Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Katyn: Was Stalin responsible?


In one of the great reversals of historical judgement, the massacre of thousands of Polish officers at Katyn during World War 2, originally blamed on the Nazis, has come to be accepted as one of Stalin’s major “crimes”.

The Wikipedia Katyn Massacre site ( ) provides a lengthy explanation of how this reversal occurred.  The judgement was sealed in 1990 when the Russians officially accepted the blame for the massacre, citing a 1940 proposal by Beria to execute 25,700 Polish officers. The proposal was counter-signed by Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov and Mikoyan.

The Russian confession was a final repudiation of the era of Stalin.  The repudiation had begun in 1956 with Khrushchev’s so-called “Secret Speech” to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  Between 1956 and 1990, Soviet leaders undid much of the socialist collective economy of the Soviet Union and retreated from core elements of the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. 

For nearly a quarter of a century the new orthodoxy of Katyn-as-Stalin’s-crime has become accepted fact in the mainstream media and history text books.  It has built on and further consolidated the anti-communist hostility that creates so many barriers to people working for the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism.

(Above: verdict not set in stone after all)

However, new developments may presage the reversal of the reversal.  History may be forced to rewrite its malicious judgements on Stalin.

Firstly, Russian Duma (parliament) member Viktor Iliukhin has produced materials that cast doubt on the authenticity of the “Beria letter” to Stalin.  If you have the time and the interest to pursue this matter, go to Grover Furr’s “The Katyn Forest Whodunnit” page here:

Secondly, a joint Polish-Ukrainian group of archaeologists has unearthed evidence that persons listed on Soviet transportation documents could not have been killed by the Soviets, but were in all likelihood captured by the Nazis and shot at a later date.  The transportation lists name persons held in POW camps by the Soviets who were being moved to labour battalions.  Anti-communists such as Anna Cienciala et. al. (see Katyn: A Crime Without Punishment) have simply declared that these are lists of persons identified to be executed by the Soviets at Katyn.  The new evidence strongly suggests that the lists are what they claim to be.  The fact that a Polish prisoner’s name is on a Soviet transportation list can no longer be said to constitute proof that the prisoner was earmarked for execution.

Grover Furr, a multilingual professor of medieval English literature at Montclair State University at New Jersey in the US has translated documents relating to the new evidence and constructed a compelling account of the falsity surrounding the new Katyn orthodoxy.
This is available here:

It is the pre-publication version of the peer-reviewed final, published as Grover Furr. "The 'Official' Version of the Katyn Massacre Disproven? Discoveries at a German Mass Murder Site in Ukraine." Socialism and Democracy 27:2 (August 2013), 96-129.

I said in an earlier post that history will in all probability be kinder to Stalin than are the strident critics of our present era.

Grover’s article gives me further confidence that this will be the case.