THE SOVIET INVASION OF POLAND DURING WORLD WAR TWO

Invasion: Battles and War Crimes

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On This Page:
  1. Introduction
  2. The Polish-Soviet War of 1918-20
  3. Overview of the invasion: a) Overview, b) Red Army Summary, c) Polish Army Summary, d) Polish Units in the  Eastern Borderlands During the Second Half of September, 1939, e) Battles and Skirmishes in the Eastern Borlderlands.
  4. The Soviet occupation and deportations
  5. Stories from the front
  6. The Declarations and Exhortation to Polish Soldiers
  7. Soviet War Crimes during the invasion and in the period following
  8. The Death Marches of the summer of 1941
  9. Atrocities committed later during the war
  10. Those left behind by General Anders' Army

1. INTRODUCTION
 
This page provides an overview of the first stages of the invasion of Poland and examples of Soviet atrocities committed during the invasion in September of 1939 and in the months that followed.
 
The listing of the following atrocities is in no way meant to inflame hatred against the ethnic groups whose members took part in or perpetrated them. Many members of the ethnic minorities living in the eastern provinces fought with the Polish military and para-military units. Many more did not participate in the anti-Polish campaign. The goal here is to provide a voice for the victims with the aim of reconciliation between all of the "tribes" of Europe.
 
Although it cannot explain the behaviour of an organized enemy, a New Orleans Red Cross volunteer helping out in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina  summed up the human behaviour of average folks during lawless times: "For every looter who would shoot at a rescue boat, there are a thousand stranded victims who would share their last bottle of water... yes there is confusion, corruption, incompetence and fear. But there is also human goodness, and that is what will endure." (Derek Burnett, Reader's Digest, November 2005, page 97)  

2. THE POLISH-SOVIET WAR OF 1918-20
 
The prelude to the Soviet Invasion of Poland in 1939 was the Polish-Soviet War of 1918-1920. At the conclusion of this war, after the new borders had been established, Poland continued to be harrassed by Soviet agents, disruptors and bandits.
 
As a result, the Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza (KOP) or Border Defense Corps was formed. The KOP was a larger, militarized version of the border patrol, better equipped and trained to handle the constant attempts at Soviet infiltration.
 
The Soviet threat was always very real. As the revolution in that country matured from 1917 and on into the 1920s, the Bolsheviks dreamed of a spreading their revolution to the world. As World War One was coming to an end, Germany and points west were ripe for revolution. Poland however, desperate to gain independence after 125 years of oppression, had gotten in the way when it defeated the Bolsheviks at the approaches to Warsaw and stopped the Red revolution from spreading westward. 
 
In the interwar years, the Soviet Union set up spy and agitator networks across much of the globe and aided indigenous Socialist and Communist parties (who believed the propaganda and thought that Soviet style Communism was working).
 
Lenin and Trotsky had formed the Comintern (Communist International) organization to bring together the world's Communists to plan their common struggle. With Soviet Communism the first to see realization, the Comintern offices (which included three Communist universities) were located in Moscow and the organization had close links to the GPU (State Political Administration).
 
"We taught Western Communists to operate underground, to manage illegal organizations, to organize disorders, etc.... In 1920, when we were thinking of German revolution, the GPU blew up an arsenal in Poland, just in case we had to go to the aid of the Germans via Poland..." (V. Saveliev, in Stalin)
 
To quote from the book Stalin, by Edvard Radzinsky:
 
"The gigantic resources of the country, seized by the Bolsheviks who so hated money, were lavished on the preparation of world revolution. In March 1922, for instance, 4 million lire were allocated to the Italian Communist Party, 47 million marks to the Germans, 640,000 francs to the French. The list was endless. Starving Moscow was feeding the Communist Parties of the whole world. People were swollen with hunger, but never mind, the world revolution was at hand.
 
"Studying the (invariably top secret) documents of the Comintern Commission for Illegal Work in the Party Archive, I saw how Koba's (Stalin's earlier revolutionary nickname) shadow hangs over all subversive activity the commission organized in Germany, Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the United States, Lithuania, and Latvia. Safe houses, clandestine printing presses, sabotage... Terrorists were to be planted in every country of the world."

CLICK HERE for a summary of the Polish-Soviet War of 1918-20. At the end of the article in the section titled "Aftermath" click on the link to the "main article" then to "Border Defence Corps" for a short history of that unit.

3. OVERVIEW OF THE INVASION OF POLAND BY SOVIET TROOPS IN SEPTEMBER 1939
 
a) Overview (from the book Wojna Polsko-Sowiecka 1939).
 
It is commonly assumed by scholars in the West that there was no or only token resistance to the Soviet invasion by Polish troops on and after September 17, 1939. This book will show that the assumption is incorrect. Active Polish armed resistance, in some sectors, persisted up until the 1st of October, 1939.
 
First, it must be noted that Poland and the Soviet Union had previously signed a non-aggression pact. This pact was obviously broken by the Soviets. Moreover, the Soviets then proceeded to sign a secret deal with the German Reich (the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty of August 23, 1939) to divide Poland between them. The treachery here is obvious.
 
When the Soviets attacked, taking the Poles by surprise, almost all Polish troops were engaged in a mortal fight, entering into its seventeenth day, with the German aggressor. Most of the combat divisions were already badly weakened, partially encircled by the highly motorized enemy, or even destroyed. Polish troops in the hinterland, where Soviet troops attacked, comprised one brigade and seven weakly-armed regiments of the Border Protection Corps (KOP) and some regular troops, but mostly reserves in the process of accelerated training, to be sent, as quickly as possible, to the German front; skeleton garrisons in cities and towns; units routed by the Germans trying to reorganize; supply units, field hospitals, etc. There was, therefore, no possibility of creating a regular front against the Soviet aggressors, who pushed forward with dozens of divisions, including a few thousand tanks. 
 
On September 17, 1939  the Polish High Command was located at Kolomyja, south-east of Lwow, close to the friendly Romanian border. When the first news of the Soviet aggression was broken, it received urgent requests from different commanders by radio, telegraph and telephone as to how to behave. These requests, and the confusion which reigned initially in some places, resulted to a great extent from the fact that Soviet troops, perfidiously masking their real intentions, often waved white flags, shouted "At the Germans!", saluted Polish soldiers, etc. Many Poles were, therefore, initially under the illusion that the Soviets may have decided to intervene against Germany.
 
The first orders from the High Command were "fight!" But some hours later, assessing the general tragic situation that had emerged, the Polish Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Smigly-Ridz, arrived at the conclusion that instead of waging a hopeless war against the invading Soviets, the best solution would be to save as many troops as possible for continued action in France. In this connection he issued the following "general directive": "The Soviets have entered. I order general withdrawl to Romania and Hungary by the shortest routes. No fighting with the Bolsheviks, only in case of attack by them or attempts to disarm units. The tasks of Warsaw and of cities that have had to defend themselves against the Germans - without change."
 
While access routes to Romania were cut off, by the Soviets, already by September 19/20, those to Hungary, situated further to the West, remained open a few days longer, and so 70 - 80,000 Polish troops managed to enter these countries (thousands of additional individual soldiers and volunteers crossed into Hungary during the following months, until the defeat of France). Prominent among the units that crossed in September was one of the two existing Polish motorized brigades, fighting on the day of Soviet aggression against Germans in the vicinity of Lwow (commanded by then Col., later Gen. Stanislaw Maczek, 1892 - 1994) and the rest of the Polish Air Force, some hundred planes, and a considerable number of motorized ground personnel. These men were to become the backbone of the Polish armoured division that took part in the invasion of France in 1944, and the Polish Air Force that played a considerable role in the Battle of Britain.
 
Obviously, because of the distances, the continued fighting with the Germans, and the Soviets doing their best to prevent the exodus, it could only embrace a relatively small portion of the Polish troops, mostly from the southern sector of Poland. Troops in the northern sector, fairly small in number, partially fighting with the Soviets, finally crossed the border into Lithuania, but some into Latvia; some did not cross until September 25/26. Many of the interned servicemen were quickly able to reach, via Sweden, the Polish Army formed in France. Finally, all the troops in the central sector fought the Soviets the longest, up to October 1, 1939. They were finally dispersed or had to capitulate, partially to the Germans.
 
In sum, between September 17 and October 1, 1939, there were a number of battles, and dozens of skirmishes, between Polish and Soviet troops. And almost everywhere along the extended Polish-Soviet border of almost 1,500 kilometres, KOP offered at least preliminary resistance during September 17/18. Later, partisan activities in some of the Soviet-occupied territories followed.
 
More specifically, there existed a fierce defence of the city of Grodno (September 20-21), in which some 800 Soviets were killed or wounded, and at least 10 of their tanks destroyed. Prior to that there had been rear-guard fighting by military units and volunteers in Wilno on the evening and during the night of September 18/19. Then came the battle of Kodziowce (September 22) , where a Polish regiment, belonging to the group commanded by Gen. Waclaw Przezdziecki, repelled all attacks by forty Soviet tanks and strong infantry units; Soviet losses in this region amounted to hundreds of killed and some 20 tanks destroyed.
 
Further south, in the region of Polesie, there was heavy fighting of the KOP Regiment "Sarny" which, based on its modern fortification and supported by a heavily-armed armoured train, was able to defend the state border for 3 to 4 days (September 17/18 - 19/20), inflicting heavy casualties on the attacking Soviets. To avoid being encircled, the "Sarny" Regiment later withdrew in order, joining the KOP Brigade "Polesie". The Group, led by Gen. Wilhelm Orlik-Ruckemann, and counting at one point over 7,000 men, withdrew westwards, covering 450 kilometres, and fighting against Soviet troops and the Communist "fifth column". During that march, the town of Ratno was taken from Communist hands (September 27), and a victorious battle was fought against Soviet troops at Szack (September 28). Finally, the River Bug was crossed into central Poland and there, after the battle of Wytyczno (October 1), when ammunition was running short, Gen. Ruckemann, instead of capitulating, ordered the dispersal of his troops. In sum, the Group destroyed some 20 Soviet tanks.
 
In the same region of Polesie, and later on the left bank of the River Bug, there operated the Group "Polesie", commanded by General Franciszek Kleeberg, counting at one point some 17,000 men. Between September 18/19 and 30, 1939, its combat was exclusively with Soviet troops (and Communist guerillas). One of its divisions fought two victorious battles against them at Puchowa Gora and Jablon (September 29) and Milanow (September 30). In the latter the enemy lost over 100 killed. During the days that followed, the Kleeberg group fought against the Germans; after a successful battle at Kock, but with ammunition almost gone, it capitulated on October 5, 1939. As this was the big unit that fought for the longest period of time against the Germans, it was revered in the censored (i.e. post-war Communist) Polish literature, with careful omission, of course, of its fighting with the Soviets. 
 
In the northern part of Volhynia, the 3rd KOP Regiment, withdrawing to the west, took by assault the town of Kolki, but was later, while trying to cross the river Stochod, confronted by overwhelming Soviet troops. In the battle that followed at the Borowicze-Hruziatyn-Nawoz triangle, the Soviets suffered heavy losses in killed and wounded, and a number of their tanks were destroyed. Finally, though, the Poles had to surrender on September 22nd. Considerable fighting also took place, on September 24-25th, at Husynne, in the Zamosc region.
 
Finally, even in the southern sector there was fighting with Soviet troops. Thus the KOP Regiment "Podole", apart from numerous smaller encounters along the border, defended the line of the Dniestr River until the evening of September 17, when the crucial bridge over it at Uscieczko was blown up by Polish troops. There were two clashes of Polish and Soviet armoured forces - one at Nizniow, on the river Dniestr, on September 17th; the second at Krasne, to the east of Lwow, on September 19th or 20th.
 
On September 26/27, a group of Polish cavalry regiments, commanded by Gen. Wladyslaw Anders and already mauled by the Germans during the previous weeks of fighting, was attacked by Soviet cavalry and tanks in the vicinity of Sambor, while trying to reach the Hungarian border to the South. There was fighting, and a number of Soviet tanks were destroyed. But finally most of the Polish group was encircled, and the order was given to the troops to disperse. Only a few managed to reach Hungary in small groups. General Anders was among those captured by the Soviets. Two regiments capitulated on September 28 to the Germans. 
 
According to Molotov in his speech to the Supreme Soviet on October 31, 1939, Soviet losses during the "liberation of Western Byelorussia and Western Ukraine" were originally set at 737 killed and 1862 wounded. More recent Russian publications quote  numbers as high as 5,327 men killed and wounded in action. It is quite possible that the real number may be as high as 7,000 to 10,000.    

b) The Red Army
 
The Soviet invasion forces were deployed on two fronts. The Byelorussian front, commanded by M. P. Kowalow, consisted of the 3rd ("komkor"  W. J. Kuzniecow), 11th ("komdiw" N.W. Miedwiejew), 10th ("komkor" J. G. Zacharkin)  and 4th ("komdiw" W. J. Czujkow)  armies as well as Dzierzynski's mechanized horse group "Podwiznaja" ("komkor" I. W. Boldin) and the 23rd independant rifle corps. The Ukrainian front commanded by S. K. Timoszenko, consisted of 5th ("komdiw" I. G. Sowietnikow), 6th ("komkor" F. J. Golikow) and 12th ("komandarm" I. W. Tiuleniew) armies. Each army and independant corps was accompanied by an air force group.
 
Polish general Wolikowski, a veteran of the Tsar's army and Polish divisions during the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-20, then Poland's first Military Attache to Moscow in 1921 and finally second in command at Poznan by 1939, believes the number of Soviet invasion troops to have been in the area of 500,000. Soviet material published in 1990 placed the figure at 600,000 but later, in 1993, the figure 466,516 appeared. Of course, there were also reserves to draw from.
 
c) The Polish Army
 
Much of the Polish defensive forces available on the 17th of September, 1939, consisted of units of the KOP (Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza), the border guards, some 300,000.
 
