Soviet repressions of Polish citizens (1939-1946)

Soviet repressions of Polish citizens (1939-1946)

In the aftermath of the German and Soviet invasion of Poland (September, 1939) the territory of Poland was divided between the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (USSR).

Both powers were hostile to the Polish culture and the Polish people, aiming at their destruction."The prisons, ghettos, internment, transit, labor and extermination camps, roundups, mass deportations, public executions, mobile killing units, death marches, deprivation, hunger, disease, and exposure all testify to the 'inhuman policies of both Hitler and Stalin' and 'were clearly aimed at the total extermination of Polish citizens, both Jews and Christians. Both regimes endorsed a systematic program of genocide.'" Judith Olsak-Glass, [ Review of Piotrowski's "Poland's Holocaust"] in Sarmatian Review, January 1999.] Before Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union coordinated their Poland-related policies, most visibly in the four Gestapo-NKVD Conferences, where the occupants discussed plans for dealing with the Polish resistance movement and future destruction of Poland."Terminal horror suffered by so many millions of innocent Jewish, Slavic, and other European peoples as a result of this meeting of evil minds is an indelible stain on the history and integrity of Western civilization, with all of its humanitarian pretensions" (Note: "this meeting" refers to the most famous third (Zakopane) conference).
Conquest, Robert (1991). "Stalin: Breaker of Nations". New York, N.Y.: Viking. ISBN 0670840890]

There is some controversy as to whether Soviet policies were harsher than those of the Nazis."In the 1939-1941 period alone, Soviet-inflicted suffering on all citizens in Poland exceeded that of Nazi-inflicted suffering on all citizens. (...) The Soviet-imposed myth about "communist heroes of resistance" enabled them for decades to avoid the painful questions faced long ago by other Western countries." Johanna Granville, [ H-Net Review] of Jan T. Gross. Revolution from Abroad.] Citing Norman Davies' passage from God's Playground, Piotrowski writes: "In many ways, the work of Soviet NKVD in Eastern Poland proved far more destructive than that of Gestapo." en icon cite book | author =Tadeusz Piotrowski | coauthors = | title =Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide... | year =1997 | editor = | pages =9 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =McFarland & Company | location = | id =ISBN 0-7864-0371-3| url = | format = | accessdate = ]

Aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Poland

By the end of Polish Defensive War the Soviet Union took over 52.1% of territory of Poland (circa 200,000 km²), with over 13,700,000 people. The estimates vary; Elżbieta Trela-Mazur gives the following numbers in regards to ethnic composition of these areas: 38% Poles (ca. 5,1 million people), 37% Ukrainians, 14,5% Belarusians, 8,4% Jews, 0,9% Russians and 0,6% Germans. There were also 336,000 refugees from areas occupied by Germany, most of them Jews (198,000).pl icon cite book | author =Elżbieta Trela-Mazur | coauthors = | title =Sowietyzacja oświaty w Małopolsce Wschodniej pod radziecką okupacją 1939-1941 (Sovietization of education in eastern Lesser Poland during the Soviet occupation 1939-1941) | year =1997 | editor =Włodzimierz Bonusiak, Stanisław Jan Ciesielski, Zygmunt Mańkowski, Mikołaj Iwanow | pages =294 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Wyższa Szkoła Pedagogiczna im. Jana Kochanowskiego | location =Kielce | id =ISBN 83-7133-100-2| url = | format = | accessdate = , also in "Wrocławskie Studia Wschodnie", Wrocław, 1997 ] Areas occupied by USSR were annexed to Soviet territory, with the exception of area of Wilno, which was transferred to Lithuania, although soon attached to USSR, when Lithuania became a Soviet republic.

Initially the Soviet occupation gained support among some members the non-Polish population who had chafed under the nationalist policies of the Second Polish Republic. Much of the Ukrainian populationFact|date=January 2008 initially welcomed the unification with the rest of Ukraine which Ukrainians had failed to achieve in 1919 when their attempt for self-determination was crushed by Poland and Soviet Union.]

