Soviet invasion of Poland (1939)

Soviet invasion of Poland (1939)

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Soviet invasion of Poland
partof=the invasion of Poland in World War II

result=Soviet victory

strength1=Over 20,000Ref_label|a|a|none
20 understrength battalions of Border Protection Corps and improvised parts of the Polish Army.
strength2=Estimates vary from 466,516 [Colonel-General Grigory Fedot Krivosheev, "Soviet casualties and combat losses in the twentieth century".] to over 800,000pl icon [ Kampania wrześniowa 1939] (September Campaign 1939) from PWN Encyklopedia. Internet Archive, mid-2006. Retrieved 16 July 2007.]
33+ divisions,
11+ brigades
casualties1=Estimates range from 3,000 dead and 20,000 wounded to about 7,000 dead or missing,
not counting about 2,500 POWs executed in immediate reprisals or by anti-Polish OUN bands.
casualties2=Estimates range from 737 dead and under 1,862 total casualties (Soviet estimates)Gross, p. 17.]
through 1,475 killed and missing and 2,383 wounded
or 3,000 dead and under 10,000 wounded (Polish estimates).The 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland was a military operation that started without a formal declaration of war on 17 September 1939, during the early stages of World War II, sixteen days after the beginning of the Nazi German attack on Poland. It ended in a decisive victory for the Soviet Union's Red Army.

In early 1939, the Soviet Union tried to form an alliance against Nazi Germany with the United Kingdom, France, Poland, and Romania; but several difficulties arose, including the refusal of Poland and Romania to allow Soviet troops transit rights through their territories as part of collective security.Anna M. Cienciala (2004). [ "The Coming of the War and Eastern Europe in World War II"] (lecture notes, University of Kansas). Retrieved 15 March 2006.] With the failure of the negotiations, the Soviets shifted from their anti-German stance and on 23 August 1939 signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany. As a result, on 1 September, the Germans invaded Poland from the west; and on 17 September, the Red Army invaded Poland from the east. [German diplomats had urged the Soviet Union to intervene against Poland from the east since the beginning of the war. Roberts, Geoffrey (1992). [ The Soviet Decision for a Pact with Nazi Germany] . "Soviet Studies" 44 (1), 57–78; [ The Reich Foreign Minister to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)] @ Avalon Project and some following documents. The Soviet Union was reluctant to intervene as Warsaw hadn't yet fallen. The Soviet decision to invade the eastern portions of Poland earlier agreed as the Soviet zone of influence was communicated to the German ambassador Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg on 9 September, but the actual invasion was delayed for more than a week. Roberts, Geoffrey (1992). [ The Soviet Decision for a Pact with Nazi Germany] . "Soviet Studies" 44 (1), 57–78; [ The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office] @ Avalon Project. Polish intelligence became aware of the Soviet plans around 12 September.] The Soviet government announced that it was acting to protect the Ukrainians and Belarusians who lived in the eastern part of Poland, because the Polish state had collapsed in the face of the German attack and could no longer guarantee the security of its own citizens.Telegrams sent by Schulenburg, German ambassador to the Soviet Union, from Moscow to the German Foreign Office: [ No. 317] of 10 September 1939, [ No. 371] of 16 September 1939, [ No. 372] of 17 September 1939. The Avalon Project, Yale Law School. Retrieved 14 November 2006.] pl icon [ 1939 wrzesień 17, Moskwa Nota rządu sowieckiego nie przyjęta przez ambasadora Wacława Grzybowskiego] (Note of the Soviet government to the Polish government on 17 September 1939, refused by Polish ambassador Wacław Grzybowski). Retrieved 15 November 2006; Degras, pp. 37–45. [ Extracts from Molotov's speech on Wikiquote.] ]

