Category Archives: Reactionary Watch

Marxism vs. Indigenism: An Anti-Critique of Ward Churchill

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This article was posted in 2008 by Rowland Keshena on a blog which is no longer active. Though there are some very pronounced ideological problems with this essay (particularly its references to “Stalinism,” as well as the “anthropocentrism” of Marxism and the idea that the concept of domination of nature by man is somehow “Judeo-Christian,” it remains a thorough criticism of the anti-communism of leading figures of the Native community. Thus, I have posted it here to aid in struggling against this anti-Marxist line put forward by several Native scholars and figures.

 – E.S.

I have come out and stated a couple of times that I feel that the critiques of Marxism offered by many in the Indian radical movement seem to come across as either having been born from extreme ignorance and/or extreme sect baiting. It has also been my tendency not to really address the claims of people like Russell Means, as I find him a hypocrite and a not so closeted libertarian (despite claims to being anti-capitalist), Vine Deloria Jr., given his absurd beliefs that equate to American Indian creationism, complete with white people being made by aliens and dinosaurs surviving until the 19th century, or Frank Black Elk as they tend to demonstrate an utter lack knowledge about Marxism. The one who I have reserved space for criticism though is Ward Churchill, given my otherwise great respect for him and his scholarship on American history, his place of greater acceptance (relative to the other I mentioned) in leftist circles and his somewhat more intellectual, but still hallow I find, criticisms of Marxism.

His single greatest attempt to present an Indian/Indigenist critique of Marxism was the book of essays he edited in 1983 called Marxism and Native Americans (on a side note, I have often wondered why the term Native Americans here, given his later use of American Indian, and the wider rejection by that time of Native American by the Indian radicals, and Indian country in general). I will admit that the book does make some good criticisms of Stalinism, particularly its anthropocentrism and its continuation of the Judeo-Christian notion of the domination of the earth by man, leading to a continuation of the ecocidal capitalist notion of “grow or die.” However the book also contained a number of problems for me, one being the gross misrepresentation of Marxism contained within, in that both the criticisms given by Churchill, Means, Black Elk, Deloria Jr and Larson and the arguments for Marxism are largely geared towards and presented from the Soviet Marxist-Leninist (read. Stalinist) model of savagely mutilated and intellectually robbed Marxism.

However the goal of this essay is not to attack this book as many good critiques of it already exist, in particular there is one by Canadian Indian nationalist and dedicated Marxist Howard Adams (which for the life of me I cannot find online), which I find of particular interest as it comes from an Indigenous person instead of a white. With that said, my goal here is take a specific look at an essay from Churchill called False Promises: An Indigenist Examination of Marxist Theory and Practice. In this essay Churchill lays out his primary issues with Marxist theory, in particular the Marxist positions on dialectics, nature, Dialectical and Historical Materialism and the labour theory of value. I will not address his problems with Marxism on the national question as I have already given my thoughts on it many times in the past, including on the problems with Marx and Engels’ original formulation of it. In order to try and have an ordered approach to this critique, I have attempted to keep the are sections of my critique the same as his.

Dialectics and Nature:

To open up the essay Churchill begins with a description of dialectical, or relational, thinking, in particular as he finds it in the European traditions and the American Indian ones, which he sums up in the Lakota phrase Metakuyeayasi (my relatives/relations). He also traces the history of dialectical thinking in Europe, having come into Europe via the the Greeks, who Churchill identifies as having gotten it in turn from the Egyptian civilization, who also apparently in turn borrowed it from the Ethiopians. Next he jumps to Hegel, who he states revived the tradition of dialectical thinking in Europe, and from whom the idea was introduced to Marx and the other Young Hegelians.

He also at this point correctly states that the Hegelian/Marxist concept of thinking in terms of relationships stands solidly opposed to the history of European thought, exemplified in linear rationality. It is here that Churchill’s critique of Marxist dialectics begins, as he sees the primary problem with Marx being that he has a presumption of the supremacy of human agency in determining historical reality. This of course, for Churchill, is a supremely Eurocentric presumption. Churchill sums it up in his essay by saying:

“His (Marx) impetus in this regard appears to have been his desire to see his theoretical endeavors used, not simply as a tool of understanding, but as a proactive agent for societal transformation, a matter bound up in his famous dictum that “the purpose of philosophy is not merely to understand history, but to change it.” (sic) Thus Marx, a priori and with no apparent questioning in the doing, proceeded to anchor the totality of his elaboration in the presumed primacy of a given relation—that sole entity which can be said to hold the capability of active and conscious pursuit of change, i.e.: humanity—over any and all relations, the Marxian “dialectic” was thus unbalanced from the outset, skewed as a matter of faith in favor of humans. Such disequilibrium is, of course, not dialectical at all. It is, however, quite specifically Eurocentric in its attributes, springing as it does from the late-Roman interpretation of the Judeo-Christian assertion of “man’s” supposed responsibility to “exercise dominion over nature,” a tradition which Marx (ironically) claimed oft and loudly to have “voided” in his rush to materialism.”

As Marx quite truly stated in his Theses on Feuerbach, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.” Indeed this has come to form the core of much of Marxist theory and practice, however for Churchill to take a quotation like this and make a jump into presuming that Marx was ascribing some kind of transcendental and transhistorical superpower to human agency is inaccurate at best. I also find this critique a little strange in that it comes a completely different direction than many other critics of Marx who felt that he was far to deterministic and actually tended towards undermining the power of human agency.

Marx was quite clear though that what he was looking at was the conditions in which humans can act, and he is clear that these conditions are independent of the will of the actors, a position that is best summed up in these two quotes:

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” – “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon.”

“In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.” – “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.”

We must also take into account that these conditions that Marx speaks of are eminently historical. In other words they had come from somewhere, and they will go somewhere. It also follows on from this that they are eminently social. To sum it up, when Marx speaks on the range of action and the range of inaction available to humans in a particular place and time, he is talking about the constrictions of the social reality; this involves the economics, the politics, the religious, the cultural, so on, so forth. All of these factors for Marx are social.

The next contention by Churchill is that Marx failed to see the human existence as being one relation among several, with Marx most conspicuously leaving out the relation of nature. However for Marx even the concept of nature itself is social. This is because Marx feels that nature is not a given, but rather something that exists only in relation to human being. However, if we take the idea that nature is a relation, and not a deified and transhistorical category, it exists because some humans define it as such, it does not mean that we feel natural events like hurricanes or blizzards will bend to the will of humans, rather we see that the categories we as humans use to define and describe the world around us are also historical and relational, which is to say that they are dialectical.

We also must realize that humanity exists within geography and territory, and hence is effected by the various effects that nature has, such as temperature and landscape. However we must also recognize that we have managed to alter these effects, namely temperature and landscape. In other words, we have been able to alter nature. It’s still relational, still dialectical. Even if we describe nature as being something separate from humanity, Engels is right to point out that whatever we define as nature is going to be historical, continuously coming into being and changing.

Churchill is also quite correct to state that Marx is a humanist and anthropocentric, however I feel his incorrect to conflate this with a continuation of the Judeo-Christian drive to dominate nature. Again I feel this is misleading on Churchill’s part, because while it certainly does very well sum up the history of Stalinism, it conflates this with all of Marxism, and certainly ignores the development of ecosocialism. However, if we go back to Marx himself we can see that even his supposed anthropocentrism is dialectical and does not ignore the myriad relations in which humans exist, certainly not that of nature. Marx’s writings are also not speaking of a Judeo-Christian drive to dominate nature. An excellent rejonder to this often brought up criticism of Marx is the book Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature by John Bellamy Foster. In the book Foster shatters the notion that Marx cared only about industrial growth and the development of economic forces. By covering not just Marx, but also other thinkers like Epicurus, Charles Darwin, Thomas Malthus, Ludwig Feuerbach, P. J. Proudhon, and William Paley he is able to construct a materialist conception of nature and society, and thereby also challenge the mysticism and spiritualism prevalent in the modern Green movement, pointing toward a method that offers more lasting and sustainable solutions to the ecological crisis.

I could say more about that book and the other works of Foster, and indeed I highly suggest that anyone even thinking of calling themselves Marxist or radical read his works, however, summing up his work is not the point of this essay, so instead I will a quote from Engels’ The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man that find to be particularly devastating to Churchill’s argument:

“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. […] Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature – but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.”

The quote speaks for itself, the simple fact is that Marx and Engels were in no way ignorant of humanity’s position as being one relation existing dialectically among many, most certainly not separate from nature, but in nature. This also means that nature is eminently social. To that we can add that Marx and Engels were also both concerned with what we now often refer to as “sustainable development.” Simply, they didn’t think humans fucking up the environment was a good idea. They were actually highly critical of ecological destruction and degradation. As for Churchill’s assertion of Marx continuing the Judeo-Christian of human dominion over nature goes, let us consider Marx’s own words:

“Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its usufructuaries, and, like boni patres familias, they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition.” – “Capital Vol. III Part VI: Transformation of Surplus-Profit into Ground-Rent.”

The simple fact is that Churchill’s assertion that Marx and Engels support the domination of nature of man is just plain wrong. It goes to show that Churchill, like many other critics of Marx, whether Marxist, non-Marxist, Indigenist, religious or whatever has failed to actually read Marx in anyway but a superficial manner before attempting to present a coherent argument against Marxism.

Historical and Dialectical Materialism:

After attacking Marx’s notions of dialectics and nature Churchill moves on to attempting to examine the heart of Marxist theory, historical materialism. To begin Churchill makes the assertion that historical materialism examining human society as a mass of contradictions rather than as a unified whole, that all of human history is simply the history of contradictions reconciling themselves to production. Churchill then tells us that “‘Productive relations,’ in [the Marxist] schema, determine all and everything.” The so-called orthodox Marxists, according to Albert and Hahnel (whom Churchill cites), assert that Marxism downgrades the “importance of the creative aspect of the human consciousness” and that consciousness rests primarily on objective production relations.

I will admit that there is a grain of truth in Churchill’s assertions here, however he launches into a full scale attack on historical and dialectical materialism before providing a coherent account of them, with his attacks relying on wildly out of context quotations from Althusser and Baudrillard. Because of this it is very difficult to actually provide a defence of them against Churchill’s assertions. Perhaps in this case the best way to present a critique of Churchill is to actually provide a brief summary of historical and dialectical materialism, and in this way hopefully provide an answer to some of his problems.

The primary concept behind Marx’s theory of historical materialism is that all of history is based on, and driven by, material realities rather than mysterious forces. Another way of putting this is that it is not so much the ideas we have that determine our existence as much as it is the factors of our material existence that determine our ideas. This does not mean that ideas have absolutely no effect on the course of history, rather just that they only have effect when put into material action.

The Marxist model of historical materialism looks for the various causes of developments and changes in human societies in the way in which humans collectively make the means to live, thus giving an emphasis, through economic analysis, to everything that co-exists with the economic base of society. But what is meant by economics in this context? We often hear the term “mode of production” get thrown around alot, e.g., capitalism is a mode of production. If we break down, humans need to eat, drink, sleep, etc and in order to do these things they have to produce things, in one fashion or another, and the “mode” is how the production is organized and carried out. Like all other factors, this organization to is intrinsically social and its impact and been seen and felt on all other aspects of society, including: culture, politics, the state, and law. To put it simply, our social relations of production play a major role in how our social relations are organized in general.

However, any given mode of production that a society utilizes does not appear out of thin air and and neither do things like culture and ideas. The fact is that these develop together, and develop because of the course of human actions and interactions. However, importantly, the behaviours and courses of action taken by people are determined by the possibilities, limits, and imperatives of historical conditions.

Additionally it must be noted that economics is not the sole factor in driving the course of human history, as other factors can, and do, play roles in this. The point here is that they can not be separated from one another, and one cannot ignore the foundational aspect of the material social realities. Also, different modes of production can and do exist at the same time, over the same spaces, but it also the case that there is one that is clearly more dominant and determining than others.

So now let us return to Churchill’s original critiques. By now I would hope that a few things have become apparent. Firstly, the mass of human society is a set of contradictions. However these contradictions are parts of a whole and they are determined by the logic of that whole. However the whole is not necessarily “unified,” however Churchill does not really explain what he means by that term anyway. Also, the contradictions do not actually have to reconcile themselves to production. Production is itself upheld by its own set of contradictions. The productive relations are fundamental, but they do not determine “all and everything.” Finally, it is true that human consciousness is determined by their material existence. Existence precedes essence, and not the other way around. However, the whole point of revolution is that the productive relations people enter into are independent of their wills doesn’t mean it has to remain that way.

Labour Theory of Value:

The final area of Churchill’s critique of Marxism that I will examine is Marx’s labour theory of value.

Churchill is partially correct in saying that the LTV forms the core of Marxist thought, as it actually forms the bedrock of the Marxist economic theory of capitalism as a mode of production. In the essay, Churchill describes the LTV as meaning that:

“value can be assigned to anything by virtue of the quantity and quality of human labor—i.e.: productive, transformative effort—put into it. This idea carries with it several interesting sub properties, most strikingly that the natural world holds no intrinsic value of its own.”

Again, this is partially true.

For us to really be able to understand the rationale behind Marx’s ideas on the LTV we examine what Marx is actually attempting to do with it. Marx’s drive behind formulating the LTV was to try and discover “the laws of motion” of the capitalist mode of production. What this means for us, and it is central in our attempt here to refute Churchill, is that Marx’s analysis is entirely specific to capitalism as an economic system.

So what is Marx speaking of when talks about value? Well, he is specifically speaking of the value of commodities. Now by this he means that a commodity is a thing that has some kind of use, though it does not matter how one defines that use. In Capital, Vol. 1 Marx states that the “utility of a thing makes it a use-value.” What he is saying is that things can and do have intrinsic value of their own, though only when they are viewed from the perspective of humans. We also need to be crystal clear about what Marx meant by “use.” If a person derives aesthetic, spiritual, or some kind of non-physical use from a thing it is still a use. It may be a different kind of use-value, but still a use-value none the less. This means that use-value is subjective. However Marx did not mean this when he spoke of “value”.

In order for a commodity to be one it has to have some sort of exchange-value. So how do two disparate use-values find themselves being equated for exchange? There is a medium, money in the case of capitalism, which facilitates this exchange. However, what determines the particular exchange-value of a thing? For Marx, exchange-value is created by the labour required to actually produce the thing. This means that exchange-value is determined by the labour required for its production in a capitalist economy. This is what Marx means when he is talking about the LTV. This means that in the capitalist market-economy value is expressed as, and through, exchange-value, and exchange-value has nothing to do with a given thing’s use-value.

It is also entirely possible for something to have a use-value while having no exchange-value, meaning that it is not a commodity. Marx put it like this:

“A thing can be a use value, without having value. This is the case whenever its utility to man is not due to labour. Such are air, virgin soil, natural meadows, &c. A thing can be useful, and the product of human labour, without being a commodity.” – “Capital, Vol. 1.”

With this in mind it is now possible for us to fully understand what Marx meant in Capital when he said, “nothing can have value, without being an object of utility. If the thing is useless, so is the labour contained in it; the labour does not count as labour, and therefore creates no value.” Here he is is quite specifically talking of exchange-value. If a thing is not useful to someone else, it will not be exchanged, and hence has no value in the capitalist economy.

What Churchill says is right on in terms of how a capitalist economy views value and Marx would have no problem in sharing Churchill’s critique, though it’s not actually the critique of Marx or Marxism the Churchill tries to present it as. Churchill says:

“A mountain is worth nothing as a mountain; it only accrues value by being ‘developed’ into its raw productive materials such as ores, or even gravel. It can hold a certain speculative value, and thus be bought and sold, but only with such developmental ends in view. Similarly, a forest holds value only in the sense that it can be converted into a product known as lumber; otherwise, it is mere an obstacle to valuable, productive use of land through agriculture or stock-raising, etc. (an interesting commentary on the Marxian view of the land itself). Again, other species hold value only in terms their utility to productive processes (e.g.: meat, fur, leather, various body oils, eggs, milk, transportation in some instances, even fertilizer); otherwise they may, indeed must be preempted and supplanted by the more productive use of the habitat by humans.”

As for what Churchill refers to as the “Marxian view of the land itself,” I would refer you back to the earlier quotes from Marx and Engels. I should also point out that Marx is very clear that nature is as much a source of wealth as labour, and was quite vociferous in his criticism of those who thought that labour alone was a source of wealth:

“Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labor, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labor power.” – “Critique of the Gotha Programme.”

Getting back to my earlier point about Churchill’s critique of Marxist ideas on dialectics and nature, it would seem that his critiques of the labour theory of value have little, if any, detailed analysis behind it. Again, it appears that Churchill has attempted nothing but the most superficial reading of Marx and Engels. Hence he comes off as little more than ignorant of what he trying to speak about.

However, the point behind this “anti-critique” of sorts is that what Churchill is presenting in his essay might go on to form the basis of further mistaken critiques of Marxism. I also feel that it is important the truth of Marxist thought is certainly not the kind of Soviet Marxism that Churchill and others repeatedly conflate with Marxism on the whole.

On a final note, I disagree with Churchill that Marxism and Indigenism are mutually exclusive. This perhaps because, rather than use his definition of Indigenism as being a mix of deep-ecology, soft-path technology and anarchism (more like minarchism), I prefer the definition given by Guillermo Bonfil Batalla. His definition of Indigenism boiled down to six basic demands:

* Right to ancestral lands including complete control of land and subsoil, the defence of land and recuperation of land lost.
* Recognition of the ethnic and cultural identity of indigenous people- all indigenous peoples and organizations reaffirm the right to be distinct in culture, language and institutions, and to increase the value of their own technological, social and ideological practices.
* Equal political rights in relation to the state.
* The end of repression and violence, particularly that against the leaders, activists and followers of indigenous political organizations.
* The end of family planning programmes which have brought widespread sterilization of indigenous women and men.
* The rejection of tourism and folklore, meaning the end of commercialization of Indian music, dance and other art forms as well as other forms of cultural appropriation. Instead, respect for true indigenous cultural expressions.

These original six demands, as well as many others such as the rejection of capitalism and neoliberalism, have framed many of the Indian liberation struggles in the Americas over the last century, from sections of the Red Power movement (especially in Canada), to the Zapatistas in Mexico, to the work of Hugo Blanco and others in the Andean region of South America, to the election of Evo Morales in Bolivia, to the current struggles in Canada. There is also absolutely no reason that this form of Indigenism cannot be compatible with Marxism and struggles for socialism, and I am proud to call myself both a Marxist and an Indigenist.

However, the indigenism that Ward Churchill propagates has become, in certain circles, a curse word on the left implying that someone seeks a return to a primitivist life-style, or at least a certain level of deindustrialization. This is also not far off of what Churchill, Means and others seek. However, the simple fact is that true Indigenism, not the vaguely disguised primitivism of Means and Churchill, it is not something people on the revolutionary left should be afraid of, indeed it should embraced alongside the struggles against capitalism, racial/national oppression of blacks and latinos, patriarchy and homophobia/heterosexism, only then can a truly emancipatory struggle be waged.

In Ukraine War, Kremlin Leaves No Fingerprints

Russian special forces and mercenaries that started the war in Donbas, Ukraine

Russian special forces and mercenaries that started the war in Donbas, Ukraine

DONETSK, Ukraine — Not long ago, Alexander Borodai, a fast-talking Muscovite with a stylish goatee, worked as a consultant for an investment fund in Moscow. Today he is prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, zipping around town in a black S.U.V. with tinted windows and armed guards and commanding what he says are hundreds of fighters from Russia.

Mr. Borodai is Russian, but says he has come to eastern Ukraine out of a surge of patriotism and a desire to help Russian speakers here protect their rights. As for the Kremlin, he says, there’s no connection.

“I’m an ordinary citizen of Russia, not a government worker,” said Mr. Borodai, 41, whose face crinkles easily into a smile. “A lot of people from Russia are coming to help these people. I am one of them.”

The Cold War-style standoff over Ukraine may have subsided for now. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has drawn his troops back from the border and has promised to work with Ukraine’s new government. But the shifting reality here in eastern Ukraine suggests the crisis has simply entered a new phase. In contrast to Crimea, which was seized by Russian troops in unmarked uniforms this spring, eastern Ukraine is evolving into a subtle game in which Russian freelancers shape events and the Kremlin plausibly denies involvement.

Here in the green flatlands of eastern Ukraine, reminders of Russia are everywhere. Outside a former Ukrainian National Guard base, now occupied by a rebel militia, a jovial fighter from Ossetia in southern Russia, who goes by the nickname Mamai, said he crossed the border about a month ago with other volunteers.

The central government building that Mr. Borodai’s forces now control, after sweeping out the ragtag local separatists who occupied it weeks ago, is festooned with a slick, Hollywood-style banner featuring Mr. Borodai’s friend, Igor Strelkov, a Russian citizen who is a rebel leader in the stronghold of Slovyansk. And on Thursday, rebel leaders shipped 33 coffins back to Russia through a remarkably porous border, announcing that the overwhelming majority of those killed in Monday’s battle with the Ukrainian Army were Russian citizens.

Mr. Putin may not be directing these events, but he is certainly their principal beneficiary. Instability in Ukraine’s east makes the country less palatable to the European Union and more vulnerable to Russian demands, forming a kind of insurance policy for future influence by Russia, which, at least so far, has avoided further sanctions from the West. Leaders of the Group of 7 countries will meet in Brussels on Wednesday, including President Obama, and Russia’s role in Ukraine is at the top of the agenda.

“They are creating facts on the ground,” said Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “The goal is clear: build structural guarantees against Ukraine’s potential NATO accession. Plausible deniability is key.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday expressed “deep concern in connection with the further escalation of the situation in eastern Ukraine,” but did not address the Russian deaths. A request for comment on the Russian bodies and on Mr. Borodai went unanswered.

Reality in Ukraine seems constantly in flux, and the fact that the country has a new president-elect after careening headless for months could shift the kaleidoscope again. Petro O. Poroshenko, who was elected in a landslide last Sunday, is expected to meet Mr. Putin this summer, and if the two men are able to strike a deal, then Russian support for the separatists may wane, some experts said, though that will not necessarily stop them.

“Russia will keep supporting separatists below the radar as insurance to make sure Poroshenko agrees to a deal,” said Dmitry Gorenburg, a senior research scientist for the CNA Corporation, a nonprofit research group in Washington. “Once the deal is done, I think Putin will drop them.”

But much has changed between Ukraine and its giant neighbor in recent months and it is not clear how much their interests will overlap. Nor is Kiev entirely without cards to play. On Monday its military inflicted serious damage on the largely Russian separatist force, killing more than 40 fighters and raising the possibility that the military has at least some chance of succeeding.

What Russia would do if that started to happen is an open question. But for now, at least, the strategy seems to be to destabilize Ukraine as much as possible without leaving conclusive evidence that would trigger more sanctions.

“I don’t think he has blinked,” said Matthew Rojansky, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, referring to Mr. Putin’s not invading eastern Ukraine. “He has eased up because he sees a situation that he likes better.”

That leaves Mr. Borodai as a central figure in Ukraine’s immediate future. He may seem to have come out of nowhere, but in Russia he is a known quantity. He comes from a group of ultranationalists who were part of the far-right Zavtra newspaper in the 1990s. Their Pan-Slavic ideas, aiming for the unity of Slavic peoples, were considered marginal at the time. But they have now moved into the mainstream, helping formulate the worldview of today’s Kremlin, said Oleg Kashin, a Russian investigative journalist who has written extensively about Mr. Borodai.

“He’s the Karl Rove of Russian imperialism,” said Irena Chalupa, a fellow at the Atlantic Council.

When Mr. Borodai talks, people here listen. Surrounded by armed guards with scowling faces, Mr. Borodai stood with a microphone at the center of a large crowd that had gathered last weekend outside the compound of a local oligarch. They wanted to break in and declare it national property.

“I know many of you want a tour,” he said smiling, as the crowd cheered. “I respect that desire. But right now a tour is not possible.”

In an interview, Mr. Borodai said that he and Mr. Strelkov, the Russian rebel commander in Slovyansk, had both gone to Transnistria, a breakaway area in Moldova, to defend the rights of Russians in the 1990s. He named the cities in Russia that volunteers have come from, including Novosibirsk, Vladivostok and Chita. He said he believed in the idea of a Greater Russia, and that he had come to Ukraine to realize it. “Real Ukrainians have the right to live as they like,” he said. “They can create their own state which would be named Ukraine, or however they like, because the word Ukraine is a little humiliating,” he said, asserting that the literal translation meant “on the border of.” (The etymology is disputed.)

He explained that Ukrainians “have their heroes, their values, their religion,” but that “we also want to live as we want to live. We think that we have that right. And if we need to, we will assert that right.”

Roman Szporluk, emeritus professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University, said such language was worrying. “Putin would like to Yugoslavize Ukraine,” he said. “He wants to create an ethnic conflict where one did not exist.”

No one here seems to know where Mr. Borodai came from or what his allegiances are. But such things do not matter. “They are good guys, they are our guys, they are protecting us against Kiev’s aggression,” said Lidia Lisichkina, a 55-year-old geologist who is an ethnic Russian.

Mr. Kashin, the investigative journalist, does not believe that either Mr. Borodai or Mr. Strelkov is acting on behalf of the Russian government. “This is not the hand of Moscow, it’s just Borodai,” Mr. Kashin said.

Local rebel leaders say their goals coincide. Roman Lyagin, an election specialist from Donetsk who is responsible for pensions and wages in the new republic (so far they are still paid by Kiev), said one of the main tasks is to push separatist control farther west to “create a land route from Russia to Crimea.”

“People there need oatmeal, television and underwear,” he said.

At the regional administration building on Friday, Mr. Borodai was busy consolidating his power, holding his first government meeting after his forces swept out the local separatists.

The former National Guard base was buzzing with activity. A white minivan full of armed men in black balaclavas zoomed out of a large metal gate, its purple curtains pulled partly closed. A man wearing civilian clothes carried two large black bags to a hatchback station wagon and sped away.

Outside the gate, Mamai, the Ossetian fighter, said he had not come to Ukraine for money. He had a business doing security for banks in Vladikavkaz, where he lives. “Everyone who wants to be with Russia,” he said, “those are our brothers.”

Source

Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS

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Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion’

by Nafeez Ahmed

A declassified secret US government document obtained by the conservative public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.

The document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, and that these “supporting powers” desired the emergence of a “Salafist Principality” in Syria to “isolate the Syrian regime.”

According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of this strategy, and warned that it could destabilize Iraq. Despite anticipating that Western, Gulf state and Turkish support for the “Syrian opposition” — which included al-Qaeda in Iraq — could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the document provides no indication of any decision to reverse the policy of support to the Syrian rebels. On the contrary, the emergence of an al-Qaeda affiliated “Salafist Principality” as a result is described as a strategic opportunity to isolate Assad.


Hypocrisy

The revelations contradict the official line of Western governments on their policies in Syria, and raise disturbing questions about secret Western support for violent extremists abroad, while using the burgeoning threat of terror to justify excessive mass surveillance and crackdowns on civil liberties at home.

Among the batch of documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal lawsuit, released earlier this week, is a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document then classified as “secret,” dated 12th August 2012.

The DIA provides military intelligence in support of planners, policymakers and operations for the US Department of Defense and intelligence community.

So far, media reporting has focused on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria.

Some outlets have reported the US intelligence community’s internal prediction of the rise of ISIS. Yet none have accurately acknowledged the disturbing details exposing how the West knowingly fostered a sectarian, al-Qaeda-driven rebellion in Syria.

Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said:

“Given the political leanings of the organisation that obtained these documents, it’s unsurprising that the main emphasis given to them thus far has been an attempt to embarrass Hilary Clinton regarding what was known about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012. However, the documents also contain far less publicized revelations that raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.”

The West’s Islamists

The newly declassified DIA document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies.

Noting that “the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” the document states that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” while Russia, China and Iran “support the [Assad] regime.”

The 7-page DIA document states that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to the ‘Islamic State in Iraq,’ (ISI) which became the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,’ “supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.”

The formerly secret Pentagon report notes that the “rise of the insurgency in Syria” has increasingly taken a “sectarian direction,” attracting diverse support from Sunni “religious and tribal powers” across the region.

In a section titled ‘The Future Assumptions of the Crisis,’ the DIA report predicts that while Assad’s regime will survive, retaining control over Syrian territory, the crisis will continue to escalate “into proxy war.”

The document also recommends the creation of “safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command centre for the temporary government.”

In Libya, anti-Gaddafi rebels, most of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO ‘safe havens’ (aka ‘no fly zones’).

‘Supporting powers want’ ISIS entity

In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”:

“… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.”

The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”

Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway.

The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, it says, would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.” Last summer, ISIS conquered Mosul in Iraq, and just this month has also taken control of Ramadi.

Such a quasi-state entity will provide:

“… a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of territory.”

The 2012 DIA document is an Intelligence Information Report (IIR), not a “finally evaluated intelligence” assessment, but its contents are vetted before distribution. The report was circulated throughout the US intelligence community, including to the State Department, Central Command, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI, among other agencies.

In response to my questions about the strategy, the British government simply denied the Pentagon report’s startling revelations of deliberate Western sponsorship of violent extremists in Syria. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said:

“AQ and ISIL are proscribed terrorist organisations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.”

The DIA did not respond to request for comment.

Strategic asset for regime-change

Security analyst Shoebridge, however, who has tracked Western support for Islamist terrorists in Syria since the beginning of the war, pointed out that the secret Pentagon intelligence report exposes fatal contradictions at the heart of official pronunciations:

“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”

According to Brad Hoff, a former US Marine who served during the early years of the Iraq War and as a 9/11 first responder at the Marine Corps Headquarters Battalion in Quantico from 2000 to 2004, the just released Pentagon report for the first time provides stunning affirmation that:

“US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.”

Hoff, who broke the story via Levant Report— an online publication run by Texas-based educators who have direct experience of the Middle East — points out that the DIA document “matter-of-factly” states that the rise of such an extremist Salafist political entity in the region offers a “tool for regime change in Syria.”

The DIA intelligence report shows, he wrote, that the rise of ISIS only became possible in the context of the Syrian insurgency — “there is no mention of US troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits.” The report demonstrates that:

“The establishment of a ‘Salafist Principality’ in Eastern Syria is ‘exactly’ what the external powers supporting the opposition want (identified as ‘the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey’) in order to weaken the Assad government.”

The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely — but nevertheless strategically useful — blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.”

