Monday, September 10, 2012

Covering up for Uncle Joe

The U.S. cover-up delayed a full understanding in the United States of the true nature of Stalinism — an understanding that came only later, after the Soviets exploded an atomic bomb in 1949 and after Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe were already behind the Iron Curtain. "The Poles had known long before the war ended what Stalin's true intentions were. The West's refusal to hear them out on the Katyn issue was a crushing blow that made their fate worse."

25 comments:

Mr roT said...

Yeah, sure. We coulda kicked the shit out of Hitler on our own.

Or convinced the American people of the good of sleeping with evil Stalin to remove even more evil Hitler without lying and saying that Uncle Joe was really one of us.

This cover-up was a noble lie at the time, because explaining the niceties and apparent immorality of foreign policy decisions is a great way to lose popular consensus, particularly after the moral imperative of the war has been played.

Tecumseh said...

Getting in bed with evil is bad in and of itself, even if there were perhaps some extenuating circumstances at the time -- like the imperative to win the war against the Axis powers. Though that's not a clear cut case: what would have Stalin done if we denounced his horrible war crimes at Katyn -- stopped fighting Hitler, and given up? Realpolitik has limits, and such a monstrous crime as the Katyn massacre I'd argue was way beyond those limits. Lying about it was in no way "noble", I say.

At any rate, even I were to concede this point, and agree with you that we were so desperate in 1943 to cozy up to Uncle Joe that we couldn't say a peep, even after FDR had eyewitness confirmation about the massacre (I don't agree, but let's move on), how about in 1945, after the end of the war, when there were no more excuses (we'd won the war, for Pete's sake!), and we were the sole nuclear power, to boot? What was the reason to cozy up to the Soviets then, eh? Just to not "lose popular consensus" that Stalin was "really one of us"? Pfffttt...

And, if we did not do this in 1945, when it could have made a difference to the Poles (at a time when the long night of Communism descended upon their land), how about in 1948, 1949, or 1952 --whatever -- at the height of the Cold War, when the Soviets were already our main adversary, Americans were spilling blood in NK by the tens of thousand? Why not advertise more fully their responsibility for the Katyn massacre at the time? Why wait till 2012 to bring these documents to light?

Oh well, Mr Rot is gonna tell us that Stalin was not really a Stalinist, and those 22,000 executed Polish POWs were none of our business, to start with. Whatever.

Tecumseh said...

From wiki:

The growing Polish-Soviet crisis was beginning to threaten Western-Soviet relations at a time when the Poles' importance to the Allies, significant in the first years of the war, was beginning to fade, due to the entry into the conflict of the military and industrial giants, the Soviet Union and the United States. In retrospective review of records, both British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt were increasingly torn between their commitments to their Polish ally and the demands by Stalin and his diplomats.
In private, Churchill agreed that the atrocity was likely carried out by the Soviets. According to Edward Raczyński, Churchill admitted on 15 April 1943 during a conversation with General Sikorski: "Alas, the German revelations are probably true. The Bolsheviks can be very cruel." However, at the same time, on 24 April 1943 Churchill assured the Soviets: "We shall certainly oppose vigorously any 'investigation' by the International Red Cross or any other body in any territory under German authority. Such investigation would be a fraud and its conclusions reached by terrorism." Unofficial or classified UK documents concluded that Soviet guilt was a "near certainty", but the alliance with the Soviets was deemed to be more important than moral issues; thus the official version supported the Soviets, up to censoring any contradictory accounts. Churchill asked Owen O'Malley to investigate the issue, but in a note to the Foreign Secretary he noted: "All this is merely to ascertain the facts, because we should none of us ever speak a word about it.".
[..]
In the United States a similar line was taken, notwithstanding two official intelligence reports into the Katyn massacre which contradicted the official position. In 1944, Roosevelt assigned his special emissary to the Balkans, Navy Lieutenant Commander George Earle, to produce a report on Katyn. Earle concluded that the massacre was committed by the Soviet Union. Having consulted with Elmer Davis, the director of the Office of War Information, Roosevelt rejected the conclusion (officially), declared that he was convinced of Nazi Germany's responsibility, and ordered that Earle's report be suppressed. When Earle formally requested permission to publish his findings, the President issued a written order to desist. Earle was reassigned and spent the rest of the war in American Samoa.

A further report in 1945, supporting the same conclusion, was produced and stifled. In 1943, two U.S. POWs – Lt. Col. Donald B. Stewart and Col. John H. Van Vliet – had been taken by Germans to Katyn for an international news conference. Later, in 1945, Van Vliet submitted a report concluding that the Soviets were responsible for the massacre. His superior, Maj. Gen. Clayton Bissell, Gen. George Marshall's assistant chief of staff for intelligence, destroyed the report. During the 1951–1952 Congressional investigation into Katyn, Bissell defended his action before Congress, arguing that it was not in the U.S. interest to antagonize an ally (Soviet Union) whose assistance was still needed against Japan.

