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Shifting attitudes toward Soviet Union culpability for the Katyn Forest Massacre

in the U.S. media: selected TIME magazine articles 1943-1972.

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Good for Goebbels. TIME, Apr. 26, 1943

Berlin radio reported last week that German occupation authorities near Smolensk had found the corpses of 10,000 Polish officers. These unfortunate men, purred Berlin, had been murdered by the Russians in the spring of 1940. Dr. Joseph Goebbels' story produced immediate results:

– The Polish Government in Exile promptly remembered that 8,300 Polish officers and 7,000 men taken prisoner by the Russians in September 1939 had been missing for three years. The indignant Poles requested an International Red Cross commission to investigate. The Nazis politely offered all facilities to such a commission.

– The U.S. National Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington charged that Russia was holding 2,000,000 Poles "as virtual hostages," and that Soviet officials had been confiscating relief packages sent to Polish internees in Russia by U.S. citizens.
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time cover 02-07-44Day in the Forest. TIME, Feb. 7, 1944

Eighteen men and a girl gathered on the windswept platform of Moscow's White Russian Station. The girl was Kathleen Harriman, attractive, dark-haired, 25-year-old daughter of U.S. Ambassador W. Averell Harriman. The men were foreign correspondents. Together they boarded a four-car special train—warm, well lighted, well stocked—which they owed to Kathy. Originally their Russian hosts had planned the outing in automobiles, with each man taking his own food for three days, but they had rolled out the special when Miss Harriman asked to come along. The party played cards, ate with their official hosts in the cheery dining car, slept in soft berths as the wagons-lits swayed leisurely westward. In the morning they were in Smolensk, a ruined monument to the German occupation, and the scene of a great outrage which had become a sharp world political issue.
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time cover 07-14-52Verdict on Katyn. TIME, Jul. 14, 1952

Ever since 1943, when the Berlin radio charged that the Russians had murdered thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn (rhymes with sateen) Forest near Smolensk, all Communists and many non-Communists have dismissed the accusation as Nazi propaganda. Nine months ago, however, a special committee of the House of Representatives headed by Indiana's Democratic Ray Madden launched its own investigation of the Katyn massacres (TIME, Nov. 26). Last week, after questioning witnesses in the U.S., Britain, Germany and Italy, Madden's group announced its verdict: "This committee unanimously agrees . . . that the Soviet NKVD committed the massacre of Polish army officers in the Katyn Forest. . . not later than the spring of 1940." Total number of Polish officers, intellectuals and clergymen believed to have been slaughtered by the Russians at Katyn and similar mass executions: 15,000.

time cover 07-17-72Death in the Katyn Forest. TIME, Jul. 17, 1972

Millions of Poles were killed by the Nazis during World War II, and every night, candles burn in memorial along the streets of Warsaw. But the most shocking atrocity of all—the murder of at least 4,500 Polish army officers in the Katyn Forest near the Russian city of Smolensk in 1940—is the one that Poles are forbidden to commemorate. Reason: the Soviets have long been suspected of doing the shooting. The Russians have persistently claimed that the Germans were responsible. Last week, in accord with the British practice of making official records public after 30 years, a secret report from Britain's wartime ambassador to Poland was released by the Foreign Office. It establishes, almost beyond doubt, that the Russians, who in 1940 were allied to the Germans, carried out the Katyn massacre. Based on what he called "a considerable body of circumstantial evidence," Owen O'Malley (now Sir Owen) wrote Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden in 1943: "Most of us are convinced that a large number of Polish officers were indeed murdered by the Russian authorities." [ read more ]
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