Complicity

Critics of the US-led strategy in the region have repeatedly raised questions about the role of coalition allies in intentionally providing extensive support to Islamist terrorist groups in the drive to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria.

The conventional wisdom is that the US government did not retain sufficient oversight on the funding to anti-Assad rebel groups, which was supposed to be monitored and vetted to ensure that only ‘moderate’ groups were supported.

However, the newly declassified Pentagon report proves unambiguously that years before ISIS launched its concerted offensive against Iraq, the US intelligence community was fully aware that Islamist militants constituted the core of Syria’s sectarian insurgency.

Despite that, the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.

As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion” — namely, the emergence of ISIS — “but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’”

Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer who blew the whistle in the 1990s on MI6 funding of al-Qaeda to assassinate Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, similarly said of the revelations:

“This is no surprise to me. Within individual countries there are always multiple intelligence agencies with competing agendas.”

She explained that MI6’s Libya operation in 1996, which resulted in the deaths of innocent people, “happened at precisely the time when MI5 was setting up a new section to investigate al-Qaeda.”

This strategy was repeated on a grand scale in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, said Machon, where the CIA and MI6 were:

“… supporting the very same Libyan groups, resulting in a failed state, mass murder, displacement and anarchy. So the idea that elements of the American military-security complex have enabled the development of ISIS after their failed attempt to get NATO to once again ‘intervene’ is part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.”

Divide and rule

Several US government officials have conceded that their closest allies in the anti-ISIS coalition were funding violent extremist Islamist groups that became integral to ISIS.

US Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, admitted last year that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey had funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamist rebels in Syria that metamorphosed into ISIS.

But he did not admit what this internal Pentagon document demonstrates — that the entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervised by the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers.

The strategy appears to fit a policy scenario identified by a recent US Army-commissioned RAND Corp report.

The report, published four years before the DIA document, called for the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.”

The US would need to contain “Iranian power and influence” in the Gulf by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.” Simultaneously, the US must maintain “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government” despite its Iran alliance.

The RAND report confirmed that the “divide and rule” strategy was already being deployed “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level.”

The report observed that the US was forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups” that have fought the US for four years in the form of “weapons and cash.” Although these nationalists “have cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” they are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.”

The 2012 DIA document, however, further shows that while sponsoring purportedly former al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq to counter al-Qaeda, Western governments were simultaneously arming al-Qaeda insurgents in Syria.

The revelation from an internal US intelligence document that the very US-led coalition supposedly fighting ‘Islamic State’ today, knowingly created ISIS in the first place, raises troubling questions about recent government efforts to justify the expansion of state anti-terror powers.

In the wake of the rise of ISIS, intrusive new measures to combat extremism including mass surveillance, the Orwellian ‘prevent duty’ and even plans to enable government censorship of broadcasters, are being pursued on both sides of the Atlantic, much of which disproportionately targets activists, journalists and ethnic minorities, especially Muslims.

Yet the new Pentagon report reveals that, contrary to Western government claims, the primary cause of the threat comes from their own deeply misguided policies of secretly sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.

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Lugansk People’s Republic authorities ban strikes, International Workers’ Day marches, and forbid international anti-fascist forum

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Open letter to The General Secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions Georgios Mavrikos

 General Secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions

Georgios Mavrikos

Being the communists of Lugansk region we apply to you as to worldfamous avowed champion of communist ideals. We are surprised and deeply revolted from the fact that the main and powerful tool of struggle against the dawning of the world imperialism upon the rights of workers all over the world, that is headed by you and called the World Federation of Trade Unions, declares and supports the protégés of oligarchs as represented by the leaders of “Lugansk People’s Republic” and the puppet Federation of Trade Unions, that is headed by O. Akimov, who pursues totalitarian anti-national policy.

One of the most glaring example of their “achievements” is the oppression and terrible counteraction to the activity of public organization “Communists of Lugansk Region”. It is expressed in banning the leaders and Party activists to take part in public performances during mass events and appear in the Mass-media, in secret ban to perform the public activities, that are organized by the communists. The deputies from “LNR People’s Council”, who are elite from the PO “Communists of Lugansk Region,” are subjected to accusations and oppressions.

The authorities of LNR, that are supported by you, have forbidden us to organize the traditional procession dedicated to International worker’s day categorically. Until very recently we’ve accepted the situation because we didn’t want to undermine very complex sociopolitical situation in the Republic. But the last straw was the interdiction of holding the international forum of international solidarity of anti-fascism that had to take place in Lugansk on 8, May 2015 and was well planned for a long time by us and the representatives of Communists Parties from many world and European countries. Our multiple appeals and requests to the leaders of LNR have faced to incomprehension and prohibitions. As a result, if there was no help from the leader of battalion “Prizrak” Aleksey Mozgovoy (who, in spite of all prohibitions from the leaders of LNR, has helped us to organize the forum in Alchevsk town), the international conference, where more than 130 representatives of communistic and anti-fascist movement have taken part, would be just hampered. Only Fascists can be such afraid of the conducting of anti-fascist event in the capital of the young Republic! Because of this reason, we, the communists of Lugansk Region, petition to you to use all your authority in order to exert influence upon the authorities of LNR and demand to stop repressions of the communists, that have taken great part in the formation of independence of LNR.

Yours faithfully,

Party activists of communist movement in Lugansk region

May, 13, 2015

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Putin’s Western Allies

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Why Europe’s Far Right Is on the Kremlin’s Side

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Given that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated reasons for invading Crimea was to prevent “Nazis” from coming to power in Ukraine, it is perhaps surprising that his regime is growing closer by the month to extreme right-wing parties across Europe. But, in both cases, Putin’s motives are not primarily ideological. In Ukraine, he simply wants to grab territory that he believes rightly belongs to him. In the European Union, he hopes that his backing of fringe parties will destabilize his foes and install in Brussels politicians who will be focused on dismantling the EU rather than enlarging it.

In Hungary, for example, Putin has taken the Jobbik party under his wing. The third-largest party in the country, Jobbik has supporters who dress in Nazi-type uniforms, spout anti-Semitic rhetoric, and express concern about Israeli “colonization” of Hungary. The party has capitalized on rising support for nationalist economic policies, which are seen as an antidote for unpopular austerity policies and for Hungary’s economic liberalization in recent years. Russia is bent on tapping into that sentiment. In May 2013, Kremlin-connected right-wing Russian nationalists at the prestigious Moscow State University invited Jobbik party president Gabor Vona to speak. Vona also met with Russia Duma leaders including Ivan Grachev, chairman of the State Duma Committee for Energy and Vasily Tarasyuk, deputy chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and Utilization, among others. On the Jobbik website, the visit is characterized as “a major breakthrough” which made “clear that Russian leaders consider Jobbik as a partner.” In fact, there have been persistent rumors that Jobbik’s enthusiasm is paid for with Russian rubles. The party has also repeatedly criticized Hungary’s “Euro-Atlantic connections” and the European Union. And, more recently, it called the referendum in Crimea “exemplary,” a dangerous word in a country with extensive co-ethnic populations in Romania and Slovakia. It seems that the party sees Putin’s new ethnic politics as being aligned with its own revisionist nationalism.

The Kremlin’s ties to France’s extreme-right National Front have also been growing stronger. Marine Le Pen, the party leader, visited Moscow in June 2013 at the invitation of State Duma leader Sergei Naryshkin, a close associate of Putin’s. She also met with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and discussed issues of common concern, such as Syria, EU enlargement, and gay marriage. France’s ProRussia TV, which is funded by the Kremlin, is staffed by editors with close ties to the National Front who use the station to espouse views close to National Front’s own perspective on domestic and international politics. The National Front wishes to replace the EU and NATO with a pan-European partnership of independent nations, which, incidentally, includes Russia and would be driven by a trilateral Paris-Berlin-Moscow alliance. Le Pen’s spokesman, Ludovic De Danne, recently recognized the results of the Crimea referendum and stated in an interview with Voice of Russia radio that, “historically, Crimea is part of Mother Russia.” In the same interview, he mentioned that he had visited Crimea several times in the past year. Marine Le Pen also visited Crimea in June 2013.

The list of parties goes on. Remember Golden Dawn, the Greek fascist party that won 18 seats in Greece’s parliament in 2012? Members use Nazi symbols at rallies, emphasize street fighting, and sing the Greek version of the Nazi Party anthem. The Greek government imprisoned Nikos Michaloliakos, its leader, and stripped parliamentary deputies of their political immunity before slapping them with charges of organized violence. But the party continues to take to the streets. Golden Dawn has never hidden its close connections to Russia’s extreme right, and is thought to receive funds from Russia. One Golden Dawn­­–linked website reports that Michaloliakos even received a letter in prison from Moscow State University professor and former Kremlin adviser Alexander Dugin, one of the authors of Putin’s “Eurasian” ideology. It was also Dugin who hosted Jobbik leader Vona when he visited Moscow. In his letter, Dugin expressed support for Golden Dawn’s geopolitical positions and requested to open a line of communication between Golden Dawn and his think tank in Moscow. Golden Dawn’s New York website reports that Michaloliakos “has spoken out clearly in favor of an alliance and cooperation with Russia, and away from the ‘naval forces’ of the ‘Atlantic.’”

Finally, a cable made public by WikiLeaks shows that Bulgaria’s far right Ataka party has close links to the Russian embassy. Reports that Russia funds Ataka have swirled for years, but have never been verified. But evidence of enthusiasm for Russia’s foreign policy goals is open for all to see. Radio Bulgaria reported on March 17 that Ataka’s parliamentary group “has insisted that Bulgaria should recognize the results from the referendum for Crimea’s joining to the Russian Federation.” Meanwhile, party leader Volen Siderov has called repeatedly for Bulgaria to veto EU economic sanctions for Russia.

In addition to their very vocal support for Russia’s annexation of Crimea within the EU, Jobbik, National Front, and Ataka all sent election observers to validate the Crimea referendum (as did the Austrian Freedom Party, the Belgian Vlaams Belang party, Italy’s Forza Italia and Lega Nord, and Poland’s Self-Defense, in addition to a few far-left parties, conspicuously Germany’s Die Linke). Their showing was organized by the Russia-based Eurasian Observatory For Democracy & Elections, a far-right NGO “opposed to Western ideology.” The EODE specializes in monitoring elections in “self-proclaimed republics” (Abkhazia, Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh) allied with Moscow, according to its website.

The Putin government’s cordial relations with Europe’s far right sit oddly, to say the least, with his opposition to “Nazis” in the Ukrainian government. Yet Putin’s dislike for Ukrainian “fascists” has nothing to do with ideology. It has to do with the fact that they are Ukrainian nationalists. The country’s Svoboda and Right Sector parties, which might do well in the post–Viktor Yanukovych Ukraine, stand for independence in a country that Putin does not believe should exist separate from Russia.

Similarly, Russian support of the far right in Europe has less to do with ideology than with his desire to destabilize European governments, prevent EU expansion, and help bring to power European governments that are friendly to Russia. In that sense, several European countries may only be one bad election away from disaster. In fact, some would say that Hungary has already met it. As support for Jobbik increases, the anti-democratic, center-right government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has tacked heavily to the right and recently signed a major nuclear deal with Russia. Russia plans to lend Hungary ten billion euro to construct two new reactors at its Paks nuclear plant, making Hungary even more dependent for energy on Russia. Jobbik’s Vona wants to go even further, taking Hungary out of the EU and joining Russia’s proposed Eurasian Union.

European parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for the end of May, are expected to result in a strong showing for the far right. A weak economy, which was weakened further by the European Central Bank’s austerity policies, has caused the extreme right vote to surge. Current polls show the far-right parties in France and Holland winning the largest share of seats in their national delegations. Brussels strategists worry that 20 percent of members of the new European parliament could be affiliated with parties that wish to abolish the EU, double the current number. That could cause an EU government shutdown to rival the dysfunction of Washington and deal a major blow to efforts to enlarge the Union and oppose Russian expansionism.

It is strange to think that Putin’s strategy of using right-wing extremist political parties to foment disruption and then take advantage — as he did in Crimea — could work in southern and western Europe as well. Or that some of the extreme right parties in the European parliament, who work every day to delegitimize the European Union and whose numbers are growing, may be funded by Russia. Yet these possibilities cannot be dismissed. Russia might soon be able to disrupt the EU from within.

To counter Russia, European leaders should start launching public investigations into external funding of extreme-right political parties. If extensive Russia connections are found, it would be important to publicize that fact and then impose sanctions on Russia that would make it more difficult for it to provide such support. Pro-European parties must find a way to mobilize voters who are notoriously unwilling to vote in European parliament elections. Europe will also have to rethink the austerity policies that have worsened the grievances of many Europeans and pushed them to support the anti-system, anti-European right. Although Germany has banned extreme right parties from representation, other countries have not. Germany may have therefore underestimated the extent of damage austerity policies could do to the European project and should rethink how its excessive budget cutting, monetary prudence, and export surpluses are affecting politics in the rest of Europe.

Putin’s challenge to Europe must be taken seriously. Rather than making another land grab in his back yard, he might watch patiently from the sidelines at the end of May as pro-Russia far-right parties win a dramatic election victory in European parliamentary elections. These elections could weaken the European Union and bring Russia’s friends on the far right closer to power.

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‘Novorossiya’s’ ‘Leftist’ Friends

Anti-NATO meeting with supporters of 'Novorossiya' in Munich

Anti-NATO meeting with supporters of ‘Novorossiya’ in Munich

The frenzied world-wide front is expanding
Mercy to no one, no one, no one!

Stanza from 1989 Russian anarchists’ song Vintovka – eto prazdnik (The Rifle is a Holiday)
By the Russian punk bank Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defense)

The annexation of Crimea, the “Novorossiya” project, and the fight against the “Kyiv junta” are not supported in Russia alone.  There are political forces around the world, both marginal and relatively respectable, which voice their support for the separatists in the Donbass.  At times, activists themselves travel to the war zone as volunteers, but they mostly hold demonstrations in support of the separatist republics and pressure their governments to renounce their support for Ukraine and “stop the aggression against Russia.”

These political forces may identify as left-wing, right-wing, or deny any conventional political identity (although their “political neutrality” usually conceals one ideology or another).  Novorossiya’s foreign friends who, in 99% of cases, are also friends of Russia and worshippers of Putin, may explain their views from various, sometimes incompatible positions.  Novorossiya can be supported both by a white racist and a communist who talks about the fight against “Ukrainian fascism” and “Western imperialism.”  But despite the apparent differences in their theoretical ideological grounding, their political practice is remarkably similar.  Eventually, they arrive at the same conclusions and stand on the same side of the barricade.

Not that long ago, an “antifascist forum” took place in the Donbass, which was attended by representatives of not major, but still quite notable Stalinist organizations from Europe and the United States.  Around the same time, a forum of ultra-right, nationalist, and conservative activists took place in the Donbass.  The fact that these events coincided is more than revealing.  We will talk about both left-wing and right-wing supporters of Novorossiya and attempt to find similarities in their modes of thinking.  The first text mostly focuses on leftists, but there are certain elements which are also relevant to the right-wing camp.

Lies and Truth

European and US radicals, both left- and right-wing, do not trust the media.  Leftists mistrust mainstream outlets because the latter, according to their worldview, are controlled by oligarchs or their puppets.  Far-rightists do so because, in their version of reality, the media are controlled by Zionist, cultural-Marxist, and homosexual lobbies.  In general, a critical approach to any kind of information is advisable, but the conspiratorial and critical approaches are seldom compatible.  A conspiracy theorist judges information as follows: If the media work for oligarchs, then everything they report must be a lie serving the interests of the men behind the scenes.  But they still need to get their information somewhere.  While they can get news about their own country from blogs, party newsletters, and congenial news websites, learning about foreign countries is more complicated, particularly due to the language barrier.  It is necessary to find an independent source, with adequate resources at its disposal, which could send its correspondents to different parts of the world; at the same time, this source must be independent from the “secret masters,” whoever these might be.  And here, Russia Today(RT.com) comes to the rescue.

Russian propaganda is not limited to the spouting of [Kremlin propagandist Dmitry] Kiselyev, who is only needed for the domestic consumer.  For the Western audience, there is Russia Today, an information product unique in its nature.  This TV channel often shows high-quality broadcasts of protest movements and demonstrations in Western countries; on other occasions, RT talks about events which other media ignore for one reason or another.  A great deal of material is broadcast in the form of raw video footage without commentary or voice-over, which creates the effect of objectivity.  RT.com actively attracts Western journalists and gives them carte blanche to honestly and uncompromisingly criticize their governments.  All of the above definitely affords the channel a certain credit of trust.  And it actively utilizes this credit when it finds it necessary to compel a Western viewer to believe in blatant lies and propaganda.  For instance, in the notion that the EuroMaidan movement consisted exclusively of fascists directly controlled by the United States.  While Russian propagandists need only to present their domestic audience with pure lies without any admixture, the lies shown to a foreign consumer must be craftily alternated and combined with truth.

Soviet Ressentiment

Western leftists often perceive the USSR not at all like those who would seem to be their likeminded Ukrainian counterparts. In our country, overt Soviet sympathies are only voiced by parties which are direct successors of the Soviet nomenklatura, such as the Communist Party of Ukraine.  Or those who are trying to win over the pension-age electorate, filled with Soviet nostalgia.  All other leftists – anarchists, Trotskyists, left-communists, social democrats – are more than critical toward the USSR; after all, it was that state which virtually eradicated these political movements in the territory under its control.  In the West, particularly in the countries which never found themselves under Soviet rule, the left’s attitude toward its legacy is softer.  To them, the USSR was a kind of remote abstraction which did not pose a direct threat, but frightened the rulers of their countries which in turn were forced into compromises and concessions favoring domestic worker and trade union movements.  The USSR’s existence inspired a hope that a different, non-capitalist world was possible.  Active attacks on the USSR during the Cold War would, indirectly, amount to support for one’s “own” government.  Thus, leftists preferred not to pay any special attention to Soviet politics, instead concentrating on critique of Western imperialism.  The further away from the GULAG, the easier it is to assess the edifying results of the Soviet experiment and observe its “positive aspects.”  For instance, in the United States, even the anarchists considered the hammer and sickle the perfect symbol for outraging local conservatives, rather than the emblem of a totalitarian regime which completely exterminated their comrades.

Now, the USSR’s place has been taken by Russia, which continues to be regarded as the antipode to “Western capitalism,” even though the Russian Federation has long exhibited much fewer characteristics of a welfare state than the countries of Western Europe.  Those leftists which fell into the trap of geopolitical thinking ended up in the same camp as the right-wingers.  In this respect, the coalition which the Greek Syriza party was forced to join, having previously won a majority in the latest parliamentary election, is telling — the “socialists” were forced to cooperate with overt right-wing populists.  The only things that the two have in common are sympathy toward the Russian Federation and criticism of the European Union.

Bear-Ukraine

This illustration clearly demonstrates how the supporters of Novorossiya present the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.  Ukraine is simply a virgin territory encroached upon by Western imperialists.  The latter are opposed by the Russian bear.  Not man, mind you, but bear.  We are dealing with a kind of “positive dehumanization.”  The Russian is presented as a creature belonging to another species, to whom human ethical norms need not apply; therefore, Russia is easily pardoned for the actions which, if conducted by the West, are harshly criticized.

Information “Warfare”

As a rule, left-wing organizations eagerly lend an ear to their counterparts in other countries.  It is always more simple and agreeable to listen to those who say things close to one’s heart in a familiar language.  During the Maidan protests and immediately thereafter, the Borotba [Struggle] organization, which initially supported the Anti-Maidan movement and subsequently the “People’s Republics,” successfully imitated before the Western audience, completely ignorant of Ukraine, a “mass left-wing party,” which waged a “relentless antifascist struggle in the underground.”  Their success is easily explained: Borotba had a budget that covered the services of translators who rebroadcast their materials in different languages.  Furthermore, they use the language of the left more aptly than the Communist Party of Ukraine does.  However, the Communist Party has also made its contribution – the magical word “communist” in its name has won the ears of many a naive Western leftist, who sincerely believe that “communists are being persecuted and suppressed in Ukraine,” and who see in communists the continuers of the ideas of Marx and Engels, not a party bureaucracy which has sold out many times over.

What we get is a simple, convenient, and completely unambiguous picture, which perfectly matches the line of official Russian propaganda: a fascist putsch and an antifascist underground.  What questions are there left to ask when one group is toppling monuments to Lenin and the other is defending them with their lives?  Especially given that independent media, not controlled by “Western governments” and “transnational corporations,” such as Russia Today, are saying more or less the same thing using almost exactly the same words.

Other Ukrainian leftists produced fewer articles (because there were no staffers to write them), and these texts are more difficult to understand, because they do not always paint such a simple, unambiguous, and heroic picture.  Propaganda and simple clichés will inevitably be more successful than analysis.  And while Ukrainian anarchists more or less managed to align the sentiments among many of their Western counterparts, most adherents of the Bolshevik tradition remained at the level of “the people of the Donbass are waging a national liberation struggle against the junta which seized power through a fascist putsch.”

The Myth of the Odessa Khatyn

An important element in the mythology of “leftist” supporters of Novorossiya was the fire in the Odesa Trade Unions Building.  It was a very powerful image: “the fascists burned people alive.”  And not just anywhere, but in the Trade Unions Building!  Across the world, trade unions are directly associated with left-wing movements, which means that people who died there would automatically be perceived as left-wing activists, especially given that Borotba and the Communist Party of Ukraine lost a few of their supporters there and took the trouble to paint them as heroes.  And it is secondary that the backbone of the Odessa Anti-Maidan consisted of people professing right-wing, even far-right pro-Russian views, and that it included those of the Black-Hundred and imperialist persuasions.  For a Western leftist, imperialism is by no means such an obvious right-wing symbol as, for instance, a Wolfsangel or the Azov Battalion’s “black sun.”  All the more so because the Anti-Maidan members sported St. George’s ribbons which, not without the help of official Russian propaganda, were actively exported as an “antifascist symbol,” including to the West.

The deaths in the Trade Unions Building finally convinced many Western leftists of the “fascist” essence of the Maidan and the new Ukrainian authorities.  This entire situation (from the location of the tragedy to the death by fire) fits perfectly into the existing set of clichés.  It is revealing that most people who now recall the “burned martyrs of Odessa” do not know about, or prefer not to mention, the deaths in the Kyiv Trade Unions Building, where many Maidan protesters lost their lives, including the wounded.  That’s because it would not fit into the general picture — the “antifascist [now defunct riot] Berkut police force” could not have possibly burned wounded people alive.

Even moderate forces, such as the German Die Linke party, which reject direct support or solidarity with the self-proclaimed republics, are inclined to sympathize with the victims of  the May 2 fire, while completely ignoring the violence which the Odessa Anti-Maidan had regularly carried out from the moment of its formation up to and during the events of May 2.

The Prizrak Brigade and Its Communists

There is no point in enumerating all the organizations which support Novorossiya in one form or another.  The reader need not decipher the multitude of names and abbreviations; it is far more important to understand the general pattern of thought which caused hundreds of people from different countries of the world to travel in March to Alchevsk in search of the phantom of communism in [now deceased separatist militant Aleksei] Mozgovoy’s Prizrak Brigade.

alchevsk-kommunistyi

Most European volunteers travel to the Donbass from Spain and other South European countries.  A great contribution to that was made by Banda Bassotti, a prominent Italian punk group.  The mobilizing potential of musicians can sometimes be greater than that of parties and civic movements.  European communists fighting in the ranks of Mozgovoy and other field commanders fell into Novorossiya’s trap largely due to the unsophisticated propaganda ventilated by these “punks” professing Stalinist views.  They actively channel all aforementioned clichés while diluting them with their own stupidity.  They mix “leftist” rhetoric with national-chauvinist propaganda – Lenin and Trotsky might not have executed them, but they would have definitely expelled them from the party.  For instance, during interviews, members of Banda Bassotti say without a hint of doubt that Ukraine was created artificially, in defiance of Russia, citing “a book they read recently.”

alchevsk-kontsert

It is important to understand that until 2014, most Western leftists supporting Novorossiya did not have the slightest idea of the political situation in Ukraine, let alone its history, ethnic and cultural groups populating its territory, the history of Ukraine-Russia relations, and so forth.  In 2014, they quickly acquired that “knowledge,” thoughtfully offered to them by Russian propaganda.  The language barrier allowed for all types of suggestions.  Even the most anti-scientific source gains legitimacy if it is translated from a foreign outlet.  That is precisely why the Spanish volunteers subsequently arrested in their homes explained during an interview their desire to fight on the side of the separatists with the fact that “they were helping defend Russia against Ukrainian aggression.”

Indeed, for some Spanish Stalinists who have a vague idea of Ukraine’s geographical location, the words “Ukrainian” and “fascist” have become synonymous.  Last fall, a telling episode took place: a 56-year-old Ukrainian was attacked by a group of Catalan nationalists and slipped into a coma.  This episode caused very strong indignation, including in left-wing circles, but was condemned mostly by anarchists; there was no reaction whatsoever on the part of major leftist parties.

The German Antiimperialistische Aktion group cooperates with ANNA News, a popular propagandist channel.

Their cooperation likely dates as far back as the Syrian war.  Both the pro-Russian TV channel and the “anti-imperialists” actively supported Assad in this war.  The ideology of the “anti-imps,” as they are called in Germany, can be briefly summarized as follows: radical anti-Americanism, a partiality to conspiracy theories, covert (and sometimes overt) anti-semitism, and thoroughly uncritical support for all regimes opposed to the United States and Israel.  The official flag of Antiimperialistische Aktion resembles the antifascist flag, but instead of a red-and-black banner in a circle, it depicts the flag of the USSR and the “anti-imperialist” regime which they currently love most.  There are variations depicting the flags of Libya, Syria, and Palestine.  There has recently appeared an “anti-imperialist” flag on which the Soviet flag is accompanied by the two-headed Novorossiya eagle, and the pantheon of antifascist and anti-imperialist heroes was supplemented not only by Strelkov and Mozgovoy, but also by Ramzan Kadyrov.  It sometimes feels like the anti-imps are a kind of parody of the left-wing supporters of Novorossiya (their performance at an anti-NATO meeting with dogs sporting Berkut uniforms was more amusing than any parody).  Regrettably, however, they are absolutely real.

Novorossiya-Dogs

“Anti-imperialists” at the Munich Meeting

Anti-NATO meeting with supporters of ‘Novorossiya’ in Munich

Anti-NATO meeting with supporters of ‘Novorossiya’ in Munich

Not only are they absolutely real, but they also have supporters both in different cities of Germany and beyond the country’s borders – in Sweden, for instance.  They do not only actively accept the Kremlin propaganda, but also rebroadcast it to European audiences with great enthusiasm.  This propaganda video, which tells the “truth about Euromaidan,” is one example of that.

Many admirers of Russia in the West like to set up accounts on the VKontakte social network (which they also consider anti-imperialist and a counterweight to the corporate Facebook).  With the use of automatic translation services, they try to communicate with Russian-language audiences, and even receive occasional feedback.

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A photo from Tobias Nase’s VK profile.  The anti-imps still permitted themselves to use Ukrainian in April 2014.  Eventually, however, they decided it is a fascist language and switched their automatic translators to Russian.

Active support for Novorossiya is also expressed by numerous Greek left-wing organizations. The ruling Syriza party has already stuck in people’s memory with its pro-Russian stance and, consequently, with its loyalty to Russia-controlled regimes.  However, many of Syriza’s opponents (today we are talking about their opponents “on the left,” the ultra-rightists from the Golden Dawn party will be discussed in another article) have gloated over the puppet regimes of the LPR and DPR even more strongly.

Not only overt worshippers of Stalin and the Soviet legacy, but also many forces identifying themselves as followers of the Maoist tradition have supported the LPR and DPR.  They are driven by the same anti-imperialist (read “anti-American”) logic.  Everything that is opposed to the West with all its corporations and capitalist expansion is perceived as an absolute good, “anti-imperialist” regimes are easily forgiven what is considered a taboo in  leftist circles: from racism to homophobia.  Furthermore, Maoists are inclined to romanticize rebellion and armed struggle and, in this context, they certainly find the image of Novorossiya quite attractive.

Certain Trotskyists have also taken a liking to the myth of the left-wing Donbass.  Notable in this respect are the International Marxist Tendency (an international group known for its overt and completely uncritical support of the Venezuelan model of state socialism) and the International Committee of the Fourth International.  If they consider the USSR a “deformed workers’ state,” then the post-Soviet space consists of “workers’ states” which are even more deformed are still preferable to the capitalist, neo-liberal West.  Therefore, the thought of reunifying the USSR is no less attractive to them than to Stalinists, except that the former seek to re-establish the USSR without the cult of the moustached leader, and believe that this can be done without forming a new party establishment and bureaucracy.  It is important to note that there are a great number of Trotskyist organizations and internationals around the world, their names are often similar, and behind familiar abbreviations there often lie unappeasable enemies with diametrically opposite stances on Ukraine.  Whenever you throw a stone at a Stalinist, you will almost definitely hit a supporter of Novorossiya; before throwing one at a Trotskyist, it is worthwhile asking him a few leading questions.

Living in a special, completely parallel universe are leftists from the United States, who prefer to fight the evil empire directly from within.  In their view, the war in the Donbass started at the instigation of the United States and, obviously, because of oil.  After all, every global conflict is waged by the United States and always because of oil.  And yes, the “Odessa carnage” was also planned by the United States, in case you had any doubts on that score.

This video footage (recorded, by the way, by the aforementioned Russia Today channel) can be understood without any knowledge of English, and has already been commented on a thousand times.

Putin’s Cautious Friends

Many political forces feel they are too respectable to stoop to cheap clownery.  They do not fling up wild slogans about the “junta” and “conspiracy.”  However, they say essentially the same things using more civilized, diplomatic language.  And, in a way, they are even more dangerous, given that such parties as Die Linke and Syriza are members of the European Parliament.  And though they do not send volunteers to the Donbass, they do contribute to blocking aid to Ukraine (as do their right-wing twins).

Deputy Andrej Hunko (who on account of his surname is considered a foremost expert on Ukraine within the party), together with his colleague Wolfgang Gerke, became notorious in the Ukrainian media owing to a photo in which he is seen posing with Zakharchenko.

linke

Earlier, however, both he and his associates made a lot of effort to indirectly support the separatists.  Through their efforts, Borotba party leader Sergey Kirichuk was granted political asylum in Germany; they helped him broadcast propaganda about the “workers’ rebellion in the Donbass,” including at the level of the European Parliamentary.  And despite the fact that Die Linke publicly dissociated itself from Borotba, cooperation with its leader continues.

