The Polish war cemetery at Mednoye (source of photo:
By Megan K. Stack May 20, 2009
Reporting from Mednoye, Russia -- There were 6,295 Polish prisoners (Polish military officers, police, gendarmes and landlords were kept after the Soviet Union invaded Poland in September 1939.) They were held captive at the monastery when the order came to "unload" the camp. It took a month and a half to kill all of them.The prisoners were mostly military officers, police, gendarmes and landlords, rounded up as a dangerous "bourgeois" elite when the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland in the run-up to World War II. The following year, 1940, the Communist Party decided to eliminate them.
Prison directors began to send the men by train, a group at a time, to the provincial town of Tver, then called Kalinin, about 100 miles northwest of Moscow. There, in the basement of intelligence headquarters, the prisoners were executed: a single bullet to the head from a German pistol, historians here say.The executioners worked through the spring nights, loading bodies into trucks and carting them nearly 20 miles to this pine glade that once encircled a rest house for the NKVD, the feared precursor to the Soviet KGB. They threw them into deep trenches. Even the truck drivers were ordered to take part in the slaughter, to ensure their silence."The situation is normal," the prison camp commissar wrote to his superiors in Moscow. "The Polish officers are not guessing anything. They think they're being deported back home. Even those who are sick try to pretend they're healthy so they can go too."
It was a bloody spring. The same fate was unfolding for Poles held in other camps throughout the western flank of the Soviet Union.
Some Russian courts have ruled that since no criminal case was filed against the Poles, there was no proof of repression; and since many of the bodies were never identified, the victimization of specific people was impossible to prove. Others simply ruled that the executioners were all dead, and therefore there was nobody to blame."It boils down to the idea that, although mass graves were found, since nobody was identified, nobody was executed," Stavitskaya said. "I can't find the logic. I can't grasp it with my mind."
She is disappointed by the verdicts, she says, but not surprised. She had always viewed the Russian courts as a formality to be dispensed with before taking the case abroad."Everybody considers this a political case, and I knew on a political case the result couldn't be different," Stavitskaya said. "It couldn't be resolved in Russia."Some observers point out that, in seeking a reckoning and an admission of guilt, the Poles are asking for something that even Russians haven't demanded of their own government.