Text of a telegram received from the Foreign Office on April
Following message sent by the Prime Minister to the President
on April 28th.
Personal and Secret.
Poles are issuing tonight comunique in my immediately following
telegram. You will see that we have persuaded them to shift the
argument from the dead to the living and from the past to the
2.I have therefore sent memorandum of the message to Stalin
feeling it will be in accordance with your views. Anything that
you can put in now will be most helpful.
(1) Mr. Eden and I have pointed out to the Polish Government
that no resumption of friendly or working relations with Soviet
Russia is possible while they make charges of an insulting character
against the Soviet Government and thus seem to countenance atrocious
Nazi propaganda. Still more would it be impossible for any of
us to tolerate enquiries by the International Red Cross held
under Nazi auspices and dominated by Nazi terrorism. I am glad
to tell you that they have accepted our view and that they want
to work loyally with you. Their request now is to have dependents
of the Polish army in Persia and fighting Poles in the Soviet
Union sent to join the Poles you have already allowed to go to
Persia. This is surely a matter which admits of patient discussion.
We think the request is reasonable if made in the right way and
at the right time and I am pretty sure the President thinks so
too. We hope earnestly that remembering the difficulties in which
we have all been plunged by brutal Nazi aggression
REGRADED UNCLASSIFIED by British
Govt., State Dept. tel., 3-29-72
you will consider this matter in a spirit of magnanimity.
(2) Cabinet here is determined to have proper discipline in
the Polish press in Great Britain. Even miserable rags attacking
Sikorski can say things which the German broadcast repeats open-mouthed
to the world to our joint detriment. This must be stopped and
it will be stopped.
(3) So far this business has been Goebbels' greatest triumph.
It has now been suggested that the U.S.S.R. will set up a left
wing Polish Government on Russian soil and deal only with them.
We could not recognize such a Government and would continue our
relations with Sikorski who is far the most helpful man you or
we are likely to find for the purposes of the common cause. I
expect this will also be the American view.
(4) My own feeling is that they have had a shock and that
after whatever interval is thought convenient, the relationship
established on July 30th 1941 should be restored. No one will
hate this more than Hitler and what he hates most is wise for
us to do.
(5) We owe it to our armies now engaged and presently to be
more heavily engaged to maintain good conditions behind the fronts.
I and my colleagues look steadily to even closer cooperation
sand understanding of the U.S.S.R., the United States and British
Commonwealth and Empire, not only in the deepening war struggle
but after the war. What other hope can there be than this for
the tortured world?
3.Foreign Office are sending a fuller statement through our
Ambassador in Moscow setting out our formal and
and official view and dwelling more in
detail on the Polish grievances and on the dangers to the United
Nations which would follow from their being incessantly aired
all over the world. Ambassador Winant is being kept fully informed.
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE WASHINGTON
May l, 1943
My dear Mr. President:
I have just received a letter from Halifax giving me the text
of a telegram he has received from the Foreign Office containing
certain changes which the Prime Minister has made in his message
to Stalin (quoted in his message No. 289 to you). Mr. Eden has
asked that you be informed immediately of these changes and I
consequently enclose copies of the two
messages for your information.
Sumner Welles (signed)
The White House.
Text of a telegram received from the Foreign Office on April
Prime Minister agrees to make following changes in his message
Message should begin as follows:-
I cannot refrain from expressing my disappointment that you
should have felt it necessary to take action in breaking off
relations with Poles without giving me time to inform you of
results of my approach to General Sikorski about which I had
telegraphed to you on April 24. I had hoped, in spirit of our
treaty of last year, we should always consult each other about
such important matters, more especially as they affect combined
strength of United Nations.
Original paragraphs 1 and 2 should then follow as paragraphs
2 and 3.
First sentence of original paragraph 3 (now paragraph 4) stands.
This paragraph should continue as follows: "He is now busy
suggesting that U.S.S.R. will set up a Polish Government on Russian
soil and deal only with [? President!. We shall not of course
be able to recognize etc."
Original paragraphs 4 and 5 should then follow as new paragraphs
5 and 6.