The rhetoric of “peace” and “intolerance for inciters of war” is very popular among such politicians.  Except that when saying “peace,” they mean exclusively “peace with Russia,” and they agree to only see inciters of war in the West.  At the same time, they deny Ukraine any kind of subjecthood, and its population is allotted the unenviable roles of Western puppets, blood-thirsty fascists, or their victims.  And once again it turns out that the “leftists” are speaking the same “geopolitical” language as the “rightists” whom they criticize.  But even the formal difference between them is getting smaller – Sara Wagenknecht of Die Linke has already publicly called for a dialogue with the ultra-right anti-immigration Pegida organization, appealing, first and foremost, given the proximity of their position on the Ukrainian and Russian question.  One can assume that this rapprochement will continue;  European countries have yet to see in action the “red-brown” synthesis, which is so popular in the post-Soviet space.

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Social-Imperialist China Praises Lee Kuan Yew

The then Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping with Lee Kuan Yew in Beijing on August 7, 2008 (REN HAIXIA)

The following article appeared in Beijing Review on April 2, 2015. It praises capitalist oligarch Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore as a great man and his government and economy as a democratic model for developing countries, smeared only by Westerners. It is just another example of the degeneration of China and of the publication, which went from writing articles like “Imperialist Plunder — Biggest Obstacle to the Economic Growth of ‘Underdeveloped’ Countries” in 1965 to praising the monopoly capitalist dictatorial model for other countries to emulate. I posted this article on social media when it first came out. It was largely ignored by supporters of the modern Chinese social-imperialist state, some of which must think it is entirely reasonable for an ostensibly communist publication to recommend that other countries follow the governing style of a deceased bourgeois autocrat. I however, do not.

– E.S.

Lee Kuan Yew’s China Connections

Remembering a wise friend of the Chinese people

By Yu Lintao

Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23 at the age of 91, triggering an outpouring of grief from its citizens and many others around the world. Under Lee’s leadership, Singapore made a stunning transformation from a poor island country to one of the most developed nations within just one generation.

The rapid development of Singapore is well connected with its governance model which was mainly created by Lee–known today as “the Singapore model.” The political model draws on Western political systems without merely copying them. Despite being underplayed by some Western theorists as pseudo-democracy, the Singapore model has shown a clear record as a strong governance style. It ensures the Singaporean Government’s high efficiency, incorruptibility and vitality which lead the country to attain an economic leap forward.

Lee’s political model has not only benefited the development of his own country but also become a model for many countries striving to build a first-world economy. The model indicates that the Western way of governance is not the only way leading to a country’s prosperity and its people’s wellbeing.

In a message posted on the website of the State Council of China, Premier Li Keqiang stated that “Mr Lee Kuan Yew had worked together with the pioneering generation of Chinese leaders in opening the gate for the friendly cooperation between China and Singapore ? His contributions to the China-Singapore relations and China’s reform and opening up will surely be marked by history.”

In a message of condolences to Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam over the passing away of Lee, Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed Lee as an old friend of the Chinese people and the founder, pioneer and promoter of China-Singapore relations.

Lee was regarded as the founder of close Sino-Singaporean relations. He was one of the few world leaders who met with all five of China’s top leaders and visited China as many as 33 times since his first visit in 1976.

As a visionary politician, Lee seized the momentous opportunity of China’s reform and opening up, advanced Sino-Singaporean cooperation to promote the further development of his country.

In the early phase of China’s reform and opening up, Lee helped China attract investment from overseas businessmen in Southeast Asia, and he also made Singaporean participation in and support for China’s transformation a long-term policy. In the meantime, Lee cemented Singapore’s position in the global economy alongside China’s meteoric rise.

Since the establishment of their official relations in 1990, the bilateral trade between China and Singapore grew from $2.83 billion in 1990 to $91.43 billion in 2013. China has become the largest trading partner of Singapore while Singapore is the 11th largest trading partner of China.

Lee’s proposed Suzhou Industrial Park, the largest cooperative project between China and Singapore, was inaugurated in 1994 in east China’s Jiangsu Province, creating an icon of China-Singapore cooperation. It has also served as a model for China’s economic cooperation with other foreign countries.

The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping with Lee Kuan Yew in Beijing in the 1980s (CNS)

The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping with Lee Kuan Yew in Beijing in the 1980s (CNS)

The then Chinese President Jiang Zemin with Lee Kuan Yew in Beijing on June 13, 2000 (MAO JIANJUN)

The then Chinese President Jiang Zemin with Lee Kuan Yew in Beijing on June 13, 2000 (MAO JIANJUN)

The then Chinese President Hu Jintao with Lee Kuan Yew in Beijing on June 19, 2004 (MAO JIANJUN)

The then Chinese President Hu Jintao with Lee Kuan Yew in Beijing on June 19, 2004 (MAO JIANJUN)

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Anasintaxi (KKE 1918-55): On the Events in Nandigram

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* This article, translated in Greek, published in Anasintaxi issue 263

The 14 known dead, the wounded, the raped and the unknown number missing in Nandigram, the victims gunned down by the joint police and the CPI M cadre ‘action’ on the 14th of March, visibly signify the pain of the marginalised sharecropper suffering from capital and state terror. Singur and Nandigram share their grief with the people of Kashipur and Kalinganagar in Orissa, the farmers who have committed suicide in their tens of thousands, the victims of Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, the dispossessed of the SEZs being instituted across the country, regardless of the political persuasions of the state governments. In these we see the resistance of the tribal and the peasant to the policies of an imperialist-sponsored neo-liberal global economic order, which is being prompted by the IMF and the World Bank and is being supported by the ruling amalgam of the big bourgeoisie and landlords and their political parties. Something like a united front has been established from the RSS to the CPI M which avers that ‘there is no alternative’ to the path of neo-liberal globalisation. Under the shiny packaging lies the reality that the poor peasant and the tribal are being divested of their means of production by non-economic coercion so that Indian and foreign capital can flourish. It is the process which Marx termed the primitive accumulation of capital. The Indian state itself facilitates this process by purchasing land for Indian and foreign capital at rates far below the market value and so subsidising the rich at the expense of the poor peasant and the tribal. This much is common across the state boundaries of India in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh.

West Bengal, in Singur and Nandigram, is witnessing a crisis resulting from a peculiar path of development. The Indian communist movement from its genesis, as elsewhere, advanced the proposition that the transfer of the land to the tiller creates an internal market which can facilitate the industrialisation of the country on the basis of a democratic path of development in the interests of the working people. The domination of reformism from the nineteen-fifties ended this project. It was the peasantry of Naxalbari and the communist revolutionaries in the nineteen-sixties who once again posed the question of agrarian revolution in India. In reaction to this the reformist democratic left front in West Bengal carried out a land reform in the nineteen-seventies which ameliorated the position of the sharecroppers while retaining intact the landlord structures. This was the basis of the three decade longevity of the political rule of the reformist left in West Bengal. The modification of the sharecropping system, although it led to a regeneration of Bengal agricultural production, never led to the abolition of landlordism as such nor the transfer of land to the tiller, no more than it developed a system of cooperatives of the sharecroppers which would have been consistent with the reform of the capitalist system in agriculture. Similarly, no perspectives were elaborated for the industrial development of the state based on the internal generation of financial resources through public institutions. The overall failure to evolve a democratic path of economic development, despite the marked productive advances in the agrarian sector, in the decades of the chief ministership of Jyoti Basu in West Bengal could only lead to the cul-de-sac of economic stagnation. Under the current chief ministership of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya the left front administration has sought to break out of this stasis and opted for a fully-fledged neo-liberal programme of economic development in cooperation with big Indian and foreign capital through the establishment of Special Economic Zones. A large section of the working people in agriculture who are already bereft of sustainable economic livelihood face a future where they will be stripped of their land in return for paltry compensation while those sharecroppers who do not have legal titles will have to be satisfied with no compensation at all. Many of the people of Nandigram face a future of pauperisation which compels them, whether or not they have given their support to the CPI M in the past, to defend their livelihood from the intrusion of the Indonesian Salim group and its projected SEZ.

The pressure of US imperialism is mounting on the political class to further push forward the neo-liberal globalisation agenda in India and to effect a deeper alignment of the country with the requirements of US foreign policy around the world. The two major parties of the big bourgeoisie and landlordism, the Congress and the BJP in the main concur with the economic and political policies of the US; sections of the CPI and the CPI M still retain significant reservations on this score. It must be considered positive that the current peoples’ struggles in Singur and Nandigram have compelled the central government to rethink and prettify their policies on SEZs in the country and led to a belated, half-hearted and partial re-evaluation of their role by the parties of the left front government in West Bengal. The need of the hour is to unite all the democratic forces who are opposing the effects of the current neo-liberal programmes in order to halt and reverse them and to substitute in their stead a programme of pro-people industrial development founded on adequate compensation for the potentially displaced and the consent of the working people: for this strong, steady and sustained pressure will have to be brought on the left front government of West Bengal. This is the immediate task of the genuine left and democratic forces in the country.

Revolutionary Democracy
25th March 2007

Notes:

SEZ: Special Economic Zones, where normal laws of the country do not apply, right to form unions etc.

IMF: International Monetary Fund.

RSS: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, National Volunteers’ Organisation, a Hindu fascist organisation which guides the BJP.

BJP: Bharatiya Janata Party, the Indian People’s Party. A Hindu Fascist Party which indulges in pogroms of Muslims. Some 3,000 Muslims were massacred by them in 2002 in the state of Gujarat.

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Anasintaxi (KKE 1918-55): The “K”KE leadership in the congress of the social-fascist “C”PI (M), slayers of the Indian people

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The congress of the revisionist “Communist” Party of India and the “Communist” Party of India (Marxist) were held in Hyderabad, Central India, from the 23rd of March to 2nd of April. The delegate of “K”KE was Nikos Seretakis, member of the department of International Relations of the CC. Of course, we are not surprised by the participation of “K”KE in congresses of other parties which, while – like “K”KE itself – shamelessly present themselves “communist” they bear no relation whatever to Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism and they are guided by Khrushchevian revisionism or other versions of bourgeois ideology and they have defected to the reaction camp. This is true for both “C”PI and “C”PI (M). However, what is indicative of the complete ideological degeneration and bankruptcy of “K”KE, is the fact that it participates in congresses of parties such as C”PI and “C”PI (M) which are not only on the right of the, already anti-communist ideology of Khrushchevian revisionism, but they are on the fore front of promoting and propagandizing neo-liberal policies.

The “C”PI (M) is the leading party in the so-called “Left Front”, the government coalition which includes other smaller opportunist and pseudo-left parties besides “C”PI (M) and which is in power in the state of Western Bengal since 1977. The policies of the “Left Front” not only have nothing to do with socialism whatever but they are identical with the reactionary, neo-liberal policies of any bourgeois government. The land redistribution promised by the “C”PI (M) simply never took place. At the turn of the 21st century, only 15% of the total arable land has been distributed. Even so, 13% of all those farmers who received once a plot, by 2001, ended up landless again while at the same time the feudal production relations remain virtually untouched. Following the instructions from the WMF, the government of the “Left Front” has proceeded to the establishment of the infamous Special Economic Zones (SOZ) by expropriating, in favor of local or foreign monopolies, the land upon which the survival of thousands of poor peasants depends. The local textile and engineering industry, stranded in a long-term crisis, are handed unconditionally to the foreign and multinational capital. One of the oldest leaders of “C”PI (M) didn’t mince his words: “We want the local and the foreign capital. After all we are working in the capitalist system, socialism, for the time being, is not feasible.” After 30 years of “C”PI (M) government, the working conditions in W. Bengal are characterized by miserable salaries, labor intensification and flexible forms of employment. The workers’ insurance funds are embezzled without any pretext. Every time the workers embark on a struggle, they confront state violence and terror that is always in the service of the industrialists. Nevertheless we read in “Rizospastis” that: “the Congress approved of the tactical political line of the party for the next three years and confirmed the party’s fighting position against the government’s neo-liberal policies” (“R”. 6/4/2008). In addition, the statement made by the general secretary of “C”PI (M), Prakash Karat in his concluding speech at the party’s Congress is utterly provocative: “the party is standing by the side of the working class and the oppressed strata” (“R”. 6/4/2008).

The fascist deviation of the “Left Front” government takes the form of blatant violation of the most fundamental human and political rights. The arrest and the abuse of all those who fight for political, social and national rights has become a frequent event. There have been many incidents of sexual abuse and humiliation of women by policemen “in the line of duty”. Apparently, the police have been authorized by “C”PI (M) to make uncontrolled use of violence against any “suspect” or “trouble-making” element. The murder of nine people in North Bengal and one young activist in the South – in both cases after their arrest – is indicative. In 2003, police officers killed two tea workers. However, the massacre in Nandigram on the 14th of March 2007 was the limit.

At the end of 2006, the government decided the building of a petrochemical complex in Nandigram following an investment by the Indonesian Selim group in the local SOZ. As a result many families faced the threat to lose their land and expelled out of their homes. Having seen the government’s determination to move on with the project, the people of Nadigram revolted. On the 3rd of January they blocked the access to the area erecting barricades, digging trenches and destroying bridges. This situation lasted until the 14th the day when the police forces launched their attack opening fire against the crowd and beating indiscriminately whoever was on their way. Many cadres and armed thugs of “C”PI (M), disguised in police uniforms, took also part in the operation. The final toll was 14 dead and tens of seriously injured by bullets all of them from the side of the peasants.

In the “C”PI (M) congress the “need for an all-sided strengthening of the party as essential prerequisite for the setting of a course in people’s interests” was stressed (“R”. 6/4/2008). How much more “strengthening” “C”PI (M) hopes to achieve when it is already participating in state governments in Bengal and Kerala? And when it is obvious that by “course in people’s interests”, it means the most unpopular and brutal neoliberal policy. The events in Nandigram shocked the public opinion in India and the rest of the world showing what the “Left Front” government and C”PI (M) really are: a fascist gang of murderers in the service of the Indian and foreign capital. Let anybody judge the relations between “K”KE and the criminal scum of C”PI (M).

Published in Greek in newspaper “Anasintaxi” issue 273, 1-5 May 2008

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Fascists come to Russia to rally against…fascism?

William Echols

Following the first International Russian Conservative Forum, the overall militarist bent Moscow has taken in the wake of its secret war against Ukraine has brought to the fore a startling fact; many in Russia are scantly aware of what fascism actually means anymore.

Imagine if you will, an authoritarian form of government which borrows heavily from socialism, but believes that the real locus of history is not class conflict, but national and racial strife. Proponents seek private enterprise with a heavy government hand, often with the strong presence of state-run enterprises. They stress the need for autarky, or self-sufficiency, which entails the national interest being protected via interventionist economic politics. The goal, of course, is not necessarily to cut oneself off from the outside world, but to be sure the state can survive with or without international trade or external forms of assistance.

What if adherents to this ideology were, in the words of political scientist and historian Robert Paxton, obsessively preoccupied with “community decline, humiliation, or victimhood?” What if these forces, in a shaky collaboration with traditional elites, jettisoned all democratic principles and used “redemptive violence” for the sake of internal cleansing and external expansion?

‘The future belongs to us.’

‘The future belongs to us.’

What if the ideologically faithful were obsessed with conspiracy theories and the constant need to remain vigilant against internal security threats, which often involved both indirect and overt appeals to xenophobia, and more specifically, anti-semitism?

What if cultural myths were promoted for the sake of fusing the individual and the masses into what Emilio Gentile described as a “mystical unity of the nation as an ethnic and moral community?” What if discriminatory measures were adopted to punish those outside of this community, who are viewed as inferior and dangerous to the integrity of the nation?

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‘Protect your motherland, protect your loved ones.’

What if, in the words of Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov, this ideology exhibited  in its foreign policy “the most brutal kind of chauvinism”, cultivating what he called“zoological hatred” against other peoples?

What if this policy, “inspired by the myth of national power and greatness,” is predicated on the “goal of imperialist expansion?”

The above list of qualities, if you haven’t already guessed, are all related to scholarly definitions of fascism.

And over the past year, Russians engaged in a war of words (as well as actual war) have clutched two rhetorical grenades called “provocation” and  “fascism.” With the former, any social ill can be chalked up to an external enemy or outside plot, deflecting all blame or need to hold the individual or government responsible for the current state of affairs. The latter is used to delegitimize your enemy by associating them with a historical force which negatively impacted most every Soviet family. Both are intended to shut down critical thinking.

But despite the incessant talk of juntas, Banderites and fascists which has filled the Russian airwaves ad nausem, it is in fact Russia which, as a nation, is on a stark, fascist drift.

“What you foreigners don’t get is that those people in Maidan [Kiev], they are fascists,” Alexander, a Simferopol resident, told the Guardian’s Shaun Walker two weeks before Russia officially annexed Crimea last year. ”I mean, I am all for the superiority of the white race, and all that stuff, but I don’t like fascists.”

To anyone who has not spent much time in Russia, the internal contradictions present in the above statement are glaring. But no matter the level of cognitive dissonance, that very attitude, albeit to different degrees, is widely held throughout Russian society.

Perhaps that is why, despite the rhetoric, observers from far-right European parties, including Béla Kovács from the Hungarian Jobbik Party, one time neo-nazi and modern day “National Bolshevik” Luc Michel, far right Spanish politician Enrique Ravello, and representatives from the Flemish right-wing party Vlaams Belang came to Crimea to legitimize the sham independence referendum, rather than throw in their support behind their supposed fellow ideological travelers in Ukraine. In this strange and managed reality, everything you think you know about the world no longer applies.

For people like Alexander, the far-right European observers in Crimea, and perhaps many in attendance at the International Russian Conservative Forum in St. Petersburg on Sunday, a fascist is some type of Anglo-American-Zionist (Jewish) tool who wants to crush traditional values in general and Russia in particular via the vehicle of NATO force and so-called cultural Marxism.

suaei41sw7o

A fascist is not, in contrast, a militant, anti-immigrant white supremacist who talks about Europe’s Christian roots, rallies against homosexuality and other forms of moral degradation, berates the EU and promotes some vague return to a nationally-centered economy, and believes his country to be under the thumb of Israel and other Zionists forces.

Of course, a worldview contingent on such semantic muddying is destined to lead to a few moments of absurdity, as it did on Sunday when participants at the forum actually debated just who could be called a fascist (and whether that was a bad thing at all).

“I don’t find it defamatory to be called a fascist,” said Roberto Fiore, leader of Italy’s far-right party Forza Nuova, who, as Max Seddon pointed out, actually signed an “anti-fascist memorandum” in Crimea last August. “But I do find it defamatory if you call me a Nazi.” 

But for Aleksei Zhilov, an organizer for pro-Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine, nothing was worse than fascism, that is, if fascism were to be defined by a simple tautology.

“All that is in Donbas—that is antifascism, and everything in Ukraine is fascism,” he said.“There isn’t any other fascism anywhere.”

It is in this bizarro world where Alexander from Simferopol can be a white supremacist who is also opposed to fascism. Julia Ioffe confronted the same type of “mind-melting” cognitive dissonance with Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine this past June.

“As Dmitry and I talked, I noticed a Vostok fighter in fatigue pants, a t-shirt, and a bulletproof vest pacing around with a Kalashnikov. He had a long, scraggly blond beard and was peppered with tattoos: a rune on one elbow, and, on the inside of his right forearm, a swastika, just like the one on the chest of the supposed Right Sector soldier. I asked Dmitry about it, but the man spotted me pointing to my arm.

‘Come here,’ he growled, beckoning angrily.

I remained frozen in place.

‘Don’t you go spreading your lies,’ he barked as he strode toward us. ‘This isn’t a swastika. This is an ancient Slavic symbol. Swa is the god of the sky.’

I stared, silently.

‘It’s our Slavic heritage,’ he said. ‘It’s not a swastika.’ Then he turned and walked away.”

To be fair, this habit of appropriating the swastika as a symbol of slavic heritage is one found on both sides of the Ukrainian conflict.

In July, a volunteer from the Ukrainian National Guard’s First Reserve Battalion told Vice’s Simon Ostrovsky much the same thing the Vostok fighter told Ioffe.

“I don’t consider myself a fascist, a Nazi or [a member of] Right Sector,” he said.

“It’s [referring to a swastika pendant around his neck] an ancient Slavic symbol. It’s always brought good luck.” 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nmo9dZTmo0

Claims, however, that swastikas, kolovrats (spinning wheels) or other neo-pagan symbols have been divorced from neo-nazism within eastern Europe are dubious at best. Sometimes, the meaning of the symbol is contingent on the interlocutor, which is to say, which face you need to present to which audience.

In the case of Alexey Milchakov, a Russian mercenary fighting for  the“Donetsk People’s Republic” who was also a guest at Sunday’s forum, there is no prevaricating when it comes to his Nazi allegiances (he first made a name for himself by brutally murdering puppies and posting the images online.)

alexeymilchakov

And yet, somehow, Russia has reached a point where neo-nazis are not only fighting “fascists” in Ukraine, but they are being invited from abroad to throw their support behind the Russian government in a war which is ostensibly being waged against other fascists.

The mind numbing confusion of it all begs the question: how can a country whose main cultural rallying point entails its massive contribution to the defeat of the Nazi menace be both ignorant to fascism and, in the right context, sympathetic (if not outright supportive) to its goals?

Iosif Zisels, the head of Vaad Ukrainy, the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine, spoke about this strange reality back in November.

Zisels said that Russian neo-nazis (including the group Russian National Unity) are playing an active role in the fighting in Eastern Ukraine, though the source of their ideology dates back 20 years. He believes these far right forces were born in 90s and incubated in a cultural climate which Russians themselves have come to describe as a time of national humiliation.

“Russia is infected with the ideas of revanchism, which is very closely connected with fascism,” he said.

Revanchism, a policy of “revenge” centered around reclaiming lost territory, was made evident in Crimea, and rears its ugly head every time Russian President Vladimir Putin criticizes the legitimacy of former Soviet states. And it is this Soviet fall, with “Russia” no longer being viewed as a super power despite a national unwillingness to give up the imperial ghost, that stokes the fires of fascism. That, dashed with red hot resentment due to the wild economic instability of the 1990s, created a pressure cooker society with atomized proto-militarists looking for meaning in something collective and violent.

And in these strange, sometimes angry, post-Soviet times, Russian authorities have begun to lionize the country’s imperial past, aping czarist iconography to bind the people together in some caricature of national identity in lieu of genuine trust or social cohesion.

Of course, many of the reactionary Russian forces battling it out in Eastern Ukraine are reminiscent of the Black Hundreds, early 20th century monarchists known for their russocentrism, blatant xenophobia and penchant for anti-Jewish pogroms.

sotnia_piter

It is perhaps no surprise that the Black Hundreds rabidly denied the existence of a Ukrainian nation as well, and did everything in their power to stifle Ukrainian culture and heritage.

Those yielding power in the Kremlin are comfortable using such nationalist fervor when it suites their needs despite being global capitalists at heart (their primary goal is to maintain the opulent lifestyles Russia’s resource wealth provides them). So far, they have managed to harness this extreme national force to their own ends. How long they can keep this golem on a leash, however, is anyone’s guess.

But there is one important thing to remember. This is a mutually beneficial relationship. Kremlin funds and Kremlin support for Europe’s far right is a means of driving fringe parties into the mainstream, who in turn will be more amenable to the Kremlin’s politics, “traditional values”, and ultimately corrupt governance.

The Kremlin is, in a sense, encouraging the worst aspects of European society, all so it can preserve the rot in its own.

Source

Grover Furr: The “Official” Version of the Katyn Massacre Disproven? Discoveries at a German Mass Murder Site in Ukraine

katyn-GermanPoster-Affiche-allemagne-Katyn-293x400

Nazi propaganda poster blaming the NKVD for the Katyn Massacre.

Author’s Note: The officially accepted version of the Katyn Massacre can be read on its Wikipedia page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre. This page is relentlessly anticommunist and anti-Stalinist. It makes no attempt to be objective or neutral, in that it has no serious discussion of the scholarly controversy about this question. It’s useful only as a short and accurate summary of the “official” version. I would like to acknowledge that I was guided to the new sources by an excellent article by Sergei Strygin on the Russian “Pravda o Katyni” (Truth About Katyn) Internet page. [1] I strongly recommend it to all those who read Russian.

In 2011 and 2012 a joint Polish-Ukrainian archeological team partially excavated a mass execution site at the town of Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy, Ukraine. Shell cases found in the burial pit prove that the executions there took place no earlier than 1941. In the burial pit were found the badges of two Polish policemen previously thought to have been murdered hundreds of miles away by the Soviets in April-May 1940. These discoveries cast serious doubt on the canonical, or “official,” version of the events known to history as the Katyn Massacre.

In April 1943 Nazi German authorities claimed that they had discovered thousands of bodies of Polish officers shot by Soviet officials in 1940. These bodies were said to have been discovered near the Katyn forest near Smolensk (in Western Russia), which is why the whole affair — including executions and alleged executions of Polish POWs elsewhere in the USSR – came to be called “the Katyn Massacre.”

The Nazi propaganda machine, headed by Josef Goebbels, organized a huge campaign around this alleged discovery. After the Soviet victory at Stalingrad in February 1943, it was obvious to everyone that, unless something happened to split the Allies, Germany would inevitably lose the war. The Nazis’ obvious aim was to drive a wedge between the western Allies and the USSR.

The Soviet government, headed by Joseph Stalin, vigorously denied the German charge. When the Polish government-in-exile, always ferociously anticommunist and anti-Russian, collaborated with the Nazi propaganda effort, the Soviet government broke diplomatic relations with it, eventually setting up a pro-Soviet Polish authority and Polish army. In September 1943 the Red Army drove the Germans from the area. In 1944 the Soviet Burdenko Commission carried out a study and issued a report that blamed the Germans for the mass shootings.

During the Cold War the Western capitalist countries supported the Nazi version which had become the version promoted by the anticommunist Polish government-in-exile. The Soviet Union and its allies continued to blame the Germans for the murders. In 1990 and 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and, after 1988, President of the USSR, stated that the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin had indeed shot the Poles. According to this “official” version the Polish prisoners had been confined in three camps: at Kozel’sk, Starobelsk, and Ostashkov and from there transferred to Smolensk, Kharkiv, and Kalinin (now Tver’), where they were shot and buried at Katyn, Piatykhatky, and Mednoe respectively. [2]

In 1990, 1991, and 1992 three aged former NKVD men were identified and interviewed. They discussed what they knew of executions of Poles in April and May of 1940. None of these executions had taken place at the Katyn Forest, site of the German exhumations. In 1992 the Russian government under Boris Yeltsin handed over to the Polish government documents supposedly signed by Stalin and other Politburo members which, if genuine, would put Soviet guilt beyond reasonable doubt. These documents are said to have been found in “Closed Packet No. 1,” where “closed” meant the highest level of classification — secrecy. I call these the “smoking gun documents,” since they are conventionally assumed to be “proof positive” of Soviet guilt. However, no evidence is ever univocal and definitive; all evidence, whether documentary or material, can be interpreted in multiple ways.

By 1992 the Soviet, and then the Russian, governments had officially declared the Stalin-era Soviet leadership guilty of shooting somewhere between 14,800 and 22,000 Polish prisoners to death in April and May 1940. This was agreeable to anticommunists and a bone in the throat for some pro-Soviet people. For a few years it did appear that the matter was basically settled. The evidence seemed clear: the Soviets had shot the Poles.

I too thought the matter was settled. I admit that I continued to harbor some lingering doubts, mainly because accepting Soviet guilt also meant asserting that the Nazi propaganda campaign and official report of 1943 was 100% honest. Goebbels and Hitler were famous for their concept of “the Big Lie” which states, in part, that one should never tell the truth. [3] But this was, at most, in the back of my mind in 1997 when I went to the Slavic Room of the New York Public Library, a place I had visited a great many times over the years, to make photocopies of the “smoking gun documents” as published in the leading Russian historical journal Voprosy Istorii in January 1993 [4] so I could put them on my new web page. I did not post them, because I soon discovered that somebody else had already done it and I could just link to those images, which were of higher quality than my own.

In 1995 Iurii Mukhin, at the time an unknown metallurgical engineer, published a short book titled “The Katyn Murder Mystery” (Katynskii Detektiv). In it he claimed to prove that the “smoking gun documents” were forgeries and the story of the Katyn Massacre a fabrication intended to facilitate the destruction of the Soviet Union. During the following years this position has attracted much support among what we might call Left Russian nationalists, people supportive of the USSR during the Stalin period for its achievements at industrialization and defeating the Nazis. Since that time Mukhin and others have published more books of research in which they continue their campaign to disprove the “official” version that asserts Soviet guilt.

Since the mid-1990s, therefore, the Katyn Massacre has once again been the subject of fierce partisan dispute. In anticommunist circles it is unacceptable to express any doubt as to the guilt of the Soviet Union and of Stalin and his chief assistants in particular. This is the case in Western academia as well, where debate on the subject or any questioning at all of Soviet guilt is simply “beyond the Pale,” not tolerated.

Meanwhile Russian defenders of the USSR and of Stalin continue their assault on the “official” account by marshaling evidence to show that the Nazis, not the Soviets, shot the Polish officers. Some of these researchers have concluded that the Soviets did shoot some Polish prisoners (officers and others), and then the Nazis invaded the USSR, captured the remaining Polish prisoners, and shot them. I myself think that some such scenario is the most likely one and I will briefly explain why at the end of this essay.

During the past several years there have been some dramatic developments in the investigation of the Katyn question. I have attempted to summarize them and the academic dispute generally on a special web page that I call “The Katyn Forest Whodunnit.” [5] I believe it is the only source in English where one can find this dispute outlined in what I intend to be an objective manner. [6]

In October 2010 a credible case was made that the “smoking gun” documents are forgeries. This had been the position of many Russian communists and Left Russian nationalists since the publication of Mukhin’s 1995 book. The materials adduced by Duma member Victor Iliukhin in October 2010 constitute the strongest evidence so far that these documents may well be forgeries. (For more information about these documents see my “Katyn Forest Whodunnit” page.)

Therefore, let’s set aside the “smoking gun documents” from “Closed Packet No. 1.” What other evidence is there that the Soviets shot the 14,800-22,000 Poles as alleged in the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre?

