[last revised November 27 2010]

The Katyn Forest Whodunnit

Also called: "The Truth About the Katyn Massacre" -- because you won't get the truth about it anywhere else. Everybody "knows" they are right -- but they do not know!

Breaking News!

November 27 2010

Bombshell revelations concerning Katyn -- Part 2

Dear friends and colleagues:

Yesterday I sent out an email about the "Katyn massacre bombshell" documents released two days ago by Viktor Iliukhin of the Russian Duma. If you didn't get it or want to read it again, you can see it here, below.

In that message I put a few lines of analysis.Here's a bit more such analysis.

On this page,


study the first, and last, photos of documents -- down at the bottom. These are among the documents Iliukhin revealed 2 days ago.

They appear to be rough drafts of the first document on this page,


This is the "Beria letter", what I refer to as the "smoking gun" document.

This "Beria letter", from "Closed Packet No.1", is on NKVD stationery. The two purported "rough draft" documents (above) are not.

OK, back to the purported rough draft documents (really, we should call ALL the documents here "puported", since the genuineness of all of them is questioned by somebody or other):


The BOTTOM document here would be an earlier draft than the top document. This BOTTOM document contains remarks such as these:

"1). 2). They used to write Ukrainian SSR, Belorussian SSR."

This is to correct the text, where we find "1) Ukraine" and "2) Belorussia".

This same suggestion is made further down, where you see "5). 6)".

Again, every instance of "k-r" in the text (meaning "counterrevolutionary") is underlinked, and the last marginal comment on this page reads

"in the NKVD they did not write 'k.r.'!!!"

At the top of this bottom document are the names of the signatures to be forged. On this draft the last two names are Mikoian and Kalinin.

In the later draft, and on the "original", the last two names are Kalinin and Kaganovich, whose signatures are not reproduced but noted at the side with a "za" -- i.e. they were consulted by telephone.

So if these documents are genuine, they refute the claim to genuineness of the "Beria Letter". And all the other documents in "Closed Packet No. 1" would also be fakes, since they all depend on the "Beria Letter."

Iliukhin said last July that one of the men involved in the forgeries had come forward and given him materials. He revealed some of them at that time.

Now, he has revealed this -- at a very strategic moment, too.

Here's the link to Iliukhin's speech to the Duma a couple of days ago:


It's all interesting. But note that he says the following!

I have put into your hands, and asked to be distributed through the hall, the rough draft which became the basis for the forgery of the note of Beria to Stalin. Ten days from now my respected colleagues and experts will present their deductions, and I will concretely state who was the source of this forgery. They are well-known persons who occupy today relatively high positions in our state.

So Iliukhin has promised to "name names" in 10 days. THAT'LL be interesting!

There are two Swedish blogs that are translating some of these materials into English. Go to:

* Mythcracker's Weblog - http://mythcracker.wordpress.com/

* Katyn Massacre in Light of New Facts - http://katynmassakern.blogspot.com/


November 26 2010

Bombshell revelations concerning Katyn

On November 24 Viktor Iliukhin, Duma member from the CPRF, released a four-page document of what he calls the "draft copy of the falsification of the Beria letter".

The "Beria letter" is the so-called "smoking gun" letter, the purported proof, that Stalin et al. ordered the Katyn massacre.

Here is the URL to the Iliukhin article and what he calls the "draft copy of the falsification." The article is in Russian, but look at the document!

Here's one place you can see the so-called "smoking gun" "Beria letter":


Here is my quick and dirty comparison, and a few thoughts.

Take a look at this article:


The images here purport to be the draft of the "Beria letter", and to be conclusive evidence that the Beria letter is a forgery.

If this document is genuine -- that's the real question -- then the Beria letter is certainly a forgery. This document would constitute conclusive proof of that fact.

And THAT would mean that "the Soviets did it" version of the Katyn Massacre is wrong, and that the Soviets almost certainly did not "do it." Maybe they did something along the lines of what Kaganovich evidently alleged -- see my own Katyn page, at http://www.tinyurl.com/katyn-the-truth -- but NOT the whole massacre as alleged.

I've gone over these 4 pages several times, including with a magnifying glass. Of course, it might be a very clever forgery. But it LOOKS genuine enough.

There are a number of places that are especially noteworthy, including (but not limited to) the following:

* p. 1- The note where the signatures for those approving the resolution are to be placed.

* p. 3 - The second line under point 2). Here the word "Ukrainy" is not divided, but is all on the second line. In the "original", the word is divided "Ukrai-ny", between lines 2 and 3 of point 2). This is the only place where the line breaks are different from the "original" -- and proves that this is different typing, not some kind of clever photocopy.

* p. 4 - the note on the left questioning the choice of Bashtakov and suggesting other names.

- Just as Mukhin did, starting in 1995! This would be quite a coincidence, and makes me wonder about whether this copy is genuine.

* p. 4 - The name "Kotunov" written between Merkulov and Bashtakov. In the "original" document the name written there is "Kobulov". I'm no expert in Russian handwriting, but the third letter in this name cannot be a "b". It must be a "t".

- This point doesn't prove anything. If the document is genuine, then one of the forgers heard or copied Kobulov's name incorrectly. If it's a forgery -- same thing. Most interesting is this: the HANDWRITING on the "original" and on this purported draft look identical! That would argue for its being genuine.

IMO this is a bombshell, just as Iliukhin's revelations last July were (see my Katyn page, above).


Dramatic developments in 2010:

11.24.10 - Viktor Ilyukhin releases purported forger's draft of "smoking gun" "Beria letter".

10.09.10 - Viktor Ilyukhin’s letter to Vladimir Putin re: falsification of Katyn documents

10.19.10 - Statement by CPRF: "The Falsification of History Has Got To Stop"

Duma Member Viktor Iliukhin says a government-sponsored forgery ring forged the Katyn "smoking gun" documents

(Click here to go directly to my summary of the dramatic latest developments after February 2010.)

(NOTE on Character Encoding in your browser. If you set the Character Encoding in your web browser for "Cyrillic (WIN-1251)" all the Russian as well as the English will appear correct except for a few "umlauts." To see them set your encoding for "Western (ISO-8859-1)". But then the Russian will not appear correctly. - GF)

Dear XXX:

You say you know the Soviets killed the Polish officers who are buried at Katyn.

But you do not know that. You believe that.

Belief is not the same thing as knowledge.

I've looked into this a good deal. In my view, nobody knows.

