New declassified intelligence files show that the United States government lied about its knowledge of the Katyn massacre of Polish officers and intellectuals by Russia. The new evidence includes the disclosure that the Roosevelt Administration received highly credible coded messages from U.S. officers who were American POWs during the war but suppressed the information to preserve relations with Stalin. Our government has long been accused of denying such knowledge of the war crime committed by our then ally despite an investigation by Congress in the 1950s establishing that it was the Russians not the Germans who killed the Poles.
In 2010, the Russian Duma recognized responsibility for the war crime in the killing of over 22,000 Polish officers and other prisoners in the Katyn forest and other locations in 1940.
The new information came from American POWs who were taken to the site in 1943 where they saw rows of corpses in an advanced state of decay in the Katyn forest on the western edge of Russia. The degree of decay made it unlikely that they were shot by the Germans. Moreover, their clean pressed uniforms showed that they had not been in captivity as POWs.
The Russians wanted to get rid of the polish intellectual and military leaders to take over Poland after the war. The prisoners were shot in the back of the head. Russia long denied responsibility until only recently with the Duma statement.
The intelligence came from American officers — Capt. Donald B. Stewart and Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet Jr. — who were taken in May 1943 by the Germans to the forest after it was captured from the Russians. They found rows and rows of mummified remains. While these officers hated the Germans, they found the evidence to be undebatable and clear. Both send coded messages while still in captivity to army intelligence but the Administration buried the intelligence.
The chilling conclusion is that we knew about the war crime, buried the evidence, and then sat with Russian judges (right) on the Nuremberg Tribunal convicting others of some of the very same war crimes committed by Russia. All of this was done to keep Stalin from being insulted and causing tension in the alliance in the fight against tyranny. Not our proudest moment to be sure.