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NKVD LIST - Anti-Polish sentiment- ethnic genocide as defined by UN convention. 1937 - 1938

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  • Lenarda Szymczak
    These two (2) articles by Wiki, confirm that there was a list and a definite purpose behind the list. LINK 1. -
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 30, 2012
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      These two (2) articles by Wiki, confirm that there was a list and a definite purpose behind the list.

      LINK 1. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Polish_sentiment

      In this article by Wiki  it states that “When Poland lost the last vestiges of its independence in 1795 and remained partitioned for 123 years, ethnic Poles were subjected to discrimination in two areas: the Germanization under Prussian and later German rule, and Russification in the territories annexed by the Imperial Russia.”

      Also, it goes on to describe more recent times  “Persecution of Poles (1918–39)  After Poland regained its independence as the Second Republic at the end of World War I, the question of new Polish borders could not have been easily settled against the will of her former long-term occupiers. Poles continued to be persecuted in the disputed territories, especially in Silesia. The German campaign of discrimination contributed to the Silesian Uprisings, where Polish workers were openly threatened with losing their jobs and pensions if they voted for Poland in the Upper Silesia plebiscite.[36]

      In inter-war Germany, anti-Polish feelings ran high.[37] The American historian Gerhard Weinberg observed that for many Germans in the Weimar Republic, Poland was an abomination, whose people were seen as "an East European species of cockroach".[37] Poland was usually described as a Saisonstaat (a state for a season).[clarification needed][37] In inter-war Germany, Germans used the phrase "Polish economy" (polnische Wirtschaft) to describe any situation that was a hopeless muddle.[37] Weinberg noted that in the 1920s–30s, every leading German politician refused to accept Poland as a legitimate nation, and hoped instead to partition Poland with the Soviet Union.[37]

      The British historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote in 1945 that National Socialism was inevitable because the Germans wanted "to repudiate the equality with the peoples of eastern Europe which had then been forced upon them" after 1918.[38] Taylor wrote that:

      "During the preceding eighty years the Germans had sacrificed to the Reich all their liberties; they demanded as a reward the enslavement of others. No German recognized the Czechs or Poles as equals. Therefore, every German desired the achievement which only total war could give. By no other means could the Reich be held together. It had been made by conquest and for conquest; if it ever gave up its career of conquest, it would dissolve."[39]

      The largest ethnic shooting and deportation action during the Great Terror in the Soviet Russia,[40] known as the Polish Genocide in the Soviet Union,[41] occurred approximately from August 25, 1937 till November 15, 1938. According to archives of the Soviet NKVD, 111,091 Poles, and people accused of ties with Poland, were executed, and 28,744 sentenced to death-ridden labor camps; amounting to 139,835 Polish victims in total. This number constitutes 10% of the officially persecuted persons during the entire Yezhovshchina period, with confirming NKVD documents.[42] The coordinated actions of the Soviet NKVD and the Communist Party in 1937-1938 against Polish minority living in the Soviet Union, representing only 0.4 percent of Soviet citizens, amounted to an ethnic genocide as defined by the UN convention, concluded historian Michael Ellman.[43] His opinion is shared by Simon Sebag Montefiore,[44] Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz,[45] and Dr Tomasz Sommer among others.[46][47][48][49] In a typical Stalinist fashion, the murdered Polish families were accused of "anti-Soviet" activities and state terrorism.[50][51]

      LINK 2 - Another Wiki link describes the following - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Polish_Operation%22_of_the_NKVD_(1937%E2%80%931938) - "Polish Operation" of the NKVD (1937–1938)

      The Polish Operation of the NKVD in 1937–1938 was a Soviet Great Purge-era "mass operation" against purported Polish agents in the Soviet Union, explicitly ordered against Polish spies, but interpreted by the NKVD as relating to "absolutely all Poles". It resulted in the sentencing of 139,835 people and the execution of 111,091 Poles,[1] and those accused of working for Poland.[2] The operation was implemented according to NKVD Order № 00485 signed by Nikolai Yezhov.[3] Not all, but the majority were ethnic Poles according to Timothy Snyder: 85,000 is given by him as a "conservative estimate" of the number of executed Poles.[4] The remainder being 'suspected' to be Polish without further inquiry.[3]

