Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by henryk » 10 Feb 2011 20:18

http://rt.com/politics/russia-poland-ka ... ote]Russia considers rehabilitating Polish servicemen
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Published: 10 February, 2011, 10:14 Edited: 10 February, 2011, 13:18

Moscow is looking for ways to rehabilitate Polish military servicemen killed by the Soviet security police at Katyn in 1940, Russian Ambassador to Warsaw Aleksandr Alekseev has said. Almost 22,000 imprisoned Polish citizens were executed in April and May 1940 by NKVD police in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk. The Katyn massacre issue was the main stumbling block in relations between Poland and Russia as the Soviet Union’s successor.

In November last year, the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, adopted a statement admitting that the executions took place on the direct orders of Joseph Stalin and other Soviet leaders. Now Russia is considering ways of rehabilitating the Polish citizens, the ambassador told Interfax. “A formula satisfying the relatives and not going against Russian law will be found.”

Some Polish politicians and human rights activists in both countries believe the Katyn issue is still unresolved. Alekseev disagrees with this point of view. Politically, Russia has condemned this crime more than once. The last and convincing example was the State Duma’s statement, which found understanding in Poland. The declassification of the documents related to this case is under way in line with the Russian law, with 137 out of its 183 volumes already handed over to Warsaw.

The issue should not impede the development of bilateral relations, the ambassador believes. It should rather be left to historians and legal experts, so as not to tempt some people to use it as a brake, he noted. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski is planning to visit Katyn on April 3 to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the tragedy. He intends to accomplish his predecessor Lech Kaczynski’s mission, which tragically ended when his plane crashed near Smolensk in April 2010, with all people on board killed.

Komorowski discussed the Katyn issue and access to documents with the Russian president in Warsaw in December. In an interview with Polish media, Dmitry Medvedev then said that it was essential to leave behind historical paradigm of bilateral ties and “try to separate history from today's life.” The lessons taught by history must not be forgotten, he stressed, but neither should both countries be its captives.
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Oleg Grigoryev
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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 11 Feb 2011 10:58

First of all why I am getting an impression that you think that I am trying to justify something?
There is a difference between being contra and not being pro.

Polish officers weren't contra, they were just not pro.

Moreover, nobody investigated the Polish officers to determine if they were contra or not.
Insofar as Soviet authorities were concerned they were “contra”.
So there are no proofs that all of murdered Polish officers were anti-Communist.
That is fine because nobody tried to prove that they were. Ones again -insofar as Soviet Authority were concerned they were Anti soviet.
Stalin during his purges persecuted Soviet officers that were contra-Stalinist, but the extent of this persecution (mortality rate, the way of persecuting them, etc.) was not even close to that of Polish officers.
He killed off whoever he considered dangerous and you did not have to be an officer to be dangerous to Stalin. He purged the party, he purged security apparatus – more than ones. One again it was not matter of the profession but rather political loyalties. I am reasonably sure that number of people shot in 1937 alone because of the “political” reasons handsomely surpasses that of Katyn victims.

Nobody even tried to persuade them to be loyal to the Soviet cause, nor they had such a legal obligation.
You really should read the links given to you. They were interviewed and based on the results of the interview they were considered to be a lost cause -ones again not unlike the Commissars.
Nobody said they owned anybody anything -you are just given the reason for Soviet decision. No one said that those are just reasons. You ignored my question couple of times now so here it is again -do you think that if Poles were ardent communist they would suffer the same fate?
Nobody even tried to persuade them to be loyal to the Soviet cause, nor they had such a legal obligation.

