Khatyn vs Katyn

History, even current history, is full of lies. But largely because these falsehoods appear in printed form they are believed by many many people, and it is for this reason that the Institute for Historical Review is so vital. One such hoax is that of Khatyn — as opposed to Katyn.

On 3 July 1974 the British newspaper Daily Telegraph published the following article: «Confusion on Khatyn and Katyn».

President Nixon’s visit to the memorial in the Byelorussian village of Khatyn has caused a mistaken impression that Russia has erected a memorial to the victims of the wartime massacre of Polish officers in the Katyn forest. In fact, Khatyn and Katyn are two entirely different places; Khatyn, in which the ’kh’ is pronounced like the English ’h’ is a small village some 30 miles to the north-east of Minsk, the capital of Byelorussia.

Katyn, which is pronounced as written, is a town about 15 miles west of Smolensk, a provincial city in Russia proper. Khatyn is about 160 miles west of Katyn.

When Stalin and Hitler divided up Poland at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, some 240,000 Polish officers and men fell into Russian hands. After Hitler’s invasion of Russia in June 1941, 15,000 were found to be missing and the Russians denied all knowledge of them.

Katyn fell into German hands in the late summer of 1941 and at the beginning of 1943 the German army discovered a mass grave of 4,443 Polish officers and men.

When the Polish Government-in-exile appealed for an international tribunal to determine how the Poles died Stalin broke off relations. After re-taking Katyn the Russians set up their own inquiry and said the Poles had been executed by the Germans.

Later researches by Polish and independent authorities in the west, as well as wartime Foreign Office documents, leave no doubt that the Poles were executed by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD.

The Russians have tried to erase Katyn from maps and history books. The reference to it in the 1953 edition of the Soviet Encyclopedia was dropped in the 1973 edition. No visitors are allowed to the area and no memorial has been erected.

It was not until 1969 that the Russians announced the unveiling of a «memorial complex» on the site of the village of Khatyn. It was one of 9,200 Byelorussian villages destroyed by the Germans, and one of 136 of which all the inhabitants were killed.

Road to Khatyn

Road to Khatyn

The Russians appear to have chosen Khatyn because of the similarity of its name to Katyn. They hoped in this way to obscure the fact they have erected no memorial to the victims of Katyn, which was no less a crime than the one committed at Khatyn.

Several things about this are interesting to note: President Nixon was taken by the Soviets to Khatyn at the very time the Katyn Memorial Fund was fighting the Church of England for permission to erect the Katyn Memorial in London. The President’s visit received wide publicity, the object so obviously being to occlude the issue and cause people to wonder, perhaps, why there was so much fuss in Britain to erect a memorial to the victims of Katyn when «one already existed in Russia.»

A look at Soviet maps is also revealing:

1954. A map in the Minsk region in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia does not show Khatyn at all.
1956. A map of the Smolensk region in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia shows Katyn
1969. A large atlas of the USSR shows neither Khatyn nor Katyn
1971. A map of the Minsk region in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia shows Khatyn but not Katyn.

It can only be that this extraordinary sleight-of-hand is a device to remove the real Katyn and substitute Khatyn in an attempt, albeit clumsy, yet further to distract and confuse the world as to the whereabouts of massive crimes committed by the Soviets and substitute another alleged crime to Nazi Germany.

Institute for Historical Review

An old photos of Khatyn