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US presents declassified Katyń Documents

11.09.2012    source:

Documents regarding the Soviet mass murder of Polish officers at Katyń held in US possession have been declassified and put together on the National Archive website here

While a lot oft information was previously available to historians, there are new details, including information about encrypted reports from US prisoners of war which suggest that the Roosevelt Administration knew that the crime had been committed by the Soviets very early on.

How many people were genuinely convinced by the US line, maintained until Soviet admission under Gorbachev in 1990 that it could not say conclusively who was to blame is a moot point.

The Polish newspaper Wyborcza says that the documents are grouped into 318 files. Most are already known to historians, however around one thousand papers have been made available to the public for the first time. Up till now they were in the archives of the House of Representatives; the US State Department; the CIA; the FBI; military archives as well as the personal archives of Franklin D Roosevelt; Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

Poland’s Ambassador in Washington issued a joint statement with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, herself of Polish origin, who has been instrumental in getting the material declassified and gathered together.

The Honorable Marcy Kaptur and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, D.C. welcome the release of a recently declassified batch of source documents concerning the 1940 Katyń Massacre by the U.S. National Archives. The one thousand pages now available will greatly contribute to our knowledge about the crime committed in 1940 by the Soviet regime against the Polish Nation. 

The Katyń Forest, where the Soviet Secret Police brutally murdered more than 4, 000 Polish prisoners-of-war in 1940, is one of multiple sites containing the graves of over 22, 000 Polish high-ranking officers, policemen, civil servants and representatives of professions who formed the backbone of the civil society. The perpetrators of the massacre did their best to cover their tracks. When this failed, they attempted to shun responsibility for the crime. They also lied to the world about who was to blame. We appreciate the fact that Russian leaders ultimately acknowledged the truth about the perpetrators. 

However, we encourage the Russian Federation, Belarus and other states to fully declassify all documents about the crime and make them available to the public.
We are grateful to the Polish-American community and its U.S. friends for their constant engagement and perseverance which helped keep this issue alive. 
In 1951-52, the U.S. Congress Select Committee on the Katyń Forest Massacre named the perpetrators and helped to educate the world about what had happed in 1940 to so many of Poland’s best and brightest.

The most recent example of Poland’s cooperation with the U.S. Congress was the “Katyń Forest: Massacre, Politics, Morality” conference, hosted by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2010. Along the way, numerous actions by institutions and individuals, including Polish-Americans, have led us to today’s milestone in the search for truth. 

It is our sincere hope that this new batch of materials, which will be made available online, will prove invaluable to academics, scholars, journalists, experts and the general public. We are also confident that it will pave the way for the full and complete declassification and disclosure of all documents relating to the Massacre.
The Polish Government and the U.S. Congress remain steadfast in their partnership and commitment to revealing all aspects related to the Katyń Massacre.

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