2. Excerpt # 1
"As Stalin gained strength and confidence in his battle against the German invader and in his ability to manipulate
the Allies, he began to make it clear that he had no intention of giving up his claims to Poland.
The advancing Red Army crossed into former Polish territory in January, 1944 and quickly began to establish control
in all areas as they became conquered.
Despite a coordination of efforts between the Red Army and Polish Home Army units in their common fight against
the Germans, the Soviets quickly acted to eradicate Home Army members following their victories. Immediately following the
cessation of fighting, the NKWD disarmed the Poles then either absorbed them into existing Red Army units or Polish units
under Soviet command. Officers were arrested with many being shot and the balance imprisoned and/or deported to Siberia.
Any attempts by Polish underground administrators to organize or enter regular governing bodies were thwarted by the
arrest of the individuals involved on the usual grounds of anti-communist activity. Already by this time the Soviets
had established their own puppet government for Poland, the "Lublin" government, which began to operate in former Polish
territories as they became liberated. Despite its superficially Polish character, this new administration was tightly run
by the Soviets and could not prevent the Soviets from returning to their oppresive method of rule begun during the original
occupation of 1939-41.
On July 29, 1944, the Soviets had advanced to and entered the eastern suburbs of Warsaw. The Polish underground was encouraged
to fight the Germans by the Soviet controlled Polish Radio (the "Kosciuszko" station) in Moscow. The attack on Warsaw by the
Soviets appeared imminent while the Germans decided to dig in. The Polish Government-in-Exile considered this the last opportunity
to create and establish an independent, non-Soviet government in Poland.
The Warsaw uprising (August 1, 44 - October 2, 44), covered extensively elsewhere, did not succeed. The Soviet infantry stalled
its advance and the air force sorties over Warsaw came to a halt. A few Home Army detachments fighting alongside the
Red Army headed to Warsaw to aid the insurgents but were first disarmed by the Soviets before being allowed to proceed. The
Soviets also refused to allow the Allies to use Soviet air bases to bring in supplies for the fighters (only 10% of the
fighters actually possesed weapons). The Germans sensed the lull on the part of the Soviets and ultimately sent some
40,000 well equipped men to take the city, which they did. In time, following the German retreat, the Soviets finally entered
the city in January 1945."
Source name Illegible; see articles referenced below
3. Excerpt # 2
Excerpts from the book "Nowe Miasto Lubawskie During WWII 1939-45" by Zbigniew Karpus (translated and
paraphrased from the Polish by Richard Przewlocki). This section of the book deals with the re-entry of the Soviets into
the region in 1944.
On January 14, 1944, there was a large concentration of troops of the Soviet Bialorussian Front massing for an attack
in the general direction of Malbork and Elblag. In the initial attack (January 14-18/45) the Bialorussian army broke through
the German defences thus setting up the second phase of their attack (January 19 to February 9, 1945). During the fighting
there was very little resistance from the Germans and the Red Army entered the region of Nowe Miasto and Lubawa on January
About 100 Russian soldiers who perished during the battle were buried in the local cemetery. There was no serious resistance
from the retreating Germans who left Nowe Miasto without unnecessary loss of life and destruction of property which was
not the case in nearby Lubawa.
Here we had a post occupational disaster at the hands of the Red Army who became involved in mindless acts of vandalism
both collectively and as individuals. The destruction of property, rape, theft and the "rule of the fist" became the order
of the day. This was followed by arrests, deportations and forced labour for the benefit of Russia.
There were many acts of vandalism by the army as well as by individuals where many objects of value were taken and transported
to Russia. There was a mass destruction of houses and public buildings among them the first floor of the local courthouse
and the PKP (railway) station. These destructive activities were committed not only during the early days of "liberation"
but also again when the Red Army was returning from the front.
Many valuable objects were destroyed by the advancing Red Army who were eager to fire indicriminately at buildings etc.,
and used any pretext to burn down houses or any other building. This is how many Poles lost their houses, which had been lived
in by the Germans during their occupation. The Red Army burnt 20% of the houses in Nowe Miasto (56 houses) and 80% in Lubawa.
Regrettably Polish history does not record the actual behaviour of the Red Army who were allowed to be portrayed in positive
In June 1945 the authorities in Nowe Miasto made 12 private homes available to the Army. At the same time the Russians
started to rob silos and send stores of grain to Russia. There were many reports of robberies and compulsory requisition of
various possessions owned by the locals. People who had bicycles were often stopped by the soldiers and had their bikes taken
from them. The situation reached a point where a petition signed by the locals and supported by the local authority was sent
to UWP in Bydgoszcz with the specific request: "send the (Polish) army". As a consequence a small number of troops
were sent to the area but were unable to control the situation and were thrown out of the district by the local authority.
At a July 25 meeting, the region president announced that "as long as there is a Russian army in the disctrict,
there will be no harvest." People were afraid to go in the fields. With this in mind the region president travelled to Warsaw
to request a unit of 2,000 Polish soldiers.
It is worth a mention that Polish citizens were not only robbed by the rank and file Russian soldiers but there were
also acts of aggression perpetrated by the officers. In mid-April 1945 there came to Nowe Miasto a political officer of the
Red Army, major Sokolov, who under the pretext of looking for German maps and books also acquired linen, clothing, coupons
and food. He managed to get away with this because the Militia co-operated with him and were generously rewarded by getting
presents from among the confiscated goods. Requisitions of this nature stopped only after Sokolov departed in mid-May.
In June there was a massive cattle drive through the township which also included a number of horses. As a
result of this drive some 30% of the crops and vegetable gardens were trampled and destroyed. The greatest damage was inflicted
on the areas in the path of the drive not only due to the cattle but also due to the robberies perpetrated on the local citizenry
by the Russians. The "Wojt" of Marzecie reported on July 27, 1945 that "The Russians involved in the cattle drive are also
robbing the local population by taking their cows, horses, watches, linens etc. The people are defenceless."
On a practical level the Red Army was not very concerned with regulations and without any consultation with the Polish
government, was taking people for work in accord with its own requirements.
During a constitutional meeting of the PRN in Nowe Miasto it was established that the Russians were forcibly taking local
residents en masse to do manual work in Biskupiec and also, other work in East Prussia. These matters were also raised during
a second meeting of the PRN on April 25, 1945. Mr. Polikarp Kusal spoke of the capture by the Red Army of people in the street
in the area of Nowe Miasto and Lubawa to work in Biskupiec. In order to remedy this situation, the PRN agreed to the sending
of men only, in view of the heavy work and difficult living conditions. It appears that Biskupiec was the main centre for
loading goods (booty) which were acquired by the Russians during the war. In spite of these proposals, the Red
Army continued to take people for work according to its own needs and many workers who were sent to East Prussia, among them
many young girls, never returned home.
Almost immediately after the entry of the Red Army, mass arrests of Polish people began, generally under the pretext
that they belonged to some German organization. The Russians were mainly concerned with being able to get cheap labour which
was then used in labour camps throughout Russia. In the territory of Pomorze there were about 15,000 arrests and deportations.
The families of these people and the local Polish government administration had initiated procedures for their release as
early as March, 1945.
Arrests, deportations and other activities of the Soviet military awoke understandable uncertainties among the local
population. There was a growing hatred of the liberators. It is because of this situation that one of the local organisers
of the PPR, Mr. Mularenko, armed with evidence, went to Bialystok in March, 1945 to raise the issue of forced deportations. Since
that time there has been no word from him and he appears to have disappeared without a trace. As a consequence of the
interventions of the Polish government, some of those imprisoned returned home from Russia but many more remained there for
good. Some of them died there and as a consequence of this, there were many widows and children without fathers.