Prime Minister thinks it necessary to maintain his references
to Poles in Soviet Union for following reasons: -
(a) one of our main objects has been to shift argument from
past to future and to concentrate attention upon the living rather
than the dead;
(b) we go not want to gloss over all the legitimate grievances
of Poles of which this is one of the greatest. We have also given
Poles definite impression that we propose to take this matter
(c) this issue, affecting as it does the morale of Polish
troops fighting at our side, is a military question of direct
interest to us. We therefore have special reasons for taking
it up with Soviet Government;
(d) moreover President has already mentioned this point in
his message to Stalin.
May 31, 1943.
Mr. O'Malley to Mr. Eden,--(Received 31st May)
British Embassy to Poland
(No. 51.) 45, Lowndes Square, S.W.1.
24th May. 1943.
MY despatch No. 43 of the 30th April dwelt on the probability
that no confederation in Eastern Europe could play an effective
part in European politics unless it were affiliated to the Soviet
Government, and suggested that so long as the policy of this
Government was as enigmatic as it now is it would be inconsistent
with British interests that Russia should enjoy a sphere of influence
extending from Danzig to the Aegean and Adriatic Seas. The suppression
of the Comintern on the 20th May may be considered to have brought
to an end what was in the past the most objectionable phase of
Soviet foreign policy and to entitle the Soviet Government to
be regarded less distrustfully than formerly. It is not, then,
without hesitation that I address this further despatch to you,
which also gives grounds for misgivings about the character and
policy of' the present rulers in Russia.
2. We do not know for certain who murdered a lot of Polish
officers in the forest of Katyn in April and May 1940, but this
at least, is already clear, that it was the scene of terrible
events which will live long in the memory of the Polish nation.
Accordingly, I shall try to describe how this affair looks to
my Polish friends and acquaintances, of whom many had brothers
and sons and lovers among those known to have been taken off
just three years ago from the prison camps at Kozielsk. Starobielsk
and Ostashkov to an uncertain destination: how it looks, for
instance, to General Sikorski, who there lost Captain Fuhrman,
his former A.D.C. and close personal friend; to M. Morawski.
who lost a brother-in- law called Ooltowski and a nephew; or
to M. Oaleski, who lost a brother and two cousins.
3. The number of Polish prisoners taken by the Russian armies
when they invaded Poland, in September 1939, was about 180,000,
including police and gendarmerie and a certain number of civilian
officials. The total number of army officers was round about
15,000. At the beginning of 1940 there were in the three camps
named above round about 9,000 or 10,000 officers and 6,000 other
yanks, policemen and civil officials. Less public reference has
been made to these 6,000 than to the 10,000 officers, not because
the Polish Government are less indignant about the disappearance
of other ranks than about the disappearance of officers, or were
less insistent in enquiries for them, but because the need of
officers to command the Polish troops recruited in Russia was
more urgent than the need to increase the total ration strength
of the Polish army. There is no reason to suppose that these
6,000 other ranks and the police and the civilians were treated
by the Soviet Government differently to the officers, and mystery
covers the fate of all. For the sake of simplicity, however,
I shall write in this despatch only of the missing officers,
without specific reference to other ranks, to police prisoners
or to civilians. Of the 10,000 officers, only some 3,000 or 4,000
were regular officers. The remainder were reserve officers who
in peace time earned their living, many with distinction, in
the professions, in business and so on.
4. In March of 1940 word went round the camp at Kozielk, Starobielsk
and Ostashkov that, under orders from Moscow, the prisoners were
to be moved to camps where conditions would be more agreeable,
and that they might leak forward to eventual release. All were
cheered by the prospect of a change from the rigours which prisoners
must endure to the hazards and vicissitudes of relative freedom
in Soviet or German territory. Even their captors seemed to wish
the prisoners well, who were now daily entrained in parties of
50 to 350 for the place at which, so they hoped, the formalities
of their discharge would be completed. As each prisoner was listed
for transfer, all the usual particulars about him were rechecked
and reregistered. Fresh finger-prints were taken. The prisoners
were inoculated afresh and certificates of inoculation furnished
By Authority of
them. Sometimes the prisoners' Polish documents were taken
away, but in many such cases these were returned before departure.
All were furnished with rations for the journey, and, as a mark
of special regard, the sandwiches furnished to senior officers
were wrapped in clean white paper--a commodity seldom seen anywhere
in Russia. Anticipations of a better future were clouded only
by the fact that 400 or 500 Poles had been listed for further
detention, first at Pavlishchev Bor and eventually at Griazovetz.
