Tuesday, 11 September 2012


News from Associated press (WARSAW, Poland) that US POW's sent secret coded messages to Washington with news of the Soviet atrocity in the Katyn forest (in 1943) they saw rows of corpses in an advanced state of decay in the Katyn forest (on the western edge of Russia) which suggested that killers could not have been the Nazis who had only relatively recently occupied the area. The testimony about the massacre of Polish officers may have lessened the tragic fate that befell Poland under the Soviets and opened people’s eyes to the reality of Stalin’s rule.

The real mystery is how the messages (and files) disappeared for so many years in Washington DC. One long-held suggestion is that at the time President Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn't want to anger Josef Stalin, an ally whom the Americans (and British) were hoping would stay the course, not make a seperate peace, and help to defeat Germany and Japan in World War II.

US Documents that were released on Monday and seen in advance by The Associated Press lend weight to the belief that suppression within the highest levels of the U.S. government helped cover up Soviet guilt in the killing of some 22,000 Polish officers and prisoners in Katyn forest and elsewhere in 1940. Soviet denials were consistent until the dying days of Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe that reformist leader Mikhail Gorbachev publicly admitted to Soviet guilt at Katyn, a key step in Polish-Russian reconciliation.

The years of silence by the U.S. government has been a source of deep frustration for many Polish-Americans. Post war the Poles were betrayed by their former Western Allies and brave Polish servicemen, unlike every other nation who fought under Allied Command, were not invited to participate in the Victory Parade due to pressure from Stalin on the British Labour Government. Many years passed (along with the Soviet Union) before Poland and Russia finally achieved a degree of reconciliation.

Meanwhile in Hungary a former Communist interior minister, Bela Biszku (aged 90), who oversaw the crushing of the 1956 revolution, has been arrested on suspicion of war crimes. He is the first of the 1956 Communist leadership to face a criminal inquiry. Mr Biszku, is accused of failing to protect civilians in wartime, and of responsibility for ordering security forces to open fire on crowds. It’s been 22 years since the fall of communism, and 44 years since Hungary signed the 1968 New York Convention on bringing those responsible for war crimes to justice.

In 2011 the ‘Biszku Law’ was drawn up, allowing for the 1968 New York Convention to be incorporated into Hungarian law. Back in February, the Budapest Prosecution Service began its investigation, Mr Biszku’s arrest follows the detention (and release into house arrest), of Laszlo Csatary (aged 97), the former police chief of the Jewish ghetto in Kosice, who oversaw both the ghetto and the deportations to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944. Some business should never be unfinished and war crimes should never go unrecognised and it’s never too late to investigate and to prosecute.

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