THE SOVIET INVASION OF POLAND DURING WORLD WAR TWO

Home
The Situation in 1982
Interwar Period and September Campaign: The fate of Bronislaw Sokolowski
Deported to Siberia and travels through the Middle East
Italy 1943-45
England 1946-47
Canada
Eastern Poland
Anna Usowicz
Soviet Occupation of Poland 1939
Invasion Map
Invasion: Battles and War Crimes
Second Invasion
Stories
More Stories
Fallen Soldiers1
People's Army
Fallen Soldiers2
Statistics
About Us
Contact Us
Links

NEW BOOKS
 
The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War by Halik Kochanski, a British historian whose Polish parents survived the war. An excellent new book which details the entire Polish experience during World War Two. This book should be used as a text in Polish schools across the English speaking world. ISBN 978-1-846-14354-0
 
Iron Curtain, 1944-1956: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, by Anne Applebaum, explains the subjugation of eastern Europe by the Soviet Union and its communist puppets. Thoroughly told without the built in biases and ignorance of earlier western historians. ISBN 978-0-7710-0763-7
 
Bloodlands, Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder, explores some of the main atrocities committed by Hitler and Stalin. ISBN 978-0-465-00239-9 
 
Gulag, A History, by Anne Applebaum.  ISBN 1-4000-3409-4

GALLERY LIST:

Karol Stachura (also see "Stories" page).

Franciszka Dobrowlanska (also see "More Stories" page).

General Tokarzewski-Karaszewicz Medals

Antoni Lubniewski (also see "Stories" page).

Edward Jurczenko (also see "Stories" page).

Jozef Klimczak (also see "Stories" page).

La Baule Escoublac Cemetery

LINKS OF INTEREST:

CLICK HERE to visit our sister site "The German Invasion of Poland During WW2"

"FallenSoldiers3" contains the names of soldiers known to have perished while fighting in Polish units under the command of the Soviet Red Army on the Eastern Front during WW2. CLICK HERE to visit FallenSoldiers3.

sokolowski1918.jpg

Photo Above: Wojciech Sokolowski, with his family, in a photo taken circa 1918. Wojciech is wearing the uniform of the Austro-Hungarian army (showing the rank of gefreiter). Poland officially regained her independence on November 11th 1918, but in reality, independence was not secured until after the Polish-Russian war of 1918-21.

We are actively:  
  • Collecting survivor biographies and autobiographies in any form (written, typed, scribbled, audio or video), in any language, in any condition, regardless of whether they have been completed or not.
  • Translating the vast amount of material available in Polish into English.
  • Collecting documents, notes, books, pamphlets, medals, militaria, photos and memorabilia for donation to archives or museums.
  • Educating the children and grandchildren of the survivors and the general public about the full Polish experience during WW2. Much of the story is unknown. 

Some relatively unknown facts about Poland and WW2:
  • Portions of Poland were one of the few German occupied territories in Europe where helping a Jew was punishable by death; often entire families were executed for the crime. It took phenomenal courage for a Pole to reach out to a Jew under these circumstances and many did.
  • The Soviets invaded Eastern Poland on September 17, 1939, dividing the country into two halves in a deal with the German Reich, and promptly began deporting citizens to Siberia, beginning with prisoners of war.
  • According to documents signed by Stalin and his senior staff and revealed to the world by Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviets condemned to death some 22,000 captured Polish officers, militia and police for the crime of being dangerous to the Soviet State. Many of these men (and women) were murdered in and around the forests of Katyn in early 1940.The mass graves were later discovered by the Germans but the British and American governments, by then allied with the Soviets, ignored the massacre. The largest grave contained 800 bodies. Grave sites of mass murders ( not just of Poles) continue to be uncovered. 
  • Deported Poles in Siberia and those languishing in Soviet jails were officially freed by the Soviet dictator shortly after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941. However, due to the great need for slave labour, many camp commandants were reluctant to let their Polish prisoners go and did everything they could to stop them. Of those who could get away, many of them (men, women and children including many orphans) headed south to escape the Soviets and join the Polish Army being formed on Soviet soil. This army would later become known as the Polish Second Corps which fought under the operational command of the British 8th Army in Italy. Many of those who could not get away in time, joined (or were forced into) the Soviet army and fought in Polish units against the Germans on the eastern front.  
  • Polish soldiers, citizens and refugees were devastated when the British and American leaders handed over post war control of Poland to Stalin, the Soviet dictator who had invaded their country. He assembled a puppet government from amongst Polish communists while the true Polish Government-in-Exile in London was excluded despite that fact that it had stood by Britain from the start of the war. 
  • The Polish Armed Forces in the West remained poised and ready to boot the Soviets out of Poland as late as 1945. However the British government, tired of war and anxious not to upset Stalin, demobilized them instead. Even worse, following protests by Stalin, they did not allow these allied soldiers to participate in London's Victory parade.  

The Re-invasion of Poland by Soviet Forces in 1944-45
 
Standard history texts and articles continually refer to the "liberation" of Poland by the Soviet Red Army towards the end of World War Two. There was no true liberation but merely the replacement of one brutal regime by another. The Soviets literally occupied post-war Poland, with the aid of Polish troops and Communist puppets installed by and loyal to Stalin, until the late 1980s.
 
