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A. Rudzienski

Katyn Massacre

A Tragedy That Bleeds

(23 June 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 26, 23 June 1947, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We herewith present the first part of an article by Comrade Rudzienski whose articles in Labor Action and the New International have constituted the principal source of information in the United States on the Polish situation. In the concluding section, which we will present next week, Rudzienski discusses the responsibility of the British imperialists, the scandalous policy of UNRRA, the role of the government-in-exile and General Anders staff as “an inferior employee of His Majesty’s government,” and the duty of class conscious workers to voice their protest and support the formation of the “third front of the World’s Socialist Revolution.”


There exists wide-spread knowledge of the assassination of 23,000 Polish prisoners of war, soldiers and officers, “liquidated” in classic GPU manner (a shot in the nape of the neck) in the camps of Kozielsk, Starobielsk and Katyn. When the assassination en masse of these innocent victims was uncovered, the Russian government categorically denied it, utilizing the occasion to break off relations with the Polish government-in-exile in London. The Stalinists – Molotov, Beria, etc. – denied the assassination, attributing responsibility to the Germans. But the organ of Marceau Pivert, The Masses, in its February–March 1947 number, reveals that the assistant chief of the GPU (NKVD) Merkulov, told the puppet Polish general, Berling, who headed the Stalinist-Polish army, that the 23,000 prisoners of war “had been liquidated through an error.” An error coldly and deliberately decided upon. An error that accuses and will continue to accuse the Stalin regime until its miserable end. How many hundreds of thousands, how many millions of Russians, Ukrainians, Jews and Germans have been liquidated in the same manner as these Polish prisoners of war? We do not know because no voice was raised in protest.

The tragedy of Katyn has been the fate of the entire Polish underground. The Warsaw Uprising was cold-bloodedly handed over to the Nazis so that the Stalinist police might be saved the executioner’s job. When the armies of the Russian invader occupied the ruins of that wasteland which was once the capital of a nation, the flying squads of the GPU began their labor of persecution against that Underground which had tenaciously fought the Nazis for so many years. With Stalin’s army, the agents, the spies, the persecution and assassins of the GPU were the first to enter the occupied cities, towns and villages. Their work had, been laid out by the spies of the Stalinist party, who long ago had drawn up the black lists of militants and leaders of the Polish Resistance.

The number of political prisoners has reached into the hundreds of thousands. The hangman Radkiewicz, chief of “Security,” admitted to the figure of 80,000 political prisoners in a country with 24 million inhabitants. Hundreds of thousands have been secretly carried off to forced-labor camps in Russia in the absence of any control by courts or normal legal procedure. Only those who joined the illegal armed groups were able to save themselves from the clutches of the Stalinist police. The Polish Underground was swept away on two fronts, handed over and sacrificed by the “Western Allies” to Stalin in order to fulfill the imperialist agreements of Yalta and Potsdam. Thus did Poland fall subject to the domination of the Russian conqueror.

Yet there still existed remnants of Polish resistance and independence outside the country, in the Polish army commanded by Anders, and the exiled Polish government, based on a coalition of four parties (nationalists, Christians, Peasants, and Socialists), the ghost of an independent Poland that stalked through Stalin’s dream, inheritor of the imperialist policies of the Czar. The Kremlin mobilized all its means of propaganda, all its lackeys and servitors in order to present the government of the reformist, Arciszewski (old fighter against the Czar, and himself worker), as a “fascist” government; and the Polish army which fought on all fronts against the Nazis, from Norway to Africa and Italy, which fought in Holland, Belgium and France, as “fascist condottiere.”

I know, dear readers, that I touch upon a “dangerous” and unrewarding theme, because the Left is still in the habit of viewing these events through the spectacles of Stalinist propaganda. Nevertheless, I cannot abstain from dealing with this problem. In its large majority, Ander’s Polish army is composed of those deported by Stalin after the Russian invasion of Poland in 1939. These hostages and political prisoners, condemned to death in Stalin’s forced labor camps, are in the main the humble Polish workers and peasants, as well as the intellectuals, of Eastern Poland, who would never have gotten out had it not been for Stalin’s pressing need, after the German invasion of 1941, to sign a Polish-Russian pact in 1942, to secure the alliance of Poland and England.

The vanguard of these men is composed of the militants of the Polish Socialist Party (FPS), the unions, and the Peasant Party, as well as many ex-communists who were as a rule condemned to forced labor by the GPU. Another important sections is made up of the Jewish soldiers, many ex-members of the Bund and other Jewish parties, as well as a high percentage of Ukrainians and White Russians, Polish citizens who entered the Polish army to escape the Stalinist inferno and return to their homes and lost land. The remainder is composed of Polish Pomeranians and Silesians, pressed into the German army, and the Poles deported, for forced labor into Germany and Western Europe, whom the Stalinist press stigmatizes as “Volksdeutsche” (converted Germans); finally, there are; the Polish miners of France and Belgium and the emigrants of South America, the U.S., and Canada.

The existence of a Polish army in England, and of an emigration, politically organized, constitutes a serious danger for the Russian autocracy. History teaches Stalin that the great stream, of Polish emigration into England and France after the revolution of 1831 converted itself into a center of revolutionary opposition to Czarism and European reaction, became a creative source of Polish culture and political resistance. Even though the present-day emigration possesses neither such conditions nor their possibility, still Stalin strives to annihilate all possible Polish political opposition outside of Poland, confident that in time the GPU will conquer all opposition inside. Here is the reason for his continuous and constant pressure on the Labor Party government in London to hand over the “anachronistic remains” of Polish independence.

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