      NKVD personnel gathered Polish-sounding names from local telephone books in order to speed up the process. In Leningrad alone, almost 7,000 citizens were rounded up. A vast majority of them were executed within 10 days of arrest.[5] In the fourteen months after the adoption of Order № 00485, 143,810 people were captured, of whom 139,885 were sentenced by extrajudical organs, and 111,091 executed (nearly 80% of all victims).[6]

      It was the largest ethnic shooting and deportation action during the Great Terror.[7]

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/61/Nikolai_Yezhov_conferring_with_Stalin.jpg/220px-Nikolai_Yezhov_conferring_with_Stalin.jpg

      http://bits.wikimedia.org/static-1.20wmf4/skins/common/images/magnify-clip.png

      Yezhov and Stalin, USSR, 1937

      NKVD Order No. 00485 called "On the liquidation of the Polish diversionist and espionage groups and POW units" was approved on August 9, 1937 by the Party's Central Committee Politburo, and was signed by Nikolai Yezhov on August 11, 1937.[3] It was distributed to the local subdivisions of the NKVD simultaneously with Yezhov's thirty-page "secret letter" explaining what the "Polish operation" was all about. The letter was entitled "On fascist-resurrectionist, spying, diversional, defeationist, and terrorist activity of Polish intelligence in the USSR".[8] Stalin himself demanded to "keep on digging out and cleaning out this Polish filth."[9] The operation was the second in a series of national operations of the NKVD, carried out by the Soviet Union against ethnic diasporas including Latvian, Finnish, German and Romanian, based on a theory about the fifth column residing along its western borders, and the Party's pronouncement of a "hostile capitalist surrounding." On the other hand, Timothy Snyder suggests that the argument was intended only to provide justification for the state-sanctioned campaign of mass-murder meant to eradicate Poles as a national (and linguistic) minority group.[9]

      Scale of the "Polish operation" and its victims

      The largest group of people with Polish background, around 40 percent of all victims, came from the Soviet Ukraine, especially from the districts near the border with Poland. Among them, tens of thousands of peasants, railway workers, industrial labourers, engineers and others. An additional 17 percent of victims came from the Soviet Byelorussia. The rest came from around Western Siberia and Kazakhstan where exiled Poles lived since the Partitions, as well as from southern Urals, northern Caucasus and the rest of Siberia including the Far East.[6]

      The following categories of people were arrested during the Polish operation of the NKVD, as described in Soviet documents:

      ·         "Active" members of the Polish minority in Soviet Union (practically all Poles).

      ·         All immigrants from Poland.

      ·         Political refugees from Poland (mostly members of the Communist Party of Poland).

      ·         Former and present members of the Polish Socialist Party and other non-communist Polish political parties.

      ·         All prisoners of war from the Polish-Soviet war that remained in the Soviet Union.

      ·         Members of Polska Organizacja Wojskowa listed in the special list (most of them were not in fact members of that organisation).

      The operation took place approximately from August 25, 1937 to November 15, 1938.[10] According to archives of the NKVD: 111,091 Poles and people accused of ties with Poland, were sentenced to death, and 28,744 were sentenced to labor camps ('dry guillotine' of slow death by exposure, malnutrition, and overwork);[11] 139,835 victims in total.[12] This number constitutes 10% of the total number of people officially convicted during the Yezhovshchina period with confirming NKVD documents.[13] The Operation was only a peak in the persecution of the Poles, spanning over a decade. As the Soviet statistics indicate, the number of ethnic Poles in the USSR dropped by 165,000 in that period. "It is estimated that Polish losses in the Ukrainian SSR were about 30%, while in the Belorussian SSR... the Polish minority was almost completely annihilated."[10] Historian Michael Ellman asserts that the 'national operations', particularly the 'Polish operation', may constitute genocide as defined by the UN convention.[14] His opinion is shared by Simon Sebag Montefiore, who calls the Polish operation of the NKVD 'a mini-genocide.'[15] Polish writer and journalist, Dr Tomasz Sommer, also refers to the operation as a genocide, along with Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz among others.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