There is, in fact, widespread disagreement with the thesis that the Soviets killed the Polish officers buried at Katyn

Take a look at this New York Times article from June 29, 1945. It states that Walter Schellenberg, head of Hitler's SS intelligence service, told Allied interrogators that the Nazis had fabricated the whole issue, and that this account was independently corroborated by a Norwegian prisoner.

According to the study by Reinhard Doerries, a specialist in the Schellenberg interviews (Hitler's last chief of foreign intelligence: Allied interrogations of Walter Schellenberg. London: F.Cass, 2003) records of this interrogation of Schellenberg have disappeared from the report in the National Archives.* Interesting!

(* Doerries, p. 45, concerning the intelligence report "Report on the Interrogations of Walter Schellenberg 27 June - 12 July 1945", marked "Secret": "Although parts of this report give the impression of being incomplete,...". Also n.218, p. 353).

After this, the Cold War obscures everything.

In 1992 Eltsin finally turned over to the Poles some documents that, if genuine, would prove Soviet guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

However, the genuineness of these documents is in serious dispute.

I have studied the documents in question. There is a very good argument to be made that they are forgeries. (I'm being very, very brief here). But it is not certain that they were -- again, IMO.

It's actually fascinating! The "Soviets-did-it" camp simply ignore all the evidence that the Soviets did NOT do it, plus the evidence that the "smoking gun" Eltsin-era "documents" may be faked.

* * * * *

Because of the irrationality that goes with the Cold-War, anti-communist side, many people automatically assume that, if you do not "accept" -- or better, "believe," that's the word -- the "Soviets-did-it" evidence "valid", then you are denying that the Soviets did it.

That is nonsense, of course. Even if these documents turn out to have been forgeries, that would not mean the Soviets didn't do it. It would simply mean that the evidence doesn't prove they did.

Maybe the Soviets did it! After all, either the Soviets killed the Polish officers, or the Nazis did.

Or -- as I am increasingly inclined to think -- the Soviets shot some of the Polish officers, and then later the Nazis shot the rest, for different reasons.

So, maybe the Soviets did shoot them all. But the evidence is not there.

Here is the bottom line problem with the Eltsin "documents" -- there is no "chain of custody"  of the evidence.

For example the markings on the envelope containing these documents suggest they were shown to all First Secretaries of the Communist Party. But there are no markings to indicate they were ever shown to Gorbachev, and Gorbachev never referred to them.

Supposedly they were "discovered" in 1989. But Gorbachev denies having seen them, or knowing about them at all, at all until December 23, 1991, two days before he left office. (On these points see New York Times articles of October 15, 1992, p. A1 and October 16, 1992, p.A6, available from the Historical New York Times database).

Is it possible that they really existed, yet were never shown to Gorbachev? Who would have dared keep them from him?

There are a lot of internal problems with the documents that suggest they may have been forged. They've been thoroughly discussed in a number of books (all are in Russian).

Put the "chain of custody" issue -- the fact that these documents were not made public until 1992 but marks on the envelope show that they were "discovered" in 1989 -- with the internal problems, and you have a set of documents of doubtful validity.

Furthermore, the central document was supposedly signed by Lavrentiy Beria. But other forged "Beria" documents have been published in post-Soviet Russia, including some that were "inserted" into the Archives after they were forged. So "Beria" documents are suspicious.

Also, any documents that suddenly "emerge" and purport to "solve" long-standing historical controversies are to be regarded with suspicion ipso facto.

However, I'm not convinced the documents are forged either.

In his recent book Stalin's Wars British historian Geoffrey Roberts makes what I take to be some equivocal remarks about Katyn. Here's my take on them.

Roberts summarizes the canonical, "the Soviets did it" view of Katyn, but in his footnote (n.27, p. 399) says that his accounts are based "mainly on two collections of documents from the Russian/Soviet archives: Katyn': Plenniki Neob'yavlennoi Voiny,  Moscow 1997 and Katyn': Mart 1940g.-Sentyabr' 2000 g, Moscow 2001."

Why tell us this? I assume the purpose is to say: "I'm just summarizing these authoritative accounts." That is, "I'm not taking an independent position on this."

THEN Roberts goes out of his way to quote Averill Harriman's account from the still-private Harriman papers. He quotes Kathleen Harriman twice -- she was invited by the Soviets to view Katyn' while the Burdenko (Soviet) commission was there in January 1944.

In the footnote (n.29, p. 400) Roberts records Harriman's summarizing his daughter's conclusion that "from the general evidence and the testimony Kathleen and the Embassy staff member believe that in all probability the massacre was perpetrated by the Germans."

In the TEXT (pp. 171-2) -- not everybody reads all the footnotes, of course -- there's a much longer quotation from Kathleen Harriman.

First, she remarks on how "fresh" the bodies looked. This was a big issue with Burdenko. The Germans said the Soviets had shot the Polish officers in the Spring of 1940, which would have meant they'd have been in the ground during three whole summers, when the earth is warm and decomposition would be rapid.

The Soviets contended that the Germans had shot the Poles in the Fall of 1941, so they'd have been in the ground during only two summers (1942 and 1943). Logically, therefore, better preserved bodies would point towards German guilt.

Problem is: what's the standard of comparison for the "freshness" of corpses buried in that soil and that climate? There isn't one; so "freshness" is not a reliable indication of anything.

But Roberts then includes the following sentence from Kathleen Harriman's account:

"Though the Germans had ripped open the Poles' pockets, they'd missed some written documents. While I was watching, they found one letter dated the summer of '41, which is damned good evidence."

Well, THAT'S useful information! Roberts simply does not comment on it further.

Question is: Why did Roberts put this in at all? There can be only one reason: to signal to the attentive reader that he is not taking a position of his own on Katyn'. He's just putting the evidence down, leaving the reader to infer that it is contradictory while not explicitly saying so himself -- that would get him into trouble with the "right-thinking" anticommunists -- and moving on.

That's the way I read Roberts' remarks, anyway.

Perhaps this paper was "planted" by the Soviets, to dupe Ms Harriman? Sure -- and perhaps all the similar papers found by the Germans were planted by them, to fool the Polish Red Cross and other observers in 1943.

Or, maybe none of these documents were "planted" -- which would mean that the Soviets had shot some of the officers, and the Germans shot others. But nobody wants to hear that! Certainly not the Polish nationalists and anticommunists, because it would ruin a perfectly good "communist atrocity story."

There is lots of other tantalizing stuff. For example, the German Report itself, Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Katyn (Berlin: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, Franz Eher Nachf. G.m.b.H., 1943) reproduces on p. 330 a very poorly-preserved document from a body at Katyn.