These were, as it turned out later, to be the only known survivors
of the lost legion, and some of them are in England now; but
at the time, although no principle could be discovered on which
they had been selected, they supposed that they had been condemned
to a further period of captivity; and some even feared that they
had been chosen out for execution.
5. Our information about these events is derived for the most
part from those routed to Griazovetz, all of whom were released
in 1941, and some of whom--notably M. Komarnicki, the Polish
Minister for Justice are now in England.
6. Entrainment of the 10,000 officers from the three camps
went on all through April and the first half of May, and the
lorries lined with cheerful faces, which took them from camp
to station, were, in fact, the last that was ever seen of them
alive by any witness to whom we have access. Until the revelations
made by the German broadcast of the 12th April, 1943, and apart
from a few words let drop at the time by the prison guards, only
the testimony of scribblings on the railway wagons in which they
were transported affords any indication of their destination.
The same wagons, seem to have done a shuttle service between
Kozielsk and the detraining station; and on these some of the
first parties to be transported had scratched the words: "Don't
believe that we are going home," and the news that their
destination had turned out to be a small station near Smolensk.
These messages were noticed when the vans returned to Smolensk
station, and have been reported to us by prisoners at Kozielsk,
who were later sent to Griazovetz.
7. But though of positive indications as to what subsequently
happened to the 10,000 officers there was none until the grave
at Katyn was opened, there is now available a good deal of negative
evidence, the cumulative effect of which is to throw serious
doubt on Russian disclaimers of responsibility for the massacre.
8. In the first place there is the evidence to be derived
from the prisoners' correspondence, in respect to which information
has been furnished by officers' families in Poland, by officers
now with the Polish armyr in the Middle East, and by the Polish
Red Cross Society. Up till the end of March 1940 large numbers
of letters had been despatched, which were later received by
their relatives, from the officers confined at Kozielsk, Starobielsk
and Ostashkov; whereas no letters from any of them (excepting
from the 400 moved to Griazovtez) have been received by anybody
which had been despatched subsequent to that date. The Germans
overran Smolensk in July 1941, and there is no easy answer to
the question why, if any of the 10,000 had been alive between
the end of May 1940 and July 1941, none of them ever succeeded
in getting any word through to their families.
9. In the second place there is the evidence of the correspondence
between the Soviet Government and the Polish Government. The
first request for information about the 10,000 was made by M.
Kot of M. Wyshinsky, on the 6th October, 1941. On the 3rd December,
1941, General Sikorski backed up his enquiry with a list of 3,845
names of officers included among them. General Anders furnished
the Soviet Government with a further list of 800 names on the
18th March, 1942. Enquiries about the fate of the 10,000 were
made again and again to the Russian Government verbally and in
writing by General Sikorski, M. Kot, M. Romer, Count Raczyfiski
and General Anders between October 1941 and April 1943. The Polish
Red Cross between August and October 1940 sent no less than 500
questionnaires about individual officers to the Russian Government.
To none of all these enquiries extending over a period of two
and a half years was a single positive answer of any kind ever
returned. The enquirers were told either that the officers had
been released, or that "perhaps they are already in Germany,"
or that "no information" of their whereabouts was available,
or (Molotov to M. Kot, October 1941) that complete lists of the
prisoners were available and that they would all be delivered
to the Polish authorities "dead or alive." But it is
incredible that if any of the 10,000 were released, not one of
them has ever appeared again anywhere, and it is almost equally
incredible, if they were not released, that not one of them should
have escaped subsequent to May 1940 and reported himself to the
Polish authorities in Russia
or Persia. That the Russian authorities should have said of
any Polish officer in Soviet jurisdiction that they had "no
information" also provokes incredulity; for it is notorious
that the N.K.V.D. collect and record the movements of individuals
with the most meticulous care.
10. In the third place there is the evidence of those who
have visited the grave: first, a Polish commission including,
among others, doctors, journalists and members of the Polish
Assistance Committee, a former president of the Polish Academy
of Literature and a representative of the Mayor of Warsaw; secondly,
another Polish commission which included priests, doctors, and
representatives of the Polish Red Cross Society; thirdly, an
international commission of criminologists and pathologists,
of which the personnel is given in Annex I. The report of this
commission forms Annex II to this despatch, and the reports of
the two Polish commissions add little to it. It is deposed by
all that several hundred identifications have been established.
