Gallery 2. Soviet Tyranny
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The Katyn Massacres (1940)
- The collective murder of 21,857 Polish POWs and civilian prisoners by the NKVD in the Spring of 1940 is known as the Katyn Massacres.
- The murders took place in the Katyn forest as well as Kharvkov, Tver, Bykownia and still undisclosed locations in Belarus.
- Following the invasion of Poland September 1939, the Soviets took over 15,000 POWs (mostly Officers) to 3 special POW camps at Kozelsk, Starobelsk and Ostashkov in Russia.
- In addition, 11,000 non-military prisoners were held in prisons in Eastern Poland by the NKVD – thousands were State Policemen.
- On the 5th March 1940 the Politburo approved Beria’s recommendation that the POWs and prisoners by punished – death by shooting.
- Stalin signed the order.
- Over 5 weeks in April and May 1940 all 21,857 POWs and civilian prisoners, at various locations, were executed by a shot in the back of the head.
- In April 1943, the Germans announced their discovery of thousands of bodies of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest. German propoganda accused the Soviets of the massacre.
- This provoked a political crisis. Stalin broke off relations with the Polish Government-in-Exile. Britain and America, not wanting to alienate their Soviet ally, suppressed the truth.
- On 13th April 1990, Gorbachev released archives admitting NKVD guilt in the Katyn murders.
- Katyn was part of a wider “Sovietization” policy. By removing the cream of Poland’s patriots, leaders and intelligentsia, Stalin was laying the groundwork for his take-over of our country.
Jan Pacewicz (right), Police Constable with Rowne constabulary executed in Kiev. Porucznik Eugeniusz Pieklo, from Dzierkowszczyzna Poland, murdered at Katyn. Konstanty Peszyński, killed in Katyn massacres. Polish Officers killed at Katyn. Photographs TestimoniesThe Katyn Massacres (1940) - the script for the audio narration
Generał Wojska Polskiego, killed in the Katyn massacres.Map showing the 3 “special camps” Reports from Count Raczynsky file at the National Archives
Son of Katyn Victim, deported to Kazakhstan 13 April 1940 aged 17 years