Stalin ordered execution of 20,000 Polish soldiers: Katyn archives
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Last Updated: Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 21:11
Moscow: Russian dictator Joseph Stalin had personally ordered the execution of more than 20,000 Polish military officers in Katyn and other places of Russia in 1940, according to a top secret Soviet Communist Party archives.

Russia's Federal Archive Agency has made available digital copies of the secret archives on its website on Wednesday to end the continued speculations by the Communist hardliners on the Katyn massacre and to end speculations about their authenticity, the agency's chief said.

More than 20,000 officers, police and civilians taken prisoner during the 1939 partitioning of Poland by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were killed by the NKVD secret police in the Katyn forest near the western Russian city of Smolensk.

The Soviet Union tried to blame the massacre on Nazi Germany, saying the killings took place in 1941, when the territory was in German hands.

Until 1990s, documents from the top-secret File No.1, which place the blame solely on the Soviet Union had been kept in a sealed envelope in the secret archive of the Communist Party's ruling Politburo.

"It contained a note by NKVD head [Lavrenty] Beria dated March 1940, with a proposal to eliminate captured Polish officers.

The note has authentic resolutions by [Joseph] Stalin and a number of other Politburo members: [Kliment] Voroshilov, [Vyacheslav] Molotov, [Anastas] Mikoyan.

That envelope also contains a Politburo resolution, dated March 5, 1940, which expresses support for Beria's proposal to execute the Polish officers," Chief of the Federal Archive Agency Andrei Artizov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

Exactly 20 years ago the then Communist Party general Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev first admitted that thousands of Poles were executed by the NKVD secret police in "one of the gravest crimes of Stalinism."

Speaking at a news conference in Copenhagen today President Dmitry Medvedev said archives related to mass repressions in the Soviet Union will be made more accessible to the public.

"Let everyone see what was done, who made the decisions, who gave the orders to eliminate Polish officers.

Everything is written down there. All signatures are in place. All names are known," Medvedev said and added: "We will continue this work. I believe it to be our duty.

Lessons must be learned from the past and that Russia had nothing to hide.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski had died earlier this month in a plane crash along with his wife and 94 top members of the nation's political and military elite, while on way to pay respects at the Katyn memorial.

"Katyn archives are actually open, but there are several documents that we have not given to our Polish partners.

I gave instructions to carry out all the necessary work and, after the necessary procedures, to provide our Polish colleagues with the material they are interested in," Medvedev said in his televised statement.


First Published: Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 21:11

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