All this evidence would normally be highly suspect since the
inspections took place under German auspices and the results
reached us through German broadcasts. There are fair grounds
for presuming that the German broadcasts accurately represented
the findings of the commissions, that the commissions' findings
were at any rate in some respects well founded, and that the
grounds were sound on which at any rate some of the identifications
11. In the fourth place there is the fact that a mass execution
of officer prisoners would be inconsistent with what we know
of the German army. The German army has committed innumerable
brutalities, but the murder by them of prisoners of war, even
of Poles, is rare. Had the German authorities ever had these
10,000 Polish officers in their hands we can be sure that they
would have placed some or all of them in the camps in Germany
already allotted to Polish prisoners, while the 6,000 other ranks,
policemen and civil officials would have been put to forced labour.
In such case the Polish authorities would in the course of two
years certainly have got into touch with some of the prisoners;
but, in fact, none of the men from Kozielsk, Starobielsk or Ostashkov
have ever been heard of from Germany.
12. Finally there is the evidence to be derived from the confusion
which characterises explanations elicited from or volunteered
by the Soviet Government. Between August 1941 and the 12th April,
194, when the Germans announced the discovery of the grave at
Katyn, the Russian Government had, among other excuses, maintained
that all Polish officers taken prisoner in 1939 had been released.
On the other hand, in conversation with the Polish Ambassador,
a Russian official who had drunk more than was good for him,
once referred to the disposal of these officers as "a tragic
error." On the 16th April, immediately after the German
announcement, the Soviet Information Bureau in Moscow suggested
that the Germans were misrepresenting as victims of Russian barbarity
skeletons dug up by archaeologists at Gniezdowo, which lies next
door to Katyn. On the 26th April M. Molotov, in a note to the
Polish Ambassador in Moscow, said that the bodies at Katyn were
those of Poles who had at one time been prisoners of the Russians
but had subsequently been captured by the Germans in their advance
at Smolensk in July 1941 and had been murdered then by them.
On a later occasion, and when the German broadcasts gave reason
to think that some bodies were sufficiently well preserved to
be identifiable, the Russian Government put forward a statement
that the Polish officers had been captured by the Germans in
July 1941, had been employed upon construction work, and had
only been murdered shortly before the German "discovery"
was announced. This confusion cannot easily be understood except
on the assumption that the Russian Government had something to
13. The cumulative effect of this evidence is, as I said earlier,
to throw serious doubt on Russian disclaimers of responsibility
for a massacre. Such doubts are not diminished by rumours which
have been current during the last two and a half years that some
of the inmates of Kozielsk, Starobielsk and Ostashkov had been
transported towards Kolyma, Franz Joseph Land or Novaya Oemlya,
some or all of these being killed en route. It may be that this
was so, and it may be that some less number than ten thousand
odd were destroyed and buried at Katyn; but whether the massacre
occurred (if it did occur) in one place or two places or three
places naturally makes no difference to Polish sentiments. These
will accordingly be described without reference to the uncertainty
which exists as to the exact number of victims buried near Smolensk.
14. With all that precedes in mind it is comprehensible that
the relatives and fellow officers of the men who disappeared
should have concluded that these had in fact been murdered by
their Russian captors and should picture their
last hours--somewhat as follows--with bitter distress. The
picture is a composite one to which knowledge of the district,
the German broadcasts, experience of Russian methods and the
reports of visitors to the grave have all contributed, but it
is not so much an evidentially established description of events
as a reconstruction in the light of the evidence--sometimes partial
and obviously defective--of what may have happened. But it--or
something like it--is what most Poles believe to have happened,
and what I myself, in the light of all the evidence, such as
it is, incline to think happened. Many months or years may elapse
before the truth is known, but because in the meantime curiosity
is unsatisfied and judgment in suspense, we cannot, even if we
would--and much less can Poles-make our thoughts, and feelings
unresponsive to the dreadful probabilities of the case.