The Red Army quickly achieved its targets, vastly outnumbering Polish icon " [ Edukacja Humanistyczna w wojsku] ". 1/2005. Dom wydawniczy Wojska Polskiego. (Humanist Education in the Army.) 1/2005. Publishing House of the Polish Army). Retrieved 28 November 2006.] About 230,000 Polish soldiers or more (452 500 [M.I.Mel'tyuhov. Stalin's lost chance. The Soviet Union and the struggle for Europe 1939–1941, p.132. Мельтюхов М.И. Упущенный шанс Сталина. Советский Союз и борьба за Европу: 1939–1941 (Документы, факты, суждения). — М.: Вече, 2000.] ) were taken prisoners of icon [ obozy jenieckie żołnierzy polskich] (Prison camps for Polish soldiers). Encyklopedia PWN. Retrieved 28 November 2006.] The Soviet government annexed the territory newly under its control and in November declared that the 13.5 million Polish citizens who lived there were now Soviet citizens. The Soviets quelled opposition by executions and by arresting thousands. [Rummel, p.130; Rieber, p. 30.] They sent hundreds of thousands (estimates vary) to Siberia and other remote parts of the USSR in four major waves of deportations between 1939 and 1941.Ref_label|b|b|1

The Soviet invasion, which the Politburo called "the liberation campaign", led to the incorporation of millions of Poles, western Ukrainians and western Belarusians into the Soviet Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics. [Rieber, p 29.] During the existence of the People's Republic of Poland, the invasion was considered a delicate subject, almost taboo, and was often omitted from official history in order to preserve the illusion of "eternal friendship" between members of the Eastern Bloc.


In the late 1930s, the Soviet Union tried to form an anti-German alliance with the United Kingdom, France and Poland.Ref_label|h|h|none The negotiations, however, proved difficult. The Soviets insisted on a sphere of influence stretching from Finland to Romania and asked for military support not only against anyone who attacked them directly but against anyone who attacked the countries in their proposed sphere of influence. [Shaw, p 119; Neilson, p 298.] From the beginning of the negotiations with France and Britain it was clear that Soviet Union demanded the right to occupy the Baltic States (Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania)."Natural Enemies: The United States and the Soviet Union in the Cold War 1917-1991" by Robert C. Grogin 2001Lexington Books page 28] Finland was to be included in the Soviet sphere of influence as well"Scandinavia and the Great Powers 1890-1940"Patrick Salmon 2002 Cambridge UniversityPress] and the Soviets finally also demanded the right to enter Poland, Romania and the Baltic States whenever they felt their security was threatened. The governments of those countries rejected the proposal because, as Polish foreign minister Józef Beck pointed out, they feared that once the Red Army entered their territories, it might never leave. The Soviets did not trust the British and French to honour collective security, since they had failed to assist Spain against the Fascists or protect Czechoslovakia from the Nazis. They also suspected that the Western Allies would prefer the Soviet Union to fight Germany by itself, while they watched from the sidelines. [Kenez, pp. 129–31.] In view of these concerns, the Soviet Union abandoned the talks and turned instead to negotiations with Germany.

On 23 August 1939, the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany, taking the allies by surprise. The two governments announced the agreement merely as a non-aggression treaty. As a secret appendix reveals, however, they had actually agreed to partition Poland between themselves and divide Eastern Europe into Soviet and German spheres of influence.Ref_label|d|d|none The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which has been described as a license for war, was a key factor in Hitler’s decision to invade Poland. [Davies, "Europe: A History", p. 997.]

The treaty provided the Soviets with extra defensive space in the west.Dunnigan, [ p. 132.] ] It also offered them a chance to regain territories ceded to Poland twenty years earlier and to unite the eastern and western Ukrainian and Belarusian peoples under a Soviet government, for the first time in the same state. [Sanford, pp. 20–25; Snyder, [,M1 p. 77.] ] Soviet leader Joseph Stalin saw advantages in a war in western Europe, which might weaken his ideological enemies and open up new regions to the advance of communism.Gelven, [, p.236.] ] Ref_label|f|f|none

Soon after the Germans invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, the Nazi leaders began urging the Soviets to play their agreed part and attack Poland from the east. The German ambassador to Moscow, Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg, and the Soviet foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, exchanged a series of diplomatic communiqués on the matter.

