It took on a special significance owing to the recent crash of an airplane carrying an official Polish delegation in which 96 delegates perished near Smolensk, now Belarus, formerly territory of the Soviet Union. The delegates were there to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre. Among the victims of the crash were the present President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski; former President of the Polish Republic in Exile, Richard Kaczorowski; and Janusz Kurtyka, one of the chief investigators of the Katyn Massacre from the Institute of the National Remembrance, as well as the Speaker of the Polish Congress, the Vice-Speaker, members of Polish Parliament, several generals, leaders of the Katyn Families Association, and a founder of the Solidarity movement, Anna Walentynowicz.
The Washington commemoration was attended by many dignitaries, including two U.S. Senators, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Russian Ambassador, and Allen Paul, the author of Katyn, Stalin’s Massacre and the Triumph of Truth. It was a whole-day conference that was moderated by the president and executive director of the Kosciuszko Foundation, Alex Storozynski.
The conference itself was especially meaningful in view of the recent efforts made by the current government of the Russian Federation to make as much of the evidence of the massacre accessible to the government of Poland. Conference members reviewed the history and facts behind the murders of approximately 22,000 Polish officers, prisoners of war, and members of the Polish leading elite, by a single shot to the back of each of their heads on orders from the Soviet government in the early spring of 1940. The executions were carried out by high officials of the NKVD-KGB, the Soviet secret police.
Several members of the conference, mainly Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, spoke of the obvious: that this massacre was "hidden" by authorities not only of the Soviet Union, but also by the authorities of the United States and the allies during and well after World War II. It was just few days ago that finally Russian President Dmitry Medvedev publicly admitted that the government of the Soviet Union "lied" to Poland and the world about the Katyn Massacre. It was Soviet Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev who originally revealed the facts about the massacre to Poland's President Lech Walesa in 1990. Later it was Gorbachev who admitted the massacre to Father Zdzislaw Peszkowski, chaplain of the Katyn Families Association at the National Cemetary in Warsaw's Powazki. The U.S. government knew early on about the murders, though they were not brought to the public’s attention. In 1951-1952, the 82nd Congress of the United States investigated the circumstances of the massacre, establishing "beyond a reasonable doubt" that it was committed by the NKVD, the secret police of the Soviet Union. As Brzezinski stated, the tragedy suffered from "historical amnesia" that was "intentional," yet it would be hard to imagine the Holocaust of the Jewish people being hidden for almost 60 years.
Sen. Richard Lugar called for "reconciliation" between Russia and Poland, and Sen. Benjamin Cardin asked that the present government of Russia "apologize" to Poland for the massacre.
However, it is already an established fact that the two nations have been reconciled for some time. And most people in Poland do not blame the massacre on the Russian nation. It was Stalin, Beria, Kaganovich, Kalinin, etc. who signed the order of execution, dated March 5, 1940. None of them were Russian. Also it is an established fact that the "executors" of this order were also not Russian, but high officials of the secret police. Yet, many facts remain "hidden." Only recently, the present authorities of the Russian Federation began to make new information accessible to the Polish authorities.
These efforts, however well intentioned by the participants of both countries, should be carefully examined in view of the fact that during 1940 it was the communist regime of Joseph Stalin and his agents of NKVD-KGB that kept the facts about the massacre secret, and the same regime of Stalin, Beria, Kalinin, Kaganovich, etc. murdered hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Georgians, Chechens, etc. during 1930s and later. Also it should be remembered that the same regime was in power when a similar airplane crash occurred in 1943 killing General Walter Sikorski, when he requested to know the whereabouts of the 15,000 Polish officers known to have "disappeared" in the USSR after it invaded Poland in September 1939 in conjunction with Hitler's Germany. And the present government of the Russian Federation, which is making certain volumes of evidence known about the Katyn Massacre, is under the control of the communist former KGB agent Vladimir Putin.
Also it is at least suspect that the investigation into the airplane crash of Polish dignitaries on April 10, 20l0 is being conducted under the "leadership and authority" of the present government of Vladimir Putin because the present government of Poland is "leaning" to the "Left" and the administration consists of members of the People's Platform (Party) whereas, President Kaczynski and his delegation were members of the opposition party known as Law and Justice (Party).
Krzysztof Nowak, Chairman of the Katyn Massacre Memorial Committee, Inc.
Photo: A Memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey, honoring the victims of the Katyn Massacre