15. Smolensk lies some 20 kilom. from the spot where the common
graves were discovered, it has two stations and in or near the
town the main lines from Moscow to Warsaw and from Riga to Orel
cross and recross each other. Some 15 kilom, to the west of Smolensk
stands the unimportant station of Gniezdowo, and it is but a
short mile from Gniezdowo to a place known locally as Kozlinaya
Gore or "The Hill of Goats." The district of Katyn,
in which this little hill stands, is covered with primeval forest
which has been allowed to go to rack and ruin. The forest is
mostly coniferous, but the pine trees are interspersed here and
there with hardwoods and scrub. The month of April normally brings
spring to this part of the country, and by early May the trees
are green; but the winter of 1939-40 had been the hardest on
record, and when the first parties from Kozielsk arrived on the
8th April there would still have been occasional patches of snow
in deep shade and, of course, much mud on the rough road from
the station to the Hill of Goats. At Gniezdowo the prison vans
from Kozielsk, Starobieisk and Ostashkov discharged their passengers
into a barbed-wire cage surrounded by a strong force of Russian
soldiers, and the preparations made here for their reception
must have filled most of the Polish officers with disquiet, and
some indeed with dismay who remembered that the forest of Katyn
had been used by the Bolsheviks in 1919 as a convenient place
for the killing of many Czarist officers. For such was the case,
and a Pole now in London, Janusz Laskowski, tells me that when
he was eleven years old he had to listen every evening to an
account of his day's work from one of the executioners, Afanaziev,
who was billeted in his mother's house. From the cage the prisoners
were taken in lorries along a country road to the Hill of Goats,
and it must have been when they were unloaded from the lorries
that their hands were bound and that dismay gave way to despair.
If a man struggled, it seems that the executioner threw his coat
over his head, tying it round his neck and leading him hooded
to the pit's edge, for in many cases a body was found to be thus
hooded and the coat to have been pierced by a bullet where it
covered the base of the skull. But those who went quietly to
their death must have seen monstrous sight, in the broad deep
pit their comrades lay, packed closely round the edge, head to
feet, like sardines in a tin, but in the middle of the grave
disposed less Orderly. Up and down on the bodies the executioners
tramped, hauling the dead bodies about and treading in the blood
like butchers in a stockyard. When it was all over and the last
shot had been fired and the last Polish head been punctured,
the butchers--perhaps trained in youth to husbandry--seem to
have turned their hands to one of the most innocent of occupations:
smoothing the clods and planting little conifers all over what
had been a shambles. It was, of course, rather late in the year
for transplanting young trees, but not too late; for the sap
was beginning to run in the young Scots pines when, three years
later, the Polish representatives visited the site.
16. The climate and the conifers are not without significance.
The climate of Smolensk accounts for the feet that, though the
Germans first got wind of the existence of the mass graves in
the autumn of 1942, it was only in April of 1943 that they published
to the world an account of what had been unearthed. The explanation
is surely this: not that the German propagandists had chosen
a politically opportune moment for their revelations, but that
during the winter the ground at Smolensk is frozen so hard that
it would have been impossible to uncover corpses without dynamite
or such other violent means as would have destroyed the possibility
of identifying dead bodies. The winter of 1942-43 was exceptionally
mild and the German authorities probably got to work as soon
as the soil was sufficiently soft. The little conifers also deserve
more attention than they have received. In the first place they
are presumptive evidence of Russian guilt; for, considering the
conditions under which the German army advanced through Smolensk
in July 1941 in full expectation of early and complete
victory, it is most unlikely, if the Polish officers had been
murdered by Germans and not Russians, that the Germans would
have bothered to cover up their victims' graves with young trees.
In the second place, one of these young trees under examination
by a competent botanist would reveal beyond any possibility of
doubt whether it had last been transplanted in May 1940 or some
time subsequent to July 1941. Perhaps this test of Russian veracity
will presently be made.
17. The political background against which the events described
in paragraph 15 are viewed by Poles is by contrast a matter of
undisputed history, including as it does all the long story of
partitions, rebellions and repressions, the Russo-Polish war
of 1919-20, the mutual suspicions which this left behind it,
the unannounced invasion of Poland by Russia in September 1939,
the subsequent occupation of half Poland by Russia and the carrying
into captivity of some million and a half of its inhabitants.
More recently comes the virtual annexation of the occupied eastern
parts of Poland, the refusal of the Russian Government to recognise
as Polish citizens the inhabitants of the occupied districts,
the suppression of relief organisations for Poles in Russia and
the persecution of Poles refusing to change their own for Russian
Poles learned that, in addition to all these misfortunes, round
about 10,000 men of the best breeding stock in Poland had (according
to Russian accounts) been either dispersed and "lost"
somewhere in the Soviet Union or else abandoned to the advancing
German armies, or had (according to German accounts) been found
to have been murdered by the Russians, many of them naturally
concluded (though I do not here give it as my own conclusion)
that the Soviet Government's intention had been to destroy the
very foundations upon which their own Poland could be rebuilt.
