Mourning Poland: Katyn's Curse

Mourning Poland: Katyn's Curse

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The air disaster which has just struck Poland echoes strangely like an echo of the massacre perpetrated in 1940 in Katyn, where the Polish delegation went to commemorate this dark episode of the Second World War. Katyn is a Russian village located in a forest on the outskirts of Smolensk, where the German army discovered on April 12, 1943 a mass grave of around 4000 corpses of Polish officers, each shot dead in the head. The Germans immediately affirmed that these Polish officers had been massacred by the Soviets, when the Red Army entered eastern Poland in 1939. An accusation that they vigorously reject on the Germans from April 15 ...

Polish elite beheaded

During the Nuremberg trials, the Soviets demand that the Katyn massacre be part of the war crimes alleged against the Nazis. But, despite the witnesses and evidence presented by the Soviets, the Allied tribunal decides not to rule. In 1953, an American commission of inquiry concluded that the Polish officers, interned at the Kozielsk camp by the Russians in 1939, were shot dead by the Soviet political police in 1940. But it was finally necessary to wait for the collapse of the Communist bloc for Michaël Gorbachev recognizes in 1990 the responsibility of the USSR in the massacre of Katyn.

Evidence of his planning by Stalin was handed over to the Polish government in 1992 by Boris Yeltsin, and in total more than 20,000 people representing the Polish elite were summarily executed by the Russians in 1940 in various camps. A physical elimination intended to break any hint of resistance in the area annexed by the USSR under the German-Soviet pact of 1939.

The Katyn Massacre was brought to the big screen in 2007 by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda. A film which has just been broadcast for the first time by a Russian public television channel, causing great emotion, despite a minority which persists in denying the responsibility of the Russians in these massacres.

See our article: From the German-Soviet Pact to the Katyn Massacre.



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