Soviet occupation of eastern Poland

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Soviet occupation of eastern Poland
Parade of the Red Army in Lviv (Lwów / Lemberg), 1939
Parade of the Red Army in Lviv (Lwów / Lemberg), 1939
date September 17, 1939 to June 1941
place Poland , Lithuania , Soviet Union : Belarus , Ukraine
Casus Belli Hitler-Stalin Pact in violation of the Briand-Kellogg Pact
output Soviet victory
consequences Integration of Eastern Poland into the Soviet Union and return of the Vilna area to Lithuania
Parties to the conflict

Poland 1928Second Polish Republic Poland

Soviet Union 1923Soviet Union Soviet Union


Edward Rydz-Śmigły

Mikhail Kovalyov ( Belarusian Front ),
Semyon Timoshenko ( Ukrainian Front )

Troop strength
20,000 soldiers of the border guard corps of the Polish army 620,000–800,000 soldiers
4,700 tanks
3,300 aircraft

3,000 - 7,000 dead and missing
20,000 wounded
230,000 - 452,500 prisoners of war

3,000 dead
10,000 wounded

The Soviet occupation of eastern Poland , the Kresy , began with the invasion of the Red Army on September 17, 1939, after German troops had invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 and encircled the main Polish forces at Kutno . The last regular Polish units surrendered on October 6, 1939. The occupation was marked by the restructuring of society according to the Soviet model and accompanied by terror , mass shootings and deportations .

In the secret additional protocol to the Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 23, 1939, a demarcation line had been agreed that separated the respective areas of interest. In the German-Soviet border and friendship treaty of September 28, 1939, the demarcation line was slightly changed in order to achieve a clearer ethnic division of the areas. Great Britain and France had given a guarantee of Poland's independence , but did not intervene.

Josef Stalin declared that the invasion of Soviet troops served to protect the Ukrainians and Belarusians living there from the German invasion. The Soviet Union gained an area of ​​200,000 km². It comprised 52.1 percent of the entire Polish state. Ukrainians and Belarusians were larger, Poles , Jews and Lithuanians were smaller ethnic groups who lived there. In addition, Russians , Tatars , Armenians , Germans , Czechs and others lived there. In total there were 13.2 million people. During the occupation, parts of the occupied territory were incorporated into the Belarusian and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic . From 1939 to 1941 large estates were expropriated, agriculture collectivized and land distributed to farmers. Industry, trade and banks were nationalized , the currency was converted to rubles and the Soviet legal and economic system was introduced. This also turned the occupation into a social upheaval.

Due to the German attack on the Soviet Union , the Kresy became a war zone again from June 1941.


Curzon Line and Polish land gains through war and treaties 1919–1922
Poland, language map 1937 in a Polish illustration from 1928

Poland's foreign policy after 1918

During the First World War , the Russian and Austro-Hungarian monarchies fell. The new states in the east and south-east of Europe tried to exploit the resulting power vacuum for their respective interests and reorganizations. The restored Polish state did not accept the eastern border, which had been provisionally fixed by the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers ( Great Britain , France , Italy ) in a declaration on December 8, 1919, while the Treaty of Versailles had left it undetermined. It later became commonly known as the Curzon Line .

Poland took advantage of the weakness of Soviet Russia , which was bound in the Russian Civil War , and recaptured areas in the east that had been under Polish rule until 1795 at the time of Poland-Lithuania . The Polish-Soviet War developed . In the Peace of Riga of 1921 , Soviet Russia renounced what is now western Ukraine and western Belarus . They became part of the Polish national territory as the “Eastern Border Marks” ( Kresy Wschodnie ) . The Polish population group represented only a minority there. The next year, on March 24, 1922, Poland annexed the occupied area around today's Lithuanian capital Vilnius , which, as central Lithuania , supposedly had a sovereign state existence.

On February 19, 1921, Poland concluded a defensive alliance with France: In the event of aggression by the German Reich against one of the two partners, the result would have been a two-front war . This defensive alliance was weakened with the Locarno Treaties in 1925, when France and Germany guaranteed each other's borders, from which Poland was excluded. In the event of a German-Soviet understanding, Poland now threatened to get caught between the fronts. That is why it concluded the Litvinov Protocol on February 9, 1929 , in which Poland, the Soviet Union, Romania , Latvia and Estonia put the Briand-Kellogg Pact into force ahead of schedule and contractually renounced the use of military force to resolve international disputes. On January 23, 1932, the Polish-Soviet non-aggression pact followed , in whose additional provision of June 1932 the Soviet Union undertook not to enter into any alliances with Germany directed against Poland. Another non-aggression pact from Poland followed in 1934 , this time with the now National Socialist German Reich .