It is important to remember that the bulk of the Polish military units were engaged at the German front (or already killed, wounded or taken prisoner), leaving in the eastern borderlands primarily rear units mostly in the process of training and therefore not many troops ready to do battle.
 
It is likely that fewer than 100,000 troops were truly ready to fight. It must also be remembered that these troops, with a few notable exceptions, were poorly armed. Again, the bulk of the well armed units had already been committed to the western front.      

d) Polish units which were in the Eastern Borderlands at the time of the Soviet Invasion in mid-September, 1939
 
Formation                         Units
 
Brygada KOP "Polesie"             Baony: "Ludwikowo" 
                                         "Sienkiewicze"
                                         "Dawidgrodek"
 
Pulk KOP "Wilno"                  Baony: "Troki"
                                         "Orany"
                                         "Niemczyn"
                                         "Nowe Swieciany"
 
Pulk KOP "Glebokie"               Baony: "Luzki"
                                         "Podswile"
 
Pulk KOP "Wilejka"                Baony: "Krasne"
                                         "Budslaw"
                                         "Iwieniec"
                                  Szwadron: "Krasne"
 
Pulk KOP "Baranowicze"            Baony: "Stolpce," "Klesk"
 
Pulk KOP "Sarny"                  Baony: "Rokitno"
                                         "Berezne"
                                  Forteczne: "Sarny"
                                             "Malynsk"
                                  Szwadron: "Bystrzyce"
 
Pulk KOP "Rowne"                  Baony: "Ostrog"
                                         "Dederkaly"
                                         "Hoszcza"
                                  Szwadron: "Niewirkow"
 
Pulk KOP "Podole"                 Baony: "Kopyczynce"
                                         "Skalat"
                                         "Borszczow"
 
Baon KOP "Sejny"
 
3 pulk piechoty KOP               three battalions
 
2 pulk piechoty KOP               part of the regiment
 
Grupa "Wolkowysk"                 p.ul.rez.: 101,102,110
                                  p.szwol.rez.: 103
 
Rez. BK "Wolkowysk"
 
Kaw. oslonowa Grupy               five squadrons
"Wolkowysk"
 
Zgrup "Drohiczyn Poleski"         reserve and surplus
(formed on 14.09.39)              battalions of infantry
                                  regiments 79,80 & others
 
Zgrup "Brzesc"                    reserve and surplus
(formed on 14.09.39)              battalions of infantry
                                  reg'ts 34,35,82 & others
 
Zgrup "Jasiolda"                  part of surplus of 78
(formed on 14.09.39)              inf.reg't. & others
 
DP "Kobryn"                       reserve, en route
(formed on 14.09.39)              and surplus subunits of
                                  inf. reg'ts 82,83,84,79
                                  and others
 
Flotylla Pinska                   approx. 110 units on the
                                  water & 2 battalions of
                                  sailors
 
Subunits in Defence of Grodno     improvised battalions
 
135 Infantry Regiment             wzmocniony 2/32 pal i
                                  stolecznym baonem PW
 
Half-Brigade ON                   "Dzisna"
                                  "Wolyn"
                                  "Tarnopol"
 
SGO "Polesie"                     50 DP (178,179,180
(after September 28)                    reserve inf.reg'ts)
                                  60 DP (182,183,184
                                        reserve inf.reg'ts)
                                  as well as DK "Zaza",
                                  Podlaska BK and others
 
10 BK                             24th ulan regiment
                                  10 PSK
 
Zgrupowania                       "Zolkiew"
                                  "Dubno"
                                  "Kowel"
                                  "Wlodzimierz"
 
Wojska Frontu Polud.              11,24,38 DP
(Southern Army)                   206 reserve inf.reg't.
                                  and others
 
Remnants of Gen. Anders' GOK
 
Reserve Core                      infantry
                                  artillery
                                  cavalry
                                  sapers
 
Militarized National
Police
 
Other
___________________________________________________________
 
e) Battles and Skirmishes
in the Eastern Borderlands
 
Locality            Dates     Units Involved
                    09/39
 
Lwow Region         13-22     Gen. Sosnkowski's Southern
                              Army fighting in 14 area
                              localities.
 
Lwow                12-22     35 DP Rez.
                              1,2,3 grodzienski inf. reg't.
                              Lwowska BON
 
Grodno              20-21     
 
Hartfeld            15-16     97 reserve inf. reg't.
 
Borowicze, Nawoz,   21-22     3 inf. reg't kop
Hruziatyn
 
Sarny               17-20     "Sarny" KOP reg't
 
Janow,              16-18     Army 11,24,38 DP
Lasy Janowskie                Fighting in 13 localities
 
Kobryn              16-18     60 DP "Kobryn"
 
Kodziowce,          21-22     101 reserve ulan reg't
Sopockinie                    Baon KOP "Sejny"
 
Wola Sudkowska,     27        Nowogrodzka BK
Wladypol
 
Zukow Borek         17        Baon KOP "Iwieniec"
 
Kowel               20-21     
 
Rzyczki             24-25     Grupa "Dubno"
 
Szack               16 & 28   Baony grupy "Szack"
                              Grupa KOP (General
                              Orlik-Ruckeman)
 
Grodek              24        135 reserve inf. reg't.
                              stoleczny baon PW
 
Wilno               18         
 
Bortiatyn           15        98 reserve inf. reg't.
 
Kulparkow-Wolka     14        1 grodzienski inf. reg't.
 
Buczacz, Nizniow              Baon KOP "Kopyczynce"
 
Krakowiec           26        Nowogrodzka BK
 
Czarnkowice         15-16     98 reserve inf. reg't.
                              53 inf. reg't.
 
Mokrany             26        Officers and non-coms of the
                              Pinsk Flotilla
 
Koszary             29        Red Army murders captured
                              officers and non-coms
                              of the KOP
 
Ostrog              17        Baon KOP "Ostrog"
 
Bratkowice          16        97 res. inf. reg't.
 
Horodyszcze         17        155 res. inf. reg't.
 
Sambor              11 & 29  
 
Stary Sambor        15-17     3 BG, 3 pspodh.
 
Tuczapy             15-17     96 res. inf. reg't.
                              38 pal
 
Zolkiew             17        Grupa "Zolkiew"
 
Brzesc nad Bugiem   14-17     Grupa "Brzesc" (general
                              Plisowski)
                              Part of 30th pal
 
Pinsk               20        Rtm. Jan Micholowski murdered
 
Brzezany            18-19    
 
Boratycze           14        155 res. inf. reg't., 24 DP
 
Kamionka Strumilowo 21        Grupa "Dubno"
 
Oszmiana            18        Szwadron KOP "Krasne"
 
Hoszcza             17        Baon KOP "Hoszcza"
 
Piszcza             16 & 26   Grupa "Szack"
                              184 res. inf. reg't.
 
Ratno               15 & 26   Baon KOP "Berezno"
                              Baon forteczny "Malynsk"
 
Uscilug             14-15     Grupa "Wlodzimierz"
 
Skidel              18-20     Bryg. Rez. "Wolkowysk"
 
Dabrowka            11        Surplus units of 2nd pspodh.
 
Morance             26        Nowogrodzka BK
 
Muzylowice Narodowe 15-16     49 inf. reg't.
 
Niemirow Lwowski    12        Dyon Rozp. 10 BK
 
Rogozno             15-16&27  48 inf. reg't.
                              19 ulan reg't.
                              1 p.szwol.
 
"Turecka Mogila"    16        97 inf. reg't.
(near Tuczap)
 
Bakszty             17        Baon KOP "Iwieniec"
 
Bieniakonie                   Soldiers of the KOP buried
                              in a common grave
 
Stolpce                       Baon KOP "Stolpce"
 
Maloryta            25        OZ Art. Lekkiej nr.9
                              Mar. flot. Pinskiej
__________________________________________________________
Tables d and e courtesy of "Ksiega Pochowanych Zolnierzy Polskich Poleglych w II Wojnie Swiatowej, Tom I, Zolnierze Wrzesnia"

4. THE SOVIET OCCUPATION AND DEPORTATIONS OF POLISH CITIZENS, 1939-41 (A compilation of information from various sources)
 
The prelude to this period was the notorious Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of August 23, 1939. The Pact contributed to the outbreak of World War Two by assuring Hitler that Stalin would not oppose his conquest of Poland. The second result of the Pact was the Soviet aggression against Poland on September 17, 1939, which sealed the fate of the Polish Army still fighting the Germans. A subsequent Soviet-German Agreement of September 29, 1939, fixed the Soviet-German frontier in Poland and proclaimed Soviet-German friendship. The Soviet Union became Hitler's ally in the war against the Western democracies. Until 1968 the exact terms of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact were treated as a blank page by the Soviet Union although the information had already been widely publicized in the West.
 
Poland's rightful government continued the war against the Germans from Angers in France, and after the fall of France, from London. In July 1945 it became the Polish Government-In-Exile, after the Western Allies had recognised the puppet government in Warsaw.
 
On September 17, 1939 one million Red Army troops entered and occupied seven administrative provinces of Eastern Poland in accordance with the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. The commander-in-chief of the Polish Army ordered his troops not to resist. As a result, neither then nor later was there a state of war between Poland and the Soviet Union. Yet a number of Polish generals and officers were executed after a score of skirmishes.
 
The 196,000 square kilometres of occupied territory were inhabited by 13,000,000 people, of whom about 36% were Polish. The remainder were mainly Ukrainian, Belorussian and Jewish. In November 1939 the whole area was incorporated into the Soviet Union and by a decree of November 29, 1939, its peoples became Soviet Citizens.
 
At about the same time, the Red Army in conjunction with the Soviet NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs), formed a local administration composed of People's Committees. The term NKVD is used here in the narrower meaning of State Security Organisation (secret police) with its State Security Troops. The forerunners and heirs of the NKVD were: Cheka (Extraordinary Commission) 1917 - 1922, GPU (State Political Administration) Soviet Secret Police 1922 - 1934, NKVD 1934 - 1943, NKGB 1943 - 1946, MGB (Ministry of State Security) 1946 - 1953, and since 1953 the KGB (Committee for State Security).
 
The Soviet annexation meant that methods of repression, known to the peoples of the Soviet Union since the revolution (of 1917), were extended to the new areas. First and foremost were "transfers of population," peremeshchenya, deep into the interior of the Soviet Union by means of deportations, internment of military personnel, conscription to the Red Army, and evacuations of prisoners. Most obnoxious of all were deportations from prisons in the home area to prisons elsewhere in the Soviet Union or to gulags, the corrective labour camps run by the NKVD. Deportations which did not deprive individuals of their liberty, allowing them limited freedom of movement when they had reached their destination, and a slender chance of survival in a hellish environment, were also effected. In addition, there were instances of voluntary migrations eastward in search of employment in industry or to escape zones threatened by war.
 
Deportations were organized and effected by the NKVD, which had been charged with clearing the border area, that is, the territory annexed by the Soviets, of people classified as "anti-Soviet elements." An NKVD order dated April 25, 1941, long after the deportations started, lists the categories for deportation: leaders and activists of political parties, activists of youth organisations, including the Polish Scouting Association, officials of the state administration apparatus, policemen, officers in the intelligence and counter-intelligence service, prison service personnel, prosecutors and judges, regular officers and NCOs (non-commissioned officers) in the army and border guards, families and relatives of people who had tried to escape German occupied Poland. It is clear that the deportations were directed against the pillars of former Polish rule in the annexed areas. Denunciations by personal enemies often resulted in inclusion in one of the deportation categories.
 
The bulk of the deportations to the north and east of the Soviet Union took place between February and June 1940. More prominent members of the previous administration were arrested and deported in December 1939, or earlier.
 
Most sources agree that the "population transfers" comprised a total of approximately 2,000,000 people, as follows:
  1. 1,114,000 - Permanent residents of the annexed areas, deported in four stages,
  2. 336,000 - Refugees from German occupied Poland, deported in June 1940 to the interior of the Soviet Union.
  3. 250,000 - Civilians arrested individually and transferred to prisons and camps in the Soviet Union,
  4. 210,000 - Young men born in 1917, 1918 and 1919, forcibly given Soviet citizenship, conscripted into the Red Army and moved to the interior of the Soviet Union in 1940-41. They served mainly in the Red Army construction battalions (stroitelnye batalyony),
  5. 181,000 - Polish POWs captured in 1939 and interned in the Soviet Union, including the officers murdered at Katyn,
  6. 12,000 - Polish POWs interned in Lithuania and transferred to the Soviet Union in 1940.

Groups 1 and 2 above break down chronologically, as follows:

  • 250,000 - February 8-10, 1940, deported to north and south Kazakhstan, mainly local administration officials and agricultural settlers with families.
  • 300,000 - April 13-15, 1940, wealthy peasants, families of earlier deportees.
  • 400,000 - June 20-25, 1940, deported to the Volga area and the south, mainly refugees from German occupied central and western Poland.
  • 280,000 - May-June 1941, destinations unknown, mainly artisans, railwaymen, intelligentsia.

Each of the above operations involving well over 250,000 people from almost 200,000 square kilometres was allegedly completed within a few days. The degree of co-ordination needed is hard to believe. Only the NKVD's resources and years of experience in actions of this nature can explain them.

Another figure quoted gives a total 1,400,000 civilian deportees - 650,000 men, 450,000 women, and 300,000 children under the age of 16. Of the children, 60,000 are said to have died as a result of living conditions and disease. Deportations of entire families was standard practice.