Basically, there are two types of further evidence:

1. Confession-interviews of three aged and long-retired NKVD men: Petr K. Soprunenko, Dmitri S. Tokarev, and Mitrofan V. Syromiatnikov. These confessions are very contradictory in ways that do not always reinforce the “official” version. None of these men was at the Katyn Forest, the place where 4000+ bodies of Polish POWs were unearthed by the Germans in 1943, and none of them has anything to say about this, the most famous of the execution/burial sites subsumed under the rubric “the Katyn Massacre.” Perhaps this is the reason that these confession-interviews are so hard to find. What’s more, though they were all conducted in Russian they are available only in Polish translation. The Russian originals have never been made public. So, we do not have the former NKVD men’s exact words.

All three men were threatened with criminal prosecution if they failed to “tell the truth” and were told that Soviet guilt had already been established. It is therefore possible that out of fear of prosecution they gave answers they felt their interrogators wanted. Many of the interrogators’ questions were “leading” questions. Of course this is common in criminal investigations. But it does appear that the confessions of these three old men were not entirely voluntary.

I have obtained the texts of these confession-interrogations in the published Polish-language versions, scanned them, and made them available on the Internet. [7] It is interesting that no one else has ever bothered to do this. I will not examine these very interesting and problematic confession-interrogations here, however.

The Transit Documents

2. The remaining category of evidence are the many “transit” or “shipment” documents concerning the emptying out of the three POW camps at Kozel’sk, Starobelsk, and Ostashkov in April 1940 and the transfer of the prisoners to the NKVD in other areas. These transit records are the subject of this article.

KatynMap

Figure 1. 1939 map showing places mentioned in the “official” Katyn narrative. Arrows from the POW camps (Ostashkov, Starobelsk, Kozelsk) to cities (Kalinin/Tver’, Kharkiv, Smolensk) show destinations on NKVD transit documents. Burial sites in the nearby countryside (Mednoe, Piatykhatky, Katyn) are also shown, as is VolodymyrVolyns’kiy (Włodzimierz), which is about 800 miles from Kalinin/Tver’ – Mednoe. [map drawn by Victor Wallis based on information supplied by the author]

These shipments of prisoners are routinely stated to be “death transports.” The bookKatyn: A Crime Without Punishment by Anna M. Cienciala, Natalia S. Lebedeva, and Wojciech Materski (Yale University Press 2007) is the definitive academic account in the English language of the “official” version. It refers to the shipments of prisoners this way (I have added the emphasis):

The final death transport left Kozielsk….

The last death transport left Ostashkov for Kalinin (Tver) on 19 May…

…lists of those to be sent out of the camps to be shot (doc. 62)…

…and reporting on the number sent to their death (doc. 65).

Cienciala, who did the writing in this volume, added all the language about execution. Likewise in her discussion of the documents, none of which mentions executions, shootings, killing, death, etc., at all, Cienciala continuously adds language to remind the readers that, in her interpretation, these prisoners were being transported to places where they would be executed. Here are a few examples (again, I have added the emphasis):

They were transferred to NKVD prisons… to be shot there. (154)

… the same as the order in the death transports. (156)

The first lists of victims to be dispatched to their death… (157)

The delivery of lists for dispatching prisoners to their deaths… (159)

Beria’s directive of 4 April 1940 indicates the goal of exterminating not only the officers and police… (160)

This is the first of many reports by the UNKVD head of Kalinin Oblast, Dmitry Tokarev, on the “implementation,” that is, the murder… (162)

Soprunenko’s instruction to Korolev of 6 April 1940 was, in fact, a death list,… (163)

The dispatch of the prisoners of war to their deaths…(175)

This 11 April 1940 report from Kozelsk shows that 1,643 officers were murdered in nine days. (175)

… the moods of the prisoners as they were being dispatched unwittingly to their deaths. (176-177)

Most prisoners sent to Yukhnov camp… were exempted from the death lists for various reasons… (183)

By 3 May, the UPV together with the 1st Special Department NKVD and with the personal help of Merkulov, had processed the cases of 14,908 prisoners and sent out dispatch lists – death sentences – for 13,682. (187)

…it is likely that they simply signed or stamped the “Kobulov Forms” (doc. 51) with the death warrant already filled in. (187)

This report gives the number of lists of names received in the camp and the number of prisoners sent out from Kozelsk camp to their deaths for each date between 3 April and 11 May…(190)

A report to Soprunenko shows the number of people destined for execution according to the lists received… (193)

One of the last executions of POWs from the Ostashkov camp took place on 22 May 1940. (200)

Ostashkov prisoners were still being executed that day… (200)

It is important to note that not a single one of the documents themselves refers in any way to executions. In fact Document 53 cited by Cienciala explicitly states that the prisoners were being sent to labor camps.

6) USSR Deputy People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs, Divisional Commander Com. Chernyshov, shall within ten days’ time remove from their NKVD places of imprisonment in the Ukrainian SSR and send to USSR NKVD correctional labor camps 8,000 convicted prisoners, including 3,000 from the Kiev, Kharkov, and Kherson prisons. (Doc. 53, page 155; emphasis added)

All of the documents referred to or reproduced in Part II of the Cienciala volume concern the transportation of prisoners from one camp to somewhere else. Not a single one of them refers to “executions,” “shooting,” “killing,” etc. All this language is added by Cienciala. In this she has followed the practice of the Polish and Russian scholars who promote the “official” version.

It is true, of course, that the absence of a reference to the killings does not in itself prove anything about the fates of the people who were transported. What is important in terms of the Katyn controversy, however, is the dates of the transports and their destinations.

Cienciala assumes that, except for a few shipments that she specifically mentions, all the prisoners who were moved in April and May 1940 out of the three camps in which the Polish prisoners were being kept were in fact being shipped to their executions. Those executions are assumed to have taken place in April and May 1940. The “official” version of the Katyn Massacre simply assumes that all these documents about clearing the Polish prisoners out of the camps in April 1940 in reality meant sending them away for execution. It is this assumption that has been challenged by a recent discovery.

Jósef Kuligowski

In May 2011 Polish news media reported that a numbered metal badge had been unearthed which had been identified by the Ukrainian archaeological team as that of a Polish policeman, Jósef Kuligowski, heretofore assumed to have been executed by the Soviet NKVD at Kalinin (now Tver’), Russia, and buried with other such victims at Mednoe, outside of the town. [8]

Czy osoby z Listy Katyńskiej mordowano również na Grodzisku we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim?! Odnaleziona przez ukraińskich archeologów odznaka Policji Państwowej o numerze 1441 / II na to wskazuje. Jak nas poinformował pan Piotr Zawilski, dyrektor Archiwum Państwowego w Łodzi odznaka o tym numerze należała do posterunkowego Józefa Kuligowskiego z IV komisariatu w Łodzi. Informacja o przydziale i numerze służbowym pochodzi z maja 1939 roku. Nazwisko posterunkowego figuruje na jednej z list dyspozycyjnych dla obozu w Ostaszkowie. Dotychczas uważano, że został zamordowany w Kalininie i spoczywa w Miednoje. Jak wytłumaczyć fakt, że odznaka Józefa Kuligowskiego znaleziona we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim? Czy zginął w Kalininie, czy we Włodzimierzu? [9]

My translation: [10]

Were persons from the Katyn List also murdered at Grodzisk in Włodzimierz Wołyński?! This is indicated by the National Police badge number 1441 / II found by Ukrainian archaeologists. As Mr Piotr Zawilski, director of the National Archive in Łodz has informed us, the badge with this number belonged to constable Jósef Kuligowski of the IV commissariat in Łodz. Information concerning the issuance and service number is from May 1939. The surname of the constable figures on one of the dispositional lists for the camp at Ostashkov. Up to now it was believed that he had been murdered in Kalinin and lies in Mednoe. How to explain the fact that Jósef Kuligowski’s badge has been found at Włodzimierz Wołyński? Was he killed at Kalinin or at Włodzimierz?

This account continues by identifying Kuligowski as one of the men previously believed killed as a part of the Katyn Massacres. The discovery occasioned considerable discussion in the Polish press about the relationship between the Katyn Massacre and this site near the Ukrainian town of Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy (Polish Włodzimierz Wołyński; Russian: Vladimir-Volynskii). [11] At this time no one doubted that this was a site of Soviet NKVD killings. [12] The Ukrainian media also reported the excavations under the assumption that the Soviet NKVD was responsible for the killings, as in the following account in the Ukraine-wide online newspaper Tyzhden‘.ua of October 4 2011. [13]

Іхочаофіційноїверсіїщодотого, хтоцілюдийчомубулирозстріляні, щенемає, науковцісхиляютьсядодумки, щозамордовані – жертвиНКВС 1941 року. Польськіпіддані, військовійцивільні, заможнийклас. Процесвідчатьзнайденінамісцістратиартефакти.

Ось два жетони офіцерів польської поліції, і оскільки на них є номери, то ми вже знаємо, кому вони належали: Йозефу Куліговському та Людвігу Маловєйському. Обидва з Лодзя. За документами НКВС, одного з них розстріляно в Калініні (Твер), другого – в Осташкові біля Харкова.

And although there is as yet no official version of who these people were and why they were shot, scientists are inclined to think that the murdered people were victims of the NKVD in 1941. Polish citizens, military and civilians, the wealthy class. This is what the artifacts found at the execution site suggest.

Here are two badges of officers of the Polish police, and since there are numbers on them we already know to whom they belonged: to Josef Kuligovs’kiy and Liudvig Maloveis’kiy. Both were from Lodz. According to NKVD documents one of them was shot at Kalinin (Tver’), the other at Ostashkov near Kharkiv.

The official being interviewed, Oleksei Zlatohorskyy, director of the government enterprise ―Volhynian antiquities, goes on to theorize that the Soviets shot all these people, whole families included, when they could not evacuate them in time as the German armies advanced in 1941. He said that many of the artifacts found in the pit are Polish:

Більшість речей мають чітке польське або інше західноєвропейське ідентифікування: фотографія маршала Едварда Ридз-Смігли, жіночі гребінці, пляшечка з-під ліків із написом «Warszawa» на денці, консервна бляшанка з польським текстом, флакон від парфумів, срібні виделки, ложки… А ще відзначаємо дуже якісну стоматологію, яку могли собі дозволити тільки багаті люди. Гадаю, що то була еліта польської держави».

Most of the objects have purely Polish or other Western European identifying marks: a photograph of Marshall Edvard Rydz-Smigly, women‘s combs, a medicine bottle with the inscription ―Warszawa‖ on the bottom, a tin can with a Polish inscription, a perfume bottle, silver forks and spoons … And we note very expensive dental work, that only a few rich people could afford. I think this was the elite of the Polish state.

The Tyzhden.ua story quotes Andrzhei (Jędrzej) Kola, professor of archaeology at Nicolai Copernicus University in Torun (Poland). He expresses uncertainty as to who the killers were.

Для мене тут більше питань, ніж відповідей. Хто вбивці? Якщо це зробили гітлерівці, то чому так невпорядковано? Чому все це видається хаотичним, недбалим? Чому воно не збігається з культурою смерті, яку сповідували / 106 / німці? Чому не було знято золоті коронки й мости, не відібрані коштовності? По-німецьки це мало б зовсім інший вигляд: Ordnung, порядок. Розстрільний взвод, розстріл обличчя в обличчя… Тож усе свідчить про те, що вбивства чинили, найімовірніше, співробітники НКВС. Але остаточну крапку поставимо тільки тоді, коли буде досліджено весь периметр городища.

For me there are more questions here than answers. Who were the killers? If the Hitlerites did this, then why is the site so disorderly? Why does all this look chaotic, careless? Why does it not conform to the culture of death that the Germans professed? Why were the gold crowns and bridges not extracted, the valuables not taken? According to the German manner this would have a completely different appearance: Ordnung, order. A firing squad, shooting face to face… So everything suggests that the murders were most likely done by NKVD officials. But we will be able to draw a final conclusion only when the whole perimeter of the settlement has been investigated. [14]

In November 2012 the Polish members of a joint Polish-Ukrainian archaeological group issued a written report on the excavation of this mass murder site. In mass grave No. 1, 367 sets of human remains were exhumed and examined during 2011, and 232 bodies in 2012. The locations of many more mass graves were also determined. Concerning the finding of Kuligowski‘s badge this report reads as follows:

Była to odznaka Polskiej Policji Państwowej z numerem 1441, która należała do: Post. PP Józef KULIGOWSKI s. Szczepana i Józefy z Sadurskich, ur. 12 III l898 w m. Strych. WWP od 20 VI l919. 10 pap. Uczestnik wojny 1920, sczególnie odznaczył się w bitwie pod Mariampolem 24 V 1920. W policji od l921. Początkowo służbę pelnił w woj. tarnopolskim. Następnie od 1924 przez wiele lat w Łodzi – w 1939 w V Komis. W sierpniu 1939 zmobilizowany do l0 pal. Odzn. VM V kl. nr679.L. 026/l ( 15), 35[.]6.; za: red. Z. Gajowniczek, B. Gronek ,,Księga cmentarna Miednoje,‖ t. l, Warszawa 2005, s. 465. Odznaka została przekazana do miejscowego muzeum. [15]

It was a Polish National Police badge number 1441, which belonged to: Constable of the National Police Jósef Kuligowski son of Stephen and of Josepha née Sadurska, b. 12 March l898 in the village of Strych. In the Polish army on 20 June l919. 10 pap. Participant in the 1920 war, particularly distinguished himself at the Battle of Mariampol 24 May 1920. In the police from l921. Initially served in the Tarnopol region. Then from 1924 for many years in Lodz – in 1939 in the V Komis. In August 1939 mobilized to l0 pal. as Nr679.L class V VM. [NKVD transfer list] 026 / l ([position]15), 35 [.] 6, according to: ed Z. Gajowniczek, B. Gronek,, ―Mednoye Cemetery Book,‖ Vol. l, Warsaw 2005, p. 465. Badge has been transferred to the local museum.

Badges

Here is the entry for Kuligowski from Volume One of the ―Mednoe Cemetery Book‖: [16]

Page

Kuligowski was taken prisoner by the Red Army sometime after September 17, 1939, when Soviet troops entered Eastern Poland to prevent the German Army from establishing itself hundreds of miles further east at the USSR‘s pre-1939 border. He was held in the Ostashkov prisoner-of-war camp in Kalinin oblast‘ (province), now renamed Tver‘ oblast‘. In April 1940 along with other prisoners he was transferred from Ostashkov to the town of Kalinin (now Tver‘). After that there is no further information about him.

Kuligowski is counted as one of the victims of the ―Katyn Massacre. What purports to be a record of his transfer, with the word ―Mord‖ (Murder) added, is on one of the official Polish websites about Katyn. [17]

GraphKatyn

As stated in the Polish media account of May 25 2011, Kuligowski‘s name is on the transfer lists of Ostashkov prisoners reproduced in the official account by Jędrzej Tucholski published in 1991. [18] Kuligowski is also listed in other recent Polish lists of Katyn victims. [19] Naturally the original Russian record of prisoner transfer reprinted in Tucholski‘s Mord w Katyniu does not contain the word ―Mord‖ (=murder).

The Polish archaeologist in charge of the excavations and author of the report, Dr. Dominika Siemińska, has determined that the victims buried in the mass grave in which this badge was found were killed no earlier than 1941: [20]

Z pewno cią stwierdzono, że zbrodnia została dokonana nie wcze niej niż w 1941 roku. (p. 4)

It can be confirmed with certainty that the crime did not take place earlier than 1941.

They were able to determine the time period by dating the shell casings found in the graves. All but a very few were of German manufacture. Almost all of them are datable to 1941.

Some of the bodies were arranged in the ―sardine-packing (Sardinenpackung) formation [21] favored by Obergruppenführer [22] Friedrich Jeckeln, commander of one of the Einsatzgruppen, extermination teams whose task it was to carry out mass executions. A photograph of the bodies in grave no. 1 shows this arrangement of bodies. [23]

crimes

sardine

Also, a large percentage of the bodies in the mass graves are of children. The Soviets did not execute children. So the evidence is strong that this is a site of German, not Soviet, mass executions. This conclusion is confirmed by the recent research of other Ukrainian scholars concerning this very burial site. Relying on evidence from German war crimes trials, eyewitness testimony of Jewish survivors, and research by Polish historians on the large-scale massacres of Poles by Ukrainian Nationalists, Professor Ivan Katchanovski and Volodymyr Musychenko have established that the victims buried at this site were mainly Jews but also Poles and ―Soviet activists.‖ Katchanovski concludes that Ukrainian authorities have tried to push the blame onto the Soviet NKVD in order to conceal the guilt of the Ukrainian Nationalist forces who are celebrated as ―heroes‖ in today‘s Ukraine, including in Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy itself. [24]

However, regardless of which party is guilty of the mass executions, the fact remains that Kuligowski was indeed transported from Ostashkov POW camp to Kalinin in April 1940 but was not shot until 1941 at the earliest. And this means that the transportation lists, which are assumed to be lists of victims being shipped off to be shot, were not that at all. Kuligowski was transported in April 1940 by the Soviets not in order to be shot but for some other reason. He remained alive, probably to be captured and executed by the Germans, most likely in the second half of 1941 but possibly somewhat later. Moreover, Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy is 800 miles from Kalinin (Tver‘).

This is the major deduction from this discovery that is relevant to our understanding of the Katyn Massacre case: The fact that a Polish POW’s name is on one of the Soviet transportation lists can no longer be assumed to be evidence that he was on his way to execution, and therefore that he was executed by the Soviets.

Ludwik Małowiejski

There is evidence that more Polish POWs are buried in these same mass graves, and therefore were executed at the same time, by the Germans in 1941 or 1942. The epaulette of a Polish policeman‘s uniform and Polish military buttons were found in grave No. 2. [25]

In September 2011 Polish media reported that police badge number 1099/II belonging to Senior Police Constable (starszy posterunkowy) Ludwik Małowiejski had been found in the Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy mass graves. [26] It had been assumed that, like Kuligowski, Małowiejski was a ―Katyn Massacre‖ victim whose body was buried in a mass grave at Mednoe near Kalinin, where – it has been assumed – other ―Katyn victims shot by the NKVD in 1940 are buried. Małowiejski‘s name is also on the recent Polish lists of Katyn victims. [27] Like Kuligowski he is memorialized in the ―Mednoe Cemetery Book‖ – in this case, Volume 2, page 541:

profileHis transfer record with the word ―Mord‖ (Murder) added, like Kuligowski‘s, is also on the same official Polish Katyn website: [28]

profile2

Like Kuligowski‘s, Małowiejski‘s name is also on the Russian lists of prisoners shipped out of the Ostashkov camp. [29]

In 2011 it was still assumed that the mass graves at Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy were those of victims of the Soviet NKVD. Therefore this apparent discrepancy about the place of burial of one victim received little attention. Since then the Polish archaeological team has definitively dated the site as 1941 at the earliest and argues that it is an SS Einsatzgruppe mass murder site, meaning late 1941 or 1942. This in turn means that Kuligowski, Małowiejski, and perhaps others – perhaps many others – were killed by the Germans in 1941, not by the Soviets in 1940.

The article by Sergei Strygin cited in note 1 above contains photographs of the memorial tablets of both Kuligowski and Małowiejski at the special memorial cemetery at Mednoe. These, and the thousands of other memorial tablets at this site, reflect the assumption that the ―transit lists‖ were really ―execution lists‖ – an assumption that the discovery at Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy proves to be false. It is clear today that neither man‘s body is buried at Mednoe. The question now is: Are any of the Polish POWs whose memorial tablets are there alongside those of Kuligowski and Małowiejski really buried there? At present there is no reason to think so.

Plaques

So where does this leave us? By “us” I mean those researchers who are fascinated by the uncertainty and the political contentiousness, the challenge of all the contradictory evidence and the mysteriousness, of what I have come to call “the Katyn Forest Whodunnit.” What does this mean for people who want to know the truth no matter what it may be, “no matter whose ox is gored”?

Briefly, here’s the status of this question at present, as I understand it:

* There is no evidence that the 14,000+ Polish POWs who were transferred out of Soviet POW camps in April and May 1940 were in reality being sent to be shot. This assumption has been one of the main supports of the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre. It must now be rejected. Since Kuligowski and Małowiejski were on those transportation lists and survived to be killed in 1941 by the Nazis, then others could have as well. There is no basis to think that only a few of the Polish prisoners were not shot by the Soviets in April-May 1940 and that, just by chance, two of this group have been identified. Rather it is likely that most of the Polish POWs were not killed by the Soviets but remained in Soviet captivity to be captured and shot by the Nazis sometime after the middle of 1941.

* The “smoking gun” documents from “Closed Packet No. 1” are linked to the assumption that all the POWs shipped out of the camps were being shipped to execution. The fact that they were not shipped to execution in April-May 1940 is an additional reason to suspect that these documents may indeed be forgeries, as some have long argued.

* The confession-interviews of the three NKVD witnesses, Soprunenko, Tokarev, and Syromiatnikov, strongly suggest that the NKVD did execute some Poles. Their testimony is inconsistent – as is to be expected from 50 year-old remembrances of men in their 80s. What’s more, they testified under threat of criminal prosecution and so may have elaborated their confessions in order to please their interrogators. But even researchers who contend that the Germans shot the Poles whose bodies were disinterred by the Germans at Katyn in April-June 1943 do not claim that the Soviets shot no Poles at all.

* In 2004 the Russian Prosecutor’s office announced that it had closed the criminal investigation on the grounds that there was no evidence that a crime had been committed. This announcement is contained in the following statement on the Prosecutor’s web page dated April 7, 2011:

21 сентября 2004 г. уголовное дело по обвинению должностных лиц НКВД СССР в совершении преступления, предусмотренного п. «б» ст. 193-17 УК РСФСР (1926 г.), т.е. превышения власти, выразившегося в принятии незаконных решений о применении в отношении 14 542 польских граждан расстрела, прекращено на основании п. 4 ч. 1 ст. 24 УПК РФ – за отсутствием события преступления.

http://genproc.gov.ru/ms/ms_news/news-71620

On September 21, 2004 the criminal case against officials of the NKVD in the commission of an offense under subsection “b” of Art. 193-17 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR (1926), ie abuse of power, manifesting itself as the taking of an illegal decision on the application of shooting to 14,542 Polish citizens, was closed on the basis of paragraph 1 of paragraph 4, part 1, Article 24 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation — for lack of a crime.

This appears to say that the investigation found that no crime had been committed. This is different from Cienciala’s interpretation, which is “that no one would be charged with the crime.” (259) The Prosecutor’s text plainly states that there was no crime in the first place. Nevertheless Russian officials, including President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev, have continued to state that the Soviets are guilty of killing all the Poles.

The Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy discovery proves that the “transit lists” are not “execution lists.” Instead, they are merely what they seem to be — lists of Polish POWs being transferred somewhere else for some purpose. Some of the Polish POWs transferred may have been tried and shot by the Soviets. But others such as Jósef Kuligowski and Ludwik Małowiejski were not transferred to execution. They were transferred for some other purpose – most likely to a correctional labor camp as stated in Document 53, p. 155 in Cienciala et al. (quoted above).

The Burdenko Commission

The fact is: A Polish POW’s name on a “transit list” does not mean that he was executed by the Soviets in April-May 1940 or indeed at any time. This forces us to take a closer look at the Soviet Burdenko Commission Report of January 1944. The Burdenko Commission report contains the following information about materials it allegedly found on a body unearthed from grave No. 8 at Katyn:

4. На трупе № 46: Квитанция (№ неразборчив), выданная 16 дек. 1939 г. Старобельским лагерем о приеме от Арашкевича Владимира Рудольфовича золотых часов. На обороте квитанции имеется отметка от 25 марта 1941 г. о том, что часы проданы Ювелирторгу.

6. На трупе № 46: Квитанция от 6 апреля 1941 г., выданная лагерем № 1-ОН о приеме от Арашкевича денег в сумме 225 рублей.

7. На том же трупе № 46: Квитанция от 5 мая 1941 г., выданная лагерем № 1-ОН о приеме от Арашкевича денег в сумме 102 рубля.

4. On body No. 46: A receipt (number illegible) issued 16 Dec. 1939, by the Starobelsk camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Vladimir Rudolfovich Araszkewicz. On the back of the receipt is a note dated 25 March 1941, stating that the watch was sold to the Jewelry trading trust.

6. On body No. 46: A receipt dated 6 April 1941, issued by camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of 225 rubles from Araszkewicz.

7. On the same body. No. 46: A receipt dated 5 May 1941, issued by Camp No. l-ON, showing receipt of 102 rubles from Araszkewicz. [30]

Włodzimierz Araszkiewicz is on the Polish lists of victims of Katyn, and also on the earlier list of Adam Mosziński, Lista Katyńska (GRYF, London 1989). [31] His father’s name, Rudolf, is on his transfer record: [32]

profile3

As often with these Polish lists there are contradictions. Mosziński, Lista Katyńska, has Araszkiewicz in the Starobelsk camp, while the „Indeks” record (above) puts him at the Ostashkov camp, while Tucholski has him at both Kozel’sk and Ostashkov! [33] Here is Araszkiewicz’s memorial from Volume 1 of the “Mednoe Cemetery Book,” page 11:

profile4

According to the Burdenko Commission report Camp No. 1-ON, origin of the receipt found on body No. 46 and bearing Araszkiewicz’s name, was one of three labor camps named No. 1-ON, 2-ON, and 3-ON, where “ON” stands for “osobogo naznacheniia” (special purpose or assignment). These camps were near Smolensk. The “special purpose” was road construction.

The Special Commission established that, before the capture of Smolensk by the Germans, Polish war prisoners, officers and men, worked in the western district of the region, building and repairing roads. These war prisoners were quartered in three special camps named: Camp No. 1 O.N., Camp No. 2 O.N., and Camp No. 3 O.N. These camps were located 25 to 45 kilometers west of Smolensk.

The testimony of witnesses and documentary evidence establish that after the outbreak of hostilities, in view of the situation that arose, the camps could not be evacuated in time and all the Polish war prisoners, as well as some members of the guard and staffs of the camps, fell prisoner to the Germans. (Burdenko Comm. 229)

According to the “official” version this story must be false, part of a putative Soviet coverup. The Nazis had begun their Katyn propaganda campaign on April 15, 1943. [34] By January 1944 the Katyn issue had been public for nine months, plenty of time for the Soviets to manufacture a false version.

However, in their very first response of April 16, 1943 the Soviets had already claimed that Polish officers were involved in construction in the Smolensk area.

Немецко-фашистские сообщения по этому поводу не оставляют никакого сомнения в трагической судьбе бывших польских военнопленных, находившихся в 1941 году в районах западнее Смоленска на строительных работах и попавших вместе со многими советскими людьми, жителями Смоленской области, в руки немецко-фашистских палачей летом 1941 года после отхода советских войск из района Смоленска. [35]

The German-fascist communiqué on this matter leaves no doubt about the tragic fate of the former Polish POWs who in 1941 were engaged in construction works in the area to the west of Smolensk and who, together with many Soviet citizens, residents of Smolensk oblast’, fell into the hands of the German-fascist killers during the summer of 1941 after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from the Smolensk region.

This is essentially the same claim the Burdenko Commission made nine months later. But on April 16, 1943 no one knew exactly what the Germans would do or exactly what they would say. No one knew that Katyn would become a huge German propaganda campaign. The consistency between the Sovinformburo statement of April 16, 1943 and the Burdenko Commission report nine months later is therefore worthy of note, just as an inconsistency would have been. It might well be true.

The Burdenko Commission report also mentions finding similar documents on another body unearthed at Katyn: that of Edward Levandowski.

3. На трупе № 101: Квитанция № 10293 от 19 дек. — 1939 г., выданная Козельским лагерем о приеме от Левандовского Эдуарда Адамовича золотых часов. На обороте квитанции имеется запись от 14 марта 1941 г. о продаже этих часов Ювелирторгу.…

8. На трупе № 101: Квитанция от 18 мая 1941 г., выданная лагерем № 1-ОН о приеме от Левандовского Э. денег в сумме 175 рублей.

3. On body No. 101: A receipt No. 10293 dated 19 Dec. 1939, issued by the Kozelsk camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Eduard Adamovich Lewandowski. On the back of the receipt is a note dated 14 March 1941, on the sale of this watch to the Jewelry trading trust.…

8. On body No. 101: A receipt dated 18 May 1941, issued by Camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of 175 rubles from Lewandowski.

Edward Lewandowski, son of Adam, is also on Mosziński, Lista Katyńska [36] and in Tucholski (p. 317 col. 2; p. 891 No. 35). This time there are no contradictions – all these sources have him at Ostashkov, nowhere near the Smolensk area and Katyn. He is also stated to have been “murdered” at Kalinin, the destination of most of the transports from Ostashkov. Here is his memorial in the “Mednoe Cemetery Book” Volume One, p. 498:

profile5

Meanwhile the Burdenko Commission claimed to have found his body at Katyn, along with documents dated December 1939 from Kozel’sk and May 1941 from the same Camp 1-ON, near Smolensk, as Araszkiewicz’s. [37]

profile6

The Burdenko Commission report also mentions the following find:

9. На трупе № 53: Неотправленная почтовая открытка на польском языке в адрес: Варшава, Багателя 15 кв. 47 Ирене Кучинской. Датирована 20 июня 1941 г. Отправитель Станислав Кучинский.

9. On body No. 53: An unmailed postcard in the Polish language addressed Warsaw, Bagatelia 15, apartment 47, to Irene Kuczinska, and dated 20 June 1941. The sender is Stanislaw Kuczinski. (Burdenko Comm. pp. 246-247).

A Stanisław Kucziński is named in the Katyn victims list. The name is a common one. The record below is that of the only person by that name who is said in those lists to have been killed in the Katyn Massacres:

profile7

This Stanisław Kucziński, son of Antoni, is also memorialized in the “Mednoe Cemetery Book” I, p. 459 [38]:

profile8

Once again this victim is stated to have been transferred from the camp at Ostashkov to Kalinin and “murdered” there, though the Burdenko Commission stated that they found his body at Katyn. [39]

How can the Polish Katyn lists assert that Araszkiewicz, Lewandowski, and Kucziński were killed (“Mord”) at Kalinin and buried nearby at Mednoe when their bodies were unearthed by the Burdenko Commission at Katyn? Only by assuming that the Burdenko Commission was lying when it claimed to have found these corpses at Katyn with papers from March, May, and June 1941 on them. But then the Soviets would have had to go to Kalinin, unearth these bodies and bring them to Katyn. Or they could have chosen the names of three victims they knew were buried at Kalinin and claim they had discovered their bodies at Katyn.

