Record of the U.S. Congress regarding the Katyn Forest Massacre
From the Congressional Record of the Congress of the United States: The Katyn Committee Report recorded on July 2nd, 1952 but not released to the general public until August of 2001. The official name of the committee was the United States House Select Committee to Conduct an Investigation of the Facts, Evidence, and Circumstances of the Katyn Forest Massacre (Wikipedia).
See the original document in PDF format here. The section containing this report is found beginning in the lower right-hand column of page 1.
While this is not news by any means, there is still propaganda on the internet and in some old history books attributing the Katyn Forest Massacre to National Socialist Germany, or leaving the question open for debate. This report consists of three speakers, all of them members of Congress and of the Katyn committee. The first and third speakers, Rep. Ray Madden of Indiana and Rep. Timothy Sheehan of Illinois, seem to have been rather balanced and unbiased, remaining focused sufficiently on Katyn and the implications of concealing knowledge of Katyn which would be suffered in various aspects. We found Sheehan’s testimony concerning all the missing documents during and after the War quite interesting. When history disappears, it is easier to rewrite. The second speaker, Rep. Tadeusz Machrowicz of Michigan, who was evidently an ethnic Pole, had to take time to slander the “Nazis” in relation to other, unnamed atrocities supposedly proven at Nuremberg. At one point in his career as a Congressman, Machrowicz was lauded by the Jewish Telegraph Agency for having submitted a bill for “Aid to victims of Nazis”, even if they were not American citizens during the war. – William Finck
Below: German soldiers exhuming a mass grave in Katyn Forest. Reuters must have known who was the real culprit, and decided not to report on the incident properly.
KATYN COMMITTEE REPORT
Mr. MADDEN. Mr. Speaker, today the Special Katyn Investigating Committee filed its report concluding from its hearings that Soviet Russia is guilty of the mass murders of the Polish officers and civilians in the Katyn Forest.
The report submitted to the House of Representatives is unprecedented in the history of Congress. When House Resolution 390 was first considered by Congress last September, very few people in the United States or the world remembered the controversy of 9 years ago as to whether the Soviets or Nazis committed one of the most barbarous international crimes in world history.
If our generation had permitted an atrocity of this magnitude to pass without exposing the guilty, future historians would classify the free democratic nations of this generation as indifferent to mass murder and international crimes against humanity.
On behalf of all the members of our committee, I wish to thank the Members of Congress for giving our committee authority to undertake this complex and difficult task which we started 9 months ago. All members of our committee are extremely grateful over the cooperation we received from Government departments, organizations, and individuals in the United States. England, and Europe. Without this valuable aid our work could not have been successful. As chairman, I especially thank each member of our committee and also John J. Mitchell, counsel, and Roman Pucinski, investigator, for their diligent cooperation and long hours of extra work which resulted in the recording of the great amount of evidence, testimony, and exhibits as set out in our hearings. Our committee is already besieged with requests of copies of our hearings and report. These requests come from persons and organizations in this country and abroad.
Today I have also filed a resolution which I hope the Congress will approve. This resolution requests that the hearings, findings, conclusions, and recommendations of our committee be referred to the United Nations for action.
The committee held a series of hearings in Washington, Chicago, London, and Frankfort, Germany. Depositions were also taken In Berlin and Italy.
In the course of the hearings held by our committee to date, testimony has been taken from a total of 81 witnesses; 183 exhibits have been studied and made part of the record, and more than 100 depositions were taken from witnesses who could not appear at the hearings. In addition, the committee staff has questioned more than 200 other individuals who offered to appear as witnesses but whose information was mostly of a corroborating nature.
On behalf of our committee, I hereby submit excerpts from our report:
This committee unanimously agrees that evidence dealing with the first phase of its investigation proves conclusively and irrevocably the Soviet NKVD (Peoples’ Commissariat of Internal Affairs) committed the massacre of Polish Army officers In the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, Russia, not later than the spring of 1940.
This committee further concludes that the Soviets had plotted this criminal extermination of Poland's intellectual leadership as early as the fall of 1939 – shortly after Russia’s treacherous invasion of the Polish Nation’s borders. There can be no doubt this massacre was a calculated plot to eliminate all Polish leaders who subsequently would have opposed the Soviets' plans for communizing Poland.
