In this posting I will analyze Grover Furr's 2018 book The Mystery of the Katyn Massacre: The Evidence, the Solution. A copy can be found online. I've already dealt with Furr several times at this blog, demonstrating his ignorance and lack of honesty and I have already dealt with some key arguments from this book here and elsewhere. As it is still used by the deniers of history to whitewash criminals, it is useful to take a closer look at it.
It is not the aim of this post to educate beginners about Katyn - in fact, following the arguments in this post can at times require some relatively advanced knowledge of the issue. The discussion is often compact (readers are supposed to have read and understood Furr's arguments on their own) and sometimes the counter-argumentation is presented in form of links to my Russian Katyn website with more details. That said, let me give a relatively short overview of the Katyn evidence.
Unlike originally in 1943, today the Katyn massacre is not tied only to the small Katyn forest near Smolensk. Nowadays it is an umbrella term for a whole series of massacres of the Polish POWs (from the POW camps Starobelsky, Kozelsky and Ostashkovsky, or, in English, the Starobelsk (Russian version will be used), Kozelsk and Ostashkov camps) and inmates from the prisons in the western parts of Ukraine and Belarus (annexed in 1939) in the spring (and in case of the prisoners even in the summer) of 1940, committed on Stalin's order (more specifically, the 05.03.1940 order of the Politburo). The grave sites are in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
There were about 22000 victims in all, most were ethnic Poles, but there were numerous ethnicities otherwise represented among them, including ethnic Germans, Ukrainians, Jews. Since they were former Polish citizens, we will use the term "Poles" in the sense of nationality here, when referring to the victims.
Since the victims included thousands of officers (fewer than half of the whole number), including generals, and a huge chunk of the Polish elite (reserve officers), their disappearance (lack of correspondence and any credible information about their whereabouts) was noticed immediately, and especially after the USSR failed to release them along with all the other amnestied Polish POWs in 1941. The Polish Government-in-Exile (PGiE) drafted the lists of the missing persons and unsuccessfully tried to clear up their fate by gathering information from the POWs previously held in USSR as well as by asking the NKVD officials and even Stalin directly (e. g. Sikorski and Anders tried to do it). They were met with evasive answers boiling down to „we don’t know what happened to them“. During and after the war some Polish officials (including the pro-Soviet ones) who had been contacted by the Soviet side with the aim of helping to create a Polish army in the USSR (and of course inquired about the army officers from Kozelsk and Starobelsk) would remember that the NKVD officials' replies were vague, talking about the officers' unavailability and some mistake that had happened (possibly hinting at having handed over the POWs to the Germans - something we know did not happen to this particular group).
In early 1943 the Germans reported finding the bodies of some of the missing POWs in the Katyn forest near Smolensk (those turned out to be the bodies of the Kozelsk camp POWs). The worst Polish suspicions seemed to be confirmed by the findings: the bulk of the names matched the missing persons; the documents on the bodies (letters, newspapers, diaries) were dated not later than the spring of 1940; the locals confirmed that the Poles were shot by the NKVD (this happened not only through the filter of the official German reports, which alone had little credibility, but also in personal talks during the visits to the site).
After the PGiE called on the Red Cross to investigate the allegations and USSR immediately broke all diplomatic relations with it.
Nevertheless, the evidence was extremely problematic in the eyes of the world. It was thought to have been gathered only by the Nazis and was propagandized by the agencies of the well-known liar Goebbels (indeed, the Nazis tried to blame the massacre on Jews and even published a fake list of Jewish names of the alleged NKVD men, though this was soon "forgotten" and the names never appeared in the final German report; the list has been recently resurrected in the social networks, along with many other absurdities from the previous centuries). Little was known about the fact that the Polish Red Cross took part in the exhumations and in its internal documentation confirmed their general authenticity, while pointing out various problems. Moreover, the Western Allies knew that the whole affair was only a maneuver on the Nazis' part in order to split the Allies, and thus chose to ignore the revelations.
In January of 1944 a Soviet investigative commission under Dr. Burdenko re-exhumed several hundred bodies in the Katyn forest and unsurprisingly "established" that the deed was done by the Germans (the guilt was ascribed to the Germans already in the name of the commission, so it could not have been otherwise). The reinterrogated witnesses said their previous testimonies were coerced by the Germans; several documents were allegedly found on the bodies dated long after the spring of 1940 (allegedly overlooked by the Germans). The commission's report settled the matter for many, or at the very least reduced it to a he-said-she-said, despite the fact that it did not clear up the fate of the missing officers from the other camps.
During the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg the Soviet Union tried to blame Katyn on the Germans, specifically it came up in the case against Goering. Internally, the Soviet judges argued that the Trial rules meant that the Burdenko report should be accepted as evidence and cannot be disputed. But the Western judges did not let the Soviets' trick slide and pointed out that although the rules allow for the report to be accepted as evidence, its veracity can be disputed by the defense. The judges reached a compromise – each side would provide 3 witnesses, who then testified. It was arguably a wash, likely unable to change the already formed opinions or remove doubts, and Katyn was not mentioned in the verdict, thus leaving the matter legally open.
During the Cold War the old political considerations did not matter anymore; in fact, Katyn could be used well against USSR. So there were several attempts to investigate it further, the most famous one being the Madden commission (The Select Committee to Conduct an Investigation and Study of the Facts, Evidence, and Circumstances of the Katyn Forest Massacre). In 1951-52 this House committee interrogated numerous witnesses (along with examining other evidence). This included the representatives of the PGiE, the former Polish POWs (incl. Prof. Stanisław Swianiewicz who testified about having seen his fellow POWs shortly before they were brought to the Katyn forest, while he himself was taken off the transport), the people who took part in exhumations, and even the former American Nuremberg prosecutor Jackson.
Albeit not without flaws (e. g. the commission examined an anonymous witness whom we know to be fake today – he testified about having witnessed the shooting; they also took some of the false rumors about the Ostashkov POWs having been drowned in barges somewhere seriously), the general picture painted by the commission was credible – there was the problem of the missing POWs, the Soviet side has failed to account for it sufficiently and the only plausible answer not requiring acrobatic assumptions was that the Soviet Union did it. The Soviet Union largely ignored the event, basically reissuing the Burdenko report in response (along with making some old witnesses repeat their stories).
Various researchers took up the topic from time to time, but there was not much new to add to the results of the Madden commission. A fake document, the so-called Tartakov report, seemingly confirming the shooting by the NKVD (most probably forged by the Polish émigré Mieczysław Gorączko), surfaced in the 1950s and was even used by some researchers (like Louis FitzGibbon), but that was that.
The real breakthrough came in the late 1980s, when the Soviet historians Lebedeva, Parsadanova et al. found and analyzed the archive of the Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees in the Special Archive in Moscow. They noted that the traces of the POWs abruptly end in the spring of 1940 with their transfers, e. g. in case of Kozelsk they were mostly sent to the train station Gnezdovo (near Smolensk and Katyn forest). The sequence of the layers in the Katyn graves was alleged to apparently somewhat correlate with the transfer lists (since no thorough study of this claim has been published, I bring it up only for completeness' sake, since it was mentioned as an argument). The Burdenko report was re-examined and its inconsistencies pointed out (e. g. no POW camps with designations „ON“ existed). It became clear that the POWs really disappeared from the internal Soviet records after the spring of 1940, which was extremely telling. The "missing Poles" issue, relevant already during the war, has now been confirmed by the Soviet documents. Albeit the evidence was indirect, but it was still obviously damning and had only one plausible explanation.
In 1990 Gorbachev, based on the historians' findings, officially admitted the Soviet guilt. However, Gorbachev also knew about the documents in the so-called sealed envelope in the Kremlin archive and chose not to reveal them.
Meanwhile the Soviet Prosecutors‘ Office started an official investigation into the Katyn-related crimes. It turned out that the Katyn forest was just one of several mass grave sites related to the crime. Several old ex-members of the NKVD confirmed having taken part in the massacre in various roles, the head of the Kalinin UNKVD Tokarev described the massacre in the Kalinin prison (Ostashkov POWs) in detail. Mass graves in Mednoye (at Kalinin, now Tver) and Pyatikhatki (Kharkiv) were partially investigated (remains of several hundred people were exhumed), the results were telling – the Polish POWs from Ostahskov and Starobelsk were indeed found, the documents found on the bodies were dated not later than the spring of 1940.
All this had already amply confirmed the Soviet guilt, but then came a new revelation, already after the fall of the USSR, under the Russian President Yeltsin. He was given the sealed envelope no.1 by Gorbachev and some time later allowed to make it public. Among other things it contained Beria’s March 1940 proposal to shoot the Poles, with positive resolutions by Stalin and other Politburo members; the official protocol of the Politburo decision; and the head of KGB Shelepin’s 1957 note proposing to destroy about 22,000 case files of the Poles shot on Stalin’s order. The documents were revealed in 1992 and published in the same year in Warsaw (complete versions) and, in January of 1993 in Russia (text versions with some facsimile fragments).
This brought new information to light: the victims were not only about 15,000 POWs but also about 7000 prison inmates, about which heretofore not much had been known. (Their existence was suggested by the numeration gaps in the troika protocols, and the new documents helped to explain the gaps).
Meanwhile, the Polish prosecutorial and archeological teams conducted their own partial exhumations in Katyn, Mednoye, Pyatikhatki, Bykivnia (further confirming the Soviet guilt; in Mednoye and Pyatikhatki alone the remains of no fewer than 4260 persons were found, the graves were decisively dated to the spring of 1940). And some time later the former Ukrainian KGB files in Kyiv about Pyatikhatki were opened and revealed some further information about the inmates of prisons who were shot (the correspondence about the so-called Ukrainian list), and about the KGB plans in 1969 to destroy the graves in Pyatikhatki (these internal KGB documents once again openly acknowledge the Soviet guilt).
Such is basically the state of knowledge today, very shortly. Still not clear are the location of the graves of the inmates from UkrSSR and BSSR (except for the Bykivnia graves) and the names of the victims from BSSR (the Belorussian list is still missing).
Some of this evidence is addressed by Furr, some is ignored, as we will see. While reading this critique, keep in mind, that Furr openly posits "a worldwide anticommunist conspiracy to ignore the truth about Katyn, as about many other alleged "crimes of Stalin" (p. 100).
And let me preempt a couple of usual responses, which, as I know from experience, may be coming.
1. "He uses invective against Furr, therefore there is no need to answer his arguments".
I don't think Furr is an opponent worthy of respect, that's true. I demonstrate his dishonesty and brazenness with which he makes claims based on his ignorance and ideological blindness, often without the simplest factchecking. My arguments still stand, whether I use invective or not.
(Presumably, Furr would agree with that last sentence, since he recommends Mukhin, who is known for his use of invective against his opponents. And while Furr mostly tries to use academic language (if not academic practices), his numerous and baseless claims of researchers lying, not being real historians etc. are basically invective.)
2. "He simply proposes hypotheses, not facts, so he proved nothing!"
In order to debunk an argument based on the lack of plausible alternatives it is sufficient to propose one.
There are several types of counter-arguments. Some debunk Furr's arguments directly with evidence, and I provide plenty of those. However, some of Furr's arguments basically boil down to an implicit claim, that no equally (or more) plausible alternative explanation for this or that state of facts exists. It then suffices to present just such an explanation, even if hypothetical, to destroy the argument's structure, since it was based on the alleged lack of such alternatives in the first place.
In it Furr summarizes quite a lot of his book, so most of the points will be addressed when he comes to them in later chapters. A couple of observations:
P. 9: "Mr. Romanov also made a significant error in historical method."
Furr doesn't prove any such error and quite soon it will become obvious, that it is he who is completely clueless about the historical method.
P. 11: "Holmes' words - that is, Conan Doyle's - precisely express my deeper motive in researching and writing this book. For there is "neither money nor credit in it." On the contrary, I can be assured that I will be attacked and slandered by those who are horrified to look the truth in the face and discover that it is not at all what they want it to be, Yet "one would wish to tidy it up" - to solve the mystery."
His motive could not be clearer: he is a Stalinist fanatic, who claims not to have found a single crime committed by Stalin (p. 12).
P. 12: "A bigger problem is that very few of the persons involved in studying Katyn are objective. They have decided that the "official" version is correct; that the Soviets killed the Polish POWs and that there is no doubt remaining about this. Moreover, they have decided that it is perverse to even raise the question. That simply to approach Katyn as a mystery implies that the solution has not been definitively determined for all time, and is therefore a dishonest thing to do, since it implies the possibility that the Soviets might not have done it. This attitude has discouraged objective study of Katyn."
This begs the very question, simply assuming that the Katyn mystery has not been solved, and thus these researchers have not simply accepted the objective truth that it was a Soviet deed.
P. 14: "Upon even closer scrutiny I realized that there is even less evidence than that in fact only few bits of evidence - that (for all practical purposes) cannot possibly have been fabricated or falsified in order to bias case in favor of one or the other version.
Consequently, in this study I concentrate on these few bits of what I call "unimpeachable evidence" - meaning, evidence that it is impossible to discredit as evidence (the interpretation is something else again). You, the reader, will make up your own mind whether this evidence is as clear and unambiguous, and my interpretation of it as correct, as I believe it to be."
And later on p. 25 he claims that primary evidence is scarce and "most of the evidence that does exist could have been fabricated in order to support one version or the other". On p. 29 we similarly see: "Our first task must be to decide whether, in all of the materials [...] there exists any primary source evidence that cannot possibly have been fabricated, forged, or faked."
This immediately puts him into the crank camp and shows he has zero understanding of the historical method. While it is true that the competing core claims in question necessitate that at least some of the evidence is forged, in does not follow that for every piece of evidence we must establish that it could not have been forged. No historian works using this wild assumption and indeed, writing the history of the Nazi crimes themselves would be impossible to a large extent, if those were the rules of the game. And indeed, Furr fails to demonstrate that history as a discipline would be able to function in this case.
Instead of chasing the invisible pink unicorn of trying to disprove the mere (practical) possibility of forgery, historians actually need sufficient evidence to either dismiss available pieces of evidence or to lower their "credibility rank". Hand-waving in the form of "there is a theoretical possibility that it could have been forged, therefore we won't use it" does not pass any rational muster.
P. 22: "The "official" Soviets-did-it version relies on the assumption that the Polish prisoners were executed by the NKVD at the three towns named and then buried at the three burial places named. These shipments of prisoners are routinely stated to be "death transports."
Cienciala, who did the writing in this volume, added all the language about execution."
Or: there are no more "versions" as far as the guilty party is concerned and that the Soviets did it is simply a fact, and then the situation is reversed - the lists do become the death lists because we know (by other means) that the people in them were intended to be executed, and most were. Furr has to show that the consensus claim is not proven before making a claim like this. Otherwise it's like a Holocaust denier whining about the Holocaust deportation lists being called "death lists" or such, after all nothing in the lists says "most of them will be executed", we know that from other evidence...
P. 24: "With very few exceptions, all the bodies identified 一 or supposedly identified at Katyn' (Koz'i Gory) by both the Germans and the Soviets were identified by documents said to have been found on the corpses. No bodies identifiable as those of Katyn victims have been found at Mednoe or Piatykhatky."
In fact, in Mednoye alone based on the results of the partial exhumation in 1991 of the remains, belonging to at least 243 individuals, 16 of them were identified with the documents found on the bodies (and in various documents 242 surnames were found, of which 227 were in the transport lists from the Ostashkov camp to the Kalinin UNKVD). During the Polish exhumations in 1995, the remains of no fewer than 2115 persons were exhumed, 28 of them were reliably identified (all of them were in the Ostashkov-Kalinin transport lists). While the rate of identification was much lower, the circumstances were also very different (for one, the exhumations took place about 5 decades after the Katyn exhumation).
P. 24: "The "official" version assumes that the corpses exhumed at Katyn were all from the Kozel'sk camp, having been sent there from Smolensk. If any bodies at Katyn are those of POWs who, according to the Soviet transit lists, were sent to Kalinin or Kharkiv, the "official" version would be undermined or disproven. Likewise, any bodies of POWs from any of these three camps found at other places would also undermine the "official" version."
Or: the sum of the evidence indicates that exclusively Kozelsk POWs were and thus it is not a mere assumption but rather a conclusion. As I wrote elsewhere:
"First, it is worth noting that the documents "found" by the commission seem to try to prove that not only prisoners of the Kozelsk camp were buried in the forest, but also prisoners of the Starobelsk (Arashkevich) and Ostashkov (Lewandowski) camps. However, the German findings refute this thesis: the Germans did not identify a single POW from these camps. At this point, deniers usually get excited: it is obvious that the Nazis were deliberately trying to exclude prisoners of war from other camps, they wanted everyone to think that the Poles from Kozelsk were buried there! Do you believe the Nazis or what?
And this, of course, is complete nonsense. On the contrary: the Goebbels propaganda announced to the whole world that it estimates the number of corpses in the graves at 12000. Apparently, the Germans thought that they had found all or most of the prisoners of war from the three camps that the Poles had lost. They were in for a very unpleasant surprise: they could find about 4200 corpses and there was no hope of finding more big graves (the Poles confirmed that), although in the anonymous introduction to their official book they put a good spin on a bad game, still estimating the total number of the dead as 10-12000. Would they have missed an opportunity to trumpet to the whole world that there were also Poles from Ostashkov and Starobelsk in the Katyn graves, if there had been at least appropriate objects or documents matching the dates on their bodies (which would have been true if the findings of the Soviet commission had been genuine)? All the more wild is the assertion that the Germans would have deliberately hidden all such finds."
"Chapter 1. The Evidence That Can't Be Impugned"
P. 26: "In 1995 Iurii Mukhin, a Russian metallurgist..."
Gotta love that when Furr introduces the Memorial society, he hastens to label it as "a strongly anticommunist organization" (p. 52), but when it comes to the Katyn, Moon landing and Holocaust denier as well as the Lysenkoist antisemite Mukhin, who loves to use the word "zhid" ("Yid", "k-ke") in his books, he's just a humble metallurgist...
P. 26, from Furr's summary:
"* Despite the vast amount of documentation there is in fact a very limited amount of primary source evidence."
"Very limited" is subjective and undefined. Just as well I can say that there are plenty of primary sources, which are also sufficient.
P. 26: "* The evidence is contradictory. Some of it indicates the guilt of the
Soviets, while other evidence supports the guilt of the Germans."
A vague and misleading pronouncement which could be applied to most significant events in history, if we mean the evidence "unweighted" according to credibility, which is neither here, nor there.
Pp. 26, 27: "All the evidence relevant to establishing the guilty party is in one of the following four collections of documents:
A. The German Report [...] and related documents.
B. The Soviet Burdenko Commission Report [...] and related documents.
C. "Closed Packet No. 1" (CP), the existence of which was announced in 1992.
D. The archeological report on excavations at the mass murder site in Volodymyr-Volyns'kiy, Ukraine (VV) of November 2011 and related documents of 2010 - 2013."
It's hard to avoid calling this claim a bald-faced lie, but let's try. In fact, all the relevant evidence is not limited to these 4 document complexes, much less "one" of them (and D is completely, utterly irrelevant, as we will soon see).
Here are several other evidence complexes that are relevant to establishing the guilty party:
The GUPVI archive in RGVA, which positively establishes that, contrary to the Soviet claims, the Polish POWs in question were not in the POW camp system from May 1940 to July 1941 (i.e. the Burdenko commission's report and related documents contain a huge lie, most likely simply fed to the Commission by the NKVD/NKGB). Joined by the GULAG archive in GARF, which closes a loophole, proposed by some deniers, that the POWs lost their POW status in May 1940 and were transferred to Vyazemlag as "normal" prisoners, thus disappearing from the GUPVI stats (this hypothesis necessitates that the Burdenko commision's report is falsified on this point, BTW).
The Ukrainian KGB files proving that the Pyatikhatki graves were a Soviet deed.
The Soviet/Russian and Polish exhumations at Mednoye and Pyatikhatki in the 1990s, proving those were the 1940 graves of the Polish POWs from the Ostashkov and Starobelsk camps.
The Bundesarchiv personal files of Friedrich Ahrens (accused by the Soviets to have been the organizer of the massacre) and his HNR 537 predecessor Albert Bedenk, which purely chronologically preclude the Soviet claim about Ahrens' leading participation in the massacre, proving that the Burdenko commission published a key lie in the case.
This is not an exhaustive list (there is more documentary and testimonial evidence, the latter is even mentioned by Furr and we will get to it), but it is sufficient to show Furr's mendacity, as he surely knows about the first three points (and tries to discredit one of them in his book, we'll also get to that).
P. 27: "The vast majority of studies of Katyn assume the validity of AM [the German report - SR] and CP [the sealed envelope with Stalin's shooting order and other related documents - SR], thereby also assuming that the Soviets were the guilty party at Katyn."
Or: they conclude, rather than assume, from the sum of the available evidence (which includes the observations and documents by the Poles who took part in the exhumations) that the core of the AM list is correct (of course, taking into account the publication's propaganda purpose) and the evidence value of the sealed envelope is sufficient. Once again, Furr simply begs the question.
P. 27: "In this version BU is assumed to be a fabrication and receives no serious consideration."
Or: the Burdenko commission's report actually gets analyzed and its unreliability is a conclusion based on evidence and/or reasoning. Some of the analysis can be partially faulty or mistaken, but that's completely beside the point. Since Furr in a later chapter deals with one such analysis, he knows full well that rejection of the Burdenko report is a conclusion, rather than an a priori assumption (that Furr rejects this conclusion is, again, immaterial to my point).
Furr begins to "analyze" various document complexes for the allegedly unimpeachable evidence.
P. 30, the German report (AM):
"* The spent shells found at Katyn were German."
In this form this doesn't prove anything even prima facie (not that mere prima facie evidence would play any role in a case like this in the first place). One has to establish the relative improbability of the NKVD using German ammo under these particular circumstances first.
"* A badge from the Ostashkov POW camp was discovered at Katyn."
