|Polish Massacre Memorial Wall|
An estimated 22,000 Polish military officers and intellectuals were killed in Katyn, western Russia, many of them trucked in from prison camps, shot in the head from behind, and shoved into mass graves.
After blaming Nazi Germany for the Katyn massacre for decades, the Soviet Union admitted in April 1990 that its forces were responsible. But none of the culprits has ever been identified and investigations have been shelved.
The European Court of Human Rights said it lacked jurisdiction to judge on the matter because the Katyn massacre took place before the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1950.
The Katyn killings have been casting a shadow over relations between Poland and Russia for many years now, with Warsaw especially disappointed that Moscow was not willing to transfer documents concerning the massacre.
The European court agreed that Russia had failed by refusing to submit a key procedural decision from the investigation and offered no substantive reason for maintaining its classified status.
Germany invaded Poland from the west in 1939 while the Soviet forces occupied the eastern half of Poland. As a result, tens of thousands of Polish military personnel fell into Soviet hands and were interned in prison camps inside the Soviet Union.
On April 13, 1943, the Germans said they had found the mass graves of Polish officers in Katyn forest near Smolensk. The Russians claimed for years that the Nazi’s had committed the massacre. It wasn’t until 1990 that Russia admitted the killings and said it would investigate. No one was ever named as being responsible and no one has ever been punished for the massacre.
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