Thursday, April 11, 2013


In broadcasts picked up in London, Radio Berlin announces the discovery of an execution site outside Smolensk with thousands of bodies of uniformed Polish officers.
Although London heard the Radio Berlin announcement on the 11th, the Warsaw Red Cross had been determining as to how to proceed since the 9th when the Reich Propaganda Ministry representative had delivered his statement.
The Propaganda Ministry had first made announcement in Warsaw calling for Poles to join the fight with the Germans against the Soviets,
                The time had come for reconciliation between the Polish and the Germans, under the sign of the joint effort to fight for the civilization of Europe against the barbaric East
 as the Polish Red Cross representatives refused to be present at the meeting, one of the Germans first called and then came personally to advise them and also inform them about a planned visit to Katyn. The Red Cross officials demurred
                The chairman refused again because he said that is a pure propaganda move and the Red Cross must keep away from any propaganda
Nonetheless, he immediately contacted the Underground. Surprisingly, the Germans were patient and did not issue orders or threats of an immediate departure. By April 11, the Polish Red Cross had received a response from the Underground and as Dr. Skarzyński noted, they were instructed to participate in the visit
…we must take part as much as we can, and we decided to exhume the bodies to enable the families to get a list of the identified officers and to try to know who did the murder.
Then in a statement that sounds eerily similar to the one that would be made by Lt. Colonel John H. Van Vliet, Jr. about the opinion of the English-speaking witnesses, Kazimierz Skarzyński noted that
                I must tell you gentlemen, our first impression was the absolute impression that the Germans did it, and that we had to do with a German provocation, after seeing what we saw during these 2 ½ years.
That note of uncertainty would repeat itself, not only in the statements of the Polish Red Cross representatives, and the US Army officers, but also in the statements of the Polish POW officers held by the Germans and brought to the site.  They all were willing to believe that this was a German propaganda action.

©Krystyna Piórkowska