Katyn Irrationality; Katyn as Genocide (Anders); Katyn Forensics Upheld
We are nearing the 70th anniversary of Stalin’s fateful decision to murder the Polish officers and intellectuals. (March 5, 1940).
Here are three reviews of mine, recently appearing at Amazon. Obviously, not only the Holocaust, but also Katyn, had decidedly irrational aspects. General Anders recognized Katyn as a form of genocide. The forensics which proved Soviet guilt are still valid in the light of current knowledge.
Review of In the Shadow of Katyn: “Stalin’s Terror”, by Stanislaw Swianiewicz (1976, 2002). Privately Published. Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
A Katyn “Survivor” Describes His Experiences, His Deep Knowledge of the USSR, and the Irrationality of the Katyn Genocidal Crime
This book, originally published in Polish (1976), and made available to Poland(1990), was eventually translated into Russian and now English. Swianiewicz, a long-lived (1899-1997) Pole of Scottish descent, and dabbler in freemasonry (p. 199), was a Polish POW at Kozielsk. He was among the 3% of Kozielsk inmates not murdered at Katyn (p. 66), possibly because he was of use as a Sovietologist. (p. xv; see also p. 122).
The author provides some unique ideas about the events leading up to and including the 1939 war. While in Soviet captivity, he met with semi-prominent people who would later become better known in the Communist world. This book is more about Russian thinking, and the workings of the Soviet system, before and during WWII, than it is about Katyn.
Swianiewicz suggests that Russian aggression long predated the satisfaction of Communist ideology. He comments: “The motto to absorb and destroy is imbued into the Russian thought. Pushkin wrote that all Slavic streams must dissolve into theRussianSea…The first historical occurrence, known to me, of those cruel, destructive tendencies was in the 15thcentury by Ivan III. The richRepublicofNovgorod, a member of the Hanseatic League, was destroyed, and the surviving population deported to theVolgaregion.” (p. 136).
The document that contains Stalin’s chilling orders to murder the Polish officers and intellectuals is printed out in full. It is complete with a side-by-side English-language translation. (pp. 80-83).
After some of the Polish POWs and deportees were released by Stalin in the wake of the Nazi-attack-induced “amnesty”, Swianiewicz described his suspicions at Soviet evasiveness regarding the missing officers. He realized that, had the officers perished during an accident (say, mass drowning while crossing a lake), there would be no need for the authorities to cover it up. (p. 222). He finally realized the truth, while inPalestine, as a result of the fateful spring 1943 German broadcast. He commented: “Various circumstances of the liquidation of the Kozelsk (Kozielsk) camp which I could not understand then—extreme precautions in formulating the transports, the brutal behavior of the guards, the precise orders from the central authorities in Moscow on who was going to be in each transport, and then, in 1941, the refusal to give General Sikorski any data as to the direction of those transports—became all too clear now.” (p. 222).
Holocaust-uniqueness proponents have argued that the genocides of non-Jews all had rational motives, while that of the Jews had none. Interestingly, Swianiewicz sees the Katyn massacre as an irrational act also. He writes: “The productive potential of the Polish officers’ camps was very large, thanks to the great number of specialists: engineers, technicians, agronomists, doctors and veterinarians. In Kozelsk (Kozielsk) alone, there were about three hundred doctors. All the time, during my stay in the camps, I thought that this potential was somewhere and in some way exploited by the Soviets. However, the NKVD preferred to destroy this potential, instead of using it in some economical, rational way. Those who were ruling Stalinist Russia considered other factors more important than economic effectiveness…” (p. 132).
The book jumps 30 years forward, into the 1970’s. Important works on Katyn are mentioned. Just before Swianiewicz was about to testify before a British panel in 1975 on Katyn, he was “mysteriously” attacked by goons and savagely beaten. (p. xv).
The book ends with the reproduction of a pamphlet distributed in September 2000 during the consecration of the cemetery at Mednoye. (p. 259). It says: “Forgive us, Poles!” Would it be that current (2010) Russian leaders still had that attitude!
Review of The Crime of Katyn: Facts & Documents, by the Polish Cultural Foundation, London. (1965). Caldra House Ltd., Sussex. Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
General Anders Affirms Katyn as Genocide. Document-Filled Book a Boon to Scholars
This English-language version was originally scheduled for publication in 1948, but wasn’t actually published until 1965, the 25thanniversary of the crime. General Wladyslaw Anders, who was to live until 1970, commented: “A quarter of a century has passed and this untried and unpunished crime of genocide lives in the memory of civilized nations.” (p. v).