      Almost all victims of the NKVD shootings were men, wrote Michał Jasiński, most with families. Their wives and children were dealt with, by the NKVD Order № 00486. The women were being sentenced to deportations to Kazakhstan for an average of 5 to 10 years. Their children, put in orphanages to be brought up as Soviet, with no knowledge of their own origins. All possessions of the accused were confiscated. The parents of the executed men – as well as their in-laws – were purposely left with nothing to live on, which usually sealed their fate as well. Statistical extrapolation, wrote Jasiński, increases the number of Polish victims in 1937–1938 to around 200–250,000 depending on size of their families.[23]

      Regards,

      Lenarda, Australia

       

    • Barbara M.
      Dear Lenarda, I am in awe at the depth and breadth of your research. You have, in this post, provided the explanation to what befell my grandfather s brother
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 1, 2012
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        Dear Lenarda,
         
        I am in awe at the depth and breadth of your research. You have, in this post, provided the explanation to what befell my grandfather's brother in Russia in 1937, and what then and subsequently befell his grandparents in Russia in the late 1940's in Russia.
         
        Thankyou!
         
        All the best,
         
        Basia (UK)
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2012 2:33 AM
        Subject: [Kresy-Siberia (est.2001)] NKVD LIST - Anti-Polish sentiment- ethnic genocide as defined by UN convention. 1937 - 1938

         

        These two (2) articles by Wiki, confirm that there was a list and a definite purpose behind the list.

        LINK 1. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Polish_sentiment

        In this article by Wiki  it states that “When Poland lost the last vestiges of its independence in 1795 and remained partitioned for 123 years, ethnic Poles were subjected to discrimination in two areas: the Germanization under Prussian and later German rule, and Russification in the territories annexed by the Imperial Russia.”

        Also, it goes on to describe more recent times  “Persecution of Poles (1918–39)  After Poland regained its independence as the Second Republic at the end of World War I, the question of new Polish borders could not have been easily settled against the will of her former long-term occupiers. Poles continued to be persecuted in the disputed territories, especially in Silesia. The German campaign of discrimination contributed to the Silesian Uprisings, where Polish workers were openly threatened with losing their jobs and pensions if they voted for Poland in the Upper Silesia plebiscite.[36]

        In inter-war Germany, anti-Polish feelings ran high.[37] The American historian Gerhard Weinberg observed that for many Germans in the Weimar Republic, Poland was an abomination, whose people were seen as "an East European species of cockroach".[37] Poland was usually described as a Saisonstaat (a state for a season).[clarification needed][37] In inter-war Germany, Germans used the phrase "Polish economy" (polnische Wirtschaft) to describe any situation that was a hopeless muddle.[37] Weinberg noted that in the 1920s–30s, every leading German politician refused to accept Poland as a legitimate nation, and hoped instead to partition Poland with the Soviet Union.[37]

        The British historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote in 1945 that National Socialism was inevitable because the Germans wanted "to repudiate the equality with the peoples of eastern Europe which had then been forced upon them" after 1918.[38] Taylor wrote that:

        "During the preceding eighty years the Germans had sacrificed to the Reich all their liberties; they demanded as a reward the enslavement of others. No German recognized the Czechs or Poles as equals. Therefore, every German desired the achievement which only total war could give. By no other means could the Reich be held together. It had been made by conquest and for conquest; if it ever gave up its career of conquest, it would dissolve."[39]

        The largest ethnic shooting and deportation action during the Great Terror in the Soviet Russia,[40] known as the Polish Genocide in the Soviet Union,[41] occurred approximately from August 25, 1937 till November 15, 1938. According to archives of the Soviet NKVD, 111,091 Poles, and people accused of ties with Poland, were executed, and 28,744 sentenced to death-ridden labor camps; amounting to 139,835 Polish victims in total. This number constitutes 10% of the officially persecuted persons during the entire Yezhovshchina period, with confirming NKVD documents.[42] The coordinated actions of the Soviet NKVD and the Communist Party in 1937-1938 against Polish minority living in the Soviet Union, representing only 0.4 percent of Soviet citizens, amounted to an ethnic genocide as defined by the UN convention, concluded historian Michael Ellman.[43] His opinion is shared by Simon Sebag Montefiore,[44] Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz,[45] and Dr Tomasz Sommer among others.[46][47][48][49] In a typical Stalinist fashion, the murdered Polish families were accused of "anti-Soviet" activities and state terrorism.[50][51]

