1 July 1941.
In the ‘Regulations on prisoners of war’ approved by the Council of People’s Commissioners of the USSR, soldiers and officers of the Soviet armed forces can learn – for the first time in their lives – about the prohibition of insulting prisoners of war, treating them with cruelty, using coercive measures and threats against them in order to obtain information from them about the war and other situation of their country, taking away their uniforms, underwear, shoes and other personal belongings. The regulations came into force when prisoners of war in Soviet hands were very rare and the Red Army went into German captivity in numbers of thousands….
14 July 1941.
Letter from General Jerzy Wołkowicki, imprisoned in Gryazovets, to Joseph Stalin, asking for the release of Polish officers imprisoned in the prisoner of war camps and for sending them to fight with the Germans.. With the same date, a letter to the British Ambassador in Moscow.
18 March 1942
“I don’t know where they are. Why should I keep them?” Jospeh Stalin says in Moscow, when General Władysław Anders reminds again that officers from the prisoners of camps in Kozelsk, Ostashkov and Starobelsk still did not appear in the ranks of the Polish Army under his command.
31 December 1942
Such a date as the day of the death of Reserve Second Leutienant Zbigniew Wiktor German was inscribed by the Grodzki Court in Łódź in a case concerning the confirmation of his death. The time is given as 24 o’clock and the place of death ‘in Katyn, USSR’.
29 March 1943
Start of the exhumation prepared for several weeks and immediate confirmation that the information about the bodies of Polish prisoners of war buried in the forest is not made up.
11 April 1943
The delegation of Poles, including writers Ferdynand Goetel and Jan Emil Skiwski, journalists and representatives of the Central Welfare Council, visits the place of the exhumation of Polish officers, which has been going on for several days now, found in mass graves in a place called Kozie Góry near Smolensk…
13 April 1943
Ferdynand Goetel writes a report on his trip to Smolensk, prepared with the intention of handing over the document to both the German authorities and the management of the Polish Red Cross. With the suggestion of ‘examining other graves in Kozie Góry and the NKVD leisure building and its surroundings’.
15 April 1943
Daily newspapers in the General Government bring on the front pages information about the discovery of ‘mass graves of Polish officers’ near Smolensk and the identification of generals Bohaterewicz and Smorawiński among the murdered corpses.
16 April 1943
“Only Bolsheviks could have committed an equally nasty murder of prisoners of war,” says a worker from Zieleniewski’s factory in Krakow, called here ‘Prochowiak’, in an interview for the ‘Telpress’ Agency. [His name was Franciszek Urban Prochownik.].
16 April 1943
In ‘Nowy Kurier Warszawski’ the first information about the planned construction of a ‘big Polish military cemetery’ on Kozia Góra [in Katyn] is published.
20 April 1943
In an interview, after returning from Katyn, published in ‘Dziennik Radomski’, writer Jan Emil Skiwski states that Polish officers „had to die because they represented European culture”
21 April 1943
In a telegram to the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt Marshal Joseph Stalin criticizes “the slander campaign launched by the German fascists because of the Polish officers murdered by them in the Smolensk region in German-occupied territory” and the Polish Government In Exile, which “did not oppose the despicable fascist slander against the USSR…”.
25 April 1943
“The Nazi propaganda invented this story precisely in order to cause a breakthrough in the ranks of the United Nations,” said British Prime Minister Winston Churchill about the Katyn Massacre in his personal and secret letter to Marshal Joseph Stalin…
25 April 1943
Noting the breaking of diplomatic relations with the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile, the Council of People’s Commissioners of the USSR stresses that the Polish government not only “did not oppose the despicable fascist slander against the USSR” but “took up the slanderous campaign launched by the German fascists because of the Polish officers killed by them in the Smolensk region…”
23 April 1943
The secretariat of the Polish Red Cross informs the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva about the ‘already partially opened’ mass graves of Polish officers in Katyn near Smolensk and – as ‘Goniec Krakowski’ writes – the establishment of a Technical Commission to ‘undertake the action of discovering these graves’
The Main Board of the Polish Red Cross asks the State Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminology in Krakow to send an expert chemist to Katyn who, as Dr. Jan Zygmunt Robel remembered, ‘would examine the documents and objects found by the corpses of Polish officers’. In response, Dr. J. Robel proposes to conduct research in the Chemical Department of the Institute in Krakow.