The most common reason for the murders, which were committed against the citizens of Nowe Miasto by the Russian
Army, was robbery. In the documented evidence there are many examples of this but there is also anecdotal evidence which confirms
the state of affairs. The following are a few examples of known cases:
On January 25, 1945 in the village of Marzecie, Bernard and Waleria Barkowski were murdered. At the same time, a
young girl from Laki disappeared.
In March, 1945, the wife of Mr. Zarzemblowski was shot.
On the 26th of May, 1945 in Otrebie, during a robbery of cows, Henry Grabuszewski was shot. Under similar circumstances
there was the shooting of a female named Jagielska, from Kulig.
Probably the most tragic shooting took place in December, 1945 in the township of Krotoszyn. On December 24, on Christmas
Eve, in the village of Szwarcenowo, two soldiers attacked the house belonging to a farmer named Stanisaw Ciolek, at the
time that his children were decorating the Christmas tree. The soldiers fired a number of shots from their automatic weapon,
killing the farmer instantly in front of his children.
At the time of the liberation of the Pomorze area in January 1945, the local Polish government administrators were
not aware of and were not sufficiently informed of the politics of the occupiers. At that time the number one priority
for the Communists was to strengthen their power base, not to bother with the wishes of the local population. The first legal
requirements established by the PKWN were very severe and punished people who were included in the "Volksliste" as there was
no compulsion to support the German national list. Independently of the law, there were immediate placements in forced labour
On March 23, 1945, the head of the temporary local government, Henryk Swiatkowski, announced that citizens whose names
had been included in Groups three and four ought to be considered as Polish if, during the German occupation, they didn't
play an active role in harming Poland.
Not until May 6, 1945, did a document appear giving full Polish citizenship to all those persons listed
in Groups 3 and 4 or Group "Leistungspole." These people were excluded from the list of "elements harmful to the Polish Nation."
Individuals who were 14 years of age were required to formally declare their loyalty after which they received a certificate,
valid for 6 months, confirming their Polish citizenship.
The township president made a public announcement disclosing the names of those who took the declaration and called
on others to do likewise. The final date for declarations was August 31, 1945.
On June 20, 1945, there was a celebration in Nowe Miasto on the occasion of the announcements of the first acts relating
to land ownership. The ceremony was preceeded by a Mass in the town square with the participation of government representatives,
local government officials, political parties, school children and town residents. The speech by the Mayor made reference
to the "Polish spirit supported by the Polish worker" during the German occupation. When mentioning Hitler's occupation he
said that whilst the whole nation deserves praise for heroism, the people of Pomorze became easily Germanised and like
St. Peter, rejected the Polish nation. However, he further mentioned that the Polish government was reaching out to the
local citizens in a spirit of rehabilitation. In order to placate the crowd and soften the comments by the Mayor, the
next speaker, a representative of the PPR added that rehabilitation was necessary in order to eliminate fascists and traitors
from the new democracy.
It seems that the most fair approach to rehabilitation would have been to bestow upon all Polish people formerly under
the control of the Third Reich full citizenship and to punish only those who collaborated with the enemy and who were
sentenced by the courts where their crimes could be supported by evidence.
The administrative and judicial system was not organised to handle such matters. It was invisaged that up to 90 % of
the region's residents were included in one of the German National Groups. In December, 1945, the Mayor, Brunon Wyczynski,
established that it was very difficult to categorically state the exact number of people who belonged to groups 3 and 4. In
Nowe Miasto, by September 20, 1945, only 19 people were placed in Group 2, 1835 in Group 3 and 10 in Group 4. Constantly
changing regulations and a lack of competence in the local administration brought about a state of chaos in these matters
of rehabilitation. (For an explanation of the German National Group registers look under "Pomerania" in Excerpt
# 3 below).
4. Excerpt # 3 (paraphrased)
As the Soviets prepared to enter former Polish territory in early 1944 they realized that the situation inside
the country was unfavourable to their future plans of the conquest of Poland. Mere conquest of territory could not change
The principal anti-German underground movement had developed into a powerful military and political force, a veritable
underground state, loyal to the Polish Government-in-Exile in London, with an army of about 500,000 (though poorly equipped)
and a civilian administration numbering several hundred thousand. It was known as the Armia Krajowa (AK) or Home Army.
Communications with the Polish Government in London were maintained by radio (despite the fact that it was illegal for
Poles in the German occupied areas to have radios) and couriers such as the "Cichociemni" (the silent and unseen).
The men and women of the Polish underground wanted to observe Poland's pre-war pacts and saw no other future for Poland
than among Western democracies. They knew that for the Soviets the formula "lasting alliance and friendship" meant the exclusion
of all other countries - in other words, complete isolation from the West and total dependance on the Soviet Union. Like most
Poles, they knew that liberation by the Red Army would result in one totalitarian system being replaced by another.
Support for Soviet aims in Poland was virtually non-existent and came mainly from the 20,000 strong Polish Communist
Party which identified itself with an armed Pro-Soviet Polish resistance movement called the Armia Ludowa (AL) or Peoples'
Army. This small group however did manage to constantly run interference on the operations of the pro-West underground.
It found sympathizers among those who sought reforms of varying degrees, those who did not want to see a return
to the pre-war political situation which was felt by the poor to exist in favour of the rich. The
AL and similar splinter groups all found greater support among the Poles as the Soviets advanced, providing an alternative
to the AK whose methods were not appreciated by all.
Revolution was carried into Poland on the bayonets of the Red Army, as also happened elsewhere. But the Red Army's operations
in Poland were combined with a huge quasi-political campaign designed to bring about a radical change in the balance of forces. The
Polish Committee of National Liberation (PKWN) was established in Moscow in July 1944 under the pretext that the Red Army,
having entered Poland, would need to discuss matters of common interest with a "Polish state authority." Stalin completely
ignored the fact that such an authority already existed in London with representation in Poland among the Home Army leaders
both military and administrative. He had however made this Polish authority "inoperative" when he severed diplomatic
relations over Katyn. The PKWN Committee soon started to function as a quasi-provisional government in the areas siezed
from the Germans and played a major role in the Soviet take-over. The PKWN later became the Communist Provisional Government,
known as the "Lublin" Government, taking its name from the city in Eastern Poland that was its first seat.
The Committee's members were hand picked by Stalin who stepped in when the pro-Soviet Poles could not agree among themselves
on its composition. In this way Stalin became the master of a Polish government which had been trained to convert Soviet decisions
into initiatives appearing to originate from the Poles themselves.
(This government evolved into the Government of National Unity in June 1945 and was recognized by the American and British
governments on July 6 of that year, one day after Britain and the United States withdrew recognition of the
war time Polish Government-in-Exile in London.)
From among the Poles who did not escape the Soviet Union, Stalin allowed a Polish Army to be formed by General Berling.
Many Poles did not want to fight under the Soviets but the chance to escape the prisons, gulags and Siberia forced their hand.
This Polish Army, under Soviet command, was to be the cornerstone of Stalin's policy on Poland, its existence purpose-built
for a political role. Its formation began in May 1943 and by the summer of 1944, was 75,000 strong as it followed the Red
Army into Poland. From the very start it was endowed with a large political apparatus of full-time political
officers. They were backed up by line officers seconded from the Red Army who made up about 70% of the officer corps of the
new army. Once the Polish Army had learned to obey Soviet orders it continued to do so until the demise of the communist system
in Poland in 1989. (Earlier, in 1941-42, another Polish Army of 70,000 men together with 50,000 civilians, formed on Soviet
soil in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan under the command of General Wladyslaw Anders, was allowed by the Soviets to evacuate
to Iran to join the British Forces.)