So they were killed without previous attempts of persuading them.
just as commissars were.
Btw - why German, Romanian, Hungarian, Japanese, etc. officers were not killed from the same reason?
Well quite a few of them switched sides actually; then again quite a few of them did die.
Moreover - killing the Polish officers because they - according to the perpetrators - supposedly could not be "persuaded to be loyal", means that the Soviets intended to destroy a part of a national and religious group as such (since being loyal to the Soviet Cause = rejecting their national identity and rejecting any forms of religion). And rejecting their national and religious identity by a part of a group = de facto destruction of this part of a group as such.
That is called assimilation or integration. Genocide specifically deals with physical destruction.
This (the Soviet intention to "destroy" a part of a national and religious group - by persuading them to completely change their national & religious identity or by killing them in case if this was not possible) combined with the form of eliminating Polish officers (that is: killing them), fits to the definition of genocide.
No it does not; in order to comply with that definition they would have to be killed for being Polish. They were killed because Soviet Authorities considered the to be enemy of existing reign. Just like Commissars were killed because they were considered to be enemies of the Third Reich.
So we can distinguish at least two important aspects of the Katyn crime:

a) Intention to "Sovietize" Polish officers and thus to eliminate a part of a separate national group (part of Polish elite) - as well as a part of religious group (Soviets attempted to force them to become Communist atheists).

If this was done successfuly, Polish officers as human beings would continue to exist, but they would be part of a different group (thus the group they previously formed - part of Polish elites -, would cease to exist).

b) Planned and systematic, physical extermination of Polish officers as human beings.

The "by-product" of this extermination, was destruction of the group they formed (as the Soviets intended).

These two aspects combined allow us to refer to the Katyn crime as to a genocide.

There is also at least one more aspect, which can also support the genocidal character of this crime:

c) Soviet elimination of Polish officers resulted in partial destruction of the Polish leading ("managerial") estate of the realm (intelligentsia), and thus decreased the Polish capabilities of resisting the occupants (both German and Soviet) and thus indirectly decreased the capabilities of the Polish nation as a whole to survive and regain independence.

Especially that this part of the leading estate was the militarily educated part, capable of commanding the resistance movement as well as Polish struggles abroad aimed at regaining independence and saving the nation.

Question is if this was deliberate and intended. But undoubtedly this was a blow for the entire Polish nation.

Please also note that ca. 97% of the officers murdered at Katyn were of Polish nationality. While a considerably smaller percent of all officers captured by the Red Army during the Invasion of Poland were of Polish nationality.

Thus not all captured officers of the Polish Army were targeted, but mainly those of Polish nationality.

For example most of officers of Ukrainian or Belarusian nationality were released from captivity.

Thus clearly the Katyn crime had also an anti-national (anti-Polish) character, not only anti-officer.

It seems that the purpose of the Katyn crime was to "chop the head" (eliminate the leaders) of the Polish underground state and the armed forces in exile as well as armed resistance on the occupied territory of the country.

Even if this was not an intended purpose, it certainly was one of the factual results.
you are being repetitive. Ones again assimilation or integration is not the same thing as physical destruction.

In other words, the USSR disregarded the existing international reality.

Because other states recognized governments in exile of occupied countries:
Good for other States. USSR being a sovereign state obviously had the right to recognized (or not) whoever it wanted.

For instance whole lot don't recognize Kosovo, or recognized Palestinea – all matter of personal preference.

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Panzermahn » 11 Feb 2011 12:53

That is called assimilation or integration. Genocide specifically deals with physical destruction.
Genocide is also applicable as in cultural genocide such as what Soviet Union has done in the Kalmuck Autonomous Territory in the 1920s (destroying Buddhist Temples, conducted class war against Kalmuckian nobility and clergy, dispossessing livestocks and land) after the Bolsheviks were victorious in the Russian Civil War.