But why go to all that trouble when they could have just planted false documents on the bodies of persons they knew to have been shot at Katyn? After all, if the Soviets had shot all these men they knew not only who was buried at Kalinin but also who was buried at Katyn. So why not use the bodies, or at least the identities, of three men who really were buried at Katyn? Why use the names of three men buried hundreds of miles away?

No objective historian would make such an assumption. One only has to assume that the Burdenko Commission was lying if one has already made the prior assumption that the transportation lists are really “death lists.” That is, the second assumption entails the first: it is “an assumption based upon an assumption.” If it were definitely the case that the “transfer lists” really were lists of Poles being shipped to execution, then we could confidently state that these assertions by the Burdenko Commission were fabrications – lies intended to blame on the Germans murders that the Soviets had in fact carried out. But the discoveries at Volodymyr-Volyn’skiy have proven that the “transfer lists” were notlists of persons being shipped to execution. Moreover, there is no evidence that the Soviets did any of this.

It is simpler to assume that the Burdenko Commission really did unearth the bodies of Araszkiewicz, Lewandowski, and Kucziński at Katyn. [40] That means that Araszkiewicz, Lewandowski, and Kucziński could have been shipped to a labor camp, a “camp of special purpose” as, according to the Burdenko Commission, they were called; captured by the Germans during the summer of 1941; shot either at the Katyn Forest site or, if shot at their camps – 25 to 45 Km from Smolensk – their corpses brought to Katyn as part of the Nazi propaganda campaign to split the Allies. A number of witnesses testified to the Burdenko Commission that they saw German trucks loaded with corpses being driven in the direction of Katyn. [41]

This is the only scenario that accounts for the facts as we now know them. Moreover, it is strengthened by a discovery the Germans themselves made. The 1943 German report on Katyn states that the following item was found in one of the mass graves:

eine ovale Blechmarke unter den Asservaten vor, die folgende Angaben enthält

T. K. UNKWD K. O.
9 4 2 4
Stadt Ostaschkow [42]

The text of the original badge would have been, in Russian, like this:

Т. К. УНКВД К. О.

9 4 2 4

г. Осташков

A probable English translation would be:

Prison Kitchen, NKVD Directorate, Kalinin Oblast’

[prisoner, or cell, or badge number] 9 4 2 4

town of Ostashkov [43]

None of the “transport lists” from the camp at Ostashkov were for transport to Katyn or anywhere near Smolensk. All these lists state that the Polish prisoners were sent to Kalinin. Therefore the person buried at Katyn who had this badge in his possession had been shipped to Kalinin. But, obviously, he was not shot there. The badge was unearthed at Katyn. Therefore, the owner of this badge was also shot at Katyn, or nearby.

There seems to be just one way these men, and doubtless many more, could have ended up shot and buried at Katyn. They must have been transferred from Kalinin to a labor camp near Katyn, where the Germans captured and shot them. This hypothesis fits the scenario as outlined by the Sovinformburo statement of April 16, 1943, and by the Burdenko Commission. It also offers independent confirmation of the main conclusion of this article: that the prisoners transferred out of the POW camps in April-May 1940 were not being shipped to execution.

What really did happen?

The discoveries in the mass graves at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy constitute a lethal blow to the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre. This is something that should interest all of us. Katyn has been the most famous crime alleged against Stalin and the Soviet government. It has been the crime most firmly grounded in documentary evidence. For example, it is unlike the alleged “Holodomor,” the supposedly deliberate starvation by Stalin of millions of Ukrainians in the famine of 1932-1933, for which no evidence has ever been found. [44]

All the post-Soviet states today employ “Soviet atrocities” narratives to justify the pro-fascist, anti-semitic, and pro-Nazi actions of the forces that sided with the Germans against the Soviet Union before, during, and after World War 2. Katyn is the keystone of contemporary right-wing Polish nationalism. Katyn is also a key component of anti-Stalin, anti-Soviet, and anticommunist propaganda generally. Until now, it has been the best known such alleged atrocity and by far the best documented one. Katyn has been the best proven “crime of Stalinism.” That is no longer the case.

So what really did happen? In my view – and here I am following a number of the very competent Russian researchers who have likewise concluded that the “official” version is wrong – the Soviets did execute some Poles.

We know that after occupying Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine, formerly Eastern Poland, in September 1939 the Soviet NKVD searched for Poles who had been involved in the 1920-21 war in which Poland had taken these territories from the Russian Socialist Republic, which had been exhausted by four years of civil war and Allied intervention, typhus epidemic, and famine. [45] Imperialist Poland had deprived the majority populations – Belorussians, Ukrainians, and Jews – of many of their national and civil rights. [46] The Polish government had sent “settlers” (osadnicy), mainly former military officers, to “polonize” (“make more Polish”) the lands, giving them estates and making them government officials and teachers. Poland had violently repressed the communist movement and the Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Jewish minorities in these lands, as well as in Poland proper. Moreover: during the Russo-Polish war of 1920-21 somewhere between 18,000 and 60,000 Red Army POWs had died in Polish captivity. There is good documentation that they were treated brutally, starved, frozen, and many of them murdered outright. [47]

Therefore it is probable that the Soviets would have arrested and prosecuted any Polish POWs and civilians they could find who had been involved in these crimes. Many of these people were deported to places of exile deep within the USSR (where many of them survived World War 2, far away from their former homes where the fighting and Nazi and Ukrainian [48] mass murders were the most ferocious). Others must have been tried, convicted, and either executed or sent to labor camps.

It is likely that a substantial number of the Polish POWs – military officers, policemen, and guards of various kinds — had been involved either in repression of or atrocities against Soviet troops, communists, trade unionists, or workers, peasants, or Belorussian, Ukrainian, and Jewish schools or institutions. The Soviet Union would have prosecuted them. It is also likely that some Polish POWs were sentenced to labor in areas that were captured by the Germans when they invaded the USSR in 1941, and subsequently executed, as Kuligowski and Małowiejski were.

Former NKVD men Soprunenko, Tokarev, and Syromiatnikov testified that they knew of some executions of Polish prisoners. So there’s no reason to doubt that the Soviets did shoot some Poles. But the discoveries at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy prove that the “transit” or “shipment” documents do not record the shipping of the prisoners to execution. This is the basis of the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre: it has now been proven false. The Polish POWs were not being shipped to execution when the camps they were in were closed in April-May 1940.

I predict that in “mainstream” – i.e., anticommunist – academia the discourse about the Katyn Massacre will change very little. Mainstream anticommunism is motivated far more by “political correctness” – by political motives – than by any desire to discover the truth. When mainstream anticommunist scholarship does mention the Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy discoveries it will be only to try to dismiss them. One way of attempting to do so is demonstrated in the Ukrainian archaeological report cited below – to claim that the NKVD carried out these executions. Other similar subterfuges can be invented. The central importance of these discoveries for an objective understanding of this infamous historical event will be denied at all costs.

Perhaps the Polish archaeologist’s report anticipated this by relegating the finding of Kuligowski’s badge to a footnote. It could be considered a principled and even courageous act by this archaeologist, Dr. Dominika Siemińska, to reveal the discovery of the badge and to give the important details about it in the report, no matter how minimized and downplayed. No one compelled her to insert this information, which directs the attentive reader to the contradiction between the discovery at Volodymyr-Volyns’skiy and the “official” version of Katyn. Questioning of the “official” version is not tolerated in the public sphere in Poland. One hopes that Dr. Siemińska’s career will not suffer because of her adherence to scientific objectivity.

The report of the Ukrainian part of the same team does not mention the discovery of either badge. Moreover, the Ukrainian report goes out of its way to suggest that the Soviets might still somehow be responsible for the mass executions. It protests the finding of the Polish report that the graves used the “Jeckeln system” “since it only began to be used by the Nazis at the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942.” No evidence is included in support of this claim.

Додатковохочетьсявідмітити, щоданийметодрозстрілівнеможнаназивати «системоюЄкельна», на який посилаються наші польські колеги. Цей нацистській метод не передбачав страти у поховальній ямі. До того ж його почали застосовувати лише наприкінці 1941 – на початку 1942 р. у Ризі, що хронологічно не відповідає володимирській страті.

In addition we wish to note that this method of execution should not be called the “Jeckeln system,” to which our Polish colleagues refer. This Nazi method was not used for executions in a funeral pit. In addition, it began to be used only in late 1941 – early 1942 in Riga, which does not correspond chronologically to the Volodymyr executions.

The Ukrainian report mentions the fact that the German shell casings found were from 1941, but then states “It is known that Soviet organs of the NKVD used German weapons in mass executions of Polish citizens.” [49]

У поховальних ямах виявлено ідентичні гільзи , головним чином калібру 9 мм. Більшість з них мають позначки dnh (виробництво заводу Верк Дурлах в Карлсрує, Німеччина) та kam (виробництво фабрики Hasag у Скаржиці Кам’яній, Польща) 1941 р. Проте виявлені і декілька гільз радянського зразка. Все це потребує додаткових досліджень, оскільки стверджувати про те, що розстріли проводилися гітлерівцями при наявності в поховальних ямах гільз радянського зразка– не є об’єктивним. Відомі факти (зокрема дані розстрілів польських військових у Катині), що радянські органи НКВС використовували при розстрілах німецьку зброю.

In the burial pits were found identical shells, mainly of 9 mm caliber. Most of them have the mark “dnh” (production of the factory Werk Drulach [50] in Karlsruhe, Germany) and “kam” (production of the Hasag factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna, [51] Poland) of 1941. However a few shells of Soviet type were also found. All this requires further research, inasmuch as it is not objective to affirm that the shootings were carried out by the Hitlerites when shells of Soviet type were found in the pits. Facts are known (including the facts of the shooting of Polish military men at Katyn) that the Soviet organs of the NKVD used German weapons in shootings.

Details of the shells, 150 in all, found in grave No. 1 are given in footnote 3, page 8 of the Polish report but are absent from the Ukrainian report:

1. “kam, 67, 19, 41”- 137 szt; 2. “dnh, *, l , 41” – 7 szt; 3. Geco, 9 mm – l szt; 4. łuski bez oznaczeń, 7,62 x 25, wz. 30, produkcja ZSRR – 5 szt.

1. “kam, 67, 19, 41” – 137 units; 2. “dnh, *, 1, 41” – 7 units; 3. Geco, 9 mm. – 1 unit; 4. Shells without markings, 7.62 x 25 caliber, USSR production of 1930s type – 5 units.

These identifying marks on shell casings are known as ―”headstamps.” According to the analysis by Sergei Strygin “kam, 67, 19, 41” signifies the Hasag factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna, “67” the percentage of copper in the bullet, “19” the lot number, and “41” the year of production. “dnh *, 1, 41” signifies the Dürlach factory, “*” means the shell was jacketed in brass; “1” is the lot number, and “41” the year of production. One hundred forty-four, or 96% of the 150 shells found, were of German make and can be dated to 1941. [52]

Katynbullets

The Polish, but not the Ukrainian, report also specifies the shells found in grave No. 2:

l. “kam, 67. 19, 41″- 205 szt; 2. „dnh, .*, l, 41″ – 17 szt; 3. łuski bez oznaczeń. 7.62 x 25. wz. 30, produkcja ZSRR — 2 szt; 4. łuska „B , 1906”

1. “Kam, 67, 19, 41” – 205 units; 2. “dny, *, 1, 41” – 17 units; 3. Shells without markings, 7.62×25 caliber – USSR production of 1930s – 2 units; (one) shell “B , 1906.”

Of 225 shells found in this grave, 205 are the German 1941 “Hasag” type, 17 are the German 1941 “Dürlach” type, 2 are of the unmarked 1930s Soviet type; and one is marked “B 1906.” [53] Hence 98.67% of the shells are of 1941 German manufacture.

By contrast neither of the Ukrainian reports cites the numbers of each type of shell or the fact that German shells made in 1941 constitute the overwhelming majority of those found. The following paragraph appears word-for-word in each:

Упоховальнихямахвиявленоідентичнігільзи , головнимчиномкалібру 9 мм. Більшістьзнихмаютьпозначки dnh (виробництвозаводуВеркДурлахвКарлсрує, Німеччина) таkam (виробництвофабрики Hasag уСкаржиціКам’яній, Польща) 1941 р. Протевиявленіідекількагільзрадянськогозразка. Все це потребує додаткових досліджень, оскільки стверджувати про те, що розстріли проводилися гітлерівцями при наявності в поховальних ямах гільз радянського зразка– не є об’єктивним. Відомі факти (зокрема дані розстрілів польських військових у Катині), що радянські органи НКВС використовували при розстрілах німецьку зброю. [54]

In the burial pits were found identical shells, mainly of caliber 9 mm. Most of them have the mark “dnh” (Werk Dürlach production plant in Karlsruhe, Germany), and “kam” (production factory in Hasag Skarżysko Kamienna, Poland) in 1941. However, several shell casings of Soviet model were also found. All this requires more research inasmuch that it is not objective to assert that the shootings were carried out by the Hitlerites even though shells of Soviet model were found in the burial pits. Examples are known (including data of shootings of Polish soldiers in Katyn) that the Soviet organs of the NKVD used German weapons in executions.

There are some problems with the conclusion in the Ukrainian report. First, it is an example of circular reasoning. It assumes that the mass killings at Katyn, which even the Germans admitted were carried out with German ammunition, was a Soviet crime. But that is the very assumption that the discoveries at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy call into question.

Second, it assumes that even the overwhelming preponderance of German ordnance is not enough to establish that the killings were done by the Germans, since the Soviets could also use German ammunition. No doubt this is the reason the Ukrainian report does not give the numbers of shells or the percentage of them that are German and of 1941 manufacture. (The Ukrainian reports should have added that Germans could also use Soviet ammunition. The Germans captured immense amounts of Soviet arms and ammunition in 1941.)

Відмічено також, що вбиті часто прикривали обличчя руками, або обіймали іншу жертву (жінки тулили до себе і прикривали дітей). (Doslizhdennia; Zvit 15)

It is also noted that those killed often covered their faces with their hands, or embraced another victim (women hugged to themselves and covered children).

There are no examples anywhere of the Soviet NKVD shooting children.

Ukrainian archaeologist Oleksei Zlatohorskyy (Russian: Aleksei Zlatogorskii) has pointed out the political problems raised by the Polish archaeologist’s identification of the Germans as the murderers:

Неосторожные высказывания польских археологов о принадлежности останков, найденных на территории замка Казимира Великого во Владимире-Волынском, могут поставить под сомнение уже известные преступления НКВД по отношению к польским офицерам, сообщил директор ГП “Волынские древности” Алексей Златогорский в комментарии Gazeta.ua.

Incautious statements by Polish archaeologists about the belongings of the remains found on the land of the castle of Kazimir Velikii in Vladimir-Volynskii could cast doubt upon the already known crimes of the NKVD in relation to Polish officers, said the direction of the state enterprise “Volyn antiquities” Aleksei Zlatogorskii in a commentary to Gazeta.ua. [55]

The only “already known crimes of the NKVD in relation to Polish officers” is the Katyn Massacre – to be more precise, the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre. Prof. Zlatohorskyy does not explain how the Polish report “casts doubt” upon the “official” version of Katyn.

The Ukrainian report cited above appears to be a shorter, perhaps Internet version of a longer report written by Zlatohorskyy and two other Ukrainian archaeologists, S.D. Panishko and M.P. Vasheta. This report (Zvit)omits any mention of Kuligowski, Małowiejski, or their badges. Its appendix does include photographs also found in the Polish report. Among them are a photo of the Polish policeman’s epaulette and of the “sardine-packing” arrangement of bodies in Grave No. 2. (Zvit 91,92,97). The very “orderly” arrangement of bodies contradicts the description by Prof. Kola.

The opening of an exhibition concerning this site at the Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy Historical Museum on March 5 2013 has been announced. The accompanying article states only that in 1997 researchers assumed that the victims buried there were Poles shot by the NKVD in 1939-1940, and suggests that this is still their conclusion.

Виставка розповідає про результати ексгумаційних робіт протягом 2010-2012 рр., розкриває перед відвідувачами основні віхи історії ще одного великого замку на Волині та страхітливого злочину, прихованих від людського ока.

The exhibit tells of the results of the works of exhumation during the years 2010-2012, reveals to visitors the basic milestones of yet another great castle of Volhynia and of a horrifying crime hidden from human eyes. [56]

Even if we set aside all the evidence that the Germans killed the victims at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy, there remains the fact that most of the ammunition used was manufactured in 1941. The “transit” or “shipment” documents are of April-May 1940. Kuligowski and Małowiejski could not have been killed earlier than 1941. No one has suggested that they were killed in Kalinin and Kharkiv in April-May 1940 and then their badges brought to a mass grave in Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy, hundreds of miles away, and there thrown into the burial pit.

Kuligowski and Małowiejski were indeed shipped out of their POW camps in April 1940, as recorded in the Soviet transit lists published by Tucholski in 1991. But neither of them was being sent to execution. They were killed in 1941 in Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy, Ukrainian SSR. According to the evidence now available they were killed by the Germans. But this is not important for our present purposes. What is important is this: it is invalid to conclude that any of the prisoners shipped out of the Polish POW camps in April-May 1940 were being sent to their deaths. This in itself disproves the “official” version of the Katyn massacre.

Conclusion

The opinions of persons who are motivated by a desire to learn the truth about Katyn as about historical questions generally can be altered by the evidence discovered at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy. This can happen only if the news of the discovery, and of its implications for the understanding of the Katyn issue, becomes widely known and understood.

This is no easy matter. Aside from a small number of researchers, what most people learn about the Katyn issue reflects the “official” version. Discussion of Katyn is actively discouraged in mainstream academic and political circles under the pretext that the matter has been so firmly established by evidence that only cranks and communists could question it.

However, the very act of discouraging free discussion and doubts about the “official” viewpoint has the potential to stimulate curiosity and questioning.

 

[1]“‘Волынская Катынь’ оказалась делом рук гитлеровцев.” [“The ‘Volhynian Katyn’ turns out to be a deed of the Hitlerites.”] At http://katyn.ru/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=253

[2] According to the “official” account, small numbers of Polish prisoners were confined at or shipped to other camps and were not executed.

[3] Hitler outlined this “Big Lie” in Mein Kampf: Chapter 6, “War Propaganda,” and Chapter 10, “Why the Second Reich Collapsed.”

[4]«Секретныедокументы из особых папок» Вопросы Истории 1993 № 1, сс. 3-22.

[5] At http://www.tinyurl.com/katyn-the-truth

[6] I picked the title “The Katyn Forest Whodunnit” for my page because it expresses my own uncertainty, and thereby my own dedication to objectivity. I don’t know “who did it,” the Nazis or the Soviets, the Soviets or the Nazis, and I would like to know. Moreover, I don’t care “who did it.” If the Germans did it, it is just what they did all over Eastern Europe and on a much larger scale. If the Soviets did it, we should try to discover why they did. It would not be “endemic to communism,” as the anticommunists claim. In fact, though, it appears more and more likely that the Soviets did not “do it.”

[7] I have taken the texts of all but one of the confessions from the official Polish volumeKatyń. Dokumenty zbrodni- Tom 2 Zagłada marzec-czerwiec 1940. (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo „Trio,” 1998). They were originally published separately. I have checked those original versions against this one. In addition, Syromiatnikov gave an interview to Polish journalist Jerzy Morawski in 1992. All these interviews with ex-NKVD officers Soprunenko, Syromiatnikov, and Tokarev are available at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/katyn_nkvd.html

[8] A photograph of Kuligowski‘s badge may be viewed at http://katyn.ru/images/news/2012-12-29-zheton-1441.jpg and a somewhat lighter, more legible copy at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/kuligowski_badge_1441.jpg

[9] “Osoby z Listy Katyńskiej mordowano we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim?!” (Persons from the Katyn List murdered at Włodzimierz Wołyński?!), ITVL May 25, 2011. At http://www.itvl.pl/news/osoby-z-listy-katynskiej-mordowano-we-wlodzimierzu-wolynskim–

[10] All translations in this article are mine.

[11] The surrounding region of Volhynia was part of Austria-Hungary until the end of World War I; then part of Poland; then part of the Soviet Ukraine; then occupied by the Germans; then again part of Soviet Ukraine, and is now part of Ukraine. Until 1939 the language of the urban elite was mainly Polish, that of the peasantry mainly Ukrainian and Yiddish.

[12] See “Tropem zbrodni NKWD pod Włodzimierzem Wołyńskim” (Trail of NKVD crime near Włodzimierz Wołyński) at http://wolyn.btx.pl/index.php/component/content/article/1-historia/168-tropem-zbrodni-nkwd-pod-wodzimierzem-woyskim.html ; Włodzimierz Wołyński – groby polskich ofiar NKWD” (graves of Polish victims of the NKVD) at http://www.nawolyniu.pl/artykuly/ofiarynkwd.htm ; “Czyje mogiły odnaleziono we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim?” (Whose graves found at Włodzimierz Wołyński?) http://wpolityce.pl/depesze/10407-czyje-mogily-odnaleziono-we-wlodzimierzu-wolynskim This last article speaks of „ofiar pomordowanych przez NKWD w latach 1940-1941 w sowieckiej katowni na zamku we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim” (victims murdered by the NKVD in 1940-1941 in the Soviet execution chamber in the castle at Włodzimierz Wołyński). Many more similar articles could be cited.

[13] “ВолинськаКатинь. УВолодимирі-ВолинськомузнайденомасовепохованняжертвНКВС 1939–1941 років.” Tyzhden’.ua October 4, 2011. At http://tyzhden.ua/Society/31329

[14] In reality there was plenty of “order” in the burials. We shall see below that both the Polish and Ukrainian reports attest to this fact. There is also a great deal of evidence, including photographs, that German troops executed people from behind rather than in “firing-squad” formation.

[15] Sprawozdanie z Nadzoru Nad Badaniami Archeologiczno-Ekshumacyjnymi na Terenie Rezerwatu Historyczno-Kulturowego Miasta Włodzimierza Wołyńskiego (Ukraina). Opracowanie zespołowe pod kierunkiem dr Dominiki Siemińskiej. Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa. (Report of the Supervision on the Archaeological-Exhumation Investigation in the Area of the Reservation of the Historical-Cultural Town of Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy (Ukraine). A Team Description under the Direction of Dr. Dominika Siemińska. Council for the Commemoration of Struggle and Martzrdom). Toruń, 2012, Note, pp. 1-2. At http://www.kresykedzierzynkozle.home.pl/attachments/File/Rap.pdf

[16] Miednoje. Księga Cmentarna Polskiego Cmentarza Wojennego. Warsaw: Rada Ochrony Pamiêci Walk i Mêczeñstwa 2005. Tom 1, 465.

[17] http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=11036 According to the Home Page „Indeks Represjonowanych” (http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/index.html ) this online record is a digital version of the contents of the official volume: Maria Skrzyńska-Pławińska, ed. Rozstrzelani w Twerze : alfabetyczny spis 6314 jeńców polskich z Ostaszkowa rozstrzelanych w kwietniu-maju 1940 i pogrzebanych w Miednoje, według źródeł sowieckich i polskich. Warszawa : Ośrodek KARTA, 1997.

[18] Jędrzej Tucholski. Mord w Katyniu: Kozielsk, Ostaszków, Starobielsk. Lista ofiar. Warszawa: Instztut Wydawniczy Pax, 1991, p. 810. No. 15: NKVD list No. 026/1 of 13 April 1940, position 15. In spite of the presence of Kuligowski’s name on this NKVD list, for some reason the alphabetical section of Tucholski (p. 314 col. 2) lists Kuligowski on its “victims list” (lista ofiar) as “probably Ostashkov” (Prawdop. Ostaszków).

[19] See “INDEKS NAZWISK – Katyń – zamordowani przez NKWD w 1940 r.” http://www.ornatowski.com/index/katyn.htm

[20] See above, note 14.

[21] A description of this method of execution may be found on the English-language Wikipedia page on Jeckeln at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Jeckeln#World_War_II_mass_murderer

[22] Equivalent to full or four-star General, the highest SS rank aside from that of Heinrich Himmler, whose rank was Reichsführer-SS.

[23] Photograph at http://katyn.ru/images/news/2012-12-29-gruppa4.jpg (as of May 6 2013). It is taken from page 8 of the Polish archeological report cited above.A description of this method of execution may be found on the English language Wikipedia page on Jeckeln at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Jeckeln#World_War_II_mass_murderer

[24] Volodymyr Musychenko. ―Ialatpcaojnj Hfrtcanj Bumj ]crf¿?‖ Slovo Pravdy (Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy) March 29, 2011. At http://spr.net.ua/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=919:2011-09-29-07-41- 57&catid=1:newsukraine ; Ivan Katchanovski, ―Katyn in Reverse in Ukraine: Nazi-led Massacres turned into Soviet Massacres.‖ OpEd News, December 13, 2012, at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Katyn-in-Reverse-in-Ukrainby-Ivan-Katchanovski-121212-435.html ; I. Katchanovski, ―Suyasoa qpm{tjla qan‘>t{ oa Cpmjo{ 7pep PUO(b) ta oaxjsts:ljw naspcjw cbjcstc,‖ Ukraina Moderna No. 19 (April 30 2013). At http://www.uamoderna.com/md/199

[25] Photos available at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/polskie_guziki_pagon_VV2012.jpg , from the Polish archaeological report.

[26] “Kolejny policjant z Listy Katyńskiej odnaleziony we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim..” [Another policeman on the Katyn List is found in Volodymyr-Volynsky]. At http://www.itvl.pl/news/kolejny-policjant-z-listy-katynskiej-odnaleziony-we-wlodzimierzu-wolynskim

[27] “INDEKS NAZWISK – Katyń – zamordowani przez NKWD w 1940 r.” At http://www.ornatowski.com/index/katyn.htm

[28] The following text is from http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=11445

[29] Tucholski p. 887 No. 76. Małowiejski was in a transport of 100 Polish prisoners sent to the Kalinin NKVD on April 27, 1940. Of course his name is also on Tucholski’s alphabetical list (p. 322, col. 2) as is Kuligowski’s, and on other official lists of Katyn victims.

[30] “Report of Special Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating the Circumstances of the Shooting of Polish Officer Prisoners by the German-Fascist Invaders in the Katyn Forest.” (Burdenko Report). In The Katyn Forest Massacre. Hearings Before the Select Committee To Conduct an Investigation of the Facts, Evidence, and Circumstances of the Katyn Forest Massacre. Eighty-Second Congress, Second Session. …Part 3 (Chicago). March 13 and 14, 1952. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1952 (http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/burdenko_comm.pdf), p. 246.

[31] “Część Pierwsza. Obóz w Kozielsku. Groby w Lesie Katyńskim,” p. 3 (pages unnumbered).

[32] The following text is from http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=8437

[33] Araszkiewica at Kozel’sk: Tucholski p. 68 col. 2 (the alphabetical list). In the Russian-language “transit lists” that take up almost 400 pages of Tucholski’s book, Araszkiewicz’s transfer from Ostashkov to Kalinin is recorded on list No.062/2 of May 19, 1940, the last shipment of prisoners out of Ostashkov: p. 907, No. 7.

[34] The New York Times published a very brief notice of the German claim on April 16, 1943; see “Nazis Accuse Russians,” p. 4.

[35] “Совинформбюро. Гнусныеизмышлениянемецко-фашистскихпалачей” (Sovinformburo: Vile Fabrications of the German-Fascist Executioners), April 16, 1943. At http://tinyurl.com/sovinformburo041643

[36]“Część Druga. Obóz w Ostaszkowie,” p. 13 (pages unnumbered).

[37] The following text is from http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=11191

[38]  The following text is from http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=11001

[39] Mosziński, Lista Katyńska, lists the only Stanisław Kucziński in the Katyn victims lists as at the Starobelsk camp; see “Część Trzecia. Obóz w Starobielsku,” page 34 (unnumbered pages). Tucholski (p.314 col. 1; lists p. 851 No. 87) puts a Stanisław Kucziński at Ostashkov, thus agreeing with the “Indeks” list. The “Indeks” list and Tucholski agree that this Kucziński’s father’s name was Adam; Mosziński does not give any father’s name. Mosziński’s Stanisław Kucziński was a “rtm,” a Rotmistrz, or Captain of Cavalry, while Tucholski’s was a constable of police (“Funkcj. PP, posterunek Pruszków”). It appears that Mosziński and the other two sources are indicating different men.

[40] The names of these three men are not on the list of 4143 bodies, some of them nameless, in the German report Amtliches Material.

[41] Testimony of P.F. Sukhachev, October 8, 1942, and of Vladimir Afanasievich Yegorov, undated, to Burdenko Commission, Burdenko Comm (note 26), 241-2.

[42] Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von KATYN. Berlin: Zentralverlag der NSDAP. Franz Eher Nachf. GmbH., 1943, p. 46. The German sentence reads: “… an oval tin badge among the exhibits, which contains the following information.

[43] The abbreviation “T.K.” may mean “prison kitchen” (тюремнаякухня) or “pantry,” or it may mean something else. What matters is that the badge or marker comes from Ostashkov.

[44] For a brief overview of this question see Mark Tauger, “Famine in Russian History,”Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, Volume 10: Supplement. (Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press, 2011), 79-92. Tauger’s own works on the famine are cited at page 92. I consider Tauger to be the world’s authority on this famine, to the study of which he has devoted decades. See also R.W. Davies and Stephen G. Wheatcroft,The Years of Hunger. Soviet Agriculture, 1931-1933 (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2009 [2004]), 440-1. Concerning the “Yezhovshchina” (also called “the Great Terror”) see the Yezhov confession of August 4, 1939 printed in Никита Петров, “Сталинский питомец” — Николай Ежов (Nikita Petrov, “Stalin’s Pet” – Nikolai Yezhov), Moscow 2008, 367–79 (English translation at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/ezhov080439eng.html ). Stalin told aircraft designer Alexander Yakovlev that Yezhov had been executed because he had killed many innocent people; see А. Яковлев, Цельжизни. Запискиавиаконструктора (М.: 1973), 267 (глава: “Москвавобороне”). For the present author’s views see Grover Furr, “The Moscow Trials and the ‘Great Terror’ of 1937-1938: What the Evidence Shows” (written July 2010). http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/trials_ezhovshchina_update0710.html

[45] See, for example, Piotr Kołakowski, NKWD i GRU na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945(Warsaw: Bellona, 2002), 74, which discusses NKVD searches and arrests: “nazwiska osób walczących o granice II Rzeczypospolitej w latach 1918-1921” (names of persons who fought for the boundaries of the Second Republic in 1918-1921), “nazwiska wszystkich ochotników, którzy wojowali z bolszewikami w 1920 r.” (names of all volunteers who had fought the Bolsheviks in 1920), i.e. in the war which forced Soviet Russia to cede all of Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia to Poland in the Treaty of Riga (March 1921).

