U.S. declassifies trove of documents on Katyn massacre during WWII
WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday declassified more than 1,000 pages of documents related to the Katyn massacre of thousands of Poles by Soviet forces during World War II.
The National Archives also announced the launch of a project to highlight Katyn-related material that had already been declassified by the record-keeping agency over the past few decades.
The department said the documents had been declassified at the request of two US lawmakers who wrote a letter to President Barack Obama in 2011 on behalf of a research body called the Katyn Council.
The massacre in 1940 ordered by Stalin in Katyn, near Smolensk in western Russia, claimed nearly 22,000 Polish lives, including those of many military officers.
The National Archives said a US congressional panel called the Madden Committee concluded in 1951 that the Soviet People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, or NKVD, was responsible.
The archives said on its website the question of America staging a cover up so as not to antagonize ally Stalin “was less clear cut.”
The Madden committee concluded that US officials failed to assess properly and act on “clear danger signals in Russian behavior evident as early as 1942,” the archives said.
The committee also concluded that US policy toward the Soviets might have been different “if information deliberately withheld from the public had been made available sooner,” the archives said.