You can't read the date on the reproduction, but the caption says the document is from "October 20, 1941." I've put a PDF copy of this page on line here. Check it out! (The underlining of the date on this page is by me).

A mistake? Sure, any way you look at it, the Nazis would not have wanted a date after Spring 1940 in their report!

But is this a "misprint"? Or is it a German clerk back in Berlin reading the original document and simply putting down the date he saw, which then gets through some German proofreader?

In general, all the "Soviets-Did-It" accounts rely heavily on this German, i.e. Nazi, report. It is amazing that "scholars" are so ready to believe this Goebbels propaganda report.

And there are lots of other problems with the report too. For one thing, the Captain (Hauptmann) named in the above document is not on the list of bodies given in the German report. So where did this document come from?

The major attempt to prove that the Soviets did not do it is IUrii Mukhin, Antirossiiskaia Podlost' (Moscow: Krymskii Most 9-D,  2003). It's a fascinating work! And, at 762 pages in Russian, not a "popular" work. I've read it four times, cover to cover. (An earlier work by Mukhin, Katynskii Detektiv, is very briefly summarized here).

An even more recent book is by Viacheslav Shved, Taina Katyni, also now available online here. Shved has also concluded that the Soviets did shoot some of the Poles. He has a number of articles online as well.

Mukhin's later, large work, as well as that of Shved and others, is completely ignored by those who claim the "Soviets Did It." Why? Your guess is as good as mine!

No, let me correct that. Mukhin's, Shved's, et al. work is ignored BECAUSE it questions the "official version", the "canonical" anticommunist and Polish nationalist story.

By "ignored", I mean -- completely omitted. For example, see the latest volume in the Yale University Press 'Annals of Communism' series, Katyn. A Crime Without Punishment (Yale U.P., 2007.

This 558-page work does not even mention that there is a controversy over the Eltsin documents and the Katyn massacre! Yes this is what "scholarly" works are supposed to do, right -- discuss historical controversies, analyze the evidence, and so on?

After all, why ruin a perfectly good anticommunist account by dealing honestly with the controversy and evidence that exists?

There is a huge amount of DENIAL going on about this and other issues in Soviet history during the Stalin period.

OK, So where does that leave the question?  Here is what I think:

NOBODY CARES what happened to the Polish officers! Nobody, including the Poles.

Furthermore, nobody EVER cared, even at the time!

The Polish government-in-exile, during the war, while the Nazis were slaughtering Poles in huge numbers, chose to believe the Nazi account!

They never interrogated this Nazi story. They just accepted it. If they really cared about these men, why would they do this?

IMO, they did it because they were far more hostile to the Soviets than they ever were to the Germans. The Polish government were fascists themselves.

And since then, the "Katyn massacre" has been a bully stick to beat the Soviets with. It still is -- more "evidence" that "communism is bad."

So the "consensus" historians have never troubled to look at the evidence in an objective fashion. And they are not going to do so.

That's why we don't know.

Meanwhile, there are some very good books -- in Russian, of course -- arguing the case that the Nazis, not the Russians, did it.

I spent part of my vacation in the summer of 2005 summer going over a translation into English of one of them, by a Swedish guy (in Sweden). A valiant attempt (I had read the book in Russian many times). Let's hope he finishes it, but he hasn't yet. His knowledge of English is very good, though far from perfect, and his knowledge of Russian is less good, but he has me to help him.

Still, it's not out yet, and this Russian book is already more than a decade old (1995). Meanwhile, there's lots more, newer, better stuff.

For you Russian-readers out there, here are the two main sites, each with a ton of documents:

"The Soviets Did It, Those Dirty Commies" -- http://katyn.codis.ru

"We Doubt That the Soviets Did  It -- We Search for Truth" - http://www.katyn.ru/

That'll keep you busy for awhile, even if you speed-read Russian!

Of these two sites, only the second one includes evidence and testimony supporting both accounts. The first one includes only material that tends to support the theory of Soviet guilt.

That is to say, only the site that questions Soviet guilt makes any pretense at objectivity.

There are some interesting books, too, of BOTH schools. Again, if you want to know, email me. I've got, and have read, all of 'em.

I have been asked to get into this -- that is, to write about it. After all, it's a 'great mystery' -- right?

But I have refused, and am going to refuse forever. Here's why: NOBODY is really interested in the truth (almost, virtually no one).

Therefore, you simply cannot have an intelligent, calm, academic conversation about this.

No matter how objective you try to be, how long and hard you work, you will be called a lousy, dishonest propagandist WHATEVER you conclude, by those whose preconceived opinions you have failed to support.

April 2007 - This is exactly what Mr Romanov did! When I refused to just accept his conclusions, he called me names and put our whole exchange on his "Holocaust Denial" page even though (a) he had asked me my permission to do this, and I refused him my permission; (b) I do not deny that somebody killed the Polish officers; and (c) it isn't a "holocaust" anyway!

Of course, you'll also be praised --  by the others, whose preconceived opinions you DO happen to support.

But who wants that kind of praise? Not me!

I am already called a dirty Stalin lover because I insist on evidence, not on bowing at the shrine of dishonest anti-communist historians whose works are a disgrace to the historical profession.

Well, I'm already in that soup, and have no choice but to swim in it! But I don't have to jump into ANOTHER soup just as bad or worse!

IMO the evidence suggests that both the Soviets and, later, the Germans shot Polish officers, for different reasons. This explanation has the advantage over others in that it does not entail "dismissing" lots of the evidence we have, or "assuming" the evidence against one side is true while that against the other side is false.

Recently one of the scholars of the "Soviets-are-guilty" school wrote me to convince me I'm wrong. We had an exchange, thanks to which I corrected an error on an earlier version of this web page. Mr Romanov put that exchange on the Internet (without my permission, by the way). If you want, you can read it here.

The anticommunist "Soviets-did-it" school make Katyn out to have been a great crime. And so it was -- no matter who did it, Soviets, Nazis, or both.

So how about the Western Allies? Frankly, their atrocities are greater than those of killing the Polish officers.

The British fire-bombing of Dresden in February 1945 killed at least 25,000 civilian noncombatants!

And this was only one incident! "Overall, Anglo-American bombing of German cities claimed between 305,000 and 600,000 civilian lives." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Dresden_in_World_War_II )

These atrocities are not stressed enough. Why not? See below.

Polish Massacres of Russian POWs 1919-1920

Finally, for now, there's the issue of the Polish "mistreatment" -- "murder" would be a better word -- of Russian POWs from the 1919-1920 war against Polish aggression.

