Class Cleansing: The Massacre at Katyn

Class Cleansing: The Massacre at Katyn

Telos Press Publishing
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Book Description

Revisiting the events of the 1940 Katyn Massacre, in which some 25,000 Polish prisoners of war were shot by the Soviet secret police on Stalin's orders, Victor Zaslavsky explores a paradigmatic and terrifying example of the policy of class cleansing practiced in the Soviet Union and its occupied territories during World War II. By blaming the Katyn Massacre on the Nazis, the Soviets constructed one of the greatest historiographical falsifications of the twentieth century. Based on secret documents of the Soviet regime that became available only after its collapse, Zaslavsky unearths the methods used to create and maintain the Soviet "official version" of what happened at Katyn, a process involving the complicity of Western governments and left-leaning historians, which resulted in the upholding of this falsification until the fall of the Soviet Union.

Class Cleansing was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2008 London Book Festival.

Praise for Class Cleansing
"Armed with fresh materials from the Russian archives, Victor Zaslavsky recounts the chilling history of the 1940 massacre of over 20,000 Polish officers and leaders by Stalin's regime. His engaging story includes shameful Soviet attempts of coverup, from the discovery of the bodies during the war through Nuremberg, Gorbachev and Putin. Katyn was a Polish tragedy, but also a black mark on the history of international relations in the 20th century."
--Norman M. Naimark, Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor in East European Studies, Stanford University

"Zaslavsky's book demonstrates with care and enviable clarity how the Katyn Massacre--a seemingly 'minor' episode--can be the key to understanding the ideologies and techniques of 20th-century mass murder."
--Pierluigi Battista, Corriere della Sera, 2006

"Zaslavsky's shocking analysis of the mass murder by the Soviet party and state leadership of thousands of Polish officers and civilians in 1940 is a significant contribution to our understanding of European history."
--From the citation for the 2008 Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought

"The story of Katyn, one of the worst single massacres of World War II, has been told many times. Yet it is good and useful to read a synthetic sober report covering the last 60 years of efforts to unearth what really happened, how the crime was covered up and later belittled by the murderers, and how Anglo American politics acted in complicity, as far as the Foreign Office was concerned, even up to 1988. The real value of this book lies in its extensive documentation, retrieved and translated from a variety of obscure Soviet archives, where they miraculously survived various targeted purges, and thus convincingly prove the points made in the text."
--Albrecht Rothacher, Asia Europe Journal: Intercultural Studies in the Social Sciences and Humanities (2007).