In this Oct. 11, 1951 file photo, Lt. Col. Donald B. Stewart, left, locates the site of a mass grave near near Smolensk, Russia, to Rep. Ray Madden, D-Ind., during a special House Committee hearing in Washington. Stewart and Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet Jr., were among a group of British and American prisoners forced by the Germans to see a horrifying site, a mass grave where murdered Polish officers were buried, near Smolensk. The Soviet secret police killed the Poles in 1940, hoping to eliminate an elite that would have resisted Soviet control of Poland. The Germans wanted word to get out to the world of the Soviet atrocity. Newly declassified documents being opened to the public on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, by the U.S. National Archives show that Van Vliet and Stewart sent coded messages to Washington after their visit saying they believed the German account of Soviet guilt. It is credible evidence that Washington had relatively early on, but of which it still chose to ignore in order not to jeopardize the alliance with Joseph Stalin.
published Monday, September 10th, 2012