Sunday, March 29, 2009

Katyn: Radzinsky thinks Stalin ordered it

Edvard Radzinsky has a different idea on who killed the Polish officers than Yuri Mukhin. I notice that Edvard Radzinsky on pages 498-499 of Stalin, the First In-Depth Biography based on explosive new documents from Russia’s Secret Archives, published in 1996, makes assertions somewhat in the same manner as Mukhin, including assertions about motives. But he isn’t quite as bad because he lists his archival sources (pages 585-594); however he doesn’t provide footnotes to show which comment is based upon which source. Here is what he has to say about Katyn:

“The monstrous Katyn affair caused complications. After the collapse of Poland more than twenty thousand captured Polish officers had been quartered in prison camps near the Soviet frontier. When Stalin was getting ready to attack Germany, the thought of keeping so many potential enemies within the Soviet Union alarmed him. He remembered the mutiny of the Czechoslovak prisoners of war in 1918. As usual, he found a quick and drastic solution: the prisoners were ‘liquidated.’ When General Anders began forming the Polish army in the West, Stalin released some two thousand Poles from the camps. But Poles abroad asked where so many thousands of officers had disappeared to. The answer given was that they had run away from the camps at the beginning of the war. The Polish government in exile was not satisfied, and persisted in asking about the missing officers.

“A little play-acting was called for. In the presence of the Polish representative Stalin telephoned Molotov and Beria to ask whether all Poles had been released from Soviet jails. They both said yes. But when the Germans occupied Smolensk they had found in the nearby Katyn forest a gruesome burial ground containing row upon row of corpses with bullet holes in the backs of the neck, the remains of the Polish offices. Stalin of course accursed Hitler of a grotesque provocation. He changed his story: the Poles had not run away, but had been transferred to the Smolensk area to work on building sites. There the Germans had captured them, shot them, and blamed the USSR for it. A special Soviet commission was set up, with the Boss’s own writers, academics, and clergy as members. The commission, of course, confirmed his story. Roosevelt and Churchill had to take their ally’s word. The monstrous scale of the tragedy has only recently become known. A. Krayushkin, head of one of the directorates of the Federal Security Service (as the former KGB is now called) , at a press conference in Smolensek in April 1995, informed the Russians and Polish journalists present that the number of Polish prisoners killed in various camps was 21,857.

“The documents concerning those shot were destroyed, with Khrushchev’s consent, in 1959. What remains is a letter from A. Shelepin, then head of the KBG, informing Khrushchev that ‘in all, 21,857 people were shot on orders from the KBG, including 4,421 in the Katyn forest, 6,311 in the Ostashkovo camp (Kaliningrad oblast), and 3,820 in the Starobel camp near Kharkov.’

“Shelepin’s letter than asks Khrushchev for permission to destroy the records of those shot, since they have ‘neither operational nor historical importance.’

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