A quote from Neal Ascherson's book, The Polish August, summarizes this fact: "The Stalinist epoch in Poland was at once sinister and grotesque, a period in which the party ruled through open police terror... Poland was opened to almost uncontrolled Soviet economic exploitation, through one-sided terms of trade, while the bureaucracy was in some areas thoroughly penetrated by Soviet advisers. All this was accompanied by deafening propaganda devoted to imaginary successes and to equally imaginary espionage or subversion plots against the regime."
 
The Polish August, Neal Ascherson, Penguin Books, 1981    

Wedding of Bronislaw Sokolowski August 1, 1939
wedding.gif
Bronislaw with bride Halina Szymanska at the resort of Truskawiec

The following people appear in the wedding photo above:
 
Standing, Left to Right:
Zosia Sokolowska (groom's sister, Toronto, Canada)
Krystyna Szymanska (bride's sister, survived the war)
Wladyslaw Sokolowski (groom's brother, Toronto Canada)
Czeslawa (Czesia) Wulf (groom's cousin, fought with Polish units in Red Army at Berlin, left arm and left leg lost in explosion, officer, buried in Warsaw Military Cemetary)
Urszula Szymanska (bride's sister, fate unknown)
Name Unknown (principal, Jozef Pilsudski School, Drohobycz, fate unknown)
Marysia Skiba (groom's sister, Toronto, Canada)
 
Sitting, Left to Right:
Anna Sokolowska (groom's mother, nee Pola, Toronto, Canada)
Halina Szymanska (bride, Ottawa, Canada)
Bronislaw Sokolowski (groom, Toronto, Canada)
Zofia Szymanska (mother of the bride, Poland)
Marian Szymanski (father of the bride, professor, Poland)
 
 
 
 

Our Plan

We ask all Survivors and their children to consider their heritage to be worth saving for posterity. We ask that they contact us to arrange to have their historical documents or artifacts donated to a major archive (if they are not to be passed on to the next generation).
 
Despite our focus on the survivors of Siberia (Sybiraks), we are also trying to account for all Poles who perished during the war.

The Ubiquity of Slavery
 
On the Pacific Coast Indians of North America:
 
"Everywhere along the coast the richest families had slaves. A rich coastal Indian who owned many slaves could use them to do various kinds of work, including making canoes, weaving blankets, or spearing salmon. Slaves paddled the rich Indians' war canoes while the owner rode in splendor on a throne.
 
Although other Indians of North America occasionally made slaves of strangers, only among the Indians of the Pacific coast was slavery a common part of everyday life. A slave had no rights at all and could be bought or sold or killed at the pleasure of the owner. Many Indians, like the Haida and the Tlingit, went out regularly on raiding parties to capture more slaves. Usually only women and children were sought on slave raids. The men were considered too dangerous, so they were killed. A male slave child was allowed to grow up, however. He was no threat. By the time he was an adult he knew of no other life than that of his masters, and had no place to escape to anyway.
 
Most slave raids went from north to south because the Indians of British Columbia and Alaska were richer and more powerful than those to the south. But the Indians of Washington and Oregon sometimes raided each other for slaves. It was not unknown for neighboring villages to raid each other, back and forth, capturing and recapturing slaves."
__________________________________________________________________
Pacific Coast Indians of North America, Grant Lyons, Julian Messner, New York, 1983
 
_______________________________________
 
Europeans Visit Easter Island:
 
"Again, as on other Pacific Islands, 'black-birding,' the kidnapping of islanders to become laborers, began on Easter around 1805 and climaxed in 1862-63, the grimmest year of Easter's history, when two dozen Peruvian ships abducted about 1,500 people (about half of the surviving population) and sold them at auction to work in Peru's guano mines and other menial jobs."
 
Inuit Take Slaves:
 
"... in Iceland's annals for the year 1379: 'The skraelings (Inuit in this instance) assaulted the Greenlanders, killing 18 men, and captured two boys and one bondswoman and made them slaves."
___________________________________________________________________
Collapse, Jared Diamond, Penguin Books, U.S.A., 2006
 
___________________________________________
 
The Huron Indians of southern Ontario province, Canada, at the time of European Exploration:
 
"The Huron took prisoners in war to burn and then eat. Such captives might be distributed to different villages or nations and given to those who had lost relatives to the enemy. A prisoner might be given to a distant tribe. They seldom put to death women and children, but kept some for themselves or made presents of them to those who had previously lost some of their own in war. They made much of these substitutes, as if they were actually their own children. When the captives grew up, they went to war against their own parents and men of their nation as bravely as if they had been born enemies of their own country. If the warriors were unable to carry off the women and children they had captured, they put them to death and carried off their heads or the hairy scalp."
___________________________________________________________________
An Ethnography of The Huron Indians, E. Tooker, originally published 1964, Bulletin # 190, Bureau of American Ethnology.
____________________________________
 
Canada:
 
"When John Graves Simcoe arrived in Upper Canada (now Ontario) as lieutenant governor in 1792, slavery was already an established fact among the population of 14,000. Nine members of the Legislative Council, appointed rulers, were slave-owners or members of slave-owning families. Six of the 16 elected legislators owned slaves.
 