The Soviets delayed their intervention for several reasons. They were distracted by crucial events in their border disputes with Japan; they needed time to mobilise the Red Army; and they saw a diplomatic advantage in waiting until Poland had disintegrated before making their move.Zaloga, [ p 80.] ] [Weinberg, p. 55.] On 17 September 1939, Molotov declared on the radio that all treaties between the Soviet Union and Poland were now void,Ref_label|g|g|none because the Polish government had abandoned its people and effectively ceased to exist. [Degras, pp. 37–45. [ Extracts from Molotov's speech on Wikiquote.] ] On the same day, the Red Army crossed the border into Poland.Zaloga, p. 80.]

Military campaign

The Red Army entered the eastern regions of Poland with seven field armies and between 450,000 and 1,000,000 troops. These were deployed on two fronts: the Belarusian Front under Mikhail Kovalyov, and the Ukrainian Front under Semyon Timoshenko. By this time, the Poles had failed to defend their western borders, and in response to German incursions had launched a major counter-offensive in the Battle of the Bzura. The Polish Army originally had a well-developed defensive plan to deal with the threat of the Soviet Union, but they were unprepared to face two invasions at once.Szubański, "Plan operacyjny "Wschód".] By the time the Soviets invaded, the Polish commanders had sent most of their troops west to face the Germans, leaving the east protected by only 20 under-strength battalions. These battalions consisted of about 20,000 troops of border defence corps ("Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza"), under the command of general Wilhelm Orlik-Rueckemann.Sanford, [ p. 20–24.] ]

At first, the Polish commander-in-chief, Marshal of Poland Edward Rydz-Śmigły, ordered the border forces to resist the Soviets. He then changed his mind after consulting with Prime Minister Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski and ordered them to fall back and engage the Soviets only in self-defense.Gross, p. 17.]

quote|"The Soviets have entered. I order a general retreat to Romania and Hungary by the shortest route. Do not fight the Bolsheviks unless they assault you or try to disarm your units. The tasks for Warsaw and cities which were to defend themselves from the Germans - without changes. Cities aproached by Bolsheviks should negotiate the issue of withdrawing the garrison to Hungary or Romania."|Edward Rydz-Śmigły, Commander-in-Chief of the Polish armed forces, September 17 1939 ["Sowiety wkroczyły. Nakazuję ogólne wycofanie na Rumunię i Węgry najkrótszymi drogami. Z bolszewikami nie walczyć, chyba w razie natarcia z ich strony albo próby rozbrojenia oddziałów. Zadania Warszawy i miast które miały się bronić przed Niemcami - bez zmian. Miasta do których podejdą bolszewicy powinny z nimi pertraktować w sprawie wyjścia garnizonów do Węgier lub Rumunii." [ Andrzej M. Kobos, "Agresja albo nóż w plecy"] pl icon]

The two conflicting sets of orders led to confusion, and when the Red Army attacked Polish units, clashes and small battles inevitably broke out. The response of non-ethnic Poles to the situation added a further complication. In some cases, Ukrainians,Ref_label|m|m|none Belarusians [Piotrowski, p 199.] and Jews [Gross, pp. 32–33.] welcomed the invading troops as liberators. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists rose against the Poles, and communist partisans organised local revolts, for example in Skidel.Ref_label|j|j|none

The Polish military's original fall-back plan was to retreat and regroup along the Romanian Bridgehead, an area in south-east Poland near the border with Romania. The idea was to adopt defensive positions there and wait for a promised French and British attack in the west. This plan assumed that Germany would have to reduce its operations in Poland in order to fight on a second front. The allies expected Polish forces to hold out for up to several months, but the Soviet attack made this strategy obsolete.