After Poland declared its independence from Russia in 1918, with the assent of the new revolutionary Russian government (there was no USSR until 1923) a Polish army under the command of Marshal Pilsudski and with Allied, mainly French generals, advising it, invaded Russia. The battle lines went back and forth. Ultimately Lenin and the Bolsheviks had to sign the Treaty of Riga in 1920, as they had had to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918 to stop the war with Germany. Under the Treaty of Riga Russia lost large parts of Belorussia and Ukraine. There were relatively few Poles living in these areas. This was Polish imperialism.

The official Russian study of Russian - Soviet losses in war during the 20th century is the following book:

Rossiia i SSSR v Voinakh XX Veka. Poteri Vooruzhennykh Sil. Statisticheskoe issledovanie. Ed. G.F. Krivosheev. Moscow: "OLMA-PRESS", 2001. ("Russia and the USSR in the Wars of the 20th Century. Military Casualties. A Statistical Inquiry.")

This is a very scholarly book, not in the least "pro-communist". It calculates only military casualties. Civilian casualties, which were also immense, are not included.

It's a good read! Russia's and the USSR's military casualties during the 20th century are staggering! This book is available online (in Russian of course).

According to this study, during the war against the Polish invasion

So what happened to 89,851 Russian soldiers?

No doubt some deserted to the Poles. Some escaped. Some died of wounds -- deaths that can't be directly attributed to Polish criminal activity.

Here's a translation (mine) of the relevant portion of the book above. It's in a footnote (number 246), by the way, not "featured" as some kind of "horrible Polish crime" at all, though that's what it is.

According to the best evidence, during the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1920 the total number of Soviet military personnel who were taken prisoner was 165,500 (see Novaia i Noveishaia Istoriia, No. 3, 1995, p. 66). The exact number of Red Army soldiers and officers who died in Polish captivity is as yet unknown. However the mortality was extremely high, due to the inhuman conditions in which Soviet POWs were kept, the barbarous treatment accorded them by the camp administration, which included shootings of POWs at will.

M. I. Mel'tiukhov, a noted Russian political scientists, estimates that about 60,000 Red Army men died in Polish captivity between 1919 and 1921.

К сожалению, до сих пор не ясны потери сторон в войне 1919—1920 гг. Согласно польским данным, польская армия только с апреля по октябрь 1920 г. потеряла 184 246 человек, правда, о каких потерях идет речь, не уточняется{217}. Потери Красной армии неизвестны. Известно лишь, что за время войны польские войска взяли в плен более 146 тыс. человек, содержание которых в Польше было очень далеко от каких-либо гуманитарных стандартов. Особым издевательствам подвергались коммунисты или заподозренные в принадлежности к ним, а пленные красноармейцы-немцы вообще расстреливались на месте. Но даже и простые пленные зачастую становились жертвами произвола польских военных властей. Широко было распространено ограбление пленных, издевательство над пленными женщинами. Видимо, подобное отношение к советским военнопленным явилось в значительной степени результатом многолетней пропаганды «вины» России перед Польшей. Все это привело к тому, что около 60 тыс. советских военнопленных умерли в польских лагерях. К 21 ноября 1921 г. из Польши вернулись 75 699 бывших военнопленных (932 человека отказались возвращаться), а из [104] Германии — 40 986 интернированных. Польских пленных в Советской России было около 60 тыс. (видимо, это число включает также гражданских пленных, заложников и интернированных лиц) и их содержание не преследовало цели уничтожить или унизить их. Наоборот, подавляющее большинство пленных рассматривалось как «братья по классу» и какие-либо репрессии в отношении них были просто немыслимы. Политическая работа в лагерях военнопленных преследовала цель развить у них «классовое» сознание. Конечно, нельзя отрицать, что в условиях боевых действий имели место отдельные эксцессы в отношении пленных, особенно офицеров, но советское командование стремилось пресекать их и наказывать виновных. На содержании пленных в РСФСР, безусловно, сказывалась общая экономическая разруха. По окончании войны в Польшу вернулось 27 598 бывших военнопленных, а около 2 тыс. осталось в РСФСР{218}. [105]

Mel'tiukov's footnote [105] gives his sources:

{218}Гриф секретности снят: Потери Вооруженных Сил СССР в войнах, боевых действиях и военных конфликтах: Статистическое исследование. М., 1993. С. 34; Мыхутина И.В. Так сколько же советских военнопленных погибло в Польше в 1919—1921 гг.? {Новая и новейшая история. 1995. № 3. С. 64—69; Костюшко И. И. К вопросу о польских военнопленных 1920 года{Славяноведение. 2000. № 3. С. 42—62; Дайнес В.О. Россия — Польша. Работа над ошибками{Независимая газета. 3 ноября 2000 г.; Филимошин М.В. «Десятками стрелял людей только за то, что... выглядели как большевики»{Военно-исторический журнал. 2001. № 2. С. 43—48.

As one might expect, the official Polish position is both different and curiously similar:

According to the estimates of Polish historians, the number of Russian prisoners in Polish camps in 1920 oscillated between 80 and 85 thousand, while the number of deaths during the overall period the camps were active amounted to 16–17 thousand. Professor Matvejev estimates that there were 18–20 thousand fatalities.

This study is in Russian too: Krasnoarmeitsy v pol’skom plenu v 1919-1922 gg. : sbornik dokumentov i materialov (Moscow: Letnii Sad, 2004).

So the "official, scholarly" Russian and Polish positions are far apart.

Research continues to be done on this subject, especially in Russia. Those who can read Russian may keep up to date on it through this Russian Wikipedia page, which has a good discussion, including full acknowledgement of the very sharp disagreements between Polish and Russian researchers -- not only the researchers named above, but others as well.. I'll add material here from time to time.

But the main point is clear. This has everything to do with the Katyn issue. A good guess (mine, but others suggest it too) is that some of the Polish officers shot by the Soviets -- yes, I think the evidence is that some were -- were implicated in the Polish war crimes against Soviet POWs during 1919-1921.


Meanwhile, there is more and more evidence emerging to complicate the Nazi - Polish Nationalist - anticommunist version of Katyn:

* In 2004 Il'ia Ivanovich Krivoi, a Soviet veteran wrote an account in which he claims to have seen Polish POWs doing road work in the Katyn' area -- in June 1941. When the Nazi forces invaded later that month the Russian veteran claimed that an NKVD lieutenant begged his (Krivoi's) commander for railroad cars to evacuate the Polish prisoners but was refused, since there were no cars available. Krivoi claimed to have sent the same account to various media outlets during the 1990s and early 2000s without result.

