Academician Burdenko syndrome

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Academician Burdenko syndrome occurs when a person brings a priori biased assumptions to scientific research[note 1] and as a result fails to conduct an impartial investigation and replaces the scientific method with fabricated just-so stories, either out of their own distorted convictions or under the pressure to present politically correct research results and their interpretation regardless of insufficient or contradictory evidence. If a theory or point of view is treated, in direct contradiction to Socratic principle, only as a doctrine to be validated and not one to be challenged, it is not regarded as being scientific.[2]

Historical background

Incriminated German hands vs. the highest level of punishment to incorrigible enemies of Soviet power

In 1942, after the Soviet Army had withdrawn from the region[note 2], the advancing German troops found a mass grave of thousands of Polish officers near Smolensk.[6] The Germans refused to take responsibility for the murders and organized exhumations witnessed by International Red Cross and foreign independent forensic scientists, among them, for example, a forensic pathologist Professor Ljudevit Jurak of Zagreb University.[7] After making the Official Statement Concerning the Mass Murder at Katyn prepared by the German Information Bureau on direct special order of the German Foreign Office, they accused the Soviet forces and attempted to make the case an international scandal.[5] Being familiar with Nazi atrocities, many Poles themselves regarded the effort for being just another masterpiece of Nazi propaganda.[8]

In January 1944, after retaking the territory by Soviet Army, the Soviet government in turn denied the accusations and formed a special commission, headed by academician Burdenko to investigate into the case. Thus, Burdenko’s name became the center of attention linked to the Katyn Massacre case.[9] Prior to having done the forensic research thoroughly, he made the following claim:[note 3]
“All of these execution methods incriminate German hands, and I will prove it at the end.”

Consequently, the final official report by Burdenko’s commission concluded in line with this a priori claim that the Polish officers were killed by the Germans: "From the state of bodies, brains, and clothes one can judge that executions of [Polish] officers took place no earlier than in the fall of 1941". An enormous pressure was made on scientists participating in the original International Medical Commission summoned by German authorities. The Bulgarian expert, Dr. Markov, lecturer at the University of Sofia, subsequently revoked his signed statement, included in the report of the International Medical Commission. Professor of Pathology and Anatomy at Zagreb University Ljudevit Jurak skilled in forensic medicine however refused to revoke his professional opinion that the Katyn Forrest Massacre and slaughter of Ukrainians at Vinnytsa were Soviet crimes. Communist regime arrested him again and offered to renounce his statements by saying he gave them under compulsion in return for being pardoned. As he confirmed his refusal, the Military Court accused him for collaborating with the foreign occupation forces and for committing the war crime "by cultural collaboration with the enemy", i.e. for:

  • "being a member of the so called "International Committee" instructed by German Ministry of Foreign affairs and Ministry of Health to ascribe mass slaughter to the friendly Soviet Russia by using their allegedly scientific knowledge
  • publishing "tendentious photographs of the excavation site"
  • deliberately and maliciously propagandizing against friendly Soviet Russia, and therefore indirectly against Croatian people; spreading fear and hatred towards the Soviet Russia in Croatian peasants and working class.

The verdict "found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death by shooting, permanent loss of citizen's honours, and confiscation of property" was delivered after he was already shot death and included ridiculous note "There is no right of complaint against this verdict" (presumably because it is hard to complain from the grave; because they have already shot their victim) as well as slogan "Death to fascism-freedom to people!". In September, 1946, when the Nuremberg Trial was nearing its end, Soviets hired a Communist member of the Swiss Grand Council, Mr. Vincent (Swiss Communists ostensibly belong to the "Labour Party"), who consequently deemed it expedient to launch an attack against Francois Naville, the Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Geneva,[11] on account of his participation in an International Medical Commission which in 1943 had conducted an investigation at Katyn and later published its well-known report. Mr. Vincent chose the form of an interpellation addressed to the Geneva Executive Body (State Council). Dr. Naville, who had agreed to act as legal expert at the request of the German Government in April, 1943, refused the accusations of acting under the pressure of Gestapo: "Mr. Vincent asserts that I was acting under constant pressure from the Gestapo, which prevented us from having a free hand. This is absolutely untrue. I do not know whether the police were represented amongst those who received and accompanied us (doctors and guides), but I can definitely state that we were able to proceed undisturbed with our work as experts. I did not notice any signs of pressure being exerted on myself or on any of my colleagues. We were always able to discuss all matters freely amongst ourselves without the Germans being present."