The Polish political and military leaders knew that they were losing the war against Germany even before the Soviet invasion settled the issue. Nevertheless, they refused to surrender or negotiate a peace with Germany. Instead, the Polish government ordered all military units to evacuate Poland and reassemble in France. The government itself crossed into Romania at around midnight on 17 September 1939 through the border-crossing in Zaleszczyki. Polish units proceeded to manoeuvre towards the Romanian bridgehead area, sustaining German attacks on one flank and occasionally clashing with Soviet troops on the other. In the days following the evacuation order, the Germans defeated the Polish Armies "Kraków" and "Lublin" at the Battle of Tomaszów Lubelski, which lasted from 17 September to 20 September. [Taylor, p. 38.]

Soviet units often met their German counterparts advancing from the opposite direction. Several notable examples of co-operation occurred between the two armies in the field. The Wehrmacht passed the Brest Fortress, which had been seized after the Battle of Brześć Litewski, to the Soviet 29th Tank Brigade on 17 September.Fischer, Benjamin B., " [ "The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field] ", "Studies in Intelligence", Winter 1999–2000. Retrieved 16 July 2007.] German General Heinz Guderian and Soviet Brigadier Semyon Krivoshein then held a joint parade in the town. Lwów (Lviv) surrendered on 22 September, days after the Germans handed the siege operations over to the icon cite web | author=Artur Leinwand | title=Obrona Lwowa we wrześniu 1939 roku | publisher=Instytut Lwowski | year=1991 | work= | url= | accessdate= Retrieved 16 July 2007.] Ryś, p 50. [] ] Soviet forces had taken Wilno on 19 September after a two-day battle, and they took Grodno on 24 September after a four-day battle. By 28 September, the Red Army had reached the line of the rivers Narew, Western Bug, Vistula and San—the border agreed in advance with the Germans.

Despite a tactical Polish victory on 28 September at the Battle of Szack, the outcome of the larger conflict was never in doubt. Civilian volunteers, militias, and reorganised retreating units held out in the Polish capital, Warsaw, till 28 September. The Modlin Fortress, north of Warsaw, surrendered the next day after an intense sixteen-day battle. On 1 October, Soviet troops drove Polish units into the forests at the battle of Wytyczno, one of the last direct confrontations of the campaign.Orlik-Rückemann, p. 20.]

Some isolated Polish garrisons managed to hold their positions long after being surrounded; but the last operational unit of the Polish Army to surrender was General Franciszek Kleeberg's "Independent Operational Group Polesie (Samodzielna Grupa Operacyjna "Polesie")". Kleeberg surrendered on 6 October after the four-day Battle of Kock (near Lublin), which ended the September Campaign. The Soviets were victorious. On 31 October, Molotov reported to the Supreme Soviet: "A short blow by the German army, and subsequently by the Red Army, was enough for nothing to be left of this ugly creature of the Treaty of Versailles". [Moynihan, p. 93; Tucker, p. 612.]

Allied reaction

The reaction of France and Britain to Poland's plight was muted, since neither wanted a confrontation with the Soviet Union at that stage. Under the terms of the Anglo-Polish Agreement of 25 August 1939, the British had promised Poland assistance if attacked by a European power;Ref_label|k|k|none but when Polish Ambassador Edward Raczyński reminded Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax of the pact, he was bluntly told that it was Britain's business whether to declare war on the Soviet Union. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain considered making a public commitment to restore Polish statehood, but in the end he issued only general statements of condemnation.Prazmowska, pp. 44–45.]

The French had also made promises to Poland, including the provision of air support, and these were not honoured. Once the Soviets moved into Poland, the French and the British decided there was nothing they could do for Poland in the short term and began planning for a long-term victory instead. The French had advanced tentatively into the Saar in early September, but after the Polish defeat, they retreated behind the Maginot Line on 4 October. [Jackson, p. 75.] Many Poles resented this lack of support from their western allies, which aroused a lasting sense of betrayal.


