On April 12, 1943, Nazi Germany announced it had discovered the murder of thousands of Polish officers, unearthing their mass graves in the Katyn Forest. The murders had taken place about a month after Lavrentiy Beria's proposal, of March 5, 1940, to execute all members of the Polish Officer Corps.
The Soviets launched a full scale denial, denounced the Poles, and severed relations—which had been reinstated with the Polish Government-in-Exile after Hitler's invasion of the USSR. Furthermore, as the Soviets were now counted among the Allies, all information regarding the truth of the matter was suppressed, including on the part of numerous U.S. administrations during—starting with the Office of War Information—and after the war.
As part of our ongoing series on Soviet propaganda, we bring you Alter Brody's monograph, "BEHIND THE POLISH-SOVIET BREAK," with introduction by Corliss Lamont, which lays responsibility for Soviet-Polish discord—that is, blaming the Soviets for the then recently revealed Katyn massacre—on those who hate the Soviets more than they hate fascism, who wait in hope that Hitler will "bleed the U.S.S.R. to death."
Brody was born in the Ukraine in 1895 and emigrated with his family to the United States to escape Russian pogroms against the Jews. In 1918 he published, with the assistance of the eminent Louis Untermeyer, A Family Album, his first book of poetry. His political activism, writing pieces supporting the Soviet revolution in Russia starting in the 1920's, an increasing focus on Yiddish literature, and later health issues all took him away from a promising mainstream journalistic and literary career, largely consigning him to obscurity.
Corliss Lamont, most notably director of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1932 to 1954, and a socialist and Marxist, introduces the work. Lamont and his wife had traveled to Moscow in 1932. In writing later of their experience, they made note of the powerful impression left by their viewing of Lenin's corpse, and related that what they saw of Soviet life conveyed a “great deal of happiness”. Perhaps most importantly, they had not felt their access restricted in any manner or been shown "Potemkin villages," contributing to their effusive assessment: “The new world of the twentieth century is the Soviet Union. And no one who is seriously interested in the progress of the human spirit can afford to miss it.” Regardless whether or not we would in retrospect consider the Lamonts to have been duped, their genuinely positive experience likely animated Lamont's subsequent defense of the Soviet regime. Even when the facts of Stalin's show trials were laid bare, Lamont denied the findings and affirmed that Stalin's actions were justified for the preservation of Soviet democracy. Well after the war, Lamont continued to denounce Soviet aggression as a myth of alleged menace.
Here, in his introduction, Lamont cites a Professor Lange at the University of Chicago in denouncing the American Friends of Poland as anti-Soviet pro-Nazi fomenters. Lamont was likely unaware that Oskar Lange, a Polish economist and socialist, member of the Polish Socialist Party (1928-47), was an NKVD agent recruited by Bolesław Gebert. After the war, Lange went on to be appointed as Sovietized Warsaw's first ambassador to the United States; from 1948 on he was a member of the Polish United Workers Party and its Central Committee. As for Lamont, he continued a distinguished lifetime of civil rights activism and, to our knowledge, never actually joined the Communist party.
A life-time later, optimists see cracks in the facade, most recently exemplified by Vladimir Putin attending a memorial service in 2010 at Katyn to commemorate those killed. However, the practice of quoting agents of their own special interests as objective and expert, per the example of Lamont and Lange, otherwise continues unabated with regard to Russia's official position on the Soviet legacy in the Baltics and Eastern Europe.
We have annotated the text as warranted to provide additional information and clarification.
- Cover Up for Those Who Carried Out Mass Murder, Herbert Romerstein, published in the daily newspaper "Polska" in Poland on March 8, 2008. Herbert Romerstein is a retired U.S. government official. He is an adjunct professor at the Institute World Politics and is Director of the Center for Security Research of the Education and Research Institute, both in Washington, DC. (copy @archive.org)
- In Search of Alter Brody, an essay by George Wallace at Poetrybay, "an on-line poetry magazine for the 21st century," Winter 2006-7 (retrieved October 26, 2010)
- Oskar Ryszard Lange, 1904-1965., profile at The New School History of Economic Thought web site (copy @archive.org)
- INTRODUCTION TO THE WORK
- Next Introduction — by Corliss Lamont, and "Stalin on Polish-Soviet Relations"
- Behind the Polish-Soviet Break, By Alter Brody — opening to the self-described "verifiable outline of the ethnographic and historic background of the controversy"
- BEHIND THE POLISH CLAIMS
- THE PARTITIONS OF POLAND
- TSARIST POLICY TOWARD THE POLES
- THE NEW POLISH EMPIRE
- POLISH ANNEXATIONS
- POLAND AND SELF-DETERMINATION
- THREE MILLION "SURPLUS" JEWS
- POLAND'S EASTERN COLONIES
- HITLER'S GERMANS PREFERRED
- POLAND'S FOREIGN POLICY
- POLAND DRIFTS INTO HITLER'S ORBIT
- POLISH-SOVIET BOUNDARIES POSITION
- Text of Soviet Note to Polish Government — Molotov's note of April 25, 1943 denouncing the Poles for taking up the fascist mantle in blaming Katyn on the USSR; Molotov informs the Poles that the Soviet Union is severing relations on account of their "Hitlerite slanderous fake," part of their "hostile campaign against the Soviet Union"
- Vyshinsky's Statement — A recounting of Vyshinsky's statement of May 6, 1943 to the press denouncing the hostile Polish Government-in-Exile.
- Polish Officer Exposes Treachery — Zigmund Berling, arrested and imprisoned by the NKVD in 1939, agrees to cooperate. Four years later he gets his command as he coincidently condemns his own people.
We do not endorse the Soviet account of historical events or their circumstances contained therein.