For Whom The Bell Tolls

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it” Martin Luther King, Jr

This is a story that belongs in the history group but is relevant now because it’s just coming to light exactly how much the US government knew about the killings. According to BBC the US has just released a thousand pages of documents showing just how much they knew at the time. From false investigations to hushing intelligence reports. News reports were censored and the citizens of the US and Europe believed for decades it was the Nazis that carried out the killings. But some people in congress knew it was a lie. A lie that the whole nation would believe without question, because the media and their government said so. But that was then and this is now right? They’ve all cleaned up their acts and no more half truths right? Yea right!

In 1940 the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Stalin, decided to carry out a mass execution of Polish people. 22 000 Poles are rounded up during April and May, made to kneel down, shot in the back of the head and thrown on the back of a truck. The bodies are taken to Katyn forest near Smolensk in western Russia and thrown into mass graves. In 1941 the Germans occupy the area. In 1943 the Germans discover the mass graves and make the find public. On 13 April, Berlin Radio broadcasts to the world that German military forces in the Katyn forest near Smolensk had uncovered "a ditch ... 28 metres long and 16 metres wide [92 ft by 52 ft], in which the bodies of 3,000 Polish officers were piled up in 12 layers."
The Soviets decide it's an excellent tool to use as propaganda against the Germans and blame the murders on them. On 15 April Soviet radio stations broadcast ;"Polish prisoners-of-war who in 1941 were engaged in construction work west of Smolensk fell into the hands of the German-Fascist hangmen, they were murdered and thrown into mass graves"
The Germans insist it's the work of the Russians, and take American and British prisoners of war to witness the graves. American prisoners of war send messages to Washington in 1943 saying they had been taken to see corpses in an advanced state of decay in the Katyn forest near Smolensk, in western Russia. What they saw convinced the American soldiers that the killings must have been carried out by the Soviets, rather than the Nazis, who did not occupy the area until 1941. Captain Donald B Stewart, sent a message to Washington saying, "German claims regarding Katyn substantially correct in opinion of Van Vliet and myself." They were apparently persuaded by the advanced state of decay of the bodies, suggesting they must have died before August 1941, when the Germans seized the area. They also saw items found on the bodies, including letters, diaries and other items, none of which was dated later than the spring of 1940. The Germans even brought in a European commission consisting of twelve forensic experts and their staffs from Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Croatia, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, and Hungary to investigate the crimes. They were so intent on proving that the Soviets were behind the massacre that they even included some Allied prisoners of war. But high ranking officials in the US and British government, who knew the killings couldn't have been done by the Germans and must have been done by the Soviets according to their own intelligence reports, did what politicians do. They decided to go with what benefited them most, which meant lying to the citizens. They decided that falsely blaming the mass murders on the Germans would be a good thing for a number of reasons, and they didn't want to **** off Stalin because they still needed him to help take care of problems like Japan.
Goebbels, a German politician at the time, made an entry into his diary on the 29 September 1943 which reads: "They undoubtedly will soon 'find' that we shot 12,000 Polish officers. That episode is one that is going to cause us quite a little trouble in the future. The Soviets are undoubtedly going to make it their business to discover as many mass graves as possible and then blame it on us."
Unofficial or classified UK documents concluded that Soviet guilt was a "near certainty", but the alliance with the Soviets was deemed to be more important than moral issues; thus the official version supported the Soviets, up to censoring any contradictory accounts.
In private, Churchill agreed that the atrocity was likely carried out by the Soviets. Churchill admitted on 15 April 1943 during a conversation with General Sikorski: "Alas, the German revelations are probably true. The Bolsheviks can be very cruel."
However, at the same time, on 24 April 1943 Churchill assured the Soviets: "We shall certainly oppose vigorously any 'investigation' by the International Red Cross or any other body in any territory under German authority. Such investigation would be a fraud and its conclusions reached by terrorism."
In his memoirs, he refers to the 1944 Soviet inquiry into the massacre, which found the Germans guilty and adds, "belief seems an act of faith."
In the United States a similar line was taken. In 1944 Roosevelt assigned his special emissary to the Balkans, Navy Lieutenant Commander George Earle, to produce a report on Katyn. Earle concluded that the massacre was committed by the Soviet Union. Having consulted with Elmer Davis, the director of the Office of War Information, Roosevelt rejected the conclusion (officially), declared that he was convinced of Nazi Germany's responsibility, and ordered that Earle's report be suppressed. When Earle formally requested permission to publish his findings, the President issued a written order to desist. Earle was reassigned and spent the rest of the war in American Samoa. A further report in 1945, supporting the same conclusion, was produced and stifled. Van Vliet, the POW who was taken to the scene, submitted a report concluding that the Soviets were responsible for the massacre. His superior, Maj. Gen. Clayto Bissell, Gen. George Marshall's assistant chief of staff for intelligence, destroyed the report. During the 1951–1952 Congressional investigation into Katyn, Bissell defended his action before Congress, arguing that it was not in the U.S. interest to antagonize an ally (Soviet Union) whose assistance was still needed against Japan.

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Sep 14, 2012