There were large groups of pre-war Polish citizens, notably Jewish youth and, to a lesser extent, the Ukrainian peasants, who saw the Soviet power as an opportunity to start political or social activity outside of their traditional ethnic or cultural groups. Their enthusiasm however faded with time as it became clear that the Soviet repressions were aimed at all groups equally, regardless of their political stance.en icon cite book | author =Militargeschichtliches Forschungsamt (corporate author) | coauthors =Gottfried Schramm, Jan T. Gross, Manfred Zeidler et al. | title =From Peace to War: Germany, Soviet Russia and the World, 1939-1941 | year =1997 | editor =Bernd Wegner | pages =47-79 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Berghahn Books | location = | id =ISBN 1-57181-882-0| url = | format = | accessdate = ]

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. The Soviets also executed about 65,000 Poles.

In one notorious massacre, the NKVD-the Soviet secret police--systematically executed 21,768 Poles, among them 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 1943, who then invited an international group of neutral representatives and doctors to study the corpses and confirm Soviet guilt.

The Soviet Union had ceased to recognise the Polish state at the start of the invasion.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.] 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 icon [ Szack] . Encyklopedia Interia. Retrieved 28 November 2006.] Over 20,000 Polish military personnel and civilians perished in the Katyn massacre.Fischer, Benjamin B., " [ "The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field] ", "Studies in Intelligence", Winter 1999–2000. Retrieved 16 July 2007.] Sanford, [ p. 20–24.] ]

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, April 25 1943. [ English translation of Polish document.] Retrieved 19 December 2005; Sanford, p. 129.] The Soviets then lobbied the Western Allies to recognize 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 icon [ Kampania wrześniowa 1939] (September Campaign 1939) from PWN Encyklopedia. Internet Archive, mid-2006. Retrieved 16 July 2007.] 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 sowed 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 Bolshevik invasion. Polish and Jewish citizens may at first have preferred a Soviet regime to a German one, [Gross, pp. 24, 32–33.] but the Soviets soon proved as hostile and destructive towards the Polish people and their culture as the Nazis.Stachura, [ p.132.] ] [Piotrowski, pp. 1, 11–13, 32.] They began confiscating, nationalising and redistributing all private and state-owned Polish property. [ Piotrowski, p.11] ] During the two years following the annexation, they 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.]

Land reform and collectivisation

The Soviet base of support was even strengthened by a land reform program initiated by the Soviets in which most of the owners of large lots of land were labeled "kulaks" and dispossessed of their land which was then divided among poorer peasants.

However, the Soviet authorities then started a campaign of forced collectivisation, which largely nullified the earlier gains from the land reform as the peasants generally did not want to join the Kolkhoz farms, nor to give away their crops for free to fulfill the state-imposed quotas.

Restructuring of Polish governmental and social institutions

While Germans enforced their policies based on racism, the Soviet administration justified their Stalinist policies by appealing to the Soviet ideology,pl icon cite book | author =Wojciech Roszkowski | coauthors = | title =Historia Polski 1914-1997 | year =1998 | editor = | pages =476 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Wydawnictwa Naukowe PWN | location =Warsaw | id =ISBN 83-01-12693-0| url = | format = | accessdate = ] which in reality meant the thorough Sovietization of the area. Immediately after their conquest of eastern Poland, the Soviet authorities started a campaign of sovietizationpl icon cite book | author =various authors | coauthors = | title =Sowietyzacja Kresów Wschodnich II Rzeczypospolitej po 17 września 1939 | year =1998 | editor =Adam Sudoł | pages =441 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Wyższa Szkoła Pedagogiczna | location =Bydgoszcz | id =ISBN 83-7096-281-5 | url = | format = | accessdate = ] en icon cite book | author =various authors | coauthors = | title =Demography and National Security | year =2001 | editor =Myron Weiner, Sharon Stanton Russell | pages =308-315 | chapter =Stalinist Forced Relocation Policies | chapterurl = | publisher =Berghahn Books | location = | id =ISBN 1-57181-339-X| url = | format = | accessdate = ] of the newly-acquired areas. No later than several weeks after the last Polish units surrendered, on October 22, 1939, the Soviets organized staged elections to the Moscow-controlled Supreme Soviets (legislative body) of "Western Byelorussia" and "Western Ukraine".pl icon cite web | author=Bartłomiej Kozłowski | title=„Wybory” do Zgromadzeń Ludowych Zachodniej Ukrainy i Zachodniej Białorusi | publisher=NASK | year=2005 | | url= | accessdate=March 13 | accessyear=2006] The result of the staged voting was to become a legitimization of Soviet annexation of eastern Poland. en icon cite book | author=Jan Tomasz Gross | coauthors = | title =Revolution from Abroad | year =2003 | editor = | pages =396 | publisher =Princeton University Press | location =Princeton | id =ISBN 0-691-09603-1 [] ]