Source: Oberst a.D. Constantin Wagner, Kalmückische Reiter-Verbände in der Deutsche Wehrmacht, Deutsches Soldatenjahrbuchs 1976, München, page 226-227
That is called assimilation or integration
Wrong. Assimilation has different meanings with integration in the context of sociological studies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assimilation_(sociology)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_integration
That is fine because nobody tried to prove that they were. Ones again -insofar as Soviet Authority were concerned they were Anti soviet.
Don't tell me that the NKVD did not interrogate any single one of the Polish officers slaughtered at Katyn? How do you know that the Soviets didn't try to prove that Polish officers were anti-communist during the latter's interrogation?
do you think that if Poles were ardent communist they would suffer the same fate?
False logic. Leon Trotsky was an ardent communist but yet he was murdered by Soviet agents. Same with those communists like Yagoda and Zinoviev

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 11 Feb 2011 20:54

Genocide is also applicable as in cultural genocide such as what Soviet Union has done in the Kalmuck Autonomous Territory in the 1920s (destroying Buddhist Temples, conducted class war against Kalmuckian nobility and clergy, dispossessing livestocks and land) after the Bolsheviks were victorious in the Russian Civil War.

Source: Oberst a.D. Constantin Wagner, Kalmückische Reiter-Verbände in der Deutsche Wehrmacht, Deutsches Soldatenjahrbuchs 1976, München, page 226-227
No it is not. Cultural genocide is not a legal term. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide#Cultural_genocide And1976 obscure book as source-really? Could not find anything more modern ah? But do tell how
class war against Kalmuckian nobility and clergy, dispossessing livestocks and land) after the Bolsheviks were victorious in the Russian Civil War.
is different than from what happened to any other ruling class in USSR.
Wrong. Assimilation has different meanings with integration in the context of sociological studies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assimilation_(sociology)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_integration
Would you mind posting working links next time?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assimilati ... ciology%29
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture
Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies. Members of the minority groups thus gain full access to the opportunities, rights and services available to the members of the mainstream.
Don't tell me that the NKVD did not interrogate any single one of the Polish officers slaughtered at Katyn? How do you know that the Soviets didn't try to prove that Polish officers were anti-communist during the latter's interrogation?
You know what would save everybody some time - you reading the post you are replying to. That what I wrote:
They were interviewed and based on the results of the interview they were considered to be a lost cause -ones again not unlike the Commissars.
And previously I actually provided report on the subject

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... Katyn+Oleg

False logic. Leon Trotsky was an ardent communist but yet he was murdered by Soviet agents. Same with those communists like Yagoda and Zinoviev
All 3 of them were considered enemy of Soviet state – just like Polish officers -and that is why there killed. Or you going to argue that they were killed because hey were Jews? Peculiar selection on your part by the way- could have at least selected Buharin or Ezhov for the sake of appearances.

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Seppo Koivisto » 11 Feb 2011 22:16

Colonel Weeks wrote:
Seppo Koivisto wrote:
Colonel Weeks wrote:I am interested to know whatever happened to the Finnish member of the Buhtz commission, mr. Saxén. Does anyone of the Finnish members here have any information about him?
After the war Arne Saxén burned his files and stayed few years in Sweden, because of pressure from the Allied Control Commission and Finnish communists. However, he was the professor of pathological anatomy at University of Helsinki until his death in 1952.
Thank you, Seppo, for this info. Do you know if it has ever been written any articles about him?
His name is of course Arno Saxén, sorry my typo. I have not seen any article of him, but here are few details from a Katyn article by Kimmo Rentola.
http://agricola.utu.fi/julkaisut/julkai ... entola.php

On 5th March 1945 the political advicer of Control Commission P.O. Orlov enquired sharply the foreign minister Carl Enckel "who has been at graves of Katyn and invited by whom." Enckel tried to defend Saxén by saying he was commanded there as medical Major.

Saxén was also number two on a list of compromized professors made by the left wing minister Mauno Pekkala, but the government could not directly discharge university professors.

His report of Katyn is saved at the Department of Forensic Medicine. Polish wikipedia has an article of him (year of birth should be 1895) and the first reference looks interesting. Maybe Polish speakers could translate them to us.
http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arno_Sax%C3%A9n

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by crolick » 12 Feb 2011 14:46

Oleg Grigoryev wrote:Many officers from the Baltic sates shared the fate of their Polish counterparts, on the other hand, as far as I recall, Czechs that were interned in the USSR, were spared.
Do you have any source supporting this claim? And numbers of executed officers? I always though that most of the officers from Baltic states was deported and not murdered.

