Soviet responsibility for this crime has long been understood by all objective observers. Nazis called international attention to the bodies at Katyn in the last years of the Second World War. The Soviets denied all responsibility and instead blamed the massacre on the Nazis.
The Soviet Union was a close ally of the Nazis during the first years of the Second World War. When Hitler attacked Poland from the west, Stalin attacked Poland, shortly after the German strike, from the east. The two thuggish regimes supported each other’s claim to their respective halves of Poland. Bolsheviks did not merely justify their deeds in Poland, they defended what the Nazis were doing in Poland as well. Izvestia on October 9, 1939, stated, "The government of the Soviet Union and the government of Germany undertook the task of establishing peace and order on the territory of the former Poland and to give to the peoples inhabiting that territory a peaceful existence which would correspond to their national characteristics.”
When Stalin, a few months later, launched an aggressive war against little Finland, the Nazis supported the Soviet position with threats against neighbors of Finland. This was noted at the time by a number of commentators. One observed: “In January 1940 there was a most aggressive press campaign against the Scandinavian countries which left them in no doubt about what would happen if they intervened in favour of Finland.” Neville Chamberlain told the British House of Commons on March 19, 1940: “It was only German threats which terrified Scandinavian countries into withholding the help which might have saved Finland.” Elliston observed the same thing: “It would seem that the Germans absolutely scared the Swedes out of forthright support of Finland when the Finnish-Soviet crisis came.”
The murder of 20,000 Polish officers at Katyn was a drop in the bucket of Polish blood that the Soviets spilt. Moreover, this was widely reported while the Soviets were our “ally” in the Second World War and criticism of Stalin’s horrific empire was considered unpatriotic. Max Eastman, a former communist, disillusioned, wrote a long article in the July 1943 edition of Reader’s Digest entitled “We must face the facts about Russia.” In that article, he noted that Stalin shipped east to “concentration camps in Siberia” between 1.5 million and 2 million innocent Poles. He estimated that about 400,000 of those Poles must already be dead.
Even youth were sent to the Gulag. This is confirmed in the testimonies of Poles from the eastern (Soviet occupied) part of Poland. One girl, Irena, notes in the corrective labor settlement for children: “Our lecturers seemed to think different things at different times. Sometimes the Germans were a great nation, bound to the Soviet Union by sincere friendship, and sometimes they were Fascists who invaded other people’s countries.” After the German invasion of Russia, when Soviet girls accused these Polish girls of being collaborators with the Nazi, Irena notes: “Had we not up until now been accused of disloyalty to the Soviet Government whenever we spoke of the crimes against their German allies?”
Eastman also noted in July 1943 that the number of souls imprisoned in the Gulag was estimated to be 10 million to 15 million, this while Stalin was fighting a war against “German Fascism,” and needed every soldier he could put in a uniform. The duplicity, the malice, the sadism of Soviet rule was very well publicized in periodicals such as Reader’s Digest. Why, then, is anyone surprised to receive confirmation that the Soviets committed their crime at Katyn?
At the same time that Eastman was writing about the duplicity of the Soviets, Polish General Sikorsky, who had asked for an investigation of the Katyn Massacre, died in a mysterious aircraft accident off Gibraltar. Sikorsky was in a position to bring the massacre to the front of Allied political discussions, but his death weakened dramatically the voices that could call attention to Katyn. His adjutant, Joseph Rettinger, did not accompany the General on this deadly flight. Rettinger would later appear, however, as a liaison with the Polish underground and as a intermediary in the founding of what would become the European Union. He was (at least) a Soviet agent and perhaps double or triple agent who also had close ties to the European Union.
Six months ago, on April 10, 2010, another equally mysterious airline crash, which resulted in the death of the President of Poland as well as 95 other Polish political leaders, added more questions about Katyn. Krzysztof Nowak of the Katyn Forest Memorial Committee believes that these two air travel disasters involving important Polish leaders who were asking hard questions about what happened in the Katyn Forests in 1940 were more than just coincidence. “Put the pieces together,” Krzsztof “Kris” Nowak told me. “The higher you rise above this, the more you see the pieces fitting together.” The Polish leaders were traveling to Smolensk on the 70th anniversary of the massacre, and the Soviet-built Tupolev 154 aircraft had just been overhauled in December 2009.
Russian members of the Duma, the national legislature, had debated whether to do more and offer an apology and compensation to the Polish people — but such a move was not adopted. Russian President Medvedev is planning a trip to Poland in a few weeks, and the Russian government's acknowledgement of Stalin's role in the massacre is widely seen as a way of reducing the tension between the two nations.
Victims of communism were no less victims of a holocaust than victims of Nazism. Poles, however, remain — like Lithuanians, Czechs, Ukrainians, and many other peoples of Eastern Europe — victims of a holocaust that is never really mentioned or discussed much. But the vast democide by Marxist totalitarians remains a vital fact of history that is admitted only in tiny concessions like the — shocking! — news that Stalin ordered the murder of 20,000 Polish officers and notables 70 years ago. The real truth of Soviet evil remains 99 percent hidden or ignored.
The truth about Katyn also, people like Krzstof Nowak believe, has not been fully brought to light. When key Polish leaders die in sudden air disasters, when horrific actions by leaders of democracies, such as “Operation Keelhaul,” which not only sent many thousands of Russians, Ukrainians, and other refugees in Allied-occupied Europe back to the Hell of Stalin’s Paradise, and which included Polish soldiers who had never been subjects of the Soviet slave empire and had fought, courageously, against the Nazis — facts that never seem to find their way into textbooks — then the whole story has not yet been told. Seventy years ago, 20,000 brave Polish officers and notables were brutally massacred for the crime of being free men and patriots. History has not yet heard all the evidence of this crime.
Photo of former Polish President Lech Kaczynski, killed in airplane crash: AP Images