The Soviets arrested and
imprisoned about 500,000 Poles during 1939-1941, including former officials,
officers, and natural "enemies of the people," like the clergy. This was
about one in ten of all adult males,1 and murdered. But those the Soviets only arrested and inprisoned were lucky. They also murdered about 65,000 Poles in this terror.2
In one notorious massacre, in incredibly cold calculation, the NKVD-the Soviet secret police--systematically executed possibly 14,471 former polish officers, including political leaders, government officials,
and intellectuals.3 Some 4,254 of these were uncovered in mass graves in Katyn Forest by the Nazis in 1941, who then invited an international group of neutral representatives and doctors to study the corpses and confirm Soviet guilt.4 For more about Katyn, see: VHO.org &
The sworn deposition provides evidence of Soviet responsibility for the 1940 massacre of some 22,000 Polish officers in the Katyn forest and other places in what was then the Soviet Union. The Soviet Red Army had taken the Polish officers prisoner after invading eastern Poland in September 1939.
Another report that Van Vliet made a few days later in Washington is considered missing. This has fueled speculation that the U.S. government helped cover up Soviet responsibility for the massacre out of fear that saying the truth would anger Stalin, whom the Allies were counting on to help them defeat Germany and Japan in World War II.
Then there were the Soviet deportations. During 1939 to 1941 the Soviets deported 1,200,000 Poles deported to the Soviet Union for forced labor or resettlement, of which perhaps 146,000 died. This number does not include those shot for failing or straying out of line during deportation, or disobeying an
To all this Polish misery, pain, and death, we must add what the Germans did in the Poland they ruled. They shot former politicians, and government, cultural, professional, and intellectual leaders, or sent them to die in concentration camps. Just in the city of Bydgoszcz, for example, Germans murdered about 10,000 non-Jewish civilians in four months of occupation. And from 1939 to 1941, they deported en mass about 1,6000,000 Poles, including 400,000 Jews. About 700,000 Poles were sent to Germany for forced labor,6 many to die there. And the most infamous German death camps had been located in Poland. Overall, during German occupation of pre-war Polish territory, 1939-1945, the Germans murdered 3,900,000 to 6,400,000 Poles, probably about 5,400,000, including near 3,000,000 Jews.7
According to the German Federal Ministry for Expellees, Refugees, and War Victims, 9,575,000 Germans lived in these eastern territories in 1939 10 (about 15 percent of Germany's population). 11 Perhaps no more than a couple of hundred thousand Poles lived there as well.12
The actual number of Germans remaining in these former German territories put under Polish authority was one of the critical questions regarding both Poland's new borders and the expulsions. The Polish representative to the Potsdam conference claimed there were only 1,500,000, the United States estimated 2,000,000. Stalin simply said that there were none -- all those surviving the war had run away13 Churchill, however, saw the true dimension of the issue. He predicted that 8,000,000 to 9,000,000 would have to be expelled,14 which is close to thesubsequent 10,000,000 estimate of the West German government.
No wonder then that the estimates among Germans themselves for the human cost of the expulsion from the German eastern territories varies from 800,000 to 3,200,000 dead.29 Even lower figures are available. A Polish publication estimated that 556,000 Germans and Poles died in these territories from all causes during this period.30 The West German Federal Ministry for Expellees, Refugees, and War Victims calculated the loss from 1945 to 1950 as 1,225,000 for Germany's eastern territories.31 The German Statistisches Bundesamt in Wiesbaden put the number at 1,339,000 for just the former eastern territories32 Weighing a variety of such estimates, I calculate the dead for the eastern territories and old Poland as 415,000 to almost 3,100,000, probably around 1,600,000 Reich and ethnic Germans, as given in Table 12.1. In my view, this toll is the direct and indirect responsibility of the new Polish government (although aided, abetted, and promoted by the Soviets), as I will establish in the next section.
By genocide, the murder
of hostages, reprisal raids, forced labor, "euthanasia," starvation, exposure,
medical experiments, and terror bombing, and in the concentration and death
camps, the Nazis murdered from 15,003,000 to 31,595,000 people, most likely 20,946,000 men, women, handicapped, aged, sick, prisoners of war, forced laborers, camp inmates, critics, homosexuals, Jews, Slavs, Serbs, Germans, Czechs, Italians, Poles, French, Ukrainians, and many others. Among them 1,000,000 were children under eighteen years of age 1. And none of these monstrous figures even include civilian and military combat or war-deaths.
The [following] article
is the first part of Prof. Piotrowski's lecture on the subject of deportations,
amnesty etc. It appeared in the "Miedzy Nami" in one of Canadian newspapers
which I can't recall at the moment. The date is May 2000 and it comes
Regards, Richard P.