Conscience of scientist
"If opposite would be true about the Katyn Forest, I would not hesitate to say that absolutely openly, and I would definitely not sign the protocol. I'm neither a man approachable via backdoor nor a man who can be bribed, let alone a man who could be forced to describe untruth."
— František Šubík, a signatory of the 1943 report[12]

Among experts from 12 countries in the German guided investigation commission was also Slovak František Šubík, M.D. Professor of Pathological Anatomy at Bratislava University, and Czech Professor of Forensic medicine and Criminology František Hájek from Charles University of Prague.[13]

Hájek, who as representative of the so-called Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia dissected two exhumed corpses in Katyn, was later, after the war and 1948 Communist putsch in Czechoslovakia, forced to give public "testimony" that was in 1952 published by main communist newspaper "Rudé právo". There in he asserted, contrary to implication of the 1943 report that he had signed, that Polish officers were killed by Nazis.[14] Šubík however, unlike Hájek, never delivered similar "testimony" that communists expected of him and after severe persecution secretely emigrated through Iron curtain into USA.[12]

Only in 1991 after declassification of the archives was the truth established – some 20 thousand Polish officers had been murdered on orders of the Soviet government upon their occupation of Poland in 1939. Among the declassified documents were notes by Beria, where it is stated that the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs de facto suggests to shoot "inveterate and incorrigible enemies of Soviet power":
The NKVD of the USSR considers it necessary to propose to try the case of former Polish officers etc. located in the POW camps in separate proceedings by applying the highest level of punishment by shooting. The trying the case should be carried out without prompting arrestees and without announcing the formal indictment, the decision to terminate the investigation, and the final judgment.

The notes were signed by Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Mikoyan and other Soviet leaders, all voted "for" the implementation of suggestion.[15] According to Russian historians,[6] the archives also contained a report dated 1946 from the then terminally ill Burdenko, in which he shared with his friend who had defected from the USSR, “Following the personal order of Stalin I went to Katyn where they had just excavated the graves. All bodies had been buried 4 years before. They died in 1940… For me, as a doctor, it was an obvious fact, which I couldn’t doubt. Our comrades from the NKVD [KGB predecessor] made a big mistake.” In November 2010 Russia's lower house of parliament (Duma) declared that the Soviet dictator and other Soviet officials had ordered the "Katyn crime" in 1940 and condemned Joseph Stalin by name for the mass execution of Poles at Katyn during World War II.[16]

From a report on the Katyn crime prepared by the Soviet Special Commission headed by Nikolai Burdenko (January 24, 1944) All materials gathered by the Special Commission [...] compel us to formulate the following conclusions:[17]
1. The prisoners of war - Poles, who had stayed in the three camps located west of Smolensk and who had worked there building roads before the start of the [German-Soviet] war were present in these camps also after the German occupiers captured Smolensk - until the end of September 1941;
2. In the autumn of 1941 the German occupation authorities conducted in the Katyn forest mass shootings of POWs - Poles, from the above-mentioned camps; [...]
4. In connection with the deterioration of Germany's general military and political situation at the start of 1943 the German occupation authorities launched a number of provocation actions with the purpose of attributing their own crimes to the organs of Soviet power and craftily setting the Russians and Poles at variance;
5. In order to achieve this:

a) the German fascist invaders tried with the help of persuasion, bribes, threats and brutal beatings to find "witnesses" among Soviet citizens who would testify falsely that the prisoners of war - Poles, were allegedly shot dead by the organs of Soviet power in the spring of 1940; b) in the spring of 1943 the German occupation authorities started to bring from other places the bodies of POWs - Poles, shot by them and to throw them into the uncovered graves in the Katyn forest with the purpose of obliterating their own crimes and increasing the number of "victims of Bolshevik bestialities" in the Katyn forest;

