Friday, April 19, 2013


The second group of journalists, which visited on April 19, also included a German author and later playwright, they were:
Karl Thielke – Headed the Delegation
Örnulf Tigerstedt - Finnish poet and writer
Ferdinand Vercknocke - Flemish writer
Filip de Pillecijn - Flemish writer
Pierre Hubermont – Walloon, writer
Jaabo Neppo (Leppo?) – Finnish writer
Enrico Massa – Italian writer
Gimenez Caballero -Spanish university professor
František Kožík - Czech writer
Leon Kozłowski – Polish professor, pre-war minister, then residing in Berlin
Filip Lützkendorff – German dramatist
Aside from the German, Spaniard and Italian, these men primarily represented national groups that were seeking to ensure their nation’s existence, a policy that the Soviets opposed in the USSR and clearly had opposed in the Finno-Soviet War.   They also noted their shock at what they had seen in Katyn.
The Propaganda Ministry was working in all possible manner to ensure that the information about Katyn was publicized; not only in the Reich produced Signal, a biweekly which was produced in 25 languages, and in a moment of rare sensitivity, which appeared incongruous, given that the Warschau Ghetto had just been liquidated, the Nazis were careful not to print the June issue containing graphic photos of the exhumation site and the visit of the IMC in Polish.  Additionally, materials appeared in the Vichy produced Tout La Vie, in the Portuguese Boleten Semanal and in other publications issued in pro-Nazi countries.  

Truly, as Goebbels had noted in his diary – by June, the Nazis had lived off the Katyn Massacre for a number of weeks, but in reality, by that time, the steady list of defeats on the Eastern and North African fronts had placed Katyn in a less important position, in fact, one could posit that even by mid-May Katyn’s propaganda half-life, had been significantly reduced.

Nonetheless, in mid-April, the members of the 689 PropagandaKompanie were working diligently to produce broadcasts, films and photos.  It is at this time that we encounter the person of Joe Heydecker, who had authored a book prior to the war, and had developed an affinity for photography and who was assigned to the PK.  He is best known for his images taken in the Warschau Ghetto, which many authors claim to show his sensitivity as Jews are seen in a positive light.  It is totally unclear as to if or how his photographic skills were utilized in Katyn, as Heydecker’s own memoir does not mention this, however he does note his presence in Smolensk.  However, his presence there bore fruition in images of the three “Americans” who were assigned to the PK; while in a collection of his images we can also find 1964 intimate images of Horst Adolf Eichmann and his home in Buenos Aires – which serve to raise more questions about Heydecker’s personal beliefs and the reason he chose to emigrate to South America in the early 1960s. Given that at least one member of the 689 PK was located and testified to the Madden Committee, it is curious that Heydecker did not.

According to Professor Buhtz's report and other statements, the bodies were lifted from the grave by Russian civilian workmen under the supervision at first, of professional German medical personnel, but later—from the second half of April—Poles, namely the Polish Red Cross team. That team, under the direction of the senior assistant of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Cracow, Dr. Marian Wodziński, consisted of three officials of that institute and the Institute of Pathological Anatomy at Cracow and 5 members of the Polish Red Cross from Warsaw. The exhumation of the bodies which were lying in the upper layers did not present the sort of problem that the bodies in the lower layers did – the graphic descriptions of the Russian (sometimes described as auxiliary) workmen needing to use hooks to remove the corpses, as well as Jaederlund’s statement about the earlier visit
…In a large pit, we saw dead bodies, clad in uniforms, lying in several layers. They were sticking together like leaves. Certain dead bodies were taken out of the pit in our presence and examined. They were in a good state of preservation, probably owing to the nature of the soil—so to speak, half mummified…

However, the bodies in the lower levels were in a different state, as Lt. Kramer noted
…because further down it was impossible, you could not expect any human being to actually climb down into the pits, because the stench was so terrible, the whole thing, that nobody could actually go down there, they could only be pulled out with hooks, or something like that.

This concurs with John Van Vliet’s testimony, which gives other more graphic detail than the average reader can stomach.
But that POW visit was still over three weeks away – meanwhile, on April 19, the second group of journalists arrived on site.  Once again, the group was assembled in Berlin and flew into Smolensk.  By this time, Jaederlund’s story, bylined the 17th but printed the 18th, had appeared as had others.  It is not clear if anyone from the second group had read that material.


©Krystyna Piórkowska