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Katyn A Crime Without Punishment (Annals of Communism) [Hardcover]

Anna M Cienciala , Natalia Lebedeva , Wojciech Materski


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22 Feb 2008 Annals of Communism
The book shows the background and mechanics of the Soviet mass executions in spring 1940 of 14,500 Polish prisoners of war - army officers, police, gendarmes, and civilians - taken by the Red Army when it invaded eastern Poland in September 1939. They were executed at three different sites, of which the most famous is Katyn. Seven thousand three hundred other prisoners were also shot elsewhere at this time. Katyn presents 122 documents, with introductions and endnotes, selected from the published Russian and Polish volumes co-edited by Natalia S. Lebedeva and Wojciech Materski. The documents detail Soviet killings, the elaborate cover-up of the crime, the admission of truth, and the Katyn question in Soviet/Russian-Polish relations in the years 1941-2000.

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"This is not only a story about a cruel crime that remains unpunished. It is also a story about historical truth versus denial, about moral impulses versus political cynicism. A piece of Polish history but also a message of universal importance."--Janusz Reiter, Ambassador of Poland ""--Janusz Reiter

About the Author

Anna M. Cienciala, a specialist in twentieth-century Polish diplomatic history, is retired professor of history, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Natalia S. Lebedeva, the leading Russian historian of Katyn, is a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences and lives in Moscow. Wojciech Materski, a Polish diplomatic historian and Katyn specialist, is director of the Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, and lives in Warsaw.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Today the word "Katyn" stands for one of the most heinous yet least known of the Stalinist crimes: the massacre in spring 1940 of some 14,500 Polish officers and policemen taken prisoner by the Red Army during the September 1939 invasion of eastern Poland. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Mini-Encyclopedia on the Katyn Massacre 17 Sep 2008
By Jan Peczkis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This single volume has everything: History of the events leading up to and including the Massacre, the decades of western silence and Soviet denial, Soviet admission of responsibility, the 1943 and 1990's forensic investigations, and implications for Polish-Russian relationships. In view of the fact that the Russians are once again hardening their attitudes regarding Katyn, this book is more relevant than ever.

Photographs are included, and many documents are printed in their entirety. These include the chilling March 5, 1940 NKVD one that contains the order to shoot the Polish internees. (pp. 118-120). An earlier NKVD document includes a complaint about the Polish prisoners being religious. (p. 86). Obviously, the Katyn Massacre had encompassed religious martyrdom in addition to genocide. Another document (pp. 344-345) contains the decades-belated Soviet admission of guilt. Still another Soviet document mentions a total of 21,857 victims. (pp. 240-241).

This volume includes an examination of "counter-Katyns", wherein Poles are accused of killing Soviet captives in the 1920 Polish-Bolshevik War. These, in actuality, are unintentional deaths of Soviets in captivity and are comparable to frequencies of Polish deaths in Soviet captivity during this war. (p. 263, 510, 533).

I found some parts of this book particularly fascinating. One of these is an account of the battle to hide the mementos of the victims, taken by the Germans in 1943, and to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Soviets and their Polish-Communist stooges. Amazingly, some of them survived the four decades of the Soviet puppet state. (pp. 225-226). There are also the eye-opening interviews with some of the Russian eyewitnesses of the Massacre still alive in the early 1990's. (pp. 124-129, 133-135).

The end of this book includes a biographical glossary of important personages. This contains information beyond Katyn. For instance, we learn that Edward Smygly-Rydz, the Commander in Chief of Poland's unsuccessful 1939 defense against the German-Soviet aggressors, snuck back into German-occupied Poland and lived under an assumed name until his death in 1941 from heart disease. (Other accounts have him shot by the Germans, who supposedly didn't realize his actual identity.). The entry on AK-Commander Stefan Rowecki "Grot" states that, after he fell into the hands of the Germans, he rejected a proposal to form a Polish collaborationist battalion that would fight on Germany's side against the Soviets. If true, this is further refutation of the No-Polish-Quisling-because-the-Germans-never-wanted-one argument.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book 2 Feb 2008
By Seth J. Frantzman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Polish people suffered dearly in the Second World War. Three Million Jewish Poles were murdered. Millions of other Poles were forced from their lands in West Poland and relocated. When the Poles rose in Rebellion in 1944 in Warsaw they were brutally crushed and 80% of the city was levelled. These stories have been told in the important book Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw. But there is another story that has gone untold. During the Second World War the German army came across the Katyn massacre sites and blamed Stalin for the atrocity in which 14,500 Polish officers and another 7,300 other political prisoners were murdered by the Soviet secret police. However the world beleived the Soviets when it blamed the atrocity on the Nazis. But it turned out it was not the Nazis.

This book is a testament to this famous story and documents relating to the case by leading researchers into the mass murder. A famous incident that has long been forgotten this book finally brings it back to light.

Seth J. Frantzman
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars KATYN 23 Oct 2009
By Andrzej Jezierski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is an excellent historical review of that not widely known episode of
Soviet genocide and deceit.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long overdue 6 Dec 2009
By Robert Puk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This work is long overdue. Finally, a full documentary study of what actually occurred.
Sheds new light on all the duplicity and the betrayal of Poland by the Allied powers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical research 24 Feb 2014
By Majted - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This extremely well researched tome of 561 pages has it all.
It covers the period 1939 through 2000 and documents the taking of 22,000 Polish Officers and policemen as prisoners of war when the Soviet Union invaded Poland in 1939.
On the recommendation of NKVD Chief Beria with Stalin’s approval, they were executed in 1940 by the NKVD in the Katyn forest, two other NKVD prison camp locations and in NKVD prisons in Belarus and the Ukraine. Why it was decided to massacre these prisoners rather than sending them to the GULAG, remains a mystery.
The German army, after reoccupying the Katyn location, unearthed some of the 4,400 Polish Officers buried there. They accused the Russians of the massacre which began Russia’s 50-year cover up of their crimes. This even included their insistence on prosecuting the Germans for the crime during the Nuremburg trials in 1946. While the other Allies effectively ended that fiasco, they, nevertheless, considered it politically expedient to ignore the evidence of the Russian massacres until a Congressional Select Committee published it’s conclusions in 1953 that “. . . beyond any question of reasonable doubt . . . the Soviet NKVD . . . committed the mass murders of the Polish Officers and intellectual leaders in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, Russia.”
Finally, in 1990, President Gorbachev provided classified archival documents indicating the NKVD’s responsibility for the executions. (However, in true Soviet style; “In 2005 the Russian State Prosecutor declared that the massacres, for which the Soviet Union had expressed ‘profound regret’ in 1990, were not genocide, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, but a military crime for which the fifty year term of limitation had expired, and that in consequence ‘there is absolutely no basis to talk about this in judicial terms.’ Of the 183 volumes of files compiled by Russian investigators, 116 have been kept secret, despite assurances by President Putin that the truth could at last be told.” The Routledge Atlas of the Second World War, 2nd ed., 2009, Martin Gilbert)
In addition to its historical narrative timeline of events, the book also contains the classified documents released by the Federal Archival Agency of Russia, extensive source document notes, maps and photos, biographical sketches, glossary of organizations and political parties and over 90 pages of explanatory notes.
This book is expensive because it’s historical research – not a novel. I believe it to be the most authoritative, and comprehensive, to date.
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