The long-sought “Belarusian list” of Polish officers executed in 1940 by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, has been found in Russia’s state military archives, Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported.
Natalia Lebedeva, a leading Russian historian on Katyn and a senior researcher at the Institute of General History (Russian Academy of Sciences), found the document in the archive of the Soviet 15th military escort brigade stationed in Belarus in 1940, which was engaged in transporting NKVD prisoners to Minsk.
The Belarusian list contains 1,996 names of prisoners taken from cities in what is now western Belarus: Brest, Pinsk, Baranovichi, Grodno, Bialystok and others. They were apparently shot along with some 20,000 other Polish officers at prison camps in Russia (Kozelsk and Ostashkov) and Ukraine (Starobelsk).
Lebedeva, who said all the families of the shot officers were deported to Kazakhstan, plans to compare the list of the dead with the list of those deported.
According to archival documents, 21,857 Poles, mostly captured Polish army officers, were executed in the spring of 1940 by the NKVD. Despite the fact the killings occurred at a number of NKVD prison camps, the mass executions are called the Katyn Massacre, after the Katyn forest in Smolensk region where many of the executions were carried out.
In Soviet times, the massacre was attributed to the Nazis, but in 1990 Moscow acknowledged that the Soviet authorities were responsible. Russia provided a list with the names of 14,552 soldiers who were shot and buried in Katyn, Kalinin, Mednoe and in Kharkov (Ukraine).
In 1994, Kiev gave Warsaw the so-called Ukrainian list, which included the names of 3,435 victims. In the ensuing years, researchers began to doubt they would ever find the Belarusian list.
On December 23, 2011 Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that not a single citizen of Poland was shot in 1940 on the territory of Belarus. According to Lukashenko, Belarus was only a “transit point.”
On May 22, 2012 Vladimir Adamushko, director at the Department for Archives and Records Management of the Republic of Belarus, said there was not and could not be any such list.