Among the deportees were many priests. Figures are not available. However, it is known that among Poles repatriated in the years 1944-48 there were 1,669 priests and members of religious orders.

The victims were given no more than 30 minutes to collect and pack their belongings. Men earmarked for arrest were separated from their families just as they were boarding the train. There are scores of accounts of the journey.

"A whole month's journey, at -30 degrees C, in sealed cattle trucks, guarded by brutalised NKVD soldiers who throw the dead, often children, into the snow... Finally at the destination, in the middle of the steppes or taiga, you are told - 'Do what you like'!"

"Travelling by train in macabre conditions, salted fish and the heat made the thirst insufferable. During the frosty night - day and night temperature differences are enormous - people licked nails in the sides of the truck to quench their thirst."

The other objective of the deportations of Poles, apart from alleged security needs of the border areas, was the procurement of slave labour. A pro-Soviet Polish source writes that the deported Poles made a substantial contribution to the war effort. They mined coal, minerals and rare metals. About 35,000 worked in metallurgy and heavy industry in the Urals. They helped to build the first Soviet mineral wax factory, 80% of whose production was for the Soviet Army. Most deportees worked in forestry, agriculture, construction and the timber industry.

A former deportee said in an interview: "The wives and children of two officers deported to the Komi Autonomous Republic, near the Arctic Circle, were building the railway line leading to the River Ob. With food and clothing going to the Army, little was left for the slaves. They were dying of hunger and exhaustion. To obtain food and save the lives of their children, women were offering gold teeth and sexual favours to the guards. Hunger and cold were taking their toll. Under every sleeper on the railway line to Vorkuta lies a Pole... Within the Arctic Circle, huts were sunk 1.5-2 metres into the ground. Up to 100 people were accomodated in one hut. In Siberia and in Central Asia deportees built wooden houses from sawmill offcuts. In the Kirghiz and Kazakh steppes prisoners lived in mud huts and earth dugouts while working on collective and state farms. The bad hygiene caused outbreaks of enteric fever and dysentery, thereby increasing mortality." The deportations deprived hundreds of thousands of Poles of their homes and subjected them to ill-treatment, disease and premature death. A large percentage of the 2,000,000 deportees vanished without trace. A leading Polish expert has stated that to this day it has not been possible to establish any firm figures.___________________________________________________________See Deportations and Transfers of Poles to the Interior of the Soviet Union in 1939-44, a Bibliographic Survey, Prof. T. Walichnowski et al, Polish State Scientific Publishing House (PWN), 1989.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. STORIES FROM THE FRONT
 
Even Our Loyal Polish Dogs Fought Back Against the Soviets!
 
It is rare to come across an account of battle at the KOP border outposts since most of the Polish soldiers were either killed in action or captured and later murdered by the Soviets.
 
One account that exists, of the battle at Szapowaly, near Rakowa (county Molodeczno in Wilno province), is told by Ignacy Nawrocki. At the time of the initial Soviet attack he was fulfilling his duty as a member of the citizen guard. At day break on the morning of the 17th, he had just been relieved of guard duty, his responsibility being the telephone line which stretched from Szapowal to the KOP reserve unit at Dubrowach. His colleague, B. Mojsinowicz, headed for home while he stuck around the outpost for a smoke and some conversation. Then all hell broke loose.
 
The outpost was attacked by a large unit of Soviet infantry, supported by tanks. The lookout who sounded the alarm, being outside, was the first to fall. The Polish soldiers, rising from their beds, were already under fire, two of them being killed. Intense fire was exchanged for a while until the outpost commander, corporal Niedzielski, was heavily wounded in the stomach by a machine gun burst.
 
There were also losses on the Soviet side. For instance, one bolshevik officer, with an armed grenade in his hand, approached the window of the outpost with the intention of throwing the grenade in. At that moment an outpost dog jumped on his back and began biting him. During the melee, the grenade exploded and killed the bolshevik.
 
Further defence of the outpost was pointless. It was also impossible to escape the encirclement as the outpost was situated out in the open. A number of our soldiers had to surrender. The only ones with a hope of escaping were those who happened to be on duty away from the outpost.
 
Fallen Polish soldiers were buried by the outpost, their graves tamped down under foot and leveled with the surrounding ground so as to not leave a trace. Wounded corporal Niedzielski was quickly finished off. So in the early morning hours of September 17, 1939, Soviet war crimes had already begun.
 
Mr. B. Mojsinowicz was captured by the Soviets while still on the outpost grounds and sent off to the Soviet Union. He was able to convince the authorities that he was not a border guard, but had been in the area quite by accident. They released him in November, 1939 and he returned home to Rakowa.    

Old Soldier Goes Down Fighting!
 
Retired Lt. Colonel Adam Sielicki, a former commander of the 14th Horse Artillery, was a military colonist living by Lake Narocz (Wilno Province). On the 18th of September, 1939, the Soviets arrived to arrest him. Deciding not to give up, he instead put up an armed resistance using his revolver and sporting rifle to kill two NKWD agents and wound three others before being shot and killed himself.
The enraged Soviets repeatedly bayoneted the corpse then threw it onto a manure pile. Finally, they murdered his wife (from a family of Russian nobles) and his daughter, Luba.   

Heroic Stand
 
This is the recollection of Wladyslaw Jacinski, a 14 year-old student, living in the town of Budki Snowidowicze, township of Rokitno, county of Sarny.
 
"I would like to describe a battle fought by a handful of our border guards and their heroic commander.
The town of Budki Snowidowicze lies on the border near the railway line which runs from Sarn in the direction of Kijow. The station is called Snowidowicze and actually lies on the Soviet side. On the Polish side, the last station is Ostki where a company of the KOP was stationed. This company was responsible for our outpost and was in turn commanded by the 18th Battalion KOP in Rokitno.
After noon on the 16th of September, 1939 at the Snowidowicze station on the Soviet side, which lay about 1 km away from our town, one could see trains unloading horses and materials all through the night. It is important to note that, until now, this station had been inactive since the Polish-Soviet war of 1918-1920.
The barracks of the outpost were up on a hill some 600 metres from the nearest building of our town and were surrounded by a fence constructed of felled trees which formed a  tall wall of 7 to 8 metres height the purpose of which was to screen the complex from the eyes of vacationers visiting the frontier and from picture takers. The actual outpost was set back about 1 kilometre from the border, hidden by a forest.
Another important note is that since the time of the mobilization for war a few weeks earlier, the personnel of the outpost had turned over by about 70-80 %. The regulars had been sent to the German front while their places here were taken by reservists, predominantly hailing from the province of Wilno. These soldiers, in the short time that they had been here, were not even able to familiarize themselves with the terrain which they now were responsible for patrolling.
On the 17th of September, 1939 at about 7:00 a.m. the Soviet Army approached the border in a large concentration. The commander at our outpost must have sensed that this attack was coming because he had set up two light machine guns some 200 metres from the border in a covered haystack (a stack of hay covered by a roof sitting on top of 4 poles) manned by 4 regular soldiers. This group of men included a German who, on account of his nationality, had not been sent to the German front. From these guns and from the rest of the outpost's soldiers, a lively fire was directed at the point of Soviet attack which advanced from woodlot to woodlot down into the valley of a flowing river. The attack began to fizzle and after a short while it broke off. 
However, it did not take long before the attack resumed with a shout "hura!" from the Soviet troops. Once again, due to the strong and sustained fire from the Polish side the attack broke off. Yet again, a third attack was unleashed after short break. The fire from both sides was heavy but the Soviets, due to their superior numbers and despite great casualties, managed to push forward. The Polish outpost commander was compelled to withdraw with his unit, taking along the machine guns and the telephone exchange. Not one of the Poles was captured or killed, not even wounded. The battle up to the moment that our town was occupied by the Bolsheviks, lasted upwards of an hour. The oupost commander, knowing the area well, was able to successfully withdraw his unit and join up with the 18th Battalion KOP in Rokitno."             

Soviet Prisoners Prefer to Fight With the Poles!
 
The largest battles against the Soviets were fought by the 60th Reserve Infantry Division "Kobryn", under the command of lt. col. (art.) Adam Epler (1891-1965). Epler told the story in his book which he managed to write in the West before the conclusion of the war.
 
Epler's division, the strongest unit in the entire Army Group of general Kleeberg, fought two large battles against the Soviets just west of the River Bug, on the territory of the Province of Lublin. It is worth noting that the division contained a motorized section of anti-tank guns; there was also armour-piercing ammunition for anti-tank rifles and the soldiers were outfitted with bottles filled with gasoline.
 
The first battle with the Soviets occurred on the 29th of September near Puchow Gora, from which the enemy was easily removed, followed immediately by a second skirmish a couple of kilometers further down the road at the village of Jablon. The attacking Polish units were the 1st Battalion, 82nd Infantry Regiment, commanded by lt. col. Franciszek Targowski as well as the Naval Battalion commanded by lieutenant-commander Stefan Kaminski. At the conclusion of the battle, the Poles had gained one tank (from which the Polish soldiers removed its heavy machine-gun), 4 or 5 heavy machine-guns and 20 or 30 rifles.
 
Taken prisoner were one officer and some 50 soldiers. At there own request, these men were accepted into the ranks of the Polish units! "They fought with us to the end, were faithful and loyal comrades," writes lt. col. Epler. At the beginning of October 1939, near Kock, they joined the Poles in German captivity "And maybe just then - adds lt. col. Epler - began their tragic story."
 
Lt. Col. Epler notes that the losses of the 82nd Infantry Regiment were not great: one officer and a few soldiers. We know now that at least 2 of our officers perished in the battles of the 29th of September, 1939. They were lieutenants Rafal Gorecki (born December 5, 1910) and Bohdan Moscicki (born September 9, 1912), whose graves can be found at Jablon.
 
The second battle took place at Milanow, a bit west of Jablon, on the 30th of September, 1939. Here the battle was fought primarily by the independent 79th battalion (179 Reserve) Infantry Regiment, commanded by major Michal Bartul (who was killed in action on the 5th of October, 1939 in a battle against German units), aided by a heavy machine-gun company (which was utilized at the discretion of the Division commander) and a company from the 83rd Infantry Regiment.
 
The bolsheviks began the attack with their infantry, which advanced "en masse", firing heavily. Two bolshevik battalions were involved in the attack, paying no heed to their losses. With the closing gap between the attackers and the defenders, the battle soon turned to the use of hand grenades. At that moment, a man wearing a leather jacket stood up among the Soviet soldiers, most likely a politruk (Soviet political commisar), "and waving his arms, he signaled in an attempt to establish a cease-fire and a discussion between commanders."
 
Meanwhile, a sargeant of the 79th (179) Infantry Regiment, together with a few riflemen, sneaked up to the group in which stood the hopeful speaker and tossed in a few hand grenades. The commisar and those bolsheviks near him were killed. Our units, taking advantage of the moment of confusion and aided by the fire from our battery of howitzers, moved to the attack with bayonets fixed.  As lt. col. Epler writes: "The fate of the bolsheviks was sealed: a slaughter began."
 
More than 100 Soviets were killed and more than 60 taken prisoner. These prisoners also asked to be integrated with the Polish units! Captured too were 11 heavy machine-guns, 7 light machine-guns, one cannon, and a large quantity of guns and rifles as well as 10 harnessed ammunition wagons.
 
This was the final battle of Division "Kobryn" against the Soviet forces.
 
How did lt. col. Epler wind up writing a book in the West before the conclusion of the war? After the surrender to the Germans of the Army Group SGO "Polesie," of which Epler's Division was a member,  Epler managed to escape German captivity after only a few days. He wound up in Krakow and there organized an extensive underground network. Hunted by the Gestapo, he turned over his command to then col. Tadeusz Komorowski, later general "Bor", managed to make his way to Hungary and from there, after a short stay, to the West.      

The Fate of Captain Leliwa-Roycewicz
 
An excerpt from the article detailing the battles of the 25th Ulan Regiment. Captain (later colonel) Henryk Leliwa-Roycewicz (1898-1990) was a silver medalist at the Olympic games in Berlin in 1936 and at the outbreak of the war was the commander of the 2nd squadron of the 25th.
 
At about 6 a.m. on the 27th of September, 1939, the squadron arrived at the village of Koniuchy (aka Wzgorze Konia). It happened to be a Ukrainian village, its inhabitants hostile to the Polish army. The decision was made to head in the direction of the Hungarian border which was estimated to be some 50 kilometers away.
 
While preparing for the march, a patrol reported the approach of some units. It turned out to be Soviet cavalry which was widely surrounding the village, with the intention of surprising the Poles. The alarm was immediately sent out and two machine guns were set up at the edge of the forest. The Soviets were approaching in large numbers, not taking any care, shooting and shouting: "Zdawajsia Polaczok"! (Give-up, Poles!). Sudden and heavy fire from our machine guns took a number of men and horses out of action and sent the Soviets running for cover into a nearby wood.
 
It would have been a good time to take advantage and withdraw into the forest. However, the village was already surrounded and the Soviet lines began to advance from a number of directions. The Soviet artillery opened up at that time as well and the fire from the Soviet machine-guns became more dense. In other words, the Soviet attack became quite heavy. To make matters worse, the Ukrainians, hiding in the doorways of the houses, also opened fire on our soldiers. Once the Soviet troops entered the village, hand-to-hand fighting ensued.
 
Second Lieutenant Stanislaw Andrzejewski, heavily wounded during the battle, died shortly thereafter. Lt. Wojcikowski became surrounded by armed Ukrainians, who wanted to kill him on the spot. An arriving Soviet major vetoed the execution.  
 
