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Prof. Chodakiewicz reviews book on Katyn forest massacre

Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz has recently published a review of Katyn: A Crime Without Punishment in the Polish-based historical journal Glaukopis. Co-edited by historians Cienciała, Lebedeva, and Materski, the work is a collection of translated Soviet documents pertaining to the Katyn Forest Massacre. This act of Soviet genocide – perpetrated in April/May 1940 – consumed the lives of approximately 22,000 members of prewar Poland’s elite, including military and police officers, landowners, teachers, and entrepreneurs. The massacre was an element of an anti-Polish campaign conducted in cooperation with the Soviets’ Nazi allies. Not surprisingly, as Cienciała notes, “the vast majority of captured Polish officers viewed the USSR as no better than Nazi Germany” (p. 27).

Cienciała argues that the decision to murder the Polish POWs was a callous case of political expediency. The Soviets had been waging a war of aggression against Finland since the winter of 1939/1940 and the camps had to be cleared of the Poles to make room for Finns. Prof. Chodakiewicz agrees, emphasizing the genocidal and classist aspect of the massacre.

He disagrees with the claim that Stalin may have initially kept the POWs alive, hoping to utilize them as leverage in his contacts with the Free Poles and the Western Allies. Such an interpretation disregards the main objectives of Soviet strategic doctrine during the period of Nazi-Bolshevik alliance (1939-1941). Stalin, Prof. Chodakiewicz explains, desired a replay of the First World War, wherein the two “imperialist” camps would fight a long and exhausting war of attrition. Once both sides became sufficiently weakened, the Soviets could “liberate” Europe. Polish POWs were not only expendable from Stalin’s Marxist class struggle point of view, but indeed constituted a threat to the postwar incorporation of Poland into the USSR or the creation of a Sovietized Poland.

To read the full text, please click here: Download file Chodakiewicz, The Crime and the Lie 

Dr. Chodakiewicz’s review, entitled “The Crime and the Lie,” appeared in Glaukopis, no. 21-22 (2011): pp. 336-339.