[46] See the hair-raising anti-Ukrainian terror of November 1938 described by Jeffrey Burds, “Comment on Timothy Snyder’s article…” At http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hpcws/comment13.htm

[47] For an introduction to this heated question see the section “Polish Massacres of Russian POWs 1919-1920” on my “Katyn Forest Whodunnit” page (note 5).

[48] Ukrainian nationalist forces allied with the Germans massacred roughly 100,000 Polish civilians in German-occupied Western Ukraine in 1943 and 1944. This is known in Poland as “Rzeź wołyńska,” the “Volhynian massacres,” in Ukraine as “Волинська трагедія,” the “Volhynian tragedy.”

[49] “Дослідження виявлених решток людей , розстріляних в 1941 році на городищі “ вали” у володимирі- волинському .ексгумаційні дослідження 2012 року”. (Investigation of discovered remains of persons shot in 1941 at the ‘Shafts’ site at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy. Investigation of exhumations of 2012.) (Doslizhdennia) At http://volodymyrmuseum.com/publications/32-publications/naukovi-statti/170-doslidzhennya-vyyavlenykh-reshtok-lyudey-rozstrilyanykh-v-1941-rotsi-na-horodyshchi-valy-u-volodymyri-volynskomu-ekshumatsiyni-doslidzhennya-2012-roku

[50] The correct name for this German munitions factory was Rheinisch-Westfalische Sprengstoff AG Dürlach Werk. A specialized Internet database on German ordnance states that the Dürlach factory was actually in Baden: see German WWII Alphabetic Ordnance Codes: c-e, at http://www.radix.net/~bbrown/codes_full_alpha_c-e.html

[51] A town south of Warsaw about halfway between Radom and Kielce. The German munitions factory was HASAG Eisen und Metallwerke G.m.b.H. According to the database cited in the previous note this was the Hugo Schneider AG, Werk Skarżysko Kamienna, Poland.

[52] “B 1906” appears to be Austrian rifle ordnance made for the Tsarist Army during the Russo-Japanese War. See the drawing at http://7.62x54r.net/MosinID/MosinAmmoID02.htm#Austria and the photograph obtained by Sergei Strygin at http://katyn.ru/images/news/2012-12-29-gilza_B_1906.jpg

[53] Doslizhdennia (online); Звіт про результати археологічно-ексгумаційних рятівних досліджень на городищі “вали” у м. володимирі-волинському 2012 р. (Report on the results of the archaeological exhumation recovery investigations at the “Vali” [“shafts”] site in the town of Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy in 2012.). Luts’k, 2012. ( Zvit) Available at http://www.formuseum.info/uploads/files/Звіт 2012_Володимир-Волинський.pdf These are two versions of the same report. The much fuller PDF version contains many pages of photographs, graphs, tables, and drawings, but no clear accounting of the cartridge shells as the Polish report has.

[54] Скороход, Ольга. “Польские археологи нагнетают ситуацию вокруг жертв, расстрелянных в 1941-м.” (Ol’ga Skorokhkod. Polish archeologists stir up the situation around the victims shot in 1941). Gazeta.ru February 20, 2013, http://gazeta.ua/ru/articles/history/_polskie-arheologi-nagnetayut-situaciyu-vokrug-zhertv-rasstrelyannyh-v-1941-m/483525 Gazeta.ru is a Russian-language Ukrainian newspaper. Roughly half the population of today’s Ukraine use Russian as their first language.

[55] Виставка: “Прихована історія: археологічні дослідження на городищі Володимира-Волинського 2010-2012 років” (Exhibition: “Hidden history: archaeological investigations at a site in Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy in the years 2010-2012”), http://www.formuseum.info/2013/02/27/vistavka.html

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‘I’m a Russian Occupant’: Viral video justifies imperial aggression

A recently released YouTube video entitled ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’ is a deeply telling panegyric to 19th century-style white man’s burden imperialism, which goes a long way towards explaining what is wrong with the mentality of many Russians today.

It’s a rare occurrence to see proponents of a worldview unironically putting out such a bold (and frankly racist) statement of agency, a statement which approaches Idiocracy levels of parody. One could almost laugh, if this clarion call to unapologetic national pride was not so blatantly supremacist and aggressive.

To put it all in a rather crude nutshell, everything in this part of the world would be crap if it weren’t for the Russians, and it’s crap again because Moscow’s petulant children forgot the benefit of kowtowing to their suzerain. That might sound like an exaggeration. It is not. In a typical display of Russian militaristic bravado, the highly-stylized clip begins with a so-called Little Green Man (slang for the crack Russian troops who took Crimea sans insignia) loading a clip into his AK-100 while the narrator proclaims that being an occupier is his manifest destiny.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Turning his eye to Yermak’s 16th century conquest of Siberia, the video goes full on Heart of Darkness by arguing that now they (whoever they might be) produce oil, gas and “other useful stuff, have “schools and hospitals” and can’t sell women for “a bundle of sable skins” – all thanks to Russian colonial expansion.

I guess one is left to assume that the benefits of 400-plus years of progress would have escaped the indigenous population if it weren’t for the Russians occupation. It’s also strange how putting a stop to selling women for sable skins is brought up as a justification, seeing that rape, enslavement and self-admitted genocidal policies were carried out against the natives, often, and rather ironically, due to the lucrative fur trade.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Serfdom was also being deeply entrenched in Russian society during the same time period, which is to say, Russia was actually moving backwards socially during this period of imperial expansion (legal amendments in 1649 and 1658 made the bulk of Russians slaves in all but name.) So they saved the people from selling their women into slavery so Russians  themselves could sell them into slavery? Right.

The narrator moves on to the Baltics, arguing they were renowned for their high quality radio equipment, cars, famous perfumes and balms during Soviet times.

“I [Russia] was asked to leave them. Now they sell sprats, and part of their people clean toilets in Europe.” 

That the financially robust Baltic states, one of which is projected to reach the economic level of the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway by 2025 (and potentially become one of the top five most productive nations in the world) have been relegated to forage fish sellers and European toilet cleaners is frankly odd.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Central Asia is next, and perhaps an easier target given the authoritarianism and wealth inequality that plagues these states for a number of reasons. Seemingly reducing the five republics of the former Soviet bloc to one homogeneous mass, the narrator sidesteps any substantive issues by saying they are now being saddled with US loans and “growing Cannabis” (with the image of a pot leaf quickly being replaced with a white powder I’m assuming is heroine.)

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Apart from the unforeseen possibility that Colorado has outsourced its pot business to Uzbekistan on the back of high interest loans, I’m not really sure what the narrator is getting at. Another contention, that many migrants now work in Russia in often desperate conditions, is true, though to blame them for the macroeconomic conditions that make some states net importers of guest laborers seems ludicrous.

The reductionist approach also belies the fact that Kazakhstan’s GDP per capita is nominally close to Russia’s, providing economic conditions which attract more Central Asian migrants than any other country in the world (apart from its neighbor to the north.) And what, pray tell, do Russia and Kazakhstan have in common? I’ll give you a hint:

In Ukraine, well you guessed it. Once upon a time they built things, and now all they can do is construct “revolution and dictatorship.” 

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

So looking at all of the chaos that’s been unleashed by one of the worst geopolitical disaster’s of the 20th century, the narrator, whoever he is speaking for, is coming out of the closest (no, not that closet!)

“Yes, I’m an occupant, and I’m tired of apologizing for it. I’m an occupant by birthright, an aggressor and a bloodthirsty monster. Be afraid.” 

The video, unsurprisingly, goes on to deride western hypocrisy, parroting the widely held belief that democracy does not exist, before reducing western values to gays, gays, more gays, and Conchita Wurst (as opposed to transparency, the rule of law, the protection of minorities, civil rights and the regular and predictable transition of power through free and fair elections.)

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

“I politely warn you for the last time, don’t mess with me. I build peace, I love peace, but I know how to fight better than anyone else,” the message, which is quickly dispatched to Barack Obama, concludes.

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Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нет.

Kevin Rothrock from Global Voices contacted the alleged creator of the video, a man going by the name of Evgeny Zhurov. Zhurov is emphatic that the professionally produced video was independently made, saying claims of Kremlin involvement are an absolute “lie.”

“These people want to destroy the ‘myth’ about a guy who works ‘for an idea,’” Zhurov said.“They want to make all my work look like it was part of some government contract.”

I for one believe whoever is behind the video is an ancillary point. That the Kremlin would make (or at the very least finance) such a video in a world of internet troll farms and organized-state hysteria is par for the course. What’s more important is the fact that the maker of this video has his finger on the pulse of contemporary Russia. In line with their educational curriculum, many Russians believe in a reductionist view of history which hinges on external invasions of Russia, but ignores numerous instances of Russian aggression against its own neighbors.

It is within this narrative that the myth of the peaceful but ferocious Russian was born. The revelatory part of the video, of course, is that it couples Russians belief in their peaceful nature with its highly militaristic culture, which revels in the idea of being feared. For those who visit Russia, the obsession with power is stark. Some have likened it to a sublimated prison culture, and even in Soviet times, prisoners themselves called the labor camps the ‘small zones’ and the country itself the ‘big zone.’ And this obsession with power manifests itself in virtually every interaction.

When the face of Russia’s domestic propaganda effort Dmitry Kiselyov warned “Russia can turn the US into radioactive dust” last March, he was speaking directly to the Russian id that can resentfully only find parity with their former Cold War rival in its ability to destroy it (and be destroyed in turn.) Russia is a shadow of its former Soviet incarnation, but due to its nuclear arsenal, it most be feared and respected, or so the logic goes.

I already mentioned its reduction of Western values to one gigantic gay pride parade, though there is something interesting in its interpretation of Soviet History. Russians both view the Soviet Union as a Russian imperialistic project and as a commonwealth of brotherly nations coming together for a utopian vision of the future. Many Russians deftly navigate very convoluted waters in which all of the evils of the Soviet Union are blamed on outside anti-Russian forces (often Jews), while at the same time believing that all of the accomplishments of the Soviet Union were in fact Russian accomplishments.

The videos portrayal of the former Soviet republics and Siberia itself as backwaters that would have been nothing if not for Russia’s beneficent occupation is a widely held belief. Jim Kovpak, an amateur historian and author of the popular blog Russia Without BS, summarized this mentality in an article entitled ‘See, this is why nobody likes you.’

“It goes something like this. Russian wants to rant against some former Soviet nationality. It doesn’t matter if its their ‘Slavic brothers’ like the Ukrainians or non-Slavic nationalities like Uzbeks, Tajiks, or Georgians. With the most condescending and patronizing tone, they remind the target of their rant how great they had it under the USSR, or in the case of this article, the Russian Empire. Typically no distinction is made between the two.  

The story is that Muscovite Russians selflessly endeavored and bled to give these people various “gifts” for which they were ungrateful in 1991. Basically it’s the equivalent of a right-wing American telling black Americans that they should be grateful for slavery, or better said a British person lecturing India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan about how great they had it when they were the jewel of the British Empire. The difference being, however, that in the US or UK views like this are often met with sharp criticism, often all across the political spectrum. In Russia they are mainstream and encouraged,” he wrote.

That these views are mainstream and encouraged is obvious in the stellar popularity of ‘I am a Russian Occupant’, which has gathered over 5 million views and 111k likes in some two weeks. One of the most telling aspects of many Russians is that they are supremacists who are enraged that they might be viewed as inferior, anti-PC bigots who will jump at the slightest mischaracterization of their own people, self-proclaimed lovers of peace who are militarists obsessed with power and respect, patronizing colonialists who are deeply resentful that neighboring nations do not respect the paternalistic yoke.

These contradictions are the source of a great deal of internal strife that manifests itself externally, as the pressure of cognitive dissonance rarely dissipates of its own accord. And often, the psychic fault lines between reality and delusion create tremors in the real world.

It would be easy to dismiss this clip if it weren’t so telling. After all, it is the worldview it depicts (a false belief that it is Russia’s “birthright” to keep their backwards and rebellious children in the fold) that drove the Kremlin to rip Ukraine apart rather than let it choose its own path. Taken in that light, there is nothing funny about ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’ at all.

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нетю

Screenshot from ‘I’m a Russian Occupant’, courtesy of YouTube user ОКеям Нетю

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Russian propaganda and Ukrainian rumour fuel anger and hate in Crimea

 Russians march in central Moscow. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

Russians march in central Moscow. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

The Russian media is serving up a crude portrayal of events as a patriotic fight against fascists in Kiev and spurring its own far-right into action

Anyone spending any amount of time in Crimea at the moment will hear the words “Nazi” and “fascist” a lot. The protests in Kiev, people across the region will insist, were a Nazi-inspired revolt, backed by the west, and that is why the Russian operation to “protect” Crimea from such Nazis was so necessary.

Certainly, there were unsavoury elements among the Kiev protests, and there are a number of people with unpleasant far-right views that hold positions in the new interim government. Many people in western Ukraine do hold complicated views about the wartime period, and many in Russia are understandably concerned by the veneration by small parts of the protest movement of controversial collaborationist leaders.

“You Brits don’t understand about fascism but we fought against Nazi Germany,” said a 62-year-old Simferopol resident, Viktor Varazin. “We know what fascism is and we will never let it take hold here. Thank God the Russians are here.”

Russian state television has gone out of its way to manufacture an image of the protests as a uniquely sinister phenomenon; a far-right movement backed by the west with the ultimate goal of destabilising Russia.

Back in December, a Russian state television reporter doing a live report from Kiev was accosted by a protester on air and had an Oscar statuette thrust into his hands. “Pass this Oscar to your channel … for the lies and nonsense you are telling people about Maidan,” he said.

Since then, the rhetoric has only intensified on Russian television. In the last week, there have been claims that gangs of “unknown armed people” have crossed from Ukraine into Russia, without offering any evidence. There have also been suggestions that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian “refugees” have been forced to flee Ukraine for Russia, prompting a humanitarian crisis. (The pictures used by one Russian channel of border queues turned out to be routine queues at a Ukraine-Poland border.)

News programmes regularly refer to the Kiev protesters as “terrorists”, “insurgents” or “fighters”, and the rightwing and anti-Russian nature is emphasised. It is not just Russian media peddling the rumours. Opposition-minded channels in Ukraine have also been full of misinformation, although it is often a case of unverified rumours reported as fact. There was barely a day in January and February when Ukrainian media did not report planeloads of Russian special forces secretly landing in Kiev, or other nefarious but implausible manoeuvres by Viktor Yanukovych.

But perhaps the most disturbing thing about the Russian propaganda is that it is clear that many inside the Kremlin actually believe it. In December, a Russian government source assured the Guardian that the Kiev protests were the preserve of radical marginals, and that the rest of the city had no time at all for its goals.

On Tuesday, Putin conceded that he understood that there were some normal people on Independence Square who were tired of Ukrainian corruption, but there is nevertheless a sense in the Kremlin that the entire protest was a western-backed plot, as evidenced by Putin’s claims that they were organised by “people sitting in America doing experiments, like on rats”.

An insight into the thinking is given by Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected analyst and politician, who is in Crimea meeting with local officials. When asked for his view on the Kiev protests, he said: “The plan it seems to me to was very clear. Give Ukraine a Mikheil Saakashvili type leader. Start a big anti-Russian campaign, train the army to Nato standards, fill everyone with anti-Russian ideology, and then throw the Ukrainian army into Russia at a time when a coup is being organised. I haven’t spoken to Putin about it personally, but I am certain he thinks the same.”

On the ground in Crimea, what is particularly odd is that the most vociferous defenders of Russian bases against supposed fascists appear to hold far-right views themselves.

Outside the Belbek airbase, an aggressive self-defence group said they were there to defend the base against “Kiev fascists”, but also railed against Europe, “full of repulsive gays and Muslims”.

“What you foreigners don’t get is that those people in Maidan, they are fascists,” said Alexander, a Simferopol resident drinking at a bar in the city on Monday night. “I mean, I am all for the superiority of the white race, and all that stuff, but I don’t like fascists.”

Even among less radical locals, there is a strong conviction that the western press has lied about the conflict and tension. Journalists have been physically attacked on several occasions, and crowds will frequently berate western reporters for their biased coverage.

“We know you have your orders from your masters to destroy Russia, but try to explain the truth – we welcome the Russians here because we don’t want to live among fascists,” said one angry woman outside a surrounded Ukrainian marines base in Feodosia on Sunday.

For all that state television has been pushing the Nazi comparisons, there is rather less tolerance when the boot is on the other foot. Andrei Zubov, a professor at a top Moscow university linked to the diplomatic service, wrote a column in the respected Vedomosti newspaper on Saturday comparing Putin’s potential annexation of Crimea with the Anschluss of Austria and Nazi Germany in 1938. On Tuesday, he said the university had fired him for the comparison.

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Fascists take deputy prime minister and other posts in Ukraine’s new government

ukraine-svoboda-city-hall-PA-600

Fascist Svoboda activists occupied Kiev city hall in December. Now the party is in government Pic credit: AP

By Tash Shifrin

Fascists are now part of Ukraine’s government. Oleksandr Sych, of the fascist Svoboda party, has been appointed as deputy prime minister of Ukraine.

He will take the post under prime minister Arseniy Yatseniuk of the neo-liberal, conservative Batkivshchyna (“Fatherland”) party.

Sych is one of Svoboda’s 36 MPs and has made a particular name for himself with an attempt to ban all abortions.

Svoboda also has Andriy Mokhnyk as ecology minister and Ihor Shvaik as agriculture minister in the new administration.

A Svoboda MP, Oleg Mokhnytsky, already runs the general prosecutor’s office.

The appointment of fascist ministers by Ukraine’s parliament does not mean that this is a fascist government, nor that Ukraine is now a fascist state.

Coalition of neoliberals and fascists

The new government is in effect a coalition of neoliberals and fascists. This situation has happened before, for example in Italy, where the Alleanza Nazionale – formed from the fascist MSI, the heirs of Mussolini – joined coalition governments under Berlusconi. Former MSI leader Gianfranco Fini held the positions of deputy prime minister and foreign secretary.

The remainder of the new Ukraine government is made up of Fatherland MPs and unelected figures drawn from the Euromaidan movement, plus rear admiral Ihor Tenyukh, a former commander of Ukrainian Navy, as defence minister.

But entry into the government is another huge step forward for fascists in Ukraine. They have made a major breakthrough both in parliament and on the streets as a result of the leading role that fascist organisations have played in the Euromaidan movement.

The nominations for members of the new government announced to the Euromaidan crowds on Kiev’s main square last night also included Andriy Parubiy, the commander of the paramilitary Samooborona, or Self Defence, as the new head of the national security council.

[UPDATE 28 February: Parubiy’s appointment is now confirmed.]

Parubiy and Yarosh

Parubiy is now an MP for the Fatherland party. But he has a fascist past – he was one of the original leaders of the Social-National Party of Ukraine, with current Svoboda boss Oleh Tyahnybok. He later moved to the conservative Our Ukraine party, and then to Fatherland.

The leader of the hardcore nazi Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), Dmytro Yarosh, was also reported to have been nominated as a deputy to Parubiy. The Right Sector’s fighters have been a major component of the Self Defence paramilitaries – but they remained independent of Parubiy’s leadership, with Yarosh as their commander.

It remains unclear whether Yarosh has accepted his nomination, or whether this will go to a parliamentary vote. But, worryingly, the BBC reported that there were calls for Yarosh to be given a government post from the Euromaidan crowd.

Right Sector fighters are more popular with a section of Euromaidan than the traditional parties in Ukraine’s corrupt political system, where a tiny number of super-rich oligarchs pull the strings.

Also in the list of nominees, but so far unconfirmed by parliament, is the appointment of Tetyana Chornovol to head a new anti-corruption bureau. Chornovol is known as a journalist – but her background is in the hardcore nazi UNA-UNSO group, now part of Right Sector, where she was formerly head of its press department.

patriot-ukraine-postrer-269x400

Svoboda – originally known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine – is fascist. It is allied with the British National Party, Hungary’s Jobbik and the Front National in France.

Like many fascist organisations across Europe, Svoboda dumped its old name and its traditional nazi Wolfsangel logo and formally distanced itself from its paramilitary wing, the Patriots of Ukraine – a strategy that succeeded as it won 10.4% of the votes in the 2012 elections.

Svoboda militants gained respect during Euromaidan, taking initiatives such as the seizure of Kiev’s city hall. They were at the core of the Euromaidan Samooborona or “Self Defence” paramilitaries, making up a significant chunk of its “hundreds”, or squadrons.

Euromaidan has been in effect a mass mobilisation behind the pro-EU faction of the ruling oligarchy. Neither the pro-Europe parties, nor Yanukovych’s pro-Russia Party of Regions has anything to offer Ukraine’s working class.

The new government takes office in Kiev as the armed seizure of Crimea’s government building ratchets up tensions in a deeply divided Ukraine, and the threat of military intervention by Russia has increased massively.

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The Truth about Katyn

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Nazi propaganda poster. Reads in French: “If the Soviets win the war, Katyn will be everywhere.”

The Truth About Katyn

Report of Special Commission

for Ascertaining and Investigating the Circumstances of the Shooting of Polish Officer Prisoners by the German-Fascist Invaders in the Katyn Forest

The Special Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating the Circumstances of the Shooting of Polish Officer Prisoners by the German-Fascist Invaders in the Katyn Forest (near Smolensk) was set up on the decision of the Extraordinary State Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating Crimes Committed by the German-Fascist Invaders and Their Associates.

The Commission consists of: Member of the Extraordinary State Commission Academician Burdenko (Chairman of the Commission); member of the Extraordinary State Commission Academician Alexei Tolstoy; member of the Extraordinary State Commission the Metropolitan Nikolai; President of the All-Slav Committee, Lt.-Gen. Dundorov; the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Kolesnikov; People’s Commissar of Education of the Russian S.F.S.R.. Academician Potemkin; the Chief of the Central Medical Administration of the Red Army, Col.-Gen. Smirnov; the Chairman of the Smolensk Regional Executive Committee, Melnikov. To accomplish the task assigned to it the Commission invited the following medico-legal experts to take part in its work: Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Director of Scientific Research in the Institute of Forensic Medicine Prozorovsky; the Head of the Faculty of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow Medical Institute, Doctor of Medicine Smolyaninov; Senior Staff Scientists of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health of the U.S.S.R. Semenovsky and assistant Professor Shvaikova; Chief Pathologist of the Front, Mayor of Medical Service, Professor Voropayev.

The Special Commission had at its disposal extensive material presented by the member of the Extraordinary State Commission Academician Burdenko, his collaborators, and the medico-legal experts who arrived in Smolensk on September 26, 1943, immediately upon its liberation, and carried out preliminary study and investigation of the circumstances of all the crimes perpetrated by the Germans.

The Special Commission verified and ascertained on the spot that 15 kilometres from Smolensk, along the Vitebsk highway, in the section of the Katyn Forest named “Kozy Gory,” 200 metres to the S.W. of the highway in the direction of the Dnieper, there are graves in which Polish war prisoners shot by the German occupationists were buried.

On the order of the Special Commission, and in the presence of all its members and of the medico-legal experts, the graves were excavated. A large number of bodies clad in Polish military uniform were found in the graves. The total number of bodies, as calculated by the medico-legal experts, is 11,000. The medico-legal experts made detailed examinations of the exhumed bodies and of documents and material evidence discovered on the bodies and in the graves.

Simultaneously with the excavation of the graves and examination of the bodies, the Special Commission examined numerous witnesses among local residents, whose testimony establishes with precision the time and circumstances of the crimes committed by the German occupationists. The testimony of witnesses reveals the following.

The Katyn Forest

The Katyn Forest had for long been the favourite resort of Smolensk people, where they used to rest on holidays. The population of the neighbourhood grazed cattle and gathered fuel in the Katyn Forest. Access to the Katyn Forest was not banned or restricted in any way. This situation prevailed in the Katyn Forest up to the outbreak of war. Even in the summer of 1941 there was a Young Pioneers’ Camp of the Industrial Insurance Board in this forest, and it was not liquidated until July, 1941.

An entirely different regime was instituted in the Katyn Forest after the capture of Smolensk by the Germans. The forest was heavily patrolled. Notices appeared in many places warning that persons entering without special passes would be shot on the spot.

The part of the Katyn Forest named “Kozy Gory” was guarded particularly strictly, as was the area on the bank of the Dnieper, where 700 metres from the graves of the Polish war prisoners, there was a country house – the rest home of the Smolensk Administration of the Peoples’ Commissariat of Internal Affairs. When the Germans arrived this country house was taken over by a German institution named “Headquarters of the 537th Engineering Battalion.”

Polish War Prisoners in Smolensk Area

The Special Commission established that, before the capture of Smolensk by the Germans, Polish war prisoners, officers and men, worked in the western district of the Region; building and repairing roads. These war prisoners were quartered in three special camps named Camp No. 1 O.N., Camp No. 2 O.N., and Camp No. 3 O.N. These camps were located 25-45 kilometres west of Smolensk.

The testimony of witnesses and documentary evidence establish that after the outbreak of hostilities, in view of the situation that arose, the camps could not be evacuated in time and all the Polish war prisoners, as well as some members of the guard and staffs of the camps, fell prisoner to the Germans.

The former Chief of Camp No. 1 O.N., Major of State Security Vetoshnikov, interrupted by the Special Commission, testified: “I was waiting for the order on the removal of the camp, but communication with Smolensk was cut. Then I myself with several staff members went to Smolensk to clarify the situation. In Smolensk I found a tense situation. I applied to the chief of traffic of the Smolensk section of the Western Railway, Ivanov, asking him to provide the camp with railway cars for evacuation of the Polish war prisoners. But Ivanov answered that I could not count on receiving cars. I also tried to get in touch with Moscow to obtain permission to set out on foot, but I failed. By this time Smolensk was already cut off from the camp by the Germans, and did not know what happened to the Polish war prisoners and guards who remained in the camp.”

Engineer Ivanov, who in July 1941 was acting Chief of Traffic of the Smolensk Section of the Western Railway, testified before the Special Commission: “The Administration of Polish War Prisoners’ Camps applied to my office for cars for evacuation of the Poles, but we had none to spare. Besides, we could not send cars to the Gussino line, where the majority of the Polish war prisoners were, since that line was already under fire. Therefore, we could not comply with the request of the Camps Administration. Thus the Polish war prisoners remained in the Smolensk Region.”

The presence of the Polish war prisoners in the camps in the Smolensk Region is confirmed by the testimony of numerous witnesses who saw these Poles near Smolensk in the early months of the occupation up to September 1941 inclusive.

Witness Maria Alexandrovna Sashneva, elementary schoolteacher in the village of Zenkovo, told the Special Commission that in August 1941 she gave shelter in her house in Zenkovo to a Polish war prisoner who had escaped from camp.

“The Pole wore Polish military uniform, which I recognised at once, as during 1940 and 1941 I used to see groups of Polish war prisoners working on the road under guard… I took an interest in the Pole because it turned out that, before being called up, he had been an elementary schoolteacher in Poland. He told me that he had completed normal school in Poland and then studied at some military school and was a Junior Lieutenant of the Reserve. At the outbreak of war between Poland and Germany he was called up and served in Brest-Litovsk, where he was taken prisoner by Red Army units…. He spent over a year in the camp near Smolensk.

“When the Germans arrived they seized the Polish camp and instituted a strict regime in it. The Germans did not regard the Poles as human beings. They oppressed and outraged them in every way. On some occasions Poles were shot without any reason at all. He decided to escape. Speaking of himself, he said that his wife too, was a teacher and that he had two brothers and two sisters….”

On leaving next day the Pole gave his name, which Sashneva put down in a book. In this book, “Practical Studies in Natural History,” by Yagodovsky, which Sashneva handed to the Special Commission, there is a note on the last page: “Juzeph and Sofia Loek. House 25, Ogorodnaya St., town Zamostye.” In the list published by the Germans, under No. 3796 Lt. Juzeph Loek is put down as having been shot at “Kozy Gory” in the Katyn Forest in the spring of 1940. Thus, from the German report, it would appear that Juzeph Loek had been shot one year before the witness Sashneva saw him.

The witness Danilenkov, a peasant of the “Krasnaya Zarya” collective farm of the Katyn Rural Soviet, stated: “In August and September, 1941, when the Germans arrived, I used to meet Poles working on the roads in groups of 15 to 20.”

Similar statements were made by the following witnesses: Soldatenkov, former headman of the village of Borok; Kolachev, a Smolensk doctor; Ogloblin, a priest; Sergeyev, track foreman; Smiryagin, engineer; Moskovskaya, resident of Smolensk; Alexeyev, chairman of a collective farm in the village of Borok; Kutseev, waterworks technician; Gorodetsky, a priest; Brazekina, a bookkeeper; Vetrova, a teacher; Savvateyev, stationmaster at the Gnezdovo station, and others.

Round-Ups of Polish War Prisoners

The presence of Polish war prisoners in the autumn of 1941 in Smolensk districts is also confirmed by the fact that the Germans made numerous round-ups of those war prisoners who had escaped from the camps.

Witness Kartoshkin, a carpenter, testified: “In the autumn of 1941 the Germans not only scoured the forests for Polish war prisoners, but also used police to make night searches in the villages.”

Zakharov, former headman of the village of Novye Bateki, testified that in the autumn of 1941, the Germans intensively “combed” the villages and forests in search of Polish war prisoners. Witness Danilenkov a peasant of the Krasnaya Zarya collective farm, testified: “Special round-ups were held in our place to catch Polish war prisoners who had escaped. Some searches took place in my house two or three times. After one such search I asked the headman, Konstantin Sergeyev, whom they were looking for in our village. Sergeyev said that an order had been received from the German Kommandantur according to which searches were to be made in all houses without exception, since Polish war prisoners who had escaped from the camp were hiding in our village. After some time the searches were discontinued.”

