied: "We have committed a great blunder. We have made a great mistake." (See p. 554, vol. IV of the published hearings.)
(10) All correspondence from those interned in the three camps ended May 1940.
(a) While interned at Pavlishev-Bor, the 400 survivors continued to correspond with their families in Poland and those testifying before this committee said they received countless inquiries regarding the fate of their compatriots who were previously interned in the three camps.
(b) A Special Family Bureau established by the Poles in Russia following the rapprochement of 1941 received thousands of inquiries regarding the missing officers. In not a single instant was it reported that any news of these officers was received in Poland subsequent to May 1940.
(11) Only those Poles interned at Kozielsk were massacred in the Katyn Forest.
(a) Numerous survivors of the Kozielsk camp testified they saw inscriptions written by those who departed earlier: "We are being unloaded in Gniezdovo." This rail station is 12 miles west of Smolensk and 2 miles from Katyn Forest.
(b) One of the survivors from Kozielsk who was actually taken to Gniezdovo and then spared in the last moment said he saw NKVD guards with fixed bayonets guarding the Poles while they were
being removed from the train into lorries which had backed up to the train.
"The prisoners were asked to go into the autobus, and not stopping on the ground, but just to go from the railroad wagon immediately into the back door of the autobus. The autobus was of quite an ordinary type. The windows were painted, or rather smeared with some white color—I imagine it was just smeared with lime—and the autobus took about 30 people. Then it went away, and returned after more or less half an hour—I cannot tell exactly, because I had no watch with me, but about half an hour—take the next party and this proceeded for some hours. * * * (See p. 606, vol. IV of the published hearings)"
It is significant to note that this witness mentions that the NKVD had guarded the Polish officers being removed from the train and that the NKVD were armed with fixed bayonets. Testimony presented to this committee by doctors who had performed autopsies on the bodies of the massacred Poles found in Katyn, was conclusive that besides the bullet hole shown in the head which was the cause of death of most of these men, there were some who showed signs of bayoneting. Dr. Miloslavich testified in Chicago that the bayonet wounds were of the four-bladed type which are used exclusively by the Soviets.
(c) The last entry in the diary found on the massacred body of Maj. Adam Solski in the Katyn Forest, dated April 8, 1940, stated:
"From 12 noon we are standing at Smolensk on a railway siding.
"April 9, 1940, a few minutes before 5 in the morning reveille in the prison cars and preparation for departure. * * * We are to go somewhere by car, and what then?
"April 9, 1940, 5 a.m.
"April 9, 1940. From the very dawn, the day started somewhat peculiarly. Departure by prison van in little cells (terrible); they brought us somewhere into the woods—some kind of summer resort. Here a detailed search. They took the watch, on which time was 6:30 a.m. (8:30), asked me for my wedding ring, which they took, roubles, my main belt and pocket knife."
The diary ends there. It is included in the transcript of the committee's hearing in London as exhibit 28 (pp. 726 to 731, pt. IV). This diary was brought to the committee's attention by General Bor-Komorowski, who testified in London, and by other witnesses previously heard in Washington and Chicago.
(12) Prisoners evacuated from Starobielsk testified they also saw inscriptions in train prison cars but in this case they stated: "We are being removed or unloaded in Kharkov." (See p. 525, pt. IV.)
(13) The trail of prisoners evacuated from Ostashkov ends at Wiasma.
(a) Zygmunt Luszczynski, of London, testified that after he was evacuated from Ostashkov on April 24, 1940, his train composed of seven cars, stopped at Wiasma. He stated:
"We were taken from Ostashkov to Wiasma, where we remained at the siding for 3 days; then six of the seven cars were disconnected and they went in some other direction, and the car in which I was present was taken to Babynino (enroute to Pavlishev Bor). (See p. 614, part N.)"
(b) Other testimony strongly supports the theory that the Ostashkov prisoners were drowned in the White Sea.
(c) Adam Moszynski, himself a former prisoner at Starobielsk, author of the most authentic list of names of prisoners interned in the three camps (see exhibit 5A in the appendix of part III) testified:
"I am sure there are three Katyns in the world. One Katyn is in the Katyn Forest, near Gniezdovo (Smolensk); the second Katyn, of Starobielsk, could be near Kharkov, and the prisoners of Ostashkov, near the White Sea.' *
"To the best of my knowledge, based on considerable research on the subject, the prisoner's in Ostashkov were placed on two very old barges, and when the barges were towed out to sea they were destroyed by Russian artillery fire."