In October 1939, Molotov reported to the Supreme Soviet that the Soviets had suffered 737 deaths and 1,862 casualties during the campaign, though Polish specialists claim up to 3,000 deaths and 8,000 to 10,000 wounded.Ref_label|e|e|none On the Polish side, between 6,000 and 7,000 soldiers died fighting the Red Army, with 230,000 to 450,000 taken icon Отчёт Украинского и Белорусского фронтов Красной Армии Мельтюхов, с. 367. [] . Retrieved 17 July 2007.] The Soviets often failed to honour terms of surrender. In some cases, they promised Polish soldiers freedom and then arrested them when they laid down their arms.

The Soviet Union had ceased to recognise the Polish state at the start of the icon [ 1939 wrzesień 17, Moskwa Nota rządu sowieckiego nie przyjęta przez ambasadora Wacława Grzybowskiego] (Note of the Soviet government to the Polish government on 17 September 1939, refused by Polish ambassador Wacław Grzybowski). Retrieved 15 November 2006.] As a result, the two governments never officially declared war on each other. The Soviets therefore did not classify Polish military prisoners as prisoners of war but as rebels against the new legal government of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia.Ref_label|n|n|none The Soviets killed tens of thousands of Polish prisoners of war. Some, like General Józef Olszyna-Wilczyński, who was captured, interrogated and shot on 22 September, were executed during the campaign itself. [Sanford, p. 23; pl icon [ Olszyna-Wilczyński Józef Konstanty] , Encyklopedia PWN. Retrieved 14 November 2006.] pl icon [ Śledztwo w sprawie zabójstwa w dniu 22 września 1939 r. w okolicach miejscowości Sopoćkinie generała brygady Wojska Polskiego Józefa Olszyny-Wilczyńskiego i jego adiutanta kapitana Mieczysława Strzemskiego przez żołnierzy b. Związku Radzieckiego. (S 6/02/Zk)] Polish Institute of National Remembrance. Internet Archive, 16.10.03. Retrieved 16 July 2007.] On 24 September, the Soviets killed forty-two staff and patients of a Polish military hospital in the village of Grabowiec, near Zamość.pl icon [ "Rozstrzelany Szpital"] (Executed Hospital). Tygodnik Zamojski, 15 September 2004. Retrieved 28 November 2006.] The Soviets also executed all the Polish officers they captured after the Battle of Szack, on 28 September icon [ Szack] . Encyklopedia Interia. Retrieved 28 November 2006.] Over 20,000 Polish military personnel and civilians perished in the Katyn massacre. About 300 Poles were executed after the Battle of Grodno [] .

The Poles and the Soviets re-established diplomatic relations in 1941, following the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement; but the Soviets broke them off again in 1943 after the Polish government demanded an independent examination of the recently discovered Katyn burial pits. [Soviet note unilaterally severing Soviet-Polish diplomatic relations, 25 April 1943. [ English translation of Polish document.] Retrieved 19 December 2005; Sanford, p. 129.] The Soviets then lobbied the Western Allies to recognise the pro-Soviet Polish puppet government of Wanda Wasilewska in Moscow. [Sanford, p. 127; Martin Dean [ "Collaboration in the Holocaust".] Retrieved 15 July 2007.]

On 28 September 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany had changed the secret terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. They moved Lithuania into the Soviet sphere of influence and shifted the border in Poland to the east, giving Germany more territory. By this arrangement, often described as a fourth partition of Poland, the Soviet Union secured almost all Polish territory east of the line of the rivers Pisa, Narew, Western Bug and San. This amounted to about 200,000 square kilometres of land, inhabited by 13.5 million Polish citizens.Gross, p. 17.]

The Red Army had originally sown confusion among the locals by claiming that they were arriving to save Poland from the Nazis.Davies, "Europe: A History", pp. 1001–1003.] Their advance surprised Polish communities and their leaders, who had not been advised how to respond to a Soviet invasion. Polish and Jewish citizens may at first have preferred a Soviet regime to a German one. [Gross, pp. 24, 32–33.] However, the Soviets were quick to impose their ideology on the local ways of life. For instance, the Soviets quickly began confiscating, nationalising and redistributing all private and state-owned Polish property. [ Piotrowski, p.11] ] During the two years following the annexation, the Soviets also arrested approximately 100,000 Polish citizenspl icon [ Represje 1939-41 Aresztowani na Kresach Wschodnich] (Repressions 1939–41. Arrested on the Eastern Borderlands.) Ośrodek Karta. Retrieved 15 November 2006.] and deported between 350,000 and 1,500,000, of whom between 250,000 and 1,000,000 died, mostly civilians.Ref_label|b|b|2Rieber, pp. 14, 32–37.]

