Wednesday, September 12, 2012


The Katyn Massacre Cover-Up

Winston Churchill had said he he would "sup with the devil" if it would help bring about victory. So he—and Franklin Roosevelt—did. They allied themselves with Stalin, even pretended, at least publicly, that he was a fine man and the Soviet Union an even finer place. Now, with the release of numerous documents from the National Archives about Stalin's murder of over twenty thousand Polish officers and intellectuals in the Katyn forest in 1940, we know in even more detail just how far they were prepared to go to extol and defend the Soviet Union.

Stalin's aim was to break the spirit of the Polish nation, to destroy its governing class. The Nazis discovered the graves in the spring of 1943 and tried to blame the massacre on the Soviets. Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels hoped the announcement would cause dissension among the wartime allies. But Churchill and Roosevelt were having none of it. England had gone to war over Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939. Churchill and Roosevelt didn't want to disrupt relations with Stalin, who was always accusing them of trying to cut a separate peace with Berlin. What Katyn indicates, I think, is that the West had effectively given up on Poland's freedom far before the Yalta conference.

The new documents prove that the US government knew that the NKVD committed the atrocity. The public defense of Stalin was a cover-up, not an honest mistake about who did the killings.

Realpolitik explains why FDR and Churchill chose this course. Stalin was a necessary ally in the war with Hitler and Japan. Still, there are some interesting historical threads which deserve to be followed.

Adam Scrupski from 2004

Historians Have Yet to Face Up to the Implications of the Katyn Massacre

No one who was not alive and aware in the United States during the war can imagine the deference to the Soviet Union and its war effort exhibited by Franklin D. Roosevelt's war-time administration and the American media. For example, not only did the Office of War Information blame the Katyn executions on the German army; OWI also implicitly threatened to remove licensure from the Polish language radio stations in Detroit and Buffalo if they did not cease broadcasting the details of the executions. In all the long years when Alan Cranston served as U.S. Senator from California no one mentioned his part as an OWI functionary in the intimidation of the Polish-American radio station managers. The London-based Polish government-in-exile, whose leaders had requested a Red Cross investigation of the affair, was characterized as having "stupidly walked into Goebbels' trap".

Perhaps the OWI functionaries had motives beyond placating a dangerous ally. As Klehr and Haynes note in the book on Venona the OWI was penetrated by by Soviet intelligence. Of special note:

But after the war several members of the OWI's Polish-language section emerged as defenders of the Communist takeover of Poland and as close relatives of officials in the new Polish Communist regime.


jgreenman said...

I am trying to find the source of "sup with the Devil". Do you know where I can find it?

craig said...

I don't know of a direct source. It seems to be one of those quotes that everyone uses without feeling the need to footnote it.