Subsequently, all institutions of the dismantled Polish state were being closed down and reopened under the Soviet appointed supervisors. Lviv University and many other schools were reopened soon but they were restarted anew as Soviet institutions rather than continued their old legacy. Lviv University was reorganized in accordance with the Statute Books for Soviet Higher Schools. The tuition, that along with the institution's Polonophile traditions, kept the university inaccessible to most of the rural Ukrainophone population, was abolished and several new chairs were opened, particularly the chairs of Russian language and literature. The chairs of Marxism-Leninism, Dialectical and Historical Materialism aimed at strengthening of the Soviet ideology were opened as well. Polish literature and language studies ware dissolved by Soviet authorities. Forty-five new faculty members were assigned to it and transferred from other institutions of Soviet Ukraine, mainly the Kharkiv and Kiev universities. On January 15, 1940 the Lviv University was reopened and started to teach in accordance with Soviet curricula. cite web | title=Ivan Franko National University of L'viv | url=| accessdate=March 14 | accessyear=2006] .

Simultaneously Soviet authorities attempted to remove the traces of Polish history of the area by eliminating much of what had any connection to the Polish state or even Polish culture in general. On December 21, 1939, the Polish currency was withdrawn from circulation without any exchange to the newly-introduced rouble, which meant that the entire population of the area lost all of their life savings iconcite book | author =Karolina Lanckorońska | coauthors = | title =Wspomnienia wojenne; 22 IX 1939 - 5 IV 1945 | year =2001 | editor = | pages =364 | chapter =I - Lwów | chapterurl = | publisher =ZNAK | location =Kraków | id =ISBN 83-240-0077-1]

All the media became controlled by Moscow. Soviet authorities implemented a political regime similar to police state,en icon cite book | author =Craig Thompson-Dutton | coauthors = | title =The Police State: What You Want to Know about the Soviet Union | year =1950 | editor = | pages =88-95 | chapter =The Police State & The Police and the Judiciary | chapterurl = | publisher =Dutton | location = | id = | url = | format = | accessdate = ] en icon cite book | author =Michael Parrish | coauthors = | title =The Lesser Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939-1953 | year =1996 | editor = | pages =99-101 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Praeger Publishers | location = | id =ISBN 0-275-95113-8 | url = | format = | accessdate = ] en icon cite book | author =Peter Rutland | coauthors = | title =The Politics of Economic Stagnation in the Soviet Union | year =1992 | editor = | pages =9 | chapter =Introduction | chapterurl = | publisher =Cambridge University Press | location =Cambridge | id =ISBN 0-521-39241-1| url = | format = | accessdate = ] en icon cite book | author =Victor A. Kravchenko | coauthors = | title =I Chose Justice | year =1988 | editor = | pages =310 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Transaction Publishers | location = | id =ISBN 0-88738-756-X | url= | format = | accessdate = ] based on terror. All Polish parties and organizations were disbanded. Only the Communist Party was allowed to exist with organizations subordinated to it.

All organized religions were persecuted. All enterprises were taken over by the state, while agriculture was made icon Encyklopedia PWN, "OKUPACJA SOWIECKA W POLSCE 1939–41", last accessed on 1 March 2006, [ online] , Polish language]

Rule of Terror

An inherent part of the Sovietization was a rule of terror started by the NKVD and other Soviet agencies. The first victims of the new order were approximately 250,000 Polish prisoners of war captured by the USSR during and after the Polish Defensive War (see Polish prisoners of war in Soviet Union (after 1939)).Encyklopedia PWN [ 'KAMPANIA WRZEŚNIOWA 1939'] , last retrieved on 10 December 2005, Polish language] As the Soviet Union did not sign any international convention on rules of war, they were denied the status of prisoners of war and instead almost all of the captured officers and a large number of ordinary soldiersOut of the original group of Polish prisoners of war sent in large number to the labour camps were some 25,000 ordinary soldiers separated from the rest of their colleagues and imprisoned in a work camp in Równe, where they were forced to build a road. See: en icon cite web | author = | coauthors = | year = 2004 | url = | title = Decision to commence investigation into Katyn Massacre | format = | work = Institute of National Remembrance website | publisher = Institute of National Remembrance | accessdate = March 15 | accessyear = 2006] were then murdered (see Katyn massacre) or sent to Gulag.en icon cite book | author =Marek Jan Chodakiewicz | coauthors = | title =Between Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland, 1939-1947 | year =2004 | editor = | pages = | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Lexington Books | location = | id =ISBN 0-7391-0484-5| url = | format = | accessdate = ] Thousands of others would fall victim to NKVD massacres of prisoners in mid-1941, after Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

