1943: Stalin’s Massacre in the Katyn Forest Came to Light

1943: Stalin’s Massacre in the Katyn Forest Came to Light
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 13 April 1943
  • Katyn Forest was the site where Stalin ordered many Polish officers and intellectuals killed. At the time, the Soviet Union had a secret pact with Germany to divide Poland between themselves.

On this day Nazi Germany announced the discovery of bodies of the murdered Polish officers and intellectuals who fell victim to the Stalinist regime in the Katyn Forest.

The Germans found the corpses on Russian territory, which was at that time held under their occupation. Katyn Forest is located near the Russian city of Smolensk, and was the location where Stalin had the Poles killed at a time when the Soviet Union, in a pact with Hitler, divided Poland.

Stalin’s police killed about 22,000 people. Nearly half of the total number of Polish military officers was killed, among them no less than 14 generals, 24 colonels, 7 chaplains, a Polish prince, 20 university professors, 300 doctors, 6,000 police officers, and a certain number of priests.

Hitler’s propaganda, of course, immediately used the discovered mass grave to further vilify the Soviet Union in the eyes of the world. The Nazis invited foreign journalists from neutral countries and officials of the International Red Cross to see the truth for themselves.

It is interesting that, Stalin immediately severed ties with the Red Cross due to the incident. The USSR and Russia denied responsibility for the Katyn massacre until 1990, but in that year they officially pleaded guilty to the crimes of Stalin’s police.

In 2010, the Polish president was flying to Russia to mark the anniversary of the massacre, when his plane crashed near the runway at Smolensk. All 96 passengers on the plane were killed, which made Katyn a double tragedy for the Polish people.

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