In the course of its investigation, this committee has observed a striking similarity between what happened to the Polish officers in Katyn and the events now taking place in Korea. We unanimously agree that this committee would be remiss in its duty to the American people and the free people of the world if it failed to point out that the identical evasions by the Soviets to the Polish Government while the Poles were searching for their missing officers in 1941 appear again in the delaying tactics now being used by the Communists in Korea.
This committee feels that Katyn may well have been a blueprint for Korea. Just as the Soviets failed for almost 2 years to account for the missing Polish officers, so to this day the Communists In Korea have failed to account for many thousands of captured United Nations soldiers. Among these are 8,000 Americans whom General Ridgway described as atrocity victims in his report to the United Nations last July, and the estimated 60,000 South Koreans still unaccounted for.
The Communists’ delaying tactics in the Korean peace talks today may be from the same cloth as the nebulous replies received from the Soviets by the Poles in 1941-42 while they searched for their missing officers.
This committee unanimously finds, beyond any question of reasonable doubt, that the Soviet NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) committed the mass murders of the Polish officers and intellectual leaders in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, Russia.
The evidence, testimony. records, and exhibits recorded by this committee through its investigations and hearings during the last 9 months overwhelmingly will show the people of the world that Russia was directly responsible for the Katyn massacre. Throughout our entire proceedings there has not been a scintilla of proof or even any remote circumstantial evidence presented that could indict any other nation in this international crime.
It is an established fact that approximately 15,000 Polish prisoners were interned in three Soviet camps: Kozielsk, Starobielsk, and Ostashkov in the winter of 1939-40. With the exception of 400 prisoners, these men have not been heard from, seen, or found since the spring of 1940. Following the discovery of the graves in 1943, when the Germans occupied this territory, they claimed there were 11,000 Poles buried in Katyn. The Russians recovered the territory from the Germans in September 1943, and likewise they stated that 11,000 Poles were burled in those mass graves.
Evidence heard by this committee repeatedly points to the certainty that only those prisoners interned at Kozielsk were massacred in the Katyn Forest. Testimony of the Polish Red Cross officals definitely established that 4,143 bodies were actually exhumed from the seven mass graves. On the basis of further evidence, we are equally certain that the rest of the 15,000 Polish officers, those interned at Starobielsk and Ostashkov, were executed in a similar brutal manner. Those from Starobielsk were disposed of near Kharkov, and those from Ostashkov met a similar fate. Testimony was presented by several witnesses that the Ostashkov prisoners were placed on barges and drowned in the White Sea. Thus the committee believes that there are at least two other “Katyns” in Russia.
No one could entertain any doubt of Russian guilt for the Katyn massacre when the following evidence is considered:
1. The Russians refused to allow the International committee of the Red Cross to make a neutral investigation of the German charges in 1943.
2. The Russians failed to invite any neutral observers to participate in their own investigation in 1944, except a group of newspaper correspondents taken to Katyn who agreed “the whole show was staged” by the Soviets.
3. The Russians failed to produce sufficient evidence at Nuremberg – even though they were in charge of the prosecution – to obtain a ruling on the German guilt for Katyn by the International Military Tribunal.
4. This committee issued formal and public invitations to the Government of the U. S. S. R. to present any evidence pertaining to the Katyn massacre. The Soviets refused to participate in any phase of this committee’s investigation.
5. The overwhelming testimony of prisoners formerly interned at the three camps, of medical experts who performed autopsies on the massacred bodies, and of observers taken to the scene of the crime conclusively confirms this committee's findings.
6. Polish Government leaders and military men who conferred with Stalin, Molotov, and NKVD chief Beria for a year and a half attempted without success to locate the Polish prisoners before the Germans discovered Katyn. This renders further proof that the Soviets purposely misled the Poles in denying any knowledge of the whereabouts of their officers when, in fact, the Poles were buried in the mass graves at Katyn.
