Topic: Military history/Polish military history

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Katyn Massacre (1940)

Human rights Soviet Union Russia Military history Crime Death Socialism Poland Military history/World War II Military history/Russian, Soviet and CIS military history Russia/history of Russia Military history/Polish military history Military history/European military history

The Katyn massacre (Polish: zbrodnia katyńska, "Katyń crime"; Russian: Катынская резня Katynskaya reznya, "Katyn massacre", or Russian: Катынский расстрел, "Katyn execution by shooting") was a series of mass executions of about 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD ("People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs", the Soviet secret police) in April and May 1940. Though the killings also occurred in the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons and elsewhere, the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered.

The massacre was initiated in NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria's proposal of 5 March 1940 to execute all captive members of the Polish officer corps, approved by the Soviet Politburo led by Joseph Stalin. Of the total killed, about 8,000 were officers imprisoned during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, another 6,000 were police officers, and the remaining 8,000 were Polish intelligentsia the Soviets deemed to be "intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials, and priests". The Polish Army officer class was representative of the multi-ethnic Polish state; the murdered included ethnic Poles, Polish Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Polish Jews including the Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army, Baruch Steinberg.

The government of Nazi Germany announced the discovery of mass graves in the Katyn Forest in April 1943. Stalin severed diplomatic relations with the London-based Polish government-in-exile when it asked for an investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The USSR claimed the Nazis had killed the victims, and it continued to deny responsibility for the massacres until 1990, when it officially acknowledged and condemned the killings by the NKVD, as well as the subsequent cover-up by the Soviet government.

An investigation conducted by the office of the Prosecutors General of the Soviet Union (1990–1991) and the Russian Federation (1991–2004) confirmed Soviet responsibility for the massacres, but refused to classify this action as a war crime or as an act of mass murder. The investigation was closed on the grounds the perpetrators were dead, and since the Russian government would not classify the dead as victims of the Great Purge, formal posthumous rehabilitation was deemed inapplicable.

In November 2010, the Russian State Duma approved a declaration blaming Stalin and other Soviet officials for ordering the massacre.

Pilecki's Report

Military history Poland Hungary Military history/World War II Jewish history European history Military history/Polish military history Military history/European military history

Witold's Report, also known as Pilecki's Report, is a report about the Auschwitz concentration camp written in 1943 by Witold Pilecki, a Polish military officer and agent of the Polish resistance. Pilecki volunteered in 1940 to be imprisoned in Auschwitz to organize a resistance movement and send out information about it. His was the first comprehensive record of a Holocaust death camp to be obtained by the Allies. He escaped from the camp in April 1943.

The report includes details about the gas chambers, "Selektion" and the sterilization experiments. It states that there were three crematoria in Auschwitz II able to cremate 8000 people daily.

Pilecki's Report preceded and complemented the Auschwitz Protocols, compiled from late 1943, which warned about the mass murder and other atrocities taking place inside the camp. The latter consists of the Polish Major's Report by Jerzy Tabeau, who escaped with Roman Cieliczko on 19 November 1943 and compiled a report between December 1943 and January 1944; the Vrba-Wetzler report; and the Rosin-Mordowicz report.

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