The main directors of the Soviet take-over of Polish territories were the NKVD, backed up fully by the Red Army with
additional support from the new pro-Soviet Polish Army, renamed the Polish People's Army, with its Security Service, the
Polish State Security Services and lastly, the revitalised Polish Communist Party. Polish participation was an important new
factor. It made breaches in the hitherto united anti-Soviet opposition, easing its penetration and manipulation. The large
number of Red Army officers with Polish names and wearing Polish uniforms who held key positions in all sectors of the new
Polish administration complicated the situation further.
b) Destruction of the Home Army
The first step in the takeover of Poland was the destruction of the Home Army.
Top secret order # 220169, dated July 31, 1944, signed by Stalin and A. Antonov, addressed to the commanders of
the First, Second and Third Belorussian and First Ukrainian Fronts, to the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish People's Army
and the commander of the First Polish Army, contained the following statement: "... armed units of the Home Army and of other
similar organisations which most certainly harbour German spies should be immediately disarmed after coming out of hiding.
Officers of such units should be interned and NCOs and other ranks should be directed to reserve (replacement) battalions
of the First Polish Army. In addition, the Commander of the First Polish Army has orders to form such battalions in the
areas of operation of the four Red Army Fronts. Upon arrival NCOs and other ranks will be strictly investigated and then passed
on to the Replacement Regiment in Lublin. Reports on progress in disarming the NCOs and other ranks and on numbers of interned
officers are to be submitted to the High Command every five days, with effect from August 1." The meaning of "most certainly
harbour German spies" and the reason for disarming the Home Army are explained in point 2 of the order: "Nazi intelligence
is trying to penetrate the ranks (word crossed out) in the Red Army area of operations and thus remain in the liberated areas
of Poland under the cover of Home Army units." (Red Army High Command Order 220169, Polityka, 4-9-1991)
Stalin's order amounted to a death sentence on the Home Army pronounced on the eve of the Red Army's entry into Poland.
It was based on nothing more than an assumption that the Home Army, and with it the entire Polish underground, would oppose
his designs on Poland. At that time only Stalin knew what was in store for Poland and only he could arrive at the logical
conclusion that the Home Army must be destroyed.
The PKWN (Stalin's loyal Polish government) helped out by issuing two decrees. The first, dated August 15, 1944, compelled
"liberated" Polish men to register for military service in the Polish People's Army with about 128,000 doing so by December
1944 despite a plea to boycott the process by the London based authorities. Many former Home Army members who registered, however,
soon found themselves accused of creating political subversion and organising desertions (of which there were many).
The second decree, dated August 24, 1944, dissolved and made illegal all secret military organisations (i.e. the London
based Home Army). The underground pro-Soviet People's Army had already been amalgamated with the Polish People's Army. Continuation
of Home Army activities became illegal and punishable by law, so the officers and men who ignored the decree on the advice
of the Main Commnad joined partisan groups, which was known as "being driven into the woods."
According to some estimates, as a result of the confrontation with the Polish People's Army, as many as 40,000 Home Army
officers and men were deported deep into the Soviet Union. Others were subjected to discrimination and gradually removed from
the army. The military and administrative structure of the Home Army became depleted, fragmented and continued to weaken.
The PKWN adopted a campaign against the Home Army equating their activities to fascist anti-Polish activities.
The Polish Government-in-Exile and the Home Army tried to establish control over the area liberated from the Germans
by mounting military operations under the code name Tempest. The plan to give the Red Army full support in the capture of
large towns and then install administrations loyal to the London Government failed. At Wilno, Lwow and other places the
Soviet commanders gladly accepted the military assistance, but prevented the political appointmemts. The participants
were rounded up and handed over to the NKVD. Some 1,500 officers involved in Tempest operations at Wilno and Nowogrodek were
sent to the Dyagilev camp near Ryazan and about 5,000 other ranks to other camps. Many faced trials by Soviet military tribunals.
The Home Army lost not only its leaders and manpower, but also much of its secret organisation and methods. Coming out of
hiding contributed later to the liquidation of the Home Army.
Towards the end of July 1944, having secured a bridgehead on the west bank of the Vistula River, the Red Army appeared
to be ready to attack Warsaw from all directions. Soviet controlled radio encouraged the Poles to fight and London sensed
that the opportunity to regain the Polish capital must be seized. Eventually the Home Army did decide to stage an
uprising, which began on August 1, 1944. The Soviet army command filed a plan of attack with Stalin on August 8, 1944 but
it was rejected. The Soviets then stood idly by while for 63 days the Home Army and Warsaw civilians battled the Germans.
Stalin did not allow Allied planes to use their air fields and he deflected all calls to aid the Poles. The Germans meanwhile
sensed that the Soviets had laid back and actually stalled their westward retreat in order to bring in more troops to
squash the uprising.
In the end the Germans overcame the uprising and destroyed the Home Army including the Main Command, aiding
the Soviets immeasurably. Of the Home Army soldiers, 18,000 died and 25,000 were wounded while some 180,000 civilians perished.
The Germans lost 10,000 men dead and 9,000 wounded with 7,000 missing. Seventy percent of Warsaw's buildings were destroyed
with 800,000 or so civilians displaced. Rape and pillage was followed by deportation to German slave labour or concentration
On July 28, 1944 the PKWN signed an agreement with The Soviet government in which Poles in the area of the front
line became subject to Soviet jurisdiction. This of course, gave the Soviets carte blanche to remove all those
deemed undesirable. Obviously, the first batch of most undesirable elements were the soldiers, administrators, members
and sympathizers of the Home Army. After clearing an area of the German presence, the NKVD would round up all potential anti-Soviet
elements and group them together according to their former units, such as headquarters, partisan groups known by a particular
code name and so on. This facilitated interrogation, trials, executions, summary trials and executions, disposal of remains,
cover up and the search for potential collaborators.The justification was always the suspected existence of German spies or
i) Turza Wood
For example, in the Turza Wood (near the village of Trzebuska, by Sokolow Malopolski in the Rzeszow Region of Southern
Poland), remains from common graves were exhumed in 1990 and the bodies were found to have been shot in the back of the
head, as in Katyn. Soviet TT pistol cartridges were found near the graves.
The exhumations and investigation began only in the spring of 1989. Preliminary information came from document
S-3833 found in the Central Party Archives in Kiev during the 1980s. The document reveals that in July 1944 Soviet troops
of the 1st Ukrainian Front captured the city of Lwow in conjunction with the Home Army unit commanded by Gen. Wladyslaw
Filipkowski. The general and five of his officers were asked to come to Zytomir for talks. While they were detained there,
the NKVD arrested the staff and soldiers of the Home Army (Regional) Command at Lwow. In August 1944 they were all taken to
Trzebuska village, about 20 kilometres from Rzeszow and liquidated by the NKVD. They were buried in nine graves.
Early in August 1944, an NKVD unit attached to the Front HQ of Marshal Koniev arrived for a tour of duty at Trzebuska.
The Soviet contingent consisted of investigation officers and members of a tribunal, an execution platoon, and a general
guard detachment. They followed an established routine. Interrogations of prisoners took place every day except Thursday when
the tribunal was sitting. The sentences were read out near dugouts in the detention compound. On Thursday nights, a lorry
followed by a jeep took the victims to Turza Wood for execution and burial. The lorry returned empty in the morning. On the
day when executions were carried out, a group of prisoners would walk to the wood under guard to prepare the graves. The majority
of the prisoners were Poles from the Home Army. The rest were Ukrainians, Belorussians, Lithuanians and Germans.