P. 31, the Burdenko commission's report and related documents:
"One document found among the bodies is from a prisoner who was shipped from the Ostashkov POW camp to Kalinin. The Soviet investigators were unable to identify him because the first part of his last name is illegible. Therefore they did not realize that he had been in Ostashkov. They did not recognize that his presence at Katyn undermines the German report and supports the Sovîet case. So they made no use of this information. Therefore they would not have fabricated it."
Long story short: no evidence he was in Ostashkov. Handled here. We'll return to this point in the relevant chapter.
P. 32: "CP [sealed envelope no. 1 -SR]. This collection of documents contains one document that has been faked in a clumsy manner but for some reason not discarded. There is no plausible alternative explanation for it except that it was part of a broader forgery job.
P. 32, in reference to the archeological excavations in Volodymyr-Volynskiy:
"* Badges of two Polish POWs were found in a mass grave in this town in Western Ukraine. These two men were from the Ostashkov POW camp. According to the "official" version they were shipped to Kalinin (now Tver'), Russia, where they were executed and buried at Mednoe. Their names are on memorial plaques in the Polish cemetery there."
The police number tags (not badges) were not found on the bodies, they were found outside of the grave space, for one of the aforementioned POWs there idocumentary evidence that he was in VV in 1939. So the best explanation is that these policemen's badges were taken away from the policemen by the Soviets in the temporary holding in VV, not returned to them, disposed of by the Nazis when they overran this territory. From the sum of the evidence we know that the policemen are buried in Mednoye. Explained in more detail here.
Pp. 32, 33: "* Between 96% and 98% of the shell casings found at this mass
execution site are of German make and are dated "1941."
* The execution method at VV was shown by the Polish archeologist to be characteristic of the Eínsatzkommando, or German mass murder team, led by SS Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, the so-called "Sardinenpackung."
* Independent research by another scholar has confirmed that German troops, aided by Ukrainian nationalist auxiliaries, shot many Soviet citizens and Jews at this place soon after the invasion in June 1941.
* Soon after the publication of the Polish archeologist's report of the findings at VV Polish and Ukrainian scholars recognized that the discoveries of these two badges endanger the "official" "the Soviets-did-it" version of Katyn,
After the report on the discoveries at VV was published it was withdrawn. The excavation was closed and the mass murders are now attributed, without any evidence, to the NKVD."
The last point is egregiously false: some of the graves are classified as the German ones and some as the Soviet ones (it's hardly a wonder that the Germans would use a Soviet execution site for their own executions), all, obviously, with evidence based on the difference between the content of the graves. Nothing has been withdrawn, and if anything, the researchers have moved from the "NKVD-only" to the "NKVD+Germans" explanation, so Furr has it exactly backwards. The rest is irrelevant, as no Katyn victim was buried at the site, as already explained.
P. 33: "Conclusion: The Germans Murdered the Poles
All the evidence that is of undoubted authenticity, that cannot have been faked, supports the conclusion that the Germans, not the Soviets, are guilty of the mass murder of Polish POWs that are known as the Katyn massacre."
P. 34: "The evidence is unequivocal. None of the evidence that could not have been faked supports the hypothesis that the Soviets shot the Poles. All of it supports the contrary hypothesis."
As we have just seen, this conclusion is not supported by any credible evidence.
"Chapter 2. The German Report - Amtliches Material (AM)"
P. 35, a discussion of the German report (AM):
"According to AM none [of the documents found on the bodies -SR] were dated after sometime in April 1940. Both the German and Polish teams falsely concluded that this meant the prisoners had been executed around this time. Of course, the Germans would not have reported, or allowed the Poles to see, any documents dated later than April or, at latest, early May 1940. The Germans, not the Polish observers, controlled this process."
False. The Poles directly participated in the exhumation of the corpses. As reported by the general secretary of the Polish Red Cross K. Skarżyński:
"They reported that during the whole work - the main instruction I gave them and we gave them - during the whole work they never found a document or newspaper with a date anterior to April 1940. [...] After - after April or May 1940."
What Furr could have in mind is that the Polish team working directly with the bodies (conducting the searches) theoretically had no right to read and sort through the found documents (because it simply was not their task, another joint German-Polish team was responsible for that, and trying to extract the sometimes fragile documents from e. g. wallets, trying to clean them from adipocere in order to read them in field conditions, etc., would have not only been a waste of time but also might have damaged the documents and led to confusion), but some of the documents did not have to be extracted from wallets etc., were readily legible and nothing could stop the workers from looking at them. The documents that the first team put into envelopes were then jointly examined by Germans and Poles.
Pp. 35, 36: "And the German-Polish conclusion was false anyway. The latest date is only the terminus post quem, evidence that the victim in question was killed sometime after that date, perhaps long afterwards. Some, at least, of the Germans and Poles must have understood this elementary fact. Therefore, dishonesty was surely present from the beginning in the compiling of the report."
So obviously false that it's weird to comment on that, but yes, obviously, when enough ephemera (such as newspapers) and/or "growing" documents (such as diaries) are present on the bodies, then we can conclude that, on the assumption that the people were still living in some status analogous to the POW or some other prisoner status, the date of death cannot be much removed from the latest date of the ephemera (etc.), certainly not by 1+ year.
P. 36: "We might surmise that the Germans would not have had recourse to falsification if the Soviets really had killed the Polish POWs and all the Germans had to do was to tell the truth. But this reasoning, however suggestive, is not evidence."
True, in this specific case it would not be evidence of the German guilt, since the Germans also had propaganda purposes in mind, so although their official report did contain some relatively minor intentionally false parts (e. g. regarding the number of the corpses), this can be explained simply with a reference to their propaganda needs rather them being the guilty party (and here we must also differentiate between the people who conducted the actual investigations and the publishers who then edited their material for public consumption and could have introduced various distortions, like what happened with one of Voss' reports). If all we had was the German report without any context (such as some of the primary documents of the German investigations, in which we actually see the details later changed by the publishers; the Polish exhumation protocols and documents; and so on), then, knowing about the German propagandists' tampering could have thrown doubt also onto the core claims of the report, but we do have this context and much more, and the provable German falsehoods were arguably marginal.
On the other hand, the provable Soviet falsehoods - such as the lies about the whereabouts of the POWs (the non-existent ON camps) or about the persons responsible for the massacre (some of whom were not there during the massacre according the Soviet claim) are at the heart of the whole issue, so that they are not really explainable except through an almost wholesale falsification.
P. 39: "The Germans claimed that only German "Geco" cartridge shells were found at Katyn. They found no other shells there. The Germans would never have freely inventecl this fact. Had any Soviet cartridge shells been found among the corpses, the Germans would surely have reported this. Therefore we can be confident that only German shells were found at Katyn, though not necessarìly only the kind of shells identified in AM.
The Germans claimed that German cartridges were exported to the USSR in the 1920s and early 1930s. The Soviets did not deny this. But, absent countervailing evidence, German shells suggest German guilt."
Non sequitur. Without the evidence of improbability of the use of the German cartridges in this particular case (when all the evidence is taken into account, of course) the shells don't suggest German guilt. There is no such evidence. The foreign 7,65 guns (Belgian, German or otherwise) were popular in the NKVD, their characteristics made them fit for streamlined mass executions (the likes of which were rare even in the NKVD), more so than the "standard" NKVD guns Nagant and TT, so the use of such guns fits with the rest of the evidence. And while they did not have to use German ammo, there is nothing to exclude its presence in the NKVD ammo storages. So, barring actual evidence of improbability, the ammo that was found speaks neither for NKVD's nor for the Germans' guilt.
P. 40: "Neither the Soviets nor the pro-Soviet researchers have remarked on the following two curious facts about the German report of these shell casings. First, the Germans claimed that all the shell casings bore exactly the same "headstamp" "Geco 7.65 D" or "Geco 7.65 DD." No matter who did the shooting it would be unusual for a team of at least a half-dozen shooters, shooting several thousand individuals during a period of about 6 weeks, to all use exactly the same shells, with the identical markings, and all at least nine years old."
An unwarranted assumption. Unusual by what measure? How many analogous investigated massive 6-weeks-long NKVD shooting operations concentrated in one place are there for a comparison in the first place? Unusual relative to the circumstances of this particular case? But there are so many unknowns as to the concrete details, such as the supply chain, that such a verdict cannot be passed reliably and there are possible scenarios which help to explain various aspects such as the use of the ammo: e. g. if the operation was centrally organized (which makes sense and some evidence for this exists too), and if someone from Blokhin's Moscow team, which organized the operation, brought the ammo and guns fit for an exceptionally massive and fast operation (the particular parameters are explained here) from one of the central NKVD storages in Moscow, then that ammo is what the local executioners were mostly likely to use.
It is OK to assume that the absolute majority of victims were murdered with the Geco bullets, but even that is not entirely a given, albeit it's a plausible assumption. Let's not forget that in the end only relatively few shell casings were found in the forest. The German report mentions only a few cases. The Polish team, using a metal detector in 1994-1995, found 241 7.65×17 mm SR Browning cartridge shells, of them 157 identifiable as Geco and 5 as DWM (M. Dutkiewicz, "Elementy umundurowania i amunicja: podsumowanie wyników badań w Lesie Katyńskim", in: M. Głosek (red.), Katyń w świetle badań terenowych 1994-1995, 2003, S. 266). (So we already have 2 manufacturers here, but let's move on.) Can we extrapolate it to at least 4200 Geco cartridges used there?
We only have the shells that somehow were left outside, in the graves. Were those mostly the result of open-air executions? If so, is there anything to suggest that most, rather than some, executions were open-air, rather than performed in some of the NKVD dacha rooms, like the garage or some other? No. Was the part of the shooting team that performed the possibly small-scale open-air executions the same part that performed the closed-room executions, with the same modus operandi? It's not a given. Different groups inside one team could have different ways of doing things. If this were a different group, did it use the same ammo batch as the group that mostly shot inside? We don't know. There are too many unknowns for a firm conclusion. But as I wrote in the beginning, it is OK to assume, for the time being, that most were shot with the Geco bullets, since it's the most parsimonious explanation not involving various hypothetical groups inside the shooting team - but such possibilities should be kept in mind nevertheless.
That said, re-read what I wrote above: even if 99% of the cartridges were Geco, this is easily explainable through the central supply by the organizer.
Pp. 40, 41: "Second, none of the photographs of the shell casings in AM are of the headstamps. The headstamps are the only way the shells can be identified. AM contains side photographs only, useless for identifying the shells.
Only photographs of the headstamps could provide evidence that it was precisely these shells that the Germans found in the Katyn burial pits. The Germans could have sent photographs of any shell casings they wanted and just claimed that they had been found at Katyn. But they did not. Instead the Germans took side views of the shells. They could easily have photographed the headstamps but they failed to do so.
The Germans were asking their readers to "believe" them. But then why bother with reproducing side views and views of bullets at all? It seems this can only be explained as an attempt to deceive the readers of the report.
All accounts of Katyn accept the German claim that only these undated Geco shells were found at Katyn. This means that they accept the German AM as truthful … they believe the German report. This is an error, incompatible with a search for the truth, just as it would to "believe" the Soviet Burdenko Report (BU).
Nonsense on so many levels. Deceive? For what purpose? They had already admitted the exclusively German cartridges. An attempt at deception would have most probably included a presentation of some Soviet cartridge shells. And if they were so deceptive, one could ask the same question: why didn't they include the headstamp that they claimed to have found (would have been no problem)? And what was the purpose of the internal correspondence with the criminalistics institute?
Finally, as we have seen, the Polish experts actually scanned the terrain (and found a few other shells as well), instead of simply "believing" the German report. Furr simply shows his ignorance and mendacity again.
P. 42: "Goebbels was correct. The use of German ammunition and only German ammunition at Katyn is prima facie evidence of German guilt. It is not evidence of Soviet guilt at all."
More deceptiveness on Furr's part. Goebbels did not in any way concede that the German ammo was prima facie evidence of German guilt - it was counterproductive to his propaganda campaign (due to the general public's possible perceptions, which has little to do with the actual evidential value), but that's that. In fact, Goebbels consistently attributed Katyn to the Soviets in his internal writings.
And I have yet to see the claim that the German ammo is evidence of Soviet guilt in the mainstream literature...
P. 43, about an Ostashkov inventory tag at Katyn:
"The finding of this badge caused some confusion in the German report. The report concludes that Czernuszewícz was brought from the Ostashkov POW camp to Kozel'sk by the Soviets for some purpose and then shot.
However, no one named "Czernuszewicz," "Czarnuszewicz", "Czernyszewicz", etc. is on the list of more than 4000 bodies in AM."
Sure, the list has some omissions for various reasons. Czarnuszewicz was from the last grave excavated in May, presumably this could be the reason why he is not on the list (due to organizational chaos or something similar). His body was one of those from the 8th grave that received special attention from Dr. Butz, which might have been the reason that it was not numbered upon having been taken out (a "special order", so to say).
P. 43: "* A "Wladyslaw Czarnuszewicz" - [..] is on list 54/3 transported from the Kozel'sk POW camp on May 5, 1940 (Tucholski p. 716 #44).""
*A "Wladyslaw Czernyszewicz" [..] is on the list at the Starobel'sk POW camp (Tucholski p. 980 #3668).
The volume Ubíty v Katyni, a recent attempt to shore up the official "Soviets-did-it" version, tries to solve this problem by claiming, ín brackets, that "Czarnuszewicz" was first held at Ostashkov and then transferred to Kozel'sk in November 1939. (811) The brackets indicate that there is no evidence for this."
A falsification on Furr's part. He claims that both the claim that he was held at Ostashkov, and the claim that he was transferred to Kozelsk, are in brackets. Obviously, this is not the case (UvK, p. 811):
"Czarnuszewicz Władysław of Julian and Antonina. Born in 1898 in the village of Plawskie, Slonim district, Nowogródek voivodeship. Military settler, office clerk at the district administration (starostat) of the Slonim district, resident in the town of Slonim. Reserve officer cadet. Was held in the Ostashkov prisoner-of-war camp, [from where he arrived in November 1939 to the Kozelsk camp]; as of 22.04.1940, was held in the Kozelsk camp..."
So only the transfer to Kozelsk is in the brackets. Which does not mean that there is no evidence for this either, it only means that there is no transfer list with concrete names. But if a person was first in Ostashkov and then ended up in Kozelsk, of course they were transferred at one point. This same comment in brackets can be seen in other entries too. I will add, however, that no document about Czarnuszewicz's stay in Ostashkov is known, the entry is an extrapolation from the fact that he had the inventory tag (information from A. Guryanov, 05.02.2023).
P. 43: "Ubity" assumes that the Russian "Charnushevich" [...] was really "Chernushevich" (Czernuszewicz)."
LOLWUT? Once again Furr tries to deceive the reader by claiming a mere assumption where there is a conclusion. Guryanov does not simply assume, he cites his source: "DM". The meaning of DM is explained in the book, so Furr and the readers are welcome to look it up, and I will simply post a couple of pictures from this source.
A translation of Czarnuszewicz's ID:
Note the spelling not only of the surname, but also of the name (Wladislaw instead of Wladyslaw). The person who did the translation/transcription obviously did not care much about the correctness of the spelling and thus, having the false spelling with "e" in their head simply used it further.
This and other translation were Butz's sources, hence the "e" in his report.
A translation of the Ostashkov tag found on the body:
A translation of an envelope found on the body:
Note that the spelling is now with "a". Another translator/transcriber? Anyway, you can see "a" on the envelope too, in Russian. Also note that Czarnuszewicz resided in Kozelsk at the time he sent the letter, i. e. on 22.04.1940:
This was mentioned in the German report and Furr simply ignored this key point. Wherever this person, on whose body this letter and this tag were found, had been earlier (e. g. Ostashkov), he came to the Katyn forest from Kozelsk, so Furr's argument had died before even having been born. And, to repeat myself, since some Ostashkov POWs were transferred to Kozelsk, the explanation is trivial.
Now, we know that "Czernuszewicz"/"Tscharnyschewitsch" in the German sources was born on 21.10.1898 and lived in Slonim, we even know his exact address (as well as further details).
We also know that the Kozelsk Charnyshevich from the Soviet sources was a son of Julian and was born in 1898:
It is simple to check whether they are one and the same person by simply doing some biographical research in Poland, and the fact that Guryanov even specifies his place of birth and mother's name (not available from the German or the Soviet sources) means that such research has been done and it is indeed the same person. It should also be noted that one of Guryanov's sources is from Karta's database of surveys of relatives of the Katyn victims, i. e. another real life link.
P. 44: "Here is an individual named in the text of AM but not in the AM lists and about whom Tucholski and Gur'ianov (author of Ubity are also confused). Any honest and objective researcher should simply recognize this contradiction. But typical of dishonest scholarship those who support the "official" version, rather than seeking the truth, want that version to be "seamless," without contradictions.
In reality, no historical or criminal investigations are "seamless," without contradictions and nb unexplained details. Honest investigtors recognize this fact. Falsifiers often strive to make their falsifications appear to be "perfect."
What mealy-mouthed nonsense is this? Does anyone understand what Furr is on about here? The only "contradictions" are trivial spelling mistakes, exceptionally common when it comes to various lists. Of course, a non-historian like Furr cannot be expected to know this, having not done actual historical research, but then maybe he should not be writing books on topics he doesn't have the intellectual tools to handle?
P. 44: "This is a problem for the "official," "Soviets-did-it" version. A badge at Katyn from Ostashkov suggests that Polish POWs were shipped out of Ostashkov to Kalinin not to execution but for some other purpose. For if they were to be executed, why not execute them at Kalinin where, according to the "official" version, the Ostashkov POWs were murdered?"
How on earth does an Ostashkov inventory tag found on a Kozelsk prisoner (esp. given the transfer between Ostashkov and Kozelsk) tell us anything about the fate of those shipped from Ostashkov to Kalinin? What on Earth?.. What "problem"?
P. 44: "Rather than acknowledge this difficulty "Ubity" glosses over it without resolving it."
But there is no difficulty to resolve in the first place.
P. 44: "It appears to be a clumsy contradiction, unresolved because impossible to resolve, in order to get rid of the embarrassing presence of that badge from Ostashkov."
Translation: "I'm an ignorant clown who doesn't know the basics, laugh at me".
Having failed with Czarnuszewicz, Furr then tries to establish that other POWs transported from Ostashkov and Starobelsk in the spring of 1940 ended up in Katyn. He begins with the Szkuta/Sekuła case, which was chewed out years ago. There is no mystery here: the German no. 02398, identified as Stanisław Szkuta in AM and the Polish lists (absent in Kozelsk but present in Starobelsk), was actually Stanisław Sekuła (present in Kozelsk), the misreading having arisen due to the Polish character "ł" bearing a resemblance to "t" when handwritten (and the handwritten "e" must have been misread). This is proven by the original German exhumation protocols, where "Stanislaw Sekula" indeed appears. And further buttressed by the Polish Red Cross exhumation protocols, which have Szkuta, but specifically mention that a vaccination certificate from Kozelsk is present on the body (so it was not a Szkuta from Starobelsk in any case).
P. 48: "Accordingly Pamiatnykh attempts to show that Szkuta was actually someone else - Sekula - whose name was spelled incorrectly by the Germans. His hypothesis is that the Soviets misread the Polish barred "ł" [...]"
Not the Soviets, dummy. The people who interpreted the documents in 1943, whether Poles or Germans.
P. 49, citing Tucholski:
"65. pal, od 7.9.1939 w III dyonie 21.
pal. PCK (AM) Nr 01398, (Tucholski p, 226 col. 2)
Here Tucholski identifies this man as number 1398 in the AM list.
But no such number exists in AM! The AM list skips directly from
1397 to 1399:
Verschiedene Zettel, Impfschein 2869
Tucholski does not explain why he states that "Szkuta" is number
01398 in the AM list when there is no such number in that list."
Here Furr once again demonstrates his lack of basic common sense necessary not only for analyzing historical matters but also for everyday life. We are dealing with the number (0)2398, under which "Szkuta" appears in the AM list and in the PRC (PCK) list:
An adequate person would reason as follows: since we are talking about the number 02398, clearly Tucholski's "01398" is a run-of-the-mill typo. How an inadequate pseudoresearcher would reason we have already seen above.
P. 49: "Pamiatnykh, writing in 2011, could not account for the fact that the draft German list read "Sekula" (with no barred "1") but the print version reads "Szkuta." Perhaps we can do so today."
He didn't have to spell out the obvious (though in retrospect it probably always helps...): the name was read both ways at different times and only one version "won". At this point in time the Polish and the German lists were created more or less in parallel, it was the Poles who were usually interpreting the names on the documents for the Germans. From the PRC list we see that the Poles first read it as Szkuta, which was an easy mistake to make. They also must have given the reading to the Germans, which was then saved in some version of the list (not available to us) that became the direct basis for the list in AM. At some point (on the same day) the mistake was found one way or another and in the final protocol that we have we see the correct name (with the exception of the usual simplification of the non-German letter). The conclusion is that the AM list does not perfectly correlate with the exhumation protocols that we have and is based on some parallel version (possibly created in order to immediately send out to newspapers in occupied Poland, which were regularly publishing the exhumation lists).
P. 49: "In a later chapter we will see that the Germans captured the Soviet transit lists of POWs shipped from Kozel'sk to Smolensk, near Katyn."
Unsurprisingly, we will see no such thing.
P. 50: "Szkuta" was transferred from Starobel'sk to Khar'kov. But he was not shot there. Instead he was transferred further to Smolensk, where he was eventually shot and buried."
Given that Furr not only knows about the debunking of this claim but in fact cites it (and doesn't in any way rebut it), this claim is hard to characterize as anything other than a lie. There was no "Szkuta" in the Katyn forest, only Sekuła. (And had it even been "Szkuta", he would have been specifically from Kozelsk, as the PRC list shows; this would have created a small mystery, but not of the sort that would help deniers like Furr).
P. 50: "This article lists 231 "outsiders" or unidentified names in the German AM that are not on the Soviet Koz'elsk lists."
False, several names are not from AM but from Wykaz ofiar (WO), a Polish list.
