On this date, March 5, 1940, Six high-ranking members of Soviet politburo, including General Secretary Joseph Stalin, sign an order for the execution of 25,700 Polish intelligentsia, including 14,700 Polish POWs, in what will become known as the Katyn massacre. I will post information about the letter from Wikipedia and Wikisource.
The first page of Beria‚s notice (oversigned by Stalin and other high-ranking Politburo members), to kill approximately 25,000 Polish officers and intellectuals in the Katyn Forest and other places in the Soviet Union.
English: The accepted proposal of Lavrentiy Beria to execute former Polish army and police officers in NKVD prisoner of war camps and prisons. March 1940.TOP SECRETFrom the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to comrade STALINIn the NKVD POW camps and in the prisons of the western oblasts of Ukraine and Belorussia there is currently a large number of former officers of the Polish army, former Polish police officers and employees of intelligence agencies, members of Polish nationalist c-r (counterrevolutionary) parties, participants in underground c-r rebel organizations, defectors and so on. All of them are implacable enemies of Soviet power and full of hatred for the Soviet system.POW officers and policemen located in the camps are attempting to continue c-r work and are leading anti-Soviet agitation. Each of them is simply waiting to be freed so they can have the opportunity to actively join the fight against Soviet power.NKVD agents in the western oblasts of Ukraine and Belorussia have uncovered a number of c-r rebel organizations. In each of these c-r organizations the former officers of the former Polish army and former Polish police officers played an active leadership role.Among the detained defectors and violators of the state-(Signatures: In favor – Stalin, Voroshilov, Molotov, Mikoyan)(In margin: Comrade Kalinin – In favor. Comrade Kaganovich – In favor.)
- INTERNET SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre#Background
On 5 March 1940, pursuant to a note to Joseph Stalin from Beria, six members of the Soviet Politburo—Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Kliment Voroshilov, Anastas Mikoyan, and Mikhail Kalinin—signed an order to execute 25,700 Polish „nationalists and counterrevolutionaries” kept at camps and prisons in occupied western Ukraine and Belarus. The reason for the massacre, according to historianGerhard Weinberg, was that Stalin wanted to deprive a potential future Polish military of a large portion of its talent:
It has been suggested that the motive for this terrible step [the Katyn massacre] was to reassure the Germans as to the reality of Soviet anti-Polish policy. This explanation is completely unconvincing in view of the care with which the Soviet regime kept the massacre secret from the very German government it was supposed to impress. … A more likely explanation is that … [the massacre] should be seen as looking forward to a future in which there might again be a Poland on the Soviet Union’s western border. Since he intended to keep the eastern portion of the country in any case, Stalin could be certain that any revived Poland would be unfriendly. Under those circumstances, depriving it of a large proportion of its military and technical elite would make it weaker.
In addition, the Soviets realized that the prisoners constituted a large body of trained and motivated Poles who would not accept a Fourth Partition of Poland.
- INTERNET SOURCE: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/NKVD_Letter_%E2%84%96_00794/B
PEOPLE’S COMMISSARIAT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Central Committee, VKP(b)
TO COMRADE STALIN
A large quantity of former officials of the Polish Army, employees of the Polish Police and intelligence services, members of the Polish Nationalistic Party, counter-revolutionaries, discovered members pertaining to insurgent groups of counter-revolutionaries, fugitive and others, all of them sworn enemies of the Soviet régime, who hate the Soviet system, are at the moment in prisoners of war field camps of the NKVD OF THE USSR and in prisons of Ukraine and Byelorussia.
The prisoners of war and policemen in field camps conduct anti-Soviet agitation. Each one of them is only hoping and awaits release in order to have the capability actively to be included in activities against the Soviet régime.
The organs of the NKVD in the western provinces of Ukraine and Byelorussia have discovered a number of insurgent counter-revolutionary organizations.
Former officials of the former Polish Army and policemen, as well as of gendarmerie have shown that they are participating in espionage and insurgent activities. Among the prisoners (without considering the soldiers and officials composition) there are 14,736 former officials, government civil employees, landowners, police, gendarmes, prison guards, colonizers of border regions and intelligence officials – by nationality more than 97% are Polish, among them:
- 295 generals, colonels and lieutenant colonels
- 2080 majors and captains
- 6049 lieutenants, second lieutenant and lieutenants
- 1030 Senior officers and low-order commanders of the police
- 5138 Policemen, gendarmes, prison guards and personnel to us of intelligence
- 144 officials, landowners, Roman Catholic priests and colonizers of border regions
In the western region of Ukraine and Byelorussia, there are 18,632 Prisoners (10,685 of them Poles), including:
- 1207 former officials
- 5141 former policemen, intelligence officials and gendarmerie
- 347 spies and saboteurs
- 465 former landowners, factory owners and civil employees of government
- 5345 Members of several insurgent organizations and other counter-revolutionary elements.
- 6127 Fugitives
On the basis of the fact that they all are declared enemy of the Soviet régime, the NKVD OF THE USSR considers it necessary:
I To authorize the NKVD OF THE USSR:
1) in the matters about the prisoners of war in field camps of 14,700 people of former Polish officials, landowners, policemen, civil employees of government, intelligence officials, gendarmes, colonizers of the border regions and prison guards
2) and also the matter about those arrested and located in prisons in the western regions of Ukraine and Byelorussia in a quantity of 11,000 people, insurgents, spies and saboteurs, former landowners, factory owners, former Polish police officials, fugitive civil employees of government, the highest method of punishment due to apply to them – execution.
II The examination of the cases will have to be carried out without instructing summary and without raising positions. The manifestos with the final decision about the end consequence and accusatory conclusion in following:
a) for the people located in field camps for prisoners of war, the certificate form emitted by the NKVD OF THE USSR;
b) for the arrested persons in the certificate form emitted by the NKVD OF THE RSS of Ukraine and the NKVD OF THE RSS of Byelorussia.
III The cases will have to be examined and the verdicts pronounced by a court of three consistent members of the comrades Merkulov, Kobulov and Bashtakov (chief of the 1st special section NKVD OF THE USSR)
PEOPLES COMMISSIONER OF THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Of the Union OF SSR
(signature) L. Beria
[On the 1st page in a bold hand across the entire text are the signatures (following the word „za”, i.e. „for [the proposal]”) of Stalin, Voroshilov, Molotov and Mikoyan made with colored pencils. A handwritten note says „com[rade] Kalinin – for [the proposal] / com[rade] Kaganovich for [the proposal]”.
On the top of the first page, above the „TOP SECRET” designation, there is supposed to be a form stamp, which can be barely seen. Inside the stamp it is written by hand: „13 144OP”, which signifies protocol no. 13, item 144 OP, where „OP” is „osobaya papka”, „special file”.
Below the „TOP SECRET” designation there is a date „from 5.III.1940”; this is the date of the Politburo decision according to this proposal.
On p. 3 in the enumeration of the composition of „troika”, Beria’s surname is crossed-out and the surname „Kobulov” is inscribed by hand.]
Title image: A mass grave at Katyn, 1943. [Source: wikipedia.com]