Thursday, April 4, 2013

70th Anniversary of the Announcement of the Discovery of the Katyn Massacre Site

No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv'd onely to discover sights of woe  

Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I


As we approach the 70th anniversary of the announcement of the discovery of the Katyn Massacre site it is appropriate to present a summary of the steps leading to discovery, the announcement and the role of various individuals in the events not only of 1943, but 1940 and 1951-2. I will attempt to present this information in a semi-chronological manner in month order – but given the twelve year span covered, as well as two continents, and at least four nations and a the nationals of a dozen or more countries, there may be some discrepancies in continuity.

This blog is based on three years research which was compiled in the book entitled English-speaking Witnesses to Katyn Recent Research Angielskojęzyczni Świadkowie Katynia Najnowsze Badania, which was published in a tète bèche Polish-English bilingual edition by the Muzeum Wojska Polskiego in July 2012, and also includes my research since that time.  The specific documents and quotations I will refer to are appropriately cited in the footnotes to the book, while the new material –which will include copies of the materials referencing the coded letters sent by the POWs, as well as new material about General Bissell and Dr. Milosavich, will be included in the revised edition of my book and precise citations will be included therein.   As I continue to blog about this material additional information will be included as it is located.

As Professor Anna Cienciala wrote in her review – the book is not meant for bedtime reading nor is this blog – but it will allow those who are interested to gain a deeper understanding of the entire process.

All materials are copyrighted by Krystyna Piórkowska, with the exception of documents which are in the possession of various national archives, while any images which I may use are the possession of either the English-speaking POWs families or of the West Point or Austrian National Library Archives.  Requests to quote or otherwise use any material in this blog should be submitted to

My goal in writing what I hope is a readable and factual on line description of the events of April-June 1943, January 1944 and October 1951-November 1952 is to
·         Present cogent facts and dispel various myths that continue to appear in print
·         To attempt to determine what actually occurred in G-2 in Washington, as well as
·         The sequence of various investigations, and
·         Most significantly to honor the efforts of the POW witnesses. I particularly want to publicize the committed efforts of the two West Point graduates – Lt. Colonel John H. Van Vliet, Jr. and Captain Donald B. Stewart – who from the first moment ensured that the truth about Katyn would be known.  It is my deep regret that neither the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile, nor the post-1989 government of the Republic of Poland, have ever honored these individuals, whose initial efforts to inform the US originated from Oflag 64, located in Nazi-Occupied Poland, within weeks of their return from Katyn and continued unabated until their deaths.

Krystyna Piórkowska
Warsaw-New York April 4, 2013