Remember the Katyn Forest

wadowice katyn memorial2 watermarkRemember the Katyn Forest. Remember the Katyn Forest. Remember the Katyn Forest.

22,000 Polish Army Officers Murdered in April 1940
In March 1940, at least 125,000 officers and members of the Polish army were imprisoned by the NKVD (Russian secret police), following the September invasion of Poland. Jozef Stalin, as Russian leader, began separating the officers from the regular soldiers, then promptly issued death warrants for some 14,000 Polish Army officers and about 11,000 other “spies”, e.g. landowners, lawyers, doctors and members of the Polish reserve.

It took a month for executioners to complete the task of killing over 22,000 of them. Of the 4,300 bodies found in a mass grave in the Katyn Forest, almost all were in their army uniforms, hands bound behind them, a single bullet to the back of the dead. The graves of the other 18,000 or so officers have never been found.

Until 1989 (the fall of communism) Russia/Soviets Blamed the murder on Germany
Poles always blamed the Russians. Smolensk was under Russian rule at the time of the murders, and there were a few witnesses, including two Americans recently awarded posthumous medals for trying to alert the world. (see link below.) Until communism fell in 1989, the Russians never admitted to the crime. Poles could neither honor their murdered comrades, nor blame the Russians for their crime. For years it was presumed the rest were dead, but their graves were never located. Like the Germans, Stalin targeted the leaders and massacred all they could find.

Warsaw Katyn momument watermarkMemorials in many cities honor those lost in the massacre
Most parts of Poland lost officers and people in the massacre. Memorials in each city honor those murdered in the Smolensk forest. Of course none of these memorials appeared until after 1990.

2010 Plane Crash confirmed the Katyn Forest is a cursed place for Poles
Adding to the tragedy was the April 10, 2010 crash of a plane carrying 95 top members of the Polish government, including the president and his wife, to Smolensk to honor the 70th anniversary. All aboard died. Beyond the human tragedy – it wiped out the top tier of Polish civil service. The reason for the crash was never determined; lately several people are revisiting the idea – could Putin, or Russians have targeted the plane? Russia is certainly targeting Poland today, as it has for centuries.

Katyn movie coverWatch the movie Katyn
Watching the Polish movie Katyn shook me to the core – it made it real, and the film utilized actual newsreel footage. The producer’s father was killed in the Katyn Massacre and remembers his mother hoping for his return until the end of the war, only to find out he’d been murdered in 1940.
Like many non-Poles, I had not heard of the Katyn Forest massacre until I started studying Poland. Now, consider the actions of Putin as he advances through Ukraine towards Poland. Ask any Pole what they think of Russia. Now consider Russia’s latest demand – Poland should construct a statue honoring Soviet war dead before it will condone a statute in Smolensk Russia honoring the Polish soldiers Russia killed, but which Russia still denies. Beware of the latest onslaught of anti-Poland social posts in social media – posted by Russian sympathizers of course.
Photos of Katyn memorials taken October 2013 in Wadowice and Warsaw, Poland.

President of Poland honors early Katyn witnesses

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Tags: Poland, Polish History, World War II - Europe

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Such grief! and smug denial… I had never even heard of this. Will look for the film. And pray for Poland now.
    Thanks for adding your voice to the outcry.


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