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 12 Feb 2011 22:59

crolick wrote:
Oleg Grigoryev wrote:Many officers from the Baltic sates shared the fate of their Polish counterparts, on the other hand, as far as I recall, Czechs that were interned in the USSR, were spared.
Do you have any source supporting this claim? And numbers of executed officers? I always though that most of the officers from Baltic states was deported and not murdered.
I did not say anything about majority - I said “many”. Chances are- our members from Baltic states can provide you with relevant information.For whatever reason there is, Soviet Authorities thought (in my opinion -evidently wrongly so. I can hazard a guess, that they held an impression, that Baltic cadres were “more Soviet” than Poles.) that Baltic Units can be converted to Soviet Units. They played with the same idea for Polish forces,but ,apparently ,decided it was not worth it. http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... Katyn+Oleg

PS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litene

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by PFLB » 13 Feb 2011 06:07

'Cultural genocide' is regarded as a form of genocide by some states. Germany, for example. However, this is contrary to the practice of most states, which otherwise conforms to the definition found in the Genocide Convention: Krstic Trial Judgment, Case IT-98-33-T, s 580. As has been noted in material already referred to, the concept was mooted but not incorporated into the Genocide Convention, and it would seem to follow a contrario that it was not part of the treaty.

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 18 Feb 2011 11:26

You wrote that Soviets wanted to assimilate / integrate Polish officers.

And now let's check these definitions:

"Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture"

A few pages ago you denied that Polish officers were a national (ethnic) group?

Yet you write that Soviets considered them as an ethnic minoriy.

"Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of [these] societies. Members of the minority groups thus gain full access to the opportunities, rights and services available to the members of the mainstream."

Polish officers were not part of the Soviet society. Were they?

How can you integrate enemy war prisoners into your society? This is a bit like slavery.

Slavery was also all about "integrating" enemy war captives into one's society.
That is called assimilation or integration. Genocide specifically deals with physical destruction.
The intention was to destroy the Polish officers as a specific group - either by Sovietization or physical destruction.

Were the Polish officers finally Sovietized or physically destroyed?

The answer is - physically destroyed. So this was a genocide.
Insofar as Soviet authorities were concerned they were “contra”.
When you murder a person because you think he was a "bad guy", does it mean you are not a murderer? If this was true then most of murderers wouldn't be guilty for their crimes.
USSR being a sovereign state obviously had the right to recognized (or not) whoever it wanted.
Theoretically speaking, yes.

But ignoring reality in international law can't be used for justification of crimes and has some limits.

You told that the USSR recognized the Polish state as non-existant (probably yet on 17 September 1939) and that's why it did not treat the Polish POWs taken in 1939 as POWs should be treated.

This means that not recognizing facts was an excuse to commit crimes.

Such behaviour is still a crime of the USSR (and of course I know that you don't try to deny this fact - we just argue about the character of this crime, if it was a war crime or rather a genocide).

I can say that Poland being a sovereign state obviously has the right to recognize Katyn as a genocide.
They were killed because Soviet Authorities considered the to be enemy of existing reign.
It is obvious that soldiers of enemy regime who are captured by soldiers of another regime during a war between these regimes, are their enemies. But only as long as they are fighting.

After being captured, they are no longer enemies - they become war prisoners.

And while imprisoned in Soviet POW camps Polish officers did not pose any real threat to the Soviet regime.

Claiming they posed a threat could have been an excuse used to murder them for another, real reason.
No it does not; in order to comply with that definition they would have to be killed for being Polish.
In international law intentions don't matter, only facts matter.

Why intentions don't matter in international law?