The amnesty for the Polish people in Russia came about as a consequence of an agreement between Stalin, Churchill, Anthony Eden and the Polish government in exile in London. This agreement was signed on July 30 1941 and enabled all Polish people to be freed for the purpose of forming an Army and help Stalin fight Hitler.
Such was the lot of
the deportees until the invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany on June
22, 1941. A protocol of the Polish-Soviet (Sikorski-Maisky) agreement of
July 30, 1941, provided for the release of all Poles in Soviet exile as
well as for the formation of a Polish army on Soviet soil. The document,
signed in the presence of Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, used the
unfortunate term "amnesty" (the word should have been "manumission" or "emancipation") to characterize the release of the exiles; they were Stalin's bargaining chip in the contest for the status quo ante borders of Poland. According to a January 15, 1943, note from Beria to Stalin, 389,041 Polish citizens were freed as a result of that "amnesty."
These included 200,828 ethnic Poles, 90,662 Jews, 31,392 Ukrainians, 27,418 Belorussians, 3,421 Russians, and 2,291 persons of other nationalities. There was no need to inform Stalin of the fact that the Soviet authorities often impeded the release of the deportees from their various places of confinement and absolved themselves from assisting them in any way whatsoever upon their release. This utter lack of concern brought about a crisis of unimaginable proportions. Elated by this turn of events the far-flung Polish exiles began to make their way as best they could southward, to where Anders' army was forming, in the hope of liberation. These journeys, often several weeks long, brought new suffering and tens of thousands died from hunger, cold, heat, disease and exhaustion on that trip to freedom. For many, the help provided by the United States and Great Britain was too little and too late.
During the two great evacuations (the first, between March 24 and the beginning of April 1942; the second, between August 10 and September 1, 1942), from Krasnovodsk across the Caspian Sea to Pahlavi (Iran), and the smaller overland evacuations from Ashkhabad to Mashhad (in March and September 1942), about 115,000 people (including some 37,000 civilians, of whom about 18,300 were children) left the Soviet Union. The soldiers of Anders' army went on to fight in many battles, including the one at Monte Cassino; the civilians, because they could not be repatriated, were forced to remain in foreign lands for the remainder of the war.
The first stop of the refugees evacuated with Anders' army was Iran, where they found temporary quarters in large transit camps initially located in Pahlavi and Mashhad, and later in Tehran and Ahvaz. While Gen. Anders' troops were subsequently transferred to Palestine and from there to Iraq, the civilians remained in Iran. To accommodate the refugees, a sprawling stationary camp was established in Isfahan. Because
it housed several camps for the thousands of orphaned Polish children, it
came to be known as the "City of Polish Children." The relief assistance afforded
by Polish, British, American, and Iranian authorities soon improved their
living conditions and brought the devastating contagious diseases under control,
diseases acquired in the Soviet Union which continued to rob the refugees of
their lives even after liberation (over 2,000 refugees died in Iran alone).
In time, various Polish institutions, including 24 schools serving some 3,000 students, were established in Iran and several. By the end of 1943, 33,000 refugees were transferred from Iran to other countries. By the end of 1945, another 4,300 were evacuated to Lebanon; by 1946, that number rose to 6,000. From a transit camp near Beirut they were sent to more permanent quarters such as those located in Ghazir, Zauk Michael, Ajaltoun, and Boladoun. Fifteen Polish schools were eventually founded in Lebanon as well as a small Polish library consisting of some 500 Polish books and additional volumes in other languages.
In Palestine, the camps for the over 5,000 refugees transferred there were located in Nazareth, Rehovot, Ain-Karem,and Barbara. Several scout groups, schools, training centers, a Women's Auxiliary Service, and an Officers' Legion were established. A Polish press, located in Palestine and Iran, printed the much-needed educational materials used in refugee schools throughout the Middle East. Some exiles also found asylum in India in transit camps set up in Quetta, Mount Abu, Panchgani, Bandra, and in and near Karachi (such as the Country Club Camp, Haji Pilgrims Camp, and the Malir Camp). But more stable settlements also emerged such as those in Balachadi, near the city of Jamnagar, and in Valivade, near Kolhapur. Balachadi became a refuge for some 1,000 Polish children. Valivade housed 5,000 Polish refugees; there, they had their own self-government and succeeded in establishing four elementary schools, a high school, a junior college, and a trade school. In all, 16 Polish schools were attended by some 2,300 Polish children in India. Moreover, several Polish periodicals were published, Polish amateur theaters were founded, and Polish business enterprises flourished.