The witness collective farmer Fatkov testified: “Round-ups and searches for Polish war prisoners took place several times. That was in August and September, 1941. After September, 1941, the round-ups were discontinued and no one saw Polish war prisoners anymore.”

Shootings of Polish War Prisoners

The above-mentioned “Headquarters of the 537th Engineering Battalion” quartered in the country house at “Kozy Gory” did not engage in any engineering work. Its activities were a closely guarded secret. What this “headquarters” engaged in, in reality, was revealed by numerous witnesses, including Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya, residents of the village of Borok of the Katyn Rural Soviet.

On the order of the German Commandant of the Settlement of Katyn, they were detailed by the headman of the village of Borok, Soldatenkov, to serve the personnel of “headquarters” at the above-mentioned country house. On arrival in “Kozy Gory” they were told through an interpreter about a number of restrictions;­

They were absolutely forbidden to go far from the country house or to go to the forest to enter rooms without being called and without being, escorted by German soldiers, to remain in the grounds of the country house at night. They were allowed to come to work and leave after work only by a definite route and only escorted by soldiers. This warning was given to Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya, through an interpreter, personally by the Chief of the German Institution, Ober-leutnant Arnes, who for this purpose summoned them one at a time.

As to the personnel of the “headquarters,” Alexeyeva testified: “In the ‘Kozy Gory’ country house there were always about thirty Germans. Their chief was Ober-leutnant Arnes, and his aide was Ober-leutnant Rekst. Here were also a Lieutenant Hott, Sergeant-Major Lumert, N.C.O. in charge of supplies; Rose, his assistant Isikes, Sergeant-Major Grenewski, who was in charge of the power station; the photographer, a corporal whose name I do not remember; the interpreter, a Volga German whose name seems to have been Johann, but I called him Ivan; the cook, a German named Gustav; and a number of others whose names and surnames I do not know.”

Soon after beginning their work, Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya began to notice that “something shady” was going on at the country house.

Alexeyeva testified: “The interpreter warned us several times on behalf of Arnes that we wore to hold our tongues and not chatter about what we saw and heard at the country house. Besides, I guessed from a number of signs that the Germans were engaged in some shady doings at this country house…. At the close of August and during most of September 1941 several trucks used to come practically every day to the ‘Kozy Gory’ country house. At first I paid no attention to that, but later I noticed that each time these trucks arrived at the grounds of the country house they stopped for half-an-hour, and sometimes for a whole hour, somewhere on the country road connecting the country house with the highway. I drew this conclusion because some time after these trucks reached the grounds of the country house the noise they made would cease.

“Simultaneously with the noise stopping, single shots would be heard. The shots followed one another at short but approximately even intervals. Then the shooting would die down and the trucks would drive up right to the country house. German soldiers and N.C.O.s came out of the trucks. Talking noisily they went to wash in the bathhouse, after which they engaged in drunken orgies. On those days a fire was always kept burning in the bathhouse stove.

“On days when the trucks arrived more soldiers from some German military units used to arrive at the country house. Special beds were put up for them in the soldiers’ Casino set up in one of the halls of the country house. On those days many meals were cooked in the kitchen and a double ration of drinks was served with the meals. Shortly before the trucks reached the country house armed soldiers went to the forest evidently to the spot where the trucks stopped, because in half an hour or an hour they returned in these trucks, together with the soldiers who lived permanently in the country house.

“Probably I would not have watched or noticed how the noise of the trucks coming to the country house used to die down and then rise again were it not for the fact that whenever the trucks arrived We (Konakhovskaya, Mikhailova and myself) were driven to the kitchen if we happened to be in the courtyard near the house; and they would not let us out of the kitchen if we happened to be in it. There was also the fact that on several occasions I noticed stains of fresh blood on the clothes of two Lance Corporals. All this made me pay close attention to what was going on at the country house.

“Then I noticed strange intervals in the movement of the trucks and their pauses in the forest. I also noticed that bloodstains appeared on the clothes of the same two men – the Lance Corporals. One of them was tall and red-headed, the other of medium height and fair. From all this I inferred that the Germans brought people in the truck to the country house and shot them. I even guessed approximately where this took place as, when coming to and leaving the country house, I noticed freshly thrown-up earth in several places near the road. The area of this freshly thrown-up earth increased every day. In the course of time the earth in these spots began to look normal.”

In answer to a question put by the Special Commission – what kind of people were shot in the forest near the country house – Alexeyeva replied that they were Polish war prisoners, and in confirmation of her words stated:

“There were days when no trucks arrived at the country house, but even so soldiers left the house for the forest, whence came frequent single shots. On returning the soldiers always took a bath and then drank.

“Another thing happened. Once I stayed at the country house somewhat later than usual. Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya had already left. Before I finished the work which had kept me there, a soldier suddenly entered and told me I could go. He referred to Rose’s order. He also accompanied me to the highway.

“Standing on the highway 150 or 200 metres from where the road branches off to the country house I saw a group of about 30 Polish war prisoners marching along the highway under heavy German escort. I knew them to be Poles because even before the war, and for same time after the Germans came, I used to meet on the highway Polish war prisoners wearing the same uniform with their characteristic four-cornered hats. I halted near the roadside to see where they were being led, and I saw that they turned towards our country house at ‘Kozy Gory.’

“Since by that time I had begun to watch closely everything going on at the country house, I became interested. I went back some distance along the highway, hid in bushes near the roadside, and waited. In some 20 or 30 minutes I heard the familiar single shots. Then everything became clear to me and I hurried home.

“I also concluded that evidently the Germans were shooting Poles not only in the daytime when we worked at the country house, but also at night in our absence. I understood this also from recalling the occasions when all the officers and men who lived in the country house, with the exception of the sentries, woke up late, about noon. On several occasions we guessed about the arrival of the Poles in ‘Kozy Gory’ from the tense atmosphere that descended on the country house…. All the officers left the country house and only a few sentries remained in it, while the Sergeant-Major kept checking up on the sentries over the telephone…”

Mikhailova testified: “In September, 1941, shooting was heard very often in the ‘Kozy Gory’ Forest. At first I took no notice of the trucks, which were closed at the sides and on top and painted green. They used to drive up to our country house always accompanied by N.C.O.’s. Then I noticed that these trucks never entered our garage, and also that they were never unloaded. They used to come very often, especially in September, 1941.

“Among the N.C.O.’s who always sat with the drivers I began to notice one tall one with a pale face and red hair. When these trucks drove up to the country house, all the Germans, as if at a command, went to the bathhouse and bathed for a long time, after which they drank heavily in the country house. Once this tall red-headed German got down from the truck, went to the kitchen and asked for water. When he was drinking the water out of a glass I noticed blood on the cuff of the right sleeve of his uniform.”

Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya witnessed the shooting of two Polish war prisoners who had evidently escaped from the Germans and been caught. Mikhailova testified: “Once Konakhovskaya and I were at our usual work in the kitchen when we heard a noise near the country house. On coming out we saw two Polish-war prisoners surrounded by German soldiers who were explaining something to N.C.O. Rose. Then Ober-Leutnant Arnes came over to them and told Rose something. We hid some distance away, as we were afraid that Rose would beat us up for being inquisitive.

“‘We were discovered, however, and at a signal from Rose the mechanic Grenewski drove us into the kitchen and the Poles away from the country house. A few minutes later we heard shots. The German soldiers and N.C.O. Rose, who soon returned, were engaged in animated conversation. Wanting to find out what the Germans had done to the detained Poles, Konakhovskaya and I came out again. Arnes’ aide, who came out simultaneously with us from the main entrance of the country house, asked Rose something in German, to which the latter answered, also in German: ‘Everything is in order.’ We understood these words because the Germans often used them in their conversation. From all that took place I concluded that these two Poles had been shot.”

Similar testimony was given by Konakhovskaya. Frightened by the happenings at the country house, Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya decided to quit work on some convenient pretext. Taking advantage of the reduction of their “wages” from nine to three marks a month at the beginning of January, 1942, on Mikhailova’s suggestion they did not report for work. In the evening of the same day a car came to fetch them, they were brought to the country house and locked up by way of punishment – Mikhailova for eight days and Alexeyeva and Konakhovskaya for three days each. After they had served their terms all of them were sacked.

While working at the country house Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya had been afraid to speak to each other about what they had observed of the happenings there. But during their arrest, sitting in the cell at night, they shared their knowledge.

At the interrogation on December 24, 1943, Mikhailova testified: “Here for the first time we talked frankly about the happenings at the country house. I told all I knew. It turned out that Konakhovskaya and Alexeyeva also knew these facts but, like myself, had been afraid to discuss them. I learned from them that it was Polish war prisoners the Germans used to shoot at ‘Kozy Gory.’ Alexeyeva said that once in the autumn of 1941, when she was going home from work, she saw the Germans driving a large group of Polish war prisoners into ‘Kozy Gory’ Forest and then she heard shooting.”

Similar testimony was given by Alexeyeva and Konakhovskaya. On comparing notes Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya arrived at the firm conviction that in August and September, 1941, the Germans had engaged on mass shootings of Polish war prisoners at the country house in “Kozy Gory.”

The testimony of Alexeyeva is confirmed by the testimony of her father, Mikhail Alexeyev, whom she told as far back as in the autumn of 1941, during her work at the country house, about her observations of the Germans’ activities at the country house. “For a long time she would not tell me anything,” Mikhail Alexeyev testified, “only on coming home she complained that she was afraid to work at the country house and did not know how to get away. When I asked her why she was afraid she said that very often shooting was heard in the forest. Once she told me in secret that in ‘Kozy Gory’ Forest the Germans were shooting Poles. I listened to my daughter and warned her very strictly that she should not tell anyone else about it, as otherwise the Germans would learn and then our whole family would suffer.”

That Polish war prisoners use to be brought to “Kozy Gory” in small groups of 20 to 30 men escorted by five to seven German soldiers, was also testified by other witnesses interrogated by the Special Commission: Kisselev, peasant of “Kozy Gory” hamlet; Krivozertsev, carpenter of Krasnyi Bor station in the Katyn Forest; Ivanov, former station master at Gnezdovo in the Katyn Forest area; Savvateyev, station master on duty at. the same station; Alexeyev, chairman of a collective farm in the village of Borok; Ogloblin, priest of Kuprino Church, and others. These witnesses also heard shots in the forest at “Kozy Gory.”

Of especially great importance in ascertaining what took place at “Kozy Gory” country house in the autumn of 1941 is the testimony of Professor of Astronomy Bazilevsky, director of the Smolensk Observatory. In the early days of the occupation of Smolensk by the Germans, Professor Bazilevsky was forcibly appointed by the assistant Burgomaster while to the post of Burgomaster they appointed the lawyer Menshagin, who subsequently left together with them, a traitor who enjoyed the special confidence of the German Command and in particular of the Smolensk Kommandant Von Schwetz.

Early in September, 1941, Bazilevsky addressed to Menshagin a request to solicit the Kommandant Von Schwetz for the liberation of the teacher Zhiglinsky from War Prisoners Camp No. 126. In compliance with this request Menshagin approached Von Schwetz and then informed Bazilevsky that his request could not be granted since, according to Von Schwetz, “instructions had been received from Berlin prescribing that the strictest regime be maintained undeviatingly in regard to war prisoners without any slackening.”

“I involuntarily retorted,” witness Bazilevsky testified, ” ‘Can anything be stricter than the regime existing in the camp?’ Menshagin looked at me in a strange way and bending to my ear, answered in a low voice: ‘Yes, there can be! The Russians can at least be left to die off, but as to the Polish war prisoners, the orders say that they are to be simply exterminated.’ ‘How is that? How should it be understood?’ I exclaimed: ‘This should be understood literally. There is such a directive from Berlin,’ answered Menshagin, and asked me ‘for the sake of all that is Holy’ not to tell anyone about this…

“About a fortnight after this conversation with Menshagin, when I was again received by him, I could not keep from asking: ‘What news about the Poles?’ Menshagin hesitated for a little, but then answered: ‘Everything is over with them. Von Schwetz told me that they had been shot somewhere near Smolensk.’ Seeing my bewilderment Menshagin warned me again about the necessity of keeping this affair in the strictest secrecy and then started ‘explaining’ to me the Germans’ policy in this matter. He told me that the shooting of Poles was one link in the general chain of anti-Polish policy pursued by Germany, which became especially marked in connection with the conclusion of the Russo-Polish Treaty.”

Bazilevsky also told the Special Commission about his conversation with the Sonderfuehrer of the 7th Department of the German Kommandant’s Office, Hirschfeld, a Baltic German who spoke good Russian:

“With cynical frankness Hirschfeld told me that the harmfulness and inferiority of the Poles had been proved by history and therefore reduction of Poland’s population would fertilise the soil and make possible an extension of Germany’s living space. In this connection Hirschfeld boasted that absolutely no intellectuals had been left in Poland, as they had all been hanged, shot or confined in camps.”

Bazilevsky’s testimony is confirmed by the witness Yefimov, Professor of Physics, who has been interrogated by the Special Commission and whom Bazilevsky at that time, in the autumn of 1941, told about his conversation with Menshagin.

Documentary corroboration of Bazilevsky’s and Yefimov’s testimony is supplied by notes made by Menshagin in his own hand in his notebook. This notebook, containing 17 incomplete pages, was found in the files of the Smolensk Municipal Board after the liberation of Smolensk by the Red Army. Menshagin’s ownership of the notebook and his handwriting have been confirmed both by Bazilevsky, who knew Menshagin’s hand well, and by expert graphologists.

Judging by the dates in the notebook, its contents relate to the period from early August, 1941, to November of the same year. Among the various notes on economic matters (on firewood, electric power, trade, etc.) there is a number of notes made by Menshagin evidently as a reminder of instructions issued by the German commandant’s office in Smolensk. These notes reveal with sufficient clarity the range of problems with which the Municipal Board dealt as the organ fulfilling all the instructions of the German Command.

The first three pages of the notebook lay down in detail the procedure in organising the Jewish “Ghetto” and the system of reprisals to be applied against the Jews.

Page 10, dated August 15, 1941, contains the following note: “All fugitive Polish war prisoners are to be detained and delivered to the commandant’s office.” Page 15 (undated) contains the entry: “Are there any rumours among the population concerning the shooting of Polish war prisoners in ‘Kozy Gory’ (for Umnov).”

It transpires from the first entry, firstly, that on August 15, 1941, Polish war prisoners were still in the Smolensk area and, secondly, that they were being arrested by the German authorities. The second entry indicates that the German Command, worried by the possibility of rumours about the crime it had committed circulating among the civilian population, issued special instructions for the purpose of checking this surmise. Umnov, mentioned in this entry, was the Chief of the Russian Police in Smolensk during the early months of its occupation.

Beginning of German Provocation

In the winter of 1942-43 the general military situation changed sharply to the disadvantage of the Germans. The military power of the Soviet Union was continually growing stronger. The unity between the U.S.S.R. and her Allies was growing stronger. The Germans resolved to launch a provocation, using for this purpose the crimes they had committed in the Katyn Forest, and ascribing them to the organs of the Soviet authorities. In this way they intended to set the Russians and Poles at loggerheads and to cover up the traces of their own crimes. A priest, Ogloblin, of the village of Kuprino in the Smolensk district, stated:

“After the events at Stalingrad, when the Germans began to feel uncertain, they launched this business. The people started to say that ‘the Germans are trying to mend their affairs.’ Having embarked on the preparation of the Katyn provocation, the Germans first set about looking for witnesses who would, under the influence of persuasion, bribes or threats, give the testimony which the Germans needed. The attention of the Germans was attracted to the peasant Parfen Gavrilovich Kisselev, born in 1870, who lived in the hamlet nearest to the house in ‘Kozy Gory.’ “

Kisselev was summoned to the Gestapo at the close of 1942. Under the threat of reprisals, they demanded of him fictitious testimony alleging that he knew that in the spring of 1940 the Bolsheviks shot Polish war prisoners at the country house of the administration of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in “Kozy Gory.”

Kisselev informed the Commission: “In the autumn of 1942 two policemen came to my house and ordered me to report to the Gestapo at Gnezdovo station. On that same day I went to the Gestapo, which had its premises in a two-storeyed house next to the railway station. In a room there were a German officer and interpreter. The German officer started asking me through the interpreter how long I had lived in that district, what my occupation and my material circumstances were. I told him that I had lived in the hamlet in the area of’ ‘Kozy Gory’ since 1907 and worked on my farm. As to my material circumstances, I said that I had experienced some difficulties since I was old and my sons were at the war.

“After a brief conversation on this subject, the officer stated that, according to information at the disposal of the Gestapo, in 1940, in the area of’ ‘Kozy Gory’ in the Katyn Forest, staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs shot Polish officers, and he asked me what testimony I could give on this score. I answered that I had never heard of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs shooting people at ‘Kozy Gory,’ and that anyhow it was impossible, I explained to the officer, since ‘Kozy Gory’ is an absolutely open and much frequented place, and if shootings had gone on there the entire population of the neighbouring villages would have known.

“The officer told me I must nevertheless give such evidence because he alleged the shootings did take place. I was promised a big reward for this testimony. I told the officer again that I did not know anything about shootings, and that nothing of the sort could have taken place in our locality before the war. In spite of this the officer obstinately insisted on my giving false evidence.

“After the first conversation about which I have already spoken, I was summoned again to the Gestapo in February, 1943. By that time I knew that other residents of neighbouring villages had also been summoned to the Gestapo and that the same testimony they demanded of me had also been demanded of them.

“At the Gestapo the same officer and interpreter who had interrogated me the first time again demanded of me evidence that I had witnessed the shooting of Polish officers, allegedly effected by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940. I again told the Gestapo officer that this was a lie, as before the war I had not heard anything about any shootings, and that I would not give false evidence. The interpreter, however, would not listen to me, but took a handwritten document from the desk and read it to me. It said that I, Kisselev, resident of a hamlet in the ‘Kozy Gory’ area, personally witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“Having read this document, the interpreter told me to sign it. I refused to do so. The interpreter began to force me to do it by abuse and threats. Finally he shouted: ‘Either you sign it at once or we shall destroy you. Make your choice!’

“Frightened by these threats, I signed the document and thought that would be the end of the matter.”

Later, after the Germans had arranged visits to the Katyn graves by various “delegations,” Kisselev was made to speak before a “Polish delegation” which arrived there. Kisselev forgot the contents of the protocol he had signed at the Gestapo, got mixed up, and finally refused to speak. The Gestapo then arrested Kisselev, and, by ruthless beatings, in the course of six weeks again obtained his consent to “public speeches.”

In this connection Kisselev stated: “In reality things went quite a different way. In spring, 1943, the Germans announced that in the “Kozy Gory” area in Katyn Forest they had discovered the graves of Polish officers allegedly shot in 1940by organs of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. Soon after that the Gestapo interpreter cattle to my house and took me to the forest in the “Kozy Gory” area.

“When we had left the house and were alone together, the interpreter warned me that I must tell the people present in the forest everything exactly as it was written down in the document I had signed at the Gestapo.

“When I came into the forest I saw open graves and a group of strangers. The interpreter told me that these were ‘Polish delegates’ who had arrived to inspect the graves. When we approached the graves the ‘delegates’ started asking me various questions in Russian in connection with the shooting of Poles, but as more than a month had passed since I had been summoned to the Gestapo I forgot everything that was in the document I had signed, got mixed up, and finally said I did not know anything about the shooting of Polish officers.

“The German officer got very angry. The interpreter roughly dragged me away from the ‘delegation’ and chased me off. Next morning a car with a Gestapo officer drove up to my house. He found me in the yard, told me that I was under arrest, put me into the car and took me to Smolensk Prison…

“After my arrest I was interrogated many times, but they beat me more than they questioned me. The first time they summoned me they beat me up heavily and abused me, complaining that I had let them down, and then sent me back to the cell. During the next summons they told me I must state publicly that I had witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by the Bolsheviks, and that until the Gestapo was satisfied I would do this in good faith I would not be released from prison. I told the officer that I would rather sit in prison than tell people lies to their faces. After that I was badly beaten up.

“There were several such interrogations accompanied by beatings, and as a result I lost all my strength, my hearing became poor and I could not move my right arm. About one month after my arrest a German officer summoned me and said: ‘You see the consequences of your obstinacy, Kisselev. We have decided to execute you. In the morning we shall take you to Katyn Forest and hang you.’ I asked the officer not to do this, and started pleading with him that I was not fit for the part of ‘eye-witness’ of the shooting as I did not know how to tell lies and therefore I would mix everything up again.

“The officer continued to insist. Several minutes later soldiers came into the room and started beating me with rubber clubs. Being unable to stand the beatings and torture, I agreed to appear publicly with a fallacious tale about shooting of Poles by Bolsheviks. After that I was released from prison on condition that on the first demand of the Germans I would speak before ‘delegations’ in Katyn Forest…

On every occasion, before leading me to the graves in the forest, the interpreter; used to come to my house, call me out into the yard, take me aside to make sure that no one would hear, and for half an hour make me memorise by heart everything I would have to say about the alleged shooting of Polish officers by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“I recall that the interpreter told me something like this: ‘I live in a cottage in ‘Kozy Gory’ area not far from the country house of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. In spring 1940 I saw Poles taken on various nights to the forest and shot there.’ Andthen it was imperative that I must state literally that “this was the doing of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs.” After I had memorised what the interpreter told me, he would take me to the open graves in the forest and compel me to repeat all this in the presence of ‘delegations’ which came there.

“My statements were strictly supervised and directed by the Gestapo interpreter. Once when I spoke before some ‘delegation’ I was asked the question: ‘Did you see these Poles personally before they were shot by the Bolsheviks?’ I was not prepared for such a question and answered the way it was in fact, i.e., that I saw Polish war prisoners before the war, as they worked on the roads. Then the interpreter roughly dragged me aside and drove me home.

“Please believe me when I say that all the time I felt pangs of conscience, as I knew that in reality the Polish officers had been shot by the Germans in 1941. I had no other choice, as I was constantly threatened with the repetition of my arrest and torture.”

Kisselev’s testimony regarding his summons to the Gestapo, subsequent arrest and beatings are confirmed by his wife Aksinya Kisseleva, born 1870, his son Vassily Kisselev, born 1911, and his daughter-in-law Mariya Kisseleva, born 1918, who live with him, as well as by track foreman Timofey Sergeyev, born 1901, who rents a room in Kisselev’s hamlet. The injuries caused to Kisselev at the Gestapo (injury of shoulder, considerable impairment of hearing) are confirmed by a protocol of medical examination.

In their search for “witnesses” the Germans subsequently became interested in railway workers at the Gnezdovo station, two and half kilometres from “Kozy Gory,” the station at which the Polish prisoners arrived in spring 1940. The Germans evidently wanted to obtain corresponding testimony from the railwaymen. For this purpose, in spring 1943, the Germans summoned to the Gestapo the ex-stationmaster of Gnezdovo station, Ivanov, the stationmaster on duty, Savvateyev, and others.

Ivanov, born in 1882, gave the following account of the circumstances in which he was summoned to the Gestapo: “It was in March 1943. I was interrogated by a German officer in the presence of an interpreter. Having asked me through the interpreter who I was and what post I held at Gnezdovo station before the occupation of the district by the Germans, the officer inquired whether I knew that in spring 1940 large parties of captured Polish officers had arrived at Gnezdovo station in several trains. I said that I knew about this, The officer then asked me whether I knew that in the same spring 1940, soon after the arrival of the Polish officers, the Bolsheviks had shot them all in the Katyn Forest. I answered that I did not know anything about that, and that it could not be so, as in the course of 1940-41, up to the occupation of Smolensk by the Germans, I had met captured Polish officers who had arrived in spring 1940 at Gnezdovo station, and who were engaged in road construction work.

“The officer told me that if a German officer said the Poles had been shot by the Bolsheviks it meant that this was the fact. ‘Therefore,’ the officer continued, ‘you need not fear anything, and you can sign with a clear conscience a protocol saying that the captured Polish officers were shot by the Bolsheviks and that you witnessed it.’’

“I replied that I was already an old man, that I was 61 years old, and did not want to commita sin in my old age. I could only testify that the captured Poles really arrived at Gnezdovo station in spring 1940. The German officer began to persuade me to give the required testimony promising that if I agreed he would promote me from the position of watchman on a railway crossing to that of stationmaster of Gnezdovo station, which I had held under the Soviet Government, and also to provide for my material needs.

“The interpreter emphasised that my testimony as a former railway official at Gnezdovo station, the nearest station to Katyn Forest, was extremely important for the German Command, and that I would not regret it if I gave such testimony. I understood that I had landed in an extremely difficult situation, and that a sad fate awaited me. However, I again refused to give false testimony to the German officer. He started shouting at me, threatened me with beating and shooting, and said I did not understand what was good for me. However, I stood my ground. The interpreter then drew up a short protocol in German on one page, and gave me a free translation of its contents. This protocol recorded, as the interpreter told me, only the fact of the arrival of the Polish war prisoners at Gnezdovo station. When I asked that my testimony be recorded not only in German but also in Russian, the officer finally went beside himself with fury, beat me up with a rubber club and drove me off the premises….”

Savvateyev, born in 1880, stated: “In the Gestapo I testified that in spring 1940 Polish war prisoners arrived at the station of Gnezdovo in several trains and proceeded further in trucks, and 1 did not know where they went. I also added that I repeatedly met these Poles later on the Moscow-Minsk highway, where they were working on repairs in small groups. The officer told me. I was mixing things up, that I could not have the Poles on the highway, as they had been shot by the Bolsheviks, and demanded that I testify to this.

“I refused. After threatening and cajoling me for a long time, the officer consulted with the interpreter about something in German, and then the interpreter wrote a short protocol and gave it to me to sign. He explained that it was a record of my testimony. I asked the interpreter to let me read the protocol myself, but he interrupted me with abuse, ordering me to sign it immediately and get out. I hesitated a minute. The interpreter seized a rubber club hanging on the wall and made to strike me. After that I signed the protocol shoved at me: The interpreter told me to get out and go home, and not to talk to anyone or I would be shot.

The search for “witnesses” was not limited to the above-mentioned persons. The Germans strove persistently to locate former employees of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs and extort from them the false testimony which the Germans needed.

Having chanced to arrest Ignatyuk, formerly a labourer in the garage of the Smolensk Regional Administration of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, the Germans stubbornly, by threats and beatings, tried to extort from him testimony that he had been a car driver and not merely a labourer in the garage, and had himself driven Polish war prisoners to the shooting site.

Ignatyuk, born in 1903, testified in this connection: “When I was examined for the first time by Chief of Police Alferchik, he accused me of agitating against the German authorities, and asked what work I had done for the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. I replied that I had worked in the garage of the Smolensk Regional Administration of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs as a labourer. At this examination Alferchik tried to get me to testify that I had worked as a car driver and not as a labourer. Alferchik was greatly irritated by his failure to obtain the required testimony from me, and he and his aide, whom he called George, tied up my head and mouth with some rag, removed my trousers, laid me on a table and began to beat me with rubber clubs.

“After that I was summoned again for examination, and Alferchik demanded that I give him false testimony to the effect that the Polish officers had been shot in Katyn Forest by organs of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs in 1940, of which I allegedly was aware, as a chauffeur who had taken part in driving the Polish officers to Katyn Forest, and who had been present at their shooting. Alferchik promised to liberate me from prison if I would agree to give such testimony, and get me a job with the police where I would be given good living conditions – otherwise they would shoot me…

“The last time I was interrogated in the police station by examiner Alexandrov, who demanded from me the same false testimony about the shooting of the Polish officers as Alferchik, but at this examination, too, I refused to give false evidence. After this examination I was again beaten up and sent to the Gestapo… In the Gestapo; just as at the police station, they demanded from me false evidence about the shooting of the Polish officers in Katyn Forest in 1940 by Soviet authorities, of which I as car driver was allegedly aware.”

A book published by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and containing material about the “Katyn Affair” fabricated by the Germans, refers to other “witnesses” besides the above-mentioned Kisselev: Godesov (alias Godunov) born in 1877, Grigori Silversov, born in 1891, Ivan Andreyev, born in 1917, Mikhail Zhigulev, born in 1915, Ivan Krivozertsev, born in 1915, and Matvey Zakharov, born in 1893.

A check-up revealed that the first two of the above persons (Godesov and Silversov) died in 1943 before the liberation of the Smolensk Region by the Red Army; the next three (Andreyev, Zhigulev and Krivozertsev) left with the Germans, or perhaps were forcibly abducted by them, while the last – Matvey Zakharov – formerly a coupler at Smolensk Station, who worked under the Germans as headman in the village Novye Bateki, was located and examined by the Special Commission.

Zakharov related how the Germans got from him the false testimony they needed about the “Katyn affair”: “Early in March, 1943, an employee of the Gnezdovo Gestapo whose name I do not know came to my house and told me that an officer wanted to see me. When I arrived at the Gestapo a German officer told me through an interpreter: ‘We know you worked as coupler at Smolensk Central Station and you must testify that in 1940 cars with Polish war prisoners passed through Smolensk on the way to Gnezdovo, after which the Poles were shot in the forest at ‘Kozy Gory.’ ’ In reply I stated that in 1940 cars with Poles did pass Smolensk westwards, but I did not know what their destination was.

“The officer told me that if I did not want to testify of my own accord he would force me to do so. After saying this he took a rubber club and began to beat me up. Then I was laid on a bench and the officer, together with the interpreter, beat me. I do not remember how many strokes I had, because I soon fainted.

“When I came to, the officer demanded that I sign a protocol of the examination. I had lost courage as a result of the beating and threats of shooting, so I gave false evidence and signed the protocol. After I had signed the protocol I was released from the Gestapo.

“Several days after I had been summoned to the Gestapo, approximately in mid-March, 1943, the interpreter came to my house and said I must go to the German general and confirm my testimony in his presence. The general asked me whether I confirmed my testimony. I said I did confirm it, as on the way I had been warned by the interpreter that if I refused to confirm the testimony I would have a much worse experience than I had on my first visit to the Gestapo.

“Fearing a repetition of the torture, I replied that I confirmed my testimony. Then the interpreter ordered me to raise my right hand, and told me I had taken an oath and could go home.”

