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---------- Forwarded message ---------- [Moderator's note: forgive the delay for this and the following posts. I've been out of town and have had an awful time catching up on my "to do" list. -MJM] Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 19:05:58 -0500 (CDT) From: Louis R. Coatney <email@example.com> [Martin, this might be of interest to H-RUSSIA, as well.] Despite the West's fear of Bolshevism's early vows to "liberate" the working classes of the rest of Europe and the world through violent revolution or military conquest--stopped at the gates of Warsaw by the Poles in the war of 1919-20--we had established working, commercial contacts with the Soviets by the 1920s and 1930s. American engineers and industrialists--Ford, etc.--helped the Soviets design some of their great industrial plants, like the tractor/tank factories at Chelyabinsk and Stalingrad (which would later produce the superb T-34, among other tanks, and help stop the Nazi war machine in its tracks). Recognition by the Roosevelt administration, coupled with the enthusiasm of key sectors of the American intelligentsia and media for the "progressive" ideas of Communist "social engineering"--see A BETTER WORLD by William O'Neill and James Crowl's ANGELS IN STALIN'S PARADISE, for example--and the apparently shared fear of the growing threat of Facism/Nazism, removed much of the anti-Soviet hostility in this country and the West. Then, the Soviet alliance with the Nazis in August 1939 and their joint invasion/conquest of Poland in September disillusioned some leftists and muchof the populace of the West about the nature and intent of the Soviets. The American public (more wisely than its government or intelligentsia) considered the Soviets as great a danger to world peace as the Nazis (as attested by contemporary public opinion data). However, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 and the mounting reports of Nazi atrocities against Slavs, Jews, and other peoples, elicited an outpouring of sympathy and (both Lend-Lease and public) support which the Soviet government exploited (with the energetic brilliance of a young Andrei Gromyko). Stalin's invasion-eve massacre of the more progressive half of the Red Army officer corps (which greatly facilitated the success of the Nazi invasion) went unreported, and he was quickly anointed with the image of the stern, benevolent "Uncle Joe," leading his people with Churchillian resolution in their own war of survival. But then, in Spring 1943, two public episodes occurred, one of which would have lasting significance. First, the Soviets announced that they had executed the Polish Jewish socialist "Bund" leaders Alter and Ehrlich for spying for the Poles and Germans(!) (Actually, their sin was remaining loyal to the Polish government in London.) Second, the *Nazis* announced their discovery of Katyn: one of the killing sites of 15,000 missing Polish officers and cadets, who had been sought from the Soviets (in whose custody they were last known to be), to lead the Polish Army. (The Nazis said they found "10,000," but there was actually only a little over 4,000 at Katyn. In 1992, the total number of killings at Katyn and elsewhere was discovered to have been 26,000.) Suspicions arose about the Soviets at two levels, in the West. At the governmental plane, a secret memorandum by British Ambassador to Poland O'Malley, describing the overwhelming evidence of Soviet guilt, was circulated to the American and British leaders. O'Malley forecast the moral dilemma that continued Anglo-American cooperation in the Soviet coverup and counter-accusation campaign (that the *Germans* had done it) would have on the Allies' "moral crusade" against the Nazis and on any postwar war crimes trials. (In fact, in 1946 Goering & Co. broke into derisive guffaws when they heard themselves solemnly accused at Nuremburg--by their former partners in crime, the Soviets, among others--of planning and waging aggressive war. Moreover, the Soviet-led attempt to convict the Germans of Katyn at Nuremburg led to a very public, embarrassing, and significant dropping of that charge.) Although Churchill (ruefully) and Roosevelt (willfully) went along with the Soviets on Katyn, to try to mitigate this grave crisis in inter-Allied diplomatic relations--even getting the Poles to withdraw their plaintive request for an impartial International Red Cross investigation--Stalin used Katyn as a pretext for termi- nating relations with the legitimate Polish government in London and for setting up his own Polish Communist government, which would become a pattern for the Soviets' intended political domina- tion of Eastern Europe. Even though the Alter/Ehrlich furor hadn't proven to be sufficient provocation for such a rupture, Katyn forced the Polish government to react, however innocuously, (with its request for the Red Cross investigation) under the seething pressure of emigree Poles, the Polish Army, and the Home Army/resistance back in Poland: e.g., the 28 Apr 43 CHICAGO