Territories of Second Polish Republic annexed by Soviet Union

Of the 13.5 million civilians living in the newly annexed territories, Poles were the largest single ethnic group; but Belarusians and Ukrainians together made up over 50% of the population.Ref_label|c|c|none The annexation did not give the Soviet Union control of all the areas where Belarusians or Ukrainians lived, some of which fell west of the new German–Soviet border.Ref_label|l|l|none Nonetheless, it united the vast majority of the two peoples within the expanded Soviet Byelorussian and Ukrainian republics.

Sovietization propaganda poster addressed to the Western Ukrainian population. The Ukrainian text reads: "Electors of the working people! Vote for the joining of Western Ukraine with Soviet Ukraine, for a united, free and thriving Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Lets forever eliminate the border between Western and Soviet Ukraine. Long Live the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic!"]

On 26 October 1939, "elections" to Byelorussian and Ukrainian assemblies were held, to give the annexation an appearance of validity.Ref_label|i|i|none The Belarusians and Ukrainians in Poland had been increasingly alienated by the Polonization policies of the Polish government and its repression of their separatist movements, so they felt little loyalty towards the Polish state. [Norman Davies, "Boże Igrzysko" (God's Playground), vol 2, pp. 512–513.] Not all Belarusians and Ukrainians, however, trusted the Soviet regime responsible for the Ukrainian Famine of 1932–33.Davies, "Europe: A History", pp. 1001–1003.] In practice, the poor generally welcomed the Soviets, and the elites tended to join the opposition, despite supporting the reunification icon Marek Wierzbicki, [ "Stosunki polsko-białoruskie pod okupacją sowiecką (1939–1941)"] . "Białoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne", Biełaruski histaryczny zbornik, 20 (2003), p. 186–188. Retrieved 16 July 2007.] Andrzej Nowak, [ "The Russo-Polish Historical Confrontation"] , Sarmatian Review, January 1997, Volume XVII, Number 1. Retrieved 16 July 2007.]

The Soviets quickly introduced Sovietization policies in Western Byelorussia and Western Ukraine, including compulsory collectivization of the whole region. In the process, they ruthlessly broke up political parties and public associations and imprisoned or executed their leaders as "enemies of the people".Davies, "Europe: A History", pp. 1001–1003.] The authorities even suppressed the anti-Polish Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which had actively resisted the Polish regime since the 1920s; despite their change of overlord, Ukrainian nationalists continued to aim for an independent, undivided Ukrainian state. [Miner, pp. 41–2.] The unifications of 1939 were nevertheless a decisive event in the history of Ukraine and Belarus, because they produced two republics which eventually achieved independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. [Wilson, p. 17.]

quote|"Since 1654, when the tsars began steadily to extend their control over Ukraine, Ukrainians had lived in two distinct worlds: one ruled by the Russians and the other by Poles or Austrians. As a result of the Second World War, the East/West Ukrainian dichotomy finally ceased to exist, at least on the political level. The process of amalgamation—of unification of two long-separated branches of the Ukrainian people—was not only a major aspect of the post-war period, but an event of epochal significance in the history of Ukraine.|Orest Subtelny a Canadian historian of Ukrainian descent"Subtelny, p. 487.]


