“Better late than never” somehow rings hollow as commentary, but at long last, the Russians have owned up to the fact that Joseph Stalin was responsible for having ordered the Katyn massacre. Which is not to say, of course, that the Russian attitude on this issue no longer possesses the power to leave one slackjawed:
Russia on Friday directly blamed Josef Stalin for the 1940 massacre of 22,000 Polish officers at Katyn in a rare condemnation of the dictator, in a vote widely seen as an attempt by Moscow to improve ties with Poland.
Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, voted in favor of a resolution saying documents in secret archives showed Stalin directly ordered the massacre, it said on its site duma.gov.ru. The resolution was backed by 342 of 450 members.
“Material, kept for many years in secret archives … bears witness to the fact that the Katyn crime was carried out under Stalin’s direct orders,” the resolution said.
I guess that we are supposed to believe that the State Duma has only now found the secret evidence establishing beyond any doubt Stalin’s culpability. Even more bizarre: Back in 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev admitted that the NKVD, the Soviet predecessor organization to the KGB, was responsible for the Katyn massacre, but refrained from extending responsibility to Stalin. Presumably, Gorbachev wanted us to believe that the NKVD was able to undertake activities as consequential as planning and implementing the massacre without Stalin knowing a thing. Leszek Kolakowski himself, inured as he was to the various and sundry manifestations of lunacy that emanated from the Soviet system and from communist societies in general, would have had his gob smacked by such a desperate attempt to mislead sentient students of history. Even the most dull-witted individuals must have been able to understand that Gorbachev was not only lying, but also that his lie was exceedingly poorly constructed.