"Canda's first known African settler, Olivier Lejeune, came to Quebec as a slave boy in 1628, owned by a Jesuit priest, Father Paul Lejeune from France. By 1688 the population of New France (Quebec) numbered 9,000 and the white settlers needed workers to do the heavy lifting.
 
"Though French law forbade slavery, an official letter from Louis XIV on May 1, 1689, allowed it in Canada. Africans became field hands, domestics, the ones forced to do the hard work the colonialists refused. Slavery here was less prevalent than south of the border, but the attitude was similar.
 
"In inventories, slaves were often listed with the animals. 'A Negro was a slave everywhere and no one was astonished to find him in bondage,' writes Daniel Hill in The Freedom Seekers.
 
"It would be 1834 before slavery was officially abolished in Canada and the entire British empire. But the anti-slavery efforts of Simcoe and others had made the practice less and less tolerated in Ontario..."
___________________________________________________________________
From an article by Royson James appearing in the Toronto Star, February 5, 2007, page A11.
 
_________________________________________
 
Mauritania today:
 
"They are not chained or branded with the mark of their masters, but they are slaves.
 
"In the Saharan Islamic state of Mauritania, a centuries-old system of bondage is resisting the rise of democracy in the former French colony.
 
"Herding camels or goats in the sun-blasted dunes of the Sahara, or serving hot mint tea to guests in the richly carpeted villas of Nouakchott, Mauritanian slaves are passed on as family chattels from generation to generation in this hierarchical society dominated by a Moorish elite and a brand of Islam that preaches submission.
 
" 'If a woman is a slave, her descendants are slaves,' says Boubacar Messaoud, who was born into bondage and is now his country's leading anti-slavery activist.
 
"Anti-slavery activists say it is impossible to tell how many people remain enslaved in Mauritania, a mineral-rich country twice the size of France whose 3 million population mixes Moors and black Mauritanians of several ethnic groups.
 
"Messaoud says the practice continues with all its manifestations - non-paid work, punishment, forced sex and other abuses - despite a 1981 decree outlawing slavery.
 
"President-elect Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi belongs to the white Moorish elite, some of whose members deny that slavery exists at all.
 
"Questions about the practice can draw suspicion and silence, but activists say the master-slave relationship and its social repercussions are branded into the minds of all Mauritanians, just as class-consciousness still haunts social discourse in Britain and other European states.
 
"Among the black majority in Nouakchott's sprawling, dirt-poor slums, the testimonies about enduring slavery are repeated, and heartfelt.
 
" 'Yes it's true,' confirms Abdarahman Ould Mohamed Abd, 52, a street vendor sitting outside his ramshackle hut. 'In the interior of the country, it's the worst. You see it in the way some people treat others. Sometimes (the masters) have even killed children.'
 
"His own surname means ' son of Mohamed Slave' - 'Abd' being the Arabic word for slave.
 
" But victims periodically surface, such as Matalla, a black Mauritanian who two years ago escaped from members of a Berber warrior tribe, the Reguibat, who were holding him and his family in the isolated deserts of northeast Mauritania.
 
" 'I was born a slave,' Matalla says with lowered gaze. 'All my family, all my ancestors were slaves of that group. My aunt, my brothers are still slaves with them.'
 
"He says he herded camels for his masters, ate only leftovers from their table and suffered occasional beatings.
 
"Asked how many slaves his masters had, Matalla answers: 'There are more than can be counted.'
 
"Historians say that slavery developed in Mauritania from the 7th century, when Arab invaders pushed south through the Sahara, bringing an Islamic system that explicitly allowed the enslavement of non-believers.
 
"This blossomed into a trans-Saharan slave trade that trafficked in black Africans several centuries before the peak of the european-run Atlantic slave trade. Some historians argue that the practice of slavery already existed in black Africa.
 
"This religious sanctioning of slavery - and the establishment of Arabicized Berber ruling castes whose wealth was partially based on it - has marked Mauritanian society.
 
" 'There is a racial policy here... It's the politics of domination,' says black politician Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, adding that Islamic law and succession rights guaranteed the perpetuation of slavery, passing on ownership from master to son.
 
"He says the 1981 ban 'doesn't exist' in practice. 'The state has never prosecuted anyone.'
 
"Slavery is so ingrained in this society that it has crossed racial and social barriers, he says, and many Mauritanians remain 'slaves in their heads' even after freedom.
 
" 'There are white slaves. There are blacks with black slaves. There are even freed slaves who have slaves.' "
___________________________________________________________________
Condensed version of the article Slavery Endures in Saharan Setting, Pascal Fletcher, Reuters News Agency, as published in the Toronto Star newspaper, April 8, 2007, page A16.
 
 
Update on slavery in Mauritania
 
(From the Toronto Star, July 20, 2013, the source being the Foreign Policy Magazine):
 
"Twenty percent of the Mauritanian population remains illegally enslaved. Slavery was not formally abolished in the country until 1981."