7. The Soviets have demonstrated through their highly organized propaganda machinery that they fear to have the people behind the iron curtain know the truth about Katyn. This is proven by their reaction to our committee’s efforts and the amount of newspaper space and radio time devoted to denouncing the work of our committee. They also republished in all newspapers behind the iron curtain the allegedly “neutral” Russian report of 1944. The world-wide campaign of slander by the Soviets against our committee is also construed as another effort to block this investigation.
8. This committee believes that one of the reasons for the staging of the recent Soviet “germ warfare” propaganda campaign was to divert attention of the people behind the iron curtain from the hearings of our committee.
9. Our committee has been petitioned to investigate mass executions and crimes against humanity committed in other countries behind the iron curtain. The committee has heard testimony which indicates there are other “Katyns.” We wish to impress with all the means at our command that the investigation of the Katyn massacre barely scratches the surface of numerous crimes against humanity perpetrated by totalitarian powers. This committee believes that an international tribunal should be established to investigate willful and mass executions wherever they have been committed. The United Nations will fail in their obligation until they expose to the world that “Katynism” is a definite and diabolical totalitarian plan for world conquest.
This committee unanimously recommends that the House of Representatives approve the committee's findings and adopt a resolution:
1. Requesting the President of the United States to forward the testimony, evidence, and findings of this committee to the United States delegates at the United Nations;
2 Requesting further that the President of the United States issue instructions to the United States delegates to present the Katyn case to the General Assembly of the United Nations;
3. Requesting that appropriate steps be taken by the General Assembly to seek action before the International World Court of Justice against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for committing a crime at Katyn which was in violation of the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations;
4. Requesting the President of the United States to instruct the United States delegation to seek the establishment of an international commission which would investigate other mass murders and crimes against humanity.
Mr. MACHROWICZ. Mr. Speaker, I believe the interim report and recommendation filed today with the House of Representatives is an important contribution to the cause of international justice and is proof to the world that the representatives of the American people are willing and ready to assume their proper role in maintaining American moral leadership in the world.
I am confident that the report and recommendations will be overwhelmingly adopted. I wish to make it clear and unmistakable that our committee does not attempt to minimize the Nazi guilt for the many atrocities for which their leaders have been convicted at Nuremberg. It merely confirms the fact that the Communists have been equally guilty of mass murders, of which Katyn is merely one typical example.
Our report and findings have also served to warn the American public and free world of what we may expect from the Communists in Korea in their treatment of our prisoners.
As stated in the report, it merely scratches the surface of the vast field that could be explored to determine the tremendous extent of atrocities and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Communists and the Nazis. Neither the time nor the limitations of the resolution of the House of Representatives permitted the investigation of the many other instances which were brought to the attention of the committee.
The United Nations, to whom we ask that this report be transmitted, should also look into the fate of the 16 fearless Polish underground leaders, who in March of 1945, were invited to Moscow by Marshal Zhukov under the pretext of begining [sic] Polish-Soviet negotiations. There they were treacherously placed under arrest and placed in the infamous Lubianka prison.
This fact was, at first carefully concealed by the Russians but was finally revealed during the conference at San Francisco, where it evoked widespread indignation of world opinion.
Under the influence of our appeasement policy, however, this matter was hushed in order not to antagonize the Russians, with whom we thought we could come to an agreement.
After 7 years what was the result of that policy? At least four of these brave leaders have died in jail as a result of the tortures suffered. Others, after release from the prison in Moscow, were again thrown into jails in Soviet-dominated Poland, where they are languishing.
Former Ministers Jasiukowicz and Bien were sentenced in Moscow to 5 years imprisonment. They therefore should have been released and returned to Poland not later than March of 1950. To this day, 2½ years later, there is no sign of life of either of them. Neither is there any news of the fate of the former Minister, Pajdak, who was excused from the Moscow trial because of illness.
Seven and one-half years after his arrest he has not returned to Poland, nor has he been heard from.
The United Nations Organization recently adopted a bill of human rights which provides that no individual may be arrested without a proper Court determination, that no one shall be deprived of his rights before a public court trial and that no one can be imprisoned longer than provided for in the court's verdict. The Soviet representative refrained from voting because he thought the provisions were not sufficiently democratic and there is no assurance of the execution of the provisions.