        LINK 2 - Another Wiki link describes the following - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Polish_Operation%22_of_the_NKVD_(1937%E2%80%931938) - "Polish Operation" of the NKVD (1937–1938)

        The Polish Operation of the NKVD in 1937–1938 was a Soviet Great Purge-era "mass operation" against purported Polish agents in the Soviet Union, explicitly ordered against Polish spies, but interpreted by the NKVD as relating to "absolutely all Poles". It resulted in the sentencing of 139,835 people and the execution of 111,091 Poles,[1] and those accused of working for Poland.[2] The operation was implemented according to NKVD Order № 00485 signed by Nikolai Yezhov.[3] Not all, but the majority were ethnic Poles according to Timothy Snyder: 85,000 is given by him as a "conservative estimate" of the number of executed Poles.[4] The remainder being 'suspected' to be Polish without further inquiry.[3]

        NKVD personnel gathered Polish-sounding names from local telephone books in order to speed up the process. In Leningrad alone, almost 7,000 citizens were rounded up. A vast majority of them were executed within 10 days of arrest.[5] In the fourteen months after the adoption of Order № 00485, 143,810 people were captured, of whom 139,885 were sentenced by extrajudical organs, and 111,091 executed (nearly 80% of all victims).[6]

        It was the largest ethnic shooting and deportation action during the Great Terror.[7]

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/61/Nikolai_Yezhov_conferring_with_Stalin.jpg/220px-Nikolai_Yezhov_conferring_with_Stalin.jpg

        http://bits.wikimedia.org/static-1.20wmf4/skins/common/images/magnify-clip.png

        Yezhov and Stalin, USSR, 1937

        NKVD Order No. 00485 called "On the liquidation of the Polish diversionist and espionage groups and POW units" was approved on August 9, 1937 by the Party's Central Committee Politburo, and was signed by Nikolai Yezhov on August 11, 1937.[3] It was distributed to the local subdivisions of the NKVD simultaneously with Yezhov's thirty-page "secret letter" explaining what the "Polish operation" was all about. The letter was entitled "On fascist-resurrectionist, spying, diversional, defeationist, and terrorist activity of Polish intelligence in the USSR".[8] Stalin himself demanded to "keep on digging out and cleaning out this Polish filth."[9] The operation was the second in a series of national operations of the NKVD, carried out by the Soviet Union against ethnic diasporas including Latvian, Finnish, German and Romanian, based on a theory about the fifth column residing along its western borders, and the Party's pronouncement of a "hostile capitalist surrounding." On the other hand, Timothy Snyder suggests that the argument was intended only to provide justification for the state-sanctioned campaign of mass-murder meant to eradicate Poles as a national (and linguistic) minority group.[9]

        Scale of the "Polish operation" and its victims

        The largest group of people with Polish background, around 40 percent of all victims, came from the Soviet Ukraine, especially from the districts near the border with Poland. Among them, tens of thousands of peasants, railway workers, industrial labourers, engineers and others. An additional 17 percent of victims came from the Soviet Byelorussia. The rest came from around Western Siberia and Kazakhstan where exiled Poles lived since the Partitions, as well as from southern Urals, northern Caucasus and the rest of Siberia including the Far East.[6]

        The following categories of people were arrested during the Polish operation of the NKVD, as described in Soviet documents:

        ·         "Active" members of the Polish minority in Soviet Union (practically all Poles).

        ·         All immigrants from Poland.

        ·         Political refugees from Poland (mostly members of the Communist Party of Poland).

        ·         Former and present members of the Polish Socialist Party and other non-communist Polish political parties.

