Saturday, November 27, 2010

Russian Parliament Admits Stalin's Responsibility in Ordering the Katyn Massacre

By Vanessa Gera
Associated Press, Warsaw

The World War II Katyn massacres were committed on the direct order of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Russia's lower house of parliament said Friday — a statement hailed by Polish officials.

The 1940 massacre of around 20,000 Polish officers and other prominent citizens in western Russia by Soviet secret police has long soured relations between the two countries. President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Poland in early December.

Soviet propaganda for decades blamed the killings on the Nazis, but post-Soviet Russia previously acknowledged they were carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, or NKVD — Stalin's much feared secret police.

The statement passed by the State Duma appears aimed as a step toward Russia definitively breaking with its Soviet legacy.

Some observers have expressed alarm in recent years that Russia may be quietly rehabilitating Stalin. Last year, a quote praising Stalin was restored to the decoration of one of Moscow's busiest subway stations; this year, Moscow's mayor proposed allowing posters depicting Stalin as part of the annual celebrations of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

"This historic document is important not only for Russian-Polish relations — much more it is important for us ourselves," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma's foreign relations committee, according to the news agency ITAR-Tass.

Russia has turned over scores of volumes of documents this year about Katyn to the Polish government.

"Published materials, held in secret archives for many years, not only reveal the scale of this awful tragedy but show that the Katyn crime was committed on the direct order of Stalin and other Soviet leaders," says the statement, which also expresses "deep sympathy for the victims of this unjustified repression."

Communist legislators tried to amend the statement to remove the naming of Stalin, but were defeated.

"The falsification of history that we are fighting against in other countries is also taking place in our country, and today we could see it with our own eyes," Kosachev said of the amendment attempt. Russian officials frequently use the term "falsification of history" to attack perceived attempts to underplay the importance of the Red Army in the fight against Nazi Germany.

The head of the Polish parliament's foreign affairs committee, Andrzej Halicki, said he considered the Duma's statement to be a breakthrough.

"I am happy that such a process of reconciliation and truth is taking place," he said. "It is the first such act that proves that our relations and discussions are sincere."

However, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the conservative opposition Law and Justice party, said he still wants Russia to offer a full apology and compensation.

A U.S. historian who wrote a book about Katyn, hailed the Duma decision.

"I think this is part of a long process in which ultimately the Russian people will have to come to grips with their past," Allen Paul, who authored "Katyn: Stalin's Massacre and the Triumph of Truth," told The Associated Press.




Ludwik Kowalski said...

I hope that Andrzej Halicki is right. What is next? Katyn was only a small part of crimes committed under the red banners of communist ideology. All Russians should not be blamed for these crimes; most of them were also victim of proletarian dictatorship.

Why should all Germans be hated because of Nazis crimes? Why should all Jews be hated because some of them were Bolsheviks? Why should all blacks be hated because some blacks are criminals? Blaming by association is nonsensical. Unfortunately, this kind of social poison exists. How can such poison be eliminated? I wish I knew how to answer this question. But I know this:

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana.

Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia),

I am a retired nuclear scientist and the author of a free ON-LINE book entitled “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.” 

It is an autobiography illustrating my evolution from one extreme to another--from a devoted Stalinist to an active anti-communist. This testimony is based on a diary I kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA). Please share this link with others. Thank you in advance.

lotusopening said...

Dr. Kowalski,

Sure, Russians or any other people should not be collectively blamed for the actions of their government, but only to a certain point.

If they have freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly to any reasonable degree, eventually, it is reasonable to assume that a People shows its agreement to atrocities like those committed by Soviet Russia, through their collective silence, and non-action of their elected representatives.

Soon though, I believe the world's People's are going to reach the level of advancement that will enable them to significantly reduce government and remove elements in government that are obstructions to national progress and the overall goal of attainment to a highly advanced global civilization, where all people see themselves world citizens first, and then fine citizens of their respective member nation-states, second. When this is achieved, then societal evolution will happen at a faster rate, and governments will be far less likely to hijack an entire land mass of people, as so many governments have done in the past and continue to do today.

Thank you for your input.