Katyn’: 65 years later (continued)

I called it decimation — well, not quite: Romans cast lots to pick the unfortunate, while the Bolshevik Politbureau had a different selection criteria. This is what the Politbureau ordered in March 1940 — a slightly abridged translation of this document.

Strictly confidential
(From the Special Folder)

The All-Union Communist Party (of the Bolsheviks) . The Central Committee.

Comrade Beriya
March 5, 1940

An extract from Protocol 13

Decision of March 5, 1940.

144. Matter re: NKVD [the security and police ministry] of the USSR

1. Recommendation to the NKVD of the USSR:

1) Cases of 14,700 persons currently in camps for prisoners of war — former Polish officers, government employees, landowners, policemen, spies, gendarmes, colonists and prison guards;

2) as well as cases of persons under arrest in prisons of Western areas of Ukraine and Belorussia totalling 11,000 — members of various counterrevolutionary espionage and diversionary organizations, former landowners, factory owners, former Polish officers, government employees and deserters —

to be considered according to a separate procedure, with the highest measure of punishment to be applied — execution by firing squad.

II. The cases are to be considered without summoning detainees and bringing charges […]

III. Responsibility for the consideration of the cases and passing judgement is assigned to a troyka composed of Comrades Merkulov, Kabulov and Bashtakov.

There must be a typo or an error in the last line: it should read “Kobulov,” not “Kabulov.” The reader may be amused to learn, or be reminded, that Merkulov and Kobulov were executed together with their boss Lavrenty Beriya shortly after Stalin’s death in 1953. Although the charges against them were as ridiculous as those they had leveled against hosts of their victims, and their trial as nonexistent, the true reason why Khruschev and other Soviet leaders were so eager to do away with those executioneers was most likely fear based on their past performance, Katyn’ being “one brief episode.”

(To be continued.)

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