The NKVD operations at Trzebuska lasted three months, from August to October 1944. The frequency of rotation suggests
a total of about 2,500 prisoners. About 600 were executed - the figure is based on one lorry trip per week to the place of
execution in Turza Wood. The Military Tribunal in Trzebuska passed sentences of 10, 15 or more years in gulags in the
Soviet Union. One can assume that NKVD units as described above were operating with each of the four Red Army Front
HQs on Polish territory at the time.
ii) Polish Communists Aid The Soviets
On a much smaller scale, security organs of the Polish People's Army (i.e. Polish pro-Soviet communists) conducted
operations against their compatriots in the anti-Soviet underground as well. Official investigations began early in 1999.
Exhumations from two collective graves in Baran Wood (Near Kakolewnica, Lublin region) revealed thirteen bodies murdered in
the most brutal way. Records obtained from from the Polish Ministry of Defence show that in the period of October 1944
to January 1946, the Second Polish Army's military courts at Kakolewnica passed 61 death sentences, of which 45 were carried
out. Other records indicate that the same courts passed 40 death sentences in the month of October 1944 alone, of which
37 were carried out. Rumours persist that members of the underground were being executed without trial.
Western Pomerania, the Gdansk (Danzig) area and the former East Prussia were handled slightly differently by the NKVD
due to their high native German population.
In these regions the occupying Germans had earlier established a series of registers, the Deutsche Volksliste which
graded the local population. Groups I and
II consisted of German nationals who lived in Poland prior to September 1, 1939 (the Volksdeutsche). Groups III and IV were Poles who, according
to the German authorities, were suitable and deserving of resettlement and "Germanization."
In early 1945, from pre-war Pomerania alone, the NKVD deported 15,000 - 20,000 people to about a dozen gulags stretching
from the Donbas to Novosibirsk in the Soviet Union. For the most part they were people who had been entered on Volksliste
III in 1942. The Soviets and the PKWN mistakenly believed that these people
were German when in fact the Germans had been placed in registers I and
II and anyhow had fled west before the arrival of the Red Army.
The NKVD also deported people at random as well as those who appeared fit for work. There were also some Home Army partisan
units that obeyed the orders to come out of hiding. One of these units, code named "Jedlina" was feted by a Red Army
lieutenant-general, the commander of the 65th Army, Second Belorussian Front, but handed over to the NKVD the following day.
Former prisoners of a gulag camp at Korkino, near Chelyabinsk in the Urals, provided the following information. From
early February 1945, victims were being taken from their homes and other places, supposedly for urgent road and bridge repairs
and such. Instead, they were formed into groups of quickly increasing numbers and kept under guard in
prisons and other secure places. They were beaten and interrogated. Groups of over 200 people were then taken to several
railway stations where the final assembly of penal transports bound for the Soviet Union took place. The best known was
Ilawa railway station, Olsztyn region.
A train transport of about 3,000 prisoners left Ilawa station on March 10, 1945. It reached Rose camp at Korkino on April
7. The 4 week journey, the bitter cold, hunger and disease had claimed many victims. Forty naked male and female corpses were
still in the mortuary car after arrival.
The camp consisted of wooden huts hardly visible above ground and a camp commander's building. Everything was surrounded
by a wooden fence 3 metres high with barbed wire and watch towers. Two-thirds of the 3,000 prisoners were women. There were
four health categories. The fittest, categories one and two, worked in coal, copper and graphite mines, on collective and
state farms, and in workshops. Category 3 performed camp duties while category 4 escaped all work. Food was poor and insufficient.
Insect infestations and poor medical facilities caused frequent outbreaks of infectious diseases. Over 1,000 prisoners
died in the first three months. Soon so many were dying that they could not be buried individually. Bodies robbed of clothing
were tipped from a trolley into a large hole outside the camp, also used for camp refuse. The high mortality eventually prompted
Moscow to send an Investigation Team.
Quite suddenly in August 1945 preparations started for closing the camp and repatriating the prisoners. In the fall of
1945 a total of 850 persons were repatriated. A group of several hundred prisoners including the "Jedlina" partisans was transferred
to an "international" camp at Kyshtym, between Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk. They returned to Poland in June 1946. Thus, after
a relatively short six month stay at camp Rose, only half of the original 3,000 returned. Their stay had been cut short because
the Lublin government managed to convince the Soviets that it was a mistake to treat them as Germans. Before the arrival of
the Poles, the inmates of Gulag Rose were Rumanians, and after the Poles came German prisoners.
iv) Bialystok Region
As in other regions of Poland, the NKVD followed on the heels of the Red Army to cleanse newly "liberated" areas of "dangerous
elements." Two examples of NKVD mop up operations in the Bialystok region follow.
On October 19, 1944 the NKVD arrested "better class" residents of the village of Bocko, including grammar school pupils.
They were all taken to the district prison at Bielsk Podlaski for interrogation alternating with beatings, tortures and mock
executions. A few weeks later they were transferred to the regional prison in Bialystok which already held over a thousand
people brought in from other district prisons. More interrogations, beatings and tortures. On November 7, 1944 about one thousand
prisoners started a 2 week train journey to an uknown destination. The usual convict transport conditions, cold, hunger and
thirst, and unsuccessful escapes from overcrowded cattle cars exacted an unusually high number of deaths.
On November 19, 1944 the transport arrived at Ostashkov. The prisoners were marched six kilometres in deep snow from
the station to Camp No. 45 near Lake Seliger. In 1940 another camp at Ostashkov held nearly 6,000 Polish POWs who were part
of the Katyn Mass Murders. A second and third transport each containing about one thousand prisoners from Bialystok arrived
on November 21 and December 9, 1944 respectively. Mostly farmers and artisans, a small number of members of the intelligentsia.
Most had a Home Army past.
Accomodation consisted of log huts with no other furniture other than 3-tiered bunks infested with bedbugs. The camp
was well lit at night and surrounded by three rows of barbed wire and watchtowers manned by German POWs known for their anti-fascist
- that is, pro-Soviet - views. Starvation rations, the bitter cold, epidemics, and the difficult and strenuous felling and
retrieving of trees from bogs caused extremely high mortality.
In January 1945 almost half of the camp population was repatriated to Poland. On April 15, 1945 the names of 1,500 prisoners
were read out at roll call. Everyone feared the worst and did not believe the official assurances of imminent repatriation.
In fact they were sent to Camp No. 178 at Diagilev near Ryazan, already holding Home Army personnel. In January 1946 a group
of 140 officers was brought to Diagilev from Kharkov and others were arriving all the time.
The war ended, but the treatment of prisoners did not improve. Aiming at improving its knowledge of the anti-Soviet opposition
in Poland, the NKVD continued interrogating them about former Home Army activities.
For three whole years the prisoners were not allowed to correspond with their families. By June 1947 the inhuman conditions
gave rise to protest hunger strikes and passive resistance. A group of high-ranking NKVD officers arrived from Moscow, but
failed to restore order. Eight days later an NKVD general arrived and promised that repatriation was imminent. The prisoners
were moved to a camp at Borovice for an intensive communist indoctrination course. Then, in October 1947, travelling as always
in cattle trucks, they reached Brest on the new Polish-Soviet border.
The second example of NKVD activities in the Bialystok region begins in July of 1945, two months after the end of the
war in Europe and almost one year after the area had been cleared of the Germans. NKVD troops, supported by Red Army
units, carried out a massive round-up of anti-communist residents in the Suwalki area. The operation was centred on the Augustow
Virgin Forest and encompassed over one hundred villages in the surrounding area. A village called Giby has given its name
to the whole operation. Several thousand people were detained for interrogation on the strength of information collected earlier
by the NKVD and the Polish State Security Service, installed and run by the Soviets as part of the new communist administration.
Most detainees were released after a fortnight. A large number were taken at night in lorries to an unknown destination.
To this day their fate is unknown. In the early postwar years it was estimated that 1,300 people were missing after the Giby
operation. All hope that they had been deported to the Soviet Union vanished after 1956 when not a single Giby survivor was
found among numerous repatriates from the Soviet Union.