9 -10 May 1943
Number 107 of ‘Goniec Krakowski’ brings another list of exhumed and identified Polish officers, this time with more than 150 names…
15 May 1943
From the April ‘Declaration of the Central Committee of the Polish Workers’ Party’ the readers of ‘Trybuna Ludu’ learn that “the murder in Katyn was committed by the Germans on Poles and the Soviet population who didn’t manage to evacuate themselves in 1941,” and “by getting angry in connection with the discovery of the massacred corpses of Polish officers near Smolensk… […] the Nazis want to disunite the Polish nation from the brotherly nations of the Soviet Union…”
20 May 1943
Dr. Robel receives from the Krakow-based representative of the Polish Red Cross one box with the objects found on the corpse during exhumation for examination, marked with the following numbers, 1 – 112 and 01 – 0300.
28 May 1943
The envoy of the ‘Telepress’ Agency informs about seven mass graves opened so far and the discovery of the remains of 3000 victims.
30 May 1943
In an interview published in ‘Goniec Krakowski’, the head of the Technical Commission of the Polish Red Cross, Dr. Marian Wodziński, reveals that “victims of the murder were taken to the grave alive, knocked down with their faces to the ground and only then shot dead in the lying position”
28 June 1943
Dr Zygmunt J. Robel got delivered to the Chemical Department of the State Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminology in Krakow (during the occupation of Krakow, the capital of the General Government) nine large boxes and one small one with objects and documents of prisoners exhumed in Katyn. Since 20 May there has been one box here, delivered by Hugo Kassur.
13 October 1943
Crosses from eight graves at the exhumation site in the Katyn Forest, left as a Polish war cemetery by the Technical Commission of the Polish Red Cross, have disappeared.
At the entrance to the Katyn Forest there is a plaque informing that ‘Here in the Katyn Forest in the autumn of 1941 the Nazi beasts shot 11,000 prisoners of war of Polish soldiers and officers. Soldier of the Red Army TAKE REVENGE !’
10 -11 January 1944
In the information about the results of the preliminary investigation into the so-called Katyn case, the People’s Commissioner for Internal Affairs of the USSR Vsevolod Merkulov and his deputy Sergei Kruglov discuss the testimony of several dozen witnesses who told about the murder of Polish prisoners of war by the Germans and state that “the shooting of Polish prisoners of war in the autumn of 1941” in the Katyn Forest was carried out by an unknown German military institution occupying a dacha in Kozie Góry”, and in the autumn of 1941, “at the request from Berlin, they took many actions to attribute their wicked crime to the Soviet authorities…”
24 January 1944
After the completion of the work lasting from 16 January “on the territory of the Kozie Góry,“as reported in the announcement – in the Katyn Forest “and the exhumation and examination of 925 corpses ‘Special Commission for determining and examining the circumstances of the execution by German fascist invaders in the Katyn Forest of prisoners of war – Polish officers’ states, among others, on the basis of judicial and medical expertise, that the executions took place in the autumn of 1941”. And also explains, that “the German occupation authorities in spring 1943 transported from other places corpses of prisoners of war- Poles executed by them and thrown them into dug out graves of the Katyn Forest, in order to erase their own crimes…”
30 January 1944
Command of the 1st Corps of the Polish Armed Forces in the USSR, together with officers and soldiers delegated from the Corps, takes part in a holy mass and a parade next to the grave in the Katyn Forest. It is not known who was buried in this place and whether the grave was not specially prepared for the ceremony with the participation of the Poles…
1 February 1944
“After arriving in Smolensk, the Nazis found themselves there in various camps and villages of Polish officers and soldiers. Some of them were employed as laborers, then with the Prussian pedantry they started to drive them to Kozie Góry, where they systematically shot them“ with the pen of Wanda Wasilewska writes ‘Wolna Polska’ in number 4. In the same issue of ‘Wolna Polska’ according to Jerzy Borejsza “of all Nazi crimes this one near Katyn is THE MOST POWERFUL AND MOST TRAGIC”…
1 February 1944
In issue no. 3 of ‘Nowe Widnokręgi’ the author of the article ‘Tragiczna karta katyńska’ (‘Tragic Katyn Card’), not signed with any surname, explains that “the Germans murdered Polish prisoners of war in Katyn for fear of the Polish army in the USSR”…
8 February 1944
Gustaw Butllow, the ensign of the 1st Corps of the Polish Armed Forces in the USSR in the number 5 (46) of ‘Wolna Polska’, quotes a conversation with 14-year-old Witia Matwiejew, who in 1941 “saw Polish officers, led by groups of Germans to the place of death in the forest in the Kozie Góry”