Africa provided another safe harbor for the Poles. In mid-1944, East Africa hosted over 13,000 Polish citizens. They settled in transit and permanent camps in the British colonies of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanganyika. In Uganda, the camps were located in Masindi and Koya on Lake Victoria. In Kenya, they were located in Rongai, Manira, Makindu, Nairobi, and Nyali near Mombasa. In Tanganyika, the largest settlement was Tengeru (4,000 refugees) and smaller camps were located in Kigoma, Kidugala, Ifunda, Kondoa, and Morogoro.
South Africa, South Rhodesia, and North Rhodesia also became the home of Poles. The largest of these settlements were: in the Union of South Africa Oudtshoorn; in North Rhodesia Abercorn, Bwana M'Kubwa, Fort Jameson, Livingstone, and Lusaka; in South Rhodesia Digglefold, Marandellas, Rusape, and Gatooma.
In Africa, Polish schools, churches, hospitals, civic centers, and manufacturing and service cooperatives were founded and Polish culture prospered. African radio stations ran programs in the Polish language and there waseven a Polish press. In South Africa alone there were 18 Polish schools with about 1,800 students in attendance.
A large Polish settlement was also founded in Mexico. Although provisions were made to resettle several thousand Poles in that country, only two transports arrived in the summer and fall of 1943 with a total of 1,432 refugees. Their home became a deserted hacienda in Santa Rosa, near Leen. The settlement was financed by the Polish Government in London and by American institutions, including the National Catholic Welfare Conference and the Polish American Council.
Finally, 733 Polish children with their 105 caretakers arrived in New Zealand on November 1, 1944. They were housed in the Polish Children's Camp located in Pahiatua. As elsewhere, kindergartens and grammar schools provided for the educational needs of the youngsters. Unlike elsewhere, upon graduation the teens were placed either in schools operated by religious orders or in technical colleges. Two hostels were also established: one in Island Bay for girls, the other in Lyall Bay for boys.
Wherever they went the Polish refugees encountered effusive good will not only on the part of the respective governments that invited them but also on the part of the native populations. Welcoming signs with Polish flags, white eagles, and words of encouragement often greeted their arrival, high government officials paid them visits, and commemorative monuments were erected in their honor. Unlike the Soviet Union, these were, after all, ancient civilized cultures.
Why didn't America open its doors, and open them wide, to the Polish refugees? That the Western Allies knew all about the deportations is clear from their relief efforts in their behalf in the Soviet Union and the Middle East. Moreover, even while in Iran, although debriefed, the refugees were not encouraged to speak about their experiences in the Soviet Union with outsiders. In America, the date of the arrival of the first transport aboard the USS Hermitage (on June 25, 1943 consisting of 706 refugees, including 166 children) was a State secret. After disembarking at the San Pedro naval dock near Los Angeles, the women and children under 14 years of age were placed in the Griffith Park Internment Camp in Burbank and the men in the Alien Camp in Tuna Canyon.
When the Polish community
found out about the arrival of the transport they rallied around the exiles
and demanded "Why can't they stay here?" Father Waclaw Zajaczkowski even
recruited families willing to take in a hundred orphans. But that was not
in the plans, and two days later all of the refugees were shipped off to
The second group (726 refugees including 408 children, mostly orphans) to arrive on the USS Hermitage that fall were also quarantined, this time in a U.S. army camp near Los Angeles called Santa Anita. After a short stay, they too were dispatched across the border to Colonia Santa Rosa. The delicate balance between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies had to be maintained, it seems, at any cost.
Among the victims on this altar of silence were the 14,500 prisoners of war interned in Kozelsk, Starobelsk, and Ostashkov and
executed in cold blood in Katyn, Kharkov, and Kalinin in April and May 1940.
The Allies never officially contradicted the Soviet line that the Germans,
who dug up the graves in the Katyn forest, were responsible for the murders.
No doubt "Uncle Joe"(Joe Stalin) homo sovieticus barbarosus incarnate must have been grateful to the Western Allies for their conspiracy of silence, for preserving the "good name" of
his evil empire. He was even more grateful at Yalta, when the Western Allies
granted him the right to enslave all of Eastern and half of Central Europe.
All the camps and settlements established in Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, India, Africa, Mexico, and New Zealand were meant to be temporary quarters for the Polish refugees until the end of the war and the expected liberation of their country. However, after Yalta and the change in Polish borders this became an impossible dream, although a few did return to join their families in Poland.