        ·         All prisoners of war from the Polish-Soviet war that remained in the Soviet Union.

        ·         Members of Polska Organizacja Wojskowa listed in the special list (most of them were not in fact members of that organisation).

        The operation took place approximately from August 25, 1937 to November 15, 1938.[10] According to archives of the NKVD: 111,091 Poles and people accused of ties with Poland, were sentenced to death, and 28,744 were sentenced to labor camps ('dry guillotine' of slow death by exposure, malnutrition, and overwork);[11] 139,835 victims in total.[12] This number constitutes 10% of the total number of people officially convicted during the Yezhovshchina period with confirming NKVD documents.[13] The Operation was only a peak in the persecution of the Poles, spanning over a decade. As the Soviet statistics indicate, the number of ethnic Poles in the USSR dropped by 165,000 in that period. "It is estimated that Polish losses in the Ukrainian SSR were about 30%, while in the Belorussian SSR... the Polish minority was almost completely annihilated."[10] Historian Michael Ellman asserts that the 'national operations', particularly the 'Polish operation', may constitute genocide as defined by the UN convention.[14] His opinion is shared by Simon Sebag Montefiore, who calls the Polish operation of the NKVD 'a mini-genocide.'[15] Polish writer and journalist, Dr Tomasz Sommer, also refers to the operation as a genocide, along with Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz among others.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

        Almost all victims of the NKVD shootings were men, wrote Michał Jasiński, most with families. Their wives and children were dealt with, by the NKVD Order № 00486. The women were being sentenced to deportations to Kazakhstan for an average of 5 to 10 years. Their children, put in orphanages to be brought up as Soviet, with no knowledge of their own origins. All possessions of the accused were confiscated. The parents of the executed men – as well as their in-laws – were purposely left with nothing to live on, which usually sealed their fate as well. Statistical extrapolation, wrote Jasiński, increases the number of Polish victims in 1937–1938 to around 200–250,000 depending on size of their families.[23]

        Regards,

        Lenarda, Australia

      • Lenarda Szymczak
        Basia, what we speak of in group, is now officially written and the information is out there now. All this Wiki stuff is recent. How many years did we all
        Message 3 of 3 , Jul 1, 2012
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          Basia, what we speak of in group, is now officially written and the information is out there now.  All this Wiki stuff is recent.  How many years did we all search for just a sliver of information, trying to understand the inhumanity of it all.

           

          I lost my grandfather in 1937 and my mothers’ family was orphaned in 1947.  This explains my family as well.  To say we all had fragments of each others’ history in our own family, would have been an incredible guess many years ago, but today it is fact and through the internet, we can prove it, without realizing, we are all leading each other.

           

          Warmest regards

          Lenarda, Australia

           

           

          From: Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Barbara M.
          Sent: Sunday, 01 July, 2012 6:35 PM
          To: Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [Kresy-Siberia (est.2001)] NKVD LIST - Anti-Polish sentiment- ethnic genocide as defined by UN convention. 1937 - 1938

           

           

          

          Dear Lenarda,

           

          I am in awe at the depth and breadth of your research. You have, in this post, provided the explanation to what befell my grandfather's brother in Russia in 1937, and what then and subsequently befell his grandparents in Russia in the late 1940's in Russia.

           

          Thankyou!

           

          All the best,

           

          Basia (UK)

          ----- Original Message -----

          Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2012 2:33 AM

          Subject: [Kresy-Siberia (est.2001)] NKVD LIST - Anti-Polish sentiment- ethnic genocide as defined by UN convention. 1937 - 1938

           

           

          These two (2) articles by Wiki, confirm that there was a list and a definite purpose behind the list.

          LINK 1. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Polish_sentiment

          In this article by Wiki  it states that “When Poland lost the last vestiges of its independence in 1795 and remained partitioned for 123 years, ethnic Poles were subjected to discrimination in two areas: the Germanization under Prussian and later German rule, and Russification in the territories annexed by the Imperial Russia.”