Lt. Wojcikowski was captured and escorted to prison in Sambor. In his cell, whose walls were stained with fresh blood, an inquiry began. This Polish officer was charged with the crime of ordering his men to fire upon the "freedom loving" Soviet soldiers, charged with committing war crimes and so on. On the following morning, his fellow ulan soldiers who were being held captive but not jailed, "stole" him from his cell and dressed him in a common soldiers uniform, hiding him among themselves. This action probably saved his life. He eventually found his way, via Lwow and Hungary, to the Polish army reforming in France. From the same squadron, 2nd lt. Boguslaw Walecki, after many adventures, was able to join him in France.
 
Meanwhile, the squadron commander, captain Leliwa-Roycewicz, was heavily wounded in the leg during the battle and had also been crushed by his mount after it had been killed. Despite obvious heavy bleeding, the Soviets did not wish to occupy themselves with him for the first couple of hours. Instead, they robbed him of his boots, binoculars and so on. His riding crop, received as an award for his victory at an equestrian event in Nice, became the property of the komandir of the Soviet unit. 
 
In the end, because he spoke good Russian (he had attended Russian schools), he was sent to a primitive field hospital where he was operated on none too expertly. Over the course of the following months, he continued to receive primitive "medical care" while undergoing continual interrogations at various prisons and prison hospitals. 
 
Finally, in April of 1940, he was transferred as an invalid, in a group of Poles from central and western Poland, to the so-called Government General.
 
Here captain Leliwa-Roycewicz reported for duty in the underground organization eventually known as the Home Army. During the Warsaw uprising he commanded the "Kilinski" battalion which on the 1st of August, 1944 at 5 p.m started the uprising in the Srodmiescie section of the city, occupying, among other buildings, the main Post Office. Following the conclusion of the war, as a "reward," he spent a couple of years in prison in the new Communist run Polish People's Republic. 
 
The commander of the 25th Greater Poland Ulan Regiment, lt. col. Bohdan Kazimierz Stachlewski, his adiutant captain Wladyslaw Pilinkiewicz as well as 2nd lt. Zbigniew Gedzierski and lt. Waclaw Witkowski were murdered by Ukrainian assassins at the village of Pnikut, 10 kilometers south of Moscisk on the 28th of September, 1939. Also, the second in command of the Regiment lt. col. Marian Korczak and the 3rd in command, kwatermistrz mjr. Wincenty Cendro as well as a couple of other officers were murdered at Katyn. Three captains fell into German captivity. These were the commander of the 3rd squadron cpt. Zygmunt Orlowski, the commander of the 4th squadron cpt. Antoni Piesciuka and the commander of the heavy machine-gun squadron Wincenty Zawadzki. Captains Orlowski and Zawadzki, both wounded, escaped from hospital in Cracow. Captain Zawadzki was later shot by the Germans for his underground activities.         

 
 
6. THE DECLARATIONS AND EXHORTATION
 
The Soviets dropped pamphlets into South-Eastern Poland in advance of the invasion. Originally printed in Ukrainian, this English version is loosely translated from a Polish source: 
 
"September, 1939
 
To the Workers and Farmers of Western Ukraine
Dear Sisters and Brothers
 
On the fields of Europe an ominous war has erupted between Poland and Germany. It has only been a few days but already the Polish military has been destroyed; at the front chaos. Polish generals, who used to arrogantly swagger with sabres swaying, have been reduced to helpless dullards and fools. The Polish State, propped up by the use of force, fraud and the oppression of 11 million non-Polish citizens - Ukrainians and White Russians, has toppled like a house of cards.
 
The time has come for each nation to decide its own fate. Enough suffering hunger, poverty, national injustice and ill-treatment; enough suffering the whip and cruel treatment; enough of carrying the Polish lords upon your stooped, destitute shoulders. Straighten up your huge girth, lift up your strong, calloused hands, citizens of Western Ukraine!
 
With firearms, scythes, pitchforks and axes, fight your age-old enemy, the Polish lords, who have turned your homeland into an illegal colony, who Polonized you, who trampled your culture into the mud and turned you and your children into beasts of burden, into slaves.
 
There should be no room in Western Ukraine for lords and nobles, landowners and capitalists. Take back the lords' farmland, grazing land, meadows and pastures. Take away the authority of the landlords, place the authority in your own hands and decide your own fate.
 
Dear Ukrainian brothers, I, the commander of the Ukrainian Front, in the name of the entire Soviet Ukrainian Nation, assure you, we can no longer be deaf and blind to your misery.
 
With full voice we declare that we can no longer look on at your suffering and ill-treatment.
 
We come to you, our brothers, to aid you and to free you from the oppression of the Polish lords, to free you from the threat of destruction and murder at the hands of the enemy.
 
In a new, free land, Ukrainian, White Russian and Polish workers will be friends, not enemies. Our hearts and souls are with you, dear brothers and sisters. Follow our lead in settling all accounts with our enemies in the nation given us with Stalin and Lenin at its head.
 
To arms comrades! We are on our way to help you, to lend a brotherly hand in aid, rise up against your age-old enemies. We, together with the entire multi-cultural free peoples of the Great Soviet Union, will help you.
 
To arms, brothers, we are with you!
Long live the great and free Ukrainian Nation!
 
Commander-in-chief, Ukrainian Front,
Seymon Timoszenko"
______________
 
The irony of the declaration above is profound. While minority rights in inter-war Poland were certainly ignored in the Poles' rush to re-establish Polishness in their reclaimed homeland after 125 years of foreign rule, Polish-Ukrainians had it relatively good, certainly when compared to their brothers on the Soviet side of the border.
 
To have a Soviet general make such fanciful claims, knowing full well what had happened to the citizens of Eastern Ukraine during twenty years of Bolshevism, is both hypocritical and a fraud. Although there were definitely animosities between Poles and Ukrainians following the war of 1919-20, Polish-Ukrainians were not subjected to anything remotely resembling the Soviet terror of the 1930s which saw millions of Ukrainians die of famine and execution and many more deported into the depths of Siberia. 
 
The declaration certainly served to inflame some Ukrainians against the Poles and following the slaughter of Poles and Jews (and not just the rich, capitalist ones) by some Ukrainian bands, a few weeks after the original declaration, the Soviets then turned to reigning in the Ukrainian Nationalists and commander Timoszenko found it necessary to issue the following update:
 
"October 5, 1939
 
To the Citizens of Western Ukraine
 
Elements of the enemies of the Soviet authorities are carrying on subversive activities in the towns and villages with the intention of bringing harm, in any way possible, to the red Army and members of the Soviet Union.
 
Ukrainian nationalists, mad with rage, dreaming of the return of capitalism to the Soviet Union, are currently attempting to sow nationalistic discontent among the nations of Western Ukraine, are planning pogroms against Jews and Poles, and are attempting to gain loyalty for their cause in the face of the Soviet authorities.
 
In the Soviet Union, all nations possess equal rights. The persecution of Jews, Poles and other nationalities is a crime against the State. A working Jew is an equal brother of working Ukrainians and Poles. All of them equally experienced the oppression by the aristocrats.
 
The nationalistic bands are attempting to organize pogroms in order to inflame nationalistic antagonism and to interfere with the return to law and order and a normal life in this land.
 
In the village of Koniuchy, county of Brzezany, a monstrous nationalist band under the command of a kulak, Wasyl Procek, organized a pogrom against the Jews in which they threw an old Jew and a six year old child into a fire. They even wanted to engage in actions against the Red Army.
 
This fact makes it plain to see that all of these bandits are the most festering enemies of this nation, against whom the Red Army is waging war and indeed against whom the entire nation must fight.
 
Citizens! Uncover and turn in to the authorities all provacateurs and those organizing pogroms. Keep in mind, that all workers of all nationalities are equal and only the enemies of the nation are fanning the flames of hatred against the Jews to confuse the workers, to derail the battle against our real enemy, the landowners and the capitalists.
 
Neither the Jews nor the Poles are enemies of the working Ukrainians. The true enemies of Polish, Jewish and Ukrainian workers are the landowners and capitalists of all countries and of all nationalities. Never forget this, do not waste energy, go after the provocateurs and those attempting to sow ill-feelings amongst Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish workers.
 
Long live the great brotherhood of workers of all of the nationalities of Western Ukraine!
 
Long live the invincible Red Army!
 
Long live the great Stalin, leader of all the world's workers!
 
Commander of the Ukrainian Front,
S. Timoszenko"
_____________  
 
 
EXHORTATION TO POLISH SOLDIERS
 
Shortly after the invasion of Poland had begun, General Timoszenko also issued the following "advice," in Polish, to Polish soldiers:
 
                    "SOLDIERS!
 
In the last few days the Polish Army has been finally defeated. The soldiers of the towns of Tarnopol, Halicz, Rowne, Dubno, over 60,000 of them, all voluntarily came over to our side.
 
Soldiers, what is left to you? What are you fighting for? Against whom are you fighting? Why do you risk your lives? Your resistance is useless. Your officers are light-heartedly driving you to slaughter. They hate you and your families. They shot your negotiators whom you sent to us with a proposal of surrender. 
 
Do not trust your officers! Your officers and generals are your enemies. They wish your death. Soldiers, turn on your officers and generals! Do not submit to the orders of your officers. Drive them out from your soil. Come to us boldly, to your brothers, to the Red Army. Here you will be cared for, here you will be respected.
 
Remember that only the Red Army will liberate the Polish people from the fatal war and after that you will be able to begin a new life. 
 
Believe us, the Red Army of the Soviet Union is your only friend.
 
Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Front,
 
S. Timoszenko"
 
_______________________________________________________________________________  

7. SOVIET WAR CRIMES DURING THE INVASION AND IN THE PERIOD FOLLOWING
 
The series of huge mass murders of some 25,000 Polish officers in 1940, collectively known as Katyn, were the most striking examples of Soviet atrocities against prisoners of war. The topic has been extensively covered elsewhere but the genesis of the massacre is a story worth repeating. The source is the book "The Black Book of Communism, A State Against Its People, chapter 11, The Empire of the Camps."
 
A top secret letter was sent to Stalin by Lavrenti Beria on March 5, 1940, proposing that some 25,700 Polish officers and civilians be shot:
 
A large number of ex-officers from the Polish army, ex-officials from the Polish police and information departments, members of nationalist counterrevolutionary parties, members of opposition counterrevolutionary organizations that have been rightly unmasked, renegades, and many others, all sworn enemies of the Soviet system, are at present being detained in prisoner-of-war camps run by the NKVD in the U.S.S.R. and in the prisons situated in the western regions of Ukraine and Belorussia.
  The army officers and policemen who are being held prisoner are still attempting to pursue their counterrevolutionary activities and are fomenting anti-Soviet actions. They are all eagerly awaiting their liberation so that once more they may enter actively into the struggle against the Soviet regime.
  NKVD organizations in the western regions of Ukraine and in Belorussia have uncovered a number of rebel counterrevolutionary organizations. The Polish ex-army officers and policemen have all been playing an active role at the head of these organizations.
  Among the renegades and those who have violated state borders are numerous people who have been identified as belonging to counter-revolutionary espionage and resistance movements.
  14,736 ex-officers, officials, landowners, policeman, prison guards, border settlers (osadniki), and information agents (more than 97% of whom are Polish) are at present being detained in prisoner of war camps. Neither private soldiers nor non-commissioned officers are included in this number. Among them are:
 
   295 generals, colonels, and lieutenant colonels
   2,080 commanders and captains
   6,049 lieutenants, second lieutenants and officers in training
   1,030 officers and police NCOs, border guards and gendarmes
   5,138 policemen, gendarmes, prison guards, and information agents
   144 officials, landowners, priests, and border settlers
 
In addition to the above, 18,632 men are detained in prisons in the western regions of Ukraine and Belorussia (10,685 of whom are Polish). They include:
 
   1,207 ex-officers
   5,141 ex-information officers, police and gendarmes
   347 spies and saboteurs
   465 ex-landowners, factory managers, and officials
   5,345 members of various counterrevolutionary resistance movements
             and diverse other elements
   6,127 renegades
 
Insofar as all the above individuals are sworn and incorrigible enemies of the Soviet regime, the U.S.S.R. NKVD belies it necessary to:
 
1) Order the U.S.S.R. NKVD to pass judgement before special courts on:
     a) the 14,700 ex-officers, officials, landowners, police officers, information officers, gendarmes, special border guards, and prison guards detained in prisoner-of-war camps.
     b) the 11,000 members of the diverse counterrevolutionary espionage and sabotage organizations, ex-landowners, factory managers, ex-officers of the Polish army, officials, and renegades who have been arrested and are being held in the prisons in the western regions of the Ukraine and Belorussia, so that THE SUPREME PENALTY BE APPLIED, DEATH BY FIRING SQUAD.
 
2) Order that individual files be studied in the absence of the accused, and without particular charges being lodged. The conclusions of the inquiries and the final sentence should be presented as follows:
     a) a certificate produced by the Directorate for Prisoner of War Affairs of the NKVD of the U.S.S.R. for all individuals detained in prisoner-of-war camps
     b) a certificate produced by the Ukrainian branch of the NKVD and the Belorussian NKVD for all other people arrested.
 
3) Files should be examined and sentences passed by a tribunal made up of three people - Comrades Merkulov, Kobulov and Bashtakov.
 
Some of the mass graves containing the bodies of those executed were discovered by the Germans in Katyn forest. Several huge graves were found to contain the remains of 4,000 Polish officers. The Soviet authorities tried to blame this massacre on the Germans; only in 1992, on the occasion of a visit by Boris Yeltsin to Warsaw, did the Russian government acknowledge the Soviet Politburo's sole responsibility for the massacre of the Polish officers in 1940.
 
