Congress , VOA. But when Nazi Germany announced the discovery of the Katyn graves on April 13, , the Soviets immediately blamed the massacre on the Germans.
The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field
Sherwood who was one of the founding fathers of the Voice of America, but most wartime VOA broadcasters were themselves more eager to support the Soviet propaganda line. At lowers levels, the Office of War Information had a significant number of pro-Soviet journalists, some of whom could be described as agents of influence.
A few of them went back to Eastern Europe after the war to work for Soviet-dominated communist regimes. Both Sherwood and Davis would claim after the war that they were absolutely convinced at the time that Katyn was a German atrocity. In a major collusion with the Soviets, the U.
Hollywood actor, John Houseman, often referred to as the first director of the Voice of America, was likewise a strong promoter of Soviet propaganda. The conspiracy to keep the truth not only from foreign audiences but also from Americans went even further.
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Senator from California Alan Cranston, engaged in illegal attempts to intimidate and censor ethnic radio stations and press in the United States to prevent them from broadcasting and publishing the truth about the Soviet Union and the Katyn massacre. Not everyone in the U. Also some of the senior-level State Department officials urged the Voice of America leaders to be cautious in attributing the responsibility for the Katyn murders to Nazi Germany.
A few Office of War Information journalists who expressed doubts about Russia, including German-Jewish refugee Julius Epstein , were silenced by their bosses. It is true that in order to establish credibility, VOA did not try to ignore or cover up bad news about initial U. In some cases, they went much beyond than what even the Roosevelt White House wanted them to do.
President Roosevelt did not want the Katyn massacre to be blamed on Stalin or Russia. For the rest of the war, under the guidance of Robert Sherwood and Elmer Davis, VOA closely coordinated its propaganda with Soviet propaganda on Katyn and other major news events. But even after the war, State Department officials in charge of the Voice of America prevented newly-hired anti-communist journalists from reporting on the Katyn massacre.
One of the excuses given by VOA officials and the then director of the VOA Polish desk was that disclosing the full truth about Katyn to the radio audience in Poland could spark a bloody and ultimately futile rebellion in the communist-ruled country. If it was a real fear, it was totally unfounded because by the end of the s the anti-communist opposition in Poland was completely crushed by mass arrests, executions and other forms of regime terror. It took vigorous criticism and pressure from members of Congress to finally force the State Department and the Voice of America leadership to start reporting more fully on the Katyn massacre in the early s.
To their credit, they did not hesitate to report truthfully and fully about the Katyn massacre and other Soviet crimes. Even before limited programming reforms were implemented at the Voice of America in the early s as a result of pressure from Congress and U. These restrictions were relaxed and largely ignored in recent years. It is therefore no surprise that criticism similar to what concerned Americans were saying in the s and the early s is now again being directed against the Voice of America management and its current parent agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors BBG , by members of Congress, as well as opponents of autocratic regimes in Iran and China, and by leaders of Iranian and Chinese communities in the United States.
Cold War Radio Museum September 17, The Germans blamed the murders on the Soviets.
Drugi Potop: The Fall of the Second Polish Republic
The Soviet government blamed it on the Germans — in this case a blatantly false Soviet accusation designed to cover up the mass murders which had been committed by the secret Soviet police NKVD on the orders of Stalin and the Politburo in April and May OWI officials, including its director Elmer Davis, repeated Soviet propaganda on Katyn not only overseas but also in domestic broadcasts in the United States.
OWI officials, including future U. A decade ago Professor Erickson and the Russian investigators had concluded that his death could have been suicide prompted by a violent confrontation between himself and a group of British prisoners of war. The new evidence, however, now firmly blames the Katyn massacre.
Now, finally, we know the truth. Driven to despair by the horrific conditions in the camp - he was emaciated and on the point of starvation - and the strain of the propaganda campaign the Germans had involved him in, the news that his father had sanctioned the Poles' murder was the final straw. Although the German newspapers reports blamed the Russians for the Katyn atrocity, until the Soviet propaganda lie that it was a Nazi act was widely believed.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow finally admitted its guilt. Though the official SS report at the time indicated that Dzhugashvili died after he was shot by a guard as he ran towards the wire, it is now known this was a fictional account compiled to impress Heinrich Himmler. The new evidence also reveals that, far from abandoning his son and holding him up to ridicule, as had been thought, Josef Stalin ordered Soviet Military Intelligence to make two rescue attempts in He could not live, I believe, with the accounts he was given of the massacre ordered by his father.
When a camp guard showed Yakov the newspaper reports of the discovery, taunting him with the words, 'Look what you bastards did to these men. What kind of people are you?
He was at the end of his tether. A month later, on April 15 , unable to live with the shame, he took his life. The way in which the Red Army soldiers who fell into German hands were brutally disowned as traitors and cowards has long been the subject of debate. More than 30 years ago, when Erickson was trawling through the records of the 4th Panzer Division, he uncovered and saved the original transcripts of Dzhugashvili's interrogation - now among , original documents held by his department.
Dzhugashvili, an artillery regiment lieutenant attached to the 14th Soviet tank division, was captured on July 16, An account by a fellow inmate records: "Yakov was aware of the hopelessness of his situation. He was often depressed and refused to eat.
[PDF] Drugi Potop: The Fall of the Second Polish Republic - Semantic Scholar
He was hardest hit by Stalin's statement to the effect that, 'There are no prisoners of war, there are traitors'. On April 14, the day before his death, Dzhugashvili had a violent confrontation with one of the British officers held in the camp - hitherto thought to have been the final straw that pushed him into a desperate escape attempt.
His death was sickening and sad. And although, in , he was posthumously awarded the Order of the Patriotic War first class, which essentially gave him official recognition, his death remains a tragedy.