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The U.S. Government Helped Stalin Cover Up the Katyn Massacre

on Mon, 09/10/2012 - 21:25

In August and September of 1939 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland and divided up the country between themselves. The Germans quickly went to work murdering tens of thousands of people. Meanwhile, Josef Stalin's Soviet Union more quietly, but still brutally, subjugated its part of the former Polish state. To this day the German atrocities garner the bulk of the attention, and rightly so in many respects. Nevertheless, when it came to mass murder the historical record show that Stalin proved a near match for Adolf Hitler's predatory proclivities; with events during 1940 in and about the Soviet Union's Katyn Forest providing ample evidence as to what crimes Stalin was capable of.

In April and May 1940 the Soviet Union's NKVD (a militarized secret police force comparable in some ways to Nazi Germany's SS) murdered approximately 20,000 Poles taken prisoner or abducted during and following the previous year's invasion. The bulk of these murders occured in or near the Katyn Forest, with this location providing the name to the larger massacre. Though we know today that Stalin signed off on the killings, during World War II the Soviet Union attempted to blame the Nazi's and went to extroardinary lengths to attempt to cover up their crimes. The Germans vigorously denied responsibility for the slaughter, having uncovered the mass graves during their 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union - therefore bringing to light evidence of what had happened.

On Monday the U.S. National Archives released newly declassified documents showing that Stalin had help from his Allies in covering up Soviet complicity in the crimes. Most importantly, these documents seem to provide conclusive evidence that the U.S. actively buried documentary evidence showing that Stalin and his henchmen were responsible for the Katyn massacre. Included in the roughly 1,000 pages of U.S. government files are reports by two U.S. prisoners of war (POW) who, along with other U.S. and British POW's, were taken by the Nazi's to the mass graves (see picture for one such grave) in the spring of 1943 to act as third party observers of what had happened.

The reports from several of the POW's provided evidence that the bodies had been in the ground for at least one year prior to the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union; thus pointing the finger squarely at Stalin. The detailed evidence described by U.S. Capt. Donald B. Stewart and Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet Jr, as well as postwar testimony, leaves little doubt the U.S. government knew what had happened. Regardless, the U.S. government chose to cover it up anyway given the Allies desperately needed the Red Army in the war if they were going to defeat the Third Reich. Moreover, the U.S. government and media, during 1943, were in the midst of a massive public relations campaign to recast Stalin as "Uncle Joe" to the American public; and could not afford for the American people to learn Stalin's true nature. Though there is an argument that can be made for the U.S. government's actions, what stings the worst is that nearly 50 years would go by before the U.S. government would finally drop its noxious position that it still could not conclusively determine Soviet guilt; and this would only come after Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev publicly admitted in 1990 to Soviet responsibility for the massacre.

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