A copy of the order approving the massacre can be found on various Katyn web sites.   
 
The balance of this page will concentrate on the many "mini-Katyns" described and documented in the book "Wojna Polsko-Sowiecka, 1939."
 
The book deals with Soviet war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed during the second half of September and in the autumn of 1939 in the occupied Polish territories: large-scale murdering, torturing, denigrating and robbing of Polish POWs; numerous murders of civilian Poles in the countryside (landowners, farmers, priests, policemen, schoolteachers, etc.); mass-scale arrests that later ended, in most cases, in murder; torture and deportations in towns and cities.
 
All this was a prelude to the 1940 extermination of over 20,000 Polish army officers, policemen, civil servants and judges, at Katyn and other places, and the genocidal deportation, during 1940 and 1941, of over one million civilian Poles, including great numbers of women and children, to Siberia and Kazakhstan. This was done under such inhuman conditions that very many of them did not survive. There was also large-scale robbery of public and private property: whole factories (and even grain mills) were dismantled, merchandise, raw materials and even better furniture were confiscated, and sent to Russia.
 
Also, murders and unheard-of atrocities were perpetrated on Poles, including babies and children, by Ukrainians living in Volhynia, as well as in the voivoidships of Lwow, Tarnopol and Stanislawow in the southeastern part of Poland, fanatics pervaded, as they were, by criminal Nazi or Communist indoctrination.  
 
Near the village of Jeziorko, in the forest to the east of Kamien Koszyrski, in the county of of Kobryn, province of Polesie, an entire company of military National Police was shot, including the commander, captain Francziszek Otlowski. These murders were discovered on the 24th of September, 1939.
 
On the 26th of September, 1939, by the side of the road leading from Kowel to Brzesc-nad-Bugiem, near the village of Mokrany, Wielkoryta township in the county of Bresc-nad-Bugiem, Polesie province, were found the bodies of 30 executed (shot) officers and non-coms of a Pinsk naval unit (Flotylla Pinska) as well as 2 officers of the 135th Infantry Regiment.
The naval unit's patrol boats had been sunk by the enemy on the 18th and they had been marching westward with the intention of joining General Kleeberg's Army Group when they once again met the enemy somewhere in the vicinity of the village of Zabno. They offered no resistance, were disarmed and forced in the direction of Mokrany where some 30 of the officers and non-coms were separated and shot in a nearby wood.
The murdered include, among others, captain (navy) Edmund Jodkowski (commander of the patrol boat ORP Wilno); captain (navy) Jan Kierkus (commander of the patrol boat ORP Pinsk); captain Narcyz Maluszynski (commander of the gas mine unit of the Pinsk Flotilla); lieutenant commander Mieczyslaw Sierkuczewski (commander of the second unit, Pinsk Flotilla); captain (artillery) Boguslaw Rutynski (batallion commander, Pinsk Flotilla); captain (navy reserve) Arkadiusz Kisiel-Zahoranski commander of sub-sector "Sytnica," of Defensive sector "Prypec"; two officers of the 135th Infantry Regiment: Captain (engineer) Tadeusz Jacyna and Lieutenant (engineer) Zygmunt Kazimierz Dabrowski. Finally, Lieutenant (navy) Janusz Marciniewski (commander ORP Admiral Sierpinek) and captain (navy) Jan May (commander of the patrol boat ORP Warszawa).
Non-com officer Jan Kurek was lucky to avoid their fate and later on was able to escape from Soviet captivity at Zytomierz.
 
A number of atrocities occurred in the counties of the Grodno region. They were committed either by the Soviets themselves or, with the "blessing" of the Soviets, by Belarussian and Jewish Communists. It has been said that the Soviets gave the local communists two weeks to freely murder so-called class enemies, although this was not the case in all regions.
 
Atrocities Committed Against Civilians in Grodno
 
In Brzostowice Mala, the landowner Antoni Wolkowicki, his wife Ludwika (nee Sianozecka) and brother-in-law Zygmunt were beaten, wrapped in barbed wire and buried in a potato dugout while still alive.
 
In the township of Podorosk, county of Wolkowyski, the landowner, Otton Bochwic, approximate age 50 - 55, was chained to a cart and dragged down the road. A similar fate befell Emanuel Wladyczanski. One should assume that following the torture, they paid with their life. The village of Holowczyce, populated entirely by Polish military colonists, was essentially "liquidated" by the deportation of its residents to Russia. 
 
Communist bands murdered father Boleslaw Korna, proboszcz of the parish of Mikielewszczyzna (township of Mosty, county of Grodno) as well as the priest, Jan Krynski, proboszcz of the parish of Zelwa (township of Zelwa, county of Wolkowysk).
 
In the area of Skidel, more or less on the 20th of September, 1939, Duke Andrzej Swiatopelka-Czetwertynski, owner of the property known as Zoludek, near Lida, and a second lieutenant of the reserves, together with his wife Rola were arrested while riding a motorcycle. The Duke was taken away to the town cinema where 5 Polish officers were already under arrest.
Rola insisted on joining her husband, though she was free to go; eventually the jailers relented and let her into the cinema. All seven were subsequently murdered.
Another Polish officer, at that time posing as a civilian and a local female teacher avoided their fate and survived as witnesses to the event.
Also murdered in that locality in a separate incident was Andrzej's cousin, Duke Konstanty Czetwertynski.
Finally, all of the area foresters were executed for the simple reason that, in guarding the forest's trees against theft, they were considered to be acting "against the people."  
 
On the morning of the 22nd of September, 1939, non-combatant Polish general Olszyn-Wilczynski, together with his wife and a small entourage, left the town of Sopockin, heading for the Polish border with Lithuania through enemy held territory. Shortly after they had left their car was surrounded by Soviet troops. All persons were thoroughly robbed then herded into a nearby barn save for the general and his adiutant, captain Mieczyslaw Strzemeski, who were then simply machine-gunned down.
 
More Examples of "Mini-Katyns"
 
  • A fourteen year old witness tells the story of the fate of a Polish unit: "On the 22nd of September, 1939, Russian tanks arrived in Kalet (northwest of Grodno). There was a short battle lasting perhaps two hours. However, shots continued to be heard even into the second day, because the Russians were executing all of the Polish soldiers even into the second day. Despite the fact that the battle was short, the number of (Polish) corpses was huge and almost to the man, with a bullet in the head." Some 40 Polish soldiers were murdered in this instance.
 
  • A Polish corporal known to captain Romuald Galicki was an eyewitness to the machine-gunning of some 200 Polish officers on the 29th of September, 1939 in Saczek. They had been marching with the Kleck Battalion when they fell into Soviet captivity.
 
  • The KOP (border guards) Brigade Polesie, part of the group commanded by general Ruckemann, was another victim of a mass murder which occurred on September 30, 1939 near Mielniki, township of Pulmo, county of Luboml. Following a battle near Szack, the unit was on its way to a crossing near the Bug River. There they once again engaged the Soviets and, after a short fight, were captured. The Bolsheviks then shot 25 to 30 of the POWs.   Among those executed was lieutenant colonel Jozef Ferencowicz and major Szymon Mayblum of the KOP headquarters, captains Bronislaw Orlowski, Jozef Nowicki, Alfons Wantowski, Jan Borowczyk and Bohdan Antoni Danecki.
 
  • Following a battle in Rogalina on the 24th of September, 1939, 3 Polish officers and 23 other ranks found themselves captured by the Soviets. The senior officer, a major, was stripped down to his underwear and taken away to the nearby sugar refinery of Strzyzow. He was never heard of again and it is presumed that he was murdered. The remaining 25 Polish POWs were taken to the Husynne estate where they were all bayoneted.  The local Ukrainians were participants in this murder and they also robbed the dead soldiers of their possessions. Their leader was Franciszek Taraszkiewicz, "komisar" of the Ukrainian Communist militia.
 
  • Wladyslaw Kobylanski, a resident of the province of Wolyn in September of 1939, has documented a number of atrocities. Prior to the arrival of Soviet troops, the Ukrainians had already engaged in attacks against Polish police stations and the murder of unarmed Polish soldiers returning home from the front. Dozens of these soldiers were then thrown into the current of the rivers Horyn and Styr. The Polish soldiers were bayoneted and their corpses stripped to the underwear. An army "medal of death" was hung around their necks by a length of thin rope. Their bodies were then lashed together in small groups (a raft) and thrown into the current of the larger rivers. Many of these rafts would float downstream and eventually wash up on the banks. 1) In Stolin, into the river Horyn, a raft of 3 soldiers was thrown. 2) In Wolosza (township of Stepan, county of Kostopol) the raft numbered 5 Polish soldiers. 3) In the area of Janowa Dolina (township of Kostopol) from Zlazna (township of Derazne) to Postojna (township of Derazne, all locations within the county of Kostopol) three rafts, consisting of 2, 2 and 3 soldiers (total 7) were tossed into the Horyn. Similar circumstances occurred at the River Styr. 4) At Osnica Duza (township of Kolki, county of Luck) a raft of 5 Polish soldiers was thrown into the current of the Styr. 5) Between Osnica and Czartorys (township of Rafalowka) 3 rafts of 2, 3 and 5 soldiers (total 10) were thrown into the current of the river. 6) At Tynne (township of Niemowicze, county of Sarny), Ludwipol (township of Ludwipol, county of Kostopol), Berezne (township of Berezne, county of Kostopol), Horodziec (township of Antonowka, county of Sarny), Bystrzyce (township of Ludwipol, county of Kostopol) on the Slucz, 18 citizens/soldiers were fished out of the river. The school principal of the village of Wyrka (township of Stepan, county of Kostopol), 2nd lieutenant, reserves, Antoni Skiba (himself murdered by the Ukrainians in 1943), managed to collect 23 "medals of death" from the corpses of murdered Polish soldiers. There were also numerous murders of Polish citizens with infants being impaled on pitchforks, cards pinned to them that read "here are the Polish eagles," their bodies then tossed in a heap onto a manure pile. Often their mothers were murdered as well. With regards to the civilians, one mass murder occurred near Luninca on the 19th of September, 1939 among a group of refugees from western Poland, sheltering at the Maciejowski estate. The victims were mostly women and children, the children murdered in a most abominable fashion. Similar murders took place at Rumejka (township of Antonowka, county of Sarny), Horodz (same), Kryczyl (township of Stepan, county of Kostopol) and Dabrowica (township of Dabrowica, county of Sarny). On the 19th of July, 1943, in Wyrec, Mr. Kobylanski witnessed the particulary heinous method of murdering children for himself as his party removed a number of children from the ages of 2 to 6 from the fence railings on which they had been impaled. He also removed his grandfather, Teofil Kobylanski, from the specially sharpened pole on which he had been impaled 2 days earlier.            

In The Province of Wolyn

This is the recollection of Zygmunt Mogily-Lisowski, a 12 year student, who in 1939 was living with his parents at their estate Romanowka in the township of Szczuryn, county of Luck in the province of Wolyn.

"On the 17th of September, 1939, a unit of the Polish army, in the strength of approximately a company, arrived at our estate and set up quarters. Here they learned of the Soviet invasion. The commander, immediately grasping the hopelessness of the situation, gave the troops a choice - those who so desired were free to head west or south. A number of soldiers did just that.
Already in our area, on the 17th of September, 1939, armed and drunken Ukrainians, wearing red armbands, had engaged our unit. A commander of the rank of lieutenant or captain declared that surrender should be made only to Soviet units. He realized that it would be unwise to surrender to the Ukrainians considering that a couple of days earlier a Ukrainian band had committed a pogrom against another Polish unit in the area of Perespa (township of Rozyszcze, county of Luck).
On the 18th of September, 1939, the Ukrainians attacked our unit, which in the meantime had been reduced to some 50 men. The battle lasted a couple of hours. A Soviet unit arrived, consisting of two tanks, cavalry and supply wagons. I am not sure, if the Poles battled the combined forces of the Soviets and Ukrainians. In any case, the Poles surrendered.
At this point, I witnessed a mounted Soviet officer shoot a wounded Polish lieutenant.
Next came the torture of these Polish POWs by the Ukrainians. They were then, the wounded included, perhaps 30 to 40 men in total, loaded, bleeding and moaning, onto 5 or 6 large trucks and driven to the nearby river Stochod. Later, the Ukrainian peasants from the villages of Tychotyn and Niemirow  returned carrying the clothing belonging to the murdered soldiers and laughed that, the Polish soldiers were shouting and did not readily submit to being drowned - so they had to be finished off."     

In The Province of Lwow

One Polish soldier, 2nd lieutenant Bronislaw Sokolowski, was an artillery reservist mobilized on August 28, 1939 from his home in Drohobycz near Lwow, to his unit in Przemysl. He was given command of the 2nd platoon (one 155mm howitzer) of the 2nd battery, 24th company (dywizjon), 10th Heavy Artillery Regiment.

His unit set off by train to the western front on the 2nd of September to meet the attacking German army at Tarnow but after 3 weeks of battle the remnants of the unit had withdrawn all the way back to near Lwow. Bronislaw was captured by the Germans on the 23rd on the road to Zolkow, just north of Lwow.

The Germans, who had overshot their pre-arranged boundary with the Soviets, began their withdrawl, letting a number of the Polish prisoners go. By this time, 7 days after the Soviet invasion had begun, knowledge of the atrocities against unarmed soldiers was well known. The Germans were fully aware that either the approaching Soviets or the local anti-Polish element would "take care" of these released Polish prisoners.

