The news of the Polish Air Force 1 heading for the 70th year remembrance of Katyn Forest Deaths brought back the painful memories of lost officers to both Poles and rest of the world. The mourning of loosing the President along with 86 others was a painful addition to the mourn of nearly 4,300 dead in the massacre.
The Katyn Forest Massacre was one of the most horrible incidents of human and Polish history when thousands of Polish War prisoners (mostly military officers) were made to dig their own graves, at many places, and shot dead with hands tied. The executions were ordered personally by Stalin in a memorandum dated March 5, 1940, to Lavrenti Beria, the head of the NKVD, (Predecessor of Russian KGB).
The massacre was first reported by Nazis, who, on a morning of April 1943, found stacked corpse of tied hand, shot in the skull Poles lying face down mostly, over a hill in near Smolensk, Russia. The Nazi accused that the Russians had done it and that the Polish officers were the ones captured by the Russians during their Poland invasion in September 1939. They charged that the Russians had shipped them from various prison camps to Smolensk and carried out the executions in March, April and May 1940.
The charge was made at the time when anything and everything the Nazis said was utterly distrusted. So, Russians on the other hand denied the responsibility and claimed that when the Red armies retreated from Smolensk, they had to leave behind the captive Polish officers. The Nazis had shot the Poles, rigged the Katyn story as a propaganda plant. The Polish government-in-exile requested both Germany and Russia to allow international Red Cross, an investigation of the incident. Germans agreed; Russia did not.
And to negate Russian accusations Germany sent down teams of non German doctors and medical experts to the mass graves and even brought the allied prisoners to the dead bodies. The Nazis also claimed that no clippings or letters were found on the bodies dated later than May 1940—more than a year before Hitler invaded Russia.
After the Russians recaptured Smolensk in 1943, they put on a show of their own with their own medical experts and investigators, and continuously kept on denying the responsibility of the massacre. By autopsy and other evidence, the Russians had their own date for the massacre: August 1941.
Despite Nazi Germany’s insistence of Soviet Russia’s culpability, it was not until the collapse of Communism that GorbachevGorbachev admitted – 50 years after the event – which Stalin had ordered the massacre in 1940 and the Polish deaths finally publicly found their mark on Soviet hands.