One feature of this book not generally found in other books on Katyn is the chronological table of the convoys, which carried the doomed Poles, as they left the camp at Kozielsk. (pp. 60-61). This covers the period of April 3—May 12, 1940. Each entry lists the date, number of men removed, and the names of a few of them.
This work also includes the sentence-by-sentence conversation, between General Sikorski and General Anders on one hand, and Stalin on the other, concerning the whereabouts of the missing officers. (pp. 86-88). It was then that Stalin said the transparent absurdity about the men all having escaped toManchuria, which was only several thousand miles east of the POW camps. (p. 87).
Interestingly, throughout this period of Soviet dissembling, the claim that the POWs had fallen into the hands of the advancing Germans was never made. Instead, that was a later after-the-fact invention following the Nazi broadcast of April 1943.
There is the fascinating testimony of Ivan Krivozertsev, a Russian who claimed to have seen the arrival of the Poles at the death site in 1940. (pp. 229-240). Krivozertsev (“Michel Loboda”) was found hanged in postwarEngland(1947). (Suicide? Or a Communist “hit”?)
No insects (p. 130) were found on the bodies, pointing to an early-1940 (pre late-spring) death at the hands of the Soviets, not a mid-1941 (summer) death at the hands of the Germans. Other forensic details are provided, including that from the original German-sponsored international commission. There is also a document by the Polish physician, Marian Wodzinski. (pp. 191-228).
A thorough debunking of the Soviet Burdenko commission, which attempted to blame the Katyn crime on the Nazis, is included. (pp. 243-264). The Soviet case fell apart quite easily. For instance, there were a handful of mementos, postdating spring 1940, allegedly found by the Soviets on the bodies, thus supposedly proving a 1941 German murder date. However, the meagerness of these mementos in no way outweighs the thousands of exclusively pre-spring-1940 ones found earlier. A handful of mementos could easily be forged. Besides, no one got to see these “new” mementos besides the Soviet Commission [and there is no independent evidence that these new mementos actually came from the bodies.] (p. 263).
Review of Disaster Archaeology, by Richard A. Gould. 2007. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
The Science of Analyzing Dead Humans. Old Communist-Blaming Katyn Massacre Forensics Upheld
This work raises many topics, two of which I emphasize here. It delves into such things as 911-victim remains, fire victims, cannibalism, ethnoarchaeology, shipwrecks, individual and mass murders, etc. The reader will encounter many interesting facts. For instance, the failure of cadaver dogs to locate buried human remains does not rule out their local absence. (p. 152).
The discussion of cannibalism among the Pueblo(Acoma, Zuni, and Hopi) peoples is as fascinating as it is ghoulish. Cannibalism had long been discounted because it did not fit the “peaceful native Americans” conception, and because it was seen as furthering the racist notion that American Indians were savages. Gould elaborates on findings of disarticulated and burnt human bones that bear human-tool marks. This itself doesn’t prove that humans consumed human flesh. Polished bone-ends, indicating the stirring of bones in a pot while boiling, are more convincing. (pp. 138-139). Conclusive proof came in the form of human-myoglobin traces in a ceramic vessel (indicating that human flesh had been boiled in it), and human coprolites containing human remains. (pp. 141-142).
On another subject, Gould re-examines the forensic evidence used to infer that the Soviets, and not the Nazis, had been responsible for this crime. (pp. 157-159). Other than the evidence from saponification, which he finds not totally convincing (p. 158), he contends that all the other forensic evidence cited then has withstood the test of time. For instant, the bodies were so “glued” together that it would’ve been impossible, without causing obvious disruption, to plant pre-spring-1940 documents and newspaper articles on them or remove post-spring-1940 documents and newspaper articles from them.
After-the-fact Soviet claims of having discovered more recent documents on them lack credibility owing to the fact that there is no independent way of verifying the claim that they actually came from the bodies. (p. 159). Gould concludes: “Postwar and post-Glasnost documents have supported the findings of the three German-convened commissions, and a clear historical consensus has emerged that the Soviets bear full responsibility for the killings.” (p. 160).
Gould goes on to give the reader an example of the shameful long-term cover-up in the west regarding Communist guilt at Katyn. In 1975, decades after the war and the need for an unoffended Soviet ally against the Nazis, the Anglican Church voiced strong opposition to the placing of a Katyn monument on its cemetery grounds. (pp. 201-202). The real issue was the “1940” encryption on it. Belatedly, and in spite of additional interference, this time from the USSR, the Katyn monument was constructed on separate land.