Remember Katyn

I arrived in Poland just as the television announced the tragic death of President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, Maria, and many of Poland’s military and political leaders in an airplane crash at Smolensk in Russia.  A week of mourning followed throughout the entire country.

The president had been traveling to Smolensk for a joint commemoration with the Russians of the 70th anniversary of the murder of over 20,000 Polish officers by the Soviet secret police at Katyn in 1940.  The officers had been captured by the Red Army when the Soviets invaded, occupied, and annexed Eastern Poland in September 1939 by agreement with their Nazi allies who had invaded from the West.  Between them they had destroyed Poland.  Molotov, the Soviet commissar of foreign affairs who had signed the pact with Ribbentrop, his Nazi counterpart, to divide the whole of Eastern Europe into Soviet and Nazi occupied sections, cackled, “One swift blow to Poland, first by the German Army and then by the Red Army, and nothing was left of this bastard of the Versailles Treaty.”  World War II began in Europe in 1939 as a joint enterprise between these two bandits, and their first victim was Poland.

The Soviets deported one and a half million Poles to Siberia or to their Central Asian colonies as slave labor.  Hundreds of thousands of them died from their harsh treatment.  A special fate was reserved for the Polish officers,...

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