Soviet censors later suppressed many details of the 1939 invasion and its aftermath. [wikiref |id=Kubik-1994 |text=Kubik, p. 277; wikiref |id=Sanford-2005 |text=Sanford, pp. 214–216] The Politburo had from the first called the operation a "liberation campaign", and later Soviet statements and publications never wavered from that line. [wikiref |id=Rieber-2000 |text=Rieber, p. 29] On 30 November 1939, Stalin stated that it was not Germany who had attacked France and England, but France and England who had attacked Germany; [ru icon [ "Pravda"] , 30 November 1939. Retrieved on 2007-07-16.] and the following March, Molotov claimed that Germany had tried to make peace and been turned down by "Anglo-French imperialists".Ref_label|o|o|none All subsequent Soviet governments denied that there had ever been a secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; but when the document was "found" in the Soviet archives in 1989, the truth was finally acknowledged. Censorship was also applied in the People's Republic of Poland, to preserve the image of "Polish-Soviet friendship" promoted by the two communist governments. Official policy allowed only accounts of the 1939 campaign that portrayed it as a reunification of the Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples and a liberation of the Polish people from "oligarchic capitalism.” The authorities strongly discouraged any further study or teaching on the subject.wikiref |id=Ferro-2003 |text=Ferro, p. 258; wikiref |id=Orlik-Rückemann-1985 |text=Orlik-Rückemann, p. 20 See also: Education in the People's Republic of Poland.] However, various underground publications ("bibuła") addressed the issue, as did other media, such as the 1982 protest song of Jacek Kaczmarski ("Ballada wrześniowa.")pl icon [ "Ballada wrześniowa"] (September's tale). Text at Jacek Kaczmarski's official page. Retrieved on 2006-11-15.]

Orders of battle

See articles:
*Polish army order of battle in 1939
*Soviet order of battle for invasion of Poland in 1939


a. Note_label|a|a|none Increasing numbers of KOP units, as well as most Polish Army units stationed in the East during peacetime, were sent to the Polish-German border before or during the German invasion. KOP forces guarding the eastern border numbered around 20,000. On 21 September 1939, an improvised KOP "army" had a strength of 8,700 troops. Polish army units which fought the Soviets had mostly been disrupted and weakened by their retreat from the Germans, making estimates of their strength problematic; it is estimated about 250,000 of such troops found themselves in the line of Soviet advance and offered sporadic resistance. The total Polish army on 1 September 1939, counting un-mobilised (and sometimes, never mobilised) units, numbered about 950,000. Historians agree that the vast majority of these forces never saw action against the Soviets.

b. Note_label|b|b|1 Note_label|b|b|2 The exact number of people deported in the period 1939–1941 remains unknown, and estimates vary from between 350,000] . Encyklopedia PWN Retrieved 14 March 2006.] and (old WWII estimates by the Polish Underground State) over two million. The first figure is based on NKVD records and does not include the roughly 180,000 prisoners of war in Soviet captivity. Most modern historians estimate the number of all people deported from areas taken by the Soviet Union during this period at between 800,000 and 1,500,000. For example, Rummel estimates the number at 1,200,000 and Kushner and Knox at 1,500,000. [Rummel, p. 132; Kushner, p. 219.] Bernd Wegner quotes Norman Davies's estimate that half of an approximately one million deported Polish citizens were dead by the time the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement was signed in 1941.Wegner, p. 78.]

The mass deportations were motivated by class warfare—Soviet propaganda hammered home the message that they were fighting a war against barbarism on behalf of civilization—and obsessive security concerns. Less openly admitted advantages of the deportations were the redistribution of deportees' housing and land, the establishment of a back-up labour force prior to the inevitable war with Germany, and the radical alteration of the ethnic demographic of the annexed region.

c. Note_label|c|c|none Among the population of Eastern territories were circa 38% Poles, 37% Ukrainians, 14.5% Belarusians, 8.4% Jewish, 0.9% Russians and 0.6% Germans. [Trela-Mazur, p. 294.]

d. Note_label|d|d|none Estonia and Latvia were placed in the Soviet sphere of influence and Lithuania in the German. According to Joachim von Ribbentrop, Germany had agreed to what Britain had refused: a free hand in the Baltic and a free hand in the Balkan states. On 28 September, the border was redefined by adding the area between the Vistula and Bug to the German sphere and moving Lithuania into the Soviet sphere. [Sanford, p. 21; Weinberg, p. 963.]

