Verdict on Poland

Jozef Szaniawski

The Russian state, then called Soviet Union, committed the crime of murdering thousands of defenceless Polish prisoners and the order to extinct the Polish elites was issued in the Kremlin in Moscow on 5 March 1940 by the most important Russian commanders. It was genocide, which at first the Russians hid as a state secret and then the next leaders in the Kremlin blamed Germany for this crime, telling lies for several decades. Being forced to recognise the facts after the fall of communism in 1991 the Russians pleaded guilty but only partially, manipulating the facts and not wanting to show Poles the NKWD archives. Moreover, Russia still refuses to recognise the ‘Katyn massacre’ as a case of genocide in the light of international law. The latest element of the Russian manipulation was the statement of Russia’s ambassador to Poland Aleksander Aleksiejew spoken on 10 February 2011. He ensured us in public that ‘in Moscow the political decisions concerning the possibility of rehabilitation of the Polish officers shot by the NKWD have already been taken. Now we are looking for a legal formula; the question is under the control of the highest leadership of Russia.’ Ambassador Aleksiejew also revealed that the acts of the Katyn investigation were being declassified. Yet several months earlier President Dmitriy Medvedev stated officially that Poles had already received all ‘Katyn’ secret documents. As one can see the Russians keep lying and manipulating to hide the essence of the ‘Katyn affair.’ The Polish officers neither committed any crimes nor need any rehabilitation. Furthermore, they were citizens of the Republic of Poland and only Polish courts could have sentenced them and the more could have rehabilitated them. That’ why the statement of Ambassador Aleksiejew is another trickery, manipulation and brainwash, which belongs to the old Russian traditions. Today Poland is expecting Russia to recognise unequivocally as genocide the crime of murdering thousands of defenceless Polish prisoners. Moreover, we demand Russia to reveal the complete list of the victims of that genocide conducted by the Russian state (NKWD was only the executioner!).

Finally it is known that the Soviet genocide took place not only in Katyn but also in the whole huge empire of evil, including Bykovnia, Kuropaty, Kharkov, Kalinin. We have the right to demand Moscow to reveal all the places where the crimes of genocide of Poles were committed. But Ambassador Aleksiejew is silent about it and cleverly introduces a substitute subject in the media – rehabilitation.

Testimony of John Paul II

Katyn has become a symbol of the horrible communist crimes and also a symbol of the communist lies and falsity, which Moscow has tried to make Poles and the whole world believe for over half a century. Only few people in Europe and the world had the courage to tell the truth against the Soviet lies. Katyn was the biggest political lie connected with World War II. It was a probable reason why John Paul II was never allowed to enter Russia, and we know how much the Holy Father wanted to go for a pilgrimage there. The Russian presidents Yeltsin and Putin as well as the Patriarch of Moscow Aleksiy II did not allow that to happen. It is not by accident that the latter two were high ranking KGB officers during the period of Soviet Russia. They feared that the Polish Pope could have spoken the one horrible word ‘Katyn.’ John Paul II said it many times. The Pope left a special testimony in his message – ‘last will’ – ‘Memory and Identity.’ We can read that ‘in the East there remained the Katyn drama, which constituted a special testimony of struggle that was undertaken then. It was a drama of innocent death – death that should not be forgotten. The tragic events that took place in Katyn, Kharkov, Mednoye are a chapter in the Polish martyrdom, which cannot be forgotten. This vivid memory should be preserved as a warning for future generations.’ Here we must firmly stress the relatively little known fact that the first Polish officers that the NKWD shot in the mass execution were priests – chaplains of the Polish Army. It was not by accident that the Soviet authorities recognised them as this part of the Polish elite that should be murdered first. They were mostly Catholic priests but the victims were also other clergymen, including the chief rabbi of the Polish Army. The NKWD brought them from various prisoners’ camps from all over Russia to one place, probably to Moscow. They were murdered first, several months before the execution in Katyn and the date of their martyr’s deaths is not accidental – 24 December 1939. On Christmas Eve! Thus before the verdict on Poland issued on 5 March 1940. Until now Russia has hidden where they were executed and buried in secret. They do not even have a symbolic grave.

Verdict over Poland

On 5 March 1940 in the Kremlin, Moscow, a document that was a death sentence was signed. Then several dozen thousand Poles, who had been caught and imprisoned by the Red Army after Soviet Russia’s aggression against Poland on 17 September 1939, were doomed to death. The biggest group of them included officers and generals of the Polish Army. But the document of 5 March also concerned policemen, officers of the Border Defence Corps, state clerks and officials of self-government, attorneys, lawyers, foresters, teachers, bankers, university professors, priests, medical doctors and others who constituted the elites of the Second Polish Republic. The death sentence described them as ‘people’s enemies,’ ‘nationalists,’ ‘insurgents’ and ‘fierce enemies of the Soviet authorities, full of hatred towards the Soviet system.’ One should stress unequivocally and with all power that it was not the NKWD but the Russian government and state, called the Soviet Union, that wiped out the elites of the Republic of Poland. The criminals from the secret political police NKWD were only executioners who realised the deadly verdict. It was signed on 5 March 1940 by the most important political leaders of Soviet Russia. These were: Joseph Stalin, dictator and secretary general of the communist party, Vyacheslav Molotov, the Prime Minister and at the same Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Kalinin, the President of the Supreme Council – the Soviet Parliament (official head of state), Marshal Kliment Voroshylov, commander of the Red Army and Minister of Defence, Lavrentiy Beria, Minister of Internal Affairs and at the same time the chief commander of the secret police NKWD, Anastas Mikoyan, First Deputy Premier of the Soviet government and Minister of Trade, Lazar Kaganovych, Minister of Railways. The responsibility for the genocide of the defenceless Polish prisoners conducted by the Russians is obvious in the light of international law! It is now, in 2011, the essence of the ‘Katyn affair.’