Initiation of the non-aggression pact

With the defeat of Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939, it became clear that Adolf Hitler was unwilling to abide by international agreements. Great Britain therefore issued a declaration of guarantee for Poland's independence on March 31, 1939 (Poland had, however, benefited from the weakening of Czechoslovakia in the Munich Agreement in 1938 and annexed the Olsa region ). France joined on April 6th. In a secret additional protocol it was agreed that this guarantee would only apply in the event of a German attack. However, in order to be able to intervene effectively militarily, the Western powers needed the cooperation of the Soviet Union for geographical and armament-strategic reasons. Negotiations in Leningrad dragged on, mainly because Poland, in separate consultations with a British military delegation in May 1939, refused to grant the Red Army marching rights. Although the non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union had been affirmed on November 26, 1938, distrust of its eastern neighbor remained great: once Soviet troops were in the country, the temptation would be great to regain the territories lost in the Riga Peace Treaty of 1921 to use. The British-French-Soviet negotiations were broken off when it became known on August 25 that the Soviet Union had signed a non-aggression pact with Germany. In the course of economic negotiations, the two countries had been exploring the confirmation of the German-Soviet neutrality pact of 1926 and the conclusion of a new non-aggression pact for some time. In a secret additional protocol, Hitler and Stalin decided to divide north-east and south-east Europe into spheres of interest. By entering into a secret additional protocol, the Soviet Union accepted a "bougoise" secret diplomacy that violated the openness of international agreements in line with Lenin's decree on peace . What prompted Stalin to meet the German pressure with the secret protocol is the subject of different interpretations. Great Britain and Poland signed a military assistance pact. On August 26, 1939, Prime Minister Édouard Daladier also reaffirmed the French support commitments to Poland.

The Soviet decision to invade

The German invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939. After France and the United Kingdom declared war on the German Reich on September 3, the German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop called on the Soviet government on the same day to occupy eastern Poland so that German troops could soon move to the exposed western border. The Soviet troops were to occupy the area of ​​interest promised to them in the secret protocol. The German government urged the Soviet Union to intervene several times. Stalin and Molotov hesitated until September 17th with the occupation of eastern Poland, not to share the role of the aggressor with Hitler, but to appear in the historical propaganda as a "peace power" and to wait for the reactions of France and Great Britain , which a guarantee for had given up the territorial integrity of Poland. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, but only responded with a seated war . From this, Stalin concluded that the Soviet invasion of Poland would not lead to war with the Western powers. Molotov explained several times to the German ambassador Friedrich-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg that it was important for the Soviet Union to “underpin the political process” only after the political center of Poland, the capital Warsaw , fell. Molotov therefore urged Schulenburg to “inform as approximately as possible when the capture of Warsaw can be expected.” According to Claudia Weber, the Soviet Union never tired of exerting a little diplomatic pressure on the German Reich to quickly take Warsaw. The German government then angrily spread rumors of a ceasefire with Poland. Stalin took this as an opportunity to accelerate the preparations for the invasion of eastern Poland in order not to go empty-handed. On September 15, 1939, Vyacheslav Molotov and Tōgō Shigenori signed an armistice agreement that ended the Japanese-Soviet border conflict , which for Stalin was an important prerequisite for the war in the west. The invasion came shortly after the armistice was signed and before Warsaw surrendered . Out of consideration for public opinion at home and abroad, it should first be justified with the “protection of the Belarusian and Ukrainian population from the German conquerors”. After a protest by the German ambassador against it, the general justification was that the Red Army had to protect the " East Slav Brethren", since any state order in Poland had ceased to exist as a result of the war ( debellation ). For the Soviet Union there was a danger that a puppet state of the National Socialists under the organization of Ukrainian Nationalists , which supported the Wehrmacht against Poland, could emerge on its border. On the night of September 17, Foreign Minister Molotov terminated all contracts with the Polish ambassador in Moscow, Wacław Grzybowski , because the Polish state had ceased to exist. Later that day, Molotov publicly stated that the Soviet Union had previously pursued a policy of neutrality , which was no longer possible in view of the changed situation vis-à-vis Poland. However, they want to remain neutral towards all other countries.

