THE SOVIET INVASION OF POLAND DURING WORLD WAR TWO

Interwar Period and September Campaign: The fate of Bronislaw Sokolowski

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From the collection of Bronislaw Sokolowski. Part of the collection resides in the WW2 museum at Polish Combatants' Association Branch #20 in Toronto, Canada.

Bronislaw Sokolowski at High School in Sambor
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Mid to Late 1920s - his cap bears the letter "G" - he attended the Adam Mickiewicz High School

Stylish Students in Krakow
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Bronislaw and unknown friend 1932

Bronek married Halina Szymanska on the 1st of August 1939. Not even one month later, on the 28th of August, Bronek was mobilized as war appeared imminent.
 
His unit, the 24th DAC (Dyon Artylerii Ciezkiej or Heavy Artillery Company) of the 10th PAC (Pulk Artylerii Ciezkiej or Heavy Artillery Regiment) under the command of Major Ragosz, was shipped to Tarnow to meet the advancing blitzkrieg. Bronek was in the 2nd battery, commanded by Captain Uznanski, and was himself commander of the 2nd pluton (section or platoon), essentially the crew of one gun. 
 
Fighting defensive actions while awaiting the entry into war of the French and British, the unit withdrew in stages until they had been reduced to remnants. Bronek was captured by the Germans near Lwow but released shortly thereafter since the Germans had overshot their pre-arranged border with the Soviets and had to withdraw. This is his account:
 
"We loaded onto the trains (near Przemysl) at the Zurawice railway station on the 2nd of September and unloaded at the front near the town of Tarnow on the 3rd. We withdrew in a line from Pilzno to Przemysl. Captain Uznanski was wounded on the 15th and sent to hospital. On the 16th, in the area of Lipniki (near Moscisk), after the destruction of our battery by aircraft, I am in retreat. Second Lieutenant Schwarsinger was killed and the other 2nd Lieutenant whose name I do not remember, commander of the first section (platoon), was wounded and taken to hospital. On my own initiative I shot all of the heavily wounded horses, took the wagons carrying ammunition and rifles and headed towards Lwow. In the forests near the town of Janow the remaining wagons were destroyed by artillery fire. Together with Sergeant Cadet Zajda, I made it to the town of Brzuchowice where I met up with other members of my unit. I received the order to bring the remnants of the unit, with the goal of reorganizing, to another location where instead I received the order to surrender from an artillery Lieutenant Colonel (name unknown). Rather than surrender, Sergeant Cadet Zajda and I headed off in the direction of Zolkiew where, on the way, I was captured (on the 22nd) by the Germans. After half a day as a POW, the Germans ordered us to go home, which I reached on the 27th of September. I then resumed my duties as a teacher at the secondary school in Drohobycz on the very next day."    
 

CLICK HERE to be taken to the story of the 24th and 60th battalions of the 10th Regiment Heavy Artillery during the September Campaign. Click on the "Excerpts" page.

At University in Krakow
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This is the photo taken for his ID papers in 1930

Studying
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Kanonicza Street, Nr. 14, Room nr. 25, Krakow

Bronislaw Marcin Sokolowski
 
Born: village of Jablonica Polska in the province of Lwow, 1910.
 
Secondary ("Gymnazium") School: Adam Mickiewicz school in Sambor, 1922-1930.
 
Curriculum: classical program, sitting final year examinations in religion, Polish, Latin, Greek and mathematics. Examinations were also taken, during the final years, in the subjects of Polish history and contemporary Poland, physics, German, science, introductory philosophy, health and hygiene.
 
National Examination Commission: W. Piskozub, Chairman, Ks. Zenobjusz Ilicki, Jan Bilyk, Latin, Jan Pietrzycki, Greek, X. A. Zolnierczyk, Polish, W. Piskozub, Religion.      
 
University: Jagiellonian University (Uniwersytet Jagiellonski), Krakow, 1931-1935, Master of Philosophy degree (Dyplom Magistra Filozofji).
 