P. 50: "I also identified four more POWs named in the AM list who are on the Soviet Starobel'sk lists and one who is on the Soviet Ostashkov lists."
OK, let's go through his list.
1. AM 0741. Not identified, but had a visit card that bears the name Stanislaw Lapinski, who was a singing teacher.
Does not prove anything, since a visit card does not necessarily identify the person carrying it. Note Furr's deception - he claimed that he "identified four more POWs named in the AM list", and Lapinski is not a proven POW in the AM list.
Even worse, it's not even a proven Lapinski, since in the Polish list from 03.05.1943 we read:
"0741. kapitan, bilecik na nazwisko Lipiński vel Lapiński Sanisław (wizytówka Lipiński albo Lapiński/ fotografia"
So it could have been Lipinski.
2. Janusz Makowski from WO, not AM. A mention useless without further details. Note that, as Furr mentions, Tarczyński's list is not of those whom the Germans claimed to identify, but of any unidentified names, including mentions on ephemera like visit cards (see La/ipinski above). A mere name coincidence with the Starobelsk list is not of any probative value at this point.
Once again, Furr's claim that this is a POW in the AM list is false, if only because the person is not in the AM list (and Furr does not show that he is claimed to be a POW in WO).
3. Jan Michalski, AM 01536. In the Polish list it is mentioned that he had with him a letter he wrote in Kozelsk. This makes Guryanov's hypothesis that this is Jan Michałowski from Kozelsk more plausible than Furr's hypothesis that it's Jan Michalski from Starobelsk. And once again, a coincidence of a relatively common name and a relatively common surname doesn't prove anything.
4. This all the more applies to the next entry, M. Wróbel, AM 0161. We only have the surname and the initial, so the identity with Marian Wróbel from Starobelsk is absolutely unprovable just from this. On the other hand, Guryanov's hypothesis that this could be Z. M. Wróbel can be true - the first initial (or even the whole name) could have been completely unreadable. So, this example doesn't prove anything either way.
5. And in the last case we have someone identified as Wojnowski, AM 01948. There indeed was no Wojnowski in Kozelsk and he is, as Furr points out, on Guryanov's list of 41 unidentified names (which we will discuss shortly). Of course, a mere surname coincidence doesn't even begin to indicate that this is the Wojnowski from Starobelsk.
6. Dudek, AM 0778. Furr sees Guryanov noting that in some version of AM he is listed as Karol Budek and claims that this must be Karol Labudek (remember how just a few pages ago the difference between "e" and "a" seemed almost a bridge too far for him?) from Ostashkov.
However, Furr provides no evidence that "Karol Budek" is the correct version (all the other lists have just Dudek) and he does not even attempt to otherwise rebut Guryanov's tentative explanation that this is Mieczysław Dudek from Kozelsk. Moreover, in the Polish list nr. 12880 we see:
"0778. Dudek ? - wojskowy, świad. szczep. w Kozielsku, karteczka z nazwiskiem wymienionego"
So this was Dudek from Kozelsk, not Labudek from Ostashkov.
7. Jakowicz, AM 02857. He is on the list of 41 names. The surname is uncertain, as in the Polish list nr. 12925 a question mark is placed before it. Furr claims, without any evidence whatsoever, that this "must" be Mikołaj Diakowicz from Ostashkov.
As for the 41 names, it is instructive to read Guryanov's commentary (UvK, pp. 74-77), but the bulk of the explanation boils to mistakes during the identification phase due to poor interpretation of the sometimes barely legible documents, confusing names/second names and surnames (e. g. when the surname is not legible, but the first and the second names are), using wrong documents for identification purposes (e. g. sometimes visit cards or notebooks were used, despite the fact that assuming the identity of the author and of the bearer is dangerous) and so on. I would add to that, that the document retrieval and salvaging procedure was not without its problems, which led to certain confusion and additional mistakes (like name duplication).
A few mistakes were unavoidable and thus expected. Guryanov's explanation is plausible, Furr's is baseless and cannot disprove the mainstream historiography.
Carping on a few names out of around 2700 - that's the very same flat-earther "looking for lighthouses" methodology I have already described previously.
This whole exercise has been an outright deception attempt on Furr's part. Here is why. Had he merely claimed that he found suitable candidates which may explain the real or alleged discrepancies in the AM list, that could have been an honest, if misguided, attempt at a scholarly reasoning.
But Furr went much farther than that, he explicitly claimed that he found not merely candidates with the same or similar names, but the concrete POWs from Ostashkov and Starobelsk who had to be in Katyn: "I also identified four more POWs named in the AM list who are on the Soviet Starobel'sk lists and one who is on the Soviet Ostashkov lists", "I have studied all these names and have identified three POWs from the Ostashkov camp", "The other two Ostashkov prisoners exhumed by the Germans at Katyn are", "This must be the following person", "This must be"...
It's a lie. Under the best of circumstances Furr identified some candidates, without actually proving their identity with the people from the Ostashkov and Starobelsk lists. In reality, out of 7 names, for 2 people Furr could not prove that they were claimed to have been POWs (1, 2), 2 were certainly or most probably from Kozelsk according to the documents found on them (3, 6), and for the rest he simply failed to prove his case (4, 5, 7). His method is simply matching the names (which is nonsensical, unless the names are very rare), yet in 3 cases the names either don't match or cannot be clearly established in the first place (1, 6, 7), in 4 cases we only have a surname or a surname and an initial (4, 5, 6, 7).
Furr sums up this chapter (p. 55):
"The unìmpeachable evidence from the German AM is:
* the Gernan shell casings;
* the badge from Ostashkov;
* the presence of corpses of Ostashkov and Starobel'sk prìsoners found at Katyn.
All thìs evidence poìnts towards German, not Soviet, guilt."
As we have seen, none of this, in Furr's presentation, constitutes any evidence for the German guilt, much less unimpeachable evidence.
"Chapter 3. The Burdenko Report."
P. 58: "This means that Zigoń was arrested in the Ukraine - the list doesn't give us any more information than that. Logically, therefore, he would have been imprisoned in Starobel'sk camp. But he is not listed on the Soviet lists as one of those transferred out of Starobel'sk in April - May 1940."
Imagine my head going all 'splodey when I read that. This [...] did not take any time to actually understand the basics of what he is writing about! Obviously, as a rule someone arrested goes to jail and then maybe prison, not to a POW camp! There is no indication of Zygoń ever having been a POW.
(Ironically, after the first POW camp was liquidated in May 1940, there appeared in Starobelsk a transfer point for prisoners heading to the Northern labor camps. Which, of course, does not help Furr, since he is referring specifically to the POW camp and there is no evidence Zygoń would have ever have to set his foot in Starobelsk.)
P. 58: "Body #92 searched by the Burdenko Commission must be Zigoń's because there is too much personal material on it to be anybody else."
Imagine previously going to such lengths to explain your crank methodology about "unimpeachable" evidence, only to abandon it in one fell swoop and simply accept that whatever the Burdenko Commission claimed to have found on the bodies had been there originally! Don't misunderstand, in principle he can accept whatever he wants, but I expect consistency.
P. 59: "Since this letter was found on Zigoń's body, he must have received it. By this time he must have been in another camp. Eventually he ended up in a camp near Smolensk, probably in one of the three camps 1-ON, 2-ON, or 3-ON. As we shall see, the existence of these three camps is documented in other materials found by Burdenko Commission investigators on other bodies."
Since, as explained here and here, we know that these camps never existed, this is more patent nonsense.
P. 59: "So Zigoń was alive sometime after September 28, 1940, the latest date in Moscow. His body, along with many others, was exhumed at Katyn. This means that these men were also alive at that time, or Zygoń could not have been buried among them. Therefore they were not shot by the Soviets in Apríl-May 1940. That means that they were shot by the Germans and their Ukrainian Nationalist allies. This fact dismantles the "official" version of Katyn."
I'm quoting it to emphasize once again that at this point Furr has abandoned his "unimpeachable evidence" scam (which involved using claims that the side making the claims would not be interested in faking) and now simply accepts the Soviet side's claims made in their own interest at face value.
And you gotta love his mental tic: suddenly "Ukrainian Nationalist allies" appear, who had nothing to do with the Katyn forest, where the Soviets claimed to have found Zygoń. Freud would have enjoyed this.
Now, let me repeat what I have already explained above: it was not in the Germans' general interest to hide the bodies of Starobelsk or Ostashkov POWs or of any outside prisoners. The exception - their suppressing the finding of Lewandowska's corpse (there was a perception of females being unexpected among POWs and thus it would not be good for propaganda) - proves the rule. On the contrary, since they made grandiose claims about 12000 bodies, implying those were the missing POWs from the three camps the Poles had been fervently searching for, they had every interest of finding every executed Polish male. In fact, they were pretty desperately searching for new graves. So the fact that they could not find more corpses or establish any corpses from other camps among the ones the had found logically tells us that those were indeed the Kozelsk prisoners. Hiding the outsiders would have been against the German interest.
The Soviet finds of "outsiders" among the much fewer corpses (1380) that they exhumed, most of which had been already examined by the Germans (in fact there is strong, albeit not yet conclusive, evidence that none of the documents in the Burdenko report came from an "untouched" corpse), are thus automatically suspicious, more so, because they were made in the Soviet interest. And if they are to serve as evidence of anything, it's against the credibility of the Soviet report, not for it.
On the subsequent pages Furr simply repeats the same spiel - taking the Burdenko commission's finds that were in their own interest (not against it) at face value, so I will not repeat myself, except to note, that when it comes to the documents which mention non-existent "ON" camps, this is evidence of fakery by the Soviet side and this alone discredits the whole Burdenko report. Remember what I wrote about sufficient evidence necessary to dismiss pieces of evidence? This is it.
Then Furr comes to a novel argument, already quickly addressed above, which will be addressed now in more detail. He is talking about an internal Burdenko commission inventory in which exhumed things, including documents, were described. He points to a certain document found on a body but not used by the commission publicly (thus, it would allegedly fit his criteria of unimpeachable evidence).
Pp. 62, 63: "1. Body #2.
a) Receipt of camp "1" of November 19 1939 for a silver cigar case and "Montblanc" ballpoint pen from PRIAPUL'SKOGO (PRUTSUL'CKOGO) Pshemyslava Boleslavovicha (ПРЯПУЛЬСКОГО (ПРУЦУЛЬСКОГО) Пшемислава Болеславовича)"
No Katyn POW from any of the camps has a surname that ends in "-pulski." There is only one POW whose surname ends in "-ulski" (Russian: -УЛЬСКИЙ) and whose name is Przemyslaw and whose father was named Bolesław. He is in Ostashkov list 050/3 of sometime in April 1940 (Tucholski p. 886 #36):
36. КОЗЕТУЛЬСКОГО Пшемислава Болеславовича
In fact, no other Katyn POW in any of the POW camps had the Christian name Przemyslaw and a father named Boleslaw. This is the only one. So this has to be the man."
"The aforementioned G. Furr suggests that the Burdenko commission found a receipt from P. Kozietulski of Ostashkov in Katyn, despite the fact that the commission minutes indicate only variants of the name "Pr??ulski" with two obscure letters. One could believe that there was a problem with deciphering of these two letters; but it is doubtful that anyone would have read "Koziet" as "Pryab", "Pruts", etc."
It doesn't play any role in the slightest for his claim that he could find someone with the matching first name and patronymic. The surname simply does not match. And if one were to assert that the transcriber could have gotten the surname so horribly wrong, then the first name and the patronymic are also in question.
Moreover, his whole logic is wrong. That the people, who tried to decipher the document, could not do it, does not prove that it hadn't been planted. It only shows that it was highly unlikely to have been planted by the people who couldn't decipher it. And the document being indecipherable after it was found does not mean that, if it had been planted, it wasn't decipherable at the moment of the planting. In practical terms it would mean something like this (this is just one scenario, others are possible): if an NKGB/NKVD team planted documents on the bodies in the autumn of 1943 (when they were tampering with the graves) and some of them got spoiled for obvious reasons, this would be completely compatible with the Burdenko team finding them (without most of the members knowing about the hoax) and not being able to decipher some of them. (And yes, there is no evidence that most of the Burdenko commission knew what was going on.)
To this I will add, that Furr's translation of the document is misleading. In Russian there is a slight ambiguity about what the text says, but the primary version is this:
"Receipt №1 of camp of November 19 1939..."
Yes, it sounds stilted, but so does the version that makes "№1" into a stand-in for "first", no one writes or talks like this either. Furr doesn't make a claim that this document proves the existence of the camp 1-ON (indeed, no one has made a claim that these camps existed so early and the document doesn't mention "ON"), but an unaware reader may misunderstand the meaning of the document. My hypothesis is that a particular camp was mentioned but its name was not readable, and this fact was not properly shown in the inventory's description by using the ellipsis.
Now, there is the obvious question as to who this document belonged to (if it wasn't anyone from Kozelsk) and why it is in the grave. We simply don't have enough information to answer this, and the document could be real (and so some POW might have had simply it from someone else for an unknown reason), or it could have been planted. Even if we were to accept Furr's proposal that it belonged to Kozietulski, then the reason for the planting would have been to prove that not only the Kozelsk POWs are in the Katyn forest (so that the Poles don't ask too many questions about the whereabout of the missing POWs from Starobelsk and Ostashkov).
Furr's summary of the chapter, p. 66:
"* We have a good deal of solid evidence that at least some prisoners lived after May 1940, the terminus ante quem that the "official" version states they must have been killed.
* We also have unimpeachable evidence that prisoners from Ostashkov and Starobel'sk camps were transferred in April and May 1940 to execution in Kalinin and Khar'kov but not to execution and burial at Mednoe and Piatykhatky. Instead, they were transferred onward to Smolensk."
Needless to say, if Furr had any evidence for these claims, he would have cited it, but he hasn't, so they remain his fantasies.
In fact, the documents in the Burdenko report mentioning the "ON" camps are by necessity fake, since there were no such camps, and of course other aspects of the report can be shown to be faked too, like the report's claims about Ahrens.
"Chapter 4, Closed Packet No. 1"
P. 67: "Since 1995 there have been challenges to the authenticity of these documents. These challenges are either ignored or dismissed with derision by proponents of the "official" version."
Or debunked with facts and arguments, as I have done here and here. At the time Furr was writing this, the first link had already been known to him (you can check out the article creation dates to see which ones had already been available then).
Then he goes on about one of the excerpts from the Politburo decision:
P. 70: "No one has come up with a satisfactory explanation for this document."
Actually I have, although I published my research results already after this book. But all of what I wrote had to be clear to an actual specialist already back when Furr was writing his screed. It's not rocket science, just research, logic and common sense.
P. 71: "Document number 4 of "Closed Packet No. 1" contains a proposal from Shelepin that all the files relating to Katyn be destroyed.
Poppycock. He proposed destroying the POW and prisoner files, not Politburo decision etc. (and he even explicitly mentioned some documents that could remain if there was a wish). Is this a lie or is Furr just a complete ignoramus unable to read simple texts? You decide.
P. 71: "At any rate it appears that this destruction, actual or only contemplated, had something to do with the stamp "Do not burn" on the Shelepin version of Document 2."
It does, in fact, not appear so. It's just Furr's brainfart. OTOH, destroying duplicate excerpts after a while was a common practice, so the stamp made sense in this context. There is yet another alternative - the excerpts that were sent out to individuals were then destroyed as a rule, and the stamp could have been there so that the excerpt is not destroyed when it comes back from Shelepin.
P. 71: "It is hard to imagine archivists giving permission to alter archival documents in the way that the Shelepin version of Document 2 has been altered."
Hard to imagine based on deep archival research, or based on a ignorant Stalinist fanatic's hunch?
Anyway, I address this:
An alternative to this formally correct procedure would have been the creation of a strange new excerpt with Stalin's decision about the execution on the current letterhead of the CPSU. It is likely that the excerpt to be sent to A. N. Shelepin because of the particular importance of the document was prepared by T. K. Silina herself (it was her notes on sending the archive copy to A. N. Shelepin and on returning it are on the back of the informational excerpt), the head of the Politburo archives since 1933, for whom documents of this kind had not a sacral-historical status, but rather a business status, as evidenced by the destruction by her (or with her knowledge) of extra copies of the excerpt in 1956.
P. 71: "But whatever the motive, the "Shelepin" document has been falsified."
Wait, what? I rechecked and it's true: up until the point of this pronouncement Furr has not actually provided a single argument for his forgery claim (he listed some points he personally finds strange, but this does not amount to an actual argument for forgery). Yet here he is, making it.
P. 71: "The addition of Stalin's name at the bottom also suggests an attempt at forgery."
Also? What else does (with arguments please)? And, uh, it obviously doesn't. Excerpts that were sent out (as opposed to the archival/informational versions) had to have the name of a TsK secretary in some form. Sometimes it was a facsimile signature, sometimes a handwritten name, but some name had to be there pro forma.
P. 71: "A genuine document of 1940 signed "Secretary of the C.C." would not need to carry Stalin's name."
Dude, who said it was added in 1940? Of course it was added right before sending it to Shelepin, because up to that point the excerpt had been purely informational (and thus needed no TsK sec name) and had to be formally prepared for the sending, which accounts for all the changes and additions. And yes, in 1940 an excerpt prepared for sending would, indeed, have to carry a TsK secretary's name (not always Stalin's).
Furr concludes (p. 71):
"* The Shelepin version of Document 2 was certainly created during Khrushchev's time.
* The manipulation of the "Beria version" of Document 2 suggests that it may have been created at the same time and so may also be a forgery."
Of course, Furr cited no evidence that the excerpt was even probably created during Khrushchev's time, much less "certainly". He has cited no evidence at all! And calling the bureaucratic procedure of preparing an excerpt to be sent to someone "manipulation" takes nerve!
P. 72: "* The "do not burn" stamp on the Shelepin version suggests that there was a plan to burn at least some documents.
* The addition of Stalin's name suggests that this was an aborted attempt to produce false evidence in order to accuse Stalin of guilt in the Katyn massacre."
It doesn't and it doesn't, explained above.
P. 72: "Kharazov's testimony, and remarks made by an aged Shelepin to investigators in the early 1990s, are good evidence that some kind of Katyn forgery was contemplated during Khrushchev's day."
Just another of Furr's deceptions, turning the testimony supporting the documents' authenticity into a forgery claim.
P. 72: "If Khrushchev decided to blame Stalin for the Katyn massacre he would have also implicated himself."
Absolutely. The first good point in the book. Obviously, no "Katyn forgeries" can be blamed on Khrushchev.
P. 72: "There is a lot of other evidence that these documents are forgeries."
There is, in fact, none, but do go on.
P. 73: "And - it is important to recognize this also it is likewise impossible to prove from internal evidence that the documents in "Closed Packet No. 1" are genuine. They are of questionable validity. As such they are useless as evidence."
Not sure what he means by internal evidence, but I have provided, at the links above, plenty of evidence of authenticity. There is nothing questionable about the validity of these documents, Furr has not shown that his claim is true, and so, of course, these documents are a sufficient evidence of the Soviet guilt.
"Chapter 5. The Excavations at Volodymyr-Volyns'kiy"
I've dealt with the core claim of this chapter just recently, Furr's claims are debunked here and here in detail (and earlier here). Long story short, the badges of two policemen who were shot in Kalinin were found in VV (the presence in which in 1939 is documented for one of the two policemen and cannot be ruled out for the other), but not on bodies. Hence there is no evidence that the two policemen were buried anywhere but at Mednoye. That's it, basically. But let me also point out that according to the current understanding the graves at VV are a mix of NKVD and Nazi graves (Siemińska D., "Archaeological studies on World War II totalitarianism in the yard of a mediaeval hill fort in Volodymyr-Volynskyi, Ukraine" // Materiality of Troubled Pasts. Archaeologies of Conflicts and War / edited by A. Zalewska et al. Warsaw, Szczecin, 2017). No wonder - the same VV prison was used by the NKVD and Gestapo. The conclusion is based on the difference between the graves' structure and content.
A grave of the Nazi victims in VV which includes mothers hugging their children. Sieminska, p. 105.
Another such grave, ibid., p. 106.
A VV grave with NKVD victims, ibid., p. 110.
This helps to explain why certain incorrect conclusions were made about the whole site at some point in time, before further excavations and analysis established the current consensus.
"Chapter 6. What the Unimpeachable Evidence Shows"
Here Furr reiterates the already debunked points and whines about Guryanov based on them. Since his premises have already been proven to be based on lies, fakes and ignorance, his conclusions can also be ignored.
He then whines about a "worldwide antícommunist conspiracy to ignore the truth about Katyn, as about many other alleged "crimes of Stalin." (p. 100) and wonders why kooky cranks like him are ignored by the actual historians. Of course, his argument is no different from that of a Holocaust denier - they might also complain that their "research" is "ignored".
"Chapter 7. The German Report"
Furr wants to establish that there are lies and contradictions in the German report. An attentive reader will notice, that I have already conceded that this is the case. The question is whether any of those expose a falsification of any core Katyn claims by the Germans, like they do with the Soviet falsifications in the Burdenko report.
I will also point out that the German report itself doesn't play a great role today, albeit it still contains some useful pieces of information not contained elsewhere. It's the exhumations themselves that are still important, but today we have sources that are closer to the exhumations themselves (like the German and Polish exhumation protocols and related documents), as well as various testimonies of the participants, that are arguably more valuable than most of what the report has to say, especially as some of this information got distorted in the report for propaganda purposes.
The important forensic conclusions of the report largely don't hold up too. Orsos' pseudocallus method, that so impressed the other experts, later failed to be confirmed scientifically. Various smaller observations could be interpreted in different ways. Also, forensic science simply could not, based on the post-mortem transformation of the corpses in mass graves, tell whether they were buried in 1940 or 1941. (The key element was actually the documents, found in the graves, coupled with the corpses having been glued to each other due to the adipocere transformation, which also conserved the documents, but this was simply an observation, for which no forensic expertise was necessary.)
While it is understandable, that some earlier researchers still relied on these forensic conclusions in some part, nowadays most of them aren't of much use in any case, as different, much more powerful sorts of evidence have become known.
