Katyn Forest Massacre

Katyn Forest is a wooded area near Gneizdovo village, a short distance from Smolensk in Russia where, in 1940 on Stalin's orders, the NKVD shot and buried over 4000 Polish service personnel that had been taken prisoner when the Soviet Union invaded Poland in September 1939 in WW2 in support of the Nazis and came to be  known as the Katyn Forest Massacre.

David Paterson Mirams, PO Box 17-141, Karori, Wellington, New Zealand asserts the moral right to be recognised as the author of this work.

[NKVD- Narodny Kommisariat Vnutrennikh Del. If you are Polish NKVD means “Nie wiadomo kiedy wroce do domu. Impossible to tell when I will return home.”]

In 1943 the Nazis exhumed the Polish dead and blamed the Soviets. In 1944, having retaken the Katyn area from the Nazis, the Soviets exhumed the Polish dead again and blamed the Nazis. The rest of the world took its usual sides in such arguments.

In 1989, with the collapse of Soviet Power, Premier Gorbachev finally admitted that the Soviet NKVD had executed the Poles, and confirmed two other burial sites similar to the site at Katyn. Stalin's order of March 1940 to execute by shooting some 25,700 Poles, including those found at the three sites, was also disclosed with the collapse of Soviet Power. This particular second world war slaughter of Poles is often referred to as the “Katyn Massacre” or the “Katyn Forest Massacre”.

The main purpose of this page is to contact others with an interest in the Katyn Forest Massacre. I'm a Katyn historian, living in New Zealand. I have visited the Katyn Forest in Russia twice, and also the second site with Polish dead from the “Katyn Forest Massacre” at Ymok village, near Tver, north of Moscow. I am interested in all aspects of the Katyn Massacre.

At the moment I want to establish whether or not the Polish dead, originally buried in Katyn are in fact still buried in Katyn Forest, or have otherwise been disposed of by Soviet Power. My enquiries of the authorities on this question have remained unanswered. While I am still open to considering other points of view on the matter, if they are supported by verifiable evidence, I think the Poles are no longer buried at Katyn. My article, The Soviet memory hole, tells why.

I was at the memorial service in Katyn Forest in 1995, and the speakers were proposing a permanent memorial at the site; relevant, but of less relevance if the Polish dead of Katyn Forest are now elsewhere; eg, in the Dnieper River since 1944 courtesy of Stalin after the Burdenko Commission. Katyn is a subject that arouses very deep passions. There are many views as to what happened, why and how, and with what consequences. There are also some who say that the Katyn Forest Massacre never happened, “but if it did the Nazis did it.”

If you follow the topic of Katyn at all you will soon see a wide range of opinions, dates, names and other “facts” sprayed about on the subject, on the net and in print. Like much of life and history, one believes what one chooses.

This site is for me to express my views and encourage the exploration of other points of view about Katyn and its ramifications. If you have seriously contrary views on the subject, please, set up your own site and let me have the address so I can list it here.

Anti-Semitism [many of those slaughtered in the Katyn affair were Jewish], the glories of Soviet Power [whatever they may have been], the denials of the Soviet/Nazi complicity, and the denials of Soviet slaughter may all have a place; this is not it. If you want to row these boats start your own site, somewhere far away please. I will still list it, I would just prefer not to have it for a neighbour.

While I have a “window on the world”: if history is your bug as much as mine, other than Katyn my other lesser historical interests, are the Treaty of Rapallo [co-operation between post-WW1 Germany and Soviet Union in the 1920's and 1930's], and a rebellion of Russian troops in France during WW1. The man who became Soviet Marshal Malinovski was a machine gunner in the detachment that rebelled.

There are four of my articles about the Katyn Massacre on my own website.

“Doing justice to the dead” was first published in 1991.

“Separate memories, separate sorrows” resulted from my second visit to Katyn in 1995, when the memorial service was being conducted and a new Polish memorial for the site was being talked about in the speeches.

“Lost Souls” is the expanded text of a speech which I gave to the Wellington Polish Association here in New Zealand in 1995.

“The Soviet memory hole” considers whether or not there are still any Poles buried at Katyn.

I have also put up a page for other sites related to Katyn and similar points of interest. For further information on the “Katyn Forest Massacre” please visit David's Website.

David Paterson Mirams

No part of this article has been altered by me David Smith, editor of Poland Travel Guide (formaly WebPoland) as I would like to acknowledge Mr Mirams work and am unable to better it myself. I thank him for the information above.

Katyn Forest Massacre Poland Travel Guide

Tatra Mountains in southern Poland