Smells Like A Cover Up

Beverage Recommendation for this Post: a spicy Chai Tea Latte that will warm you up on a cold day while also fortifying you for discovering the truth of the past

During the height of the Soviet Union there were so many things that were covered up or down right erased by the Soviet regime. But the nature of the Katyn Forest Massacre is another matter altogether. Of all the mass graves discovered, the one found in the forest of Katyn near Smolensk that was comprised almost entirely of Polish officers tells a chilling but revealing story about the tactics and mindset of the Soviet Union during World War II. 4,443 Polish officers were executed in 1940 in that forest and their death were covered up by the government of the Soviet Union until 1992 under the term of Gorbachev.

Map of Katyn Forest

The mass execution was an order from Stalin as a way of further enforcing control over the invaded Poland of the time. After Poland’s partitioning between Germany and the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union went on a campaign that it insisted was freeing Ukrainian and Belorussian people from the ‘Polish oppressors’. This involved the arrest of several Polish citizens and then directing them towards internment camps. These camps proved to be expensive which itself presented the easier solution of mass execution.

What really sets this mass execution and grave apart from the other 16,000 other locations was how vehemently denied by the Soviet government even in the wake of a Red Cross investigation. This was also compounded with the lack of support for the Polish forces by the Red Army when they had become part of the Allied forces. The utter disrespect of the Polish people by the Soviet Union has left a mark that is exemplified by the Katyn Forest Massacre. The Soviet Union government spent so long outright denying and lying to the Polish government of the time and giving no respect for their dead left a sour relationship in the aftermath of the war. The tactic of denying their mistakes and massacres in the aftermath to the global community set Russia apart as a country and gave an air of distrust that still lingers in the global community today.

Documentation of Polish Officers killed in the massacre


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7 thoughts on “Smells Like A Cover Up

  1. I also blogged about the Katyn Forest Massacre for this week. It was incredibly interesting, and sickening, to read about. I like how your post really focuses on the point of how much the Soviets denied its occurrence. One thing that popped into my head while writing my own post and while reading yours was how while Khrushchev admitted to many purges and crimes the Soviet Union committed under Stalin he did not mention this. I wonder if it was because it was done to non-Soviet citizens, if he thought it was just too awful of something to let out, or if he even knew about its occurrence. Great post!

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  2. I really enjoyed your post, and I appreciated how you were able to capture the somber mood of the tragic event in your writing. I liked how you stressed the many denials by the Soviet government of this tragedy as it demonstrates how the Soviet Union was focused on promoting a somewhat positive international appearance. Do you know how the Polish government and the international community responded to the exposure of this event in 1992?


  3. Great post, I think it is just terrible how far Stalin was willing to go during his regime. Its crazy how when we talk about sovereignty, in the pre-war context, we think of the government as having the right to do as they wish to their subjects. But as the War proved, Hitler and Stalin alike, changed how we perceived government and sovereignty forever. The immense violence that Stalin used to keep control of his country in the 1930’s during the purges, to these war crimes he committed on POWs. It’s hard to believe that people still view him today as a communist role model.


  4. Your last paragraph is spot on! The Katyn Forest Massacre not only spoiled relations between the Soviet Union and Poland, but it still affects politics today. I do have a few questions. What made a Polish citizen a Soviet target? Did they focus on ideology as the criteria, or was it the position they held in the previous government?


  5. I really like this post! I definitely learned a lot about something I had never heard of. It’s amazing what lengths the Soviet Union went to in order to conceal certain actions. I also agree with your last statement regarding Russia’s appearance to other countries across the world. It’s actions like these that helped fuel the distrust in the air.


  6. What a chilling event. It really illustrates how brutal Stalin’s regime was, and the lengths they went to conceal their crimes. Excellent post!


  7. I don’t understand how they thought that no one would put the pieces together and figure out what they had done. It makes me wonder if there were any more similar events that were successfully covered up that no one knows about.


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