In the shade of a spreading cranberry

Author – Fedor Velyakin

The circumstances of the death of Polish officers buried in sadly famous Katyn forest, has never been a secret for the residents of Smolensk. But these people never kept silence at all, they never had any reasons or motives for this. Simply nobody ever asked them and, even more do not published their memories. I spent my childhood on the surburb of Smolensk, in those places that nowadays grown with a huge amount of historical speculation. And I perfectly remember what told about those years the former guerrillas or those who just through the period of the occupation.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, hardly one could have imagined that, it’s better to record their memories and stories about the war. And that this records through many years might put an end to the dirty case of international significance.

But that time nobody thought about it. Though the survived participants of war very well knew: both the Polish officers, and the Soviet prisoners of war worked on construction of Hitler’s bunker near Smolensk, in the Krasny Bor forest. After completion of the works those and others were destroyed.


Version vs version

In February and April 1943 in the Smolensk began a series of strange and not typical for the period events. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that during the battle of Stalingrad, and fierce battles around Kharkov top leadership of the Reich did not find anything more important than excavation of graves at a single site of occupied territory.

War is war, but it was delivered to the imperial scale. Here is the arrival of expressly formed Smolensk of the Polish delegation to the cold forest, and participation of the trusted “writer”, F. Getlya, who then had the honor to make the first radio message saying that the Polish officers were killed by Russian. Here is the management of excavation by well known German professor G.Butts, and involving international forensic experts, brought not only from German-occupied countries, but even from Switzerland…

This delegation investigated (or simply inspected, with an accuracy that cannot be established) the nine corpses and signed the Protocol, which in early May was published in “Folkisher Beobachter”. The German version, the Polish officers were shot in March 1940, after the Both were sentenced “special NKVD troika” to the death penalty. But here’s the strange thing: the Protocol contains details that medical experts were unable to install, even with all the desire and the highest qualification. For example, how the luminaries of medicine know that Polish officers in small groups were moved to the station of Gnezdovo, West of Smolensk, wherethey were transplanted into a bus with painted windows, and then the bus drove the prisoners into a barn in the town of Goats Mountain – a woodland in the suburban outskirts of Smolensk.They saw it personally? The “bus of the year 1940”, and his “painted windows”, and “the barn” it is not the medical unit. But still they signed a protocol …

Simple conclusion follows: about half a kilometer away from the buildings of the rest house of the NKVD (the Goats Mountain), on the side of the road connecting the highway and the rest house, were shot about ten thousand people. Buried, of course, the same place. Poles, however, stubbornly holding the other number of four and a half thousand people.

However, not everyone in this version is “fused”. People were shoot in the current rest house of the NKVD, in the own backyard – it is, at least, idiocy. Not only the rest house but Goats Mountain itself in the prewar period was a famous place for picnics and barbecue. especially on weekends, travelled a good half of Smolensk people. From the burial place of the Poles to the busy highway – two hundred meters, and to “barbecue with barbecue” – seven hundred … On the same chance for success today can organize a “secret” executions and burials in Moscow, in Silverpine Forest.

In the Soviet version, in March 1940, part of the captured Polish officers was condemned by a special meeting of the NKVD and sentenced to five years of exile in the penal labor camps, with deprivation of the right of correspondence. By the beginning of the war they were building roads in camps near Smolensk (3 camps). It is known that in the battle for Smolensk Germans undertook a vigorous blow with midfielder maneuver and the South took the city. However, no prisoned officers from Smolensk were not exported or taken out security. At that time, it was technically impossible: because the roads and railways were cut, and to the East of the camp were the strongest fights. We also know that among the prisoners there was some sort of rebellion, when they were offered to go to the east on foot, by forests. This means that the Poles quite consciously decided to change the Soviet camp for German. Okay, changed …

Having captured the Soviet camp, Germans became the absolute owners. In February-March 1942, from different places they began to bring the corpses of Polish officers in the Katyn forest and bury them in trenches dug in advance. A year later, Goebbels began a large-scale promotional campaign.

Smolensk was released on September 25, 1943. As soon as the front moved away to the west it become possible to study mass graves. At the beginning of November in Katyn arrived Soviet Commission of inquiry, which was later called by the name of Burdenko Commission “. By February 1944, the Commission examined about 925 corpses. At the end of the investigation in Katyn were invited foreign journalists accredited in Moscow.

The Commission’s conclusions about unconditional fault of Germans for execution of Poles were set out in two essentially identical documents — in the open message and in the classified help for guidance. Even assuming that the Poles were shot by Soviet side, why do they need to dig the Woods all winter, and demonstrate everything to allies? Any necessary reference can be compiled without even leaving the Moscow …


Mystery” in close proximity

After the war, Smolensk was full of amaze rumors that during the years of occupation on the outskirts of the city in the village of Krasny BOR, huge underground complex «Berenhalle» was built by fascists. (“Bear’s den”), which is popularly known as simply “Hitler’s bunker.” According to rumors, the complex consisted of an underground Conference Hall for 250 seats, strategic communications, consisting of four floors deep under the ground and interconnected spiral staircase and a system of many kilometers of tunnels leading to the Dnieper River and the airfield. ”

This is how Russian Media writing about the “Bear Den” today. Perhaps, for them it is still “secret” and “rumors”.