          Also, it goes on to describe more recent times  “Persecution of Poles (1918–39)  After Poland regained its independence as the Second Republic at the end of World War I, the question of new Polish borders could not have been easily settled against the will of her former long-term occupiers. Poles continued to be persecuted in the disputed territories, especially in Silesia. The German campaign of discrimination contributed to the Silesian Uprisings, where Polish workers were openly threatened with losing their jobs and pensions if they voted for Poland in the Upper Silesia plebiscite.[36]

          In inter-war Germany, anti-Polish feelings ran high.[37] The American historian Gerhard Weinberg observed that for many Germans in the Weimar Republic, Poland was an abomination, whose people were seen as "an East European species of cockroach".[37] Poland was usually described as a Saisonstaat (a state for a season).[clarification needed][37] In inter-war Germany, Germans used the phrase "Polish economy" (polnische Wirtschaft) to describe any situation that was a hopeless muddle.[37] Weinberg noted that in the 1920s–30s, every leading German politician refused to accept Poland as a legitimate nation, and hoped instead to partition Poland with the Soviet Union.[37]

          The British historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote in 1945 that National Socialism was inevitable because the Germans wanted "to repudiate the equality with the peoples of eastern Europe which had then been forced upon them" after 1918.[38] Taylor wrote that:

          "During the preceding eighty years the Germans had sacrificed to the Reich all their liberties; they demanded as a reward the enslavement of others. No German recognized the Czechs or Poles as equals. Therefore, every German desired the achievement which only total war could give. By no other means could the Reich be held together. It had been made by conquest and for conquest; if it ever gave up its career of conquest, it would dissolve."[39]

          The largest ethnic shooting and deportation action during the Great Terror in the Soviet Russia,[40] known as the Polish Genocide in the Soviet Union,[41] occurred approximately from August 25, 1937 till November 15, 1938. According to archives of the Soviet NKVD, 111,091 Poles, and people accused of ties with Poland, were executed, and 28,744 sentenced to death-ridden labor camps; amounting to 139,835 Polish victims in total. This number constitutes 10% of the officially persecuted persons during the entire Yezhovshchina period, with confirming NKVD documents.[42] The coordinated actions of the Soviet NKVD and the Communist Party in 1937-1938 against Polish minority living in the Soviet Union, representing only 0.4 percent of Soviet citizens, amounted to an ethnic genocide as defined by the UN convention, concluded historian Michael Ellman.[43] His opinion is shared by Simon Sebag Montefiore,[44] Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz,[45] and Dr Tomasz Sommer among others.[46][47][48][49] In a typical Stalinist fashion, the murdered Polish families were accused of "anti-Soviet" activities and state terrorism.[50][51]

          LINK 2 - Another Wiki link describes the following - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Polish_Operation%22_of_the_NKVD_(1937%E2%80%931938) - "Polish Operation" of the NKVD (1937–1938)

          The Polish Operation of the NKVD in 1937–1938 was a Soviet Great Purge-era "mass operation" against purported Polish agents in the Soviet Union, explicitly ordered against Polish spies, but interpreted by the NKVD as relating to "absolutely all Poles". It resulted in the sentencing of 139,835 people and the execution of 111,091 Poles,[1] and those accused of working for Poland.[2] The operation was implemented according to NKVD Order № 00485 signed by Nikolai Yezhov.[3] Not all, but the majority were ethnic Poles according to Timothy Snyder: 85,000 is given by him as a "conservative estimate" of the number of executed Poles.[4] The remainder being 'suspected' to be Polish without further inquiry.[3]

          NKVD personnel gathered Polish-sounding names from local telephone books in order to speed up the process. In Leningrad alone, almost 7,000 citizens were rounded up. A vast majority of them were executed within 10 days of arrest.[5] In the fourteen months after the adoption of Order № 00485, 143,810 people were captured, of whom 139,885 were sentenced by extrajudical organs, and 111,091 executed (nearly 80% of all victims).[6]

          It was the largest ethnic shooting and deportation action during the Great Terror.[7]

