Friday, April 13, 2012

The worst thing that ever happened: 13 April 1940


On this day in 1940, the Royal Navy skirmished with the Kriegsmarine on the coast of Norway, the British cabinet dithered about landing troops at Trondheim, and the Russians quietly went about their project of emptying eastern Poland of anyone who might pose a threat to the future Soviet state. As a terrified six-year-old, my friend Basia Deszberg was bundled into a boxcar with her sister, mother, and forty or fifty others to begin an eighteen-day journey to the steppes of eastern Kazakhstan, there to survive as best they could. (The children in the photo have been variously identified as Polish, Lithuanian, and Russian.)

April 13 also happens to be Katyn Remembrance Day in Poland and other parts of the world, because on that day in 1942 the Germans told the world that they had uncovered mass graves of Polish soldiers near Smolensk in Russia, then occupied by the German army. I have written about this in A Death in the Forest, a 99-cent download from Amazon. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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