Poland disappointed with European ruling over the 1940 Katyn massacre

WARSAW Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:37am EDT

A flower is attached to a wall inscribed with the names of killed Polish officers during a commemoration ceremony at a memorial complex in Katyn, about 350 km (217 miles) west of Moscow, April 10, 2013. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

A flower is attached to a wall inscribed with the names of killed Polish officers during a commemoration ceremony at a memorial complex in Katyn, about 350 km (217 miles) west of Moscow, April 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko

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WARSAW (Reuters) - The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Monday it was incompetent to judge whether Russia's investigation into the 1940 Katyn killings of Polish war prisoners was insufficient.

An estimated 22,000 Polish military officers and intellectuals were killed Katyn, western Russia, many of them trucked in from prison camps, shot in the head from behind, and shoved into mass graves.

After blaming Nazi Germany for the Katyn massacre for decades, the Soviet Union admitted in April 1990 that its forces were responsible. But none of the culprits has ever been identified and investigations have been shelved.

Relatives of those murdered by the Soviet secret police during World War II claimed that the 1990-2004 investigation by Russian authorities into the massacre was "inadequate".

But the court said it lacked jurisdiction to judge on the matter because the Katyn massacre took place before the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1950.

"I can only say that we are rather disappointed by this verdict," Deputy Foreign Minister Artur Nowak-Far said in a statement.

"The ruling does not take into account all the arguments of the Polish side that have here a great moral and historic right," he added.

The Katyn killings have been casting a shadow over relations between Poland and Russia for many years now, with Warsaw especially disappointed that Moscow was not willing to transfer documents concerning the massacre for further analysis.

The European court also agreed that Russia had failed in this regard by refusing to submit a key procedural decision from the investigation and offered no substantive reason for maintaining its classified status.

Germany invaded Poland from the west in 1939 and Soviet forces occupied the eastern half of Poland. As a result, tens of thousands of Polish military personnel fell into Soviet hands and were interned in prison camps inside the Soviet Union.

On April 13, 1943, the Germans said they had found the mass graves of Polish officers in Katyn forest near Smolensk.

(Reporting by Karolina Slowikowska; editing by Ron Askew)

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Comments (4)
The Soviet Union lost 20 million people fighting the Germans so this story is a bit much. Why not focus on German crimes, because they started it.

Oct 22, 2013 8:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
warsaw_bright wrote:
Germany lost 8 million people fighting the Allies so this story is a bit much. Why not focus on Ally crimes instead of irrelevant Soviet mass murders.

Oct 24, 2013 7:38am EDT  --  Report as abuse
OneOfTheSheep wrote:
@AfghanRailways,

Stalin and Hitler had a truce during this period, a marriage of convenience that provided both “time to prepare” for what was to come. Each “looked the other way” in regard to atrocities by either. When Hitler considered could not be subdued quickly, he unleashed his troops into an unsuspecting Russia with Operation Barbarossa.

The blood of the millions the “Soviet Union lost” can be poured on the feet of Stalin and his henchmen, whose purges virtually eliminated the Soviet trained/experienced officer corps before Russia found itself at war with Nazi Germany. Able to conscript almost unlimited numbers of unfortunate residents of their controlled territories, a majority were quickly put in the uniform of soldiers and sent to the front with little training.

Almost all Soviet military equipment was abandoned by Russians fleeing the German Blitzkrieg, and so they had to fight tanks with what rifles and machine guns, portable personal weapons. Again and again the Russians fed their troops into the German military meat grinder using the terrible math that they had more people than the Germans had bullets. They were ultimately proved right, but at a cost any free people would have demanded the heads of their so-called “leaders’.

So you would forgive such barbarism and incompetence simply because the perpetrators had Russian blood? Read more history before you speak nonsense. The Poles deserve an impartial and complete investigation and closure before there is no one left to remember.

Oct 24, 2013 9:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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