15 February 1944
“Katyń, it’s a nightmare. And that’s what those who shake hands with us at the beginning of 1939 would do? – In issue no. 4 of the magazine ‘Nowe Widnokręgi’ asks Colonel Leon Bukojemski – Nałęcz. And he explains that “only the mind educated on Nazi provocations could go as far as this …”
24 February 1944
The author of the article ‘Katyn’ in issue no. 7 of ‘Wolna Polska’, not signed with any name, emphasizes the trust that “soldiers with a red star and a white eagle” have in each other, acting “on the common front of the common fight with Katyn murderers – Germans”
In the same issue of the ‘WP’, Ensign Marjan Klimczak reminds us that in 1940, together with his colleagues – Polish prisoners of war of the Red Army ‘he was in Camp no. 2-ON in the Katyn forests’ and ‘if in 1940, as the Germans lie, tens of thousands of soldiers and Polish officers were murdered in the forest, we would have noticed traces of this crime in the forest where thousands of us worked…’
24 February 1944
US President F.D. Roosevelt gives a secret order to an American liaison officer in the Balkans, Colonel George H. Erlem, not to disseminate information about the Soviet responsibility for the Katyn Massacre…
‘Wydawnictwo Literatury w Językach Obcych’ published a brochure in Moscow with a Polish translation of the ‘Communication of the Special Commission to establish and investigate the circumstances in which German fascist invaders in the Katyn Forest executed prisoners of war – Polish officers’.
13 July 1944
“The case tormented me so much that I found a number of peasants,” this is how Colonel Leon Bukojemski- Nałęcz, who testified in front of the prosecutor Roman Martini, presented his stay in the Katyn Forest in January 1944 in Krakow. “The Russian peasant is closed by nature and, moreover, for various reasons, he preferred to remain silent. I decided to get women and men (old people) drunk, I firmly state that they, even under the influence of alcohol, stated that the murder was committed by the Germans after the occupation of the camp. According to testimony, the liquidation of the camp lasted about 4 months…”
January (third decade) 1945
The NKVD arrested Dr. Hieromin Bartoszewski in Krakow, who in April 1943 visited the exhumation site in the Katyn Forest, sent there by the Polish Red Cross. Released from prison in Wieliczka near Krakow after being forced to declare that Germany, not the Soviet Union, was responsible for the crime.
17 March 1945
The NKVD in Krakow arrested Dr. Jan Zygmunt Robel, Irma Fortner and Jan Cholewiński, who during the war examined memoirs, documents and objects from the place of exhumation in Katyn, delivered to the State Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminology. They were released in April, after the intervention of the authorities of the Jagiellonian University.
Establishing a set of seven questions to be answered by the interviewed witnesses, including those interviewed for ‘the content of the report submitted [by Goetel] upon his arrival from Katyn in the Management Board of the Polish Red Cross in Warsaw, as well as in interviews and articles published in the press, or other possible statements on the Katyn case’ and ‘the attitude of the Polish society towards the Katyn case…’
7 June 1945
Arrest of Franciszek Urban Prochownik; his departure to the exhumation site in April 1943 and interview in which he accused the Soviet Union of committing a crime in Katyn were considered as a cooperation with the Germans.
12 June 1945
The decision of the Ministry of Justice in Warsaw to question ‘a number of people in the case of N.N. suspects of activity during the German occupation to the detriment of the Polish State in cooperation with the occupation authorities”
25 June 1945
Prosecutor Roman Martini from the Second Prosecutor’s Office of the Special Criminal Court in Krakow orders the arrest of: Ferdynand Goetel, Jan Emil Skiwski, Marian Wodziński ‘suspected of activities during the German occupation to the detriment of the Polish State in cooperation with the German authorities’.
10 July 1945
Sending wanted notice for writers who were in hiding: Ferdynand Goetel and Jan Emil Skiwski, as well as Marian Wodziński. Two writers were in the Katyn Forest in April 1943, and doctor Marian Wodziński during the exhumation and identification of the victims in April – May 1943 was a head of the Technical Team of the Polish Red Cross.
5 September 1945.
By decision of the Council of People’s Commissioners, a governmental commission for the Nuremberg Process, called the ‘Commission to manage the Nuremberg Process’, was established in Moscow. It was composed of: Deputy of People’s Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Andrei Wyszynski, Vsevolod Merkulov, Head of the Main Board of the Counter-intelligence „Smiersz” – Viktor Abakumov and People’s Justice Commissioner – Nikolai Ryzhkov.