What became of the rest? Many of those who wound up in New Zealand and the Union of South Africa remained where they were brought. The Polish refugees housed in the various camps in Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, India, and Africa moved to Great Britain and its dominions, Canada and Australia, from where some of them later emigrated to the United States; some also settled in Argentina. And a few years ago, in 1996 in Chicago, the Poles of Santa Rosa celebrated the 50th anniversary of their arrival in the United States.
Thus ended the saga
of the deportees from Eastern Poland who managed to get out of the Soviet
Union under the provisions of that tenuous "amnesty" of 1941. But what happened to the rest of the hundreds of thousands of deportees who did not leave with Anders' army? For tens of thousands the Soviet Union became their final resting place before the war's end. Another quarter of a million were repatriated to the "recovered territories" of
Western Poland during the massive population exchanges following
World War II. As for what happened to those who never got out, God only
knows. Some, no doubt, are still there.
Despite the fact that in 1918 all Jewish organizations were against the rebirth of Poland, in1926 Poland gave full citizenship to some 700,000 Jewish refugees from USSR ,while at the same time Jewish refugees who escaped to France remained stateless until WWII. In 1938 some 20,000 to 30,000 Jews evicted from Germany were resettled in Poland by Polish authorities....
On Aug. 22, 1939 Hitler delivered a secret speech in which he stated that the complete destruction of Poland and especially its population was his primary target. Hitler talked about the conquest and colonization of Poland. He ordered his military commanders to use the utmost ferocity in merciless killing Polish men, women, and children.
Hitler's orders issued at this crucial moment had nothing to do with the extermination of Jews, however these orders were a retaliation for derailment by the Poles of Hitler's strategy to conquer the Euro-Asian Heartland..
The Jewish population of 8,700,000 was trapped under the control of the Berlin government; at least sixty percent (or about 5,100,000) were exterminated by the Germans during World War II. The second world war was not fought to save the Jews. However, during first years of war the rate of German and Soviet murder of the Poles was much higher than that of the Jews.
Eighty percent of the food consumed by the Jews was smuggled into the ghettos by Poles.
Jewish Ghetto Police were to arrest non-Jews who made purchases in stores exclusively designated for the Jews or brought merchandise or food with them. Arrested Polish gentiles were to be turned over to the Germans for execution. A number of such executions actually took place in Konin and other localities. Polish underground courts prosecuted traitors and criminals during the war. Crime was rampant inside and outside ghettos. It included extortions, robberies and murders
Thousands of Jews were employed by the Soviets in deportation and execution of Polish citizens. Among the deportees 52 percent were Poles, 30 percent were Jews, and 18 percent were Ukrainians and Byelorussians.
Society volunteers offer a limited research service to members for a reasonable
donation. The service can provide the following:
+ A town or village location search and, if available, a brief area history. Copies of
obituaries and death notices found in the Dziennik Chicagoski, 1890-1971. Information onsurname meaning, frequency, and distribution in Poland. Copies of Haller's Army
+ Copies of insurance death claims from the Polish Roman Catholic Union of
Korespondencja z rodzina (1939-1940). Korespondencja w sprawie pomocy dla uchodzęców. Wymiana listów z instytucjami w Stanach
Zjednoczonych (1941-1942). T.2. Korespondencja z w?adzami amerykanęskimi w sprawie zezwolenia na pobyt i uzyskania obywatelstwa. Listy braci: Karola, Antoniego, Jana, ciotki Zofii Lanckoronęskiej (1942-1949). Zaproszenia ze strony Komitetu Narodowego Amerykanów Polskiego Pochodzenia, Ko?a Oficerów Rezerwy w Nowym Jorku. T.3. Korespondencja w sprawie pomocy charytatywnej, zaproszenia
itd. Korespondencja do cz?onków rodziny (1945-1946). T.4. Korespondencja - sprawy urze dowe i osobiste (1946-1947). T.5. Korespondencja, m.in. z Wac?awem Potockim w Montresor,
Adamem i Iza Zamoyskimi, Zofia, Janowa,Tarnowska, oraz w sprawach
pomocy charytatywnej (1948-1949). T.6. Korespondencja - sprawy prywatne i rodzinne (1949-1950, 1957).
Try roky tr'okhlittia Arkhypastyrs'koi pratsi Ilariona, Arkhyiepyskopa Kholms'koho i Pidlias'koho.
8s. 22sm. Language--U. Kholm, 1943.
Ukrainian Catholics and Orthodox in Poland and Czechoslovakia. The Millenium of Christianity in Rus'-Ukraine. Sorokowski, Andrew. Ukrainian Studies Fund. Harvard University. 68p. 23cm. Language--E. Cambridge, MA, 1988.