Sunday, November 28, 2010

Russian State Duma: Stalin & Soviet Leaders guilty of Katyn mass murder

Memory is the mother of all wisdom. - Samuel Johnson

The Russian parliament, the State Duma, on Friday, November 26, 2010 took an important step forward in finally acknowledging something the entire world already knows: “the Katyn crime was committed on direct orders from Stalin and other Soviet leaders.

The Guardian summed up the crime as follows: "Joseph Stalin ordered his secret police to execute 22,000 Polish army officers and civilians in 1940, in one of the greatest mass murders of the 20th century."

Katyn deniers
have been dealt an important blow and this acknowledgment should provide support to the families of the victims in their pursuit of justice. The Communist party in Russia continues to deny Soviet responsibility in the crime and bitterly denounced the parliamentary declaration.

Perhaps their reticence in denying Soviet responsibility is because the Russian Communist party must recognize their predecessor's responsibility. Currently in the United States there is a traveling exhibition on Katyn organized by the Polish Consulate General which describes how in addition to Stalin: "In the spring of 1940, the Soviet Communist Party Politburo ordered the execution of some 22,000 of those prisoners."

According to Richard Boudreaux in The Wall Street Journal the "parliament's move was the first formal assertion by an official Russian body that linked the wartime leader to the killings."

Katyn memorial in Ukraine

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a former prime minister and leader of Poland's conservative opposition in an interview with AFP cautiously welcomed the resolution adding: "It's a question of drawing the final conclusions, recognizing guilt, asking for forgiveness and paying reparations."

This should be the beginning of a process not its end. "Speaking of Stalin's guilt is a positive step, but there's a danger it will stop there—that the resolution will be a substitute for legal steps," said Alexander Guryanov, a Katyn specialist at Memorial, a Russian human-rights group in the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles invites anyone in the area to visit the special exhibition entitled Katyn: Massacre, Politics, Morality presented by the Hoover Institution between November 30, 2010 and January 29, 2011.

2010 has been a terrible year for Poland as new victims were claimed by the blood soaked soil of Katyn this past April. The least that people of good will can do is to learn about this dark chapter of Polish-Russian history while demonstrating their solidarity with Poland by learning about Katyn and in joining in the call for justice.

One way is to purchase the 2007 film Katyn directed by Andrzej Wajda, son of one of the officers murdered on Stalin's orders at the Katyn forest and watch it with friends and family. A trailer of the film is available below.

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