Bronislaw, who had studied German, forged himself a document of safe passage, allegedly signed by a German officer. On his way back home to his wife in Drohobycz, he was not surprised to be approached by 2 armed Ukrainians to whom he showed the forged document. Not wanting to take a chance on displeasing the Germans, they let him go. Bronislaw was thus saved the fate of so many of his comrades in arms.   

After the Polish Soldiers are Taken Care of, the Polish Nobility is the Next Victim
 
Young student Wanda Lubomirska describes the Soviet invasion as witnessed by her at the family estate at Aleksandrja. The following is an excerpt from her brochure of recollections "Karmazynowy Reportaz" (London 1946). It illustrates the Soviets' initial objective of "liberating" the peasantry from the "yoke of the Polish landlord," the victim in this case being Wanda's father, Prince Hubert Lubomirski.
      
"This summer, as always, I spent at our estate in Wolyn, at Aleksandrja near Rowno.
On the 14th of August came the mobilization. At 5 o'clock in the morning my father woke me up:
'Say goodbye to the horses,' he said. 'They've been requisitioned by the army.'
This was the first sign of war for me. It was difficult to part with the horses, expecially Sybila and Saliga.
From the 3rd to the 15th of September I worked as an orderly in the hospital at Rowno. After it was destroyed by German bombardment, I found plenty of work to keep me busy at home. Swarms of neighbours from near and far as well as many refugees descended upon our home.
On the 17th of September, a number of our soldiers were still quartered with us. My parents rode to Rowno, returning after a couple hours, and said:
'The Soviets are approaching but as... friends. The mayor of Rowno is maintaining calm and advising everyone to sit quietly at home. These are not the same people, the mayor has asserted. They have changed.
On the afternoon of the 17th, the Bolsheviks entered Rowno. We are cut off and cannot even use the phone. We are very worried about our uncle who stayed in Rowno with his family.
The stable boys keep popping into the house.
'The prince should leave,' they shout. 'We'll saddle the horses. The car is ready.'
My father did not move.
'Whoever wants to,' he said 'may leave. I'm staying.'
He did not want to leave his home and the land, which he loved.
The Polish soldiers left our estate and my brothers went with them.
In the town of Aleksandrja all is in a mess. The Jews have taken over the duties of the constabulary. The regular policemen have been disarmed. The civic government is no longer functioning. Chaos! Now and then one hears shots. We are sitting at home, the five of us; my parents, my sister, my youngest brother and I. At 8 o'clock we eat dinner, as usual, in the dining room. Suddenly, the stable-boy Andrew enters and says:
'This is the last chance for you to leave. The Bolsheviks are almost here.' 
Our hearts sank. In came the servants, the carpenter, the chauffeur and they all implored us loudly:
'Get out of here!'
They're Ukrainians! I look at mother, very pale. My father is also pale, but calm, putting up a patient front. Near the chimney, a couple of refugees are sitting. The light is fading as night falls. There is a strange silence broken only occassionally by noises from outside. We hear footsteps. My hands squeeze into fists. They're coming.
In come a couple of Bolsheviks. My father stood up and so did I, automatically. An officer asks our staff, in Russian:
'What kind of landlord is this one?'
'A good one!' they reply
'Has he ever done you wrong?'
'Never!' they replied in unison.
My father had always been greatly loved, respected and revered by his staff due to his kindness, piousness and fairness. I also loved him greatly.
They listened for a moment to a Polish radio broadcast, which had been playing in the background, saying that all is well, that we are fighting and that we are fighting the Germans. They confiscated the set immediately.
'Do you have any weapons?' they asked my father.
'Yes, in the cabinet' was his response.
'Go!' ordered the Bolshevik
My father led the way, followed by a crowd, with me at the rear.
They looked through the cabinet and took a hunting knive for boar, two Austrian style rifles and a few other firearms and cartridges.
'Do you enjoy hunting?' they asked my father.
'Yes!' was his emphatic answer.
They left behind a sporting rifle, one of the Austrian rifles and some cartidges. I simply did not understand why they left those behind. Today I feel that it must have been a trick, a set-up. At the time it made no sense. We returned to the dining room and talked with some relief in our voices while papa relaxed his patient front.
Half an hour later we could hear some shouting in the next room. Suddendly a Soviet officer, probably of the NKWD, entered the room followed by a group of Bolsheviks. One Bolshevik, fat, with a face like an animal and cold, ugly eyes. To this day I can see him.
'Where is the prince!' he yelled.
'Here' said my father as he stood up.
The Bolshevik handed a rifle to one of the staff and ordered him to shoot my father. The boy declined so the Bolshevik handed the rifle to a second who also declined. The fat brute reeled in anger. He looked around the room and said to papa:
'Give me 100 zlotys.'
Father calmly removed the money and gave it to him.
'Give me more!'
'I'll have to go to the cabinet. The money is in a cash-box' replied my father.
'Go' ordered the gruff, disgusting and drunken voice.
My father led with the Bolsheviks in tow. In the traffic I somehow lost my mother and the others. I found myslef in the midst of the loud, gesticulating crowd. Finally I made it to the cabinet. I can hear the voice of the officer rising and I feel that all is not well. My father responds calmly. I can see him. He is holding a rosary in his hands. I am standing in the hallway, by the door, leaning on the wall when I suddenly hear shots... one... then another. My heart stopped. Sudden silence. One can hear only the shuffle of legs leaving. They belong to the horrified staff. I know nothing and feel nothing. I do know only that papa... is dead. I saw it clearly, how he fell. The smell of alcohol woke me from my trance. I look up and see the animal face of that Bolshevik! Despair and anger overtook me.
'The Beast! What has he done!'
If only I had could get my hands on something! Instead I clung tightly to the wall and listened to the hoarse voice:
'Well and now what?' he asked me shamelessly as I felt the revolver barrel at my temple.
'I don't know. You're an idiot' I answered clearly and calmly.
It didn't matter anymore. Let him kill me, at least I will have peace and join papa. He made a disappointed and surprised face then lowered his revolver. He began to leave but at the doorway he spun around and raised his revolver once again, aiming at me. I waited. The shot came but the bullet missed my head by a mere two centimetres.
'What an idiot!' I thought to myself. 'He couldn't hit me?'
I am full of contempt for him. He walked away, taking with him a most wonderful father and a most wonderful human being.
I can still hear his voice as he shouts orders to the Jewish militia: "Take them to the bridge and shoot them! ...'
(The militia took them instead to a shed, then released them after the Soviets had left the estate. The family was able to bury the prince before being evicted from their property. The prince's older brother in Rowno, Adam, was arrested and died in a local prison in 1940. )
_________________________
 
My Escape From Soviet Paradise
 
Stanislaw Jasinski, born February 5, 1924 at Ustrobna, Krosno. Excerpt from the "Polish Technical College in Esslingen, Germany
1945-49" Commemorative Book, 1996.
 
When the war broke out I was in my family's village of Ustrobna, near Krosno on the Wislok River. I was 15 years old then, and I had been raised in two cultures. On one side I was surrounded by good, cultured and God fearing people, and on the other by highland bandits.
 
From my father I inherited a love of the outdoors and scouting as well as a healthy and logical mind, while from my mother a warm heart, and sympathy for the pain and misfortune of others. I spent many nights outdoors and loved staying warm by a campfire.
 
I was a Polish patriot, and I wanted to fight for Poland. I was too young to join the army, but I wanted to be close to it. I left home and together with my uncle we fled to the east in front of the invading Germans. After travelling some 200 kilometers, we found ourselves at the Polish town of Brzezany, not far from both the Soviet and Romanian borders. There we joined the remnants of the Polish army, and were shortly attacked by Ukrainian partisans. I was slightly wounded, and in the confusion lost contact with my uncle. I was to face my fate alone. The invading Red Army soon stopped the fighting and I was taken as a prisoner of war. Because of my age, I was sent 150 kilometers to the east to a "Bezprizornykh" home. These were orphanages set up by the Communists to house the countless orphans produced by civil war, engineered starvation or execution of their parents. They were meant to create a new generation of Communists through brainwashing and propaganda.
 
After only a few weeks, I managed to escape from there. I traveled only at night, and after ten days I managed to reach the Polish village of Gaik, not far from Brzezany. Here the shadows of war had already faded, and somehow, life was returning to normal. But this only lasted a short time. Early in November 1939, just before dawn, we were awakened by shouts and the sounds of doors being broken down by Soviet soldiers. We were given orders to be prepared to leave in ten minutes. In Russian they told us not to take anything, that everything we would need would be given to us. Everybody of course grabbed what they could. We were loaded onto trucks, and then onto railroad freight cars, and so began the first chapter of my journey to the Soviet "paradise."
 
There were 800 of us, mostly adolescents, old people, and women with young children. There were not many adult men. We were packed into the cars so tight that we had no place to sit, and had to stand practically all the time. The train moved slowly, and made numerous stops that would last for hours. The whole time we traveled in a northeasterly direction. The doors were opened only once a day for a few minutes when they gave us water, and sometimes a couple of loaves of bread for fifty people. The "call of nature" was answered through a hole in the floor of the car. During the journey some fifty people died of hunger or suffering.
 
The train stopped in a wooded clearing somewhere northeast of Moscow. We had no idea where we were. All around us were spruce trees, swamps and forests, forests, forests. The "leader," a soldier with a bayonet on the end of his rifle, told us in Russian, "This is a beautiful country! You will live here."
 
As we got out of the freight cars the ground was already covered with a layer of snow. All around there was complete emptiness. There was not a building to be seen, not even a shack. Behind us were six uniformed soldiers and some ten woodcutters, Soviet Citizens.
 
The first few days we lived in holes in the ground covered with spruce branches and warmed ourselves at a few smoldering fires made from green wood. During the next few weeks we built primitive log cabins. We packed the spaces between the logs with moss. By the middle of December we began cutting down trees and getting the logs ready to be transported by rail.
 
Many in our camp were farmers, used to physical work and primitive living conditions. Despite this, practically half of us were unfit for work due to exhaustion, illness, and inability to adjust to such a harsh environment.
 
I myself worked preparing logs and loading them onto the railroad cars. Spring was coming, and with it came dreams of escaping and returning to Poland. Out of our group of 800, there were only 500 left. The rest of us had not survived the cruel winter.
 
Near the end of April 1940 I decided to escape. While I was loading the timber, I prepared and empty space, a "bunker" between the logs. My friends covered the bunker with two layers of logs. I hid there when the train started moving.
 
The entire time the train traveled, it was toward the southwest. I ended up west of Moscow, near Viazma. Here I began my thousand kilometer pilgrimage to Poland.
 
I knew I had to keep moving southwest. In Russia there was no chance for a foreigner to move about without being spotted and taken by the NKVD. I knew this from my previous experience. I traveled near main roads, but moved through populated areas only at night.
 
I was strong, healthy, and used to prolonged hardship. I decided to walk a path that would go through Smolensk, Minsk and Brest on the Bug River. Most of the time I rested in trees. In the beginning, I stayed alive on what I could steal from the peasants' huts. I soon discovered that this was not very effective. It was difficult to find a piece of bread in their huts, and was very risky. Hungry, stray dogs, baited with a piece of bread, were my primary source of food. This was the easiest way to get anything to eat. Being able to sleep in the occasional haystack was my ultimate luxury.
 
For the last part of my journey, from Brest to Przemysl, I stole a ride on a train. In July 1940, I reappeared at home. I had already been given up for dead.
 
Life in occupied Poland was almost normal. My classmates tried to continue their education, but I had a different attitude. This was war, not a time for school, but a time to act. I began working with the Armia Krajowa. I also began an illegal tannery. If I were caught, I risked death. In a short time the tannery was discovered. A miracle saved me from being arrested. After this time I could not stay at home. I spent part of the time as a vagabond, and the rest with the partisans.
 
I was arrested by chance in a street roundup in 1942. The Gestapo did not identify me, and I was the only one caught who was not suspected of "illegal" activity, so I was deported for forced labor to Germany. I worked in an aircraft engine factory in Kassel as a lathe operator, a grinder and finally as a machine setter. The factory was considered a special class strategic objective by the Allies, and was subject to frequent mass bombardments. There were times when we were bombed daily. The ruined plant was rebuilt several times. In the end the factory was broken up, and scattered among nearby towns and villages.
 
The food was poor but regular. We had to work twelve and a half hours a day. The war continued, but there were signs that the German war machine was weakening. In March 1945 our barracks, which were hidden in the forest, were destroyed by a carpet of demolition bombs. The attack took place in the morning. Most of my friends were in the factory getting ready for the day shift. That week I worked the night shift and was in the barracks. I was buried under piles of earth and pieces of broken Lumber. I thought I was going to die, but managed only to suffer a very bad fright. Of all the Poles, none was killed. In the adjoining Italian barracks, where everybody had worked the night shift, almost all of the occupants were killed.
 
With the coming of spring the Allies launched their offensive against Germany. For a month and a half we heard the front getting nearer. The camp was evacuated. Suddenly one morning we heard the sound of a column of heavy vehicles. We saw the silhouettes of unfamiliar tanks. They had white stars on them, and they were followed by a column of American artillery. We were free people.
--------------------------------------------

8. THE DEATH MARCHES OF THE SUMMER OF 1941
 
On June 22, 1941, the German armies began their invasion of the Soviet Union by first penetrating into the former eastern provinces of Poland, occupied by the Soviets since September 17, 1939. Initial German advances were rapid and forced the hasty retreat of Soviet troops, civilians, administrators and para-military personnel. Unfortunately, huge numbers of Poles (and others) were interned in the various prisons in this region and in areas further east, and rather than leaving them behind to be "liberated" by the Germans, the Soviet authorities decided to take them along into the rear areas. Of course, they were not fussy about taking care of the prisoners. Typically, a number of prisoners would be murdered at the prison with the remainder being forced to march many miles. These people were often in a weak and emaciated state due to the hunger and torture that they had been through. Many died along the way.
 