Pressed by relatives, the Polish Red Cross instructed its local representatives to prepare a list of missing persons.
There were 1,136 names on it when the local Communist Party put an end to this activity. Persistent rumours about executions
in the Augustow Forest at the time in question led to an official investigation of an alleged mass grave in the Forest
in June 1987. It was found to contain the remains of several German soldiers. Pressure for further searches continued.
In August 1987 a Committee to Search for Inhabitants of Suwalki who Perished in July 1945 was formed. It appealed to
the Polish and Soviet authorities, to the Catholic Church and the Polish Red Cross for help in compiling a full list
of the victims and their fate. Fifty Six prominent Polish personalities sent a letter to Poland's Council of State. The Committee's
activities were declared illegal. This happened many months after the Gorbachev-Jaruzelski declaration on the elimination
of blank pages. However, the Committee continued to exist and by April 1989 had collected much detailed information about
370 victims which was entered on 12 page questionnaires. Several teams of volunteer interviewers then visited dozens of localities
collecting documents, photographs and other evidence, and tape-recording testimonies from family members. Study of the material
helped to pinpoint the perpetrators of the crime among NKVD and Polish Security personnel. Three questions remain unanswered:
who took the decision to launch a cross-border operation after hostilities had ceased? Was the operation conducted at the
invitation of the Polish side? Where are the graves of the victims? On April 19, 1989 the Committee submitted a report about
the Giby operation to the Polish Sejm, with its demands and a full list of victims.
Towards the end of the war the NKVD carried out mass deportations of men from the Silesia region of Poland. In February
and March 1945 the NKVD deported about 20,000 miners from Katowice to Soviet Kazakhstan. A list of the deportees' names was
made at the time and has helped establish that the majority never returned. The case is still under investigation.
The Opole region which had belonged to Germany before the war but had a sizeable Polish minority endured murders, rapes,
arsons and robberies, all committed by Red Army units and deserters. Almost all the male population between the ages of 16-60
were taken from their homes and sent to camps elsewhere in Poland. A number of them were later deported to the Soviet Union.
At first it was estimated that 20,000 had met this fate but lists completed in February 1947 contained the names of 34,680
men held in the Soviet Union. Only part of them returned home, some as late as 1950.
viii) The Case of "The Sixteen"
After ruthlessly supressing the rank and file of the opposition, the Soviets decided to eliminate its leaders.
In early March 1945, General Leopold Okulicki, Commander of the Home Army and Jan Jankowski, Plenipotentiary of the Polish Government
in London received invitations from a General Ivanov, representative of the 1st Belorussian Front Command (through a
Colonel Pimenov of the Red Army), to attend urgent talks on contentious Soviet-Polish issues. At this time, American representative
Herriman, British representative Kerr and Soviet representative Molotov were discussing the composition of a provisional Polish
government which was to contain an international mix of Polish leaders. A total of 16 representatives, including those from
the major political parties, were to meet with the Soviets.
Col. Pimenov gave his word as a Red Army officer as a guarantee of personal safety and even promised passports for travel
to London for consultations with the Polish government. The Poles mistrust of the Soviets was set aside as they really had
no alternative if they hoped to have an input. This turned out to be a great mistake.
The meeting was to have taken place at Radom, west of Warsaw, on March 29. The three most senior members of the
group, Okulicki, Jankowski and Puzak, were asked to come to Pruszkow, near Warsaw, on March 28. They went and did not return.
On March 29 the remaining 13 were taken from Pruszkow to Okecie Airport and immediately flown to the Soviet Union. The plane
ran out of fuel and landed in a snowy field near Ivanovo, about 300 kilometres north-east of Moscow. The pilot and two escort
officers hurriedly left the plane. Apart from the 13 there were no other passengers. About 40 minutes later a group of
armed soldiers marched them to an isolated building. After a long wait they were driven to Ivanovo railway station
in black limousines. They were taken by train to Moscow, arriving at 14:00 on March 31, 1945. After another journey in black
limousines they found themselves in Moscow's notorious Lubijanka prison. They realised that they had either been kidnapped
or had survived a scheduled air crash.
From then on the 16 were kept in solitary confinement until they were brought to trial on June 18, 1945. They were subjected
to "natural" tortures - acute cold, permanent hunger and sleep deprivation. Sleeping during the day was forbidden; nights
were used for interrogations lasting ten hours and longer. There were 120-141 interrogations per head, conducted in Russian
only, with the prisoners signing no statements and without taking notes.
The 3 day trial by the Military Tribunal of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union started with indictments:
- subversion at the rear of the Red Army on Soviet territory (annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939);
- formation of "NIE," a military-political organisation for continuing subversion at the rear of the Red Army and for future
joint action with the Germans against the Soviet Union;
- directing subversion at the rear of the Red Army;
- failure to surrender radio communication equipment, printing presses, arms and ammunition as directed by the Soviet High
- active propaganda against the Soviet Union by spreading false information about alleged Soviet violations of the law;
- Gen. Okulicki was additionally charged with espionage.
The proceedings were a farce. The evidence produced was entirely in Russian and either translated badly or not at all.
The only advice the accused received from defence counsel was to plead guilty or incriminate the other defendants. Sentence
was pronounced on June 25, 1945. Okulicki - 10 years, Jankowski - 8 years, Bien, Jasiukowicz - 5 years, Pajdak, tried separately,
- 5 years. Nine of the others received sentences ranging from 4 months to 17 months, but were released under the terms of
an amnesty. Two were found not guilty. On the whole, the sentences were less severe than expected, in line with Stalin's promise
to Roosevelt in the matter.
The imprisonment of the five most senior defendants automatically removed them from the list of candidates best qualified
for the future Polish Government of National Unity. The rest withdrew as a result of their Lubijanka experiences. That must
have been the precise purpose of the operation. General Ivanov and Colonel Pimenov were in fact senior NKVD officials and
not Red Army officers. Gen. Ivanov was the pseudonym of Gen. Ivan Serov who was responsible for security at the rear of the
Red Army. At the trial Gen. Okulicki objected to the abduction, but the Chairman of the Tribunal simply said the prisoners
had been tricked by the NKVD. According to official information, the three most senior prisoners died in Soviet prisons, but
there is evidence that Gen. Okulicki was executed on December 24, 1946 in Lubijanka prison. During the whole of April the
Soviets maintained they had no connection with the disappearance of the Sixteen, until on May 4, 1945 Molotov admitted at
a UN conference that they had been arrested by the Red Army.
The Polish Provisional Government declared that Okulicki and his associates were anti-Polish and anti-democratic and insisted
that it should be the body responsible for their arrest and trial.
ix) Soviet Control, 1945-56
The end of German-Soviet hostilities made little difference to the situation in Poland. The Soviet Union and its puppet
regime in Warsaw had just signed a treaty of friendship and co-operation and prevented the return of the legitimate Polish
Government and its 200,000 strong army from the West. Both would have endangered Stalin's plans for dominating Europe. Faced
with Stalin's total intransigence on the subject of Poland, the Western Powers finally accepted Soviet terms, disregarding
their obligations towards Poland. This breach of faith rather than the Western Allies incredible short-sightedness was the
real reason why the Polish people questioned for so long the finality of the superpower division at Yalta.
