No Statute of limitations. Katyn executioners Who were not punished?

Constantine Smovsky, Vladimir Katryuk, Gregory Vasyura. © /

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22 March 1943 the Nazi executioners walked in the Belarusian village of Khatyn, has driven its inhabitants into the barn, which was then set on fire. Those who tried to escape from the flames, were shot. The fire burned 149 villagers, including 75 children under 16 years of age.

Khatyn became a symbol of the atrocities committed by the Nazi criminals and their accomplices on Soviet soil. In 1969 was opened the memorial complex “Khatyn” in memory of the victims of the inhabitants of Khatyn and hundreds of villages, who shared her fate.

If about the tragedy in the Soviet Union spoke and wrote a lot about the identity of the executioners was said almost nothing. “The monstrous crimes of Nazism” — this common phrase was hiding quite an inconvenient truth, which diligently tried to hide influential people in the Soviet leadership.

Battalion “Dirlewanger”: a Nazi pedophile and his team of criminals

Punitive action against the inhabitants of Khatyn, who were suspected of helping the partisans were carried out by the 118th schutzmannschaft battalion, and company commander of a special SS battalion “Dirlewanger”.

The immediate reason for the action was the death in combat with the guerrillas chief commander of the first company of the 118th schutzmannschaft battalion, Hauptmann Hans welke.

Welke, Olympic champion in 1936 in the shot put, was personally acquainted with Hitler, and his death infuriated the Nazis. To start the executioners shot 26 residents of the village Trumps, engaged in logging near the site of the battle, which killed Hans welke. This was followed by the “campaign of intimidation” in Katyn.

Oskar Dirlewanger. Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org

The SS Sonderkommando “Dirlewanger”, created in June 1940, was originally conceived as a punitive unit. Its founder and commander was Oskar Dirlewanger, a veteran of the First world war, who in the early 1920s he participated in the punitive actions against the German Communists. Then was averted, he joined the Nazi party and successfully doing career in the party until 1934, was not convicted of pedophilia. Dirlewanger was sentenced to two years, deprived of military rank and awards, membership in the party and work.

After his release from prison, he on the advice of old friends went to Spain, where he joined the detachment of German volunteers who fought on the side of General Franco. When the rebels took over, the arc de Dirlewanger returned to Germany. “Atone for sins” of the Nazis was restored in the party, and the case of pedophilia reconsidered, closing it for lack of evidence.

The chief of the SS Heinrich Himmler needed a man who are ready to do the dirty work. Dirlewanger was the best candidate. He was commissioned to score a scrap from criminals, poachers, serving a sentence in the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen.

First unit was called “Poacher”s command Oranienburg”, then it was renamed the “Special group, “Dr. Dirlewanger””.

Dirlewanger typed in your squad not only poachers, but also persons convicted of murder, robbery and rape. He was only interested in the readiness of subordinates to kill.

Started the division with counterinsurgency operations in Poland, and then was transferred to Belarus.

The commander of the punitive beaten to death by the guards-poles

By the summer of 1942, the Dirlewanger was not enough criminals: losses in battles with the partisans was very serious. Then he received permission to join the ranks at the expense of German soldiers convicted of crimes at the front, as well as volunteers and collaborators. So the SS battalion a Russian and Ukrainian company.

Anti-guerrilla and counter-insurgency units on the territory of Belarus continued until 1944, after which he was transferred to Poland, where subordinates Dirlewanger participated in the suppression of the Warsaw uprising, and then the uprising in Slovakia.

By the end of the war the unit was transformed into the 36th SS Grenadier division, which was defeated by Soviet troops in April 1945 in Silesia.

The Oskar Dirlewanger was arrested by French soldiers in the town of Altshausen may 7, 1945. He was placed in jail while awaiting trial. However, exactly a month later, on 7 June 1945, the leader of the punishers died. The prison, which contained Dirlewanger, was guarded by the Polish division, which men found out about what did this prisoner to their native land. The cause of death of Nazi became severe injuries received in the result of hours of beatings.