Curriculum:   in geography, specializing in economic geography. Examinations taken in the subjects of geology, meteorology with climatology, zoology, ethnography, geographical mathematics, general geography, regional and political Polish geography, philosophy, sociology and statistics, economic geography. Masters thesis presented: "Rozmieszczenie i geograficzne uwarunkowanie kilku galezi przemyslu w okregu krakowskiej Izby Przemyslowo-Handlowej."
 
For the University: Maziarski, Rektor (Rector), Jan Nowak, Dziekan (Dean), Leon Sternbach, Examination Committee Chairman. 
 
 
Military Service: School for Reserve Artillery Officer Cadets, Wlodzimierz, Pplk. Jan Filipowicz, Director, Province of Wolyn, 21/09/1935 to 28/06/1936.
 
21/09/35 - 20/03/36 - kanoner - student
21/03/36 - 27/06/36 - bombarder - student
28/06/36 - 30/06/36 - kapral pchor. - student
01/07/36 - 18/09/36 - kapral pchor. - training - 10. pac. 7. bat.
19/09/36 - 19/09/36 - plutonowy pchor. - transferred to reserves
 
12/07/37 - 21/08//37 - plutonowy pchor. - summer training at Przemysl, platoon commander, 10. pal. 2. bat., ranked 33 of 76.
 
Juljan Bilinkiewicz, Section Director, Okreg Korpusu X, Przemysl
Mjr. Wladyslaw Brzozowski, Chairman, Qualifying Committee
Kpt. Jan Ignacy Wojcicki, Committee Member
Kpt. Tadeusz Henryk Dabrowski, Committee Member
Kpt. Stanislaw Kraszewski, 7. battery commander 
Plk. Bokszczania, commander, 10. pac.
 
Advanced to rank of 2nd Lieutenant on the 1st of January, 1938.
 
Civilian Occupation: High school teacher. Last posting before the war was at the private "Jozef Pilsudski" business school in Drohobycz.

Prof. Stanislaw Pawlowski of Poznan University
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His texts were used during the war. He perished in 1940 at Dachau concentration camp.

The above photo card of Professor Pawlowski was issued as a souvenir of the Fifth Geographical Conference in Krakow, held on April 23 of 1933.
 
Prof. Pawlowski had written texts on geography for high school students. These texts were reissued in Jerusalem, in 1943, for use in refugee Polish high schools during the war.
 
The dedication to Prof. Pawlowski inside the texts translates as follows: "The author of this textbook, s.p. Stanislaw Pawlowski, a professor of Geography at the University of Poznan, perished as a victim of German barbarity in 1940 after many months of torment at the concentration camp in Dachau."
 
The Nazis murdered 40% of the Polish University professors (and 50% of the doctors and lawyers) in their zone of occupation. 

After the war of September 1939 was over and the Kresy provinces were occupied by the Red Army, Poles had to endure ethnic cleansing by area minorities and local communists who were encouraged by the Soviets. This went on for years.
 
The Soviets themselves began to shoot, imprison or deport any Pole who they felt might be a threat to Communism. In their paranoid little world, this would become everyone eventually. After the military, militia, business owners and intellectuals were taken care of, the Soviets went after the fatherless families and the poor folk. After they ran out of capitalists, they went after the very minorities they had originally liberated from the Polish Imperialists. When they ran out of those, they began to turn on their own.
 
There were "free" elections for local officials with only one name on the ballot and, on October 29, 1939, a referendum was held to vote on becoming Soviet citizens. There was only one possible answer available on the ballot.
 
Polish communists, initially elated by the arrival of Red troops and a Communist government very quickly became disillusioned with the reality of the Soviet system. Some were driven into such despair that they committed suicide.   

All hopes for the future were completely destroyed with the start of the Nazi blitzkrieg on the 1st of September, 1939.