US Congress Hearings on Katyn War Crime
IX. RUSSIAN REPORT
While the testimony heard by this committee is conclusive in itself to establish that the Polish officers were massacred by the Soviets, nothing appears as incriminating against the Russians as their own report published in 1944 following an investigation of Katyn by an all-Soviet commission.
The committee has made a careful analysis of the Soviet report (which is exhibit 4 in part III of the published hearings). This analysis was important because when the Soviets declined this committee's invitation to participate in the investigation, they maintained that their own report conclusively established the Germans were responsible for the Katyn massacre.
It is interesting to see how the Soviet's official findings stand up under the light of facts uncovered by this committee.
At the very outset, the Soviet claim is incongruous with the facts. The Soviets quote Russian natives who allegedly saw Polish officers working on road gangs and construction projects in the Smolensk area prior to the German invasion. These witnesses are quoted to substantiate the Soviet allegation that all the officers were transferred from Kozieisk, Starobieisk, and Ostnshkov by the Russians in March and April 1940 to three camps in the Smolensk area designated only as ON1, ON2, and ON3. If the Polish officers worked on road gangs-as the Russians maintain-it is logical to ask of their boots and uniforms would have shown as little wear as Colonel Van Vliet observed when he examined their bodies in Katyn.
While conducting hearings in London, this committee was fortunate in obtaining the testimony of Mr. Joseph Mackiewicz who visited the Katyn Forest on instructions of the Polish underground in May 1943 and observed the German exhumations. Mr. Mackiewicz is an authority on the Katyn massacre having tirelessly studied all related facts for the past 9 years. Some of his observations (starting on p 867 of part IV) follow:
"The Russian communiqué claims that there were found at Katyn 11,000 bodies, but actually there were found only slightly more than 4,000. The Bolsheviks, therefore, used the figure 11,000, because even if assuming that those 4,000 that were found in Katyn had been murdered by the Germans, the question arises: What happened to the rest? Furthermore, the question of the correspondence becomes associated here. The Russians claimed that they had found correspondence on these bodies which indicated that these men had corresponded with their families in Poland up to 1941. If there were 11,111 bodies in Katyn, each one of them then most probably had some family in Poland ranging anywhere from 1 to 6 people.
"The number of potential witnesses in Poland who could have been summoned to testify that they had corresponded with any members of their family in these camps up to and including 1941 would have reached the figure, roughly, of 20,000 to 30,000. The Germans, who had, of course, capitalized on a tremendous propaganda to their own advantage, would have taken into consideration the fact that, in a country where the people were generally adversely disposed toward the Germans, the news that the Germans had lied would have certainly spread very quickly through Poland, and the Germans would have never permitted themselves to be compromised to that extent."
Mackiewicz adds further:
"The Russian Commission claims that these Poles had been brought to the rail station at Gniezdowo in the year 1940, that they were not murdered but instead placed into three camps, No. 1 ON, No. 2 ON and No. 3 ON at a distance of from 25 to 45 kilometers to the west of Smolensk, and that during the time of the German offensive they fell captive into the hands of the Germans. This, of course, is a lie, because there were no such camps in that locality. The Russian communiqué does not specify exactly where were those three camps. Naturally, if those three camps had actually existed, they could have notified Ambassador Kot, General Sikorski, General Anders, and Mr. Czapski, who had conducted a long search for these men."
The allegation made in the Russian report that the commanding officer of the three camps was unable to get transportation to evacuate the Poles from the camps while the Germans were advancing, conflicts with known facts. This committee had testimony presented in London which clearly spelled out that Russian commanders were ordered to save prisoners-of-war at all costs.
Statements taken by the committee here in Washington, from a former high Soviet official assigned to the Russian foreign office during World War II, also established that Russian prisoners of war were not to fall into enemy hands under any circumstances.
Macklewicz's comment on this point was:
"Furthermore, the Russian communiqué or report claims that the commanding officer of the Russian camp No. 1 ON was a major of the NKGB, Wietosznikow, and that when the Germans were approaching that area the commanding officer had communicated with the commanding officer of the transport forces in Smolensk, Iwannov, with a request for rail cars in order to evacuate these Polish prisoners. Since he was unsuccessful in obtaining these railroad cars, consequently these Polish prisoners fell into the hands of the Germans, but Wietoszikow himself remained with the Russian forces and did not fall into captivity of the Germans. Therefore, if Wietosznikow, who was the commanding officer of the security forces, knew about the whereabouts of these soldiers, why did not Stalin and Molotov and Vischinsky know about their presence virtually within the shadow of Moscow? And as a consequence, for 2 years they ostensibly searched to find an answer as to the whereabouts of these soldiers. Wietosznikow certainly must have reported to his superiors as to what happened to these prisoners, and when Czapski made his frequent inquiries to the NKVD, they would have immediately told him that these men fell captive to the Germans.