It has been established that in other cases also the Germans used persuasion, threats and torture in trying to obtain the testimony they needed, for example, from Kaverznev, former deputy chief of the Smolensk Prison, and Kovalev, former staff member of the same prison. Since the search for the required number of witnesses failed to yield any success, the Germans posted up in Smolensk city and neighbouring villages the following handbill, an original of which is on the files of the Special Commission:

“Notice to the population. Who can give information concerning the mass murder of prisoners, Polish officers and priests by the Bolsheviks in the forest of’ ‘Kozy Gory’ near the Gnezdovo-Katyn highway in 1940? Who saw columns of trucks on their way from Gnezdovo to ‘Kozy Gory,’ or who saw or heard the shootings? Who knows residents who can tell about this! Rewards will be given for any information. Information to be sent to Smolensk, German Police Station, No. 6, Muzeinaya Street, and in Gnezdovo to the German Police Station, house No. 105 near the railway station. Foss, Lieutenant of Field Force, May 3, 1943.”

A similar notice was printed in the newspaper “Novy Put,” published by the Germans in Smolensk – No. 35 (157) for May 6, 1943.

The fact that the Germans promised rewards for the evidence they needed on the”Katyn affair” was confirmed by witnesses called by the Special Commission: Sokolova, Pushchina, Bychkov, Tondarev, Ustinov and many other residents of Smolensk.

Preparing Katyn Graves

Along with the search for “witnesses” the Germans proceeded with the preparation of the graves in Katyn Forest: they removed from the clothing of the Polish prisoners whom they had killed all documents dated later than April, 1940 – that is, the time when, according to the German provocational version, the Poles were shot by the Bolsheviks – and removed all material evidence which could disprove this provocational version. In its investigation the Special Commission revealed that for this purpose the Germans used up to 500 Russian war prisoners specially selected from war prisoners’ camp No. 126.

The Special Commission has at its disposal numerous statements of witnesses on this matter. The evidence of the medical personnel of the above-mentioned camp merits special attention. Dr. Chizhov, who worked in camp No. 126 during the German occupation of Smolensk, testified:

“Just about the beginning of March 1943 several groups of the physically stronger war prisoners, totalling about 500, were sent from the Smolensk Camp No. 126 ostensibly for trench work. None of these prisoners ever returned to the camp.”

Dr. Khmurov, who worked in the same camp under the Germans, testified:

“I know that somewhere about the second half of February or the beginning of March, 1943, about 500 Red Army men prisoners were sent from our camp to a destination unknown to me. The prisoners were apparently to be use for trench digging, for the more physically fit men were selected…”

Identical evidence was given by medical nurse Lenkovskaya, medical nurse Timofeyeva, and witnesses Orlova, Dobroserdova and Kochetkov.

The testimony of Moskovskaya made it clear where the 500 war prisoners from Camp 126 were actually sent. On October 5, 1943, the citizen Moskovskaya, Alexandra Mikhailovna, who lived on the outskirts of Smolensk and had worked during the occupation in the kitchen of a German military unit, filed an application to the Extraordinary Committee for the Investigation of Atrocities Perpetuated by the German Invaders, requesting them to summon her to give important evidence. She told the Special Commission that before leaving for work in March, 1943, when she went to fetch firewood from her shed in the yard on the banks of the Dnieper, she discovered there an unknown person who proved to be a Russian war prisoner.

Moskovskaya, who was born in 1922, testified:

“From conversation with him I learned that his name was Nikolai Yegorov, a native of Leningrad. Since the end of 1941 he had been in the German camp No. 126 for war prisoners in the town of Smolensk. At the beginning of March 1943, he was sent with a column of several hundred war prisoners from the camp to Katyn Forest. There they, including Yegorov, were compelled to dig up graves containing bodies in the uniforms of Polish officers, drag these bodies out of the graves and take out of their pockets documents, letters, photographs and all other articles.

“The Germans gave the strictest orders that nothing be left in the pockets on the bodies. Two war prisoners were shot because after they had searched some of the bodies, a German officer discovered some papers on these bodies. Articles, documents and letters extracted from the clothing on the bodies were examined by the German officers, who then compelled the prisoners to put part of the papers back into the pockets on the bodies, while the rest was flung on a heap of articles and documents they had extracted, and later burned.

“Besides this, the Germans made the prisoners put into the pockets of the Polish officers some papers which they took from the cases or suitcases (I don’t remember exactly) which they had brought along. All the war prisoners lived in Katyn Forest in dreadful conditions under the open sky, and were extremely strongly guarded…. At the beginning of April 1943, all the work planned by the Germans was apparently completed, as for three days not one of the war prisoners had to do any work….

“Suddenly at night all of them without exception were awakened and led somewhere. The guard was strengthened. Yegorov sensed something was wrong and began to watch very closely everything that was happening. They marched for three or four hours in an unknown direction. They stopped in the forest at a pit in a clearing. He saw how a group of war prisoners were separated from the rest and driven towards the pit and then shot. The war prisoners grew agitated, restless and noisy. Not far from Yegorov several war prisoners attacked the guards. Other guards ran towards the place. Yegorov took advantage of the confusion and ran away into the dark forest, hearing shouts and firing.

“After hearing this terrible story, which is engraved on my memory for the rest of my life, I became very sorry for Yegorov, and told him to come to my room, get warm and hide at my place until he had regained his strength. But Yegorov refused…. He said no matter what happened he was going away that very night, and intended to try to get through the front line to the Red Army. In the morning, when I went to make sure whether Yegorov had gone, he was still in the shed. It appeared that in the night he had attempted to set out, but had only taken about 50 steps when he felt so weak that he was forced to return. This exhaustion was caused by the long imprisonment at the camp and the starvation of the last days. We decided he should remain at my place several days longer to regain his strength. After feeding Yegorov I went to work. When I returned home in the evening my neighbours Baranova, Mariya Ivanovna, Kabanovskaya, Yekaterina Viktorovna told me that in the afternoon, during a search by the German police, the Red Army war prisoner had been found, and taken away.”

As a result of the discovery of the war prisoner Yegorov in the shed, Moskovskaya was called to the Gestapo, where she was accused of hiding a war prisoner. At the Gestapo interrogation Moskovskaya stoutly denied that she had any connection with this war prisoner, maintaining she knew nothing about his presence in her shed. Since they got no admission from Moskovskaya, and also because the war prisoner Yegorov evidently had not incriminated Moskovskaya, she was let out of the Gestapo.

This same Yegorov told Moskovskaya that as well as excavating bodies in Katyn Forest, the war prisoners were used to bring bodies to the Katyn Forest from other places.

The bodies so brought were thrown into pits along with the bodies that had been dug up earlier. The fact that a great number of bodies of people shot by the Germans in other places were brought to the Katyn graves is confirmed also by the testimony of engineer mechanic K. S. Sukhachev, born in 1912, an engineer mechanic of the “Rosglavkhleb” combine, who worked under the Germans as a mechanic in the Smolensk city mill. On October 8, 1943, he filed a request that he be called to testify. Called before the Special Commission, he stated:

“I was working at the mill in the second half of March, 1943. There I spoke to a German chauffeur who spoke a little Russian, and since he was carrying flour to Savenki village for the troops, and was returning on the next day to Smolensk, I asked him to take me along so that I could buy some fats in the village. My idea was that making the trip in a German truck would get over the risk of being held up at the control stations. The German agreed to take me, at a price.

“On the same day at 10 p.m. we drove on to the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway, just myself and the German driver in the machine. The night was light, and only a low mist over the road reduced the visibility. Approximately 22 or 23 kilometres from Smolensk at a demolished bridge on the highway there is a rather deep descent at the by-pass. We began to go down from the highway, when suddenly a truck appeared out of the fog coming towards us. Either because our brakes were out of order, or because the driver was inexperienced, we were unable to bring our truck to a halt, and since the passage was quite narrow we collided with the truck coming towards us. The impact was not very violent, as the driver of the other truck swerved to the side, as a result of which the trucks bumped and slid alongside each other.

“The right wheel of the other truck, however, landed in the ditch, and the truck fell over on the slope. Our truck remained upright. The driver and I immediately jumped out of the cabin and ran up to the truck which had fallen down. We were met by a heavy stench of putrefying flesh coming evidently from the truck.”

“On coming nearer, I saw that the truck was carrying a load covered with a tarpaulin and tied up with ropes. The ropes had snapped with the impact, and part of the load had fallen out on the slope. This was a horrible load – human bodies dressed in military uniforms. As far as I can remember there were some six or seven men near the truck: one German driver, two Germans armed with tommy-guns – the rest were Russian war prisoners, as they spoke Russian and were dressed accordingly.

“The Germans began to abuse my driver and then made some attempts to right the truck. In about two minutes time two more trucks drove up to the place of the accident and pulled up. A group of Germans and Russian war prisoners, about ten men in all, came up to us from these trucks…. By joint efforts we began to raise the truck. Taking advantage of an opportune moment I asked one of the Russian war prisoners in a low voice: ‘What is it?’ He answered very quietly: ‘For many nights already we have been carrying bodies to Katyn Forest.’

“Before the overturned truck had been raised a German N.C.O. came up to me and my driver and ordered us to proceed immediately. As no serious damage had been done to our truck the driver steered it a little to one side and got on to the highway, and we went on. When we were passing the two covered trucks which had come up later I again smelled the horrible stench of dead bodies.”

Sukhachev’s testimony is confirmed by that of Vladimir Afanasievich Yegorov, who served as policeman in the Police Station during the occupation. Yegorov testified that when owing to the nature of his duties he was guarding a bridge at a crossing of the Moscow-Minsk and Smolensk-Vitebsk highways at the end of March and early in April, 1943, he saw going towards Smolensk on several nights big trucks covered with tarpaulins and spreading a heavy stench of dead flesh. Several men, some of whom were armed and were undoubtedly Germans, sat in the driver’s cabin of each truck, and behind.

Yegorov reported his observations to Kuzma Demyanovich Golovney, Chief of the Police Station in the village of Arkhipovka, who advised him to “hold his tongue” and added: “This does not concern us. We have no business to be mixing in German affairs.”

That the Germans were carrying bodies on trucks to the Katyn Forest is testified by Frol Maximovich Yalovlev-Sokolov (born in 1896), a former agent for restaurant supplies in the Smolensk Restaurant Trust and, under the Germans, Chief of Police of Katyn. He stated that once, early in April, 1943, he himself saw four tarpaulin-covered trucks passing along the highway to Katyn Forest. Several men armed with tommy-guns and rifles rode in them. An acrid stench of flesh came from these trucks.

From the above testimony it can be concluded with all clarity that the Germans shot Poles in other places too. In bringing their bodies to the Katyn Forest they pursued a triple object: firstly to destroy the traces of their own crimes, secondly to ascribe their own crimes to the Soviet Government, thirdly to increase the number of “victims of Bolshevism” in the Katyn Forest graves.

Excursions to the Katyn Graves

In April, 1943, having finished all the preparatory work at the graves in Katyn Forest, the German occupationists began a wide campaign in the Press and over the radio in an attempt to ascribe to the Soviet Power atrocities they themselves had committed against Polish war prisoners. As one method of provocational agitation, the Germans arranged visits to the Katyn graves by residents of Smolensk and its suburbs as well as “delegations” from countries occupied by the German invaders or their vassals. The Special Commission questioned a number of delegates who took part in the “excursions” to the Katyn graves.

Zhukov, a doctor specialising in pathological anatomy who worked as Medico-Legal Expert in Smolensk, testified before the Special Commission: “The clothing of the bodies, particularly the greatcoats, boots and belts, were in a good state of preservation. The metal parts of the clothing – belt buckles, button hooks and spikes on shoe soles, etc. – were not heavily rusted, and in some cases the metal still retained its polish. Sections of the skin of the bodies which could be seen – faces, necks, arms – were chiefly a dirty green colour, and in some cases dirty brown, but there was no complete disintegration of the tissues, no putrefaction. In some cases bared tendons of whitish colour and parts of muscles could be seen.

“While I was at the excavations people were at work sorting and extracting bodies at the bottom of a big pit. For this purpose they used spades and other tools, and also took hold of bodies with their hands and dragged them from place to place by the arms, the legs or the clothing. I did not see a single case of bodies falling apart or of any member being torn off.

“Considering all the above, I arrived at the conclusion that the bodies had remained in the earth not three years, as the Germans affirmed, but much less. Knowing that in mass graves, and especially without coffins, putrefaction of bodies progresses more quickly than in single graves, I concluded that the mass shooting of the Poles had taken place about a year and a-half ago, and could have occurred in autumn 1941 or in spring, 1942. As a result of my visit to the excavation site I became firmly convinced that a monstrous crime had been committed by the Germans.”

Testimony to the effect that the clothing of the bodies, its metal parts, shoes and even the bodies themselves were well preserved was given by numerous witnesses who took part in “excursions” to the Katyn graves and who were questioned by the Special Commission. These witnesses include the manager of the Smolensk Water Supply System, Kitzev; a Katyn school teacher, Vetrova; a telephone operator of Smolensk Communications Bureau, Shchedrova; a resident of the village of Borok, Alexeyev; a resident of the village of Novye Bateki, Krivozertsev; the stationmaster on duty at Gnezdovo station, Savvateyev; a citizen of Smolensk, Pushchina; a doctor at the Second Smolensk Hospital, Sidoruk; Kesserev, a doctor at the same hospital.

Germans Attempt To Cover Up Traces of Their Crimes

The “excursions” organised by the Germans failed to achieve their aim. All who visited the graves saw for themselves that they were confronted with the crudest and most obvious German-Fascist frame-up. The German authorities accordingly took steps to make the doubters keep quiet. The Special Commission heard the testimony of a great number of witnesses who related how the German authorities persecuted those who doubted or disbelieved the provocation. These doubters were discharged from work, arrested, threatened with shooting.

The Commission established that in two cases people were shot for failure to “hold their tongues.” Such reprisals were taken against the former German policeman Zagainev, and against Yegorov, who worked on the excavation of graves in Katyn Forest. Testimony about the persecution of people who expressed doubt after visiting the graves in Katyn Forest was given by Zubareva, a woman cleaner employed by Drug Store No. 1 in Smolensk; Kozlova, assistant sanitation doctor of Stalin District Health Department in Smolensk, and others.

Yakovlev-Sokolov, former Chief of Police of Katyn area, testified: “A situation arose which caused serious alarm in the German Commandant’s Office, and police organs in the periphery were given urgent instructions to nip in the bud all harmful talk at any price, and arrest all persons who expressed disbelief in the ‘Katyn affair.’ I myself, as chief of the area police, was given instructions to this effect at the end of May 1943 by the German commandant of the village of Katyn, Oberleutnant Braung, and at the beginning of June by the chief of Smolensk District Police, Kamensky.

“I called an instructional conference of the police in my area, at which I ordered the police to detain and bring to the police station anyone who expressed disbelief or doubted the truth of German reports about the shooting of Polish war prisoners by the Bolsheviks. In fulfilling these instructions of the German authorities I clearly acted against my conscience, as I myself was certain that the ‘Katyn affair’ was a German frame-up. I became finally convinced of that when I myself made an ‘excursion’ to Katyn Forest.”

Seeing that the summer 1943 “excursions” of the local population to the Katyn graves did not achieve their purpose, the German occupation authorities ordered the graves to be filled in. Before their retreat from Smolensk they began hastily to cover up the traces of their crimes. The country house occupied by the “H.Q. of the 537th Building Battalion” was burned to the ground.

The Germans searched for the three girls Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya – In the village of Borok in order to take them away and perhaps to kill them. They also searched for their main “witness,” Kisselev, who together with his family had succeeded in hiding. The Germans burned down his house. They endeavoured to seize other “witnesses” too – the former stationmaster of Gnezdovo, Ivanov, and the former acting stationmaster of the same station, Savvateyev, as well as the former coupler at the Smolensk station, Zakharov.

During the very last days before their retreat from Smolensk, the German-Fascist occupationists looked for Professors Bazilevsky and Yefimov. Both succeeded in evading deportation or death only because they had escaped in good time. Nevertheless, the German-Fascist invaders did not succeed in covering up the traces of or concealing their crime.

Examination by medico-legal experts of the exhumed bodies proved irrefutably that the Polish war prisoners were shot by the Germans themselves. The protocol of the Medico-Legal Experts’ Investigation follows.

Protocol of the Medico-Legal Experts’ Investigation

In accordance with the instructions of the Special Commission for ascertaining and investigating the circumstances of the shooting of Polish officers prisoners by the German-Fascist invaders in Katyn Forest (near Smolensk), a Commission of Medico-Legal Experts was set up consisting of Prozorovsky, Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R. and Director of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine; Doctor of Medicine Smolyaninov, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow State Medical Institute; Doctor of Medicine Voropayev, Professor of Pathological Anatomy; Doctor Semenovsky, senior staff scientist of the Thanatology Department of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R.; Assistant Professor Shvaikova senior staff scientist of the Chemico-Legal Department of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R.; with the participation of Major of Medical Service Nikolsky, Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the Western Front; Captain of Medical Service Bussoyedov, Medico-Legal Expert of the X. Army; Major of Medical Service, Subbotin, Chief of Pathological Anatomy Laboratory No. 92; Major of Medical Service Ogloblin; Senior Lieutenant of Medical Service Sadykov, medical specialist; Senior Lieutenant of Medical Service Pushkareva.

During the period between January 16 and January 23, 1944, these medico-legal experts conducted exhumation and medico-legal examination of the bodies of Polish war prisoners buried in graves on the territory of “Kozy Gory” in Katyn Forest 15 kms. from Smolensk. The bodies of Polish war prisoners were buried in a common grave about 60 by 60 by three metres in dimension, and also in another grave about seven by six by three and a half metres. Nine hundred and twenty-five bodies were exhumed from the graves and examined. The exhumation and medico-legal examination of the bodies were effected in order to establish: (a) identity of the dead; (b) causes of death; (c) time of burial.

Circumstances of the case: See materials of the Special Commission. Objective evidence: See the protocols of the medico-legal examination of the bodies.

Conclusion of Medico-Legal Experts

On the basis of the results of the medico-legal examination of the bodies, the commission of medico-legal experts arrived at the following conclusion:

Upon the opening of the graves and exhumations of bodies from them, it was established that:

(a) Among the mass of bodies of Polish war prisoners there were bodies in civilian clothes, the number of which, in relation to the total number of bodies examined, is insignificant (in all two out of 925 exhumed bodies); shoes of army pattern were on these bodies.

(b) The clothing on the bodies of the war prisoners showed that they were officers, and included some privates of the Polish Anny.

(c) Slits in the pockets, pockets turned inside out, and tears in them discovered during examination of the clothing show that as a rule all the clothes on each body (greatcoats, trousers, etc.) bear traces of searches effected of the dead bodies.

(d) In some cases whole pockets were found during examination of the clothing, scraps of newspapers, prayer books, pocket books, postage stamps, postcards and letters, receipts, notes and other documents, as well as articles of value (a gold nugget, dollars). Pipes, pocket knives, cigarette papers, handkerchiefs and other articles were found in these pockets, as well as in the turned-out and torn pockets, under the linings, in the belts of the coats, in footwear and socks.

(e) Some of the documents found contain data referring to the period between November 12, 1940, and June 20, 1941.

(f) The fabric of clothes, especially of greatcoats, uniforms, trousers and tunics, is in a good state of preservation and can be torn with the hands only with great difficulty.

(g) A very small proportion of the bodies (20 out of 925) had the hands tied behind the back with woven cords. The condition of the clothes on the bodies – namely the fact that uniform jackets, shirts, belts, trousers and underwear are buttoned up, boots or shoes are on the feet, scarves and ties tied around the necks, suspenders attached, shirts tucked in – testifies that no external examination of the bodies and extremities of the bodies had been effected previously. The intact state of the skin on the heads, and the absence on them, as on the skin of the chests and abdomens (save in three cases out of 925) of any incisions, cuts or other signs, show convincingly that, judging by the bodies exhumed by the experts’ commission, there had been no medico-legal examination of the bodies.

External and internal examination of 925 bodies proves the existence of bullet wounds on the head and neck, combined in four cases with injury of the bones of the cranium caused by a blunt, hard heavy object. Also, in a small number of cases were discovered injuries of the abdomen caused simultaneously with the wound in the head.

Entry orifices of the bullet wounds, as a rule singular, more rarely double, are situated in the occipital part of the head near the occipital protuberance, at the big occipital orifice or at its edge. In a few cases entry orifices of bullets have been found on the back surface of the neck, corresponding to the first or second or third vertebrae of the neck. The points of exit of the bullets have been found more frequently in the frontal area, more rarely in the parietal and templar areas as well as in the face and neck.

In 27 cases the bullet wounds proved to be blind (without exit orifices), and at the end of the bullet channels under the soft membrane of the cranium, in its bones, in the membranes and in the brain matter, were found deformed, barely deformed, or altogether undeformed cased bullets of the type used with automatic pistols, mostly of the 7.65mm. calibre.

The dimensions of the entry orifices in the occipital bone make it possible to draw the conclusion that fire arms of two calibres were employed in the shooting: in the majority of cases, those of less than 8mm., i.e., 7.65mm. or less, and in a lesser number of cases, those of more than 8mm., i.e., 9mm.

The nature of the fissures of the cranial bones, and the fact that in some cases traces of powder were found at the entry orifice, proves that the shots were fired pointblank or nearly pointblank. Correlation of the points of entry and exit of the bullets shows that the shots were fired from behind with the head bent forward. The bullet channel pierced the vital parts of the brain, or near them, and death was caused by destruction of the brain tissues. The injuries inflicted by a blunt, hard, heavy object found on the parietal bones of the cranium were concurrent with the bullet wounds of the head, and were not in themselves the cause of death.

The medico-legal examination of the bodies carried out between January 16 and January 23, 1944, testifies that there are absolutely no bodies in a condition of decay or disintegration, and that all the 925 bodies are in a state of preservation – in the initial phase of desiccation of the body – which most frequently and clearly was expressed in the region of the thorax and abdomen, sometimes also in the extremities; and in the initial stage of formation of adipocere (in an advanced phase of formation of adipocere in the bodies extracted from the bottom of the graves); in a combination of desiccation of the tissues of the body with the formation of adipocere.

Especially noteworthy is the fact that the muscles of the trunk and extremities absolutely preserved their macroscopic structure and almost normal colour; the internal organs of the thorax and peritoneal cavity preserved their configuration. In many cases sections of heart muscle have a clearly discernible structure and specific colouration, while the brain presented its characteristic structural peculiarities with a distinctly discernible border between the grey and white matter.

Besides the macroscopic examination of the tissues and organs of the bodies, the medico-legal experts removed the necessary material for subsequent microscopic and chemical studies in laboratory conditions.

Properties of the soil in the place of discovery were of a certain significance in the preservation of the tissues and organs of the bodies. After the opening of the graves and exhumation of the bodies and their exposure to the air, the corpses were subject to the action of warmth and moisture in the late summer season of 1943. This could have resulted in a vigorous progress of decay. However, the degree of desiccation of the bodies and formation of adipocere in them, especially the good state of preservation of the muscles and internal organs, as well as of the clothes, give grounds to affirm that the bodies had not remained in the earth for long.

Comparing the condition of bodies in the grave on the territory of “Kozy Gory” with the condition of the bodies in other burial places in Smolensk and its nearest environs – Gedeonovka, Maglenshchina, Readovka, Camp No. 126, Krasny Bor, etc. (see protocol of the Commission of Medico-Legal Experts dated October 22, 1943) – it should be admitted that the bodies of the Polish war prisoners were buried on the territory of “Kozy Gory” about two years ago. This finds its complete corroboration in the documents found in the clothes on the bodies, which preclude the possibility of earlier burial (see point” d ” of paragraph 36 and list of documents).

The commission of medico-legal experts, on the basis of the data and results of the investigation, consider as proved the fact of the killing by shooting of the Polish Army officer and private war prisoners; asserts that this shooting dates back to about two years ago, i.e. between September and December of 1941; regards the fact of the discovery by the commission of medico-legal experts, in the clothes on the bodies, of valuables and documents dated 1941, as proof that the German-Fascist authorities who undertook a search of the bodies in the spring-summer season of 1943 did not do it thoroughly, while the documents discovered testify that the shooting was done after June 1941; notes that in 1943 the Germans had made an extremely small number of post-mortem examinations of the bodies of the shot Polish war prisoners; notes the complete identity of method of the shooting of the Polish war prisoners with that of the shooting of Soviet civilians and war prisoners widely practised by the German-Fascist authorities in the temporarily occupied territory of the U.S.S.R., including the towns of Smolensk, Orel, Kharkov, Krasnodar and Voronezh.

Signed by the Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Director of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., PROZOROVSKY; Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow State Medical Institute, Doctor of Medicine SMOLYANINOV; Professor of Pathological Anatomy, Doctor of Medicine VOROPAYEV; Senior Staff Scientist of Thanatological Dept. of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Doctor SEMENOVSKY; Senior Staff Scientist of the Forensic Chemistry Dept. of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Assistant ProfessorSHYAIKOVA.

Smolensk, January 24, 1944.

Documents Found On the Bodies

Besides the data recorded in the protocol of the commission of medico-legal experts, the time of the shooting of the Polish officer prisoners by the Germans (autumn 1941, and not spring 1940 as the Germans assert) is also ascertained by documents found when the graves were opened, dating not only the latter half of 1940 but also the spring and summer (March-June) of 1941. Of the documents discovered by the medico-legal experts, the following deserve special attention:

1. On body No. 92: A letter from Warsaw addressed to the Central War Prisoners’ Bureau of the Red Cross, Moscow, Kuibyshev Street, House No. 12. The letter is written in Russian. In this letter Sofia Zigon inquires the whereabouts of her husband Tomasz Zigon. The letter is dated September 12, 1940. The envelope bears the impress of it German rubber stamp “Warsaw Sept. 1940” and a rubber stamp “Moscow, Central Post Office, ninth delivery, Sept. 28, 1940,” and an inscription in the Russian language: “Ascertain and forward for delivery, November 15, 1940” (signature illegible).

2. On body No. 4: A postcard registered under the number 0112 from Tarnopol stamped “Tarnopol Nov. 12, 1940.” The written text and address are discoloured.

3. On body No. 101: A receipt No. 10293 dated Dec. 19, 1939 issued by the Kozelsk Camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Eduard Adamovich Lewandowski. On the back of the receipt is a note dated March 14, 1941 on the sale of this watch to the Jewellery Trading Trust.

4. On body No. 46: A receipt (number illegible) issued December 16, 1939 by the Starobelsk Camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Vladimir Rudolfovich Araszkevicz. On the back of the receipt is a note dated March 25, 1941 stating that the watch was sold to the Jewellery Trading Trust.

5. On body No. 71: A small paper ikon with the image of Christ, found between pages 114 and 145 of a Catholic prayer book. The inscription, with legible signature, on the back of the ikon reads: “Jadwiga” and bears the date April 4, 1941.”

6. On body No. 46: A receipt dated April 6, 1941 issued by the Camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of a sum in roubles from Araszkevicz.

7. On the same body No. 46: A receipt dated May 5, 1941 issued by Camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of 102 roubles from Araszkevicz.

8. On body No. 101: A receipt dated May 15, 1941 issued by Camp No. 1 showing receipt of 175 roubles from Lewandowski.

9. On body No. 53: An unmailed postcard in the Polish language addressed Warsaw Bagatelia, 15, Flat 47, to Irene Kuczinska, and dated June 20, 1941. The sender is Stanislaw Kuczinski.

Conclusions of the Special Commission

From all the material at the disposal of the Special Commission, namely evidence given by over 100 witnesses questioned, data supplied by the medico-legal experts, documents and material evidence found in the graves in the Katyn Forest, the following conclusions emerge with irrefutable clarity:

1. The Polish prisoners of war who were in the three camps west of Smolensk, and employed on road building before the outbreak of war, remained there after the German invaders reached Smolensk, until September, 1941, inclusive.

2. In the Katyn Forest, in the autumn of 1941, the German occupation authorities carried out mass shootings of Polish prisoners of war from the above-named camps.

3. The mass shootings of Polish prisoners of war in the Katyn Forest was carried out by a German military organisation hiding behind the conventional name “H.Q. of the 537th Engineering Battalion,” which consisted of Ober-leutnant Arnes, his assistant, Ober-leutnant Rekst, and Lieutenant Hott.

4. In connection with the deterioration of the general military and political situation for Germany at the beginning of the year 1943, the German occupation authorities, with provocational aims, took a number of steps in order to ascribe their own crimes to the organs of the Soviet Power, calculating on setting Russians and Poles at loggerheads.

5. With this aim, (a) the German-Fascist invaders, using persuasion, attempts at bribery, threats and barbarous torture, tried to find witnesses among Soviet citizens, from whom they tried to extort false evidence alleging that the Polish prisoners of war had been shot by the organs of Soviet Power in the spring of 1940; (b) the German occupation authorities in the spring of 1943 brought in from other districts bodies of Polish war prisoners whom they had shot and put them into the open graves in the Katyn Forest, calculating on covering up the traces of their own crimes, and on increasing the number of “victims of Bolshevik atrocities” in the Katyn Forest; (c) preparing for their provocation, the German occupation authorities started opening the graves in the Katyn Forest in order to take out documents and material evidence which exposed them, using for this work about 500 Russian prisoners of war who were shot by the Germans after the work was completed.

6. It has been established beyond doubt from the evidence of the medico-legal experts, that (a) the time of the shooting was the autumn of 1941; (b) in shooting the Polish war prisoners the German hangmen applied the same method of pistol shots in the back of the head as they applied in the mass execution of Soviet citizens in other towns, e.g., Orel, Voronezh, Krasnodar and Smolensk itself.

7. The conclusions drawn from the evidence given by witnesses, and from the shooting of Polish war prisoners by the Germans in the autumn of 1941, are completely confirmed by the material evidence and documents excavated from the Katyn graves.

8. In shooting the Polish war prisoners in the Katyn Forest, the German-Fascist invaders consistently carried out their policy of physical extermination of the Slav peoples.

Signed:

Chairman of the Special Commission, Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, Academician Burdenko.

Members:

Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, Academician Alexei Tolstoy.
Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, the Metropolitan Nikolai.
Chairman of the All-Slav Committee, Lieutenant-General Gundorov.
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Kolesnikov.
People’s Commissar for Education of the Russian S.F.S.R., Academician Potemkin.
Chief of the Central Medical Administration of the Red Army, Colonel-General Smirnov.
Chairman of the Smolensk Regional Executive Committee, Melnikov.

Smolensk, January 24, 1944.

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