(14) Col. George Grobicki, who had been interned in Kozielsk, testified that:
"Everybody was dressed when leaving the camp just as he was when taken prisoner. Most of the people were in overcoats when they left the camps."
This testimony corroborates to a great extent the testimony of numerous witnesses who had actually been taken to the scene of the graves and who had observed that most of the bodies of the massacred Polish officers were buried either wearing overcoats or winter underwear.
Grobicki's testimony becomes very pertinent when we recall that in the Soviet countercharge accusing the Nazis for this crime, Russian witnesses claim these prisoners were executed by the Germans as early as August of 1941. This committee considers it doubtful the victims would be wearing winter garb in August.
(15) Even more startling was Grobicki's testimony that when he read the list of Poles being removed from the graves in Katyn published by the Germans shortly after the discovery of the graves in 1943, he noted that these bodies were being exhumed in the same group formations as they were when evacuated from Kozielsk. It is difficult to accept the theory that these men who allegedly left Kozielsk in April of 1940, to be assigned to special work units west of Smolensk by the Russians, should remain in the identical groupings until 1941 when they were allegedly murdered by the Germans.
(16) This committee has tried to establish how the 400 who survived from the three camps were selected. General Wolkowicki, testifying in London, said he believed he was spared because prior to Poland's rebirth, following World War I, he was a Russian Naval officer who won distinction in the Russo-Japanese War.
"I was the only officer who opposed the surrender of (this Russian) ship, and that is why their attitude toward me was one of considerable interest. (See p. 645, pt. IV.)"
(A) General Wolkowicki showed this committee an immunization card given to him by the Russians while be was interned at Kozielsk. He testified hundreds of similar cards subsequently were found on the bodies of Poles exhumed in Katyn. (See exhibit 17, pt. IV.)
This committee considers itself fortunate in getting the testimony of the above-mentioned witnesses who constitute only a small group of the 400 survivors taken to Griazovec by the Soviets in June 1940, and who remained there until they were released on July 30, 1941, to join the Polish Army. Their testimony has been instrumental toward helping this committee arrive at a conclusion.
IV. SEARCH FOR THE MISSING POLISH OFFICERS
Having established that approximately 15,400 Polish officers and leaders had been imprisoned in these three major camps and that after June 1940 only 400 were known to be alive, the next major
trend of the committee's evidence deals with the efforts of the Polish Government in Exile in London to find traces of the missing Polish officers from August 1941, through the entire year of 1942. This official Polish search resulted from one of the quirks of history:
Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia had been allies from August 1939, and particularly during the fourth dismemberment of Poland. In mid-June 1941, this unholy totalitarian alliance fell apart when Hilter's legions swept across the Russian boundaries to overwhelm the Russian armies. Within 2 months the Nazis had driven into the Ukraine past the area of Smolensk.
Following the German's attack and their overwhelming military victories, which were driving the Russians into dangerous retreats, the Soviet leaders were temporarily desirous of securing military aid from anywhere and anybody. As part of the Kremlin's negotiating with the British Government, the Soviets recognized the Polish Government in Exile in London.
The Soviets and the Polish Government entered into an agreement in July 1941, whereby all the Polish prisoners in Russia, except acknowledged criminals, were to be granted an amnesty by the Soviets and be transferred to specially designated camps where they would be organized into Polish army divisions under Polish officers. It was expected that this reborn Polish Army would join Russian armies in their fight against the Nazis. As part of this official arrangement, General Wladislaw Anders, who was at that time a prisoner in the Lubianka prison in Moscow, was accepted by the Russians as commanding general of the proposed Polish armed forces.
