Russia to unveil documents on WW II massacre of Poles

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Russia’s federal archive agency will provide access to digital copies of documents on the Katyn massacre, in which thousands of Poles were executed, to end speculations about their authenticity, the agency’s chief said Wednesday.

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This year will mark 20 years since Russian authorities first admitted that thousands of Poles were executed by the NKVD secret police in “one of the gravest crimes of Stalinism”.

Andrei Artizov said that until now many people had doubted the authenticity of documents related to the crime.

“(They) say it’s a fake, these documents were fabricated on someone’s order and that there was no (Soviet) execution of Polish officers in Katyn, that Germans did it,” he said.

Thousands of officers, police and civilians taken prisoner during the 1939 partitioning of Poland by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were killed by the NKVD in the Katyn forest near the western Russian city of Smolensk. The Soviet Union tried to blame the massacre on Nazi Germany, saying the killings took place in 1941, when the territory was in German hands.

Until 1990s, documents from the top-secret File No.1, which place the blame solely on the Soviet Union, had been kept in a sealed envelope in the secret archive of the Communist Party’s ruling Politburo.

“It contained a note by NKVD head (Lavrentiy) Beria dated March 1940, with a proposal to eliminate captured Polish officers. The note has authentic resolutions by (Joseph) Stalin and a number of other Politburo members: (Kliment) Voroshilov, (Vyacheslav) Molotov, (Anastas) Mikoyan. That envelope also contains a Politburo resolution, dated March 5, 1940, which expresses support for Beria’s proposal to shoot the Polish officers,” Artizov said.

In October 1990 Russian President Boris Yeltsin handed copies of these documents to the Polish president.

Text versions of the documents were made available in 1992. Later that year, the new Russian authorities used File No.1 as evidence in their bid to ban the Communist Party.