Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

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Steve
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Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Steve » 13 Apr 2017 04:29

There are numerous biographies of Churchill that verge on the hagiographic but one that bucks the trend is Churchill by Clive Pontin published 1994.

When Churchill sided with Stalin against the London Poles he knew that he was siding with a mass murderer. His appeasement of Stalin was worse than Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler because Czechoslovakia was not an ally of Britain but Poland was.

The Germans announced their discovery of about 5,000 bodies at Katyn on April 13 1943. They called for an investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Polish Government in exile also called for a Red Cross investigation. Stalin accused the Poles of acting in collusion with the Germans and broke off diplomatic relations. Churchill sent a message to Stalin agreeing that there should be no Red Cross investigation because it would be “a fraud and its conclusions reached by terrorism”.

A day after this remarkable message was sent the British government was given a report written by its ambassador to the Polish government in London Owen O’Malley. It made a very strong case for the killings being carried out by the Soviets. Three days after receiving the O’Malley report the British government decided to censure the Polish press in the UK. Churchill later informed Stalin that “The cabinet here is determined to have proper disciple in the Polish press in Great Britain” about what was termed “atrocious Nazi propaganda”.

On April 28 Churchill told Anthony Eden “there is no use prowling round the three year old graves of Smolensk”. By saying three year old graves Churchill admitted that he knew the Soviets had carried out the massacre because three years previously Smolensk was under Soviet control.

At the end of November 1943 the big three met at the Tehran conference. Meeting for dinner one evening Stalin suggested that the entire German general staff should be liquidated and this might require the execution of 50,000 or perhaps 100,000 officers. Churchill replied that he would never agree to barbarous acts or cold blooded murder. Only proven war criminals should be punished after a proper trial. Roosevelt made a joke about only executing 49,000. Churchill left the room in a temper but Stalin and Molotov persuaded him to return, it was all just a joke.

Perhaps Churchill remembered Katyn so thought it very likely that Stalin was not joking. His reaction to a proposed mass murder of German officers was very different to an actual mass murder of Polish officers.

Stalin must have been surprised that his new friends in the west believed his version of Katyn. If they genuinely did believe him then they were easily duped and if they did not believe him but were not going to say anything then they were obviously worried about upsetting him. Whichever version was correct Stalin would now have known that he did not have a lot to fear from these men.

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Stiltzkin » 14 Apr 2017 19:18

This is not about who believed what (the western democracies were always rather naive). The point is simple: 1.Nobody cared about the eastern European nations. 2. The British would do anything to save their sorry asses and let others die for their safety.

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby J. Duncan » 15 Apr 2017 01:30

Churchill was not a "good guy". Operation Keelhaul (the turning over of Russian ex-patriates over to Stalin) was bad too.
War started to protect Polish sovereignty vs. Hitler only to end by turning it all over to Stalin (who had invaded eastern Poland in 1939 ,Baltic and also Finland in 1940 without anybody doing anything against him). I don't believe in any of this "good guy" Allies stuff. They carved up the world with the same cynicism that they accused the Axis of doing only democracy has to be more devious in getting the "pawns in the game" to do their bidding. Dictators can order a nation to war easily but democracies have to be more cunning to get their masses to go along with it. The more you learn the truth about this stuff the less respect you have for any of these leaders.

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Michael Kenny » 15 Apr 2017 01:54

J. Duncan wrote:
War started to protect Polish sovereignty vs. Hitler only to end by turning it all over to Stalin



Stunning ignorance of the real reason Poland was given its guarantee. More so since it has already been explained to you at least once before:

viewtopic.php?p=1238774#p1238774

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby J. Duncan » 15 Apr 2017 13:26

What does my above statement reflect I missed? The specifics of the guarantee on Poland? ( as to why the Soviets got away with the other half?). Big deal. The war started over Poland being attacked by Hitler (we can agree on this?) and after it was all over it was turned over to a Communist butcher to use as he pleased. It's probably the second half of my ignorance that bothers you. Churchill knew better and still sat down with a homicidal maniac to carve out a "future" for Europe in which the eastern half was enslaved as Communist buffer states. Some future eh? Then Churchill cynically gives speeches about an "iron curtain" falling down which he did much to create and writes about the Polish affair as an "unnecessary war" since it wasn't his government in 1939. Being the politician that he was, he later claimed in "Tragedy and Hope" that he was marginalized by Roosevelt and Stalin during the conferences since these two were getting on quite well overtly ( and covertly as correspondences show).

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Michael Kenny » 15 Apr 2017 17:16

J. Duncan wrote:What does my above statement reflect I missed? The specifics of the guarantee on Poland? ( as to why the Soviets got away with the other half?). Big deal


It was a 'big deal'. A very big deal indeed. The understanding with Poland was very specific. In the event of German Invasion war would be declared on Germany. No mention was made of an invasion by any other country and this was not an oversight. It reflects the UK's position on the eastern border with Russia. It was a border gained by force of arms and very much in dispute. The UK had no intention of getting involved in that mess, That is why the understanding was clear and Britain kept her word. Declared war on Germany and made sure a nation state called Poland was on a post-war map. Borders shifted westward it may have been but the UK kept to its deal with Poland.



J. Duncan wrote: The war started over Poland being attacked by Hitler (we can agree on this?) and after it was all over it was turned over to a Communist butcher to use as he pleased. It's probably the second half of my ignorance that bothers you.

Not in the least 'bothered' because I am not looking to 'win' an argument or garner converts to my position. You made your contribution and I pointed out the gross errors of fact in your reasoning. The reader can decide which is the more accurate account.