Similar policies were applied to the civilian population as well. The Soviet authorities regarded service for the pre-war Polish state as a "crime against revolution"en icon cite book | author =Gustaw Herling-Grudziński | coauthors = | title =A World Apart: Imprisonment in a Soviet Labor Camp During World War II | year =1996 | editor = | pages =284 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Penguin Books | location = | id =ISBN 0-14-025184-7| url = | format = | accessdate = ] and "counter-revolutionary activity",pl icon cite book | author =Władysław Anders | coauthors = | title =Bez ostatniego rozdziału | year =1995 | editor = | pages =540 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Test | location =Lublin | id =ISBN 83-7038-168-5 | url = | format = | accessdate = ] and subsequently started arresting large numbers of Polish intelligentsia, politicians, civil servants and scientists, but also ordinary people suspected of posing a threat to the Soviet rule. Among the arrested members of the Polish intelligentsia were former prime ministers Leon Kozłowski and Aleksander Prystor, as well as Stanisław Grabski, Stanisław Głąbiński and the Baczewski family. Initially aimed primarily at possible political opponents, by January of 1940 the NKVD aimed its campaign also at its potential allies, including the Polish communists and socialists. Among the arrested were Władysław Broniewski, Aleksander Wat, Tadeusz Peiper, Leopold Lewin, Anatol Stern, Teodor Parnicki, Marian Czuchnowski and many icon cite journal | author = Jerzy Gizella | year = 2001 | month = November 10 | title = Lwowskie okupacje | journal = Przegląd polski | volume = | issue = November 10 | pages = | id = | url = ]


In 1940 and the first half of 1941, the Soviets deported more than 1,200,000 Poles, most in four mass deportations. The first deportation took place February 10, 1940, with more than 220,000 sent to northern European Russia; the second on April 13, 1940, sending 320,000 primarily to Kazakhstan; a third wave in June-July 1940 totaled more than 240,000; the fourth occurred in June, 1941, deporting 300,000. Upon resumption of Polish-Soviet diplomatic relations in 1941, it was determined based on Soviet information that more than 760,000 of the deportees had died—a large part of those dead being children, who had comprised about a third of deportees.Assembly of Captive European Nations, First Session] .

Approximately 100,000 former Polish citizens were arrested during the two years of Soviet icon [ REPRESJE 1939-41 Aresztowani na Kresach Wschodnich] (Repressions 1939-41. Arrested on the Eastern Borderlands.) Ośrodek Karta. Last accessed on 15 November 2006.] The prisons soon got severely overcrowded. with detainees suspected of anti-Soviet activities and the NKVD had to open dozens of ad-hoc prison sites in almost all towns of the region The wave of arrests led to forced resettlement of large categories of people (kulaks, Polish civil servants, forest workers, university professors or osadniks, for instance) to the Gulag labour camps and exile settlements in remote areas of the Soviet Union. Altogether roughly a million people were sent to the east in four major waves of deportations.The actual number of deported in the period of 1939-1941 remains unknown and various estimates vary from 350,000 (pl icon Encyklopedia PWN [ 'OKUPACJA SOWIECKA W POLSCE 1939–41'] , last retrieved on March 14 2006, Polish language) to over 2 millions (mostly WWII estimates by the underground. The earlier number is based on records made by the NKVD and does not include roughly 180,000 prisoners of war, also in Soviet captivity. Most modern historians estimate the number of all people deported from areas taken by Soviet Union during this period at between 800,000 and 1,500,000; for example R. J. Rummel gives the number of 1,200,000 million; Tony Kushner and Katharine Knox give 1,500,000 in their "Refugees in an Age of Genocide", [ p.219] ; in his "Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1917", [ p.132] . See also: cite journal | author = Marek Wierzbicki, Tadeusz M. Płużański | year = 2001 | month = March | title = Wybiórcze traktowanie źródeł | journal = Tygodnik Solidarność | volume = | issue = March 2, 2001 | pages = | id = | url = and pl icon cite conference | author = Albin Głowacki | year = 2003 | month = September | title = Formy, skala i konsekwencje sowieckich represji wobec Polaków w latach 1939-1941 | booktitle = Okupacja sowiecka ziem polskich 1939–1941 | editor = Piotr Chmielowiec | others = | edition = | publisher = Instytut Pamięci Narodowej | location = Rzeszów-Warsaw | pages = | url = | id = ISBN 83-89078-78-3] According to Norman Davies,en icon cite book | author =Norman Davies | editor = | title =God's Playground. A History of Poland, Vol. 2: 1795 to the Present | url = | format = | year = 1982 | publisher = Oxford University Press | location = Oxford | language = English | id = ISBN 0-19-925340-4 | pages = 449-455 | chapter = | chapterurl = | quote =] almost half of them were dead by the time the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement had been signed in 1941.Bernd Wegner, "From Peace to War: Germany, Soviet Russia, and the World, 1939-1941", Bernd Wegner, 1997, ISBN 1-57181-882-0. [ Google Print, p.78] ]

