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Katyn: A Crime Without Punishment (Annals of Communism Series)
edited by Anna M. Cienciala, Natalia S. Lebedeva, and Wojciech Materski

Yale University Press, January 2008


Following the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939 (a result of the infamous Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact), 14,500 Polish army officers, policemen, gendarmes, and civilians taken prisoner by the Red Army and held in three special NKVD camps – Kozielsk, Ostaszkowo and Starobielsk – were executed at three different sites in spring 1940, of which the one in Katyn Forest is the most famous. Another 7,300 prisoners held in NKVD jails in Ukraine and Belarus were also shot at this time. The murder of these Poles is among the most monstrous mass murders undertaken by any modern government.

In February 1943 the Germans announced that they had discovered the graves of those murdered by the NKVD in Katyn. The Soviets denied having done it and accused the Germans of the crime, deliberately fabricating evidence. The post-war Communist regime in Poland silenced the truth about the massacre. But for the people, it became a key symbol of oppression, falsified history, and dependence on the Soviet Empire.

Three leading historians of the NKVD massacres of Polish prisoners of war at Katyn, Kharkov, and Tver – now subsumed under “Katyn” – present 122 documents selected from the published Russian and Polish volumes that were edited by Natalia S. Lebedeva and Wojciech Materski. The documents, with introductions and notes by Prof. Cienciala, detail the Soviet killings, the elaborate cover-up, the admission of the truth, and the Katyn question in Soviet/Russian-Polish relations up to the present.

"An extremely important book on one of the signature crimes of Stalinism and one of the great efforts of obfuscation of Soviet propaganda." – Timothy Snyder, Yale University

Anna M. Cienciala, a specialist in twentieth-century Polish diplomatic history and Katyn, is a retired professor of history at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. For her editorial work on this book she is the 2007 recipient of a special Distinguished Achievement Award, given by the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America. Natalia S. Lebedeva, the leading Russian historian of Katyn, is a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, who has edited other documents and published articles on Soviet-Polish relations, the Comintern, and other subjects. Wojciech Materski, the leading Polish historian of Soviet/Russian–Polish relations and Katyn, is director of the Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.

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