In 1939, during the Russian invasion of Poland, some 14,500 Polish officers were captured and interned in three P.O.W. camps in the Soviet Union. The next time the world heard of these prisoners was a news broadcast on April 13, 1943, from Radio Berlin. It stated that the German Army had discovered mass graves at Katyn, 18 kilometres north-west of Smolensk, near the village of Gneizdovo and containing the bodies of Polish officers. Eight graves were opened and 4,253 bodies exhumed.
All were dressed in Polish uniforms, with badges of rank and medals intact. No watches or rings were found on the corpses. It was established that the bodies were of Polish officers from the camp at Kozielsk, situated in the grounds of a former Monastery, near Orel. Two other camps, at Starobielsk (3,891 men) and at Ostashkov (6,311 men) were wound up and closed in the first days of April, 1940. Whatever happened to these 10,000 odd officers has never been established. They were never seen alive again. From evidence obtained after the war, all prisoners of Kozielsk camp were shot by Stalin's NKVD.
On April 13, 1990, fifty years after the massacre, the USSR for the first time admitted its responsibility for the murders. The whole controversy was finally laid to rest when Boris Yeltsin, handed over the secret files on Katyn to the Polish president, Lech Walesa, on October 14, 1992. In May 1992, in a wood near Kharkov, a Russian private investigation team discovered a mass grave containing 3,891 bodies of Polish officers from the camp at Starobielsk in the Ukraine. In June of that year, Soviet authorities discovered 30 mass graves at Miednoje, one hundred miles north-west of Moscow. They contained the remains of 6,287 Polish prisoners from the Ostashkov island camp on Lake Seliguer. Before the massacre, 245 officers from Kozielsk, 79 from Starobielsk and 124 from the camp at Ostashkor , were transferred, for no apparent reason, to a camp at Pavlishchev Bor, a hundred miles north-west of the Kozielsk camp. These 448 officers proved to be the only survivors of the Katyn massacre. KGB files state that 21,857 Poles were shot as a result of Stalin's order. In other parts of the Katyn Forest, other graves were discovered containing the bodies of Russian political prisoners who were executed in pre-war days by the NKVD. It seems that the Katyn Forest was the main execution site for Stalin’s secret police. (Not to be confused with the Khatyn murder site near Minsk) All mention of the Katyn atrocity has been removed from Soviet history textbooks.
Altogether, in the Ukraine, around 10,000 Ukrainian and Polish political prisoners were killed in their prisons. It is a sad fact that many members of the NKVD execution squads in the Ukraine, were Jewish collaborators. These collaborators were hated by other Jews more than the German SS. (A memorial plaque at the former headquarters of the NKVD/KGB in Simferpol, Ukraine, is engraved with the names of thirty NKVD agents who gave their lives in the Great Patriotic War (the Soviet name for World War II). The amazing thing is that all thirty names are Jewish! About half a million Jews served in the Red Army and approximately 200,000 were killed. A total of 160,000 Jewish soldiers were decorated with Soviet awards, 145 receiving the highest Soviet award, 'Hero of the Soviet Union'. Two Jewish women were also awarded this honour. (Many Soviet soldiers, after capture, joined the Waffen SS. The 30th SS Division was composed of such troops)
On the shores of the Black Sea, on the Crimean Peninsula, stands the port city of Feodosia. On the 3rd of November the city was captured by the German 46th and 170th Infantry Divisions. As the attack on Sevastopol was about to take place, most of the German forces were withdrawn to concentrate on the forthcoming battle. Left behind in the city were a small detachment of troops and all the wounded soldiers convalescing in the city's hospitals. On the afternoon of December 29, the city was bombarded by the Soviet Black Sea Fleet and a landing was made by Soviet marines followed by infantry. On the 18th of January, 1942, after their failure to capture Sevastopol, the German Wehrmacht was able to return and recapture Feodosia. They found that most of the German military personnel had been murdered. Wounded soldiers had been thrown out of the windows of the hospital to make room for Russian wounded. Water was then poured on the near dead bodies and then left to freeze. On the beach, piles of bodies were found where they were thrown from a wall several metres high after being beaten and mutilated, their bodies left in the surf so that the sea water froze and covered them with a sheet of ice. There were some twelve survivors who had hidden in cellars when the Russian troops arrived. Their testimony before a German court of inquiry confirmed that some 160 wounded soldiers were liquidated this way.
During the freezing cold night of February 16, five divisions of General Hube's 1st SS Panzer Army, (54,000 men) including the 5th SS Division Viking and the Belgian Volunteer Brigade Wallonie, made a last desperate bid to break out of the Russian encirclement around the towns of Korsun and Shandrerovka in the lower Dnieper south-west of Kiev (Kyiv). At 4am, elements of the 8th Army formed up into two marching columns of around 14,000 men each and flocked into two parallel ravines in the surrounding countryside, and where the two ravines met, the troops, now in complete disorder, then emerged into open country and headed out towards the town of Lysyanka.
There, disaster struck as troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, under General Konev, were waiting. Soon after 6am, the slaughter began. Soviet tanks drove into the two German columns crushing hundreds under their tracks. Fleeing in panic, the troops were then bombed and shelled before being confronted by units of Cossack cavalry who started hacking them to pieces with their sabres, There was no time to take prisoners and in the short space of three hours around 20,000 German soldiers lay dead, their bodies later dumped in holes dug in the ground. The hundreds of wounded and medical personnel left behind were butchered by the Cossacks. Only a few officers survived, most had fled the scene by plane some days before. (Russian sources put the number of dead during the two weeks of fighting at over 70,000) To reach Lysyanka the troops had first to cross the raging Gniloy-Tikich river. Reaching the opposite side many were transformed into blocks of ice their uniforms frozen to their bodies. About eight thousand others, who had fled the scene and were hiding in the woods, were rounded up during the next few days and taken prisoner. For this great victory, General Konev was awarded the title 'Marshal of the Soviet Union'.
In the notes found on a Soviet doctor after he was captured, he had written: 'All POWs who belonged to the German Army were executed during the operations near Odessa'.
Soviet archives reveal the following: 'July 7, 1943, the enemy suffered great losses...we did not take any prisoners, they were all liquidated'.
This photo shows one of 34 german soldiers of 9th SS-Panzer-Division "Hohenstaufen" that were captured by the Red Army in April 1944 in the ukrainian village of Kalasantovka. The mutilated bodies were found by their comrades during the german counter attack on the near-by town of Ternopil. A german eyewitness: "That's not the way soldiers are supposed to act. The hands and the feet of the dead were bound with the ropes of their own tentpieces. Partially the trousers were pulled down and genitals severed. With some the eyes were stabbed, ears and tongue cut off. Furthermore their own bayonet was rammed into the stomach from the downside. Dogtags and other ID's were removed to avoid an identification of the dead. Fortunately most of them had their last names sewn on the inside of their uniform pieces so that a list of the victims could be compiled. However this list was lost later on so that these 34 soldiers are considered officially as "Missing in Action".