According to the Soviet law, all residents of the annexed area, dubbed by the Soviets as citizens of "former Poland",pl icon cite book | author = various authors | coauthors = Stanisław Ciesielski, Wojciech Materski, Andrzej Paczkowski | title = Indeks represjonowanych | url = | accessdate = 24 ? | accessyear = 2006 | accessmonth = March | edition = 2nd | year = 2002 | publisher = Ośrodek KARTA | location = Warsaw | id = ISBN 83-88288-31-8 | pages = | chapter = Represje 1939-1941 | chapterurl = ] automatically acquired the Soviet citizenship. However, since actual conferral of citizenship still required the individual consent and the residents were strongly pressured for such consent.cite book | author=Jan Tomasz Gross | coauthors = | title =Revolution from Abroad | year =2003 | editor = | pages =396 | publisher =Princeton University Press | location =Princeton | id =ISBN 0-691-09603-1 [] ] The refugees who opted out were threatened with repatriation to Nazi controlled territories of Poland.en icon cite book | author =Tadeusz Piotrowski | coauthors = | title =Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide... | year =1997 | editor = | pages =295 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =McFarland & Company | location = | id =ISBN 0-7864-0371-3| url = | format = | accessdate = See also [ review] ] Jan T. Gross, op.cit., p. [ 188] ] en icon cite book | author =Zvi Gitelman | coauthors = | title =A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present | year =2001 | editor = | pages =116 | chapter = | chapterurl = | publisher =Indiana University Press | location = | id =ISBN 0-253-21418-1 | url = | format = | accessdate = ]

Exploitation of ethnic tensions

In addition, the Soviets exploited past ethnic tension between Poles and other ethnic groups living in Poland, inciting and encouraging violence against Poles calling the minorities to "rectify the wrongs they had suffered during twenty years of Polish rule".Jan Tomasz Gross, "Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia", Princeton University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-691-09603-1, [ p. 35] ] Pre-war Poland was portrayed as a capitalist state based on exploitation of the working people and ethnic minorities. Soviet propaganda claimed that unfair treatment of non-Poles by the Second Polish Republic was a justification of its dismemberment. Soviet officials openly incited mobs to perform killings and robberies.Gross, op.cit., ['s+death&lpg=PA35&pg=PA36&sig=sWYx6uBDns9rAO0V0jqgLfV3QY4 page 36] ] The death toll of the initial Soviet-inspired terror campaign remains unknown.

Restoration of Polish sovereignty

While formal Polish sovereignty was almost immediately restored when the forces of Nazi Germany were expelled in 1945, in reality the country remained under the firm Soviet control as it remained occupied by the Soviet Army Northern Group of Forces until 1956. Thousands of Poles opposed the new regime, and according to some Polish historians, events of late 1940s amounted to a full-scale civil war, especially in eastern and central parts of the country (see: Cursed soldiers). To this day the events of those and the following years are one of the stumbling blocks in Polish-Russian foreign relations. Polish requests for the return of property looted during the war or any demand for an apology for Soviet-era crimes are either ignored or prompt a brusque restatement of history as seen by the Kremlin, along the lines of "we freed you from Nazism: be grateful." []

ee also

*Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union
*Polish minority in the Soviet Union
*Repatriation of Poles
*Czortkow Uprising
*Battle of Kurylowka
*Attack on the NKVD Camp in Rembertów

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