* In February 2010  a Russian historian claimed that he had interviewed an aged Lazar Kaganovich about Katyn in 1985 and that Kaganovich told him that the Soviets did shoot 3200 Poles -- all of whom were guilty of capital crimes. See "L.M. Kaganovich on the Katyn' Affair" (Russian only).

Other recent stories:

* In April 2010 former Russian President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin publicly opined that the Poles who were shot by the Soviets "may have been" shot in retaliation for the Soviet POWs  murdered by Poland in 1920-21. (See my discussion of this topic above). See "Putin concedes that Katyn' Might Have Been Stalin's Revenge for the Deaths in Poland of Soviet POWs" (in Russian only).

* In the aftermath of the death of the President of Poland and 92 others in a plane crash at Smolensk the New York Times published an account of Katyn by Wiktor Osiatynski, a professor at the Central European University that is breathtaking in its falsehood. An full account of Osiatynski's fabrications would be too long, but here is a glaring one. Osiatynski wrote:

"...Katyn forest, where Soviet troops executed nearly 22,000 Polish officers in April 1940."

The much-disputed "Closed Packet No.1" documents Eltsin gave to the   Poles in 1992 speak not of 22,000, but of 8424 officers. All the rest were

"clerks, landlords, policemen, intelligence agents, military police, immigrant settlers, prison guards, members of counter-revolutionary organizations engaged in spying and sabotage, former  landlords, manufacturers, FORMER Polish officers, clerks, and those who had crossed the border." (From the official translation published by the Polish government: Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences. Katyn. Documents of Genocide... (Warsaw, 1993), p. 23).

(Remember, this is one of the documents whose genuineness is questioned by some.)

He makes other false statements that would be clear to anybody who knew anything about Katyn. And Osiatynski claims to care about Katyn' -- he claims that his father-in-law was killed there!

So why do I raise the two cases above? Namely,

I do so to illustrate a point, and here it is:

There is very, very little attempt at objectivity in the study of Soviet history.

  1. There is a serious historical question about the Katyn killings, and killings of Polish officers generally. There's good evidence that both the Soviets and, later, the Germans, killed Polish officers, for very different reasons.

    This serious -- and, by the way, very interesting -- historical controversy is simply ignored, "denied", in the service of Polish nationalism and anticommunist indoctrination.

  2. The Katyn Massacre is a matter of faith for the current right-wing Polish government. It is virtually illegal to question it in Poland, just as it is literally illegal to compare Polish killings of Jews with German killings of Jews. Just as, in Ukraine, it is literally illegal to question the claim that the famine of 1932-33 was "man-made" by "Stalin", despite the fact that there is no evidence -- zero! -- supporting that claim, and a lot of excellent research that thoroughly refutes it.

In short, if you think you know something about the "Katyn Massacre" -- or, for that matter, about Soviet history during the Stalin period -- think again. You don't!

So here is my last thought, for now: SO WHAT?

I'm serious. I do not think many people care about what really happened at Katyn', and certainly the Polish Nationalists and anticommunists do not even WANT to know.

For the most part "the Katyn Massacre" is not an historical question -- it is a WEAPON, a CUDGEL. You use it to make war on "the other side", and that's it.

Those who say "the Soviets did it" are NEVER going to accept that they did not, no matter what the evidence.

Those who say and / or hope: "The Soviets did NOT do it" are NEVER going to shed their respect and admiration for the USSR, EVEN IF you managed to convince them that the Soviets did it. And I do not think that's going to happen either!

It's like convincing a Christian that Jesus never existed. That is, it's no longer history, it's religion.

Good luck!

So it is interesting. But at this point I confine myself to (a) reading about it; and (b) reminding those who "know" (= are sure they know, and do not want to hear otherwise) of their bad faith.

You can imagine how popular THAT makes me! But being unpopular in this way is something I'm very content to be.

I hope this has been interesting, maybe even helpful. Believe me, there is so much more to say that you do not even want to know!


Grover Furr
Montclair State University
Montclair NJ 07043

[* NOTE: My thanks to Sergei Romanov, who pointed out some errors in an earlier version of this page.

Mr Romanov strongly supports the "Soviets-did-it" theory and asserts that the "Eltsin" documents first published in 1992 are genuine. I don't agree! And it's impossible to discuss anything with Mr Romanov because he is so abusive. If you disagree with him, you are either stupid or a liar -- so he says!

But his is the most widely held view. Furthermore, he has done the only study I know of that attempts to disprove the arguments of those who contend the documents are forgeries. Let's hope he continues his work by responding to the latest of these studies, Iuri Mukhin's Antirossiiskaia Podlost'. - GF]

Latest developments in the "Katyn' Affair"

July 7 2010: Iliukhin interviewed in Literaturnaia Gazeta. (Russian only)

"Lgz" is the most prestigious intellectual journal in Russia. It's normally pretty conservative too. So the appearance of this friendly interview suggests, in my opinion, some degree of official toleration, at least, for Iliukhin's allegations.

The year 2010 has been full of dramatic developments tending to support the contention that the "smoking gun" documents were forged and the Soviets did not shoot most of the Poles (POWs and others).

Here is a summary of these developments. I take no side here: just be informed.

Many thanks to Sven-Eric Holmstrцm, who translated these from a Swedish discussion list.

July 14 2010: You can now follow two blogs written by Sven-Eric, inter alios, that (a) give latest developments; and (b) summarize the arguments made by some Russian students of the Katyn' issue that the so-called "smoking gun" documents are forgeries. These blogs are HERE and HERE. They appear to contain the same materials.

If you want to first read my review of the "Katyn Massacre Question" prior to February 2010, go to the top of the page here.

Lazar Kaganovich interviewed concerning Katyn on November 6 1985 by A.N. Kolesnik

(February 18 2010. For Russian original see http://www.katyn.ru/index.php?go=Pages&in=view&id=936   )

The well known Russian military historian, doctor in history of science, A. N. Kolesnik has to the editorial staff of "The truth about Katyn" forwarded extracts of stenograph from his personal conversations with the former member of the Politburo of the Communist Party, L. M. Kaganovich.

Altogether A.N. Kolesnik conducted six conversations with L. M. Kaganovich between 1985 and 1991 around different historical subjects. Out of censorship reasons it is not possible to release the stenographs from these conversations without considerable cuts and edits, not even in small parts, since the direct speech from Kaganovich is full of ugly words and swearing which characterizes his attitude to the leadership of Hitlerite Germany, to the leading circles of bourgeois Poland and to the leaders of the "Gorbachovite" perestroika, and in particular in person to A. N. Yakovlev.

