11 September 2012

No Big Surprise

The BBC is reporting that new evidence seems to back the idea that the Roosevelt administration not wishing to antagonise its wartime ally,  helped cover up Soviet guilt for the 1940 Katyn massacre of Polish soldiers.

More than 22,000 Poles were killed by the Soviets on Stalin's orders. Soviet Russia only admitted to the atrocity in 1990 after blaming the Nazis for five decades.

Documents, released by the US National Archives, supported the suspicion that the US did not want to anger its wartime ally, Joseph Stalin. According to a review of the documents by the Associated Press, they show that American prisoners of war sent coded 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. The group of American and British POWs had been taken by the Nazis against their will to witness the scene.

What they saw convinced two Americans, Capt Donald B Stewart and Lt Col John Van Vliet, that the killings must have been carried out by the Soviets, rather than the Nazis, who did not occupy the area until 1941.

A statement from one, Captain Donald B Stewart, made in 1950, confirmed he sent a coded message, the gist of which was: "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.And the good state of the men's boots and clothing suggested the men had not lived long after being captured by invading Soviet forces.

It has long been believed that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not want to question the version of events put out by Stalin, an ally whom the Americans were counting on to defeat Germany and Japan.  According to the report by the Associated Press, information about the massacre was suppressed at the highest levels in Washington.

Katyn expert Allen Paul told AP some of the material did not appear in the record of Congressional hearings in 1951-52 held to investigate the massacre, suggesting it had been deliberately kept hidden.

NO real surprise that the guilt over Katyn was suppressed during wartime.I am surprised that the evidence didn't come out early in he Cold War. Or perhapsthe US government did not want to highlight the fact that it had not acted on the information.

With a soviet admission over 20 years ago it's all a it academic.


susan said...

Yet another proof there's no such thing as a good war.

jams o donnell said...


SnoopyTheGoon said...

It's difficult to see what Americans could do with the information at the time, and I am not saying this to justify their silence. But politics are a murky and sometimes outright dirty business, where principles and friendships are sold at a wink.

jams o donnell said...

Very murky. I don't think that the US or any other ally could have acted at the time either