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Documenting a crime without a punishment


Anna Cienciala et al, eds., Katyn: A Crime Without Punishment (Yale University Press, 2007)

This is an extremely valuable and powerful book, though not one to be read at the beach. It consists mostly of archival documents, one after the other, though with well-written narrative summaries between the major sections. In addition to Ms Cienciala of the US, the compilers were Natalia Lebedeva of Russia and Wojciech Materski of Poland. Yale published the book in its Annals of Communism series.

35,000 military men escaped via Romania and Hungary to France in September 1939. p.19

In the Kresy (eastern borderlands) in 1939 there were 5,274,000 ethnic Poles, 4,529,000 Ukrainians, 1,945,000 Belorussians, 1,109,000 Jews, 342 "others." Poles a majority in Lwow and Wilno, Jews predominated in small towns, ethnic minorities in the countryside. "Polish rule over national minorities was generally heavy-handed." p.22

Families of officers and "counterrevolutionaries" accounted for most of the deportees. Jews about one-third. Thousands of Ukrainians and some Belorussians also. p.24

Polish historians estimate 230,000-240,000 Polish PWs in Russian hands, including 10,000 officers (probably an underestimate since many concealed their rank). Russians accounted for 8,442 in the "special camps" as of 28 Feb 1940, of whom 2,336 were regulars, 5,456 reservists, 650 retired. "The Red Army was simply overwhelmed by the huge number of prisoners on its hands." On 18 Sep 1939 (the day after the Russian invasion!) the Politburo had decidd that the NKVD Convoy Troops would take charge of the PWs. On 19 Sep Beria established the Upravlenie po Delam Voennoplennykh, Administration for PW Affairs, and set up three "special" camps (Kozelsk, Ostashkov, Starobelsk), four labor camps, and seven transit camps. p.26

3 Dec 1939 Politburo approved arrest of all registered officers of the Polish army. p28

Kozelsk 250 km SE Smolensk, "an old delapidated monastery" that included a cathedral (in which the prisoners were lodged), an hermitage or skit (in which they were interrogated), and some barracks, the whole known as the Maxim Gorky Rest Home. 1 Apr 1940 contained 4,599 prisoners, mostly officers, including four generals, an admiral, the woman pilot Janina Lewandowska, and (by my calculations) Lt. Jerzy Deszberg. p.29

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