Here is a primer on the Soviet treatment of the prisoners during those first weeks of the German invasion:
 
Stalin ordered the immediate liquidation of anyone anywhere in the Soviet Union suspected of espionage. Killings took place mainly in prisons and severe regime camps (i.e. hard labour camps). The areas most affected were the Baltic Republics (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia), the Ukraine, Belorussia and the annexed Polish territories. The surprise German attack, overcrowding and the resulting chaos prevented a timely and orderly evacuation. On the first day of the war ordinary criminals were released and the shooting of political prisoners began (it was a common theme in the Soviet Union, that ordinary, often violent criminals, were treated better than the often innocent political prisoners).
 
On June 22, sections of the NKVD appeared in a Lwow prison, dragged the prisoners from their cells and shot them, first against the chapel wall and later in a prison courtyard. Prisoners who barricaded themselves in their cells were massacred with grenades and pistols before the arrival of German troops on the night of 29 June, 1941. (The Book of Terror, Boris Levytsky, 1971)
 
Research has established that Poles, Belorussians, Ukrainians and Jews were held in 170 prisons in the Soviet annexed area and that about 500,000 people had 'passed through' them in the two years of Soviet occupation. Before the Soviets left the town of Stanislawow the NKVD shot 2,800 of the 3,000 prisoners in the prison yard. Up to 3,000 were massacred at Berezewecz prison. At Wilejka (see account below) about 2,000 prisoners were led away, but many were left behind, dead. About 700 were killed during a four day march. There is as yet no evidence that any prison in the annexed area was spared a similar fate. It is estimated that in a short space of time 120,000 Polish citizens lost their lives in Soviet prisons or during the evacuation from them. Prisoners who reached their destination shared the fate of normal deportees. (Slowo Powszechne, Krystyna Laskowicz, 31-10 to 1-11-1990)
 
The weekly Prawo i Zycie (Dr. Jozef Musiol, 9-3-1991) gave a summary of the preliminary findings of the Lodz Regional Office of the Main Commission for the Study of Nazi and Stalinist Crimes:
 
Berezewecz prison, Glebock District, former Wilno Region:
3,000 inmates, a number killed in prison (bodies found in 6 pits on prison grounds and in cells), approximately 1,500 marched towards Utta on June 24, 1941. The weak killed en route. Bodies found in 8 empty potato earth stores were of prisoners killed by the NKVD during a German air-raid. Testimonies from 18 people.
 
Wilejka prison, former Wilno Region:
Bodies of young men and women buried on the prison grounds found after the NKVD's departure. One pit containing 28 men shot in the back of the head. On June 24 and 25, about 4,000 prisoners in columns of 350-500 were led towards Minsk. One column of prisoners with their hands tied behind their backs was liquidated approximately 12 kilometres from Wilejka. Some reached Borysow and were transported further east from there. Many killed en route. One large grave near the villages of Malmychy and Kapsuta contained 50-60 bodies. Two hundred women were returned to the prison. Testimonies from 22 people. (see also the account below)
 
Oszmiana prison, western Belorussia:
Several days before Hitler's attack some of the inmates were taken to an unknown destination. In the prison yard on June 23 Poles were separated from the other inmates and sent back to their cells. They were later taken to a public building nearby and killed individually by NKVD personnel. In one cell containing 74 prisoners, 57 were killed. The majority buried at Oszmiana Catholic cemetery. Based on published material.
 
Minsk, Belorussia:
Following a heavy German air-raid on June 22, the NKVD began killing prisoners in their cells on June 24. Some were forced to drink poison. After another raid all prisoners were marched through the burning city to a wood 5 kilometres away. They were joined by groups from other prisons in Minsk, making a total of about 20,000 broken up into several smaller groups. One group, about 3,000 men and women, was marched east towards Smilowicze. Anyone who could not stand the pace was shot by the escort. Survivors of the march were taken to a prison at Ihumen and again divided into groups. One group of 700 strong was marched east under heavy escort on the night of June 27. On a road in a wooded area the escort started killing prisoners at the end of the column. The action was interrupted when a motorised Red Army unit retreating from the Germans ran into the rear of the column. In the ensuing chaos the escort ordered the prisoners to run into the woods, machine-gunned them and threw grenades. Of the original 700 only 37 survived. Based on published material describing the fate of inhabitants of the former Polish Wilno and Nowogrodek regions.
 
Lida, two prisons, former Nowogrodek Region:
The prison on 3 Maja Street containing about 10,000 inmates was set ablaze during a German air-raid on June 23, 1941. The prison gates were closed and NKVD personnel on the outside shot anyone trying to escape over the walls. An unknown number of prisoners perished inside. During the same air-raid the guards set fire to the records office of the prison on Syrokomla Street and ran away. Inhabitants of the town attempted to free the prisoners and extinguish the fire. After the raid the NKVD returned, seized the rescuers, 6 people were shot instantly. The fate of the remainder is not known. One testimony.
 
Wolozynek, former Nowogrodek Region:
The prison was located in pre-war army barracks. As the Germans approached at the end of June, political prisoners were separated and evacuated on foot in the direction of Minsk. The prison was burned down. Minsk was captured before the prisoners arrived. About 20 kilometres from Rakow, on the Minsk side, the column was taken to a clearing in the woods. The prisoners were made to sit down with their hands on their heads. They were machine-gunned from the edge of the clearing. A few managed to find cover in the woods. Two testimonies.
 
Zloczow prison, former Tarnopol Region:
After German troops occupied the town in June 1941 and its inhabitants gained access to the prison, pits filled with naked bodies, including women, were found behind the prison buildings. The number of victims is not known. Bodies identified by families were buried in individual graves in the local cemetery, the remainder in a common grave.
 
Luck prison, former Wolyn Region:.
On June 24 or 25 the prisoners were tightly packed in the prison yard, machine-gunned and had grenades thrown at them. Fewer than 20 survivors. The victims were Poles, Ukrainians, Jews and Russians. They were buried in a square inside the prison gates. One testimony.
 
Dobromil prison, former Lwow region:
On June 27 and 28 NKVD personnel killed 400 prisoners brought there from Przemysl prison. A number were thrown into old salt pits at Salina, others into pits in the prison. Three testimonies.
 
Sambor prison, former Lwow Region:
On June 27 a number of inmates were killed in the prison yard by machine-gun fire. Cell doors were broken down by prisoners remaining in their cells but they did not manage to escape. The bodies were found in a bricked up cellar after the arrival of German troops. The 83 victims of this episode were buried in a common grave in Sambor cemetery. At about the same time a mass grave found on the left bank of the River Dnestr revealed 117 prisoners killed by the NKVD.
 
Tarasowski Wood Massacre:
An intended victim who managed to escape gave a fairly detailed description of the massacre. The abridged version is as follows: the wood starts at the 12 km post on the minor road running from Minsk westwards to Rakow, and then extends north from the road. At that point a gorge which is at first shallow and then becomes deeper leads into the wood. On June 26, 1941 a group of about 100 political prisoners from Lida, Wolozynek and Molodeczno Districts was driven into the gorge and executed. The group consisted of Polish Army reservists, former state employees, leaders of various political groups and societies, and even grammar school boys. Most of them had been charged with counter-revolution and anti-Soviet activities (paragraphs 63 and 72 of the USSR penal code respectively). A much hurried execution started at 2pm. The German Army was approaching Minsk, which was taken on June 29. The victims were made to sit down in 6-7 rows at a time, each person between the legs of the one in front to restrict mobility. Two machine-guns placed at the back of the rows then opened fire together. The witness was sure that another execution took place the next day at 12 noon. The information appeared in a fortnightly trade union publication (Z Dnia na Dzien, No.2/458, 7-1-1988). The victim had remained silent until he read an article in a Soviet paper attributing the massacre to the Germans.
 
Here is an excerpt (para-phrased) from a written work on the subject of the prison in Stara Wilejka, describing a death march following the evacuation of that prison:
 
"Already on the 1st day of the German-Soviet war, the prison authorities ordered 2 large trenches to be dug, one in front of the women's prison and one in the garden of the men's prison. These trenches were reserved for the prisoners who were not to be evacuated; they would be liquidated on the spot.
On the following day, a hurried trial was held in town for 14 Poles from Oszmiana (including 2 women) accused of being members or of aiding the underground. One of the accused, Eugeniusz Kosciukiewicz, a student and son of a Oszmiana doctor, upon his return from the trial informed his cell mates that 12 of them had been sentenced to death. The sentence was carried out the very next day.
On the 24th of June, 1941, between the hours of 3 pm and 4 pm, the prison guards visited every cell and read from a list, prepared by a doctor, the names of the sick and others unfit for marching. They also read out the names of those who had been sentenced to death or were awaiting sentencing for the most serious accusations. These people were to remain in the cells while the rest of the prisoners were ordered to immediately prepare for the road, being allowed to leave with their possessions but excluding the straw mattresses and heavy objects.
In short order the prisoners were taken out with those sentenced or accused under article 120 forming one group and all others in another group. From this assembled mass a further 20 or so prisoners were called and returned to their cells. The rest formed into 2 large groups of some 750-850 persons each. Once beyond the gates of the prison, they had to wait before heading out, on their knees, in groups of 4. The women, some 400-450, were placed at the end of the column.
Once the convoy, armed with revolvers, rifles and machine guns, was ready to go, the prison director gave a short talk on the proper behaviour that was expected during the march and made it perfectly clear that they would shoot anyone who broke out of the line ('a step to the right - a step to the left - a shot in the head'). Finally the order came to stand up and under this very heavy escort, all headed east.
From the moment they left the prison, the column of prisoners was accompanied by the prison guards, all of the prison staff as well as all of the NKWD staff and the interrogators. Added to this was almost all of the militia of the province of Wolyn who had managed up to this day to retreat from the advancing Germans to Wilejka. The only staff remaining behind at the prison was a group of NKWD employees, charged with the task of murdering the prisoners who were left behind. That this happened was proven by evidence uncovered later.
Before noon, by the road, a Soviet plane landed, followed after a few minutes by 3 German bombers. The prisoners were ordered to lay down on the road while the escort dove into the ditches and bushes on either side. They and the militiamen and NKWD opened fire on these planes which were flying some 1,000 metres high. This chaotic and inaccurate fire only served to draw the attention of the German planes which then descended and dropped a number of small bombs and shot at the guards with their machine-guns. Luckily, none of the prisoners was hurt, however 2 of the NKWD were hit and killed.
From that moment all hell broke loose and the result was a massacre of prisoners. The horses, frightened by the bomb bursts, took off with overturned wagons and the NKWD liquidated them, ordering the prisoners to run the 150-200 metres across the field to a nearby wood. They were also ordered to throw away all possessions and those who kept even the smallest item, had it ripped from their hands by a bayonet. All of the weakest and those who had previously been riding in the wagons, were finished off with revolvers or bayonets. A few dozen prisoners wound up in marshy ground in which they got stuck and could not, on their own power, extricate themselves. There was no assistance forthcoming; they all were shot.
Upon reaching the wood, the prisoners were ordered to continue running in the direction of the town of Pleszczenice, some 20 km further on. Within the 1st hour of this march-run, one could hear non-stop shooting from the direction of the rear of the column as all of the weak and exhausted, fallen prisoners were liquidated. Meanwhile the column stretched out as the enraged NKWD cruelly chased the prisoners.
One of the surviving evacuees writes the following description: 'Helping a friend, Jozef Kaczanin, who was very weak, I was in one of the last rows of this group and unfortunately witnessed terrible happenings. Behind the column walked a number of NKWD, revolvers in their hands, shooting anyone who dropped of exhaustion. There were many of those. My friend Kaczanin had seen this too and, with tears in his eyes, begged me to save him. I carried him for close to a kilometer and a half and found myself in the last row of the group when a couple of our guards ran up to me and shouted 'leave him and run forward!'
I understood what this meant. One of the NKWD grabbed for Kaczanin and yelled at me to 'get lost.' I ran ahead knowing what would befall me should I not obey the order. After a while, I heard 2 shots - not for me. I caught up with the other prisoners and with my last strength ran into the middle of the pack. There I looked around at the people: those who were running out of strength and therefore faced certain death, and the idiots, only just recently arrested who, unlike us older prisoners, had a good reserve of strength, planted themselves at the front, keeping up a fast tempo, stretching out the column and sentencing those at the rear to death.'
In this manner, the prisoners continued until 1 pm. Many tried to escape, for nothing, since alongside the walking guards rode mounted guards who shot everyone who strayed even 1 step from the column.  A few of the prisoners went mad - all were killed by bullets from our escorts. Finally the column arrived at Pleszczenice where they stopped for a 1 hour rest during which all of the prisoners witnessed the shooting of a high school student, Czeslaw Siwicki, for his unkind protest about the mass murders of his fellow Poles. 
Only some 2/3 of the evacuated prisoners arrived at their destination of Riazan. It is known that some 198 Poles lost their lives during this single episode. Included in this figure are: 28 lost to torture and death from emaciation or lack of medical care in the prison, 51 murdered prior to the 24th of June, 1939 and on the day of evacuation and 108 murdered during the evacuation."   

9. ATROCITIES COMMITTED LATER DURING THE WAR
 
The family of Wiktor Poliszczuk
 
Mr. Poliszczuk's father was a Ukrainian and his mother (nee Witkowska) was Polish. Most of the mother's siblings married Ukrainians and most of that side of the family considered themselves Ukrainian.
 
