Katyn’s contested legacy, Herbert McCabe


I wanted to thank John Connelly for his thoughtful analysis of an important issue in “The Ultimate Crime: Katyn and the Invention of Genocide” (August 13). Still, I question some of his conclusions. Vladimir Putin’s regime did not confront Katyn, but rather was forced to deal with it in a minimal way. Also, Putin’s closing the door on Stalin does not mean that he is opening one to the West. In fact, he is still working on his own terms, promoting the image of an authoritarian, imperial Russia.

Connelly mentions that Poland lost 6 million citizens during World War II at the hands of the Germans, but it also lost at least 1.5 million at the hands of the Russians. That’s why Katyn has come to symbolize murderous Soviet policies in Eastern Poland during the 1939–41 Soviet occupation.

Connelly is wrong to characterize the late Polish President Lech Kaczyn´ski as “famous for anti-Russian diatribes.” Kaczyn´ski simply tried to establish the independence of Poland from Russia. He thought Katyn had laid the foundation for Communist rule. He honored democratic heroes who were murdered by Communists and who were purposefully obliterated from the historical record during the postwar period. He removed Soviet-trained generals from the Polish Army and appointed ones...

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