Polish resistance to Sovietisation continued after the departure of the Red Army with its NKVD units. This posed a threat
to the survival of the puppet regime and its Soviet style administration, and in consequence, to the Soviet foothold
in Poland. The regime was saved by a variety of measures known as "consolidation of people's power" in the years
1945-49. Gen. Jaruzelski, a stalwart supporter of Soviet interests is quoted: "Initial hopes that the underground would
wane and disintegrate as a result of the political achievements of people's power did not materialise. It became necessary
to dispose of it once and for all, to replace the power of logic with the logic of power." In practice this meant that
the new Polish Security Forces and selected units of the new Polish People's Army engaged in operations of a military nature
against the anti-Soviet Underground. Anyone who survived was dealt with by special courts. What Polish State Security organs
had learned as junior partners in joint operations with the NKVD they began to apply in their own right.
Throughout the Stalinist period in Poland, suppression of the Underground was presented as maintenance of law
and order. The substance, interpretation and enforcement of laws passed in that period were modelled on Soviet theory and
practice aimed at obtaining maximum effect at minimal immediate cost. Both were achieved at the expense of basic human rights
and civil liberties. A package of seven completely new laws passed between 1944 and 1946 provided special instruments for
the investigation, prosecution, trial and punishment of offenses against the communist State. Most Underground activities
were made to fit into that category.
The laws were draconian. For example, a decree of November 16, 1945 specified the death penalty or life imprisonment for
eight types of offenses: assaulting a member of the armed forces; sabotage; possession of arms; forging money; receiving money
from a foreign government; passing state secrets; deceiving state authorities. The vague terminology made interpretation all
important. A serious accident in a factory became sabotage punishable by death. "Whispering" - telling political jokes or
criticising the new system - could earn a 5-year prison sentence. Failure to denounce others carried the risk of long term
imprisonment or even death.
The secret police investigated and prosectued offenses against the State outside the judicial processes so that no
independant bodies supervised the ways by which evidence was obtained. Guilt was presumed and there was no right of appeal.
Both the Polish State Security and the Polish Army Security Directorate were laws unto themselves, though directed and controlled
by numerous Soviet advisers working behind the scenes.
There was a preference for military courts and summary courts. In 1945-46, summary courts attached to combined Security
and Army Operations Groups dealt with people caught during military operations against Underground groups. Between February
and June 1946 the trials of 803 people resulted in 364 death sentences and 409 prison sentences ranging from five years
to life. All but five of the death sentences were carried out the next day, in public. The summary procedure used by the courts
did not allow for witnesses, defense counsels or appeals. Some summary courts were dubbed "courts on wheels" because they
visited outlying towns and even small villages.
In June 1946 the summary procedure was replaced by military courts which began to process more civilian cases than
military cases. In the years 1946-49 about 105,000 people appeared before military courts. As previously mentioned, a large
number of Soviet army officers were assigned to serve with the Polish Army judiciary and held all the most senior and
many high ranking positions.
One can see that the Soviets, aided by their Polish Communist friends, spent the years 1944-46 cleansing Poland
of opposition. Further intimidation (and a falsification of votes) ensured that the "free" elections of January 19-22,
1947 turned out in favour of the ruling, communist dominated, Government of National Unity.
Sources for Excerpt # 3 (compiler unknown):
- Janusz Smoczynski, Kurier Polski, 24,26-2-1989
- Stanislaw Rutkowski, Zarys Dziejow Polskiego Szkolnictwa Wojskowego, Warsaw, 1970, pp. 277, 278, 302, 303
- Henryk Kacala, Wojsko Ludowe, No. 9, 1973, pp. 15-16
- Krzysztof Blazejewski, Adam Lewandowski, Tygodnik Demokratyczny, 4-6-1989
- Dr. Erazm Baran, Dziennik Polski, 7-8-1990
- Jan Jasniak, Katolik, 26-8-1990
- Adam Stanko, T. Syczynski, Dziennik Lubelski, 9,10-6-1990
- Konrad Ciechanowski, Fakty, 9-9-1989
- Janusz Smoczynski, Kurier Polski, 24, 26-2-1989
- Wojsko Ludowe, No.7, 1972
- Jacek Wilczur, Odrodzenie, 15-7-1989
- Jan Ordynski, Rzeczpospolita, 21-6-1991
- Jacek Ruszczowski, Znak, No. 9, 1990
- Adam Bien, Lad, 15-5-1988
- George Malcher, Poland's Politicised Army - Communists in Uniform, New York, 1984, pp. 3-4
- Przemyslaw Wojcik, Wojsko Ludowe, No. 7, 1981, 7
- Maria Turlejska, Przeglad Powszechny, No. 12, 1988
- Marek Rymuszko, Prawo i Zycie, 29-4-1989
- Jerzy Pasnik, Prawo i Zycie, 27-5-1989
- Tadeusz Modelski, The Polish Contribution to the Ultimate Allied Victory in the Second World War, 1988
5. Excerpt #4: A Memoir
Surviving the Polish Communist Underground
Boguslaw Nowakowski was a resistance fighter with the Armia Krajowa, the Polish underground organization
loyal to the London based Polish Government in Exile. Here he describes his encounter with a Communist underground unit, one
of many which began to gain strength in 1944 and 1945 due to the support of the Soviet Union and began to turn their attention
away from the Germans to their capitalist Polish rivals.
Boguslaw Nowakowski: I Survived my Execution
Despite being glorified in song and legend, life with the partisans was primitive, dirty, louse infested, and in general,
very very harsh. Except when we were on sabotage or reprisal raids, we were always on the alert to escape the Germans who
were constantly hunting us. We obtained our weapons from the enemy, or waited, sometimes for weeks, for airdrops from England.
I had been wounded in a raid on a German bank in January 1944. We needed the money to buy food, bribe officials, and
buy weapons. But the most dramatic incident in my life as a partisan occurred on April 13 and 14 of that same year.
Five of us, soldiers of the Armia Krajowa, were returning from Ostrow Swietokrzyski, our hometown. We had spent the Easter
holiday there. We were Marian Blazejewski (code name "Mania"), Jerzy Skwarek ("Lux"), Jozef Mazur ("Elephant"),
Czeslaw Kedziora (whose pseudonym I cannot remember) and I, Boguslaw Nowakowski ("student'). My colleagues called
me "student" because I preferred to carry books in my pack rather than grenades. Other than me, a seventeen-year-old,
the rest were older and experienced partisans, and in their twenties and early thirties.
Late that night we stopped in the village of Denkowek. There was a small store there, and during the occupation the owner
ran a modest restaurant.
After sitting there a while, we heard a knock on the door. Standing outside were partisans whom we recognized as members
of the Peoples' Army, a Communist sponsored group. They said they wanted something to eat. There was no cooperation between
our groups, but we were not fighting each other either, so we suspected nothing evil and let them in.
Their group numbered between twenty-five and thirty people, and it became very crowded inside the restaurant. After a
short and amiable chat with us, they took away our weapons. Their task was easy. They had managed to separate us and
we were each surrounded by a number of them.
Along with our weapons they took our money from us, of which we had quite a bit. During our "furlough," we had managed
to rob the cash office of an agricultural cooperative run by the Germans.
When we protested, their leader, Stefan Szymanski ("Wasp"), announced that we were under arrest for having taken
part in a raid against a Communist partisan unit, and we were to be taken to their base for interrogation. This satisfied
me, as I had never heard about any attack on the Communists, and thought that there must have been some kind of mistake.
Wasp then ordered for us to be tied up in pairs. I had a glass of tea in my hands, and being the odd one out,
had my hands bound behind my back, instead of being tied to somebody else. We were marched down the country roads and were
taken to a forest, and apparently not for an interrogation. They had a heavy escort on us, and I was at the end of the column
The Communist unit had a number of Russians with it. They had either escaped from nearby POW camps, or had been parachuted
in by the Soviets. I heard Wasp give orders to three of the Russians with burp guns to shoot us. Something snapped
in my head. I did not want to die. The stupid thing was that it would be at the hands of my countrymen, and not at the hands
of the occupier. I thought of how funny the bad luck was that my fate should be sealed, though I was a man, but I had never
yet sampled the "delights of love," and never would.