ANDERS SEES STALIN
When he was released, General Anders immediately sought to collect as his staff officers those men whom he personally knew had been captured by the Soviets. Shortly after the arrangement between the Soviets and the Poles and the appointment of General Anders as Polish commander in chief, small groups of Polish soldiers from Griazovec and other prison camps joined the Anders command. Only 400 of the officers reporting had been numbered among the 15,400 men who had been at Kozielsk, and Ostashkov prior to May 1940. Very few of these men were the staff officers whom Anders knew personally and whom he needed. Where were the other 15,000 Polish leaders? From then until the summer of 1942 when General Anders commenced to move his Polish troops out of Russia into the Middle East he continued his search for these officers. Repeated requests, personal and official, were made to the Russian general staff, to the Russian foreign office, and even to the NKVD, for information about these missing officers.
General Anders in addition to making official representations to the Russian Government authorized one of his officers, Maj. Josef Czapski, to make a search for these officers throughout Soviet prisons. General Anders also secured an interview with Premier Stalin in December 1941.
At this meeting, General Anders accompanied the head of the Polish Government in Exile, General Sikorski, and the Polish Am-
bassador in Moscow, Mr. Kot. Stalin personally was asked about these missing Polish officers. The Soviet Premier insisted he was not detaining them nor did he have them.
General Anders testified in London before this committee:
"We inquired, `Well, where could they have gone?' To this Stalin replied, 'They escaped,' We asked,
`Where could they have escaped?' And Stalin replied, 'To Manchuria.' I said that this was impossible."
Anders had a second meeting with Stalin at the Kremlin in Moscow of the 18th of March 1942. At this meeting with Stalin, Anders presented him with a list of missing Polish officers and told Stalin that none of the officers had as yet reported to the Polish Army.
Stalin replied: "Well, what good would they be to us? Why would we want to be keeping them or retaining them?" At this same meeting Stalin hinted that maybe the Polish officers had fled and become separated when the Germans invaded Russia.
It is noteworthy, however, when a committee member explicitly asked whether any Russian official at any time said that the Polish officers might have become German prisoners, General Anders replied: "Never." Anders testified: "This to us was one of the most disturbing factors because we knew that the Bolsheviks had made very long and lengthy and complete lists of all their prisoners."
General Anders' testimony about his discussions with the highest Soviet officials regarding the missing Polish officers was independently verified by the testimony of Ambassador Stanislaus Kot, the first Polish Ambassador to Moscow under the new arrangement of July 1941.
VISHINSKY AND MOLOTOV QUESTIONED
Testifying in London, Kot said from the 20th of September 1941, until his departure from Moscow in the fall of 1942, he (Kot) made repeated inquires to all levels of Soviet officialdom, to the NKVD, to Vishinsky, to Molotov, and even to Stalin himself, for information regarding these missing Polish officers. The incident of the conference between Kot and Deputy Foreign Minister Vishinsky on October 6, 1940, was characteristic of these meetings.
Kot complained to Vishinsky that only 2,000 Polish officers of an estimated 9,500 whose names were known to the Poles had reappeared among the Polish forces. Kot asked Vishinsky what had happened to the other officers saying:
"We have been making constant effort to find these people. We have searched for these men in the German prison camps in occupied Poland. Every place where they could conceivably have been found."
Kot said that he did not see how thousands of men could disappear. Vishinsky never answered the question but parried it with a confused: "Well, what do you think happened to these men?"
Subsequently, Vishinsky stated: "They must be among the 300,000 Po h nationalists who have already been freed."
When Kot discussed the same questions with Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov, on October 22, 1941, Molotov put him off with the statement: "We will try to do everything possible."
Similarly, during the meeting with Stalin on November 14, 1941, when Kot emphasized the anxiety of the Poles regarding the missing officers, Stalin at first asked: "Are there still some Poles not released?" And stated: "Amnesty knows no exceptions. We released all, even those people who were sent to * * * destroy bridges and kill Soviet people, even those people were released by us."
It is worth noting that Stalin's categorical assertion was made several months after the Germans had overrun the Smolensk area; and still the Soviet leaders gave no indication that they even thought the Polish officers might have been captured by the Germans.
The diplomatic memoranda of the conversations between General Anders and Ambassador Kot with Molotov, Vishinsky, and Stalin are part of the committee's record. They reveal any number of fictitious Soviet reasons why the Polish officers had not been located. Never once did these high Soviet officials, nor did any other Communist official of a high or low echelon, indicate to any of the Poles that those Polish prisoners of war might have been captured by the Germans.