e. Note_label|e|e|none "Polish specialists claim up to 3000 killed and 8,000–10,000 wounded." [Sanford, p 23.]

f. Note_label|f|f|none On 7 September 1939, Stalin told the secretary general of the Comintern, Georgi Dimitrov: "War is going on between two groups of capitalist countries...for the division of the world, for domination of the entire world. We are not against their tearing one another to pieces and weakening one another." He called Poland a fascist state which had oppressed Ukrainians, Byelorussians and others, and stressed that "the liquidisation of this government under present conditions would mean one fascist government less. It wouldn’t be so bad if as a result of the destruction of Poland we extended the socialist system to new territories and populations." [Rieber, p. 29.]

g. Note_label|g|g|none The Soviets in effect repudiated the Riga Peace Treaty and the Soviet-Polish Non-Aggression Pact. They also violated the 1919 Covenant of the League of Nations (to which the USSR subscribed in 1934), the Briand-Kellog Pact of 1928 and the 1933 London Convention on the Definition of Aggression.Piotrowski, p. 295.]

h. Note_label|h|h|none "The USSR proposed a ten-year Anglo-French-Soviet alliance which would include Rumania and Poland." [Gronowicz, p. 51.]

i. Note_label|i|i|none The voters had a choice of only one candidate for each position of deputy; the communist party commissars then provided the assemblies with resolutions that would push through nationalization of banks and heavy industry and transfers of land to peasant communities. [Rieber, pp. 29–30.]

j. Note_label|j|j|none For other examples, described by an officer witness, see: Bronisław Konieczny, in "Mój wrzesień 1939. Pamiętnik z kampanii wrześniowej spisany w obozie jenieckim" and "Moje życie w mundurze. Czasy narodzin i upadku II RP".

k. Note_label|k|k|none The "Agreement of Mutual Assistance between the United Kingdom and Poland" (London, 25 August 1939) states in Article 1: "Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in its power." [Stachura, p.125.]

l. Note_label|l|l|none Some Ukrainians and Belarusians lived in the areas traded to Germany by the Soviets in the agreement of 28 October. For example, Chełm and Lemkivshchyna (Łemkowszczyzna), both with significant Ukrainian populations, were among the Ukrainian enclaves left in German-occupied Poland (see maps).

m. Note_label|m|m|none "How are we ... to explain the phenomenon of Ukrainians rejoicing and collaborating with the Soviets? Who were these Ukrainians? That they were Ukrainians is certain, but were they communists, Nationalists, unattached peasants? The answer is "yes—they were all three". [Piotrowski, p.199.]

n. Note_label|n|n|none "The Soviet Union's invasion and occupation of Eastern Poland in September 1939 was a clear act of aggression in international law...But the Soviets did not declare war, nor did the Poles respond with a declaration of war. As a result there was confusion over the status of soldiers taken captive and whether they qualified for treatment as PoWs. Jurists consider that the absence of a formal declaration of war does not absolve a power from the obligations of civilised conduct towards PoWs. On the contrary, failure to do so makes those involved, both leaders and operational subordinates, liable to charges of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity." [Sanford, p 39, 22–3.]

o. Note_label|o|o|none "It is generally known, however, that the British and French governments turned down German peace efforts, made public by her already at the end of last year, which for its part, owed to preparations to escalate the war." Vyacheslav Molotov, 29 March 1940. [Molotov, V.M., [ Report On The Foreign Policy Of The Government] , 29 March 1940. "Moscow News", 1 April 1940. Retrieved 16 July 2007.]



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* – cite book |title=God's Playground|language=English |year=2002 |publisher=Columbia University Press |edition=revised edition |isbn=0231128193

External links

* [ The Soviet invasion of Poland during World War II] .
*pl icon [ Documents related to the Soviet invasion of Poland (II wojna światowa: Źródła do historii Polski)] .
*pl icon [ IPN investigation concerning Grodno crimes]

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