That said, let's take a look at Furr's claims.
P. 107: in one place the report says there were numerous clerics among the victims, then admits only 1 was found. If it were a contradiction, it would have been an inconsequential one - the claim appears on p. 9, in the short introduction obviously written by an anonymous propagandist. Several witnesses are quoted later in the report who claimed to have seen several clerics, and this was probably the source for the intro. In fact, several capelans were killed in the Katyn forest (see UvK), and not all of them would have necessarily been identifiable as such in the graves, depending on what they wore or the state of their corpses.
The intro also contains the laughable claim that in all there may be 10-12000 bodies in the graves, including the undiscovered ones (at that point was internally clear to all participants that this was not the case). This is a more important issue, but, of course, Furr ignores it.
Pp. 108, 109: several witnesses state the NKVD house was fenced off in 1931 but Silvestrov allegedly contradicts this by implying that only during the transports the usual mushroom gathering was forbidden in the vicinity of the house. However, Silvestrov's formulation is too vague for Furr's argument to work. What exactly is the vicinity that he means? Right beside the house? This would be just an assumption (based on a translation, at that). It could have extended significantly beyond the fence. And it would in any case make sense if people were forbidden to gather mushrooms also right outside the fence, which would still in the vicinity of the house. Or when he said "the rest house of the collectives", this might have easily included the terrain around it, i. e. the whole complex. When we say "dom otdykha" in Russian, we usually understand, that it can include several separate buildings and the territory. Here is, for example, the "rest house Pokrovskoye":
The boarding house Pokrovskoye has a rich accommodation reserve, namely, several buildings and a large number of cottages and villas. All in all, the room reserve of the rest house Pokrovskoye can offer more than 1000 places of accommodation with different levels of comfort, from economy class to VIP. At present Pokrovskoye is one of the best boarding houses of the Moscow region, and more than once competitions gave it the title of the Best rest house of the Moscow region.
In the rest house Pokrovskoye you will find absolutely everything for a good rest: several restaurants with different cuisines, baths, saunas, a wonderful nature complex, a lake and a thick mixed forest, well-groomed paths and areas for rest, equipped sites for barbecue, rental of different sports equipment, entertainment programs, lots of services for your children and much, much more.
Not much, much more needs to be said.
P. 110: Kiselev repeated the exaggerated German figure of victims. And? Where is a lie or a contradiction? Witnesses adopting various official figures and incorporating them into testimonies is common. Think about the testimonies about 4 million victims in Auschwitz.
P. 110: "Former Polish officer Glaeser told the Germans that the Kozel'sk transits began on March 20, 1940, and ended May 9, 1940. (AM 31) This is false. According to Tucholski's book, which prints all the Soviet transit lists, there is no list earlier than April 1."
And? Chronological misstatements of such nature are common in witness testimonies. This doesn't really need an explanation beyond this (but it is at least a hypothetical possibility that the witnesses' memory was influenced by the fact of the transfer on 09.03.1940 of 15 POWs out of Kozelsk, see UvK, pp. 85, 97).
P. 111: the German report claims that some POWs were transferred from Starobelsk to Kozelsk and then to Katyn. Actually this claim occurs in the policeman Voss' final report that is printed in the German report. Furr points out that "There is no evidence for any "small number" having been transported from Starobel'sk to Kozel'sk before April-May 1940." This is, however, incorrect, as there were some direct transfers from Starobielsk to Kozelsk, with the POWs having been in Starobelsk only for a few days in 1939 (it was basically a transit point for them); but also indirect transfers fit Voss' description - several Starobelsk prisoners were first transferred elsewhere (e. g. to Moscow) and then to Kozelsk, to end up at Katyn (UvK, pp. 140 (Aleksandrowicz Antoni), 147 (Babuchowski Marian), 168 (Brzezicki Mikołaj), 177 (Bołdok Tadeusz), 208 (Wdówka Henryk Marian), 307 (Domagała Tadeusz Edward), 312 (Drabczyński Ignacy), 356 (Ilków Mikołaj) and others).
P. 111. Objections against Voss' claim that at one time 2402 officers were transferred from Kozelsk. Well, it's just a spurious piece of information. Also a pretty common thing in such reports. No source is stated directly, presumably this comes from the aforementioned Glaeser, so could be simple hearsay and/or misunderstanding. Whatever. Completely inconsequential.
Pp. 111-114: the German report contradicts itself on whether there were insects on the corpses. Palmieri wrote numerous larvae were found on a corpse he autopsied. Furr quotes Markov at the Nuremberg trial, who noted:
"As to the insects and their larvae, the assertion of the general report that none were discovered is in flagrant contradiction to the conclusions of Professor Palmieri..."
I agree that there is a contradiction, but not necessarily due to an intent to deceive.
By the general report Markov meant the small report signed by the members of the international commission. What did it say? Furr himself provides a translation:
"Insects and insect remains on the corpses that could have come from the time of burial are entirely lacking."
Note that contrary to Markov this formulation does not, strictly speaking, deny finds of insects or insect remains absolutely, only of such "that could have come from the time of burial".
Imagine the hot late summer days of 1941, when the massacre began according to the Soviets. The experts probably reasoned that it would have been almost unavoidable that numerous insects - not only flies, but also ants, mites etc. - would get attracted to the fresh corpses (and would also leave noticeable damage by consuming some parts of them (Insektenfraß)). I hypothesize that the thrust of the statement is that thousands and thousands of such insects would have been accidentally buried together with the corpses (hence coming "from the time of burial"), yet none such were found (according to the report, at least). In this sense the found larvae could be seen as not having come "from the time of burial" but having developed some time later, the focus was not on them, but on the "snapshot" of a particular point in time.
If this reading is true, there is, of course, still a formal contradiction. At some point of time flies had to lay the eggs. Was it much later than the burial, perhaps in some partially exposed parts of the top layer, when the weather got warmer (thus formally not contradicting the clause "from the time of burial")? Then it should have been shown that they could not have come earlier, at the time of burial, because it doesn't follow from anything that they could not have (yet the report excludes such a possibility). It would have been circular reasoning to argue that it could not have been due to cold weather. If, on the other hand, the flies are assumed to have arrived around the time of burial (with the larvae thus appearing only afterwards), then it was not, at least in an absolute sense, an insect-free period (as the report claims). By the way, flies can lay their eggs also at relatively low temperatures, so the notion of an absolute insect-free period in April and May does not really hold up anyway, at least not without a really detailed forensic-entomological analysis proving the case.
I think that the experts probably wanted to express the point that the insects that got caught up in the burial, were not found, but did not think their words through and formulated their thesis poorly (or did not catch a poor formulation by one person), thus creating a formal contradiction. So I'll agree that this is a defect and that it also lessens the forensic value of the report. But then, as I wrote earlier, the forensic part of the report in weak evidence anyway (same applies to the Soviet one, which is even weaker).
Furr then whines (pp. 114, 115) about "terminus post quem", but this nonsensical argument of his has already been debunked above.
On p. 115 Furr quotes a part of a political statement of the Polish govt-in-exile, printed in the German report, rejecting any possibility of "a meeting or an understanding with Hitler", then points to the Polish Red Cross working at Katyn. Even if there were a contradiction here (and it's not a given, as it is a matter of subjective interpretation - as far as I'm concerned, the PRC's work in the Katyn forest was not in any form "a meeting or an understanding with Hitler", and the PRC members actually refused to collaborate in the German propaganda), what does a purely political statement of a Polish government not being fully correct have to do with the exhumations?
In this chapter Furr has failed to show that the German report was a part of a grandiose hoax, albeit he was able to point out at least one defect - which was a gimme anyway, due to the limited evidential value of the German report nowadays.
Since Furr continues the analysis in the next chapter, no conclusions follow for now.
"Chapter 8. The German Report, continued. Sakharov's Article "Secrets of Katyn"
Valentin Sakharov, on whose writings Furr relies in this chapter, is another Stalinist crank, who is extremely, woefully ignorant, as has been shown here, here and here.
P. 118: "It [Lviv - SR] was renamed "Lemberg" by the Germans after they captured it in June 1941 during the invasion of the Soviet Union. According to the "officìal" version and the German Report (AM) the Polish POWs were murdered by the Soviet NKVD more than a year earlier, in April and May 1940. Therefore there should not have been any documents found in the mass graves with the name "Lemberg" on them. But according to AM such documents were found."
False, if only because "Lemberg" could appear in private documents of the Polish POWs who were ethnic Germans (some such were indeed buried in the Katyn forest).
P. 118: "Here we will examine some examples of these documents‘ The
number represents the number assigned in AM to the corpse exhumed by the Germans in April-June 1943.
1 Foto mit Anschrift: Hanina Gajowska, Lemberg,
Zyzyinska 24. (?) 1 Medaillon. (AM 189)
"Anschrift" - "inscription" - means that these were the actual words on the photo. If genuine, this proves that the body and document were from after June, 1941, and therefore that the victim was murdered by the Germans."
It means no such thing at all, since it makes an unwarranted assumption that the German translators never would have translated the Polish placenames into German.
Therefore there is exactly nothing to suggest that "Lwów" was not also in the original text.
On pp. 118-119 Furr tries to preempt this obvious explanation:
"If the inscription really read "Lwów" and some German, in an excess of patriotism or political correctness, changed the name
"Lemberg," the name in use at the time of the exhumations in 1943, then that would mean that the Germans were altering the documents they found. And that would compromise the bona fides of the German AM."
Not at all! It was not altering the documents, but translating them. Now, Furr may not like this particular translation mode (and we can agree that it was not scholarly), but that's neither here, nor there, since the lists were not created for academic scholarly purposes. Moreover, even if "bona fides" of the AM were somehow damaged (though not in any sense proving deception), we still have the parallel Polish lists, which we still can check.
P. 119: "If this one mention of "Lwow" was an oversight and the Germans were changing "Lwow" to "Lemberg" wherever they found it that would mean that the Germans were altering the documents whenever they saw fit to do. If that were the case it would mean that we cannot trust any of these documents in AM, because the Germans might have altered or even invented them."
Nope. It only means we cannot expect to see a 100% true transcription in a scholarly sense (i. e. we must be wary of how various names are presented). Nothing else, certainly not any invention, follows.
P. 119: "2 Fliegerabzeichen, 2 Briefe a. Namen: Irena Schmidt,
Lemberg, ul. Bulwarska 1, adressiert an: Eward [pre
sumably this should be "Edward"] Schmidt, Kozielsk
P. 121: "Why would a Polish captain be carrying a certificate of military service written in the German language? According to the "Katyn Cemetery Book" (page 509) Pufahl had fought in the First World War. But he would have fought in the Russian army, since Poland was part of Tsarist Russia at that time."
Ah, the great researcher Furr strikes again! Just a bit of googling would have told him that in the WWI Pufahl fought in the Prussian army and even had an Iron Cross, 2nd class. And yes, during the 1939 war any such service, however long ago, could at any time become politically relevant, so it makes sense that he was also carrying that document with him. BTW, ain't it sweet that Furr has never heard of the Province of Posen and really thought that all the August 1939 Poland had been in the Russian empire in 1914? LOL.
P. 121: "4120. 一一 Josef Hptm., Liebenau, Schloßstraße 6.
1 Lebenslauf in deutscher Sprache, 3 Briefe (AM 272)
There were a number of towns named Liebenau. None were in prewar Poland. One of them is in Lower Silesia, which between 1919 and 1945 was in Germany, not Poland. Why would a Polish captain, a resident of Germany, have a "curriculum vitae" in German on his person while fighting against Germany in the Polish army? Such documentation would leave him vulnerable to being charged with treason against Germany, where his residence was."
Wrong! (Of course. ROTFL.)
There was at least the village Liebenau (Gostycyn in gmina Gostycyn, in Poland since 1919) in the former West Prussia. Why someone living there might have a German CV does not need explaining to someone who has not been living under a rock, historically speaking.
P. 122: "Krzesiński": Another Piece of Evidence That Cannot Be Impugned"
This whole joke of an argument has been debunked here:
"However, there is no information identifying this man as Krzesinski in either German or Polish primary sources, i.e. we are talking about a mistake. The reason is simple: Tucholski clearly relied on a secondary, postwar list of Adam Moszyński, which lists a certain Lieutenant-Colonel Krzesiński, who allegedly corresponds to the number 0439 and who allegedly lived at "Warszawa ul. Bracka 14, m. 2". But this address is found in the German list under the number 0438 (Wacław Pachnikiewicz), which is the address of some H. and. Z. Krzesiński ("H. u. Z. Krzesinscy"), who sent four cards to Pachnikiewicz. That is, there was a classic mistake "the creator of the list looked in the wrong place", and as a result Lieutenant Kizhe appeared. There was no "lieutenant Krzesiński from Warsaw" in the graves and who was number 0439 - we do not know. It could have been one of the aforementioned ethnic Germans among the Polish prisoners of war from the Silesian or Poznan voivodeships, so he could very well have had, for example, a draft letter to the commandant in German (unless there was some other mix-up in compiling the original list, which is also quite possible)."
Another of Furr's unimpeachable arguments bites the dust.
P. 124, Schreer/Litzmannstadt: debunked here. The original documents, which we still have, say "Łodz" and "Lodsch". For Krochmalski Furr uses the same perverse logic as above, not taking account the translation methods and not using the Polish list:
P. 125, about Frelkiewicz:
"This soldier's name was spell ed with - kie-. But the entry on AM 201 has "-ke." This could not have been on any postcard ("Karte") to him. No Pole would make this error."
This is the height of kookery - basing a conspiracy theory on one letter without even considering a much more mundane, and therefore plausible, explanation - a typo (which any Pole could have made too, but all the more - a German!). Though that matter is more interesting than that, as we see in the Polish list:
Here you see both his apparently incomplete surname with "ke" as well as the full and correctly spelled name of the sender. Whatever the reason for the distorted "short" version (partial legibility of a name + typo, with an omitted indication of incompleteness; or, more probably, "Frelke" used as a nickname in one of the letters ("Dear Frelke...") - with his surname in the address of Anne's postcard not necessarily visible - after all, in the camp he was also nicknamed, albeit not Frelke, but "Frela", but different people could have used different derivations of his surname), the full name is correct. The AM's derivation of an alternative spelling from the Soviet lists in German hands, as well as these lists themselves, are nothing but Furr's and Sakharov's fantasies.
P. 127: "We have studied Sakharov's article, looked a little more carefully into his results, and identified nine entries in the AM list that are can demonstrate were either partially falsified or entirely faked: AM numbers 892, 1776, 781, 4120, 439, 3294, 678, 1300, 2870."
We have studied Furr's arguments and established that he has provided no credible evidence for his falsification thesis.
"Chapter 9. The German Report, continued: Sakharov's Article 'German Documents'"
P. 129; "Reports of Soviet partisans giving details about German falsifications at the Katyn exhumation site"
Debunked here and here. Long story short, these reports simply contradict the Burdenko version due to claiming that the whole burial site was completely falsified by using non-Polish corpses (no shootings are mentioned at all). Yet Furr considers this patent nonsense "unimpeachable evidence" (p. 132).
P. 132, 133: "The partisans could not have known that the Soviet leadership would take the German allegations seriously enough to mount a full scale Soviet investigation commission."
Given the Pravda response, the break-up with the Polish government-in-exile, the scale of the continuing and, in fact, progressing (international commission, numerous tours) German propaganda campaign, all of which the Smolensk partisans knew about, because the local German propaganda was no less relentless than the international one, they could hardly have not assumed that their "service" would come in handy. That such reports only appeared after the Germans made their discovery public is very telling. Where are the partisan reports making such claims before that point? Now that would be evidence!
P. 134: "The documents published by Sakharov confirm that all the witnesses signed statements in German, which none of them could read."
And? I have yet to see a Soviet interrogation protocol signed by a German criminal suspect written in German, rather than Russian, and if those exist, they would be an exception. So this was a standard procedure and the point is redundant: if Furr claims German coercion, then it doesn't matter in what language the signed protocol was, it would have been coerced also if it were in Russian. And vice versa.
P. 134: "Sakharov also notes that none of the witnesses in the German Report who testified that the Soviets had shot the Poles in April - May 1940 remarked on the smell. Sakharov logically suggests that there would have been a considerable odor of decaying flesh, as the graves would have been left open for many days."
This would depend in large part on the air temperature (especially in the graves, where the temperature presumably would have been lower after the extremely cold winter of 1940), so let's see the detailed evidence that the bodies would decay at a sufficient rate to emit the smell that the witnesses would have been able to detect. Don't forget that the quicklime was used during the burial, and there was also some evidence of chlorinated lime use, both of which would have slowed down putrefaction to some extent.
P. 136, Sakharov's argument about the transport schedules characterizes this professor completely. Namely: he had no idea whatsoever, that the Polish POWs were transported by the special convoys (for the "especially dangerous state criminals", including those sentenced to death), so the information about them cannot be expected to appear in the stats which only included three regular convoy categories. He got caught red-handed when he tried to pull this trick during a live debate with Guryanov (see 20:34):
P. 136-138: "The statement of the German tree expert that he did not collect the treelings sent to him by the Germans at Katyn, but only reported on what had been sent to him.
Sakharov located a transcription of von Herffs report ìn which he states that he did not collect the six treeling samples himself but received them from Dr. Birkle and Dr. Buhtz."
Even if so, frankly, who cares? See my comments above on the low value of most forensic evidence in the report. That said, von Herff reported specifically that he received the samples not from Birkle and Butz, as Furr writes, but from a "delegation of foreign forensic medics". Birkle and Butz collected the samples according to von Herff. It does not mean that they did it without any control of the rest of the commission. Indeed, in a later testimony von Herff confirmed, that the commission was present during his analysis, not only Birkle and Butz. And I mean, had von Herff claimed that he collected the samples personally, Furr would have simply said that he was lying for his country or some such thing.
P. 139: "In his July 1945 talk to the Czech Medical Society Frantisek Hájek, one of the medical team that the Germans had brought to Katyn to certify their claims that the bodies had been buried for about three years and thus had been killed by the Sovìets, testified that the German forester had told him, Hájek, that the treelings might not have been transplanted at all."
"Document No. 16 is a brochure by the Czech member of the international commission of experts, František Hájek, in which he retracted his 1943 conclusions and blamed the Germans. Despite the fact that Czechoslovakia had not yet been formally a communist state before 1948, the real atmosphere was such that on May 23, 1945 Hajek was arrested on suspicion of collaborationism, and in his own words, he was asked questions about Katyn. He was released some time later and soon read a report retracting his original conclusions and the following year formalized it as a brochure. It is clear that there is no free will to be seriously talked about here. Hajek's "scientific" arguments are discussed in the article "Some remarks concerning one unscrupulous publication about the Katyn crime". The experts who were outside the zone of Soviet influence did not change their positions; it was changed by the Bulgarian expert Marko Markov, who was tried in Bulgaria for collaborationism but acquitted when he stated that his participation in the commission was forced; and the Slovak expert Frantisek Šubik, who eventually had to flee to the West and described the pressure on him to change his position."
About the Germans allegedly possessing the Kozelsk lists:
P. 141: "However, Sakharov's article has made this line of inquiry moot. He discovered documents that prove that the Germans had the lists of POWs sent from Kozel'sk to the Smolensk NKVD. These are the same lists that are reproduced in Tucholski's book. We have confirmed this by obtaining from the Russian State Military Archive the documents cited by Sakharov here and from which he quotes some passages in Russian translation. The original documents are, of course, in German. Facsimiles of these documents may be found on the "Images" web page of this volume. They are:
[archival references - SR]"
It will be no surprise for the readers that the documents Furr refers to do not support his claim in any possible way. I've dealt with this incompetent claim here, among other places:
"V. A. Sakharov, on the basis of German correspondence, tried to show that the Germans captured lists of "Katyn" Poles from the Kozelsk camp during the Katyn excavations. However, as A. E. Guryanov , an expert on the Katyn case, showed in a discussion with him, it was a list of Poles from the so-called "Kozelsk-2," interned in Lithuania and Latvia until the summer of 1940 (this very irrelevant list of internees fell into German hands, as evidenced by its translation into German in the Burdenko Commission files ).
To this I will add, that if you simply take a look at the dates of the documents Furr provides to see that the lists were forwarded to the German Red Cross after the exhumations had been stopped and both the German and the Polish exhumation protocols had been created, and yet it was at that time that the Germans first began to investigate the lists, asking the German Red Cross to compare them with the lists of Katyn victims. Also, had those been the lists of Kozelsk POWs sent to the Smolensk UNKVD that the Germans allegedly based their victims list on, it would have made zero sense to a) send them to the German Red Cross at all, with a request to compare with the victim list, b) and do it at this particular point of time.
The Russian Kozelsk-2 lists, currently mixed into a file which begins with the Yukhnov POWs, but in the second half the Kozelsk-2 POWs appear. GARF f. 7021, op. 114, d. 32, l. 167.
The translation of the list made by the Germans. GARF f. 7021, op. 114, d. 33.
Moreover, the correspondence Furr refers to clearly refers to the interned Poles, not to POWs. The lists were not a secret and were even publicly mentioned in Völkischer Beobachter on 10.06.1943. They were correctly called "the name lists of these internees" which "were found in the GPU files". The article referred specifically to the subsequent internees of Kozelsk, correctly differentiating them from the earlier POWs.
GARF f. 7021, op. 114, d. 30, l. 32.
Pp. 141, 142: "There is at least one more entry in AM that shows that the Germans were using the Soviet list rather than documents from the graves:
Impfzettel, 1 Brief mit Stempel, New York, Brooklyn, 1 Zettel mit Notizen.
The Soviet list uses transliterates the name ЛЯ - "L + ya". But the name in Polish begins with "La", not "Lia." The Germans could not have obtained this name from any letter or other document on this body, or found in a grave or anywhere else. Therefore the Germans transliterated this name from the Russian-language Soviet list."
The hoaxer Furr knows very well - from Alexey Pamyatnykh's article which he quotes in his book - that the vaccination certificates (Impfzettel) bore both the Polish and the Russian transcriptions of the POWs' names (though the one or the other, or both, could be unreadable sometimes). Somebody explain to me how this is not a lie on Furr's part?
