KF Online Programs

70 Years of the Madden Committee Report - Reflections on the US Select House Committee to Investigate the Katyn Massacre - A talk by Krystyna Piorkowska

Tuesday, November 29, 2022, at 1:00pm


In 1951-52, when the House Select Committee to Conduct an Investigation of the Facts, Evidence and Circumstance of the Katyn Forest Massacre of the Eighty Second Congress, (generally referred to as the Madden Committee as it was chaired by Ray Madden) conducted its hearings, average Americans had their first opportunity to learn about the details of the Katyn massacre.

Seventy years have passed, and today, most Americans don't know what theKatyn Massacre was, while most Polish people don't know what the Madden Committee was.

The commentary presented by Krystyna Piórkowska will introduce the Massacre, discuss the role of the Madden Committee and dispel myths about its creation, constituent members, and the betrayal (if any) of a member US military intelligence.

The Katyn Massacre was a series of extra-legal executions of some 24,000 Polish citizens by the Soviet NKVD. They had been taken prisoner by the Soviet Army, upon its invasion of Poland in September 1939, when it was allied with Nazi Germany.  These individuals were of varying faiths and ethnicities, but were all linked by the fact that they were Polish citizens and served in the Army (active or reserve) or served in the uniformed services – police, forest rangers, prison guards, etc. and many had college degrees.

The executions took place at various sites in the Russian SFR and the Ukrainian SFR, in April-May 1940, a final group was (presumably) executed near Minsk, Belarusian SFR, but access to that site has been denied by Lukashenka. For decades, all Soviet traces of the decision making and planning process had disappeared, until the Memorial Group located the relevant documents during glasnost.

What is shared in common, by both Westerners and Poles, is that they lack information on what the US and British governments and military knew about the Katyn Massacre, either during the wartime period or afterwards. There is a lack of knowledge about the Nuremberg Tribunal and why the Katyn Massacre was not actively prosecuted there.

The Madden Committee, created in September 1951 attempted to hear all testimony and review all relevant documents in order to determine the guilty party. The question remains – was all available material released to the Madden Committee?  Did the US intelligence agencies disclose all their information? Did the post-war British government give the Madden Committee the access it needed? Was a report submitted to US Military Intelligence in Washington on May 23, 1945, truly destroyed? Finally, in 2022, can we currently state that all relevant materials held by the US and Great Britain have been released?

Krystyna Piórkowska has been studying the Western Allies and the English-speaking Witnesses to Katyn for 12 years. Her work led to the discovery of heretofore unknown materials – a witness report, coded letters, materials involved with the Ruhr River Dam Buster Raids and finally, the sworn testimony submitted to JAG in Paris on May 10, 1945.  Much of that work appeared in English-speaking Witnesses to Katyn Recent Research.


Photo credit: St. Patrick's Cathedral/ Tony Correa 

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