Mr roT said...

FDR and Churchill were pussies, says Tecs.

Mr roT said...

Why not advertise more fully their responsibility for the Katyn massacre at the time? No one would've given a damn right after WWII about 22,000 dying. Ten times that many people we vaporized with atom bombs. They weren't even POWs.

Tecumseh said...

Are you trying to excuse the Katyn massacre of POWs on account of a military operation at time of war? The moral equivalence you're drawing smacks of Pepe-thought.

Tecumseh said...

And, to answer your previous question: Yes, Churchill and FDR were pussies when it came to selling down the River Charly Eastern Europe at Yalta, in early 1945. There was absolutely no reason, either moral, or diplomatic, or military, or geopolitical to do that. Not only did eastern Europe pay the price for that abomination for some 45 years, but so did US throughout the Cold war, which started right after Yalta, on the wrong foot.

And yes, the final responsibility for the debacle at the Yalta Accords lies with Churchill and FDR: the buck stops at their desk, even though FDR was basically dying at the time, and a traitor like Alger Hiss was part of the US delegation there. But hey, Article 3, Section 3 never applies, says Rot -- not even to Hiss.

Mr roT said...

I wouldn't excuse any murder, duh. But keeping secrets in time of war is necessary, and so obviously excusable, Tecs Assange.
That was the question, keeping secrets, not mass murder which you're inexplicably talking about.

Mr roT said...

There was absolutely no reason, either moral, or diplomatic, or military, or geopolitical to do that. [...] there were perhaps some extenuating circumstances at the time -- like the imperative to win the war against the Axis powers.

CRASH!

Mr roT said...

"perhaps" is the best word you've typed tonight.

Yes, perhaps the Nazis were bad.

Arelcao Akleos said...


"This cover-up was a noble lie at the time"

There was nothing noble about it. Just a cynical lie.

Was Hitler worse than Stalin? No, not in numbers killed. Not in rate of killing. Is it worse to kill the "race enemy" rather than the "class enemy"? How so? The Evil on both the National Socialist and International Socialist camps was absolutely at an horrific pitch.
So we made a bargain with Gog to kill of Magog, and kinda hoped Gog would gentle up. Fat chance. Stalin could only gentle up after he'd croaked, and by then he'd set out Mao in China and another huge round of murder to come.
Could we have made a temporary alliance of convenience [as we did] without lying through our teeth about the nature of whom we were sleeping? Sure.
Did we bend over backwards to give sweet somethings to our ally of convenience, with basically shit in return? Sure.
Did we have many International Socialist agents in our government who were actively aiding and abetting the cause of our erstwhile "ally of convenience". Sure.
Did we luck out in getting someone of a more skeptical disposition about the whole sordid mess, like Truman, after the death of Roosevelt? Sure.
Is our luck at an end? Sure.

Tecumseh said...

Me: There was absolutely no reason, either moral, or diplomatic, or military, or geopolitical to do that. [...] there were perhaps some extenuating circumstances at the time -- like the imperative to win the war against the Axis powers.

Mr Rot: "perhaps" is the best word you've typed tonight. Yes, perhaps the Nazis were bad.

Even Pepe on a bad hair day would blush at coming up with such fallacious logical implications.

One more time: We're talking about May-June 1943 -- some four months after von Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad. By then, the fate of Nazi Germany was pretty much sealed, and we were well on our way to acquire the atomic bomb (and, of course, the Soviet spies were busily stealing our secrets, mais passons, that's again a story that was kept under lid at the time, though the FBI already had much evidence about commie spying).

Now, again, we're in May 1943, our own POWs in Germany get dragged to Katyn, to witness the remains of those thousands of Poles executed on Stalin's personal order. They report back to FDR, who puts a lid on it, and sends to Samoa some staright-laced officer who dared write a report about that.

So, OK, Mr Rot, perhaps you want to try again, without resorting to standard Pepean ad-Hitlerum dodges: why do Roosevelt (and Churchill) chose to squash any inquiry into this matter, when, in fact, the war against Hitler was being won, and, in fact, it was crystal clear that Stalin will turn against the West once the war would be won?

And, if that was not done in, say, May 1943 -- how about in February 1945, at Yalta. If there were any doubts in 1943, by early 1945 (after Normandy, after the Battle of the Bulge), what the hell is your bullshit excuse for FDR & Churchill cozying up to Stalin at Yalta, and handing him over a platter Eastern Europe, without ever holding him to account for the horrible deeds he'd done there, for instance, at Katyn?