Because it is hard to prove what were intentions of a state - states as legal persons (immaterial, fictional) don't have any intentions, and physical persons who represent states can have different intentions each.
So there are no proofs that all of murdered Polish officers were anti-Communist.
That is fine because nobody tried to prove that they were. Ones again -insofar as Soviet Authority were concerned they were Anti soviet.
Certainly Soviet authorities were also concerned they were Polish and important for Poland. There is no doubt.

So how can one be certain that they were killed because the Soviet authorities were concerned they were anti-Soviet, or because the Soviet authorities were concerned they were Polish intelligentsia / military elites / leadership?
do you think that if Poles were ardent communist they would suffer the same fate?
And do you think they would? We don't know, what would have happened.

As I wrote - facts matter, not thoughts.
False logic. Leon Trotsky was an ardent communist but yet he was murdered by Soviet agents. Same with those communists like Yagoda and Zinoviev
All 3 of them were considered enemy of Soviet state – just like Polish officers -and that is why there killed.
So now we can see that being ardent communist was not an obstacle for being enemy of the Soviet state.

Poles could be ardent communists and at the same time enemies of the Soviet state, like Trotsky.

They could be enemies of the Soviet state for example just because of being Polish elites. Pre-war Poland as a whole was, after all, an enemy of the Soviet state (and Ukraine / Belarus) - according to the Soviet regime.
Well quite a few of them switched sides actually; then again quite a few of them did die.
Mortailty rate wasn't 99,99% among them, like among those from Katyn.

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 18 Feb 2011 12:34

You wrote that Soviets wanted to assimilate / integrate Polish officers.
And now let's check these definitions:
"Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture"
I never wrote that . I wrote that what you have described as genocide was in fact assimiliation or integration. I never said that USSR actually attempted that.
A few pages ago you denied that Polish officers were a national (ethnic) group?Yet you write that Soviets considered them as an ethnic minoriy.
where did I write that?
"Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of [these] societies. Members of the minority groups thus gain full access to the opportunities, rights and services available to the members of the mainstream." Polish officers were not part of the Soviet society. Were they? How can you integrate enemy war prisoners into your society? This is a bit like slavery. Slavery was also all about "integrating" enemy war captives into one's society.
Well in theory if you can persuade them to join your cause against the common adversary, then you can provide them with a position of power kind of what happened in mid 1940s with Berling and such.
The intention was to destroy the Polish officers as a specific group - either by Sovietization or physical destruction.

Were the Polish officers finally Sovietized or physically destroyed?

The answer is - physically destroyed. So this was a genocide.
There is no "either or" it can only be physcal destruction. Commissars were specific group with Soviet armed forces that were also destroyed becouse they were comissras. I yet to see anyone claim that was Genocide.
When you murder a person because you think he was a "bad guy", does it mean you are not a murderer? If this was true then most of murderers wouldn't be guilty for their crimes.
you would be a murderer - just like a person who would follow Commissar order. But it was not a genocide.
But ignoring reality in international law can't be used for justification of crimes and has some limits.

You told that the USSR recognized the Polish state as non-existant (probably yet on 17 September 1939) and that's why it did not treat the Polish POWs taken in 1939 as POWs should be treated.

This means that not recognizing facts was an excuse to commit crimes.

Such behaviour is still a crime of the USSR (and of course I know that you don't try to deny this fact - we just argue about the character of this crime, if it was a war crime or rather a genocide).

I can say that Poland being a sovereign state obviously has the right to recognize Katyn as a genocide.
It could of course, but it should be prepared for its opinion to be challenged.
It is obvious that soldiers of enemy regime who are captured by soldiers of another regime during a war between these regimes, are their enemies. But only as long as they are fighting.

After being captured, they are no longer enemies - they become war prisoners.

And while imprisoned in Soviet POW camps Polish officers did not pose any threat to the Soviet regime.
Well clearly Soviet authorities thought differntly, and as I pointed out before, since USSR did not recognized Polish government in exile, they were not POW but enemy combatants, and here the international law is a bit murky.
In international law intentions don't matter, only facts matter.