The dates for A. N. Kolesnik's conversations with L. M. Kaganovich and their duration are documented by the employees of the KGB who guarded the stairwell where L. M. Kaganovich were living. If necessary the dates and the duration of the conversations can be established more thoroughly with the help of archival information, since the guards were obligated to register all the visitors in a special logbook. Apart from that all the visitors were photographed with a special camera which automatically fixed the date and the time for the film shooting.

The conversation about the Katyn issue, during which L. M. Kaganovich for the first time announced the information of the exact amount of citizens from former Poland that had really been executed on Soviet territory between November 1939 and July 1941, took place on November 6, 1985 in Moscow in L. M. Kaganovich's apartment which was located at Frunzenskaya naberezhnaya, house 50 and lasted for 2 hours and 40 minutes, from 6.40 pm to 9.20 pm. Present at this conversation was also Lazar Moiseyevich's daughter Maya Lazarevna, who stenographed everything that was said.

Later it turned out that the conversation also had been recorded with the help of special technical equipment by the employees of the KGB who in silence conducted reconnaissance of L. M. Kaganovich. That became obvious, when A. N. Kolesnik was called by the operative KGB employee Captain Ryazanov, who in a categorical form demanded that the content of the completed conversation could not be made public.

During the conversation on November 6, 1985, L. M. Kaganovich said that during the spring of 1940 the Soviet leadership was forced to make a very difficult decision to execute 3 196 criminals among those who were citizens of former Poland, but L. M. Kaganovich said that it was absolutely necessary in the then prevailing political situation. According to Kaganovich's testimony, they had essentially sentenced to execution Polish criminals who had been involved in the mass extermination of captured Russian Red Guards 1920-1921, and employees of Polish punishment bodies who had compromised themselves with crimes committed against the USSR and the Polish working class during the 1920s and 1930s. Apart from them they had also executed criminals among the Polish POWs who had committed serious general crimes on Soviet territory after their internment in September-October 1939 – gang rapes, criminal assaults, murders and so on (L. M. Kaganovich said literally: " …the fuckers, the bandits and the murderers …").

Apart from Kaganovich, the former chairman of the Peoples Council of Commissars V. M. Molotov in a telephone conversation in 1986 estimated that the amount of executed citizens of former Poland 1939-1941 amounted to "about 3 000 people".

The exact figure "3 196" Polish citizens who had been executed in the USSR in 1939-1941 was also decidedly confirmed by the former Soviet People's Commissar for the Construction Industry, S. Z. Ginzburg, in a private conversation with A. N. Kolesnik.

S. Z. Ginzburg told A. N. Kolesnik little-known details of the Soviet excavation works in the Katyn forest. According to him the excavations of the graves with the Polish citizens were conducted in 1944 not only in Kozi Gory but also in at least two other places west of Smolensk. The excavations and the exhumations were conducted with the help of special construction- and assembly units, so-called OSMCh (in Russian osobye stroitelno-montazhnye chasti), which were under S. Z. Ginzburg's operational management. Because of the period of time that had elapsed S. Z. Ginzburg could not remember the exact number of this OSMCh unit, but said that the unit in question had been formed shortly after the beginning of the war on the basis of one of the civilian building boards and that their staff in 1944 amounted to about 200 people. After the exhumation works they distributed to all the conscripts of the unit – at S. Z. Ginzburg's request – one kilogram of chocolate as some kind of bonus.

A. N. Yakovlev, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee, started to earnestly interest himself in the contents of the conversations between A. N. Kolesnik and L. M. Kaganovich, and also showed great concern regarding a possible publication of Kaganovich's testimony about the Katyn issue. At the end of 1989, right before his appearance in front of the 2nd Congress of People's Deputies, A. N. Yakovlev turned, through A. N. Kolesnik, over a list of tendentiously selected questions about the Katyn issue with the suggestion of recording his answers at a tape recorder. The idea was to prepare Kaganovich's answers in a proper way and confirm the version of the Soviet guilt in the Katyn massacre by his authoritative testimony. (Kaganovich said literally: "Tell this son of a bitch that I have had them spinning around my dick! I am from the family of a common meat pundit, but have been a member of the Central Committee and a minister, while they want us to fall back to 1914. The thing they have invented about Katyn – that will bounce back at them with bloody tears. They want us again to end up in a conflict with Europe. Because during the last war we indeed not only fought Hitler but with most other European countries!"

The perspective of a publication of the exact amount of Polish citizens that were executed in 1939-41 (3 196 people) and the true reasons for the executions, induced an extreme nervousness of Yakovlev and his surroundings. In exchange that A. N. Kolesnik should keep quiet about the information around the Katyn issue that he had received from L. M. Kaganovich, A. N. Yakovlev suggested that he could choose between six different senior posts.

When A. N. Kolesnik declined that offer, they arranged on directives from A. N. Yakovlev and D. A. Volkogonov a meeting between him and a representative for "competent bodies" who conducted a "preventive talk" with him in V. M. Falin's (the head of the news agency APN) office. During the conversation threats were made to "bring him in on a long time", if A. N. Kolesnik would go public on the facts about the Katyn issue that L. M. Kaganovich had told him.

When it became apparent that this measure had no effect, they brought prosecution on A. N. Kolesnik which ended with him being dismissed from the Military History Institute in 1993.


Kommersant-Ogoniok Attacks Iliukhin's Allegations

(June 21 2010. For Russian original of Kommersant's article by Viktor Tikhomirov go here: http://www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1387089   This is an explicitly anticommunist, ideological attack -- which does not say anything about its factual truth or falsehood but reflects the essentially political, rather than academic historical, nature of the whole Katyn issue. - GF)

The reaction from the Russian government regarding Ilyukhin's revelations has been more or less complete silence - both from the government itself and from mainstream media.

However, the silence was broken on June 21, 2010, by an article in the newspaper "Kommersant".

The keynote in the article is mockingly against Viktor Ilyukhin. They call the whole thing a "desperate communist comeback attempt", they mark words (among other things Ilyukhin has said that the name of the village is "Nagornyj" instead of "Nagornoye"), and some other small bleed. They are almost on the verge of implying that Ilyukhin himself is behind the forgery of the documents that the anonymous informant has turned over to him and is now hiding behind convenient excuses. Furthermore it is said that "the forgery news" is not a coincident but has a direct connection with Rosarkhiv's publication of the Katyn folder at their own web site about one and a half month ago (April 28).

