KyivPost

What happened in Katyn forest in 1940

Print version
April 7, 2011, 4:54 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters

Poland marks the first anniversary of a plane crash that killed its president and 95 others as they headed to the Katyn forest in western Russia.

Reuters

April 7 (Reuters) - Poland marks the first anniversary on Sunday of a plane crash that killed its president and 95 others as they headed to the Katyn forest in western Russia to honour Polish officers murdered there by Soviet forces in 1940. Here are some details on the Katyn massacre.

BACKGROUND

- Germany invaded Poland from the west in 1939 and Soviet forces occupied the eastern half of Poland. As a result, tens of thousands of Polish military personnel fell into Soviet hands and were interned in prison camps inside the Soviet Union.

- After the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Polish government-in-exile (located in London) and the Soviet government agreed to cooperate against Germany, and a Polish army on Soviet territory was to be formed.

FALSE TRAIL

- When Poland requested the return of 15,000 prisoners of war from the Soviets, the Soviet government informed Poland in December 1941 that most of those prisoners had escaped to Manchuria and could not be located.

MASSACRE

- On April 13, 1943, the Germans said they had found the mass graves of Polish officers in Katyn forest near Smolensk.

- A total of 4,443 corpses were recovered. The fate of the remainder is still unknown. They had apparently been shot from behind, piled in stacks and buried. Investigators identified the corpses as Polish officers who had been interned at the Soviet camp near Smolensk, and accused the Soviet authorities of having executed the prisoners in May 1940.

- The Soviet government then claimed that the Poles had been engaged in construction work west of Smolensk in 1941 and the invading German army had killed them after overrunning that area in August 1941.

- However, both German and Red Cross investigations of the Katyn corpses produced firm physical evidence that the massacre took place in early 1940, at a time when the area was still under Soviet control.

- The Soviet government refused demands by the Red Cross to investigate, and in April 1943, Moscow broke off diplomatic relations with the Polish government in exile in London. The Soviet Union then set about establishing a Polish government-in-exile composed of Polish communists.

KATYN AND RUSSIA

- After blaming Nazi Germany for the Katyn massacre for decades, the Soviet Union admitted in April 1990 that its forces were responsible. But none of the culprits has ever been identified and investigations have been shelved.

- A Russian court in July 2008 refused to consider a request for a criminal investigation into the Katyn massacre.

- President Dmitry Medvedev released further records about Katyn in May and December 2010 in a gesture of solidarity with Warsaw after Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 94 officials were killed on April 10, 2010 in a plane crash en route to a ceremony commemorating the massacre.

- Last November, Russia's parliament approved a resolution blaming Soviet dictator Josef Stalin directly for the massacre. Poland welcomed the decision.

- Two months later a Russian human rights group lost a legal battle to declassify documents from a probe into the massacre. The refusal to reveal why, in 2004, prosecutors dropped an investigation into the killings could be a troubling element in Poland's future relations with Russia.

- Russia handed over more archives on the Katyn events to Poland this month.
The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Anonymous April 7, 2011, 5:20 p.m.    

in Katyn the Russian Komunists murdered unarmed soldiers

in Vinnytsia they murdered innocent civilians including women & children

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinnytsia_massacre

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous April 7, 2011, 7:11 p.m.    

- A total of 4,443 corpses were recovered. The fate of the remainder is still unknown.

Read more: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/russia/detail/101827/#ixzz1Ir1xTm3Y

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous April 7, 2011, 7:16 p.m.    

- President Dmitry Medvedev released further records about Katyn in May and December 2010 in a gesture of solidarity with Warsaw

Read more: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/russia/detail/101827/20/page/1/#comments#ixzz1Ir2xpxu1

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous April 8, 2011, 6:02 a.m.    

Time for Poland to declassify documents related to the pooliak schlyahta starved to death thousands USSR POW in their death camps.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous April 8, 2011, 7:18 a.m.    

Poland was under RUSSIAN puppet KOMUNIST rule and they had FULL control of ALL archives &amp; documents.

Besides what on earth are YOU talking about? &quot;pooliak schlyahta starved to death thousands USSR POW in their death camps&quot;

Do YOU have ANY specifics?

{# <-- parent id goes here

KyivPost

© 1995–2014 Public Media

Web links to Kyiv Post material are allowed provided that they contain a URL hyperlink to the www.kyivpost.com material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. Otherwise, all materials contained on this site are protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of Public Media at news@kyivpost.com
All information of the Interfax-Ukraine news agency placed on this web site is designed for internal use only. Its reproduction or distribution in any form is prohibited without a written permission of Interfax-Ukraine.