P. 142: "So we have the documentary evidence that the Germans had the Russian list of Kozel'sk prisoners. But if we did not have it, the examples of Frelkiewicz and Lachowski would be sufficient proof of it."
And we have seen, that the cases of Frelkiewicz and Lachowski don't prove the existence of any such list in the German hands, for which there is also no documentary evidence.
Pp. 142, 143: "Sakharov quotes from a meeting in Kraków of June 10, 1943 in which the main directorate of propaganda of the German Generalgouvernement (the Government of German occupied Poland during the war) stated that the identifications of bodies at Katyn that had been published in Polish newspapers were unreliable since they were accurate in only a few instances." [...]
"For example, at a meeting that took place on July 10 1943 in Krakow it was affirmed by the main directorate of propaganda of the government of the Generalgouvernement: "The lists of bodies identified at Katyn that have been presented up to this point and published in the Polish press are unreliable, since they correspond to reality in only a few cases."
Note how Furr never bothers to verify Sakharov's translation, he simply quotes it. And yet, as I showed here, Sakharov simply falsified it!
"1.) Die bisher ausgegebenen und in der polnischen Presse veröffentlichten Listen uber die in Katyn festgestellten Leichen sind unzulänglich, weil nur in wenigen Fällen die Angaben zur Identifizierung ausreichen. Das Polnische Rote Kreuz entschuldigte sich damit, dass bei der Kürze der verfügbaren Zeit genauere Angaben nicht möglich gewesen wären und man sich darauf verlassen gehabt hätte, die Dokumente in Warschau durcharbeiten zu können.
1) The lists of corpses discovered in Katyn, which have been issued and published in the Polish press so far, are inadequate, because only in a few cases the information is sufficient for identification. The Polish Red Cross excused itself with the fact that with the shortness of the available time more exact particulars would not have been possible and one had relied on being able to work through the documents in Warsaw.
Indeed, only a small portion of the German and Polish lists contain data unambiguously identifying a person, especially if one does not know that he was held in the Kozelsk camp ( something that at the time was not yet known for certain), such as names of relatives or addresses. Sakharov completely changed the meaning of what had been written. It was not about the unreliability of the information in this sentence at all, but only about its insufficiency (in the published form) for the relatives for finding their family members. Accordingly, in paragraph 4, the PRC promises to provide lists with more complete information as soon as possible. The second document quoted by Sakharov, by the way, just explains the first."
So we have a hoaxer quoting a hoaxer. The second document Furr then cites is also the second document mentioned in my last sentence in the quote above, which actually explains the situation. I refer the reader to the text.
P. 144: "In a letter of July 27, 1943 to the German Red Cross the Propaganda Section of the German General Gouvernement admitted that the documents from different bodies were often mixed up and the documents of a single person were scattered among 12 different envelopes"
Absolutely, and this explains some anomalies in the German-Polish document complex. Same applies to the few other documents Furr cites afterwards.
P. 146: "But AM is the central evidentiary document that sustains the "official" version of Katyn, that the Soviet killed the Poles."
While it's a historically important document in general, it is neither central to, nor sustaining the history of the Katyn massacre in the 21st century.
Pp. 146, 147: "Sakharov draws the following conclusion:
"On the basis of the aforementioned evidence we can affirm that some documents, papers, and even objects in the hands of the German police were utilized in place of bodies that in reality did not exist and for the "identification" of bodies which had originally been classed as "unidentified."
This implies that some of the documents found on bodies may have really belonged to that person but we have no idea which do and which do not."
Furr actually skips the detailed reasoning by which Sakharov arrives at this conclusion, so I will just point out that in his argument Sakharov commits another egregious falsification, which I expose here.
Pp. 147, 148: "Sakharov's research, the contradictions internal to AM, and the identification of many of the corpses found at Katyn (Koz'i Gory) as POWs who were shipped to Kalinin or Khar'kov but clearly not shot there - all these results deal a fatal blow to the bona fides of the German Report (AM) as an objective body of evidence. These results also mean that, because it relies heavily upon the German Report (AM), the "official" version of Katyn loses its evidentiary foundation."
Not at all: Sakharov's falsifications and incompetence only characterize Katyn denial, no corpses were identified in the Katyn forest of the POWs who had been shipped to Kalinin or Kharkiv, AM is not the evidentiary foundation of the Katyn historiography in the 21st century, and albeit it has numerous faults, it continues to be historically useful.
"Chapter 10. The Burdenko Commission Report"
Here I will be skipping a lot of meta commentary - what other researchers allegedly proposed and whether their hypotheses hold up or not may interest some but does not directly affect the topic at hand. I will mostly deal with the key issues.
P. 156: "Nor does Ciencala have any evidence that the BU witnesses were lying."
There is, of course, plenty such evidence. Furr can start with the three women who lied that Ahrens was the direct organizer of the massacre in August and September of 1941, even though he had not arrived in Smolensk until November
Then we can proceed to the others.
Pp. 157, 158:
"They proved that
operatives arriving from Moscow produced counterfeit documents with later dates, put them in the
remains of the graves, and prepared false witnesses. [...]
Furthermore, we know that this statement is false - a deliberate lie. Pamiatnykh has published the notes of the Burdenko investigators about the documents they found on the corpses. As we have seen one of them - that of Kozetulski - is so fragmentary that the investigators read it incorrectly, failed to recognize its importance for the Soviet case and so never used it. It is one of the pieces of our "unimpeachable evidence." It cannot have been "planted" by the Soviets."
Furr lies: had he even found a document known to belong to "Kozietulski", and as we have seen above, he hasn't, that document he means was from 1939 and thus was not one of the documents with later dates planted by the Soviets. (The the "couldn't have been planted" argument has been dealt with above.)
P. 158: "There was such a decree naturally enough. Collaboration with the enemy was illegal in every country. But Cienciala is dishonest here as well. There is no evidence that any of the Burdenko Commission witnesses were threatened with prosecution."
Wait, so why were they not prosecuted for collaboration with the Germans?
P. 159: "Cienciala has no evidence that the witnesses' testimony was faked or the result of threats."
Furr has no evidence that Cienciala has no evidence. In fact, we do have direct evidence that the witnesses' statements were prepared in a forced way. To quote from here:
"How were the Soviet "witnesses" prepared? Let M.G. Krivozertsev, mentioned twice in the Soviet report, tell us about this:
"That, what we said, there is nothing of ours there. [...] [The investigator] wrote it himself, and then read it out. Correct? - Correct. Is everything all right? - Sign here. [...] We had no right to say anything and to correct the investigator, saying, "You have to write so and so". Nineteen people - this is not simple. And every single one, just as one started to speak, so did the last, nineteenth, in the same way said his own speech."
Excerpt from the documentary film "The Katyn Affair" ("Geheimsache Katyn: der Massenmord und die Propagandalüge", 1993) by Barbara Dyrschka, Marek Grzona and Ingo Bethke:
"- First of all I was immediately, well, so received, indeed, as if a member of the party. He himself introduced himself to me, "I'm a member of the party, trust me, everything that I write, everything will be exactly so." So what am I supposed to say, that no, no, not so?
- He didn't even read to you what he wrote down?
- Just asked to sign.
- Just told me to sign. [...] He said: "Don't worry, I'll do everything as it should be done, the Germans did it and it's OK, sign, don't be afraid, it's OK"."
We are talking here about the NKGB interrogations of 1943, when they were preparing "witnesses" for the first time. These are the protocols of Krivozertsev's interrogations, which, according to him, were written by the investigator himself (GARF, f 7021, op. 114, d. 10, p. 141-148):[...]
The fact that Krivozertsev was interrogated twice helps explain the seemingly contradictory detail in his interview about whether the investigator read him the contents of the protocols - perhaps he recalled different details of two separate "interrogations" in different interviews. Krivozertsev was also interrogated by the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office, just as other witnesses:
"CMPO prosecutors also interrogated other witnesses whose testimony was used to support the Soviet version. For example, in 1943-1944. M.G. Krivozertsev testified to the NKGB that the Katyn Forest was a favorite place for local residents to hang out and gather mushrooms. In August 1941 he allegedly saw how German trucks loaded with people moved into the Katyn Forest, and there drove columns of Polish prisoners of war, after which single gunshots rang out. The forester Tsurikov showed him the burial place, and he decided that the Poles were buried there. In April 1943, the Germans dug the place up and discovered the graves, which were very well preserved. There he also found three 7.65 Geco shell casings, which he handed over to NKGB officers.
During the CMPO investigation, Krivozertsev confirmed that before the war he lived in Gnezdovo, and testified that in the summer of 1940, at the station, on the reserve tracks, he saw 3-4 "Stolypin wagons" with prisoners, 60 people in each. Buses were driven right up to the carriage doors, and the prisoners were moved into them. After a while a rumor spread in the village that they were Poles, of whom they wanted to organize a collective farm, but they refused and were shot. During the occupation he saw open pits in the Katyn forest, in one of which he counted about 300 corpses of men, which lay in 13 layers. After the liberation of Smolensk, a commission came to the Katyn Forest and he was summoned for interrogation, where, without asking anything, he was immediately offered to sign a protocol. Which he did, as he was afraid for the lives of his family members.
Krivozertsev said the same to A.P. Yakushev, special correspondent of the Smolensk Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting, who was interrogated as a witness. In a conversation with him, Krivozertsev retracted his testimony given to the NKGB in late 1943. He formulated his motive for giving false testimony as follows: if he had not signed what was offered to him, he would have been destroyed."
Then Furr deals with the Olshansky story and I want to emphasize that his story about Burdenko is indeed a lie, analyzed here. Interestingly, Furr did not bother to link to this refutation, which supports his point.
P. 163: "In reality we do not know that "nothing was heard from any of the Polish POWs after they were transferred out of the three PO camps." This is the position of the Polish Government In Exile (GIE). Did they check? If so, how? Where is the documentation of their checkup?"
We do, of course, know that and the PGiE did check as far as they could, gathering information from numerous returning Poles (see, for example, Czapski's 1942 memorandum for Raikhman, various other pre-Katyn notes, the PGiE's report, detailing the search, as well as other documents in the archives of PGiE and its various members, which show the extent of the information they had before the Katyn affair - Furr is welcome to search through them and find any evidence contradicting this), and were also fervently asking the Soviet side questions about the whereabouts of the specific Polish officers - indeed, Stalin was asked directly at least twice, with a concrete list of names, and could not give any concrete answer. The second time he was asked, he was reduced to saying: "It is unknown [...] You would know better".
An example of an index card from the voluminous Anders archive listing the report numbers pertaining to just one narrow topic (POW labor in Soviet captivity, point b: labor in mines and stone quarries). There are more than 18000 reports, depositions and statements by Poles who left the USSR in the archive.
P. 166: "That means the Polish POWs had been provided with winter clothing by the Polish Army when captured in September 1939. They would also have had it whether they were shot in April - May 1940, as the Germans claimed, or in September - December 1941, as the Soviets concluded.
No one captured in Russia - or, for that matter, Western Ukraine or Western 8elorussia would ever abandon winter clothing, no matter what time of year it was."
Several manipulations at once. They would not have "abandoned" it, but they were extremely unlikely to wear it, at least en masse, at the end of August and in September, when they were allegedly shot according to the Soviet witnesses.
As for Furr giving the time period of "September - December" rather than the end of August - September, this is a repetition of the Soviet manipulation. The witnesses are extremely clear that the executions were over by the end of September. December only appears in the forensic expertise act, but its mention follows neither from any premise in the act itself, nor from the main text of the report (which directly contradicts such dating). It was almost certainly an attempt at explaining the winter clothing after foreign visitors pointed out this curious fact.
"In the graves at Katyn were personal documents which made it possible to identify 2730 ofthe remains out of a total of 4151. The Soviet Special commission, when it carried out a second exhumation, did not find any other personal documents."
That this statement is false is obvious to us today since we now have a list of documents found by Burdenko Commission investigators and published by Pamiatnykh. But it was recognizably false in 1989 too! The final section of BU is titled "Documents Found on the Bodies." This section refers to letters, postcards, a Catholic prayer book, and receipts found. These are "personal documents."
This is an open attempt at deception from Furr, because he knows full well that the 1988 Polish report acknowledges this and explains what it means later:
"The [Soviet -SR] Report cites 9 pieces of physical evidence to prove the guilt of the Germans, with the caveat, rather vague, that these are only some of those found by the experts. The rest have never been published. These 9 documents were found on six bodies out of 925 newly exhumed corpses. They were recovered from the clothing of the first hundred re-exhumed (the last refers to corpse No. 101). There were no personal documents among them; there was one icon. Of the remaining documents, five were receipts issued by the camp, two were postcards (one received, one unsent), and a letter from Warsaw sent to a Soviet institution."
Furr may not agree with the report's definition of personal documents, but he has no right to distort what the report means.
(I will point out, that the 1988 Polish report is mistaken, since the German identification was not based solely on personal documents (by its definition), which did not occur that often in the first place.)
P. 169: "The shells mentioned in AM were the 1928-1931 type shown in the middle drawing. Genschow said that the larger exports to the USSR were before 1928, when the word "Geco" did not appear on the shells, and were small after that, when the "Geco DD 7.65" shells were made."
Yet another falsehood. According to the Genschow letter the "*D*" cartridges were used until 1922, then came the "DD" cartridges that were used until 1932. In his testimony Genschow only said, from memory and thus with understandable imprecision, that the "DD" trademark was in use until 1933-34. He never claimed that the word "Geco" did not appear before 1928! He only said that "at that time the stamp on the bottom of the cartridge was different from the one I stated before, and after 1928 the quantities which were exported [to the USSR -SR] were small". The headstamp that he had mentioned before was the one used since 1933 ("Geco" with "7,65" underneath). It was indeed different than that "before 1928", but it was also different that that "before 1929", "before 1930" etc. - in no way did Genschow imply any change of the headstamp in 1928. The professor of literature cannot interpret the simplest texts!
Pp. 169, 170: "A Major Vetoshnìkov testified to the Burdenko Commìssìon about the unsuccessful evacuatìon of Comp 1-ON ìn July 1941. "Drama" repeatedly suggests that there was no one named Vetoshnikov: [...]
Writing years later, Lebedeva also claims that Vetoshnikov never existed: [...]"
"As it follows from the certificates of the MB RF [later FSB RF -SR], such camps did not exist in 1940 and subsequent years. The so-called Major Vetoshnikov did not serve in the state security system and is a fictitious figure (Vol. PO, pp. 23, 72)."
It is of course completely impossible for someone bearing the high rank of a major of state security to simply "fall through the cracks" and not appear in any documents unrelated to the Katyn case.
"In order to dispel possible doubts about the existence of the false witness Vetoshnikov, who was allegedly the commander of the NKVD Camp № 1-ON, the NKGB officials prepared a false report on his behalf, allegedly written in August 1941 in the name of State Security Major Soprunenko. As can be seen from Soprunenko's personal file, he was not promoted to this rank until March 1942, i.e. Vetoshnikov's "report" was written retroactively, after March 1942."
Indeed, here is the report (courtesy of A. Guryanov; copy of the original and of a transcript):
Addressed to the major of state security Soprunenko on 12.08.1941. Soprunenko became major of state security on 17.02.1942.
The non-existent Vetoshnikov is one of the many falsifications in the Burdenko report that Furr won't be able to explain.
(All of the above does not mean that the Commission made up Vetoshnikov. Obviously, somebody simply testified under that name.)
P. 172: "It is only necessary to assume that Vetoshnikov did not exist if one has previously also assumed that no camps 1-, 2-, and 3-ON existed."
Wrong! As one can see, this is not one of the reasons I give above for his non-existence.
P. 172: "The Polish "official" version does make this assumption. but the existence of these camps is documented in the list of documents found on the corpses by the Burdenko Commission investigators and published on the Internet by Aleksei Pamiatnykh, a fervent advocate of the "official" Soviets-did-it version:"
But since these camps are documented not to have existed, this of necessity proves that the documents allegedly found on the bodies, that Furr relies on, are fakes. This further discredits the Burdenko report and Furr won't be able to explain why the Soviet side concocted these fakes if it was not guilty.
P. 174: "But it speaks to the authenticity of this note by Men'shagin. If the Soviets had faked a note by Men'shagin, would they have made it so short and so laconic that it did not directly implicate the Germans? Why would the Soviets have fabricated a lengthy account of shooting of Jews by the Germans and left the question of who shot the Polish POWs to a very brief and ambiguous mention at the end?"
But that's obvious illogic again. Who said that the whole document was forged? One of the best ways to forge something is to take a mostly authentic document and add necessary things (while keeping the verisimilitude).
In RGASPI I located what is probably the first mention of the Menshagin notebook (RGASPI f. 17, op. 125, d. 174, ll. 144-146).
On 16.10.1943 Kobulov sent a top secret message to the top propagandist Shcherbakov with "an excerpt from a work notebook of the burgomistr of Smolensk Min'shagin relating to August-November 1941". The excerpt contains various pieces of information, beginning with repressions against Jews and ending with mundane stuff like organizing a publishing of a newspaper and mentioning what specialists (electricians etc.) are necessary.
Yet, despite the huge interest of the Soviet side in the Katyn issue and a propaganda coup that the mentions of the Poles in the notebook would have constituted, these key sentences, that would later become "evidence" in the Burdenko report, are completely absent in the excerpt, because the part where they allegedly occurred is not included at all.
The best explanation is that they simply did not exist at the time and were added later to Menshagin's authentic notebook.
P. 179, after quoting a criticism from the Polish report:
"This is another deliberate deception. For indeed there is another Stanislaw Kuczyński listed as killed in the Katyn murders. He was a prisoner at Ostashkov. In his Ostashkov list Tucholski records the following (314 co1. 1) [...]"
Yet immediately thereafter he concedes:
P. 179: "Maciszewski's book is early; perhaps he did not know this."
Yet he has already accused the Polish experts of "another deliberate deception"! This Freudian slip tells us everything about Furr we need to know. (And no, "this" refers to the preceding paragraph, not to Cienciala, whom whom he goes on to accuse of deception too.)
The problem for Furr is that he got the completely wrong Kuczyński. I explained that here:
"With Kuczyński Furr deceptively ignores that Stanisław Kuczyński who wrote the postcard was actually Stanisław Kuczyński-Iskander Bej (and not the other Kuczyński from Ostashkov, as Furr claims) who, according to ch. 5. of Katynskij sindrom was not shot but rather transferred to Moscow. Now, it is true that one can find his name in the modern lists of those shot in Kharkov. But it's a mistake: the Starobielsk list is not a transportation list per se but simply contains the people who left the camp, whether for the execution or for some other reason. The list includes e. g. Zygmunt Berling (no. 177), who obviously was not shot. So it also includes Kuczyński-Iskander Bej (under no. 1414) as someone who left the camp. Since Kuczyński was not on the list of those transferred to Yukhnov, it was incorrectly assumed that he was shot in Kharkov, given that the document found by the Russian investigators were not known at the time when the lists were made. So Kuczyński could as well have been alive in 1943 and 1944 and could have written anything on NKVD/NKGB's request."
Apparently this is the same person the 1988 Polish report means, albeit they then get the date of the transfer wrong (he was transferred in February 1940), but that's a minor detail, as they did not have access to the documents.
P. 180: "For the sake of space we will not examine the case of Remigiusz Bierzanek. Everyone agrees that he was put on the list of Katyn victims when in fact he was alive and well in Poland."
Those interested in his case can read this analysis.
Pp. 180-182: Furr goes on and on and Jan Załuska, who was killed in the Katyn forest, but who was mistakenly claimed in the 1988 Polish report to have been killed elsewhere (without a source; unlike Bierzanek, Załuska was in Kozelsk and his identification in the grave correlates with this fact) - this should prove that the scholars who rely on the report but don't deal with Załuska have something to hide and are dishonest. Of course, in the report itself Załuska is dismissed as a non-issue, and just because Furr thinks otherwise obviously does not mean that others have to accept his weird obsessions.
P. 183: "De Montfort made the same false accusation. As we have already shown, BU does not at all imply that the Germans "falsified documents of thousands of victims," rather, BU implies that the Germans took from the corpses all the documents they could find that were dated after April-May 1940."
So how does Furr square this with his acceptance of the ridiculous partisan reports that claimed that the whole burial was faked?
Moreover, Furr mistranslated the 1988 report's claim, which was "as that could be inferred from the Report of the Special commission", not "can be" - the subjunctive means it is not a positive claim but a possibility.
P. 184: "This is confirmed by four archival documents cited by Valentin Sakharov from Soviet partisan groups attesting to reports by escaped Red Army POWs that the Germans had dug up bodies from a Smolensk cemetery, including bodies of Red Army soldiers killed in the defense of Smolensk in 1941, and trucked them to Katyn."
Except, as already pointed out, according to these reports the Katyn graves were fully faked, and the Burdenko commission has never reported on any irregularities in the Smolensk cemetery - which would have been extremely easy to establish and would serve as actual forensic evidence.
P. 184: "No objective student would conclude that the partisan reports are a fabrication, concocted by the Soviets in a far sighted attempt to provide documentation for a future attempt to counter the German AM"
Actually, no objective researcher will deny that it was exactly such an attempt, with the exception of "far-sightedness", which was not necessary at all.
P. 185: "Yet if one does not take the position - unsupported by any evidence - that the partisan reports are fabrications, the genuineness of the German AM is destroyed."
As well as that of the Burdenko report's.
P. 185: "At the same time, the partisan reports are confirmatory evidence in favor of the credibility of BU."
That the Soviet side was making up stories about Katyn this early, which contradicted its later stories, does not in any way support the credibility of the Burdenko report.
Pp. 186-188: the Harriman argument (she wrote that a late document was found "while I was watching").
"Given the Soviet violation of the integrity of the graves in the fall of 1943 [proven earlier in the article - SR], it cannot even be stated with certainty that the planting could not have been done on the corpses in the graves back in the fall; but even that was not necessary - it was enough to have a few agents among the diggers and/or experts during the exhumation. We are only talking about a few pages, for the planting of which even in the "field conditions" you don't even have to be a magician. [...]
