Yesterday the U.S. National Archives released a cache of 1,000 documents relating to the Katyń massacre, the collective term for a series of executions of 22,000 Polish Army officers, conducted by the Soviet NKVD in spring, 1940.
The most explosive revelation from these documents is that U.S. POWs, who were taken by their Nazi captors to inspect the graves, sent coded messages back to Washington through U.S. military intelligence channels, stating their belief that the Soviets were in fact responsible for the atrocity. The follow-up report given by one of the POWs, Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet Jr., in 1945, confirming his prior assertion, is missing and was likely destroyed.
The weight of evidence confirming Soviet guilt for Katyń has been overwhelming since before the war even ended, so it is truly a sad revelation that the Roosevelt Administration chose to suppress the facts from America and the world. This knowledge could have dramatically affected U.S. policy towards the Soviet Union and may have changed or averted the Cold War, had the U.S. Government dealt with the obvious Communist threat appropriately. At this time the United States was seen as the beacon of freedom and justice to the occupied nations of Europe, and especially the Poles, who ultimately passed from Nazi to Soviet tyranny, two sides of the same coin. Not only did the Roosevelt administration betray America’s allies by acquiescing to Soviet terror, it betrayed the values that America stood for. It’s further troubling that the U.S. Government didn’t acknowledge Soviet guilt for the crime until 1990! What a tremendous shame that these materials have only been released now, decades after having outlived their usefulness.
The rationale for witholding the information that the U.S. Government possessed was that Soviet cooperation was necessary to defeat Hitler. While cooperation with the Soviets surely helped to shorten the war, by mid 1943 the tide had turned decisively against the Third Reich. Within a couple months of the revelation of the Katyń graves, the Nazis were defeated at the Battle of Kursk and their downfall became only a matter of time. The imperial ambitions of Joseph Stalin were well known as Poland had initially been divided between the Nazis and Soviets in September 1939, as a fulfillment of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. By 1945 Stalin would re-conquer all the territory he had lost to Hitler, and gained the rest of Poland and Eastern Europe, East Germany and the Balkans.
In reading Herbert Hoover’s Freedom Betrayed, I have learned that in fact President Roosevelt sought an alliance with Stalin in order to cooperate in a post-war arrangement in which the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., led by Roosevelt and Stalin, would dominate the United Nations as partnered superpowers. The implications of such a vision for the world will send shudders down the spines of freedom-loving and democratically-minded individuals, especially now that we know that Soviet barbarism was responsible for genocide on a scale that Hitler could never accomplish. The man-made, terror famine in the Ukraine in 1931-1932 alone may have claimed more lives than the Holocaust of the Jews in Europe.
Returning to Herbert Hoover’s poignant history/memoir, here is a damning excerpt that sums up the failure of leadership, the “freedom betrayed” by FDR and his cohorts:
The legacy of President Roosevelt has been spared close scrutiny since his death, other than by niche academics. Herbert Hoover’s recently published book is a great place to start reassessing the consequences of Roosevelt’s actions and inaction on matters of grave consequence. The just-released documents that verify Roosevelt’s inaction should be the first major shot across history’s bow that our wartime president was not the champion of justice we’ve been led to believe he was.