6. It has been established beyond doubt from the evidence of the medico-legal experts, that (a) the time of the shooting was the autumn of 1941...
8. When shooting the prisoners of war - Poles, in the Katyń forest the German fascist invaders were consistently implementing their policy of physical extermination of Slavic nations [...].
Signed: Chairman of the Special Commission, Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, Academician Burdenko.[5]


  1. According to Paul Nelson, Philosopher of Biology, science ought to be search of truth about the world.[1]
  2. The Soviets had occupied the Eastern part of Poland in agreement with the Secret Amendment of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact since the beginning of the Polish-German war in 1939. Article II of that agreement stated: "In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state, the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narev, Vistula and San. The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish States and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments. In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement."[3] The Germans, who declared the war to Soviet Russia on June 21, 1941,[4] had not arrived into this region until the Summer or Autumn of 1941, after the first successes of their offensive in the direction of Smolensk, which however together with Katyn are actually situated already in an area which lay inside the borders of the USSR before 1939.
    • If the killings took place in 1940 or the Winter of 1940-41, then these men were executed by the Soviets.
    • If the corpses dated from the Autumn of 1941 or from 1942, then the murderers were Germans.[5]
  3. In Russian: Все эти способы убийств изобличают немецкие руки, я это со временем докажу.[10]