          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/61/Nikolai_Yezhov_conferring_with_Stalin.jpg/220px-Nikolai_Yezhov_conferring_with_Stalin.jpg

          http://bits.wikimedia.org/static-1.20wmf4/skins/common/images/magnify-clip.png

          Yezhov and Stalin, USSR, 1937

          NKVD Order No. 00485 called "On the liquidation of the Polish diversionist and espionage groups and POW units" was approved on August 9, 1937 by the Party's Central Committee Politburo, and was signed by Nikolai Yezhov on August 11, 1937.[3] It was distributed to the local subdivisions of the NKVD simultaneously with Yezhov's thirty-page "secret letter" explaining what the "Polish operation" was all about. The letter was entitled "On fascist-resurrectionist, spying, diversional, defeationist, and terrorist activity of Polish intelligence in the USSR".[8] Stalin himself demanded to "keep on digging out and cleaning out this Polish filth."[9] The operation was the second in a series of national operations of the NKVD, carried out by the Soviet Union against ethnic diasporas including Latvian, Finnish, German and Romanian, based on a theory about the fifth column residing along its western borders, and the Party's pronouncement of a "hostile capitalist surrounding." On the other hand, Timothy Snyder suggests that the argument was intended only to provide justification for the state-sanctioned campaign of mass-murder meant to eradicate Poles as a national (and linguistic) minority group.[9]

          Scale of the "Polish operation" and its victims

          The largest group of people with Polish background, around 40 percent of all victims, came from the Soviet Ukraine, especially from the districts near the border with Poland. Among them, tens of thousands of peasants, railway workers, industrial labourers, engineers and others. An additional 17 percent of victims came from the Soviet Byelorussia. The rest came from around Western Siberia and Kazakhstan where exiled Poles lived since the Partitions, as well as from southern Urals, northern Caucasus and the rest of Siberia including the Far East.[6]

          The following categories of people were arrested during the Polish operation of the NKVD, as described in Soviet documents:

          ·         "Active" members of the Polish minority in Soviet Union (practically all Poles).

          ·         All immigrants from Poland.

          ·         Political refugees from Poland (mostly members of the Communist Party of Poland).

          ·         Former and present members of the Polish Socialist Party and other non-communist Polish political parties.

          ·         All prisoners of war from the Polish-Soviet war that remained in the Soviet Union.

          ·         Members of Polska Organizacja Wojskowa listed in the special list (most of them were not in fact members of that organisation).

          The operation took place approximately from August 25, 1937 to November 15, 1938.[10] According to archives of the NKVD: 111,091 Poles and people accused of ties with Poland, were sentenced to death, and 28,744 were sentenced to labor camps ('dry guillotine' of slow death by exposure, malnutrition, and overwork);[11] 139,835 victims in total.[12] This number constitutes 10% of the total number of people officially convicted during the Yezhovshchina period with confirming NKVD documents.[13] The Operation was only a peak in the persecution of the Poles, spanning over a decade. As the Soviet statistics indicate, the number of ethnic Poles in the USSR dropped by 165,000 in that period. "It is estimated that Polish losses in the Ukrainian SSR were about 30%, while in the Belorussian SSR... the Polish minority was almost completely annihilated."[10] Historian Michael Ellman asserts that the 'national operations', particularly the 'Polish operation', may constitute genocide as defined by the UN convention.[14] His opinion is shared by Simon Sebag Montefiore, who calls the Polish operation of the NKVD 'a mini-genocide.'[15] Polish writer and journalist, Dr Tomasz Sommer, also refers to the operation as a genocide, along with Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz among others.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

          Almost all victims of the NKVD shootings were men, wrote Michał Jasiński, most with families. Their wives and children were dealt with, by the NKVD Order № 00486. The women were being sentenced to deportations to Kazakhstan for an average of 5 to 10 years. Their children, put in orphanages to be brought up as Soviet, with no knowledge of their own origins. All possessions of the accused were confiscated. The parents of the executed men – as well as their in-laws – were purposely left with nothing to live on, which usually sealed their fate as well. Statistical extrapolation, wrote Jasiński, increases the number of Polish victims in 1937–1938 to around 200–250,000 depending on size of their families.[23]

          Regards,

          Lenarda, Australia

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