Why intentions don't matter in international law?

Because it is hard to prove what were intentions of a state - states as legal persons don't have any intentions, and physical persons who represent states can have different intentions each.
Since when intentions does not matter? Intent to destroy is right there in the definition of genocide. That being said we have very unambiguous letter by Beria that spells out why in his opinion they should be killed.
Certainly Soviet authorities were also concerned they were Polish and important for Poland. There is no doubt.
I am sure you can provide some backing up to that.
And do you think they would? We don't know, what would have happened.
Berling survived – did not he.
So now we can see that being ardent communist was not an obstacle for being enemy of the Soviet state.
Poles could be ardent communists and at the same time enemies of the Soviet state, like Trotsky.
They could be enemies of the Soviet state for example just because of being Polish elites. Pre-war Poland as a whole was, after all, an enemy of the Soviet state (and Ukraine / Belarus) - according to the Soviet regime.
They were enemies of Soviet sate because they considered themselves to be loyal to the Government in exile and not USSR.
Mortailty rate wasn't 99,99% among them, like among those from Katyn.
Lord Moran, Winston Curchill, The Struggle for Survival etc.:

Stalin: "50,000 Germans must be killed. Their General Staff must go."
Churchill: [rising and pacing the room] 'I will not be party to any butchery in cold blood. what happens in hot blood is another matter."
Stalin: "50,000 must be shot."
The P.M. got very red in the face.
Churchill: "I would rather be taken out now and shot than so to disgrace my country."
The President, said the Ambassador , then joined in the fun.
Roosevelt: "I have a compromise to propose. Not fifty thousand, but only forty-nine thousand should be shot."
The Prime Minister got up and left the room. Stalin followed him, telling him he was only joking. They came back together, Stalin with a broad grin on his face.
Stalin: "you are pro German. The Devil is a communist, and my friend God is a conservative."
So it was certainly thought about.

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 18 Feb 2011 13:23

I yet to see anyone claim that was Genocide.
Because Comissars were not really part of the army, but of NKVD, which was a political organization.
because they considered themselves to be loyal to the Government in exile and not USSR.
Not really since many of them supported the pre-war government and marschall Rydz-Smigly.

And you are aware of the fact that London government was formed by political enemies of Rydz-Smigly.
Berling survived – did not he.
Yes because he was recruited for cooperation with NKVD. By the way - he was not a Communist before.
Certainly Soviet authorities were also concerned they were Polish and important for Poland. There is no doubt.
I am sure you can provide some backing up to that.
There is no need to provide backing ups to obvious facts.

Like for example to the fact that Poland is a European country.

If I claimed that Soviets were concerned they were Japanese and important for Canada, I would have to.
Since when intentions does not matter?
In international law they don't matter. In criminal law, internal law - they do.

Since when, you ask. Since the turn of 19th and 20th centuries, when certain H. Triepel and D. Anzzilotii formulated a theory which says that the result is the basis of responsibility of states for their crimes, not the guilt.

This is called the "conception of objective responsibility" of states.

Guilt, subjective intentions, etc. don't matter. Results matter.

This is a commonly accepted conception.
Intent to destroy is right there in the definition of genocide.
Yeah but whether there was such an intent or not, is judged basing on completely objective criterions.

There can be excuses like "we built gas chambers and rounded up Jews there, but we didn't indend to kill them". This will be completely irrelevant whether they indented or not - objective facts show that they "intended".

Or another example - "we built gas chambers and rounded up Jews there, but we really didn't indend to kill them for being Jews, we just intended to kill them for being enemies of our state."

And this is completely true, because Nazi Germany indeed killed Jews becuase they considered them "enemies of their state" (and of entire human civilization as well), not just because they were called "Jews".

