Stalin’s order for the Katyn Forest Massacre

Top Secret

March 5, 1940

USSR People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs

To Comrade Stalin

A large number of former officers of the Polish Army, employees of the Polish Police and intelligence services, members of Polish nationalist, counter-revolutionary parties, members of exposed counter-revolutionary resistance groups, escapees and others, all of them sworn enemies of Soviet authority full of hatred for the Soviet system, are currently being held in prisoner-of-war camps of the USSR NKVD and in prisons in the western provinces of Ukraine and Belarus.

The military and police officers in the camps are attempting to continue their counter-revolutionary activities and are carrying out anti-Soviet agitation. Each of them is waiting only for his release in order to start actively struggling against Soviet authority.

The organs of the NKVD in the western provinces of the Ukraine and Belarus have uncovered a number of counter-revolutionary rebel organisations. Former officers of the Polish Army and police as well as gendarmes have played an active role in all of these organizations. Amongst the detained escapees and violators of the state borders a considerable number of people have been identified as belonging to counter-revolutionary espionage and resistance organisations.

14,736 former officers, government officials, landowners, police, gendarmes, prison guards, settlers in the border regions and intelligence officers [more than 97% are Poles] are being held in prisoner-of-war camps. this number includes soldiers and junior officers.

Included are:

generals, colonels and lieutenant colonels — 295

majors and captains — 2,080

lieutenants, second lieutenants and ensigns — 6,049

officers and juniors of the police, gendarmes, prison guards and intelligence officers — 1,030

rank and file police officers, gendarmes, prison guards and intelligence personnel — 5,138

government officials, land owners, priests, settlers in border regions — 144

18,632 detained people are being kept in the western region of the Ukraine and Belarus [10,685 are Poles].

They include:

former officers — 1,207

former intelligence officers of the police and gendarmerie — 5,141

spies and saboteurs — 347

former land owners, factory owners and government officials — 465

members of various counter-revolutionary and resistance organisations and other counter-revolutionary elements — 5,345

escapees — 6,127

In view of the fact that all are hardened and uncompromising enemies of Soviet authority, the USSR NKVD considers it necessary:

[1] To instruct the USSR NKVD that it should try before special tribunals: [a] the cases of the 14,700 former Polish officers, government officials, land owners, police officers, intelligence officers, gendarmes, settlers in the border regions and prison guards being held in prisoner-of-war camps;

[b] together with the cases of 11,000 members of various counter-revolutionary organisations of spies and saboteurs, former land owners, factory owners, former Polish officers, government officials, and escapees who have been arrested and are being held in the western provinces of the Ukraine and Belarus and apply to them the supreme penalty: shooting.

[2] examination of the cases is to be carried out without summoning those detained and without bringing charges, the statements concerning the conclusion of the investigation and the final verdict should be as follows: [a] for persons being held in prisoner-of-war camps, in the form of certificates issued by the NKVD of the USSR NKVD;

[b] for arrested personnel in the form of certificates issued by the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR and the NKVD of the Belarus SSR.

[3] The cases should be examined and the verdict pronounced by a three person tribunal consisting of comrades Merkulov, Kobulov and Bashtakov.

People’s Commissar for the Internal Affairs of the USSR

L Beria

[Signed by: Stalin, Voroshilov, Molotov, Mikoyan, Kalinin, and Kaganovich]