Saturday, February 02, 2013
1943: Germans unearth one of the mass graves at Katyn.
The best current estimate is that 22,000 Polish soldiers in captivity were executed in Katyn Forest in 1940 by Russian forces.
Since the Poles were executed one by one, all with a bullet to the back of the head, it took weeks for the Russian occupiers to complete the killings. Prior to the executions, the Poles had been required to dig their own mass graves.
Stalin had never expected the graves to be discovered. The massacre had occurred only twelve miles from the Russian border, and Stalin had anticipated that Russia would be able permanently to control the territory in question—and thus be in position forever to conceal the horrific events of Katyn. The Soviet government was shocked when, in 1943, evidence of the massacre was released to the world—and began a long-term policy of issuing sharp denials.
For the next 47 years, Russia publicly contended that it had not been the perpetrator of The Katyn Massacre. It was only in 1990 that Russia at long last admitted its culpability.
British and American wartime documents released within the last two years establish that neither Churchill nor Roosevelt believed Stalin’s vehement denials that Russia had had any involvement in the slaughter.