It has been established by the record that the Polish Government in London employed its underground in Poland to check German prisoner-of-war camps to discover if any of these Russian-captured Poles might have been recaptured by the Germans. These efforts, like the negotiations in Russia, ended in negative results.
It was not until the Germans announced the discovery of the Katyn graves on April 13, 1943, that the Soviets first claimed these Polish prisoners had been moved into the Smolensk area in the spring of 1940. This evidence proves that the Soviet Government either was lying to the Poles during 1941 and 1942, when the Kremlin leaders said that they did not know where the prisoners of war might be, or else the Soviets were lying in their 1943 and 1944 reports, when they claimed the Poles had been moved to the Smolensk area in the spring of 1940 and subsequently captured by the Germans in 1941.
ALL LETTERS RETURNED
The committee has testimony from a Special Family Bureau which had been established by the Polish Government in Gangi Gul, Russia, to try to trace the missing Polish officers.
Major General Kaczkowski and Capt. Eugene Lubomirski, Directors of this Family Bureau, testified in London that they personally had examined hundreds, virtually thousands of letters from relatives in Poland, inquiring about these missing officers. In every instance, they testified, each of the letters and postal cards had stated that the last time the families heard from the Polish officers was in April and May of 1940.
These witnesses further testified that they had personally examined hundreds of letters addressed by the families to the prisoners interned in these three camps subsequent to May 1940, all of those letters were returned by the Russian authorities with the inscription that the whereabouts of these Polish officers were unknown.
It is inconceivable that the highly developed bureaucracy of the Soviets would have permitted the NKVD to lose complete trace of
so potent a force as these 15,000 Polish officers after they had left the three camps in the Spring of 1940. (See testimony starting on p. 628, pt. IV.)
All of the foregoing testimony which the committee has heard from Anders, Kot, and Czapski was reported to the American colonel, Henry I. Szymanski, when he was assistant United States military attache at Cairo, Egypt. Szymanski testified that he was assigned in March of 1942 to be United States liaison officer with the Poles in Russia, but that he was never granted a visa to enter Russia.
Szymanski's specific assignment was to ascertain what had happened to the Polish officers in Russia, because the United States considered these Polish officers essential to the Allied war effort. Consequently, Szymanski met with all the high-ranking Polish officer survivors as they came out of Russia during the latter part of 1942 and 1943, and he reported all of the foregoing testimony to the Assistant Chief of Staff for G-2.
During the 22-month effort by the Poles to locate their missing officers, General Anders with his staff had carefully commenced preparing a list of names of those who were interned in the three camps. This list was prepared on the basis of information supplied General Anders by the 400 survivors who were grouped at Griazovec.
During his conference with Stalin in December, General Sikorski personally handed the Russian premier a list bearing more than 3,000 names and again Sikorski was assured that it was Stalin's understanding all of these men had been released.
Testimony heard by this committee proves conclusively that not once during all of these top-level conversations had the Russians either stated or hinted that these missing men might have fallen into German hands.
The committee believes if the Soviets were innocent, there was no reason why they should not have admitted to the Poles that their officers had fallen into German hands. But if they were guilty, they had a cogent reason for not telling such a story. So long as the Soviets insisted they didn't know the whereabouts of the Polish officers, nobody could prove they were dead.
V. DISCOVERY OF GRAVES AT KATYN
The Polish Government's search for the missing officers came to an abrupt end on April 13, 1943, when the following Berlin broadcast by the Germans shocked the world:
"From Smolensk comes news that the native population has revealed to German authorities the spot where in secret mass executions the Bolsheviks murdered 10,000 Polish officers. German authorities made a horrible discovery. They found a pit 28 meters long and 16 meters wide in which, 12 deep, lay, the bodies of 3,000 Polish officers. In full uniform, in some cases shackled, all had wounds from pistol bullets in the back of the neck. Search and discovery of other pits continue."
This German announcement was followed by an intense campaign of Nazi propaganda aimed at the political exploitation of the discovery.
German Foreign Office documents which were captured by the Allies and turned over to the United States and Britain for joint custody were traced by the committee in England. These documents which are included in part V of the public hearings clearly show that Goebbels and other top Nazi officials had given instructions to exploit the propaganda value of this discovery to its fullest.