I had no hope, and despite internal revolts against my fate, I prayed. This calmed me down. My entire short life flashed
before my eyes, as if it were a movie.
We were led to a small clearing and Wasp, in a most sarcastic manner, informed us that because of anti-communist
action, we were sentenced to death. My friends shouted in protest that these were lies, but a series of bursts from the
Russians' burp guns silenced them.
The muzzle flashes were two to three meters in front of me, and I felt the gun blasts and smelled gunpowder. I fell,
figuring that this was the end. I was surprised that my leaving this world was so painless. As I lay motionless, I heard my friends
groaning and Wasp's orders to strip us to our underwear and dig graves and cover them up with pine boughs so nobody
would ever find us. He then called to one of the Russians to see if anybody needed to be "finished off."
During these horrifying seconds, or fractions of seconds, it came to me that I had not even been wounded. My instinct
for self-preservation awoke, along with my consciousness of fear. I began to think that I might save myself.
At this point they started to undress me. To take off my coat and jacket they had to cut the rope binding my hands. They
then pulled off my boots, and began dragging me a few meters towards the woods by my legs.
I realized that this was my last chance. The Russian was distracted. I was light without the ballast of my overcoat,
uniform and boots, and my hands were free. I sprang up like a rabbit and dashed into the nearby shrubs.
The surprise was complete, and there was no reaction for a few seconds. I then heard somebody shouting, "Shoot the son-of-a-bitch,
he's getting away!" I heard shooting and the buzz of bullets all around me. The night was very dark, and they fired into the
blackness, not hitting me. I managed to run into some very thick brush. I stopped to catch my breath, and to thank God for
After a few kilometers, I managed to get to a friend's house in Denkow. I frightened everyone very badly. A knock on
the door before daybreak in those times never meant anything good. They calmed down a little when they saw that it was not
the Gestapo at their door, but they were horrified at the sight of me. I looked like a ghoul. I was barefoot, and covered
with mud and blood, with pieces of rope hanging from my wrists. They gave me first aid and clothing.
I contacted the Armia Krajowa in Ostrow, which gave me an armed escort back to my unit. My commander was Eugene Kaszynski
("Current"). I must point out that this unit was organized in 1943 by the famous partisan and hero of the Kielce
region, Jan Piwnik ("Gloomy"), who had parachuted into Poland from England.
When I got to my unit, I wrote a comprehensive report of the entire incident. This report was sealed in the Armia Krajowa
archives, and was to be used to bring those guilty of this atrocity to justice after the war.
Fearing liberation by the Communists, and people like Wasp coming to power, I assumed the name Wiktor Wozniak.
The greatest irony is that to escape my would-be executioner, I volunteered to go to Germany as a laborer.
Many years have gone by, and the guilty have not only escaped justice, but for years after the war they were still arresting
whomever they could from Gloomy's unit. Our soldiers were persecuted by the Polish Peoples' Republic, and in numerous
show trials they were given sentences that varied from five years' imprisonment to death.
And Stefan Szymanski, in this sea of lies and hypocrisy, reveled in the promotions and decorations awarded by the Communist
Secret Police. How much blood he has on his hands, besides that of my friends, only he knows.
6. Soviet Tentacles
Following the capitulation of Germany the Allies found themselves responsible for one million refugees in the western
occupation zone. These refugees had been among the millions deported to Germany for slave labour or POWs and concentration
camp inmates sent to Germany during the war. Those from eastern and central Eurpoe (Poles, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Russians
and others) could not simply return home as did the French, Italian and British deportees or POWs. Many feared
for their life if they returned to the Soviet "Workers' Paradise."
The Poles were unsure of what to do. For one, the Soviet Union had once again annexed the same eastern provinces that
it had invaded back in 1939. Although homesick for their native land and concerned over the fate of friends and family
left behind, Poles from this region certainly did not want to return and risk another round of oppression and deportation
at the hands of the Soviets.
Although the rest of Poland was not a part of the Soviet Union, the Allies had allowed it to fall into the Soviet
sphere of influence. This meant that the Soviets, in concert with Polish communists, were running the country. The often brutal
treatment of Poles sympathetic to the west by the invading Soviet armies, the NKVD and Polish Communists was well known
by this time.
Meanwhile, the United Nations created an organization to care for the refugees, the UNRRA (United Nations Relief and
Rehabilitation Administration). As there was no possibility for emigration at that time, the UNRRA sought to repatriate the
refugees to their country of origin. Well intentioned but completely naive, the UNRRA workers could not understand why
so many refugees refused to go back to where they came from. An attempt to convince the refugees to repatriate by means
of a program of patriotic propaganda fell flat. More devious methods were then attempted such as the forced transfers of persons
from camp to camp, thus limiting the ability of the refugees to relax, organize, set down roots or get an education.
Unfortunately, both the Communist Polish People's Republic and the Soviet Union were UN members. Both governments were
able to exert great pressure on the administration of the repatriation process. The UNRRA missions had personnel from the
Soviet backed regime in Warsaw who agitated for the Polish refugees to come home, painting them a very bright picture
of conditions there, rather than using force against them.
Soviet citizens were more unfortunate in that in agreement with the western Allies, the Soviets used armed guards to
load their displaced persons onto railroad cars for transport back to the Soviet Union. Many of these poor people committed
suicide. Others claimed that they were Polish or simply obscured their real nationality and hid themselves in the Polish camps
to avoid the forced repatriation to the Soviet Union.
The UNRRA was dissolved on June 30, 1947 and replaced by the IRO (International Refugee Organization) which now
focused on resettlement rather than repatriation.
Australia was the first country to accept refugees with Canada soon following. In the summer of 1948, the United
States decided to accept an additional 202,000 refugees.
Summary extracted from the Polish Technical College in Esslingen Commemorative Book
7. The Post-War Stalinist Era in Poland
"The Stalinist epoch in Poland was at once sinister and grotesque, a period in which the Party ruled through open police
terror. National traditions - social, cultural and religious - were challenged and violated. Economic development was distorted
by a breakneck campaign for industrialization which deliberately neglected consumption; its achievements were measured by
crude production targets, arbitrarily set and mendaciously reported. Poland was opened to almost uncontrolled Soviet economic
exploitation, through one-sided terms of trade, while the bureaucracy was in some areas thoroughly penetrated by Soviet advisers.
All this was accompanied by deafening propaganda devoted to imaginary successes and to equally imaginary espionage or subversion
plots against the regime.
These were miserable and humiliating years. Under the pressures of fear or fanaticism, many Poles acted and spoke in
ways they prefer to forget. In contemporary Poland (this text was first published in 1981) it is very much easier
to hear reminiscences about the Pilsudski period or the occupation (i.e. German occupation) than about this time.
All the same, the Stalinist episode was not so uniformly and ultimately evil as it might have been.
"Stalinism became intense in Poland in 1949; its force was rapidly dissipating by early 1954...
"Terror was indispensible to the policies of the (Boleslaw) Bierut regime...
"...This early enthusiasm, never universal, soon died away in the muddy reality of growing poverty, lies and official
lawlessness. As Bienkowski would put it 'political dictatorship' gave way to 'police dictatorship.' The Security Office (known
usually by its Polish initials as the UB) swelled into an elaborate bureaucracy, with agents or informers in every cell of
the body public. The justifying slogan was that 'revolutionary vigilance' must be maintained against internal spies and saboteurs
who, as the Cold War grew more bitter, were supposed to be infesting Poland. There were numerous trials, many ending in death
sentences, few based on any evidence more genuine than suspicion of an individual's political views. Torture was used on occasion
to extract confessions. The powers of the UB to carry through the entire pseudo-judicial process, from arrest to execution
of sentence, often entirely bypassed the law. In 1952, the UB established its most intimate and powerful section: the secret
Tenth Department, whose duty was to keep the Party itself - including the whole PUWP leadership, with the two exceptions of
Bierut and Rokossowski - under surveillance. When required, the Tenth Department would provide material to justify the arrest
of a Party member or his demotion. The proudest achievements of the UB in these years were the arrest, after much dithering,
of (former Communist Party Secretary) Gomulka in July 1951, and the trials of senior churchmen on nonsensical charges
which finally led to the confinement of the Primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, in a monastery.