In the article appeared also the former head of the archives Rudolf Pichoya (one of those who is actually depicted by the anonymous informant) and he strikes back at everything that Ilyukhin has claimed. Among other things Pichoya said that this is an attempt to confuse the brains of young people, and also that forgeries in the archives are totally impossible. He states, probable quite seriously, that no forgery attempts have been made in the archives for three centuries! He ends his debate appearance by calling Ilyukhin's behavior as hooliganish and amateurish.

The article is concluded by a box with all the claimed strange affairs that Ilyukhin is supposed to have been involved in – if you want some kind of discredit box.

On the whole, this lunge on part of Pichoya, who is one of the main suspects and depicted in this case, is a little bit odd if you look at his reaction. It is strange that he does not react stronger than he actually does and take this matter to court as some kind of libel. If he has nothing to hide he should easily get a winning sentence against Ilyukhin for dissemination of slander. But no, Pichoya chooses to only mock Ilyukhin with a few sentences in a newspaper.

The last word in this matter is not said for sure.


Typewriter Expert Concludes Two Different Typewriters Used To Compose "Beria Letter"

(April 28 2010. For Russian original go to http://www.katyn.ru/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=195 . A facsimile of the Molokov report itself is at http://www.katyn.ru/index.php?go=Pages&in=view&id=946   )

On March 31, 2009, Sergey Strygin (Russia's leading Katyn-expert) turned to a licensed forensic expert, Eduard Petrovich Molokov who has an expert diploma and who is entitled to conduct such investigations. The diploma was issued in 1973 by the MVD (i.e. the Ministry of Interior of the USSR).

He looked at the "Beria letter" (which consists of four pages) and found that pages 1, 2 and 3 are written on a different typewriter than page 4. He has among other things examined the lettersґ distance from each other, their altitudinal and the clarity of the printing ink. His conclusion is that the pages 1, 2 and 3 are consistently equal. But page 4 (the one with Beria's signature) differs from the first three pages.

It should be added that the typewriter which was used to print page 4 has a font that is known to have been on one of the typewriters in Beria's office, while the font from the typewriter that wrote pages 1-3 is unknown (it has not been found in any of the documents sent by Beria).

There is one other important detail. Molokov had only access to high definition digital copies that Strygin was allowed to do in the Russian archives some years ago. This means that Molokov did not have access to the physical letter, which means that such things as the age of the paper have not been possible to examine.


(June 1-16 2010: Alleged forger of Katyn' "Smoking Gun" documents reports to Duma member!

Here is a five-part summary of these important developments by Swedish researcher Sven-Eric Holmstrцm. I was going to write something about this here, but Sven-Eric's summary is excellent. I post it here with his permission.

What do I think? There's nothing incredible here. It has been long suspected by some; some fake documents on other matters have certainly been inserted into the Russian archives; and there are clearly suspicious markings on some of these "smoking gun" Katyn documents. NONE of this is ever discussed in the West.

What's more interesting is the cover-up. Even the Russian "mainstream" press has completely ignored this story. Nothing at all has appeared in the West ("of course not", I'd say), not even a mocking dismissal.

So it may, or may not, be true. But it's going to be very hard to prove it false! Stay tuned! (Grover)

Russian originals of articles on Iliukhin's claim so far: http://www.katyn.ru/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=196   ; http://www.katyn.ru/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=198 (this is a video of an interview of Iliukhin); text of the interview http://www.katyn.ru/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=199 ; Iliukhin's presentation to a plenary session of the State Duma on June 16 2010 http://www.katyn.ru/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=201   )

Part I

On May 25, 2010, an anonymous person called the member of the Russian Duma, Viktor Ilyukhin, and said that he had some things to say regarding certain things having to do with the murder of the Polish officers at Katyn. Ilyukhin met this person already the same day and during this meeting he revealed his name and said that he had been directly involved in the falsification of archival documents including the Katyn documents. Among other things "Beria's letter No. 794/B" and "Shelepin's letter" from 1959 has been falsified by him and his group.

This group was specially set up during the Yeltsin era and worked in the early 1990s in the village of Nagornoye (they were staying at a dacha which had been previously been used by members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party). The group was well paid and was provided with various kinds of products. They had at their disposal a set of old Soviet forms and stamps.

The anonymous informant (the name is not revealed at this moment out of security reasons) told how the falsifications happened. They even falsified the signatures of the earlier Soviet leaders. They have also falsified the act of abdication of Nikolay II. This group's work went on until 1996, when they moved from Nagornoye to the village Zaretye.

Persons involved in this group was Colonel Klimov (who was directly involved in the falsification of the "Shelepin letter"), the head of the Russian archive Rudolf Pichoya, Yeltsin closest collaborator M. Poltoranin, and premier deputy security chief for the Russian president G. Rogozin. Rudolf Pichoya was, by the way, the individual that on the assignment of Yeltsin handed over documents from the "closed package no. 1" (the so-called Katyn folder) to Lech Walesa in Warsaw on October 14, 1992.

The informant also said that as far as he knows, even employees at the 6th Institute of the Russian General Staff (with Molchanov as head) worked in a similar way.

According to the information hundreds of documents dealing with important moments of Soviet history were falsified. They have also distorted the content in other documents. To support his allegation he presented a number of forms from the 1940s, false stamps, stamp markings on paper and other things. He promised to deliver more material.

Viktor Ilyukhin have now sent two letters (May 26 and 28) about this to the KPRF leader Gennadiy Zyuganov with a request to continue the investigation and that more scientists and scholars should be involved in this.

Part II

On June 3, 2010, a video was released where Viktor Ilyukhin reveals orally what has happened.

In the video he is mentioning the latest information that he has received from the anonymous informant. He is showing some empty forms (among others a similar one which was done for "the Beria transcription", he shows all the stamps which according to the informant is false.

Ilyukhin also talks about the 202 page document concerning Stalin's correspondence and reports to him from 1941. The purpose with this forgery in particular was to insert as much information as possible in the documents that would show that the Soviet intelligence perfectly knew about the coming war already during spring 1941 and that Stalin was warned but that he despite of that ignored all warnings.

The informant said that he could no longer in calmness follow the events and see what the falsifications led to. He also said that he feels an ironic reaction every time he notices that they mentioning documents that his group has forged. The man also says that it was him who singlehandedly put Beria's signature in "Beria's letter No. 794/B". At the same time Stalin's, Voroshilov's, Molotov's and Mikoyan's signatures were put in the same letter.