  1. Stephen C. Meyer, W. Peter Allen (July 15, 2004). Unlocking the Mystery of Life. Illustra Media. Retrieved on August 3, 2014. “The proposition is from DVD documentary.”
  2. Randal Hedtke (2010). Secrets of the Sixth Edition. Master Books, 57. ISBN 978-0-89051-597-6. “But a month later I receievd response from several science teachers who had gotten together. The pertinent statement in their response is this one relative to the evolution curriculum: "If a theory or point of view is treated only as a doctrine to be validated, and not one to be challenged, it is not within the realm of science."” 
  3. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, 1939. Modern History Sourcebook, the History Department of Fordham University, New York.
  4. German Declaration of War on the Soviet Union. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved on November 24, 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Official German Documentary Evidence Of The Katyn Case. Retrieved on September 17, 2013. “In 1943 the German authorities published a special report under the title: "The Official Statement Concerning the Mass Murder at Katyn. Collected, prepared and edited by the German Information Bureau on the basis of documentary evidence by order of the German Foreign Office."[Amthches Material zum Massenmord van Katyn. Im Auftrage aea Auswartigen Amtes auf Grund urkundlichen Beweismaterials zusammengestellt, bearbeitet und herauagegeben von der Deutschen mjormationastelle"—Berlin 1943.] This volume of 330 pages begins with a short introductory section entitled "General Outline", followed by the "Documentary Evidence", divided in five chapters.”
  6. 6.0 6.1 Olga Prodan. Prominent Russians: Nikolay Burdenko. Russiapedia, Retrieved on September 17, 2013.
  7. Professor Ljudevit Jurak of Zagreb University. Retrieved on September 17, 2013.
  8. From a report on the Katyn crime prepared by the Soviet Special Commission headed by Nikolai Burdenko. Katyn crime. Retrieved on September 9, 2013. “And then we heard the shocking, unexpected news in spring 1943: the Nazis discovered Katyn graves of murdered Polish officers The graves were uncovered and exhumed in presence of the Polish Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross and forensic experts from a few countries. Even a group of Polish officers held prisoners in some Nazi POW (Prisoner Of War) camps were brought to the scene. I remember a story that has never been published as far as know. Brandys said one of these Polish officers had survived the war and told Brandys the following story: While the officer stood one one side over the graves, a Nazi colonel asked him from the other side: „Captain, how long do you think these bodies have been buried?“ And the Polish officer gave a very specific answer. The colonel asked how the captain could be so specific. And the captain said: „I was your forensic medicine student in Berlin, so I learnt.“ The story demonstrates how indisputable was the fact that it was Soviets who was responsible for the massacre. We were far from the territories invaded by Soviet Union in 1939 and we did not know what the Red Army had done to Poles living there. We knew very little about the Soviet Union. On the other hand, we knew by own experience what Nazis were capable of. I saw executions in Radom with my own eyes. We heard about Auschwitz, street executions and other atrocities, so we suspected Nazis. My mother, brother and I learned about Katyn massacre from an article published in Zycie Radomskie, a newspaper controlled by Nazi propaganda, like all other newspapers. Later on, the newspaper published lists of victims and the names.”
  9. М. Сорокина. "Операция "Умелые руки", или что увидел академик Бурденко в Орле" (Operation "Crafty hands" or what had seen the academician Burdenko in Orel) (Russian). Retrieved on September 17, 2013.
  10. Юрий Мухин. Поведение бригады Сталина (The conduct of Stalin's brigade) (Russian). “Центр тяжести работы нашей комиссии лежит в установлении сроков и методов убийств… Методы убийства тождественны со способами убийств, которые я нашёл в Орле и которые были обнаружены в Смоленске. Кроме того, у меня есть данные об убийстве психических больных в Воронеже в количестве 700 человек. Психические больные были уничтожены в течение 5 часов таким же методом.”
  11. Warren F. Kimball (2015). Churchill and Roosevelt, Volume 2: The Complete Correspondence. Princeton University Press, 400. ISBN 978-14008-79991. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 [ttp:// Slovák skúmal hroby v Katyni, pravda sa mu kruto vypomstila] (Slovak) (28. apríla 2013). Retrieved on 27 Dec 2016. “„Ak by bol o Katynskom lese opak pravdou, neváhal by som to povedať úplne otvorene, alebo by som protokol rozhodne nepodpísal. Nie som človekom ani zadných dvierok, ani človekom, ktorého možno podplatiť alebo dokonca prinútiť popísať nepravdu“”
  13. O’Malley report 11 Feb 1944. Retrieved on 27 Dec 2016. “Dr. Hajek, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology in Prague; Dr.Subik, Professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University of Bratislava and head of the Public Health Service of Slovakia.”
  14. [ttp:// Doktora Šubíka zahubila pravda o Katyni - Andrej Žarnov] (Slovak). Retrieved on 31 Dec 2016. “Písal sa rok 1952 a zase tu bola jar. Šubíkovho kolegu doktora Františka Hájka práve prinútili v Prahe, aby znovu verejne vystúpil a tvrdil, že poľských dôstojníkov v Katyni postrieľali nemeckí nacisti. Jeho "svedectvo" uverejnilo Rudé právo. Šubík podobnému tlaku neustúpil ani tentoraz. Šubík a Hájek boli členmi medzinárodnej komisie, ktorá sa o deväť rokov skôr, v apríli 1943 zúčastnila v Katynskom lese na obhliadke masových hrobov a na pitve niektorých zavraždených.... Keď navyše Katyn koncom roku 1943 znovu ovládali jednotky Červenej armády, zorganizovala Moskva vlastnú akciu. Poslala tam komisiu súdneho lekárstva vedenú akademikom Nikolajom Burdenkom, ktorá vydala z "obhliadky" vlastné svedectvo, vyhovujúce politike Kremľa.”
  15. Елена Чинкова (April 28, 2010). Рассекречены подлинные документы по Катыни: Поляков расстреляли по приказу Сталина [Записка Берии, Постановление Политбюро И Другие Важнейшие Документы (Declassified original documents on Katyn: Poles were shot on Stalin's orders [Beria's notes, Decision of the Politburo and other Important Documents])] (Russian).
  16. Russian parliament condemns Stalin for Katyn massacre. BBC News Europe (26 November 2010). Retrieved on March 9, 2014.
  17. (1965) Sprawa polska w czasie II wojny światowej na arenie międzynarodowej. Zbiór dokumentów (The Polish Issue during WW2. Collection of Documents). 

See also