"The combination of brutality and half-measures ensured that future Communist regimes in Poland would be faced with monstrous
problems. The most obvious consequences of Stalinism were the distortion of the Polish economy and the reinforcement of anti-Communist
and anti-Soviet passions among the people. The working class was deeply alienated. The management of the economy and the administration
had passed into the hands of ignorant Party loyalists... The peasantry had not been destroyed as a class, but it had been
bullied and mismanaged sufficiently to establish a loathing and suspicion of the authorities that was never overcome. The
Church had not been forced into surrender, but its persecution had been sufficiently intense to increase its hold on the masses..."
The Polish August, Neil Ascherson, Penguin, 1981, excerpts from pages 56-63.
8. Suffering Hidden for 60 Years: Imprisoned Mothers
Janina Wojnarowska hesitantly lifts her blouse to show the thin white scar where part of her breast used to be. It is
a vestige of the horrors she endured in a freezing Stalin-era prison, where she gave birth and was prevented from nursing
her baby boy.
"I could not feed my son during the long hours of interrogation; they kept us by open windows in winter, and the breast
got black and then hard as stone," says Wojnarowska, 83, recalling the years she spent in a Communist prison from 1947 to
A prison doctor partly amputated the inflamed breast. She went on caring for her sickly son, Janusz, in a cell where
she was fed rotten cabbage and worm-infested noodles.
Wojnarowska was among more than 5,000 women who historians say were imprisoned between 1944 and 1958 under the Communist
regime imposed by the Soviet Union after dictator Josef Stalin's troops occupied Poland at the end of World War Two.
The women had survived a six-year occupation by Nazi Germany, only to be dragged from their homes and families and subjected
to brutal investigations on charges of spying for the West or with scheming to overthrow the Communist government.
Many women were arrested with their babies or while pregnant, and more than 100 were executed. Years in prison, separation
from their children, or death, were the punishment for their anti-communist activity or for that of their fathers, husbands
or brothers. Their children were given to relatives - in lucky cases - or sent to orphanages and sometimes never found.
Unlike the history of Polish men who were imprisoned and tortured in the Stalin era, the women's suffering is largely
an untold story. Under four decades of communism, the arrests were a taboo theme.
After communism was toppled in 1989, Poland's democratic leaders gave attention, compassion and medals to the Solidarity
independence movement activists who had been imprisoned under 1981 Communist-imposed martial law.
A few of the women made the effort to have their verdicts voided and were paid minimal compensation. President Lech Kaczynski,
himself imprisoned by the Communists, recently broke decades of silence and neglect by honouring them with a state decoration.
Wojnarowska (then Szwarc) was 23 and active as a go-between carrying secret messages in a double-bottom purse between
the leaders of the clandestine anti-Communist Freedom and Independence organization when she was arrested in Wroclaw, in southwestern
Poland, on December 16, 1947. She was four months` pregnant with a baby fathered by her boyfriend, an Oswiecim (Auschwitz)
The interrogators beat her and threatened to kill her and the unborn baby unless she gave away her contacts. Her refusal
was punished by isolation in a dark, damp cell, with no food. When she was eventually fed, it was rotten leftovers from Nazi
On March 23, 1948 in the Wroclaw prison hospital, helped by an inmate who was a veterinarian, she gave birth to her son,
Janusz, who had hydrocephalus, or fluid in his brain, and was very weak.
His head was big but the rest of the body was only bones and skin. It was all because of the imprisonment and interrogations.``
Along with 10 other Freedom and Independence activists, she was charged with planning to overthrow the Communist government
and in the summer of 1948 she stood trial, with Janusz in her arms.
Three men in the group were executed. Szwarc got 12 years, later reduced to six, in Fordon prison.
"The verdict was a shock," she says. I stood in the dock and was thinking: will they take my baby from me?"
A helpful court clerk arranged for her sister to take the baby home. Szwarc was reunited with her son when she left prison
in 1954, and married a fellow opposition activist, Stanislaw Wojnarowski.
Janina and Stanislaw now live in a two-bedroom apartment in the town of Nowa Deba, in southeast Poland. Her son was cured
of his hydrocephalus and grew up to marry and have two daughters.
"It was all very tragic," she says. "We thought Poland was free after the war and then these things started to happen."
The women were among 250,000 people arrested in Poland under early communism before Stalin died in 1953; some 23,000
were killed or died in prisons. Of those arrested, about 5,000 were women. The arrests were part of Stalin's effort to subdue
Poland by terrorizing society and killing off the cultural and political elite.
"This was a terrible time of impunity when you could kill a person without bearing any consequences," says Tomasz Labuszewski,
historian with the state Institute of National Remembrance, which investigates Soviet-era crimes. The Soviet-backed Communists
"had to break the nation's backbone in order to subordinate it. Mass repression, touching even women and children, was intended
to provoke general fear."
British-born Myra Sliwinska was arrested in her Warsaw apartment on June 4, 1948. She was taken to prison with 6-month-old
son Stefan and her Polish husband, Wladyslaw Sliwinski, who was a fighter pilot in Britain's Royal Air Force.
Myra, an air controller whose first husband was killed early in the war, met Wladyslaw after her radioed instructions
helped him avoid anti-aircraft balloons set out over London to bring down German planes. The two moved to Poland in 1947,
not foreseeing the reign of terror that was about to begin.
In prison, Myra was beaten and had locks of her hair rolled on a pencil and torn out as interrogators tried to get her
to confess to espionage. She refused Wladyslaw's offer of a divorce that would have let her and the baby go back to England.
She got a six-year term; Wladyslaw, convicted on espionage charges, was executed on February 15, 1951.
Prison authorities ordered Myra to give away Stefan, aged 18 months by then. He went to his great-grandmother but, after
her death, an elderly neighbour took him in. She became his closest family member, until Myra left prison, remarried and Stefan
could rejoin her in 1956.
But mother and son were strangers and it took some time to become a family again, Stefan says. Myra remarried and had
another child but left Poland alone in 1975.
She was permitted back only once, for her younger son's wedding in 1981. She died in England in 1991, aged 69.
Last year, 19 of the elderly survivors gathered in the grand Hall of Columns in Poland's presidential palace. (Polish
president) Kaczynski thanked the "silent and forgotten heroes" and gave them medals, the Order of Poland's Rebirth,
the only compensation or recognition most have ever received. Survivors grew teary eyed as excerpts from prison diaries and
poetry were read.
"I am very grateful to the president because thanks to this ceremony people learned that there were imprisoned mothers,"
"For long years we had to keep silent about this injustice," she said. "We tried not to think about it, because then
life would be unbearable. We had to hide it deep inside, be silent and go on living."
An Associated Press article by Monika Scislowska, which appeared in the Toronto Star on page L6,
January 10, 2008.
EXCERPT # 5
Excerpts from the book "Null and Void" by M. B. Szonert
For fifty years, the history of Poland was suppressed, distorted, and misrepresented to serve the interests
of the Soviet empire. In Poland, many subjects were effectively censored and concealed by the Communist regime. In the West,
the Soviet perspective on the Polish history of that period remains well entrenched in mainstream history books.