The man has said that Colonel Klimov was the one who singlehandedly executed the "Shelepin letter" to Krushchev "from 1959". It shouldn't be difficult to compare that letter with other letters that Klimov has written to compare his handwriting and make an expert study of it. According to the video some falsification orders came directly from the head of the archive Rudolf Pichoya. All the falsified documents concerns the 1930s and 1940s, i.e. only the Soviet epoch.

In the video it is said that the falsifiers worked in the village of Nagornoye between 1991 and 1996 and then moved to a place not far from there. The informant does not exclude the possibility that the group can still be working. This group has produced hundred and thousands of pages of falsified documents which have been put into circulation.

Ilyukhin finishes by saying: "There is really no credence left for the Russian archives."

Part III

On June 16, 2010, Ilyukhin appeared in the Duma about these new revelations.

He says that the KPRF (Russian Communist Party) has information of such forgeries that needs to be thoroughly controlled by a parliamentary investigation. The purpose with the forgeries during the 1990s must have been to equate Stalinism with fascism.

Ilyukhin repeated his information that also people at the 6th department of the armed forces General Staff has been involved in these falsification activities. This group's activity coincided in time when a government commission under the leadership of Mikhail Poltoranin were involved in declassify documents from the Politburo and the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

They have reached the conclusion that Lenin's so-called "will" is a forged document. Other forgeries are certain documents which have to do with the abdication of Nikolay II and that Stalin is supposed to have been an agent of the Tsarist secret police (ochrana), and other documents.

Ilyukhin says that today it is possible to state that "Beria's letter" of March 5, 1940, is falsified. He showed an expert opinion from the lectern. Also the transcription from the Politburo decision is falsified, where permission is given to execute all these Poles.
He also shows an expert opinion that the document of the claimed co-operation between the NKVD and the Gestapo is also falsified.
Ilyukhin expressed great concern that so many documents obviously has been forged, since it gives the scholars en wrongful image of events that has taken place not so very long ago "in our own history", as he puts it.

He says that he may have restrained himself from similar statements of large scale falsifications if it not had been supported by the fact that Dimitry Volkogonov turned over tens and hundreds of top secret documents to the US Congress Library in the 1990s. The Russian archival documents "is indeed wandering freely all over Europe" as Ilyukhin put it.

He mentioned the false stamps that he has in his possession, including stamps of Stalin's and Beria's signatures, and that there is empty forms from the 1930s and 1940s on which they have made such documents.

He also mentioned "special case no. 29" from 1941. Some of these documents have unfortunately already been legalized, he says. The folder contains inscriptions "stored forever" and "not subject for de-classification", but nevertheless these documents are outside the archives.

Recently Sergey Mironenko, manager at the Russian State Archive, has said that such things could never have happened and that Ilyukhin is spreading pure fantasies. Ilyukhin says that he is prepared to resign as a member of the Duma if Mironenko can prove that these documents have nothing to do with events from the 1930s and 1940s. If Mironenko fails in doing that, he should himself leave his post.

Ilyukhin put forward the question about the necessity to conduct a new parliamentary investigation regarding the massacre of the Polish POWs at Kozi Gory outside Smolensk and about the falsification of other historical documents.

In the near future they will suggest a legislative change in the Russian legislation which will fill a hole, namely that it should be considered a crime to falsify documents of great historical importance.

Ilyukhin says that it is wrong to believe that all of this has to do with the past. It has everything to do with our present time, he concludes.

Part IV

The KPRF held a press conference on this subject on June 18, 2010.

Yuri Mukhin reports on his website about the press conference. He says that what all the gathered people were most interested in was the question of who it was that had come to Viktor Ilyukhin and confessed. Ilyukhin clarified that this person is in a real danger. Mukhin talked briefly to Ilyukhin after the press conference, when Ilyukhin were on his way to another place. The following then transpired:

1. The anonymous person (A.) really fears for his life and is concealing himself because of that.
2. A. is no lunatic, but is really a falsification expert. Mukhin can at the moment not say what it is that confirms this, but in time the public will know about it.
3. A:s motive "it hurts for my country" is confirmed by a personal motive which can be understood from a humanly perspective. When it eventually will be known the public will understand what that motive is about.

Before Ilyukhin ran off he said that now A. is not the only one who has confessed but in the hurry Mukhin did not have time to get a clarification over this.

At the press conference there were representatives from Polish media and people from the Russian "Memorial". A Polish journalist tried to argument against Ilyukhin by saying that the execution of the Polish officers is confirmed by the excavations in Kharkov and Mednoe. Ilyukhin replied that in the USSR only "criminal Poles" were executed. Mukhin, however, feels that this argument was somehow listless. The reply should have been that a court does not have any use of some excavator's "conclusions" developed during a commission without concrete evidence.

For example, Mukhin means that they should explain why among the 169 sculls found in Kharkov only 62 bullet holes were found while the dead in Katyn almost all of them had traces of bullet holes. In Mednoe 226 dead "Poles" were found, but only twenty had bullet holes.
An exhumation is part of a judicial process; everything found must be thoroughly documented, described, photographed and collected. All evidence shall then be packed, protected against destruction and preserved until it can be presented to a court, which shall then decide the matter.

Memorial's Nikita Petrov tried to portray the whole thing as it "probably is about a falsification amateur who has made himself some money on his forgeries, but which has nothing to do with the Katyn documents".

Mukhin argues against that position. He says that an individual can never perform such advanced forgeries as it is about in this case. Mukhin says that before you can sell something you must first buy something. Among other things the false stamps must be paid. Then genuine old paper from the 1930s and 1940s must be acquired (with specific paper composition and texture). Then the work to put all these document attributes and small notifications here and there is very time consuming.

Beyond that real typewriters from that period must be acquired (for example from Beria's office). That is something that is not to be done without considerable problems. In order to do that you must found documents in the KGB archive about deliveries of typewriters and establish which one of these was delivered specifically to Beria's office, and then through some antique store find that particular typewriter.

And finally, you are spending a lot of time and money to produce for example "Stalin's letter to the General Staff of the Red Army", but then you also must sell the document. But to whom shall it be sold? Everyone will understand that the document is stolen, even if it is not false. The scholars are interested in the document text itself, and would never pay big money for a document. It is more convenient and also free of charge to write off a document directly in the archive. Why should you buy the document itself, and by then also commit a crime? And why should you buy a falsified archival document?

According to Ilyukhin they have fears for the witness' life. "The witness will be presented to the investigation, if it will be performed on the highest governmental level", Ilyukhin added.

Ilyukhin also claimed that "participants in the independent research group are also subjected to pressure, it is suggested that they officially shall retract their statements".

Back to the top of this Katyn page.