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80 Years Since the Katyń Massacre of Poland's Elite by Soviets

80 Years Since the Katyń Massacre of Poland's Elite by Soviets
The Katyn Massacre Memorial in the crypt of the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland. (Libor Sojka/CTK via AP Images)

By Friday, 10 April 2020 12:01 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As we mark the 80th anniversary of the Katyń massacre, we must remember the facts. The Katyń massacre was the mass murder of 22,000 members of Poland's elite, intelligentsia, jurists, professors, clergy and soldiers alike, by Soviet Russia, at the behest and signed written order of Joseph Stalin.

The victims had been captured by the Soviet secret police, the so-called People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), in the spring of 1940, starting in April and ending in mid-May. Those exterminated included religious leaders, notably Baruch Steinberg, Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army, and Kazimierz Suchcicki, the Roman Catholic Dean of the Polish Army.

The massacre is named after the Katyń Forest, where mass graves were initially uncovered. This atrocity extended into camps scattered regionally. All those detained, including those captive in Kozelsk, Starobelsk and Ostashkov, as well as those held in the western parts of Ukraine and Belarus, were simply designated as "enemies of the Soviet state."

They were executed methodically, primarily by a shot to the back of the head. Soviet Russia expressed no remorse, even moving against the victim's families, with an entire gamut of mistreatment, including cruel deportations and painful decades of disinformation regarding the slaughters.

Upon the discovery by Nazi Germany of the mass graves in April 1943, Soviet Russia alleged that Germany was responsible for this atrocity, denying any responsibility for the killings. Brigadier General Kazimierz P. Schally, Chief of the Polish Military Mission to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) and formerly the Head of Cabinet to President Ignacy Mościcki, was the first to raise recognition of the Katyń massacre, informing General Dwight Eisenhower about the gargantuan danger posed by cooperation with the Soviet Union. Furthermore, General Schally illuminated the Katyń massacre in an article published in The Scotsman.

The Soviets undertook reprisals against General Schally, who was at the time helping to prepare SHAEF for the Normandy landings. His son Andrew Schally was blocked from joining his father by preventing flights from Romania to return with him to London. Andrew Schally was ultimately retrieved thanks to the British Military Mission. In any other way, he would have ended up dying at the hands of Soviet Russia, like Count Raoul Wallenberg, of Sweden, who rescued Jews in German-occupied Hungary.

It was not until 1990 that Russian authorities ultimately acknowledged the mass executions as well as their own whitewashing of the extermination. Yet, Russia still refuses to recognize the Katyń massacre as a crime against humanity or produce important documentation, such as the Belarusian list. It took five decades for the truth of the Katyń massacre to be shared. Today, the Katyń massacre stands as a poignant symbol of the atrocious deeds of Soviet Russia.

Its successor, the Russian Federation, has played a decisive role in supporting draconic regimes and has engaged in malevolent deeds across the globe. We must, for instance, think of the tragedy of Ukraine and Georgia, whose parts are occupied by Russia.

Moreover, we must remember the deaths inflicted upon Professor Lech Kaczyński, the late President of Poland, and a large segment of the Polish elite who emblematically perished, en route to the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Katyń massacre.

Coauthored with Nobelist Andrew Schally.

Edmund Janniger is the Director of the International Security Forum, an institution under the patronage of the Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Poland. His work at the Ministry of National Defense encompasses academic affairs and global engagement. Mr. Janniger holds the record as the youngest sub-cabinet official in Poland’s history. In the Parliamentary Office, Mr. Janniger has been the Deputy Chief of Staff to Minister Antoni Macierewicz and, during the 2015 elections, was the Deputy Campaign Manager for Law and Justice in the 10th District. Mr. Janniger has a proven track record directing complex political and policy-related matters. He holds an adjunct appointment at Marconi University, and was elected by the full Rutgers University Senate to three terms on its Executive Committee. Mr. Janniger splits his time between the Warsaw and New York metropolitan areas, has one young dog, and is an avid hiker. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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It was not until 1990 that Russian authorities ultimately acknowledged the mass executions as well as their own whitewashing of the extermination.
katynmassacre, poland, sovietunion
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2020-01-10
Friday, 10 April 2020 12:01 PM
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