Yet this doesn't mean - per se - that Holocaust was not a genocide, but a war crime. And nobody claims so.
since USSR did not recognized Polish government in exile, they were not POW but enemy combatants, and here the international law is a bit murky.
From the perspective of international law they were POWs, since majority of states recognized this government.

Remember that international law is created by states as a whole, not just by one state. If each state was creating international law "on their own" and for themselves, the entire concept of international law would be useless and no state would be held liable for their crimes because each state would always justify their crimes.

The international law is also not "a bit murky" regarding the status of combatants of the belligerent. Captured combatants of belligerents (fighting sides) must be treated just like captured combatants of states.

BTW - this is still irrelevant because these POWs, when taken, were soldiers of the II Republic of Poland (not soldiers of "Poland in Exile"), and this government was constantly recognized by the Soviet Union (since at least 1921) until 17 September 1939, when they suddenly claimed that Poland ceased to exist in order to justify their invasion.

But retractation of one's recognition of another state or government is forbidden according to international law. You can deny the existence as long as you want, but when you recognize it once it isn't possible to be retracted.

So once again the Soviet claim that "Poland is no more" on 17 September 1939, was illegal.

BTW - we can say that Nazi crimes on Soviet prisoners of war are also justified, since Nazi Germany didn't recognize the Soviet government during WW2. I don't know if they really didn't, but such an excuse can be invented.

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Art » 18 Feb 2011 18:06

Domen121 wrote: Because Comissars were not really part of the army, but of NKVD, which was a political organization.
In a nutshell it wasn't so. Commissars (which by the way were not present in the Soviet Army when the known "commissar" order was issued) and political officers in general were he same part of the army as any other personnel. Anyway, it doesn't have any relevance to the genocide issue.

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Panzermahn » 18 Feb 2011 18:40

Well clearly Soviet authorities thought differntly, and as I pointed out before, since USSR did not recognized Polish government in exile, they were not POW but enemy combatants, and here the international law is a bit murky.
Mass execution of POWs or enemy combatants with intent to wipe out the intelligentsia class of a certain country is still considered a genocide regardless or not if the USSR recognised the Polish Government in Exile.

So is the international law is a bit murky when the Germans executed Soviet political commissars via Kommissarbefehl because Germany did not recognized the NKVD as a legitimate military organization but rather a criminal organization infamously famous for mass repression and deportation against Russian and non-Russian people

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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by David Thompson » 18 Feb 2011 19:37

Panzermahn -- You remarked:
So is the international law is a bit murky when the Germans executed Soviet political commissars via Kommissarbefehl because Germany did not recognized the NKVD as a legitimate military organization but rather a criminal organization infamously famous for mass repression and deportation against Russian and non-Russian people
This point is off-topic here, but we can give it a thread of its own. International law is not a bit murky when it comes to the execution of captured Soviet military commissars on the authority of the Kommissarbefehl. The Soviet commissars were part of the Soviet military organization, so the executions were treated by the allies as unlawful executions of POWs.

If we accept the Nazi approach to captured military commissars, it's logical to flip the proposition. Then we can say "The USSR did not recognize the SS as a legitimate military organization but rather a criminal organization infamously famous for mass repression and deportation against German and non-German people," as a justification of summary executions of captured members of the SS. Furthermore, as I recall the Nazis introdued a commissar system into the Wehrmacht in mid-war, so using your "theory" captured Wehrmacht officers serving as political cadres in the German armed forces could have been shot without trial as well.

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Re: Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con

Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 18 Feb 2011 19:47

Because Commissars were not really part of the army, but of NKVD, which was a political organization.

a) Brush up on you Soviet OOB
b) Party is political organization. NKVD was a security organization, not that it matter because killing off people without a trail just because they belonged to some organization is still a crime.
Not really since many of them supported the pre-war government and marschall Rydz-Smigly.