But for the residents of Smolensk it wasn’t a mystery at all. Everyone knew about the bunker, from young to old, from the start of the construction. Yet, after the war, any boy could easily find and show not only the massive concrete domes-entries in the bunker, but also determine the outer limits of the underground facilities. Moreover Krasny BOR for many years was a territory for pioneer camps, including camp belonging to the Smolensk aircraft. From the pioneer camp to the nearest dome-entries was half a kilometer through the forest, and we as students walk there every day to collect blueberries. Such is the terrible “secret.”

In its form and proportions the dome looked like a loaf of rye bread, and that is why it received the appropriate name of “loaf”. It has just one tightly welded steel door, which goes directly to railway track (from door to track – no more than a dozen steps).

Now you can easily find the three above-ground bunker. It exits to the surface. Each of them has its nickname: the “round”, “Shelter”, “West”. The entrances to the concrete structures are closed tightly.


Inside of perimeter

The construction of the bunker began in the autumn of 1941 and by mid-August of 1942, it was already complited. But as it known by this time Hitler had no need to use the bunker actively. Although he visited “Berenhalle” twice: in November, 1941 and March, 1943. (The last visit was connected with unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler by a group of German generals. It is curious that this attack, and excavations in the Katyn was at the same time.) There is a reliable evidence that Krasny BOR was visited by Guderian, Keitel, Jodl, Canaris.

Here was the famous Abwehr intelligence school “Saturn”, although no accurate information about whether it was used for any part of the underground facilities “Bernhalle”.

…According to the not complete German archives, in the construction of the “Bear Den” were engaged for about two and a half thousand employees of the German military and construction company, “Todt” and … “Russian civilian workers.” In translation from the military language it means that the bunker was built by prisoners of war. With all the ensuing consequences for them.

Those who survived the occupation without any archival data knew that the object was built not only by Soviet prisoners of war, but also Poles, those officers who have preferred for a “good” German prison. The complete absence of information on the fate of all these people – this is very clear answer to the question, where they then disappear. Nowadays leaked information that not only Soviet and Polish, but even some German construction team after the works were destroyed.

Special attention should be paid to the strict regime of secrecy that was maintained on the construction of the “Bear Den”. Modern Russian “informed” MEDIA in one voice say that the bunker was guarded by officers of the SS-Division “Totenkopf” (“dead head”). This is the usual journalistic nonsense. 3rd SS Panzer Division “Totenkopf” even taking into account the composition of two regiments “Thule” and “Theodor Eicke”) is perfectly designed to run on any kind of security features have been …

Local residents, including former guerrillas, told how it really was. Underground object had four security perimeters. The first, external perimeter was provided with auxiliary police (Polizei-traitors). The second perimeter is periodically successive infantry of the Wehrmacht. The third SS branch, the perimeter is obviously from Germany, not from the front. Fourth, the most important perimeter – Finns. Laconic and phlegmatic guys from the country of woods and lakes. And if neither the Germans nor the policemen, local residents generally were not afraid, tried to not come across with Finns under no circumstances. Phlegmatic boys differed by absolute fanaticism and extreme cruelty.

Hard regime of protection throughout the area of construction and the adjacent territories was also extended on so-called Katyn forest.

It is worth to clarify the geographical location of the Krasny Bor and the “Bear Den”. The forest is located just a few kilometers west of penal colony, on the left bank of the reiver Dnieper (parallel to Dnieper pass highway and railroad).. Goat Mountain, in the village of Katyn and the Katyn forest is located west of the red forest. Space shooting clearly shows, that the distance between the borders of the forest Krasny Bor, and the Katyn forest, in their modern configuration is about four kilometers. It means, that during Great Domestic war the distance «from a marge up to a marge» could be significantly less. So shoot inside the protected zone in nearby forest any number of prisoners — even Polish or Soviet, is not a problem at all.

“Historians” from the Central Committee (CC)

Today, the Polish memorial “Katyn” – is an example of the military burial. Groomed trails and monumental symbolic gravestones … Killed on Smolensk guerrillas might envy such pomposity, equipped at the State level.

…In the late 1980 ‘s and early 1990 ‘s took place a series of ritual procedures of repentance, which put Gorbachev. With a help of  Valentin Falin, head of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee. In fact, he has a key role has in this story: exactly this doctor of historical sciences reported to Gorbachev that “the Poles were murdered by the NKVD.” And General Prosecutor Trubin confirmed it  with the same willingness.

Thus spreading historical cranberry flourished under the name “Katyn case”.

And what about the investigation in our time? And if according to the rules? Any serious investigation requires strict compliance with the necessary investigative procedures under the law. Of course some have been excavated, only “some.” But no investigative procedures ever conducted. And it is during the situation when “the Gorbachev team” and the Polish side were the most interested in the “promotion” of the case.

There is no logic then. With so much political interest could involve any number of competent specialists to conduct investigations, to fix once and for all their own “correct” version of events. But it seems that “historians” of the CPSU Central Committee knew that there was nothing to fix in the Katyn forest. Therefore, the responsible “investigation” was tasked to group with group of amateurs. The fact itself says a lot.

P.S. Residents of Smolensk don’t like Katyn Memorial. They don’t believe it because they know the truth. And they know the other nearby places where you can really bring fresh flowers, and not only on victory day.

* “Special NKVD troika” – is nonsense, by definition. There were “special troikas”, which as a rule included one representative of the NKVD. Such ignorant statement says, at least, that the investigation has not relied to any documentary base. As the saying goes, “there are no words, just emotions …”.

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