These documents also show the desperate efforts made by the Nazis to persuade the International Committee of the Red Cross to make an impartial investigation of the shocking discovery.
Hitler himself is quoted as having instructed his Foreign Office to use every means to get an investigation by the International Red Cross. One of the documents states:
"In following up the invitation issued by the German Red Cross to Geneva, that the International Red Cross should take part in the identification of the Russian atrocities against Polish officers, the Fьhrer tonight ordered an actual invitation to be dispatched to Geneva by the German Red Cross. This extra invitation is to be signed by the Duke of Coburg so that the weight of his international name should be used."
The German claim was: The presence of these graves was called to the attention of the Nazis by Russian natives of the area; there was no question that these were Polish officers and that they were executed in the spring of 1940 by the Soviets. The Germans drew this immediate conclusion from an investigation of letters, diaries, and newspapers found on the bodies of the victims and from statements made by Russian natives in the area.
POLES SEEK RED CROSS INVESTIGATION
The Polish Government's immediate reaction was one of shock. In view of its long search for the missing officers, the Polish Government likewise issued an invitation to the International Committee of the Red Cross. After a meeting of the Council of Ministers the Polish Minister of National Defense issued a statement in which he said (see exhibit 30A, p. 748, pt. IV):
"We have become accustomed to the lies of German propaganda and we understand the purpose behind its latest revelations. In view however, of abundant and detailed German information concerning the discovery of the bodies of many thousands of Polish officers near Smolensk and the categorical statement that they were murdered by the Soviet authorities in the spring of 1940, the necessity has arisen that the mass graves discovered should be investigated and the facts alleged verified by a competent international body such as the International Red Cross. The Polish Government has therefore approached this institution with a view of their sending a delegation to the place where the massacre of the Polish prisoners of war is said to have taken place."
The Soviet's immediate reaction was voiced by Molotov when he termed this a discovery of archeological remains. On April 19, 1943, the Soviet newspaper, Pravda, carried a front-page editorial which attacked the Polish Government's request for assistance of the International Red Cross in "investigating something that never happened." A day later, Izvestia carried a reprint of the editorial and said it fully reflects the position of leading Soviet circles. Thus,
even at this late date the Soviets attempted to conceal their hideous crime.
Molotov's first reaction can be understood in the light of the testimony presented before this committee by General Rudolph von Gersdorff, German Intelligence Officer, who was among the first to arrive in the Smolensk area following the German invasion. Discussing the discovery of the graves Von Gersdorff said:
"In the vicinity of Gniezdowo, there were prehistoric Russian cairns, old prehistoric tombs in caves. They were overgrown with shrubs and heavily so. They were actually in that area, so that was the reason why, when the graves of the Polish officers were discovered, we did not call it the murders of Gniezdowo, but to distinguish it from these old prehistoric tombs of Gniezdowo, we called it the murders of Katyn, so as not to get these two things mixed up."
This committee has heard considerable evidence from other sources that the whole area of Katyn had been used by the Bolsheviks as early as 1929 for mass executions.
Only after the Germans had definitely established that the discovery was indeed valid did the Russians present a countercharge which they maintain to this day: the Poles interned in the three camps had been transferred by the Russians to other camps in the vicinity of Smolensk during March and April of 1940 and were taken prisoner by the Germans during the Russian retreat. The Russians flatly accused the Germans of executing "11,000" Polish officers in 1941.
The Polish Red Cross was informed by the International Committee of the Red Cross that a neutral investigation of the Katyn discovery could be made only if all three nations involved participated, namely, Poland, Germany, and Russia.
Russia's formal reaction to the Polish Government's request for a neutral investigation of Katyn by the International Red Cross was the abrupt break of diplomatic relations with the Poles. The Soviets bitterly denounced the Poles for "collaborating with the Nazis."
All subsequent efforts by the British Foreign Office and the American State Department to heal the Russo-Polish breach were met with invectives hurled by the Soviets.
This loud reaction of Soviet injured innocence is construed by this committee as being the resource of a cornered culprit begging the question. There is no question that Russia's retaliatory move severing diplomatic relations with the Poles was motivated primarily to divert attention from the Poles' request for an International Red Cross investigation.