In the summer of 1943, Anastazja Witkowska, my aunt from my mother's side, together with her Ukrainian neighbour, went to Tarakanow village, 3 km away from the town of Dubno. They conversed in Polish because being from the Lublin region, Anastazja never learned Ukrainian (my only aunt who did not know the Ukrainian language). It was broad daylight. The purpose of their journey was to barter some goods for bread. My aunt had six children. Neither my aunt, nor her husband (both illiterate) took any interest in politics, nor had they any idea about politics. Both these women were killed by Banderites (followers of Stefan Bandera, leader of the most violent faction of the UPA - Ukrainian Insurgent Army) from the UPA, or Self-defense Kushch Troops because they conversed in Polish. They were killed in a beastly way, with hatchets. Their bodies were dumped into a ditch. My aunt Sabina, Vasyl Zahorovskyi's wife, told me about it.
 
Before the war, my wife's parents lived in Polesie. Her father was Czech, her mother was a Pole. They spoke Polish at home. In 1942, when the murders began, the whole family escaped to the Uhorsk village near Kremenec, where her father's family lived. In 1942, their acquaintance, a Ukrainian man, warned her father that the UPA made arrangements to kill their entire family. They escaped to Kremenec. Someone denounced the conversation of the young Ukrainian man with her father and the UPA killed him by hanging him in the middle of the village as a "traitor." On the victim's chest was a card with the sign: "This is how every traitor will end." They body could not be removed for several days. In the Lipa village, Banderites killed my father's brother because he spoke unfavourably about the UPA. He died from a gunshot in the mouth. 
_________________________________________________________________
 
A Letter Pleading for Help During a Peak Period of Criminal Ukrainian Nationalist Activity
 
"Krzemieniec, June 7, 1943
 
Most Venerable Father:
 
An opportunity presents itself to send you a few words through a person who is escaping the knives of the Ukrainians. What is happening here and now, the slaughter and torment of Polish families, defies all words. The descriptions in Sienkiewicz's With Fire and Sword or Kossak Szczucka's Conflagration pale in comparison to present events.
 
Almost all the Poles in the villages of the county of Krzemieniec have been butchered, and those who were able to escape the haydamak knives and bullets have sought shelter in Krzemieniec and Wisniowiec where there are still German units. In other places such as Szumsk, Dederkaly, Kuty and Lanowce, the weaker units were either destroyed or fled before the larger bands of Ukrainians.
 
I will submit a few examples in chronological order so as not to be accused of exaggeration. The murder of Poles began already last November and continued through the winter; but these were sporadic occurrences. For example, in one village a family was butchered, in another two or three more. Massive murders began only after Easter (1943) and with each day gather force. Immediately after the holidays, about 600 people were killed in the villages around Szumsk and the rest sought shelter in Krzemieniec. Later, Kuty was attacked. This was the largest parish (4,000 souls) in Krzemieniec county. When the murders began, the people together with their parish priest barricaded themselves in a church. There, they defended themselves all through the night. In the morning, the women and children went to Krzemieniec and the men remained to defend the church. The following night, more numerous hordes arrived, destroyed the church and butchered the 200 Poles who were in it. Not a single soul remained of those in the parish. The church in Krzemieniec was converted into a shelter for the refugees. Later, the Germans came and deported the young people for forced labor in Germany; the old people continue to suffer in dire poverty.
 
At the beginning of May, two parish priests from Oleksince and Kolodno came to our refuge. Almost all the Polish parishoners from Oleksince parish were robbed and killed. The parish priest, having nothing to do, left us yesterday for the General Government; so did the pastor of Kolodno. Almost daily one can see fires; they are burning Polish settlements and murdering those who do not escape in the most bestial manner.
 
On the night of May 15, the honorable Kus family was attacked in Mlynow. Two daughters and a 21-year-old son were killed. The rest of the family managed to escape. The attackers, after thoroughly robbing the the house, threw the murdered victims into it and burned it down.
 
All the refugees are fleeing to Wisniowiec where they are living in the monastery in terrible conditions and utter poverty. One's heart bleeds at the sight of their poverty and over the stories of their experiences.
 
Every morning there is news: there, they were killed; there, robbed; there, another house was burned together with its occupants. And thus one day follows another in suffering and our nerves are constantly on edge because there is no doubt that on the first night after the German unit leaves Wisniowice (castle), all the Poles will be murdered. Whoever can, therefore, flees to the Government General because these haydamaks swear that not a single Polish foot will remain in Wolyn. Wisniowice, once consisting of Jewish houses, has almost vanished. Every single Jew was killed and the Ukrainians took apart all their houses and sheds. Only the castle, monastery, commune (gmina) office and pharmacy still remain - the rest was knocked down. On the outskirts of town, only the homes of the haydamaks remain. 
 
You, Reverend Father, can imagine what our life is like from this description: we are prepared to die, because only a miracle and the special protection of Our Lady can save us now. We therefore plead earnestly for your holy prayers so that the Lord Jesus would have mercy on us and all would quiet down again. The Poles here, whose only fault was that they were born Poles and are Catholics, are truly experiencing a terrible crisis. Even those Ukrainians who converted to Catholicism during Polish times are being killed.
 
Ending once more, we humbly ask for your holy prayers so that our peace of mind may be restored and that we may be able, in accordance with God's will, to endure these moral and perhaps even physical torments.
 
I humbly kiss the holy scapular and once more beg for your prayers.
 
Brother Cyprian"
___________________________________________________________________
In Karta, 8 (1992), p.65; Semper Fidelis, 1[18], January-February, 1994, p. 35. Translated by Tadeusz Piotrowski.
 
___________________________________________________________________
 
Excerpt from Tragedy at Skorodyniec
 
Wiktor Solecki, son of Wincenty:
 
It was a Sunday in July of 1941. My father was hiding in the attic as the Ukrainian Nationalists had from time to time invaded our house looking for him.  My mother was in the barn milking the cows. Father's sister - Katarzyna Czornynka (who had married a Ukrainian, attended Orthodox church and felt herself to be Ukrainian) arrived in our farmyard. She asked mother: "Where is my brother Wicko?" Mother answered that she did not know. At that my aunt added: "He will not escape his punishment, he should just report to the council, and get it over with. This is the way it must be." Mother asked: "What will happen?" Auntie replied: "This is now the Ukraine" - and went home.  Father heard the entire conversation and shot back: "That's a sister! I know what they will do to me, if I report to them."
 
Two weeks had gone by since the first mass murders. One day, a Ukrainian, Mychajlo Hapij, found my father hiding in the attic under a cover of fodder. Three Ukrainians, Hapij, Petro Szozda and Stepan Staszczuk, took him away past the church. I followed at some distance behind. I was only 9 years old then, yet I could sense that I was seeing my father for the last time. This made me very sad and I cried. After they took my father to the community centre, I heard an ear-piercing scream. They were beating him. I will remember that scream for the rest of my life.
 
This July (1996) marks 55 years since that event. I cannot forgive those who killed my father. I stood in the yard of my other aunt (father's sister), Tekla, who lived by the community centre and cried out loud. One of the Ukrainians spotted me standing there and when he found out who I was, he threw a stone at my head. I ran to my aunt and when she came out into the yard, I told her that they took my Tata and I could hear him scream. In her response I heard: "You won't have a Tata anymore. This is the end of him."  And she did not seem grieve for her brother. She too had married a Ukrainian.
 
My mother wanted to see Father so she went to the community centre. She asked what might she bring for her husband, what might he be in need of? The reply was that he has everything there that he needs.  She left some bread and butter in a small pot and requested that it be given to him.
 
They kept father in the basement from Tuesday to Saturday. There he was beaten and tortured; strips of flesh were torn away and they had jumped up and down on his chest. Mykola, aunt Tekla's Ukrainian husband, was a good man and would often, secretly, look in the window of the community centre at night (he revealed this to my mother before he died). He saw how they tortured my Father and witnessed a demonstration of the most inventive tortures. The torturer was father's nephew, Oleksadr Czornynki - son of his sister Katarzyna. The other torturer was also a nephew, his brother's son. Father's brother did not return from World War One and his wife, a Ukrainian, remarried to a fellow Ukrainian, Wasyl Suszka. He raised both stepsons to be fierce Ukrainian nationalists. Did they have to make such a show of it? Did they have to torment him so? He was after all their uncle, who never did them any wrong! Was it only because he was a Pole that he had to pay for it with suffering and with his life?
 
According to Mykola (auntie's husband) my Father was thrown onto a horse-drawn wagon on Sunday at 4 in the morning and taken in the direction of the village of Byczkowce. Between Skorodyniec and the forest there was an old forester's lodge and nearby, a deep well. It is quite likely that Father's body was thrown into that well. When the perpetrators came out of the basement, their hands were covered in blood up to the elbows. They washed them with a great display so as to draw attention to themselves, proud of their accomplishment.
_____________________________________________________

__________________________________________________
 
10. THOSE LEFT BEHIND BY GENERAL ANDERS' ARMY
 
There is a file in the General Wladyslaw Anders collection at the Hoover Institution archives at Stanford University in California which contains a number of index cards containing the names of various individuals met in Soviet occupied Poland or in the Soviet Union by various Polish soldiers during their exile there.
 
As the deportees arrived at the various Polish Army recruitment centres in the Soviet Union following the amnesty in mid 1941, the Polish army attempted to locate the whereabouts and ascertain the fate of as many Poles as possible. The incoming soldiers and civilians were asked for news of anyone they may have met. A number of answers are catalogued in this file. A mention on the cards is not scientific but then the Polish authorities were looking for leads of any kind at that time. On some cards, the information provided was minimal.   
 
Some examples:
 
Abramowicz, sedzia (judge)
 
Abramowicz, ppor., dostal pomieszania zmyslow w Starobielsku (Abramowicz, 2nd. lt., went insane at Starobielsk).
 
Abraszkin, mjr. (major)
 
Apalko, lesniczy, w dzien ewakuacji wyprowadzony z szeregu na rozstrzal w Staro Wilejce (Apalko, forester, on the day of the evacuation at Stara Wilejka he was picked out of the line-up to be shot). Note: When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, the NKWD evacuated the inmates of a number of prisons near the border to points further east. However, they murdered many of them, especially the weak, before setting out on the forced march.
 
Argutowicz, Boleslaw, lat 19, strasznie tortuowany w wiezieniu w Wilnie w 1940 (Argutowicz, Boleslaw, age 19, horribly tortured in prison at Wilno in 1940).
 
Babiarz, Bronislawa i piecioro dzieci zmarli na posiolku Zytygar, Kustanajskiej oblast (Babiarz, Bronislawa and 5 children died at the Zytygar "special camp" in Kustanajski province).
 
Babiarz, Michal, na posiolku Kozicka w Nowosybirskiej oblast zostal pchniety przez NKWD pod cyrkularke i poniosl smierc na miejscu (Babiarz, Michal, at the "special camp" Kozicka in the Novosybirsk province, was pushed under a circular saw by the NKVD and died on the spot).
 
Babula, Francziszek, syn Jana, z glodu. Zmarl na posiolku Czary, Syrowski rejon, Swierdlowska oblast. Zmarla na tymze posiolku: matka, 2 siostry, szwagier i 3 dzieci siostry (Babula, Francziszek, son of Jan, of hunger. He died at the "special camp" Czary, Syrowski region, Sverdlovsk province. At this camp the following also died: his mother, 2 sisters, brother-in-law and 3 of his sister's children). 
 
Baczkowska, Zofia, starsza kobieta byla w straszliwy sposob zbita we lwowie w wiezieniu (Baczkowska, Zofia, an older lady was horribly beaten in a Lwow prison).
 
Bajorek, zmarl w Petroperlowce (Bajorek, died at Petroperlovsk).
 
Bajorek, Jerzy, ze Lwowa, aresztowany we Lwowie 31/XII/39 (Bajorek, Jerzy, from Lwow, arrested in Lwow 31/XII/39).
 
Bajorek, Wladyslawa, 2 - letnie dziecko, zmarlo z glodu i zimna w Komi SSR (Bajorek, Wladyslawa, 2 year old child, died of hunger and cold in the Komi Republic).
 
Bogdanowicz, Zygmunt z Brzescia, siedzial w izolatorze w Wilejce (Bogdanowicz, Zygmunt from Brzesc, was sitting in isolation at Wilejka).
 
Brzozowski, kpt., siedzial we wiezieniu w Horodni (Brzozowski, captain, was imprisoned at Horodno).
 
Cegielski, student z Warszawy, umiera w Kandalakszy-Soroklag (Cegielski, a student from Warsaw is dying at Kandalakszy-Sokorlag).
 
Chmielowiec, Apolinary, nacz. wiezienia, aresztowany 8/XI/39 w Rownem a nastepnie skazany na smierc (Chmielowiec, Apolinary, prison director, arrested 8/XI/39 at Rowno then sentenced to death).
 
Goszczycki vel Goszczysnski, lat okolo 25 z Warszawy w dniu 15/VIII/41 podczas pracy w 13 otdieleniu, 30 kolonii Pieczorlagu - zostal zastrzelony (Goszczycki aka Goszczysnski age about 25 from Warsaw, on 15/VIII/41 while working at the 13th unit, 30th colony at Pieczorlag - was shot).

Much of this material is excerpted (verbatim from the English summary or translated from the Polish) from the book "Wojna Polsko-Sowiecka, 1939" by Ryszard Szawlowski (pre-1989 pseudonym "Karol Liszewski"), 3rd edition, Warszawa, 1997, Wydawnictwo Antyk-Marcin Dybowski (ISBN 83-86482-49-4). We are most grateful to the author for compiling this material.
 
Also quoted on this page is the book Stalin, by Edvard Radzinsky, Anchor Books, New York, 1977.