This sinister political intention imputed by Poles to Russia
poisoned the wound and enhanced the sufferings of a nation already
outraged and dismayed by the conduct of the Soviet Government.
Some Poles, remembering Lenin's attitude to the holocausts of
1917 and subsequent years, and probing the dark recesses of Stalin's
mind when he took (if take he did) the dreadful decision, compare
disciple with master. Lenin would have broken apart, the heads
of ten thousand Polish officers with the insouciance of a monkey
cracking walnuts. Did corpses pitching into a common grave with
the precision of machines coming off a production-belt similarly
satisfy a nature habituated to manipulate blood and lives with
uncompassionate detachment? Some at any rate so interpret Stalin's
mind. "These men are no use to us," they imagine him
as saying; " in fact they are a nuisance and a danger. Here
is an elite of talent, here is valour and a hostile purpose.
These stallions must not live to sire a whole herd of hostile
Christian thoroughbreds. Many of the brood-mares have already
been sold to Siberian peasants and the camel-pullers of Kazakstan.
Their foals and yearlings can be broken to Communist harness.
Rid me of this stud farm altogether and send all this turbulent
bloodstock to the knackers."
18. The men who were taken to Katyn are dead, and their death
is a very serious loss to Poland. Nevertheless, unless the Russians
are cleared of the presumption of guilt, the moral repercussions
in Poland, in the other occupied countries and in England of
the massacre of Polish officers may well have more enduring results
than the massacre itself; and this aspect of things, therefore,
deserves attention. As I have as yet seen no reliable reports
on public feeling in Poland and German-occupied Europe, my comments
will relate only to our own reaction to the uncovering of the
19. This despatch is not primarily concerned with the reaction
of the British public, press or Parliament, who are not in such
a good position as His Majesty's Government to form an opinion
as to what actually happened. We ourselves, on the other hand,
who have access to all the available information, though we can
draw no final conclusions on vital matters of fact, have a considerable
body of circumstantial evidence at our disposal, and I think
most of us are more than half convinced that a large number of
Polish officers were indeed murdered by the Russian authorities,
and that it is indeed their bodies (as well, maybe, as other
bodies) which have now been unearthed. This being so, I am impelled
to examine the effect on myself of the facts and allegations,
and to adjust my mind to the shocking probabilities of the case.
Since the Polish Government is in London and since the affair
has been handled directly by yourself and the Prime Minister
with General Sikorski and Count Raczynski, it may seem redundant
for me to comment on it, as I should naturally do were the Polish
Government and I both abroad; but though all important conversations
have been between Ministers and the leaders of the Polish Govermnent,
my contacts have doubtless been more numerous than yours during
the last few weeks
Poles of all kinds, and they have possibly spoken to me with
less reserve than to yourself. I hope therefore I may, without
impertinence, submit to you the reflections which follow.
20. In handling the publicity side of the Katyn affair we
have been constrained by the urgent need for cordial relations
with the Soviet Government to appear to appraise the evidence
with more hesitation and lenience than we should do in forming
a common-sense judgment on events occurring in normal times or
in the ordinary course of our private lives; we have been obliged
to appear to distort the normal and healthy operation of our
intellectual and moral judgments; we have been obliged to give
undue prominence to the tactlessness or impulsiveness of Poles,
to restrain the Poles from putting their ease clearly before
the public, to discourage any attempt by the public and the press
to probe the ug1y story to the bottom. In general we have been
obliged to deflect attention from possibilities which in the
ordinary affairs of life would cry to high heaven for elucidation,
and to withhold the full measure of solicitude which, in other
circumstances, would be shown to acquaintances situated as a
large number of Poles now are. We have in fact perforce used
the good name of England like the murderers used the little conifers
to cover up a massacre; and in view of the immense importance
of an appearance of allied unity and of the heroic resistance
of Russia to Germany, few will think that any other course would
have been wise or right.