"Assuming that Wietosznikow could not get the rail cars from Iwannov as he had requested, he could have evacuated the soldiers from these prison camps by foot, especially when you consider that the claim is that Wietosznikow appealed to Iwannov for these cars on the 12th of July; but the official Soviet communiqué of the 23d of July 1941, claimed that the Russians were still in control and possession of Smolensk."
The Russians further claim their Polish camps were near the Gussino line and that trains could not be sent because that line already was under fire. If, in fact, these three camps were along the Gussino line, which is west of Smolensk and which leads right into Gussino, it is reasonable to ask why were these Polish prisoners removed at Guiezdovo, 45 miles away, after being evacuated from their original camps, and transported by truck the rest of the way when there are sufficient railway stops from Gniezdovo all the way to Gussino itself.
"There actually were no camps in the location that the Russians claim that they had taken these men to, and I had substantiated that to any satisfaction on the basis of my conversations with inhabitants of the general area and my conversations with Kriwozercow. All of them told me that there had never been any such camps in that area. Furthermore, I would like to call your attention to one more little detail.
"The attitude in Poland and in Russia was so bitterly anti-German in 1943 that when they released the news of Katyn, that is, the Germans, in the spring of 1943, the announcement gave birth to a mess of various versions of what happened, which could have refuted the German version.
"At that time, because communications, especially radio communications, had been severely curtailed, many people had not heard the German version. As a consequence, the Russian agents, who were very actively operating in all these parts started rumors of their own version, merely to destroy and discredit the German version.
"As an example, when I was in Katyn, there were with me two Portuguese correspondents. One of these men told me that he had been taken to look at a little village, to which the Germans had taken him, and then he asked me repeatedly whether I felt certain that this was the work of the Russians. I asked him, 'Why do you ask?' He said that he had talked to a young girl in this village, who told him that those murdered men 'are really who have been dressed in Polish uniforms.'
"Even such fantastic stories were circulated when if, in effect, and in actuality, there were those three camps in this area, they would have said that the Poles were in these camps and the Germans came by and captured these Poles and that they murdered them. Nobody at all has ever heard of any such camps in that area."
In the Russian report, witness T.E. Fatkov testifies that round-ups of the Polish war prisoners took place up until September 1941. And, he goes on to say in the Russian version that, "After September 1941, the round-ups were discontinued and no one saw Polish war prisoners any more."
Thus, Fatkov fixes the last possible date of the executions at September 1941. If this is true, and it must be true, since it is in the Russian's own report, why then were all of these Polish war prisoners found in winter garb in the Katyn Forest? Weather reports show that the temperatures during August and September of 1941 in the Smolensk area ranged between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is inconceivable that the Polish prisoners of war would have had scarfs tied around their necks and would be wearing overcoats if they actually were massacred in August and September of 1941.
Russian witnesses further testified that they knew that the men they say were Polish war prisoners because they wore the same Polish uniforms and their characteristic four-cornered hats. This committee has photographs of Poles who reported to General Anders from other camps in 1941 when he was forming his Polish army. None of these men reported in their original Polish uniforms since they were worn out during their 2-year captivity.
The Russians claim that Witness Kisselev, who had testified before the German Commission, had been brutally beaten to say that he actually had seen and witnessed the executions. The Germans never claimed to have an "eyewitness." Any allegations which the Russians attribute to Kisselev, therefore, are false.
The Soviet report is inconsistent with the facts in its claim there were 11,000 Poles massacred at Katyn. The Polish Red Cross has definitely and conclusively established in the minds of this committee that there were no more than 4,143 bodies exhumed at Katyn, and another 110 found but not exhumed.
The Polish Red Cross had made a thorough search of the area in order to find more graves and no additional graves or bodies could be found.
Out of some 11,000 bodies which the Russians claim that they had found in Katyn, they were able to find only nine documents which showed a date later than May of 1940.
NEXT: Part 7 of the US Congress hearings on Katyn Wood Massacre of POWs.
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