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Traitors of the “Dirlewanger”: Melnichenko and others

Ukrainian company, sent to the aid of the 118-th schutzmannschaft battalion, commanded by Ivan Melnichenko. This native of Kiev, was a very remarkable person. He managed to make a partisan war, where he deserted, and then participated in a whole range of punitive actions, the Germans were in good standing, but then also fled. Leaning to the North, he spent some time hiding in the Murmansk region, and in early 1945 he returned to Ukraine. Traded in thefts and robberies, during one of the attacks killed the police officer. In July 1945 Melnichenko were surrendered, but during the transportation for investigation again escaped. In February 1946 a dangerous offender Ivan Melnichenko, was shot dead during a police RAID.

In 1947 the case of the traitors who served in the battalion “Dirlewanger”, took up a special investigation team. The investigation lasted 14 years. During this time, it was possible to identify the perpetrators of the most serious crimes.

In October 1961, at the trial in Minsk there appeared before the court ex-the punitive battalion “Dirlewanger” Stepchenko, A. S., S. I. Pugachev, V. A. Alinsky, F. F. Grabarovschi, I. E. Tupica, G. A. Kirienko, V. R. Siwy, A. E. radkovskiy, M. V. Maidanov, L. A. Sakhno, P. A. Umanets, M. A. Mironenkov and S. A. Shinkevich.

All of them, with the exception of Umanets and mironenkova, were participants in the destruction of Khatyn. But it was just one of the crimes of the executioners. All of the defendants were sentenced to death.

Special punitive command of the SS “Dirlewanger”. Was known for his cruelty. Eastern Front. The second world war. pic.twitter.com/SfK2nIrTJi

— War in History (@VojnavIstorii) 12 Feb 2017

118th schutzmannschaft battalion: Ukrainians in the service of the Reich

A major role in the destruction of the inhabitants of Khatyn was played by the 118th schutzmannschaft battalion. This division was formed in the summer of 1942 in Kiev, Ukrainian nationalists, and Ukrainians from the former red army soldiers taken prisoner, and voluntarily expressed a desire to cooperate with the Nazis.

“It was a conveyor belt”. As Babi Yar became the “boundary of death”

Among the nationalists, included in the battalion, there were those who participated in the massacre at Babi Yar.

In the punitive actions on the territory of Belarus by the 118th schutzmannschaft battalion participated until the summer of 1944. When the Germans retreated, the Germans transferred to the West, to France, where they had to participate in battles with the troops of the French Resistance. But the outcome of the war was already obvious in favor of Germany, so the Ukrainians defected to the French. After the liberation of France they had joined the Foreign Legion. Then some chose to stay in the West, while others returned to the USSR, hoping that the truth will never come out.

There is a perception that all those who served in penal units in the Soviet Union immediately put to the wall. In fact it is not. During the trial of Gregory Vasyura, which will be discussed below, the testimony given more than 20 former executioners of the 118th schutzmannschaft battalion.

They were convicted in the late 1940s – early 1950s, received for 20-25 years of imprisonment, but in reality none of them served more than 8 years. In 1955, the collaborators came under the decree on Amnesty.

In relation to these individuals could not prove direct involvement in the killings of civilians, that is, witnesses who could point at them as direct executors, was not found.

The officers of the 102nd, 115th and 118th battalions on the military courses in Minsk in 1942. Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org

Constantine Smovsky: blood biography of the Ukrainian General

During the destruction of Khatyn 118th schutzmannschaft battalion commanded by the German Erich Kerner. About his life little is known. Apparently, he survived the war and lived out his days in peace and prosperity.

Much more is known about his Deputy Konstantin Movscom. He was born in Poltava region in 1892, during the First world war, fought in the Russian army. After the revolution Smovsky joined the Ukrainian national movement and served in the UNR army. After the defeat of the the Bolsheviks moved to Poland and soon enlisted in the Polish army. In 1939, as a major of the Polish army, he was captured by the Germans and expressed a desire to cooperate with them.

After participating in the punitive actions on the territory of Belarus Smovsky was in Germany in may 1945, before the face of the Western allies, declared himself a fighter for the independence of Ukraine. It worked: the transfer to the Soviet side Smovsky escaped, settled in West Germany, where he became a founder of the Union of Ukrainian soldiers. After the defeat of the Bandera gangs in the West of Ukraine, which Smovsky kept in touch, he moved to the United States, where he actively worked in the Ukrainian emigre organizations. He was assigned to a rank the General-the cornet. The Punisher died in Minneapolis in 1960.

Vasily Meleshko: Soviet officer uniform and a sadist

“Take Myaleshka platoon commander: a Soviet officer cadre and shaped sadist shalel just the smell of blood” — a characterization for questioning his colleague gave the chief of staff of 118th schutzmannschaft battalion Grigory Vasyura.

A former platoon commander 140 th separate machine-gun battalion of the red army Vasily Meleshko really impressed with her bloodlust even colleagues.

During the punitive actions he wanted to kill people personally. The shooting of loggers prior to the massacre at Katyn, was his personal initiative. In the Katyn Meleshko were shooting at those who tried to escape from the fire, sparing no one.

After the transfer of the battalion to France Meleshko deserted from the Germans and enlisted in the Foreign Legion, which was sent to North Africa.

Many years later, Meleshko said: “joining the Foreign Legion, I was not going to return to the Soviet Union, although specific plans for the future had. But the service in the Legion, the orders of a foreign army with prosperous assault made me reconsider. I thought that the transition to the French partisans to some extent mitigate my guilt, if I become aware of the service in the 118th police battalion. I myself on the service of the Germans was not going to tell you.”

As we have reported liberal historians, who immigrated to the Soviet Union after the war, were the Soviet secret services met with brutal repression.

But the former red army officer Meleshko, who had something to hide, successfully passed all tests, was restored in the army and left the service in December 1945.

Realizing that his sins can be revealed he went to Kazakhstan, and then again changed their place of residence. However, it still was arrested. Meleshko accused of collaboration with the Germans, however, about what exactly he was doing, the information has not been collected. In the end, he was sentenced to imprisonment, and in 1955, like many others, was pardoned.

The Amnesty did not apply to those who personally killed dozens of civilians. But to expose Meleshko was only in 1974, when he was arrested again. This time the Punisher was sentenced to the Supreme penalty: death.


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Gregory Vasyura: the process behind closed doors

In 1986, in Minsk the trial was held, which could become Union sensation. Because the dock was one of the main executioners of Katyn: the crimes of the Nazis, where he knew every student. But the media kept deathly silence. Even those few reporters that were allowed into the courtroom, was subsequently put before the fact: their materials will not be posted.

The defendants were former chief of staff of 118th schutzmannschaft battalion Grigory Vasyura.

A native of the city of Chyhyryn in Cherkasy region, in 1936, Gregory Vasyura graduated from the Kiev military school of communication. Senior Lieutenant of the red army were captured in the first days of the war. He himself claimed that he was captured by the Germans after a concussion. In a camp for prisoners he has agreed to cooperate with the Nazis and was sent to serve in создаваемый118-th schutzmannschaft battalion.

Witnesses from among the former subordinates showed Vasyura enjoyed the confidence of the Germans and completely justified.

Gregory Vasyura: the executioner of Khatyn, which became a war veteran https://t.co/tV6YKo6wiy pic.twitter.com/iYYmGqfByb

— Balalaika24 (@BalalaikaNews) 19 Aug 2017

From witness testimony of Petrichuk about punitive actions in Katyn: “My post was 50 meters from the barn, which protected our platoon and the Germans with machine guns. I clearly saw the fire ran from the boy six years old, his clothes burned. He took a few steps and fell, struck by a bullet. Shot him one of the officers that a large group was standing to the side. Maybe it was the punch, maybe Vasyura. I don’t know if it was in a barn children. When we left the village, he was already waning, people living in it was not: only smoldering, charred corpses, large and small… This picture was terrible. Remember that the Katyn battalion brought 15 cows.”

Other witnesses confirmed: Vasyura personally supervised the massacre of the inhabitants of Khatyn and he shot women and children.

Among the proven episodes of activity Vasyura: punitive operation in the village of Kosovo, where 78 people were shot, the massacre of villagers in Vileyka, the destruction of villages Macovei come with and Cleaning, shot 50 Jews near the village Kaminska settlement. The court came to the conclusion that personally Gregory Vasyura destroyed more than 360 women, elderly and children.

But why was he in the dock only in 1986? Like Meleshko Vasyura managed to pass the filtration of the event after returning to the Soviet Union by hiding their past. To prove its cooperation with the Germans was only in 1952. Vasyura was sentenced to 25 years, but three years later was released under an Amnesty. About the participation in mass murders there was no information.

Gregory Vasyura: the executioner of Khatyn pic.twitter.com/pQIthqEWBB

— Style Zone Tattoo (@oskaralexey) December 20, 2015

What was going through the main Communist of Ukraine?

Former Punisher settled in the Kiev region, has made a great career, becoming Deputy Director of a large farm. When asked why the sat after the war, sadly shook his head: “I Planted just for the fact that he was captured!”

Vasyura as a war veteran invited to speak before the pioneers, he even became an honorary student of the Kiev higher military engineering twice red banner school of communication named after M. I. Kalinin.

“Honored people” arrogant to the point that in 1985, demanded a order of the Patriotic war II degree: the fortieth anniversary of the Victory they celebrated all the veterans. But when the amazing archives, found inconsistencies and “white spots” in the biography. Useful readings shot for ten years before that Vasily Meleshko. Employees of the state security Committee, literally bit by bit gathered the materials that confirmed that Yes, they really the chief of staff of 118th schutzmannschaft battalion.

So why is the process of Vasyura not covered? It insisted that the first Secretary of the Communist party of Ukraine Vladimir Shcherbitsky. He said the mention of the fact that people in Katyn were killed by the Ukrainian collaborators, insult the entire Ukrainian people and will cause irreparable harm to the friendship of peoples. The influence of shcherbytskyi was enough to achieve the desired result.

26 December 1986, the Tribunal of the Belorussian military district was sentenced Grigory Vasyura to death.


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Vladimir Katryuk: the Punisher under the protection of Canada

From the testimony of the witness Ostap Knap on the trial of Gregory Vasyura: “After we surrounded the village, through an interpreter Lukovic the chain of order came to withdraw from the homes of the people and to escort them to the outskirts of the village to the barn. Did this work and SS, and our police. All residents, including the elderly and children, forced into a barn, surrounded it with straw. In front of the locked gate installed machine gun, which, I remember, was lying Katryuk”.

Vladimir Katryuk, according to witnesses, was one of the most active executioners of Katyn. He personally rounded up the villagers into a barn and then shot those who managed to escape from fire. Was established the involvement of Katryna and a number of other punitive actions.

Like many of his colleagues, in France, he deserted from the Germans, he joined the Foreign Legion, where he fought against their former masters, was even wounded. For several years he has lived with false documents in France, and then went to Canada.

Israeli Center Simon Wiesenthal centerengaged in tracing Nazi war criminals and made Katryna in the list of most wanted persons.

In Canada, the Punisher felt fine. Settling in Quebec, he married, started a bee farm and for many years was considered a decent citizen.

In 1999, when Canada became widely known the information about his collaboration with the Nazis, Katryuk was denied canadian citizenship. However, after a decade of proceedings under the active pressure of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Canada Katryna fully restored the rights of a canadian citizen.

Death of the executioner. In Canada, died of the Ukrainian Punisher Vladimir Katryuk

The Simon Wiesenthal center has provided the canadian authorities with information pointing to the fact that Vladimir Katryuk personally participated in the mass killings of civilians on the territory of the Byelorussian SSR.

In fact, the government of Canada did nothing to the last executioner of Khatyn was brought before the court.

In 2015, the head investigative Department of SK of Russia against Vladimir Katryuk was a criminal case under article 357 of the criminal code (genocide).

Russian authorities sent a request to Canada for extradition of the criminal. But in may 2015, the Deputy Prosecutor General of Russia Alexander Zvyagintsev has reported that Canada has refused to Russia its extradition.

Vladimir Katryuk, died 22 may 2015 at 94 years old.

The person who is responsible for the painful death of women and children of the Belarusian Katyn, died in his bed due to the political benefits at that time.


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova


  • © Photo: Anna Sotnikova

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