It is [sic Is it… ?] not time to expose this horrible cynicism of the Moscow Communists, and to show them that the United States respects the decisions in which it participates and is willing and ready to enforce them?
Would that not be the best way to demonstrate to Poland and to the other nations behind the iron curtain that the United States has determined to defend the principles of justice against force?
Action by our Government to determine the fate of these brave Polish underground leaders illegally held by Russia in prisons or concentration camps will do more for the cause of the United Nations than any other propaganda behind the iron curtain, based on promises rather than actions.
Mr. SHEEHAN. Mr. Speaker, like the other members of the select committee to conduct an investigation and study of the facts, evidence, and circumstances of the Katyn Forest massacre, I join with them in this unanimous report, which interim report covers the first phase of the hearings in which we have assembled the evidence to establish that the Russian Communist Government and, more idrectly [sic directly], the NKVD organization is responsible for the mass murders of Polish soldiers in the Katyn Forest.
From a study of our interim report, it will be readily seen why we arrived at this conclusion. It is not necessary for me to enlarge upon the material put forth in the interim report.
However, I want to point out that there remains the second phase of the procedure, and while we did go into it in a small way, having heard from four different witnesses connected with the loss of the Van Vliet report, as yet no conclusions have been reached and it will take further hearings in order to arrive at a proper determination regarding the missing American document.
The committee has published the hearings relative to the testimony of General Bissell, Colonel Lantaff, Mrs. Meres, and Col Ivan Yeaton, all of whom were questioned with reference to the missing Van Vliet report, which he made upon his return to this country in April of 1945. As an offhand observation, I could readily see where a report could be mislaid or misfiled, however, in my particular judgment this was a very historical and momentous report as even General Bissell himself testified, and I would think anyone handling it at any point would remember exactly what they did with a paper of such importance.
When we look back just a few years and find that in the G-2 Department of the Army, under General Bissell’s command, there were other very vital documents missing, it causes one to raise an eyebrow and wonder if there may be something wrong with that department. Testimony before various congressional committees shows that during the Pearl Harbor investigations many vital documents which were necessary to complete the investigation were destroyed in the G-2 Department of the Army. During the MacArthur hearings it was revealed that a group of Army colonels had made a factual study of our relationship with Russia and advised the Intelligence Department of the Army and the Secretary of State that we should be very careful about entering into any agreements with Russia. These same officers advised the United States against entering into any such agreements and as it has turned out the documentation of that advice is also missing in the Intelligence Department of the Army. General Bissell having been in command of G-2 at the time of its submission. Then, we come down to our own Katyn massacre investigation and find that the most important document concerning the investigation, as far as our American policy with regard to it is concerned, is also missing. I again repeat – it causes one to raise one’s eyebrows that so many very important documents are amongst the lost, missing, stolen, or, as the Army would phrase it, “compromised.”
During World War II, I can readily see where it might have been in the interests of the United States to suppress evidence we have had on the Katyn massacre in order that we could successfully complete the war. Yet, immediately after the end of the war, I am at a loss to see why we would want to continue to hide the facts surrounding Katyn from the American public. Not alone did our Government have information from Van Vliet, but it also had various other reports from England, such as the Hulls report and the Gilder report, both of which pointed to the Russians. We also had evidence from military attachés from various parts of the world channeled into the State Department, giving us an idea of what the Russians were up to in their mass murders and in their attempt to do away with the intelligensia of allied and neutral nations. With all this information at the end of the war, it is incomprehensible to me why we suppressed these reports. As I understand it, even the OWI and the Voice of America were in the ambiguous position of not being permitted to tell the people of the United States and the rest of the world the truth as they knew it. These are all very interesting points which need to be more fully considered in the second phase of the investigation. If the committee is to do a thorough job it should have further hearings in order to reveal to the public the exact details as to American knowledge of Communist Russia's part in killing off the Polish intelligensia, so that the people can know whether the facts were suppressed through stupidity or with malice aforethought because of Communist sympathies within our own Government.