21. This dislocation between our public attitude and our private
feelings we may know to be deliberate and inevitable; but at
the same time we may perhaps wonder whether, by representing
to others something less than the whole truth so far as we know
it, and something less than the probabilities so far as they
seem to us probable, we are not incurring a risk of what--not
to put a fine point on it might darken our vision and take the
edge off our moral sensibility. If so, how is this risk to be
22. At first sight it seems that nothing less appropriate
to a political despatch than a discourse upon morals can be imagined;
but yet, as we look at the changing nature of the international
world of to-day, it seems that morals and international politics
are becoming more and more closely involved with each other.
This proposition has important consequences; but since it is
not universally accepted I hope the following remarks in support
of it are not out of place.
23. Nobody doubts that morals now enter into the domestic
politics of the United Kingdom, but it was not always so. There
was a time when the acts of the Government in London were less
often the fruit of consultation and compromise in the general
interests of all than of the ascendancy of one class or group
of citizens who had been temporarily successful in the domestic
arena. It was realisation of the interdependence of all classes
and groups of the population of England, Scotland and Wales which
discouraged the play of intestine power-politics and set the
welfare of all above the advantage of the strong. Similar causes
are producing similar results in the relations of States to each
other. "During the last four centuries of our modern era,"
writes Professor Pollard, "the last word in political organisation
has been the nation; but now that the world is being unified
by science and culture" the conception of the nation state
as the largest group in which human beings are organically associated
with each other is being superseded by the conception of a larger,
it may be of a European, or indeed of a world-wide unity; and
"the nation is taking its place as the bridge, the half-way
house, between the individual and the human family.
Europe, and indeed the world, are in process of integrating
themselves, and "the men and women of Britain," as
you said at Maryland, "are alive to the fact that they live
in one world with their neighbours". This being so, it would
be strange if the same movement towards the coalescence of smaller
into larger groups which brought about the infiltration of morals
into domestic polities were not also now bringing about the infiltration
of morals into international polities. This, in fact, it seems
to many of us is exactly what is happening, and is why, as the
late Mr. Headlam Morley said, "what in the international
sphere is morally indefensible generally turns out in the long
run to have been politically inept."
It is surely the ease that many of the political troubles
of neighbouring countries and some of our own have in 'the past
arisen because they and we were incapable of seeing this or unwilling
to admit it.
24. If, then, morals have become involved with international
polities, if it be the case that a monstrous crime has been committed
by a foreign Government--albeit a friendly one--and that we,
for however valid reasons, have been obliged to behave as if
the deed was not theirs, may it not be that we now stand in danger
of bemusing not only others but ourselves: of falling, as
Mr. Winant said recently at Birmingham, under St. Paul's curse
on those who can see cruelty "and burn not ". If so,
and since no remedy can be found in an early alteration of our
public attitude towards the Katyn affair, we ought, maybe, to
ask ourselves how consistently with the necessities of our relations
with the Soviet Government, the voice of our political conscience
is to be kept up to concert pitch. It may be that the answer
lies, for the moment, only in something to be done inside our
own hearts and minds where we are masters. Here at any rate we
can make a compensatory contribution--a reaffirmation of our
allegiance to truth and justice and compassion. If we do this
we shall at least be predisposing ourselves to the exercise of
a right judgment on all those half political, half moral, questions
(such as the fate of Polish deportees now in Russia) which will
confront us both elsewhere and more particularly in respect to
Polish-Russian relations as the war pursues its course and draws
to its end; and so, if the facts about the Katyn massacre turn
out to be as most of us incline to think, shall we vindicate
the spirit of these brave unlucky men and justify the living
to the dead.
I have, &c.
List of Personnel composing the Commission of Criminologists
Dr. Spoleers, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University
Dr. Markow, Instructor in Forensic Medicine and Criminology
at the University of Sofia.
Dr.Tramsen, Assistant Professor of Anatomy at the Institute
for Forensic Medicine in Copenhagen.
Dr. Saxen, Professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University
Dr.Palmieri, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology
at the University of Naples.
Dr.Miloslawich, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology
at the University of Agram.
Dr. de Burlet, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Troningen.
Dr. Hajek, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology
Dr..Birkle, Coroner of the Roumanian Ministry of Justice and
First Assistant at the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminology
Dr.Naville, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University
Dr.Subik, Professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University
of Bratislava and head of the Public Health Service of Slovakia.
