New Katyń Documents Declassified in 2013 and 2014

This post comes from Dr. Amanda Weimer, an Archives Specialist with the National Declassification Center.

Two groups of additional records have been declassified within the past year as part of the ongoing efforts of the National Declassification Center to declassify all information found within the holdings of the National Archives relating to the Katyń Forest Massacre.

As of this week, we are now able to release to the public an additional 205 pages previously withdrawn from the Department of the Army’s Permanent Retention Files, 1918-1963.

The majority of the documents in this newest release comprise, or are related to, reports researched and compiled by Colonel Henry I. Szymanski, who served from 1942 to 1944 as the Assistant Military Attaché in Cairo, Egypt, and in particular as liaison to Polish and Czechoslovakian forces in the Middle East.  These reports described conditions endured by Polish prisoners of war, the Polish military’s search for missing Polish officers, and extracts of conversations with high-ranking Russian officials regarding the fate of prisoners interned at Starobielsk, Kozielsk and Ostashkov prison camps.

Szymanski relayed these reports to Major General George V. Strong, Assistant Chief of Staff for the Military Intelligence Service, in May 1943.  In 1952, they were forwarded for the use of the “Select Committee to Conduct an Investigation of the Facts, Evidence and Circumstances of the Katyn Forest Massacre”, also known as the Madden Committee.  Multiple memoranda record the advice offered in 1952 by Army and other government experts regarding which portions of Szymanski’s documents could be declassified and which information should remain secret, describing the damage which could result from public disclosure of the information.

These documents have been scheduled for digitization and upload to the Online Catalog (OPA).  In the interim, they are available to the public in the reading rooms at Archives II, in College Park, MD.  To request the use of this information, please use the following citation: Records of the Army Staff (Record Group 319), Permanent Retention Files, 1918-1963 (National Archives Identifier 2805914), box 131.

In May 2013, the NDC released to the public 262 pages compiled by the Department of State’s Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations, Frederick G. Dutton.  Dutton’s official files contain a number of documents pertaining to and used by the Madden Committee.

Included in that release are clippings of Italian press coverage from 1952; summaries of press coverage of the prosecution of German citizens for Katyn at the Nuremberg Trials; declassified transcripts of hearings before the Madden Committee from September 19 and 23, 1952; correspondence arranging the testimony of various witnesses before the Committee; and declassified testimony from Michael Kuznitsov and David Mazur, including a small number of photographs taken in 1943 during the excavations of the mass graves.

The National Archives has digitized the two transcripts and the two items of testimony for researcher use online.  The rest of the items are available to the public in the reading rooms at Archives II, in College Park, MD.  To request the use of this information, please use the following citation:  General Records of the Department of State (Record Group 59), H. Bureau of Legislative Affairs Frederick G. Dutton’s Official Files as Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations, 1962-1964 (National Archives Identifier 7062706), box 232.

For a listing of known Katyń material in the custody of the National Archives, please see the finding aid Selected Records Relating to the Katyn Forest Massacre at the National Archives and Records Administration .

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