By then, Hitler was a broken man, hiding in his bunker, and we had total strategic and tactical superiority, in air, on the ground, and on the high seas. We could have marched to Berlin even if Stalin had stopped in Poland (but why would he stop, he was on a roll, and hell bent on grabbing as much land as he could).

C'mon, man, get serious. Again, even Pepe would blush (I think) at such nonsense.

Mr roT said...

We could have marched to Berlin even if Stalin had stopped in Poland (but why would he stop, he was on a roll, and hell bent on grabbing as much land as he could). Apparently, he wasn't or he would've done just that. Pepe would certainly blush at writing two contradictory sentences consecutively.

Mr roT said...

Was Hitler worse than Stalin? No, not in numbers killed.
What pure irrelevance. The question at that time was "Is Hitler or Stalin, to us, in the near future, the greater threat?" The 'number killed' distraction is about as useful to the discussion here as the question, 'Who killed more, Hitler or Coanda?'
The answer to the relevant question is that obviously Hitler was the greater threat. In fact, if you can pretend for a bit to understand the geographical relations of Germany, Russia, and the Atlantic Ocean, you'll be under the impression that you understand that Russia is beyond Germany from us, and so is the lesser threat. Also, Germany and Russia weren't allies then, before Molotov-Ribbentrop.

Hmmm, why would the Germans bother to try to shack up with the Russians? It wasn't cultural affinity, though they were both dictatorships.

Perhaps the Russians had motives for making this alliance and that was the presence of the USA.

No one cares now nor cared then about Poland, other than as a pawn in a much bigger game.

Tecumseh said...

Me: We could have marched to Berlin even if Stalin had stopped in Poland (but why would he stop, he was on a roll, and hell bent on grabbing as much land as he could).

You: Apparently, he wasn't or he would've done just that. Pepe would certainly blush at writing two contradictory sentences consecutively.

The above sentence makes no sense to me. What was Stalin not doing? Not marching to Berlin? No, he was doing just that. (Well, not him personally, but the Red Army.) And yes, we could have marched to Berlin in 1945 with or without the Soviets. I see no contradictions in what I wrote, just non-sequiturs in what you keep writing.

My point was, and still is: Why the hell did we have to kiss Stalin's butt in the late stages of WWII? You never try to address this question, just dance around the issue with irrelevancies.

Once again: the war in Europe was basically won after Stalingrad, and certainly after Normandy, and 99.9% after the Battle of the Bulge. Is that such a hard concept to grasp? So, if by some miracle this concept gets through, then why on earth give up the store at Yalta, in February 1945.

Of course, you can bring in Coanda to try to answer that, or the little green men from Mars, but that won't answer the question, not by a mile. And the answer is simple: there is absolutely no logical or moral justification for the sellout at Yalta. Only sophistries.

Tecumseh said...

In that avalanche of sophistries, I missed this little Rotter gem:

I wouldn't excuse any murder, duh. But keeping secrets in time of war is necessary, and so obviously excusable, Tecs Assange.
That was the question, keeping secrets, not mass murder which you're inexplicably talking about.

That was the question? Boy, you still show a complete lack of understanding of what happened. Let me try to use Cartesian Logic to explain things to you -- I know, a hopeless task once you get in the Pepean Logick frame of mind, but still, on the off-chance you may snap out of it.

(1) By May 1943 (the time we're talking about in this post, in case you lost track), the fact that there had been a big massacre of Polish POWs and intelligentsia at Katyn was not a secret. The bodies had been exhumed by the Nazis in early 1943, and shown to the world. The Soviets, in typical fashion, denied everything, and blamed it all on the Germans. (They kept doing it till 1990, of course.) So, once again, no secret here, at least after March-April 1943. (And even before: word had started to leak among the Poles in 1942, who started to find some mass graves around that time.)

(2) You may not know, or may have forgotten, but there was a Polish Government in exile in London at that time. (The Poles kept on fighting even after the invasion of Poland by the Nazis and by the Soviets in 1939: they played a crucial role in breaking the Enigma code, and an important role in the Battle of Britain in 1940). At any rate, as wiki says:

In April 1943 the Polish government-in-exile insisted on bringing the matter to the negotiation table with the Soviets and on opening an investigation by the International Red Cross. Stalin, in response, accused the Polish government of collaborating with Nazi Germany, broke off diplomatic relations with it, and started a campaign to get the Western Allies to recognize the alternative Polish pro-Soviet government in Moscow led by Wanda Wasilewska. Sikorski died in an air crash in July—an event that was convenient for the Allied leaders

So we screwed the Poles, big time, although they were Allies (for God's sake, WWII started because the Nazis invaded Poland!), in order to cover up for your buddy, Uncle Joe.