Even without further context, which we will now consider, the fact that Harriman wrote that the letter was found "while I was watching" does not mean that she observed in detail the extraction of the letter from some unopened pocket, etc. - in the context of the entire paragraph in which she describes visiting the tents to examine the corpses, it could simply mean her presence in the tent and observing the general process of the autopsy. Had the letter described in detail the process of close observation from beginning to end (e.g: "the corpse was taken out of the grave in my presence and carried on a stretcher to the tent for the autopsy, I followed him; in my presence the expert cut open his overcoat pocket and extracted a postcard..."), then one could draw some conclusions.
What is this extracted letter that Harriman wrote about? Among the 9 documents listed in the Soviet report, only one dated the summer of 1941 - the above-mentioned postcard by Kuchinsky, and it was it which was found on 22 January (GARF, f. 7021, op. 114, d. 8, p. 224). In her official report Harriman described the documents as follows:
"Despite the thoroughness of the pocket ripping by the Germans, out of the
seven hundred corpses the Commission have so far investigated. 146 items have
been found. The earliest date was found on a postcard — March 1940 — and the
latest — an unmailed postcard dated June 20, 1941. We were shown all these
documents and trinkets and the most important and significant ones were translated for us."
There is no mention of personally observing the retrieval of any of the documents. But even more important is how Harriman described what she thought was the most convincing evidence:
"The party was shown the graves in the Katyn Rorest and witnessed post mortems of the corpses. As no member was in a position to evaluate the scientific evidence given, it had to be accepted at its face value.
The testimonial evidence provided by the Commission and witnesses was minute in detail and by American standards petty. We were expected to accept the statements of the high ranking Soviet officials as true, because they said it was true.
Despite this it is my opinion that the Poles were murdered by the Germans. The most convincing evidence to uphold this was the methodical manner in which the job was done, something the Commission thought not sufficiently important to stress. They were more interested in the medical evidence as conclusive proof and the minute circumstantial evidence surrounding the crime."
And here is her testimony eight years later, before the Madden committee:
"Mr. Machrowicz. Mr. Cassidy also testified that the exhibits which you refer to as having been taken from the bodies of the deceased actually were not taken from the bodies in the presence of the committee, but were under a glass case.
Mrs. Mortimer. They were in a relic museum, in glass cases.
Mr. Machrowicz. Actually, then, no member of the group saw these exhibits taken from the bodies of the deceased, but they were already in a museum, in a separate building?
Mrs. Mortimer. No. I witnessed the post mortems that were going on in the tents by the graves.
Mr. Machrowicz. You witnessed the post mortems but, as you stated in your report, as no member was in position to evaluate the scientific evidence, you had to accept it at its face value; is that right ?
Mrs. Mortimer. That is right.
Mr. Machrowicz. But these exhibits that you referred to as having been found on the corpses, were not taken from the corpses in your presence, they were in a museum at the time ?
Mrs. Mortimer. That is right — in Smolensk, which was some distance away.
Mr. Machrowicz. "Whether or not they were fabricated or taken from some other place you do not know; you just had to take the word of the Russians for it ?
Mrs. Mortimer. I can state that, due to the odor in the room, that there would be no question in my mind that these documents had been taken from bodies that had been buried a considerable length of time.
Mr. Machrowicz. There could have been some documents added to those that had been taken, could there not ?
Mrs. Mortimer. I would think so. I would be in no position to judge that."
Could it be that in eight years Harriman-Mortimer has forgotten such an important point? Or maybe she simply embellished or carelessly articulated the details in her 1944 letter that denialists quote and "while I was watching" should be understood to mean her presence in the autopsy tents in general, regardless of whether she was personally present when the postcard was found (then she would have learned about "today's" find when she visited the evidence show or at the press conference where it was mentioned)?
And here is another eloquent statement by Harriman:
"Mr. Machrowicz. You do not have that same opinion today as you had in February 1944, do you ?
Mrs. Mortimer. I can say that before coming down here I read your interim report.
You had access to every side of the picture, which I did not have available to me, and I would say, having read your report, that my opinion is that the Russians did kill the Poles.
Mr. Machrowicz. In fairness to you, it must be stated that you did not have access to the information which we have today; did you?
Mrs. Mortimer. That is right. I merely was a witness of the show that the Russians put on for the benefit of the foreign correspondents in Moscow."
Furr of course tries to weaken Mortimer-Harriman's abandonment of her previous opinion:
P. 188: "Rather, there is every reason to suppose that at the Madden Committee she bent her testimony to the winds of the Cold War, which were blowing hard in 1952. Her father does not mention his daughter's Madden Commission testimony in his memoir account."
This however does not explain Harriman's omission of her allegedly personal observation of the document retrieval in her 1944 report. Of course, for some reason Furr does not take into account any "winds blowing hard" when discussing the International Commission's members who publicly changed their Katyn stance after confronted with the danger of prison and other repressions...
To sum up: when we take all the context into account, it is not even certain that Harriman meant that she personally observed the retrieval of the document, but even if she indeed observed it, it doesn't prove that the document had not been planted in the first place, which is what Furr tries to establish.
P. 189: "We have demonstrated that the Kozietulski documents could not have been planted..."
If earlier it was one document, now it's "documents". Furr's evidence grows with time! LOL. (See above for the debunking, no proven "Kozietulski document" was found).
With this Furr funnily ends his discussion of the reliability of the Burdenko commission report. Any attentive reader will notice that he did not attempt to be critical about it at all.
Otherwise he could have asked several questions or raised several issues.
1. The name of the commission was "Special Commission to Establish and Investigate the Circumstances of the Execution of Prisoners of War Polish Officers by the Nazis in the Katyn Forest". So the commission wasn't supposed to find the guilty party, for the commission it was already known.
2. The report claimed that "The total number of corpses, as estimated by forensic experts, reaches 11,000", which was patent nonsense, given that the commission only exhumed 1380 (only 925 of which were taken into account in the report), and those exclusively from the graves known to the Germans, which accounted for only a little bit more than 4200 bodies. Whereas the commission's main goal, had its number been correct, was to find the graves not excavated by the Germans at all, the graves that would allegedly contain a little bit fewer than 7000 "new" bodies! So on what basis did they make their claim and why did not they make it their goal to find the other graves?
3. The claim that the access to the place of the execution was open until the German occupation is nonsense, since even the Katyn-denying chief of the Smolensk UKGB Shiverskikh confirmed, that in that place there was a "special object" of NKVD for burying the corpses of the executed, which is confirmed by the modernexcavations.
4. No POW camps named "ON" existed. So the Poles could not have resided in them.
5. Neither did the key "witness" Vetoshnikov exist, as explained above.
6. Friedrich Ahrens, accused by the report of organizing the massacre, supposedly did this at the end of August and in September 1941, whereas he only arrived in Smolensk in mid-November.
7. The Poles were supposedly wearing winter clothes en masse at the end of August and in September.
8. When Kobulov first reported an excerpt from Menshagin's notebook to the top propagandist, he did not include any lines about the Poles, which the report uses as evidence.
9. The commission quotes fake documents mentioning the non-existent "ON" camps.
None of Furr's attempted explanations have addressed any of these points successfully so far.
"Chapter 11. Nuremberg, the Madden Commission"
P. 190, 191:
[...] Anton Marko Markov， who had testified in support of Soviet guilt in 1943 [...]"
The statement in boldface above is false. Markov did not "testify in support of Soviet guilt in 1943." Here is everything that Markov stated in the German Report (AM): [...]
From the witness testimony and the correspondence, diaries, newspapers, etc. found on the corpses, it follows that the shootings took place in the months of March and April 1940.
This is not testimony of any kind, let alone scientific testimony based on examination of any of the corpses."
Actually, as anyone with eyes can see, it is, indeed, testifying (in written form) in support of Soviet guilt, and Markov signed it. (Whether it has any value is beside the point completely.) The Bulgarian Prosecutors' office that indicted Markov for this obviously agreed, since Markov did not otherwise participate in the German Katyn campaign and thus his signature could be his only fault. Markov could escape a sentence only by thoroughly renouncing the whole results of the commission's work - otherwise he wouldn't have been able to escape prison or save his way of life.
Obviously, his Nuremberg testimony could not contradict what he confessed to before the Bulgarian court so it's of not much use examining it seriously.
P. 196: "Neither Cienciala, nor Sanford - nor, to my knowledge any of the other works that set forth the "official" Soviets-did-it version of Katyn even mention Orsos' Nazi collaboration. To do so would compromise the supposed "objectivity" of the conclusions of the medical commission, headed by Orsos, which was called by the Nazis to Katyn."
The commission's act is weak evidence by itself in the first place, so whether or not its objectivity is compromised by its head being a Nazi is frankly neither here, nor there. Only further evidence (including the sum of the testimonies of the commission's members) can deliver useful information, and then the personality of a single person like Orsos (whose pseudocallus theory was bunk) is hardly relevant.
If Orsos' collaborationism is relevant, then so is, for example, Tramsen's antifascism and taking part in the resistance. But Furr never mentions it. To do so would be to compromise his neat little thesis that the signatures on the report were coerced.
P. 200: "There is no evidence that Markov was "forced" to testify at Nuremberg. If he had wanted to do so he could have claimed political asylum while he was in West Germany."
And how does Furr propose he would have been able to return home then? Oh, wait, this option was not even Furr's mind when he was writing this nonsense, was it?
P. 200: "Yet Hájek, a member of the German Commission, published a book with his criticisms of the German Report..."
Hajek already addressed above in detail in response to ch. 9.
P. 201: "Hájek's criticism of the German AM could accurately be described as "devastating."
Actually the forensic part of his book when he is talking about the post-mortem transformation of corpses is so completely primitive (and false), as I show here, that it is hard to escape the impression from that alone that he was forced to write what he wrote.
P. 201: "Some sources claim that Hájek was arrested by Soviet authorities and forced to write the book in which he refutes the German report. I can find no evidence that this happened."
Umm, the arrest part (not by the Soviet authorities) is mentioned in the very book Furr mentions:
"In conclusion, I emphasize that I published this work on my own initiative, that no one called me to it and that I received no orders to do it from anyone, i.e. neither from Czech nor from Russian institutions. I had read about this work in abbreviated form at the meeting of the Czech Medical Association on July 9, 1945. I wanted to do this as soon as the Czech Medical Association would begin its regular meetings in the liberated country, but my arrest prevented me from doing so.
During the interrogation I was asked mainly the following 3 questions:
1.Why did I go to Katyn?
2.What public statements did I make?
3.Why did I sign the Katyn Protocol?
I answered the first question in my introduction.
Regarding the second question I will say the following: my public statements were not made of my own free will."
So he was specifically arrested because of Katyn. So of course, had he not renounced his previous statements, he would not have left jail.
Any other retractions have to be seen in the light of the persecution of Markov and Hajek for Katyn, to name just two (of course, it was not just two).
And as the last point, let's remember about the case of Ljudevit Jurak, a Croatian member of an analogous International Commission - for the Vinnytsia mass graves. He was sentenced and shot for having participated in the Commission and published about it, or, in the parlance of that time he was accused of "cultural collaboration with the enemy" and "found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death by shooting, permanent loss of citizen's honors, and confiscation of property". The documents can be read here.
P. 212: "Neither Cienciala nor Sanford mention Phillimore's note of July 6, 1946. This omission is probably due to the fact that Phillimore concluded that the Soviet case set forth at Nuremberg was a convincing one..."
And this opinion matters how?
P. 214: "* Gustav Genschow, whose armaments firm manufactured the Geco 7.65 00 ammunition found at Katyn, testified that only small amounts of this ammunition were exported to the USSR - "only two to three thousand rounds" after 1928, a truly insignificant quantity."
True, but the more significant parties went to the Baltics, some of which could have been resold to Poland after Genschow stopped their shipments there, and as the Soviets were robbing Poland, they could have easily gotten their mittens on this ammo (we know that the "trophy" guns from Poland were distributed among the NKVD and Party people).
Purely chronologically, there were two other options: an unknown number (possibly, but not necessarily) smaller than to the Baltics was exported to Poland before 1930 (inclusive) and there were also significant exports to USSR until 1928 (whereas the cartridges with the headstamps used in the Katyn forest began to be sold in 1922). However, this needs to be judged in the context of Butz's claim to have established that the cartridges used in the Katyn forest were of the Sinoxid type, produced since 1930, and thus the cartridges used for the shooting must have been produced in 1930 or 1931.
This claim is not beyond the reasonable doubt. His methodology was as follows: first he analyzed the gunshot primer residue in the contact ring on the coat collars of the corpses no. 3754 and 3869 and found lead using dithizone (up to 60 μg in a sample in 3754 and up to 68 μg in a sample in 3869).
He also examined 10 skin samples from 5 corpses (3730, 3732, 3839, 3861, 3862), each time near the wound and 2-4 cm from the wound. From his table it follows that extremely small quantities of lead might have been found in 3 samples - 1,2 and 4 μg at corpse 3861 and 6,5 μg at 3862. It's not even clear, however, that his table is correctly presented, since on p. 82 he states that "an indication of the presence of close shots can at most be taken from the findings determined for sample 3862", yet on p. 79: "the skin samples brought for examination were analyzed with negative results, except for case No. 3861, in which minor lead deposits could still be detected". In each case he writes only of one sample, and each time of different one. Butz points out, that lead might have been reduced in a natural way due to the corpses having been in the graves for several years. To which one might add, that on some of those corpses it might not have been there in the first place.
The method that he uses is a modified version of the one described in Handwörterbuch der Gerichtlichen Medizin und Naturwissenschaftlichen Kriminalistik, 1940, where we read on p. 665:
"Since lead is ubiquitous, red lead dithizonate will regularly settle even when unshot tissue is examined. [...] The specified solutions are adjusted in such a way that 1-4 positive partitionings are obtained for unshot tissue, the so-called blind value, and at least 3 partitionings more are obtained for tissue containing powder residue."
I. e. the samples for 3861 (with its 1 and 4 partitionings) would be within the margin of error if the original method were used, albeit I don't know how the modification affects this (allegedly it reduces the number of partitionings). In any case, this particular result is not convincing beyond the reasonable doubt.
Finally, he extracted the primer from the one original cartridge found in the grave no. 2 (or 3, cf. GARF f. 7021, op. 114, d. 2, l. 24) and it also had lead, leading Butz to conclude that the primer was Sinoxid, which began to be used in manufacturing the Geco cartridges only in 1930 (or so Butz claimed based on the information from the firm).
Butz's mistake was to extrapolate his limited findings on all the cartridges. He had 3 undoubted positive results, 1 or 2 doubtful ones and 3 negative ones. The serial numbers of the corpses that he analyzed were quite near to each others, so the results are hardly representative, albeit the random cartridge does bolster them somewhat. Yet it cannot be claimed on this basis that all or even most of the Geco cartridges used in the Katyn forest used Sinoxid and thus had to be produced between 1930 and 1931 - at most one could claim that a significant part was.
This leaves us with the following options:
- since it cannot be excluded that a significant number of cartridges did not use Sinoxid, they could have been exported to the USSR before 1928 in larger quantities (the Genschow letter), and after 1928 in smaller quantities (up to 3000, Genschow's testimony);
- the Sinoxid cartridges could have been exported to Poland in 1930, possibly in small numbers (the Genschow letter, in which "until 1930"/"bis 1930" is inclusive);
- the Sinoxid cartridges were exported in 1930 and 1931 to the Baltics (the Genschow letter; quantity unknown for these specific years; the overall quantities - about 50000 for each state, Genschow's testimony; this may refer to the period after 1928); since the exports to Poland were stopped at some point, it makes sense, that Poland would try to obtain the cartridges in a roundabout way, e. g. through the Baltic countries.
And many of the Polish reserves also became available to the Soviets in 1939.
A great unknown, that should be mentioned in addition to this list, is the fact according to the firm Genschow "in the years in question we delivered our pistol cartridges to practically all European countries, and among them in any case the caliber 7,65". Were there deliveries to, say, Finland?
Note that basically we are talking about finding, roughly, 2-3 boxes of cartridges with several thousand in each box (say, 2-3000). It's a really small amount. The notion that their availability somewhere on the territories accessible to the USSR one way or another was improbable is what needs proving.
Since all the cartridges in Katyn probably were brought from the central NKVD storage in Moscow (as argued here), it could easily be a mix, since in the storage the cartridges would have been likely sorted according to the caliber and the firm, regardless of the import source.
P. 215: "It is notable that in her testimony to the Madden Commission she did not deny this. She was not directly asked about it because this detail was not in her 1944 report from Katyn. Nor did she volunteer it. She did insist that she had been present at post-mortems, and that the documents she saw at a museum in Smolensk "had been taken from bodies that had been buried a considerable length of time." (Madden VII, 2145) This partially corroborates what she wrote to her sister."
You can read some excerpts from her testimony above and judge for yourself how objective Furr's description is.
Furr then goes on about what the experts confirmed during the Madden hearings or not, but I'll just say this: no forensic method was (or really is) known that could determine the age of the corpses based on their transformation (mummification, formation of adipocere) specifically in mass graves (where special conditions are present), so the opinions of those experts based on these or other (pseudocallus) criteria would have to be rejected in any case (same goes for Hajek and various random observers). What is important is what these witnesses say about how the Germans handled them, whether there were any falsifications etc.
"Chapter 12. The Excavations at Volodymyr Volyns'kiy"
P. 219: "* The Polish report by Dr. Sieminska has been taken off the Internet. The Report was originally online here:"
And? This is the internet. Things disappear all the time.
The rest is an incoherent mess ignoring the experts' consensus that some of the graves were created by NKVD and some by Gestapo. Such as this obvious falsehood:
P. 223: "The Polish archeologists' report, written and signed by Dr. Dominika Sieminska herself in November 2011 is simply not mentioned. That report concluded that the mass murders at Volodymyr-Volyns'kiy were committed by the Germans, not by the Soviets."
However, Sieminska's report concerned not all mass murders in VV but only those related to only two graves (1 and 2), which are still acknowledged today to be those of the Nazi victims.
Then Furr mostly rehashes his claims from the previous VV chapter, which have already been debunked.
"Chapter 13. The 'Ukrainian Trail of Katyn'"
Pp. 233, 234: "Cienciala states: "The lists of victims shot in Ukraine have been found." This is false. There is no indication in the book in question, Zuzanna Gajowniczek, ed., Ukraiński ślad Katynia, that the prison ers on these lists were shot. These are simply lists of names, many of them recognizably Ukrainian.
The only thing that suggests any relation to what we know as Katyn" is the fact that the NKVD list numbers are in the same sequence as the NKVD file numbers of the Polish POWs shipped out of Kozel'sk, Starobel'sk, and Ostashkov. But we know that the prisoners shipped to the Smolensk, Khar'kov, and Kalinin NKVD were not shot there, because many of the Starobel'sk and Ostashkov prisoners turned up dead at Katyn, and at least two Ostashkov POWs turned up dead in Volodymyr-Volyns'kiy."
To understand whether or not the Ukrainian list has to do with Katyn one has first to understand what the list ... lists. The so-called Ukrainian list was attached to the 25.11.1940 letter by the head of the 1st special section of the NKVD UkrSSR Tsvetukhin to the head of the 1st special section of the NKVD SSSR Bashtakov (1st special section/1st spetsotdel was always dealing with bureaucratic and archival matters). Tsvetukhin wrote:
"I'm sending the personal prison files, as in the list, of the arrestees in your directives 041, 042, 043 and others.
Attachment: 3435 files in 5 bags."
So it is a list of so-called prison files (not to be confused with other kinds of files, like the investigative or control-observation files) of persons who were mentioned in "directives" numbered 041, 042, 043 etc. The list is mostly alphabetical, it is sequentially numbered from 1 to 3459, but due to the clerical errors mentioned in the document itself (on the last page) it only contains 3435 persons.
The information for each person consists of their name, their father's name, year of birth and the special number consisting of a list number based on a specific protocol (e. g. 41/1, being list 1 based on the protocol/directive 041) and the number of the person in this protocol (e. g. 24).
This is all we can gather from the document itself.
The interpretation of the Ukrainian list thus fully depends on the context of the 1940 Polish operation (i. e. by itself it cannot provide evidence of an execution).
The protocol numbering system is identical to the Katyn crime complex POW transfer list numbering. The transfer list numbers for the POWs from the three camps were based on the protocols numbered 05-06, 011-040, 044-046, 050-054, 058, 059 and 062 (the very first lists did not use such numbering, so the protocols 01-04 cannot be seen in these lists). You can see the obvious gaps. The Ukrainian list of arrestees (not POWs) fills the protocol number gaps 041-043, 055-057, 064-067, 071-072. A Belorussian list, if it were ever to be found, would have the numbers 047-049, 060, 061, 063 and 068-070.
Therefore the people on the Ukrainian list were a part of the very same operation that involved the POWs from the Kozelsk, Starobelsk and Ostashkov camps. Whatever happened during this operation to most of those POWs also happened to most of these particular prisoners. The issue is thus reduced to finding out what happened to the POWs. Furr denies that they were shot as a part of this operation, and therefore for him the Ukrainian list is not evidence of any execution of the Ukrainian arrestees. On the other hand, proving that the bulk of the POWs were shot also shows that the bulk of the Ukrainian arrestees were shot. The existence of the Ukrainian list confirms the information in the sealed envelope no. 1 that along the POWs, thousands of prison inmates were also executed - something which had not been known before 1992 (or it could be said that the Ukrainian list and the sealed envelope documents mutually confirm and reinforce each other). Historians know this and therefore for them the list contains the information about executions. With an important caveat.
I'm saying "most of prisoners" (etc.), because the Ukrainian list is a list of files that were left after the operation, with the sequential numbers attached. This brings some marginal uncertainty into the issue, since this is not a direct list of the executed people. Following points need to be taken into consideration.
