Katyn: Lazar Kaganovich’s testimony

The well  known Russian military historian, doctor in history of science, A. N. Kolesnik has to the editorial staff of “The truth about Katyn” forwarded extracts of stenograph from his personal conversations with the former member of the Politburo of the Communist Party, L. M. Kaganovich.

Altogether A.N. Kolesnik conducted six conversations with L. M. Kaganovich between 1985 and 1991 around different historical subjects. Out of censorship reasons it is not possible to release the stenographs from these conversations without considerable cuts and edits, not even in small parts, since the direct speech from Kaganovich is full of ugly words and swearing which characterizes his attitude to the leadership of Hitlerite Germany, to the leading circles of bourgeois Poland and to the leaders of the “Gorbachovite” perestroika, and in particular in person to A. N. Yakovlev.

The dates for A. N. Kolesniks conversations with L. M. Kaganovich and their duration are documented by the employees of the KGB who guarded the stairwell where L. M. Kaganovich were living. If necessary the dates and the duration of the conversations can be established more thoroughly with the help of archival information, since the guards were obligated to register all the visitors in a special logbook. Apart from that all the visitors were photographed with a special camera which automatically fixed the date and the time for the film shooting.

The conversation about the Katyn issue, during which L. M. Kaganovich for the first time announced the information of the exact amount of citizens from former Poland that had really been executed on Soviet territory between November 1939 and July 1941, took place on November 6, 1985 in Moscow in L. M. Kaganovich’s apartment which was located at Frunzenskaya naberezhnaya, house 50 and lasted for 2 hours and 40 minutes, from 6.40 pm to 9.20 pm. Present at this conversation was also Lazar Moiseyevich’s daughter Maya Lazarevna, who stenographed everything that was said.

Later it turned out that the conversation also had been recorded with the help of special technical equipment by the employees of the KGB who in silence conducted reconnaissance of L. M. Kaganovich. That became obvious, when A. N. Kolesnik was called by the operative KGB employee Captain Ryazanov, who in a categorical form demanded that the content of the completed conversation could not be made public.

During the conversation on November 6, 1985, L. M. Kaganovich said that during the spring of 1940 the Soviet leadership was forced to make a very difficult decision to execute 3 196 criminals among those who were citizens of former Poland, but L. M. Kaganovich said that it was absolutely necessary in the then prevailing political situation. According to Kaganovich’s testimony, they had essentially sentenced to execution Polish criminals who had been involved in the mass extermination of captured Russian Red Guards 1920-1921, and employees of Polish punishment bodies who had compromised themselves with crimes committed against the USSR and the Polish working class during the 1920s and 1930s. Apart from them they had also executed criminals among the Polish POWs  who had committed serious general crimes on Soviet territory after their internment in September-October 1939 – gang rapes, criminal assaults, murders and so on (L. M. Kaganovich said literally: “ …the fuckers, the bandits and the murderers …”).

Apart from Kaganovich, the former chairman of the Peoples Council of Commissars V. M. Molotov in a telephone conversation in 1986 estimated that the amount of executed citizens of former Poland 1939-1941 amounted to “about 3 000 people”.

The exact figure “3 196” Polish citizens who had been executed in the USSR in 1939-1941 was also decidedly confirmed by the former Soviet People’s Commissar for the Construction Industry, S. Z. Ginzburg, in a private conversation with A. N. Kolesnik.

S. Z. Ginzburg told A. N. Kolesnik little-known details of the Soviet excavation works in the Katyn forest. According to him the excavations of the graves with the Polish citizens were conducted in 1944 not only in Kozi Gory but also in at least two other places west of Smolensk. The excavations and the exhumations were conducted with the help of special construction- and assembly units, so-called OSMCh (in Russian osobye stroitelno-montazhnye chasti), which were under S. Z. Ginzburg’s operational management. Because of the period of time that had elapsed S. Z. Ginzburg could not remember the exact number of this OSMCh unit, but said that the unit in question had been formed shortly after the beginning of the war on the basis of one of the civilian building boards and that their staff in 1944 amounted to about 200 people. After the exhumation works they distributed to all the conscripts of the unit – at S. Z. Ginzburg’s request – one kilogram of chocolate as some kind of bonus.

A. N. Yakovlev, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee, started to earnestly interest himself in the contents of the conversations between A. N. Kolesnik and L. M. Kaganovich, and also showed great concern regarding a possible publication of Kaganovich’s testimony about the Katyn issue. At the end of 1989, right before his appearance in front of the 2nd Congress of People’s Deputies, A. N. Yakovlev turned, through A. N. Kolesnik, over a list of tendentiously selected questions about the Katyn issue with the suggestion of recording his answers at a tape recorder. The idea was  to prepare Kaganovich’s answers in a proper way and confirm the version of the Soviet guilt in the Katyn massacre by his authoritative testimony. (Kaganovich said literally: “Tell this son of a bitch that I have had them spinning around my dick! I am from the family of a common meat pundit, but have been a member of the Central Committee and a minister, while they want us to fall back to 1914. The thing they have invented about Katyn – that will bounce back at them with bloody tears. They want us again to end up in a conflict with Europe. Because during the last war we indeed not only fought Hitler but with most other European countries!”

The perspective of a publication of the exact amount of Polish citizens that were executed in 1939-41 (3 196 people) and the true reasons for the executions, induced an extreme nervousness of Yakovlev and his surroundings. In exchange that A. N. Kolesnik should keep quiet about the information around the Katyn issue that he had received from L. M. Kaganovich, A. N. Yakovlev suggested that he could choose between six different senior posts.

When A. N. Kolesnik declined that offer, they arranged on directives from A. N. Yakovlev and D. A. Volkogonov a meeting between him and a representative for “competent bodies” who conducted a “preventive talk” with him in V. M. Falin’s (the head of the news agency APN) office. During the conversation threats were made to “bring him in on a long time”, if A. N. Kolesnik would go public on the facts about the Katyn issue that L. M. Kaganovich had told him.

When it became apparent that this measure had no effect, they brought prosecution on A. N. Kolesnik which ended with him being dismissed from the Military History Institute in 1993.

Source: http://www.katyn.ru/index.php?go=Pages&in=view&id=936

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