(3) To sum up, this was not a matter of keeping a secret for the greater good: it was a matter of covering up unspeakable crimes by an ally in time of war, and deflecting the blame, while screwing another ally, who was the victim of both the Nazis and the Soviets after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact (which, incidentally, you may remember Pepe was vigorously praising in some older post: you guys form a great tag team when you put your mind to it).

(4) And all for what? So OK, maybe, maybe in May 1943 it was not the best time to raise hell about this: as I said, I'm not conceding the point, but I'm trying to give the benefit of the doubt to FDR and Churchill on this, given all the shit going on at the time: remember, the Nazis were busily exterminating millions of Jews around that time (eg, at Auschwitz), and that was also kept pretty much a "secret", and downplayed by the Allies -- not exactly for the same reasons (ie, to play nice with Uncle Joe, as per Rotter's dictum), but rather, not to distract from the main war effort. Maybe necessary? I doubt it. Excusable? I doubt it even more. Admirable? Not at all.

Tecumseh said...


(5) To continue: even if there was a sliver of reason to cover up for the Soviets in 1943, by the time of Yalta (in 1945), all those excuses had evaporated. But of course, Mr Rot would not concede even that, and refuses to entertain the possibility that FDR and Churchill could have brought it up with Stalin at Yalta, when discussing the future of Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. Why not? And then, how about after the war, what was the reason to continue to cover up Stalin's crimes, even when he became our sworn enemy in the Cold war? Eh? Either silence from Mr Rot, or usual non-sequiturs.

(6) Finally, the moral equivalence with Assange that Mr Rot draws: this is so grotesque and tin-eared, that I'm left speechless.

A. Leverkuhn said...

I'm not sure if this speaks to the main point of your post, but let me add my two cents: There was more than just a sliver of a reason to cover up for the Soviets in 1943. Wouldn't the entire public motive for fighting, at least in the US, evaporate given the apparent moral indistinguishability between the Nazis and the Soviets ? As for the unstated motives --- in 1943 (and indeed up until early 1945) the US and Britain were probably still entertaining the idea of eventually making a separate peace with Germany and so it was useful not to poison the well of public opinion with news of Nazi atrocities ahead of any decision. Later, in 1945, the US and Britain surely realised that a further war against the Soviets would be implausible and that the only hope of keeping countries like Japan and Norway (strategically vital in view of their geography) within the 'western' sphere of influence was to compromise with the Soviets at the expense of eastern Europe; in particular, and ironically, at the expense of Poland.

Yes, Tecs ... the Assange equivalence is misplaced. But you know, from me that would count as high praise ;)

cheers,
A. Leverkühn

Tecumseh said...

Hi, Leverkühn,

Yes, this is probably the only way to put all this mess in any kind of plausible framework -- as an avatar of Realpolitik. It doesn't make it any more palatable -- not to the ones that were left handling the shitty end of the stick -- but at least it has the veneer of rationality, and one can debate the historical record starting from there.

Mr roT said...

It is utterly rational to keep barbaric allies on board.
Remember Nixon in China?
Do you think he was uninformed about the gigantic prison camp that was?
I think he and Kissinger knew it all the time but rightly didn't give a shit about the Katyn writ a thousand times larger, because the USSR was then a serious threat to us.

Bottom line is that it's us that count, not some nice Polish guys or pathetic Chinese modern serfs.

Tecumseh said...

I'm afraid you're losing your moral bearings, Mr Rot. It's sad.

Mr roT said...

I'm talking about rational policy and nothing about morality.
What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Remember Nixon in Mao's China?

Arelcao Akleos said...

Nixon in Mao's China wasn't accompanied by our lying about the killings under Mao. Nor did Mao decide the opening move wasn't useful just because we didn't lie about what he was about.

If you want "rational policy" to undergird an alliance of convenience, then it has a rationale that doesn't need a pretense as to the moral quality of that erstwhile ally.
If the moral question was not relevant, there would have been no need to lie.

Arelcao Akleos said...

Of course Herr Rott chooses to ignore the very important aspect that it was much more than "rational policy" in a time of war. It was also the action of the American Left to prepare for a more permanent alliance with the Soviets...just as our current Dept. of State, and its friends in the White House, have been preparing for a more permanent alliance with Islam.

Mr roT said...

If the moral question was not relevant, there would have been no need to lie.

Obviously, the need to lie was there because back then, US citizens required that the government act morally. That Xanadu has been lost over the years nd has been replaced by PC and other lies.

Dept. of State, and its friends in the White House, have been preparing for a more permanent alliance with Islam.
As much as it pains me to gree with your Goldwatery-sounding stuff, the WH seems to rub up close to the Arabs and Iran. Point it that one can't be on a wr footing continuously with the whole planet, save Texas. One has to be nice to some while beating the others to shit, like we did in WWII, which we won, and didn't do in Vietnam, which we lost.
Per unitatem vis, and the unitatem can be a lie, as it always must be, just about.