1. We cannot guarantee that this is a complete list of all the Ukrainian prisoners shot during the 1940 operation. It is a set of files that were left in a Ukrainian NKVD archive at some point in time.
a) If for some reason some of the files resided elsewhere on 25.11.1940 (e. g. some other NKVD department), or simply were missing, or had already been transferred to Moscow, they would not be on the list. While Tsvetukhin does not remark on any missing files, it is not a guarantee that some were not missing.
b) Possible clerical errors might have led to an omission of some files from the list. It is a real concern, since a comment on the last page of the list points out certain clerical errors, including names mistakenly added and then erased. While this comment also means that some sort of verification took place on the same day, we cannot guarantee that all the mistakes were caught.
2. While we know from the historical context that the bulk of the listed prisoners were shot, as a general principle, for each given name there is a kind of a minor uncertainty about whether or not this particular person was shot. This is a usual situation with such lists which is not limited to the Katyn issue. For most deportation lists to Treblinka II we know for certain that most of the people were gassed on arrival, but for almost every person there is a minor doubt whether they individually survived the first hours for some reason (like being selected for work in the camp).
a) Clerical errors, as above. We know that clerical errors abounded during the preparation of the transfer lists for the POWs - we know about that from the internal NKVD correspondence regarding such mistakes. Other lists are no different.
b) Inclusion of people first slated to be shot, the decisions regarding whom were then reversed.
We know of the last-minute change of plan concerning the Polish officer Swianiewicz in Katyn (he was on the Kozelsk transfer list that was de facto a shooting list, but was spared at the last moment by a telegram directly from Moscow). And indeed, the list itself says that the nr. 2989 on the list, Boleslaw Turowski, was sentenced to 5 years of correctional camp labor and was then amnestied. So this is the one arrestee who was first sentenced to death but escaped it for some reason.
There is some internal Ukrainian MGB correspondence, from which we see that the MGB bureaucrats checked the protocols nr. 041-043, 055-057, 064-067, 071-072 (i. e. exactly those corresponding to the Ukrainian list) and the only two numbers where irregularities occurred were 41/96 (Turowski) and 71/172 (Haninczak). Haninczak was not on the Ukrainian list and we will get to his case shortly. This internal verification coupled with the Turowski comment on the list raises the probability of the list's integrity, but still does not exclude possible cases in which additional irregularities might have been found and solved in the years prior but about which we have no correspondence.
My conclusion from the aforementioned points is that it is fair to assume with a high probability for each given name on the list, for which we do not have contrary information, that this person was executed. But it would not be completely unexpected if for some small number of the names this conclusion could be reversed based on new information. This would not affect the rest of the list (unless the number became significant) and the burden of proof lies directly on those who would claim that this or that person escaped death.
Knowledge is probabilistic and even more or less direct documentary evidence of an execution sometimes turns out to be wrong, but we still use this evidence to declare people dead (until proven otherwise), and this case is no exception.
P. 235: "So the so-called "Ukrainian list" contains names of persons who were not even Poles. There is also no evidence that they were shot. Only investigations and interrogations about their Trotskyist activities are mentioned. Clearly, none of these men had anything to do with Katyn. This invalidates the whole idea of a "Ukrainian list."
Note Furr's clumsy attempt at deception. They were not ethnic Poles, but they were (former) Polish citizens. The shooting order applied to the following arrestees:
"(b) together with the cases of 11,000 members of various counter-revolutionary organizations of spies and saboteurs, former land owners, factory owners, former Polish officers, government officials, and escapees who have been arrested and are being held in the western provinces of the Ukraine and Belarus and apply to them the supreme penalty: shooting."
These accusations against these former Polish citizens fit this description. So obviously the Ukrainian list had everything to do with the Katyn crime complex. Furr's conclusion is based literally on nothing.
Note that while Beria's order's main focus is on ethnic Poles, it is explicitly not only about them (he lists 18632 inmates of all ethnicities, of them 10685 ethnic Poles, yet wants to shoot 11000, thus necessarily taking out hundreds of non-Poles with them).
P. 236: "The archival document (p. 18) states that on May 5 and 7, 1940, the six accused Trotskyists were transferred from the Ukrainian NKVD to the NKVD of the USSR. Thereafter, whatever happened to them happened outside the Ukraine."
Another falsification. Nothing at all is written about them being brought outside of the Ukraine. They were a) formally handed over by the NKVD UkrSSR to the NKVD SSSR (the shooting order was issued specifically to it) and b) they were transferred to their places of executions (in Ukraine), so they were literally a) transferred b) to NKVD SSSR, but not outside of Ukraine.
P. 236: "Page 78 of the archival list concerns Vladimir Filaretovich Perventsev who, along with his case file, was transferred to the NKVD of the USSR - again, outside the Ukraine."
Another falsification, nothing is said about him having been transferred outside Ukraine.
P. 237: "Romanov says that Perventsev was "shot as a Polish citizen," This is a lie. There is no evidence that he was shot, or of what became of him. Whatever happened to him most likely happened because he had been a leading organizer of an anti-Soviet group of Russian émigrés, not "as a Polish citizen."
Furr lies about me lying, of course. That Perventsev was shot follows from him being on the Ukrainian list and not being one of the known exceptions (see above). And I never wrote that he was shot because he was a Polish citizen, as Furr implies. Him having been a Polish citizen was a necessary condition for his execution, not a sufficient one. Had he been a Soviet citizen, he would not have been shot according to the Politburo decision of 05.03.1940. Yet he was not an ethnic Pole and he was in fact a leader of Russian nationalists, which is why I was emphasizing this paradox.
P. 238: "So, according to the "official" version Haninczak was murdered at Khar'kov and buried at Piatykhatky. The Polish Wikipedia article on him also claims that he was killed "in the Spring of 1940" [...] This is another example of how dishonest the whole "official" version of Katyn is."
How so? This is merely a mistake, which is no different from Yad Vashem getting things wrong about some of the Holocaust victims. The case of Starobelsk is different from those of Kozelsk and Ostashkov - for the latter two we have the numbers of the POWs from the transfer list, thus we know who was transferred from the NKVD POW office to the local UNKVDs. Whereas for Starobelsk we have a general list of more than 4000 names of all POWs who had been in Starobelsk, including the people who lived, so more guesswork than usual was involved in finding out who was shot and who was not. Same happened in the case of Stanisław Kuczyński-Iskander Bej, discussed above.
P. 238: "There is no evidence that Haninczak was executed at all! Quite the contrary: page 100 of the archival document states that there was an investigative file on Haninczak dated February 24, 1941, which has been destroyed. This suggests that Haninczak was still alive as of about that date. We know that Turowski, who is discussed on the same page, was not shot at all."
It is true that currently, after we learned more from the Ukrainian documents, there is no evidence of Haninczak having been shot. Here is what I wrote about his case:
"In the accompanying note Podobedov asked to solve two issues.[...] The second question is about the number 172 of the protocol 71 of 26.07.1940, because the case was returned for additional investigation and again sent to the NKVD of the USSR on 24.02.1941 and the former decision about it was cancelled by the protocol 74 of 14.12.1940.
This is new information - it turns out that there were some protocols after number 72, and after the summer of 1940! And they were not only about the shootings. Probably the Merkulov-Kobulov-Bashtakov Commission dealt with some other residual prisoner-related issues after the main action.
Let us return to Krotov. On the second question of Podobedov, Krotov reported that the case of Vladimir Goninchak - the same number 172 of protocol 71 - was returned for additional investigation on December 17, 1940 and was sent to the NKVD of the USSR. It is impossible to check the re-entry of the case to the NKVD of USSR because on 24.02.1941 all materials on the record of incoming documents were destroyed.
The case of Goninchak is interesting because he is not listed in the Ukrainian list, although his serial number is named in the protocol. However, "Ganinchak Vladimir Jozefowicz" (more correct - Włodzimierz Haninczak) born in 1883, former head of the district court of Lviv, is listed as prisoner of war from Starobelsk number 929, year of birth and patronymic coincide. In the Karta database, at the time of writing, he is listed as having been shot in Kharkov. However, as we know, in exceptional cases, even people already listed for sending to places of execution were not executed at the last moment, the most famous is, perhaps, the case of Stanisław Swianiewicz. And the Starobelsk list simply lists all those who left in the spring of 1940, including such Poles who were not executed as General Zygmunt Berling (177 on the list) and Lieutenant Colonel Leon Bukojemski (number 79). Taking into account that the decision about Haninchak's case was reversed on December 14th 1940, and the case was sent in for additional investigation on December 17th 1940, we can conclude that Haninchak was not shot together with the other Polish citizens. His further fate is still unknown.
The question arises: why is a prisoner of war from Starobelsk mentioned in the protocols of the examination of the cases of the prisoners in the Western Ukraine prisons? The following hypothesis could be put forward. As we have already seen from the data on the protocol No. 74, the protocols of the commission were not focused exclusively on the shootings, but were devoted to the consideration of cases of prisoners of war, most of whom, of course, were shot, but a few survived, and their fates were also the subject of the consideration by the commission. When Haninczak was not shot together with the other prisoners of Starobelsk, his case was apparently transferred back to the commission, at a time when it was examining the cases of prisoners. That is why he is listed in Protocol 71, but not in the Ukrainian list."
P. 238: "Moreover, there is no evidence that any of the persons on this list were executed! This is simply "assumed" by defenders of the official" version."
Nope. It is concluded from the sum of the available evidence.
P. 238: "At least 9 prisoners on this archival list, and on the "Ukrainian list," were arrested in late 1940 or in 1941. They are: ..."
This will be one of the greatest examples of Furr's absolute ignorance and dishonesty.
Furr presents a pool of 9 cases with dates allegedly much later than the action occurred: 18.09.1940, 26.09.1940, 10.10.1940, 20.10.1940, 15.11.1940, 30.11.1940, 21.12.1940, 03.12.1940, 21.04.1941.
First of all, we will exclude 30.11.1940, Mieczysław Kulanda, due to him not being on the Ukrainian list in the first place. He was sentenced to 8 years in 1941. I will also note that he was arrested on 19.12.1939, not in 1940, so we have our first clerical error case.
His presence on the KGB inventory list may have been due to a misfiling of the case, whether intentional ("getting rid" of a case), or not (clerical error) or for other, heretofore unknown reasons, e. g. maybe his case was sent to NKVD SSSR but no decision was taken there, or there was a decision to send him to the Special Council of the NKVD. Whatever it was, to repeat, he is not on the Ukrainian list. So there are 8 cases left.
a) Direct evidence against Furr's claim from his own sources: the KGB inventory.
Furr's list of names comes from the archival inventory lists which were created when the control-observation files in Ukraine were being destroyed due to an oral order from Moscow. Some of these lists contain more information than the others about the dates (so Furr presenting them as one list is misleading), so we will continue our examination of Furr's list of allegedly exceptional cases with the list which contains most information, that is with the list of 259 destroyed files:
P. 238: "* Uk. List #2329 (LK 74 US 191) - Edward Podgórski, this list p. 205 #6. Arrested October 10 1940 as a (civilian) Polish policeman."
The actual entry states that the case was opened on "10.x.1940" (not that he was arrested then, it could have happened earlier), but it also says that his investigation file was sent to NKVD SSSR on "28.V.1940 with nr. 541/sp". "541/sp" was the number of the letter with which numerous files were sent as attachments on the same day, repeated in many entries, so we know that this date is correct and the first date is necessarily a mistake. Furr knew about this.
P. 239: "* Uk. List #2441 (LK 78 US 198) Stanisław Ratajczak, this list p. 223 #149. Arrested September 18 1940 as a (civilian) Polish policeman."
The actual entry states that the case was opened on "18.ix.1940" (not that he was arrested then, it could have happened earlier), but it also says that his investigation file was sent to NKVD SSSR on "28.V.1940 with nr. 541/sp", so we know that this date is correct and the first date is necessarily a mistake. Furr knew about this.
P. 239: "* Uk. List #2502 (LK 78 US 52) - Kazimierz Rodziewicz, this list p. 232 #224. Arrested September 26 1940 as "an agent of the Polish police."
The actual entry states that the case was opened on "26.ix.1940" (not that he was arrested then, it could have happened earlier), but it also says that his investigation file was sent to NKVD SSSR on "7.V.1940 with nr. 540/sp", "540/sp" was the number of the letter with which numerous files were sent as attachments on the same day, repeated in many entries, so we know that this date is correct and the first date is necessarily a mistake. Furr knew about this.
Furr's remaining pool of cases is reduced to 5: 20.10.1940, 15.11.1940, 21.12.1940, 03.12.1940, 21.04.1941.
Now we know for certain that there were clerical errors in the lists. Therefore for the rest of Furr's examples there is no reason at all not to apply the same principle: those were simply clerical errors (some of them probably because of simply writing the wrong year, some of them because of looking at a wrong entry).
In addition, the documents in the collection that discuss the history of various files, including the control-observation files, specifically mention that the people to whom the files belonged were arrested in 1939-1940 - not 1941! This is the additional reason for why this entry -
P. 239: "* Uk. List #930 (LK 18 US 187) Josef Dołbniak, this list p. 144 #37. Arrested April 21 1941 as a Polish policeman."
is more likely to contain a clerical error than the true date.
b) Direct evidence against Furr's claim: the Tsvetukhin letter.
What's much worse for Furr is that he ignored the most obvious limit on the dates - Tsvetukhin's letter to which the Ukrainian list is attached. It is dated 25.11.1940. All the remaining dates after that are of necessity clerical errors.
Furr's remaining pool of cases is thus reduced to 2: 20.10.1940 and 15.11.1940. Out of 9 original cases.
Obviously, probability is not on Furr's side.
Even if Furr disagrees that these 2 remaining cases must/should be seen as clerical errors, he cannot prove that they are not - and that they are is made probable by the 7 examples above (about 3 of which Furr knew about, since he had read the entries in question in original - but still included them in his list - and another 3 he should have excluded himself due to the Tsvetukhin letter; plus Kulanda).
c) Evidence against Furr's claim from the chronology of the protocols.
We know the numbers of the protocols/directives relating to the prisoners on the Ukrainian list, so we can set certain upper time limits on when the prisoners could have been arrested (obviously, not later than the protocol dates).
We directly know dates of 2 protocols having to do with the Ukrainian list - 041 is from 20.04.1940 and 071 is from 26.07.1940. For the rest of the numbers, we know they fill the gaps in the unified numbering system used during the 1940 operation.
We also know the dates of the specific protocol-based lists for the POW camps (the tables for Kozelsk and Ostashkov can be found in Ubity v Katyni, p. 110, and Ubity v Kalinine..., vol. 1, p. 86, the data for Starobelsk is from the 18.05.1940 letter of Berezhkov).
Let's sum up the known chronological information. Unless stated otherwise, for Kozelsk the date of the arrival of the lists in the camp is given, for Ostashkov and Starobelsk - the dates of the lists themselves.
05 05.04.1940 Ostashkov 06 03.04.1940 Starobelsk 011 04.04.1940 Starobelsk 012 [??].04.1940 Ostashkov 016 .04.1940 Ostashkov 014, 015, 017 06.04.1940 Kozelsk 018 07.04.1940 Starobelsk 019 07.04.1940 Ostashkov 020 09.04.1940 Ostashkov 021 09.04.1940 Starobelsk 022, 025 10.04.1940 Kozelsk 023 10.04.1940 Ostashkov 024 10.04.1940 Starobelsk 026, 027 13.04.1940 Ostashkov 028 13.04.1940 Starobelsk 029, 032 15.04.1940 Kozelsk 030 14.04.1940 Ostashkov 031 14.04.1940 Starobelsk 033 16.04.1940 Ostashkov 034 16.04.1940 Starobelsk 035, 036 18.04.1940 Kozelsk 037, 038 20.04.1940 Ostashkov 039 20.04.1940 Starobelsk 040 21.04.1940 Kozelsk 041 20.04.1940; Ukrainian list nr. 285 (41/3-61; date alleged by Furr: 20.10.1940), nr. 3292 (41/3-99; date alleged by Furr: 03.12.1940) 042 Ukrainian list nr. 286 (42-96; date alleged by Furr: 21.12.1940), nr. 3089 (42-400; date alleged by Furr: 15.11.1940) 043 Ukrainian list nr. 2502 (43/1-7; date alleged by Furr: 26.09.1940) 044, 045 22.04.1940 Ostashkov 046 22.04.1940 Starobelsk 050 27.04.1940 Ostashkov (the date when the lists were sent) 051 27.04.1940 Ostashkov 052 28.04.1940 Kozelsk 053 27.04.1940 Starobelsk 054 05.05.1940 Ostashkov (the lists 054/1 and /2) 054 07.05.1940 Kozelsk (the list 054/3) 054 05.05.1940 Starobelsk (the list 054/4) 058 [??].05.1940 Ostashkov 059 10.05.1940 Kozelsk (the list 059/1) 059 09.05.1940 Starobelsk (the list 059/2) 062 19.05.1940 Ostashkov 066 Ukrainian list nr. 2329 (66/2-98; date alleged by Furr: 10.10.1940), 930 (66/2-20; date alleged by Furr: 21.04.1940) 067 Ukrainian list nr. 2441 (67/1-50; date alleged by Furr: 18.09.1940) 071 26.07.1940 Ukrainian list
Well, we are done here. All of Furr's 8 cases are clerical errors.
But wait, there is still more.
d) Evidence against Furr's claim from other sources.
Furr himself complains that this or that claim by a secondary source is ignored by the historians allegedly due to such claims' inconvenience. Let's see how Furr himself fares on this score.
Furr uses Zuzanna Gajowniczek's 1995 book Ukraiński ślad Katynia. What he hides from his readers is the fact that several entries in her book directly contradict Furr's thesis about late arrests.
On p. 50 she writes about Wiktor Chajes that he was arrested in October 1939 and held in Zamarstynów. Indeed, it makes sense that Chajes, as Lviv's vice-president, would be arrested shortly after the Soviets overran the city, rather than a year later (all the former presidents were arrested in the beginning; Chajes' early arrest is confirmed elsewhere). Interestingly, she provides yet further information about Chajes, namely, that previously he was alleged to have been held in Starobelsk until 04.10.1940 and then to have been transferred to Kotlas. Curiously, Furr does not seize upon this information. Did he even read his own source?
Here we will make an aside to discuss Chajes' case in more detail.
I managed to find the source of the allegation that Gajowniczek cites: it was a September 1941 item in Gazeta Lwowska with a list of several Starobelsk inmates that the engineer Jan Hoszowski created from memory after leaving the camp in June of 1941. Wiktor Chajes is on the list with a 10 year sentence. The introduction to the list indeed mentions, that all former officers left the camp on 04.10.1940 and were sent in the direction of Kotlas, but nothing is said or implied that this refers to all the people on the list in the same news item. Rather, this referred to all the officers (whether on the list or not) residing in the camp on 04.10.1940 and nothing in the subsequent list indicates that it reflects the state of affairs on that date - these are just people Hoszowski claimed to have met in the camp in general. So there is no evidence in this source that Chajes still resided in the camp in October and did not leave earlier. Someone misinterpreted what the introduction said.
Now, to clarify, after the first group of Starobelsk POWs was sent to the Kharkiv UNKVD (in April-May) and to Pavlishchev Bor (on May 12) the camp became, among other things, a transit point for prisoners, slated for work in the Northern labor camps (they were residing there for weeks or months waiting for the convoys to be formed).
Does Hoszowski's information mean that we have a proven case of a person on the Ukrainian list who both escaped the execution and was not marked as an exception on the list itself? No. Assuming the veracity of the news item, Chajes' sentence cannot simply be assumed to be his "final" one, rather than an earlier sentence that could have then been overridden by the Politburo decision.
Let's not forget that many, if not all, of the people on the Ukrainian list were being accused of violating specific articles of the Soviet-Ukrainian criminal code (e. g. article 54-13), i. e. at first a "normal" procedure was being applied (as opposed to being shot without an actual sentence). It is absolutely possible that when the Politburo decision was taken or the protocols were being prepared, some of the prisoners had already been sentenced in a "normal" way.
A similar case happened with Ostashkov POWs. Cases were being prepared against them to be sent to the Special Council of the NKVD (which was an extrajudicial body, but whose sentences were nevertheless considered "normal" procedure in Stalin's years, as opposed to the so-called "special procedure", osobyi poryadok, according to which the Polish victims were later shot). About 6000 cases were sent to Moscow and the Special Council even managed to issue 600 sentences (3-5-8 years in Kamchatka) when suddenly the process was stopped by Beria, who knew about the coming decision, which indeed arrived and simply overrode the previous sentences, and the new individual decisions were issued by the troika according to the "special procedure".
So, a following scenario is possible: Chajes was sentenced to 10 or so years of labor camps (maybe some time in March, but various options are possible); he was being transferred to his destination (it's not a speedy process and may involve many stops and some waiting time) when the directive list with his name arrived to the Ukrainian NKVD some time in April (after the 20th). There would have been a likely time lag between the arrival of the directive and any actions towards the prisoner in any case (cf. the Ukrainian list number 2502 above, whose name is on the April list, but whose case was transferred to the NKVD SSSR - apparently with the prisoner himself, as the other KGB documents indicate - only on 07.05.1940). Possibly because the prisoners had to be located first and the convoys had to be formed. While the bureaucratic wheels were turning, Chajes might have arrived at the transit camp at Starobelsk in the second half of May or in June, where he met Hoszowski. Soon the Polish operation caught up with him there and he was transferred elsewhere in order to meet his fate.
Obviously, more research is needed to see whether something like this happened or whether Chajes would turn out to be a rare exception on the Ukrainian list, which would not however affect the interpretation of the rest of the list (as I have already discussed above).
Whatever the case, the date of his arrest is a clerical error, as he was arrested in 1939.
On p. 191 Gajowniczek provides information about Edward Podgórski who was arrested on 12/13.04.1940 and was held in Dubno. There is a striking confirmation of Podgórski's early arrest in a letter that E. Koziej sent from the UK to Podgórski's wife in 1946 (Janina Wołczuk, Listy sybiraków: 1939-1955, 1994, p. 20):
"I was with him in one room in the Dubno prison, along with others; it was a very short time, only 10 days, from 15 V 1940 to 25 V 1940. On the critical day he was taken with the others, where - I do not know. I have nothing to hide or to add..., (I write) as it was. I, in turn, still remained there until 9 IV 1941."
