In a recently published novel by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth, IV, The Assassination Option, the authors tell a story of a dinner conversation at the Tehran Conference. The story, mentioned as a true story by historian Robert Gellately, in his book Stalin's Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War, pp. 177-178, Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt were discussing ways to prevent post-war Germany from fighing another war. Stalin reportedly proposed that between 50,000 and 100,000 German officers be summarily executed after the war to deprive Germany of experienced military leadership thereafter. Roosevelt thought he was joking and jokingly replied that perhaps 49,000 would be enough. However Winston Churchill, perhaps aware that the Soviets had allegedly murdered 22,000 Polish officers at Katyn Forest, was furious at the thought of "the cold-blooded execution of soldiers who had fought for their country," and left the room in disgust. Stalin brought him back into the room saying that he was joking. Was he? Gellately asserts that Stalin was serious and actually did the deed through a combination of the Nuremberg show trials and secret "trials" of more than 55,000 Germans and Austrians that the Soviets accused of committing war crimes. Of those, Gellately states that the Soviets found 25,921 of them guilty? Ibid. at p 178. He presumes that most, if not all were executed.

In their novel, Griffin and Butterworth cite the Tehran Conference story and make another interesting assertion I'm not sure is fiction or fact -- that is that Russia had a secret side agreement with the Germans, negotiated with the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement. In the agreement, Stalin promised that he would summarily execute the bulk of the Polish officer corps above field grade level. The result was the Katyn Forest massacre. Griffin's historic novels are generally well-researched. Is this assertion of Germany's prior knowledge of, and possible complicity in, the Katyn Forest massacre fact or fiction?

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    What is the source for the claim about the 55000 secret trials? – Felix Goldberg Jan 14 '15 at 19:49
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    The second paragraph needs to be excised. It is a second very separate question, and one premised on conspiratorial reasoning. The first paragraph fundamentally confuses the difference between "summary" and "sentenced" executions. – Samuel Russell Jan 14 '15 at 20:06
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    No, you asked whether Stalin was "serious" or not. How is any one but himself (maybe not even then) supposed to know? In your own story Roosevelt thinks Stalin was joking while Churchill thought he was serious. That's called opinion-based. – Semaphore Jan 15 '15 at 15:44
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    Also, the second paragraph is still asking a distinctly separate question. While the Katyn Massacre may suggest the Tehran story is in character for Stalin (and vice versa), one post should be focused on asking one question. Perhaps you could ask whether Stalin was in the habit of mass murdering pow officers, but then your title should be rewritten to reflect that. – Semaphore Jan 15 '15 at 15:46
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    Stalin didn't need any agreement or cooperation from the Germans to execute the officers. He caught them, he killed them all on his own. The only way the Germans entered into it was that for some time the Soviets and Allies blamed the Germans for the massacre. – Oldcat Jan 16 '15 at 1:06