TRIBUNE article, "American Polish Leaders Brand Russia a Nation of Liars and Old Conspirators." It should be noted, however, that the Polish government *never* directly/publicly accuse the Soviets of Katyn during WWII. Although the Office of War Information censored/suppressed accusations of Soviet guilt popping up in American media--Senator- to-be Allen Cranston playing his active role in that--the American public was not deceived. See "What the American Poeple Think of Russia," by Warren B. Walsh, PUBLIC OPINION QUARTERLY, Winter 1944- 45, 513-22. The honeymoon was over: although American public opinion support for the Soviets would later rebound in 1944 to a point even higher than ever before, analyst Walsh noted that there had crystallized in 1943 a (decisive, 34%) anti-Soviet hardcore. In Britain, Katyn impelled similar shock waves: it per- manently alienated Aneurin Bevin and various other influential members of the British Left from the Soviets, and it was a prime cause of the acrimonious pre-Teheran Feb 44 Parliament debate about Soviet political intentions. (See THE RUSSIA COMPLEX: THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY AND THE SOVIET UNION, by Bill Jones.) Although the Katyn issue was stigmatized by the *Nazis'* discovery of the graves, the Soviet refusal to assist the Poles in the Warsaw Uprising of August-October 1944 elicited further Anglo- American sympathy for the Poles and resurrected our anti-Soviet suspicions. Katyn and Warsaw galvanized Polish-Americans into becoming a serious political bloc in the United States, although they gullibly believed President Roosevelt's election-eve (and pre-Yalta) reassurances. At Potsdam, in Summer 1945, President Truman (who was irritated by Stalin's intransigence regarding HST's freedom-of-the-European- waterways/canals scheme) chided Stalin, wonderingly asking what actually happened to those Polish officers. Stalin, unaccustomed to being called to account for his murders and rightly paranoid about their potential political use against him coldly/sinisterly answered "They went away." Indeed, Soviet propaganda became even more hysterical and strident than ever--the "germ warfare" charge campaign --and Stalin was beginning to seriously discuss war with the West, at the time of the U.S. Congressional hearings on Katyn. Stalin, anyway, understood Truth for the terminal threat to him that it was. This brings us to an important point about Katyn: The Soviets and East Europeans understood its primacy (even if Western intellec- tuals and leaders haven't, so far) in the maintenance of the lies and terror which held those peoples hostage. As the Czech intellectual and dissident-to-be-president Vaclav Havel has written, as long as the Soviets could get EE peoples to submit to and mouth such lies themselves--even if *everyone* *knew* they were lies-- the Soviets proved they retained ultimate intimidation/control. The importance of Katyn to the Hungarians, for example, was implicit in Dr. Ferenc Vali's description of the Hungarian "Titoist" Laszlo Rajk and his companions as "this Hungarian Katyn." Indeed, in 1956 Khruschev offered to tell the truth about Katyn, if that would help the PolCom government. [Whoever the PolCom leader at the time was] begged him *not* to do so: Katyn was proof that the PolCom government owed its inception and continuance to a criminal act and terror. Katyn was the seal of its IL-legitimacy. Considering the "ultimate" significance of Katyn to the East Europeans (and Russians), the PolCom Jaruzelski government's official announcement in early 1989 of *Soviet* responsibility for Katyn signalled the ultimate liberation from lies Havel had recognized as essential for East Europeans' political emancipation. (Katyn had quickly become *the* issue for resolution by the Soviet- Polish "blank spots" commission of historians, convened to avert just such an explosion of interest and political fallout.) Indeed, at the same time, Sov For Min Shevardnadze, KGB chief Kruchkov, and international affairs director Falin convened as a special Katyn subcommittee of the Soviet Politburo, in an attempt to find a way to stop the increasingly terminal political damage of Katyn. (In the spirit of the holiday at hand, it was as though those thousands of rotted Polish corpses had risen en masse to begin an irresistible march on up the road to Moscow, to conquer the Soviet Kremlin as it never had been before--and avenge themselves with its fall. Once the Poles had declared their intellectual/historical integrity/emancipation on this ultimate "Truth" issue of Katyn, AND THE SOVIETS WOULD/COULD DO NOTHING TO STOP THEM, Soviet hegemony/regimes in Eastern Europe and even the Berlin Wall itself began their final disintegration. That is why I believe Katyn was inceptive to both the beginning and the end of the Cold War. Lou Coatney, Historian at Large firstname.lastname@example.org (Once again, my siginificance-of-Katyn thesis, which examines these and other issues in greater depth is available for ftp-ing/ downloading from Byrd.mu.wvnet.edu.)