This presentation focuses upon the lack of U.S. response to the German discovery of Polish mass graves in the forest of Katyn near Smolensk, Russia (1942-1943). The German military had found evidence of Soviet culpability; this evidence was labeled as propaganda by the United States government and ignored. In order to bolster their own findings, the German Reich requested numerous Red Cross investigations, and formed an investigative coalition constructed of forensic experts from outside of the German Reich. Although the evidence did suggest Soviet blame, no sanctions were ever made against the United States’ newly founded wartime ally, nor were any ever made post WWII; it was even suggested at Nuremberg that the Germans were responsible for the Polish deaths! In 1956, a U.S. congressional commission (the Madden Commission) investigated the happenings at Katyn; it found that the upper echelon of the United States government in place during 1942-1943 did know of the Soviet crime, and had swept it under the metaphorical rug for the good of the war effort by feeding the public statements declaring “German propaganda”. By analyzing primary documents collected by Polish historians Eugenia Maresch, Anna Cienciala and also the findings of the Madden Commission, it is the goal of this paper to demonstrate that the original evidence presented by the German Reich in 1943 was indeed enough to have raised an alarm, and to have been acted upon. Ignoring this evidence, the United States overlooked a humanitarian catastrophe in order to maintain a tempestuous alliance that would only lead to further conflict and for reasons of self-preservation.
Michael Turner is senior at Kent State Stark. He is completing a bachelor’s degree in history. After he graduates, he plans to attend graduate school and become an archivist. He enjoys reading, research and photography