J. Duncan wrote: Churchill knew better and still sat down with a homicidal maniac to carve out a "future" for Europe in which the eastern half was enslaved as Communist buffer states. Some future eh? Then Churchill cynically gives speeches about an "iron curtain" falling down which he did much to create and writes about the Polish affair as an "unnecessary war" since it wasn't his government in 1939. Being the politician that he was, he later claimed in "Tragedy and Hope" that he was marginalized by Roosevelt and Stalin during the conferences since these two were getting on quite well overtly ( and covertly as correspondences show).


You must look up the term 'Realpolitik'. In 1945, at the end of a 6 year war that bankrupted The Empire, there was absolutely no way the UK had the will, or with the USA, and the combined support of every nation of the planet could remove Stalin from Eastern Europe. It just was not possible without starting WW3.

It is as improbable as this scenario:

Britain is invaded in 1940 and occupied. Germany then decides to invade Ireland. The UK Government in exile in Australia issues an ultimatum to Hitler that if he does not withdraw his troops from Ireland the UK will..........................do what exactly?

Replace 'Hitler' with 'Stalin' and 'Ireland' with 'Poland' to understand the scale of the problem.



I tried to portray it in a way that would play well with your Anglophobia!

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby J. Duncan » 15 Apr 2017 19:47

UK lost the war (went broke and surrendered to Stalin) but they did right by Poland. Got it.

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Michael Kenny » 15 Apr 2017 20:20

J. Duncan wrote:UK lost the war (went broke and surrendered to Stalin) but they did right by Poland. Got it.


As I noted earlier-Anglophobia.

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby J. Duncan » 15 Apr 2017 20:28

Only if Sir Elton John hugs me.

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Tom from Cornwall » 15 Apr 2017 20:31

Britain alone neither won nor lost the war...but it was part of a coalition that defeated Hitler's Nazi Germany.

Did Britain do "right" by Poland during and after the war? That, obviously from this thread, depends on your own interpretation of history. Could Britain have done "more" for Poland - perhaps, but it is hard to see Britain being willing to fight the Soviet Union in 1945. British political leaders may well have wanted to do more for Poland but, unfortunately, they did have to deal with a reality that we, getting on for 80 years later, can more easily ignore.

Would Chamberlain or Churchill sacrifice British interests for Polish interests - no. Get over it! :idea:

Regards

Tom

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Max Payload » 15 Apr 2017 23:45

Steve wrote:Perhaps Churchill remembered Katyn so thought it very likely that Stalin was not joking. His reaction to a proposed mass murder of German officers was very different to an actual mass murder of Polish officers.

Perhaps because the former was a proposed event in the future, about which he could do something; and the latter was an event in the past, about which he could do nothing.

Steve wrote:Stalin must have been surprised that his new friends in the west believed his version of Katyn. If they genuinely did believe him then they were easily duped and if they did not believe him but were not going to say anything then they were obviously worried about upsetting him. Whichever version was correct Stalin would now have known that he did not have a lot to fear from these men.

Prior to Hiroshima, under what circumstances would he have had anything to fear from them? In order to defeat a common enemy, Churchill and Roosevelt were trying to forge a working relationship with a cunning murderous sociopath who happened to be in command of the largest army in the world. Accusing him of being a lying mass murderer probably wouldn't have helped in the process of coordinating strategy to achieve a mutually desirable end.

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby gebhk » 16 Apr 2017 09:37

Prior to Hiroshima, under what circumstances would he have had anything to fear from them?

I think you are somewhat underestimating the reliance of the Soviet war machine on US and British logistical support.

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Max Payload » 16 Apr 2017 10:27

By the end of 1943 I would not have thought that concern about a possible suspension of LL would equate to fear.

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Steve
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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Steve » 17 Apr 2017 20:37

True, Churchill could do nothing about the past but to ignore Stalin's guilt for Katyn must be pushing appeasement well beyond Chamberlain and Hitler. At the time Katyn was announced large numbers of deported Poles had left Siberia for Persia. Unless Churchill was told these people had gone to Siberia on holiday and been stranded there you would expect him to have know what the USSR had been up to in eastern Poland.

What did Stalin have to fear from the two men who led the war effort in the west? From 1943 he was heavily reliant on the west for war material. For example without it a large part of the Red Army would have walked to Berlin without boots or modern communication equipment and no railways to bring up supplies. Stalin was it seems always worried about the west doing a deal with Hitler or holding back from an invasion of France. He also wanted recognition for the puppet regimes he was going to set up in his new empire.

There were pressure points for someone who understood what he was dealing with. However, neither of the two western leaders understood that they were dealing with a “cunning murderous sociopath”. On returning to the UK after meeting Stalin in 1942 Churchill reported to the British cabinet that he had “formed the highest opinion of his sagacity”.

That Churchill had no great liking for Poles may go some way to explain matters. At Yalta during the February 9 plenary Churchill when under pressure from Stalin over free elections in Poland said “I do not care much about Poles myself”.

The source for the above quote is Churchill by Clive Ponting p.680 and his source is FRUS (Foreign Relations of the United States) Conferences at Malta and Yalta p.853

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Re: Churchill on Katyn and proposed shooting of German officers

Postby Michael Kenny » 17 Apr 2017 20:43

Steve wrote: For example without it a large part of the Red Army would have walked to Berlin without boot


Just one example to show you how wrong you are.

The Soviets got some 11 millions pairs of boots via LL.

Work out for yourself how many pairs of boots and army of (say) 11 million men needs over 4 years.
Then tell me again how 'critical the LL boots were.

If you want to be practical then supplies already in the pipeline would last until the Soviets reached Normandy!


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