Dr. Orsos, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology
at the University of Budapest.
Dr.Buhtz. Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology at
the University of Breslau.
Dr.Costedoat Medical Inspector.
Katyn Wood: Text of Protocol, Berlin.
The report of the international commission of scientists on
the examination of the mass graves at Katyn Wood in the main
section reads as follows: From the 28th April to the 30th April,
1943, a commission composed of leading representatives of forensic
medicine at European Universities and other prominent University
professors of medicine have conducted a thorough scientific examination
of the mass graves of Polish officers in Katyn Wood. The discovery
of those mass graves, which was recently brought to the attention
of the German authorities, prompted Reich's Chief Health Officer,
Dr. Conti, to invite experts from various European countries
to inspect the Katyn site in order thus to contribute to the
clarification of this unique case. Members of the commission
personally heard the testimonies of several Russian native witnesses
who, among others, confirmed that during the months of March
and April. 1940, almost daily big railway transports with Polish
officers arrived at the station of Gniesdovo, near
Katyn, where the Polish officers alighted and were then transported
in a prisoners motor van to Katyn Wood and were not seen again;
the commission further took cognisance of the discoveries and
facts thus far established and inspected objects of circumstantial
evidence. Accordingly, up to the 30th April, 1943, 982 bodies
were exhumed, of which approximately 70 per cent have been identified,
while papers found on others must first be subjected to careful
preliminary treatment before they can be used for identification.
Bodies exhumed prior to the commission's arrival were all inspected,
and a considerable number of bodies were dissected by Professor
Buhty and his assistants. Up to to-day seven mass graves have
been opened, the biggest of which is estimated to contain the
bodies of 2,000 Polish officers. Members of the commission personally
dissected nine corpses and submitted numerous specially selected
cases to post-mortem. It was confirmed that all those so far
exhumed died from bullets in their heads. In all cases, bullets
entered the nape. In the majority of' cases only one bullet was
fired. Two bullets were fired only rarely and only one case was
found where three bullets had been fired into the nape. All the
bullets were fired from pistols of less than eight mm. calibre.
The spot where the bullets penetrated leads to the assumption
that the shot was fired with the muzzle pressed against the nape
or from the closest range.
The surprising regularity of the wounds… permits the
assumption that the shots were fired by experienced hands. Numerous
bodies revealed a similar method of tying the hands, and in some
cases stabs from four-edged bayonets were found on bodies and
clothes. The method of tying is similar to that found on the
bodies of Russian civilians that were earlier exhumed in Katyn
Forest. The assumption is justified that a ricochetted bullet
first killed one officer, then went into the body of one already
dead in the pit-- the shootings apparently being made in ditches
to %avoid having the bodies transported to graves. The mass graves
are situated in clearings in the forest, the ground being completely
levelled off and planted with young pines. The mass graves were
dug in undulating terrain which consists of pure sand in terraces,
the lowest going down as far as the ground water. Bodies lay,
practically without exception, face down, closely side by side
and in layers one above the other, clearly ledged methodically
at the sides of pits and more irregularly in the centre. The
uniforms of the exhumed bodies, according to the unanimous opinion
of the commission, were, especially with regard to buttons, rank
insignia, decorations, form of boots, etc. undoubtedly Polish.
They had winter wear. Frequently furs, leather coats, knitted
vests and typical Polish officers' caps have been found. Only
a few bodies were those of other ranks. One body was that of
a priest. The measurements of the clothes correspond with the
measurements of the wearer. No watches or rings were found on
the bodies, although from the exact date and time found in entries
in several diaries, the owners must have had these objects up
to their last days, even hours.
Comments found on bodies--diaries, correspondence, newspapers--are
from the period of the autumn of 1939 to March and April 1940.
The latest hitherto established date is that of a Russian newspaper
of the 22nd April, 1940. There were varying degrees of decomposition
of the bodies, differing according to the position of the bodies
within the grave and their juxtaposition to each other. A large
number of skulls were examined for changes which, according to
the experiences of Professor Orsoa, are of great importance for
the determination of the time of death. These changes consist
of various layers of calcareous tuft-like incrustation on the
surface of the already loamy brain matter. Such changes are not
to be observed on bodies that have been interred for less than
three years. But this change was observed to a marked degree
on the skull of the body No. 526, which was found with a surface
layer in one big mass grave.