The time frame coincides with the information in the KGB inventory that Podgórski's case was transferred to the NKVD SSSR on 28.05.1940.
On p. 52 Gajowniczek provides information about Kazimierz Rodziewicz, who was arrested on 23.09.1939 in Adamówka and was held in Dubno until March 1940.
So we see that Furr never mentioned these contradictions between his thesis and a source that he used to his readers.
P. 243: "This so called "Ukrainian List of Katyn" list is a fraud."
As we have seen, the only fraud is Furr.
P. 243: "It has nothing to do with Katyn."
A brazen lie, given the Katyn crime complex numeration used in this list.
P. 243: "It is not comprised only of Poles. There are many non Poles Ukrainians and Jews on it, including anti Polish persons (OUN members) and anti-Semites."
All of whom, as individuals, fit the description in the 05.03.1940 shooting decision, which was mostly designed for ethnic Poles, but not only for them. BTW, hundreds of Jews were murdered by the Soviets during the 1940 shooting action in Kalinin, Katyn forest and Kharkiv.
P. 244: "However, during exhumations in the 1990s at the special cemetery of the UNKVD at Piatykhatky Polish archeologists did not find any traces of caustic soda. Moreover, they remarked on the "amazingly good" preservation of the remains of uniforms and of paper documents found in the graves."
Misleading at the very least. In the places not touched by the boreholes the remains and the documents were often greatly preserved. In the places where the KGB drilled right through the graves, the remains could not have been untouched, and indeed, many bodies were irretrievably damages by the drills.
As for caustic soda, we know for a fact that this was the plan, because the documents say so. Was the plan actually implemented?
Let's start with the boreholes. A. Kola, Archeologia zbrodni. Oficerowie polscy na cmentarzu ofiar NKWD w Charkowie, 2005, pp. 317, 318:
"More extensive damage to the graves than that from robbery was caused by holes from mechanical drilling carried out in this cemetery probably in the late 1970s/early 1980s, so relatively recently. These were traces of drills with diameters of 60, 70, 80 and 90 cm, reaching most often to the bottom of the grave (and sometimes even deeper - such as in the Soviet grave no. 25/95) probably with the purpose of destroying grave structures. The intention of these activities is not entirely clear. Perhaps they were intended to prevent the identification of those buried or to speed up the process of decomposition of the corpses. [...]
In total, more than 130 such boreholes were found within the research excavations carried out by the Polish expedition in 1995-1996. The outlines of most of them (112 boreholes) were visible already at a depth of 35-60 cm; the rest could be inferred from the damage in the deeper parts of the graves. Drillings were carried out in both Polish and Soviet graves. Most of the drills accurately hit the graves, which could indicate the knowledge of the location of the graves by those doing the work, even though on the ground surface the grave sites were completely unrecognizable at the time. In one only partially (about 50%) exhumed Polish grave no. 7/94 there were traces of as many as 15 boreholes with a uniform diameter of 70 cm, quite evenly covering the entire range of the exhumed part of the grave. It can be assumed that a similar number of holes were also located in the rest of the grave.
A similar picture of drilling pattern is also found in other Polish graves. Within the partially explored (about 20%) large grave no. 17/95, two distinct drill traces with diameters of 60 cm appeared already at a depth of about 35 cm. Further exploration revealed 3 boreholes and robbery pits in the grave cavity. The result was damage to the top layer of skeletons, resulting in loose human bones, often severely crushed."
A grave with drill traces, Ø60cm. Kola, op. cit., p. 148.
A section of a borehole, Ø60cm. Ibid.
These results, achieved before the documents became known, confirm a massive attempt at destroying the graves at the very least through the use of huge drills. So the prerequisite to using caustic soda was there. Was it used though? We have only one indication of this in the report of the head of the Kharkiv UKGB Gibadulov from 29.12.1989:
"In 1969 and 1973, the 10th Department of the KGB, jointly with the UKGB, carried out special activities to eliminate signs that could indicate burial sites. To this end, boreholes were drilled and caustic soda was poured."
There are two options here: a) this is direct knowledge from documents or colleagues; b) this is an extrapolation based on this existence of the plan. We don't know which one.
If this is direct knowledge, then I should note that the magnitude of the use of caustic soda is not specified. We cannot gather from this short description that caustic soda was used for all or even most boreholes.
Assuming that liquid caustic soda was used, Furr has made no case that traces of it would be visible after 20+ years and that it would not eventually just seep away. We also don't know what concentrations would have been used, how efficient such a procedure would have been (the efficient methods of dissolving bodies this way seem to involve at least heat, but better also pressure) and whether it was not abandoned due to inefficiency, the action having been reduced to a mechanical destruction. Additionally, the graves were only explored partially, as can be see even from Kola's quote above.
Given so many unknows, Furr's trivial gotchas are useless.
Pp. 244, 245: "Nevertheless, supporters of the "official" version judged these letters to be evidence of traces of the Katyn killings in Ukraine. Evidently none of them noticed that in the left corner of Feshchenko's letter there is the following handwritten resolution of Nikitchenko's: "reported to Comrade Shelest P.E." and dated, in the same handwriting, 2008!
[...] The date (enlargement, at right) reads "2008 gd" - "the year
Unlike Furr's nonsense, this is, of course, unimpeachable evidence and Furr shows himself to be a hoaxer clown once more. Obviously, there is not even a trace of the year "2008" on the letter, dated 19.06.1969, merely a date quickly written without the periods: "20[.]06[.]69" (indicating that the letter was received on the next day; which is why "06" is preferrable to the "08" as a reading, with both being theoretically possible at first). How utterly dumb one has to be in order not to get it? But is it really dumbness? After all, Furr simply made up a non-existent word or abbreviation ("gd"; it's either "god" or "g."; and nobody dates their remarks with only a year; and of course, the alleged "d" in the date does not match the "d" in "dolozheno" at all) in order to explain the rest of the line. This indicates pure mendacity rather than simple dumbness.
"Chapter 14. Conclusion - The Katyn Forest Mystery Solved", appendix 1 and the 2020 article.
P. 246: "And only then will you know that I have not omitted any evidence that supports the "official " Soviets-did version."
Narrator's voiceover: he did, in fact, omit the evidence.
As has been shown above.
P. 247: "The first prerequisite for any investigator of this or any other mystery is objectivity."
IOW, Mr. "I haven't found a single Stalin's crime" cannot be an investigator of Katyn, based on this principle.
P. 247: "Then she has to adopt an attitude of constant mindfulness, She has to employ a strategy of compensating for her bias by giving an especially generous readíng to any evidence that seems to go counter to what she already believes about the case..."
Something Furr has demonstrably failed to do most of the time.
P. 247: "Both the Germans and the Polish Government-In-Exile were interested only in a conclusion that indicted the Soviets."
There is no evidence whatsoever that the PGiE would have been using its missing POWs, for whom they had been fervently searching and received only nonsense replies from Stalin and NKVD (without a single hint that they had been captured by the Germans after the invasion) as a fake ace in a propaganda game.
In the appendix 1 Furr discusses the NKVD men's testimonies, claiming they are not available in Russian. Soprunenko and Tokarev's interrogations are now available as video; Tokarev's earlier interrogation was also published by Guryanov; an excerpt from Syromyatnikov's has been long available in Russian.
P. 253: "All three men were threatened repeatedly with criminal prosecution if they failed to "tell the truth".
A mendacious manipulation. This was and is a standard procedure in USSR and Russia to be informed that telling lies in an official interrogations can lead to legal consequences:
"Article 158. The procedure for questioning a witness
Before the interrogation, the investigator shall ascertain the identity of the witness, explain his or her duties and warn of the responsibility for refusal or evasion of testimony and for giving knowingly false testimony, which shall be noted in the record, which shall be certified by the witness's signature."
E. g. Tokarev during his longest and most informative interrogation has been so informed exactly once, in the beginning, as it should have been.
P. 253: "ln addition, they were told that Soviet guilt had already been established, ln reality, this was a lie , ln 1990 - 1991 there was no evidence other than the German AM Report alleging Soviet guilt."
As we have already seen, this is not the case, so it's another falsehood by Furr.
P. 253: "It is therefore possible that out of fear of prosecution the former NKVD men gave answers they believed their interrogators wanted, So it does appear that the confessions of these three old men were not entirely voluntary."
Yet Furr fails to provide any evidence of this actually being probable.
When it comes to Soprunenko, Furr only knows about one early short interrogation, in which Soprunenko still had been in the denial phase. A somewhat more forthcoming testimony during his 29.04.1991 interrogation is now available, though you can still see him being mostly in denial (e. g. when he refuses to acknowledge his signatures on relatively mundane documents).
Nevertheless, he first acknowledged that he was informed about the execution of the POWs from the three camps (he claimed that he learned about it from his deputy Khokhlov). And then he admitted that he was, in fact, at a meeting with Kobulov where the shooting decision was discussed. Here I'm giving the core excerpts, reformulating the investigators' questions compactly and omitting various "so to say"'s (translating a longer meandering conversation exactly can be tricky, so this is a compromise, which represents the main thrust of this conversation).
"So, what I rememeber is [...] when announced [...] Kobulov about this [...] I got sick. I'm remembering now. [...] Got sick. [...] A letter was given, so to say. I stood up and felt unwell. [...] Kobulov gave it. [...] [we] were taking turns reading it. [...] A Central Committee letter. [And what was in that letter that shocked him so mich?] Well, "shoot!", the main thing. This was first such time [...] in the practice [...] [And which camps were mentioned, the POWs from which had to be shot?] Officers were concentrated in Kozelsky and Starobelsky. Policemen there. That is all. [So which ones were to shoot?] Three. [Only in these three?] No, there's nothing... I don't remember in which camps [...] I know that this case only touched the three. [...] [How many POWs had to be shot?] [...] About 14000. [Whose signature was on the letter?] [...] Stalin's."
Note that this "letter" was, of course, an excerpt from the Politburo decision. According to the usual practice of the time, it would most probably have contained a facsimile signature of Stalin and then it would have been destroyed upon return.
P. 255: "The prokuror and interrogations imply the charge of a criminal offense, an investigation, and an attempt to make sure that the in dividual being executed was the person against whom a sentence had been passed."
Just from this description, the "interrogations" in question were most likely simply the questions about the personal data, such as name and date of birth. Tokarev describes this procedure for Kalinin. No other "interrogations" could have been conducted right before the execution. And indeed, that's exactly how Syromiatnikov described the procedure:
"At the desk sat the prosecutor and on his side was the commandant. Then it was asked: "Surname, name, father's name, date of birth" and then said "You can go"."
P. 255: "When two of the Russian interrogators, Snezhko and Tretetskii, insisted that 4000 Poles were killed at Khar'kov Syromiatnikov said that he did not know how many Poles were involved in all but thought that neither the Khar'kov NKVO prison nor, more to the point, the burial site at Piatykhatky could hold 4000."
The burial ground could hold even more, as we know from the exhumations, but this shows how independent the answers were. (Also, Furr not knowing that Stefan Śnieżko was a Polish prosecutor is funny.)
P. 256: "Syromiatnikov's testimony is consistent with the idea that some Poles were tried and executed for some anti-Soviet crimes or other. He claimed to know about executions of only 200-300 Poles. In short, Syromiatnikov's testimony does not confirm the official" version of the Katyn massacre."
It certainly does, even if less amply than e. g. Tokarev's statement due to Syromiatnikov's allegedly limited knowledge. It confirms that mass executions were taking place specifically of the Polish POWs delivered in the relevant time frame, he confirms that they were buried in Pyatikhatki and even if he couldn't confirm the whole number, this is taken care of by the subsequent partial exhumations, which revealed the remains of no less 2312 person in the Polish graves.
P. 256: "Tokarev October 25, 1990"
Actually Tokarev's longest interrogation took place on 20.03.1991. His first, short interrogation took place on 14.03.1991, it has now been published by Guryanov.
P. 256: "There's no reason to believe that Tokarev is lying here, especially since the Russian interrogators agree with him. This means that somebody knew about the Politbiuro decree long before Gorbachev or his right-hand man Iakovlev supposedly knew about it. It appears that someone knew that the Politbiuro decree would be forthcoming."
Such an operation could only have been conducted after a Politburo decision and a historically knowledgeable investigator would have known this. Whether he then introduced the idea to Tokarev as a certainty or as a highly probable guess we will never know.
P. 257: "* Tokarev claimed that he did know that 14,000 Polish POWs were to be shot. First he said that Bogdan Kobulov told him this (435) A few pages later he claimed that Soprunenko told him (447) But Soprunenko claimed that he did not know anything about any shootings."
Tokarev is talking about the same event - the meeting in Kobulov's office. There is no contradiction - both Kobulov and Soprunenko could have repeated the same information during the meeting. And even if Tokarev is merely confused about details after 50 years, well, that's hardly worth noting. Just as Soprunenko trying to cover his ass.
P. 257: "* Tokarev stated twice that he knew that 6000 Polish policemen were shot at Kalinin. (462, 471) He even argues with Iablokov, one of the Soviet interrogators. Iablokov claimed that 6287 Poles were shot at Kalinin but Tokarev said that he remembered the number 6295."
Interestingly enough, Guryanov's research shows 8 POWs who had not figured in on the transport lists of 6287 POWs but were sent to Kalinin nevertheless, and for 6 of them Guryanov claims a high probability that they were shot in the framework of the same operation, and for two of them the probability is not so high, but their execution cannot be excluded (Ubity v Kalinine..., vol. 1, p. 98). So, in fact, Tokarev's number was probably closer to the truth (and there is even a possibility that it was exact!). Furr then repeats his falsehood that he proved that some of the Kalinin deportees turned up at Katyn and Volodymyr-Volynskyi, and on the basis of this falsehood he wants to prove that Tokarev lied (LOL).
P. 257: "Why would Tokarev lie? Probably because he was warned of serious consequences - criminal prosecution - if he did not tell the truth [...]"
Breathtaking logic - he lied, because he had been warned to tell the truth - as every freaking person ever properly interrogated in the USSR was warned about! Note the obvious hypocrisy of him bloviating about this and ignoring the legal persecution of Hajek and Markov, when they actually had no good choice to escape prison but to testify in favor of the Soviets.
P. 258: "In short, there was no reason for an NKVD man to use Walthers at all, much less many of them..."
Of course there was a reason to use the 7,65 mm caliber guns (not necessarily Walthers; Tokarev: "Maybe there were others too"); in fact, several possible reasons can be listed, including TT being to powerful, thus the risk of a ricochet in a closed room, and Nagant being suboptimal for streamlined mass shootings due to its reloading procedure. I discuss this in detail here.
P. 259: "Is it possible that Iablokov, a military procurator and lieutenant colonel of Justice, did not know that in 1940 the "Osoboe Soveshchanie" could not sentence defendants to more than eight years of confinement?"
Obviously. The point being?
P. 259: "Tokarev said that he saw no bodies of anyone who was shot. (458) This would be hard to believe if 6300 men had in fact been shot at his facility"
But it would not be hard to believe that people, in order to distance themselves from the crime, would claim something like that.
P. 259: "He said that no officers were shot (448)"
44 army officers were shot out of more than 6200 victims, so this is inconsequential (and he probably did not count police officers, which were still a minority among the victims).
P. 259: "and that hardly any of the Poles were in uniform"
According to Tokarev's testimony, he was present at only 2-3 interrogations for a few minutes each, and 50 years later he could not even remember if the one boy he interrogated personally was wearing a uniform. That is, he did not see most of the POWs in person either, but saw at most a couple of dozen.
Considering that Tokarev forgot many details about the few POWs he saw after 50 years, no other explanation for the "contradiction" is necessary for the people with at least some understanding of how memory works. But it is quite possible that some of the few whom Tokarev did see - perhaps even a significant portion - might not have been wearing their uniforms at the time of the interrogations, which might have caught Tokarev's eye and surfaced many years later.
The ground in the Mednoye graves was, in fact, blue from the uniforms.
Pp. 259, 260: " These case files might be important, since they indicate an individualized approach to the Polish POWs that contradicts the notion that all of them were sentences to death. The Mystery of the Katyn Massacre with either minimal or no investigation at all. But none of these criminal case files have been published"
Hogwash. There was a collective decision for certain categories (not for all Polish POWs) and there were individual decisions in yet other cases. There is no contradiction at all.
P. 260: "None of these interrogation confessions can withstand careful scrutiny."
They can, obviously. But Furr's method is identical to that of the Holocaust deniers', who seize on minor contradictions, memory mistakes or self-serving lies in various Nazi testimonies (also adding their invented "mistakes") to dismiss them as products of coercion, even though history simply does not work like that.
P. 260: "The witnesses had been threatened"
It's a lie, Furr has not produced a shred of evidence for any such threats.
P. 260: "Certainly the "official" version of Katyn cannot be based on them alone."
Certainly it isn't.
Since we are done with the witnesses, I will also point out, that the lack of coercion of Tokarev is confirmed (not that it needed to be) by the testimony of his son, whom he told the story back in the 1950s or 1960s, and by the journalist Yury Sharkov, who spoke to him informally.
I will also briefly deal with Furr's article "The Katyn Massacre A Re-examination in the Light of Recent Evidence", in which he brings additional ridiculous points.
P. 40: "Hájek confirmed this account at Nuremberg, from where he could easily have defected to the West, but did not."
Actually Hájek never testified at Nuremberg. Markov did. Oh, Grover, Grover.
P. 40: "2010, October: Duma member Viktor Iliukhin announces that documents purporting to be draft forgeries of the documents in “Closed Packet No. 1,” together with official stamps and stationery blanks, had been given to him by one of the alleged forgers. These materials inevitably cast doubt on the genuieness of the “Closed Packet No. 1” documents."
This whole hoax, involving the dead deniers Ilyukhin and Strygin, was exposed here in detail. Long story short, the "documents", presented by Ilyukhin, are "meta-fakes" - fakes, created in order to discredit authentic documents. But the fakers were not careful and got caught lying about some key points and thus got exposed. So, you see, the Katyn deniers are simply spreading obvious fakes in order to buttress their empty claims.
P. 45: "By January-February 2015 Dr. Siemińska is blaming the NKVD alone."
The reference does lead to an article that creates such an appearance, but it's an article not by Siemińska but about her talk by some journalist. Since Siemińska is on record before and after that several graves were of Nazi victims, it is a clear case of a journalist's misunderstanding.
P. 45: "...Soviet transit lists (not “proscription” lists, as Gur’ianov claims)..."
Another lie. The lists are called predpisaniya (directives, proscriptions) in the original documents.
Thus ends our debunking of Grover Furr's dishonest and ignorant screed.
As for the mystery, it was solved long ago. When exactly is a matter of a debate. One could see the "solved/not solved" not as a binary, but as a spectrum, a probabilistic function of the quality of evidence, with the probability evolving over time. Arguably, back in the mid-1940s the matter was still largely unsolved (neither the German, nor the Soviet reports were really sufficient, neither forensically, nor in other respects), but the probability of the Soviet guilt, based on the evidence available then, was somewhat higher due to the Soviet side's shady behavior regarding the issue of the missing Polish POWs before the German revelations, among other things. The Nuremberg trial Katyn episode was largely a wash.
After the Madden hearings the probability of the Soviet guilt shot up, because the people who took part in the investigation, including Poles and the members of the International Commission, could freely testify about the lack of fakery and coercion alleged by the Soviet side. They also could have testified otherwise, and for some of them it would have even been in their interest, because in their home countries they were sometimes seen as Nazi collaborators, e.g. due to their participation in the International Commission (some of them were indeed Nazi supporters, like Orsos others were antifascist resistance fighters, like Tramsen). The confirmation, that the bodies were indeed glued together due to the adipocere transformation, also made the Soviet claim of the special POW teams digging up the bodies and searching them for documents, dated later than the May of 1940, extremely unlikely - from this credible evidence it followed that the bodies were untouched. The picture of the Soviet pre-1943 stalling on the issue of the missing POWs from the three camps also became more clear. And there still was the fact of the rest of the missing POWs, those from Starobelsk and Ostashkov, not found in the Katyn forest. Arguably, the mystery of the guilty side was mostly solved then, based on practical probabilities. Whether it was beyond the reasonable doubt or not, but the burden of proof now lay squarely on those who accepted the German guilt.
But whether or not the Soviet guilt was beyond the reasonable doubt before the finds in the Soviet archives during the Perestroika, it certainly was afterwards - the GUPVI files showed that the POW camps "ON", relied on by the Soviet commission, simply did not exist. The missing POWs in question also simply disappear from the current GUPVI stats after having been handed over to the UNKVDs. So the whole Burdenko report scenario was a falsification and the Poles were nowhere to be found in the Soviet bureaucratic system. This alone speaks much louder than any shooting order.
The declassification of the top secret documents in 1992, including the shooting order and the later confirmation of the execution, Soviet and Polish exhumations in Mednoye and Pyatikhatki, which established that the Polish POWs from Ostashkov and Starobelsk were buried there in the spring of 1940, testimonies of the NKVD people involved in the operation, various other finds in Russian and Ukrainian archives (including a KGB confirmation of the Kharkiv shootings in 1969) are but a cherry on the top.
The mystery is solved beyond the reasonable doubt: Stalin, Politburo, Beria, NKVD were to blame.
The conclusion is clear. Furr is not an honest researcher. What he is writing is not history but "propaganda with footnotes". He has completely failed to undermine the mainstream views about the Katyn massacre.
And as is usual in such cases, I will emphasize that he could neither credibly explain where most of the Polish POWs from three POW camps, transported to three UNKVDs in April-May 1940, resided from May 1940 to July 1941, nor credibly identify any German unit that would have allegedly committed the massacre in the Katyn forest. Without this any "revisionist" project automatically fails. Ta ta!
Stupid tankies (but I repeat myself) did not like this at all. Deleted from r/DebateCommunism without any debate.ReplyDelete