Not only Katyn!

After the Soviet aggression on 17 September 1939 the military activities of the Red Army caused the imprisonment of over 250,000 soldiers, non-commissioned officers, officers and generals of the Polish Army out of the total number of ca. 900,000 who were called up towards the end of August 1939. The Russians admitted it themselves when the Prime Minister of the Soviet government Vyacheslav Molotov spoke about it during the session of the Supreme Council of the USSR in October 1939. Only then, in the late autumn and winter of 1939-40 the NKWD arrested several dozen thousands officials, teachers, policemen, priests, bankers and foresters in the conquered territories of the Second Polish Republic. It was the foresters that were the second largest group after the army officers arrested and then ‘demolished’ by the NKWD realising the death command of 5 March 1940. Most prisoners were in three camps: Kozelsk, Starobelsk and Ostashkov. Between April and May 1940 they were transported in groups. The prisoners from Kozelsk were driven to Katyn, from Starobelsk to Kharkov and from Ostashkov to Mednoye. There each of them was brought to the edge of a pit and shot in the back of the head. We do not know the exact fate of the ‘smaller,’ although several thousands, group murdered in other places of the empire of evil. The massacre of several dozen thousands of defenceless Polish prisoners of war was unprecedented in the history of the civilised world. In the ancient times prisoners of war were honoured and under due care and respect although were carefully guarded. Suffice to read ‘The Iliad’ by Homer or the Old Testament. Soviet Russia, the empire of evil, was not, however, a civilised state! It seemed that after its fall the Russians would make accessible all secrets connected with the Soviet genocide of Poles. President Boris Yeltsin made some positive steps in this direction after 1991. But Russia ruled by Putin neither feels responsible for the genocide nor wants to open the NKWD archives concerning the massacre of the Polish elites. Why?! After all Moscow, during the rules of Gorbachev and Yeltsin, pleaded guilty to the crime after 50 years of lies. It is true but the Russians have never admitted the scale of the crime committed against Poles nor the places where the crimes were committed. Katyn near Smolensk is the site of execution of ‘only’ ca. 4,500 Polish prisoners. We also know that over 20,000 remaining prisoners were killed by the NKWD in Kharkov, Bykovnia, Mednoye, Kuropaty as well as at the White Sea. The fact that Russia does not want to give any documents of the crimes committed against on Poles allows us to suppose that the truth about them is far worse and more horrible that we have known so far! Namely, there are non-documented but real premises that the total number of the Polish elites murdered by the NKWD exceeds 70,000, and the executions were conducted all over the territory of the empire of evil. Katyn is only the most known site of these crimes!

Russia-phobia or Polish memory

The Moscow death sentence of 5 March 1940 did not only concern the officers of the Polish Army and Polish elites in the war years. In the conditions of the totalitarian system and communist regime it was timeless and its realisation, only on a smaller scale, was just after 1945. What were actually the sentences of the communist kangaroo courts given to Cavalry Captain Pilecki, Major Szendzielarz-Lupaszka, Generals: Fieldorf, Okulicki, Tatar and other officers and commanders of the Home Army? Even the death sentence on Lieutenant Kuklinski, issued during the marshal law, was indirectly connected with that verdict of 5 March 1940. It was not incidentally that Rev. Msgr. Peszkowski who had been miraculously saved from the bullet of the NKWD over the death hole, cried during the roll-call of the fallen at the monument to Katyn in the Castle Square in Warsaw in 1998, ‘Lieutenant Kuklinski, you are the latest officer who was not shot […]. You were sentenced to death, to horrible death, for the same crime for which the officers were shot in the back of the head in Katyn!’ Over 70 years have passed since the death sentence against Poland issued in the Kremlin on 5 March 1940 and since the first mass executions of the Polish prisoners in Katyn. Fortunately, we are living in a completely different epoch and completely changed Europe. But in this Europe Poles are accused of Russia-phobia. Such opinions could be heard in Moscow and unfortunately, in Berlin, Brussels, Paris and other European capitals. But this alleged Russia-phobia of Poles is only our memory that Kazimierz Wierzynski preserved in his poetical vision during World War II:
Your soldier still remembers and how can he forget
Those Katyn forests where from clay and ash
A horrible mound did not stop growing before our eyes,
A hill of skulls shot in the back,
A range of tied hands, martyr’s Calvary,
Which although dug a hundred times anew,
Will still disturb the memory and drag to Smolensk
Memory – harm and memory – power beyond the grave.

The present Russian Prime Minister, a KGB general, Vladimir Putin refers in his politics to the empire of evil, which is symbolised by the monumental sarcophagus of the murderer, bandit and dictator genocide Stalin at the most prestigious place of Russia, under the wall of the Kremlin in the Red Square. Daily (!) thousands of Russians pay tribute to Stalin. This should be thought over by not only Poles! The situation is different in Warsaw, in the very centre of Poland, in the Castle Square there is a symbolic humble grave – monument to Katyn, with a shot Polish eagle from the officer’s cap, bent slightly forward like the Polish prisoners were bent over the death holes before the communist perpetrators shot them in the back of the head. This is the 21st century Russian memory and also the Polish memory. This is theirs and our raison d’etat. This is the Russian reference to their imperial history and this is our tradition of fighting for freedom of Poland and Europe, which is different from theirs. And let them not try to convince us in Moscow as well as in Berlin and Brussels that we, Poles, show Russia-phobia and we are oversensitive to Russia. We only keep remembering.

"Niedziela" 10/2011

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: