Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Type

Honors Project


College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Nurith Zmora

Second Advisor

John Mazis



In the spring of 1940, roughly twenty two thousand Polish officers, the cream of Poland’s intelligentsia, were executed in Katyn forest. While the Soviet Union blamed Nazi Germany for the massacre, in the past seventy years all gathered evidence including documents from the Soviet archives, point out to the Soviet Union as responsible for the killings. However, the British and American governments, who had knowledge of the Katyn Massacre, were engaged in a suppression of the truth, during the war and into the early years of the Cold War, even while they confronted the Soviet Union over Poland’s independence. The question is why? By examining the memoirs of the main officials in Truman administration who were involved in the cover-up—Dean Acheson, George Kennan, William Averell Harriman and Truman himself—as well as studying the recent declassified 1951-1952 Congressional Report on Katyn Massacre, which shows that several U.S. governmental agencies, particularly the State Department, were directly responsible for suppressing information about this event, this study offers explanations for the United States’ decision to withhold that evidence from the American public.