The controversy in Jersey City (article and Letters in The Reporter) whether to move the statue of the massacre of Poles by Soviets in World War 11 to a less conspicuous location has been settled by a compromise. It will be moved, but only two hundred feet.
While the spat was going on between those who wanted it moved and those who didn’t, it attracted international attention, and no wonder: it would be hard to find in the sordid history of humankind the equal of that savagery that took place in 1940 in the Katyn Forest in Poland, where 22,000 Polish officers and intelligentsia were taken prisoner by the invading Soviets, shot in the back of the head with a pistol, and shoved into a large mass grave that had been bulldozed for the purpose.
The statue shows a running man with a bayonet and rifle sticking out of his back. That isn’t how it happened. A more effective depiction of the horror would show a helpless prisoner, handcuffed, on his knees, with a pistol at the back of his head. Those 22,000 were dispatched in this way, one by one, day and night, in several places in Poland, not only Katyn Forest. What kind of men could do this kind of work? Animals!, some would say. No, human, all too human, for an animal doesn’t have such a brain. One executioner, Vasily Mikhailovich Blokhin, is said to have killed 7,000 prisoners in 28 days, some as young as 18 years. What a reputation to leave to his posterity!
Given time, most crimes will out. Germany was horrified that the Bolshevik communists had murdered the Russian Czar and his whole family, then killed thousands of Christian priests and destroyed their churches. While those communists under Stalin occupied Poland in the East, the Germans, pushing in from the West, discovered the bodies in 1943, and told the world. Joseph Stalin denied it and blamed Hitler. Churchill and Roosevelt, although doubtful, went along with Stalin’s lie, because Germany, England’s economic rival (nearly all wars are economic), had to be crushed, whereas Russia was an ally in this attempt. War propaganda demonized the “Hun,” whereas Stalin was lauded by the media and Hollywood and known affectionately as good old Uncle Joe.
Years after the war, however, Stalin’s signed order authorizing the killings was found.