And you are aware of the fact that London government was formed by political enemies of Rydz-Smigly.
Yes I am. The key is they were not going to support USSR. Have you even the reports I posted for you?
Yes because he was recruited for cooperation with NKVD. By the way - he was not a Communist before.
So the person who agreed to cooperate survived and those who did not agree did not survive. How more transparent does it has to get exactly?
There is no need to provide backing ups to obvious facts.

Like for example to the fact that Poland is a European country.

If I claimed that Soviets were concerned they were Japanese and important for Canada, I would have to.
Yes there is. Obviously if ethnicity was a prime reason for execution then genocidal intention are much more obvious. You yet to show a shred of documented proof that the fact that they were Polish and not group of people with military training whose loyalties were with whoever but the Soviets was the main cause of execution.
In international law they don't matter. In criminal law, internal law - they do.

Since when, you ask. Since the turn of 19th and 20th centuries, when certain H. Triepel and D. Anzzilotii formulated a theory which says that the result is the basis of responsibility of states for their crimes, not the guilt.

This is called the "conception of objective responsibility" of states.

Guilt, subjective intentions, etc. don't matter. Results matter.

This is a commonly accepted conception.
For God sake man, the Genocide convention that you yourself quoted has word "intention" in its body.
Yeah but whether there was such an intent or not, is judged basing on completely objective criterions.

There can be excuses like "we built gas chambers and rounded up Jews there, but we didn't indend to kill them". This will be completely irrelevant whether they indented or not - objective facts show that they "intended".

Or another example - "we built gas chambers and rounded up Jews there, but we really didn't indend to kill them for being Jews, we just intended to kill them for being enemies of our state."

And this is completely true, because Nazi Germany indeed killed Jews becuase they considered them "enemies of their state" (and of entire human civilization as well), not just because they were called "Jews".

Yet this doesn't mean - per se - that Holocaust was not a genocide, but a war crime. And nobody claims so.
Actually that would be very different situation. If the Jews in your case had an opportunity to prove their loyalties to the Reich, and as a result were left alone, and only Jews that said "nope to I do not care about Reich my loyalties are with..." were executed, it would have become mass murder and not genocide. But they were not given this opportunity and they could not stop being Jews.
From the perspective of international law they were POWs, since majority of states recognized this government.

Remember that international law is created by states as a whole, not just by one state. If each state was creating international law "on their own" and for themselves, the entire concept of international law would be useless and no state would be held liable for their crimes because each state would always justify their crimes.

The international law is also not "a bit murky" regarding the status of combatants of the belligerent. Captured combatants of belligerents (fighting sides) must be treated just like captured combatants of states.
International law is only relevant insofar as its recognition by a specific state. There are bunch of laws that for instance is not recognized by USA because it think it will infringe on its sovereignty -it does not care that all others had recognize it.

The international law is also not "a bit murky" regarding the status of combatants of the belligerent. Captured combatants of belligerents (fighting sides) must be treated just like captured combatants of states.
Have you heard of Guantanamo?
BTW - this is still irrelevant because these POWs, when taken, were soldiers of the II Republic of Poland (not soldiers of "Poland in Exile"), and this government was constantly recognized by the Soviet Union (since at least 1921) until 17 September 1939, when they suddenly claimed that Poland ceased to exist in order to justify their invasion.

But retractation of one's recognition of another state or government is forbidden according to international law. You can deny the existence as long as you want, but when you recognize it once it isn't possible to be retracted.

So once again the Soviet claim that "Poland is no more" on 17 September 1939, was illegal.
They did not retract it. They said it is no longer exists. That being said what international law exactly forbids it? For instance USA systematically calls on Russia to withdraw its recognition of South Osetia and Abhazia.
BTW - we can say that Nazi crimes on Soviet prisoners of war are also justified, since Nazi Germany didn't recognize the Soviet government during WW2. I don't know if they really didn't, but such an excuse can be invented.
I never said Soviet crimes were justifies -bit of a windmill fighting on your part here.

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