Stalin Ordered Massacre of Polish Officers in 1940, Soviet Paper Says

From United Press International

Josef Stalin’s executioners, acting on his orders, massacred 15,131 Polish officers in the Katyn Forest in 1940, a Soviet newspaper said Wednesday in an article based on previously secret KGB archives.

The expose in the weekly Moscow News was the first published admission of the systematic slaughter in the Russian region that has soured Soviet-Polish relations for five decades.

The story contradicted previous Soviet claims that Adolf Hitler’s Gestapo agents committed the World War II killings.


Virtually all Poles and most Western historians have long said that Soviet agents killed 4,443 Polish officers and that the fate of nearly 11,000 others who disappeared was unknown.

But the Moscow News article, based on extensive research into closed KGB archives by Soviet Academy of Sciences historian Natalya Lebedeva, said Stalin’s henchmen killed all 15,131 Poles held in three camps.

Stalin ordered the killings because he feared the Poles would lead an uprising and upset the 1939 secret pact he signed with Hitler, Lebedeva said.

Nazi soldiers found the mass grave in the Katyn Forest in February, 1943.

The Soviet Union had claimed that Nazis carried out the slaughter in autumn of 1941 while taking the nearby city of Smolensk, but the Poles say Stalin’s agents killed their officers long before the German occupation of the region 250 miles southwest of Moscow.