What overarching goals the Soviet Union pursued with the conclusion of the non-aggression pact and the subsequent invasion of Poland is still controversial in research today. In his biography of Stalin, Dmitri Wolkogonov took the view that the decision to protect the population of the occupied territories "from the threatening German invasion [...] corresponded to the interests of the working people in these areas" and was therefore justified. Russian historiography also argues that the Soviet troops were received everywhere as liberators in 1939. So true Mikhail Meltjuchow agreement with Mikhail Semirjaga, who wrote that "showed the results of the elections [in Soviet-occupied Poland in 1939], that the vast majority of the population voted in favor of these regions the introduction of Soviet power and the unification with the Soviet Union."

Ingeborg Fleischhauer interprets the Soviet approach as the outcome of a more defensive realpolitik , to which Stalin hardly had a realistic alternative in view of the isolation into which his country had fallen since the Munich Agreement in 1938. Without the invasion, a vacuum would have arisen in eastern Poland, "which could quickly become a pull for the German Wehrmacht". Also, the claim that chaos is threatening and that the East Slav population must be protected should not be dismissed as pure propaganda . Bianka Pietrow-Ennker sees behind the Soviet invasion, on the one hand, the efforts of the Soviet leadership to secure the Soviet border, and, on the other hand, the interest in territorial changes that have been propagated as a strengthening of the Soviet Union and the progress of the world revolution. The prospect of a military conflict with Germany played no role. Stalin seems to have assumed an Allied victory over Germany and wants to secure a good negotiating position for himself with a future negotiating partner Great Britain to draw the borders in Eastern Europe.

Sergei Slutsch interprets the invasion as an offensive act. Contrary to Molotov's claim, the Soviet Union has not remained neutral since September 1, 1939, but has actively supported a warring party , namely Germany. The annulment of the non-aggression pact with Poland should therefore by law have taken place on September 1st. For lack of knowledge of the current whereabouts of the Polish government, one should not conclude that it no longer exists. In fact, the government of Prime Minister Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski did not leave Poland until September 18, after the Soviet invasion. In addition, the cessation of political activity by a government does not necessarily mean that the state will be dissolved. Stalin's policy of annexation must be seen as part of the Second World War , which for the Soviet Union did not begin with the German attack on June 22, 1941. According to Norman Davies , the invasion of the Red Army, which began on September 17, was the decisive blow that sealed Poland's defeat: "Poland was horribly murdered by two assailants acting in secret".

Military operations

Soviet preparations for attack

At the end of August 1939, the Chief of Staff of the Red Army, Boris Shaposhnikov , began to work out a Soviet plan of attack. On August 30, after the Polish general mobilization, the Soviet news agency TASS announced the plan to significantly increase the number of garrisons on the western borders of the USSR . After the attack by the Wehrmacht on September 1, 1939, the Soviet armed forces began practically preparing for the invasion. On September 3, People's Commissar Kliment Voroshilov ordered the troops in Belarus and Ukraine to be in combat readiness. On September 6, general mobilization was proclaimed in the Soviet Union; From September 8 to 13, the Soviet troops were then transferred to the border and grouped into two main attack groups ( fronts ).

Army / front soldiers artillery tank
Belarusian Front , Army General Mikhail Prokofievich Kovalyov 378.610 3,167 2.406
3rd Army, General Vasily Ivanovich Kuznetsov 121,968 752 743
Mechanized Cavalry Group, General Iwan Wassiljewitsch Boldin 65,595 1,234 834
10th Army, General Ivan Grigoryevich Zakharkin 42,135 330 28
4th Army, General Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov 40,365 184 508
Independent 23rd Rifle Corps 18,547 147 28
Reserve: 11th Army, General Nikifor Vasilyevich Medvedev 90,000 * 520 * 265
Ukrainian Front , Army General Semyon Konstantinovich Tymoshenko 238.978 1,792 2,330
5th Army, General Ivan Gerasimowitsch Sowetnikow 80,844 635 522
6th Army, General Filipp Ivanovich Golikov 80,834 630 675
12th Army, General Ivan Vladimirovich Tjulenew 77,300 527 1,133
All together 617,588 4,959 4,736

*) estimated figures

Military occupation by the Red Army

On September 17th, Soviet troops crossed the Polish eastern border.

Secret additional protocol to the Hitler-Stalin Pact
Soviet appeal to Polish soldiers of September 17, 1939, blaming the Polish government for the war
Europe after September 28, 1939
Victory parade, Heinz Guderian and Semjon Kriwoschein in Brest-Litovsk, September 22, 1939
Polish Red Army prisoners of war (September 1939)

The Red Army troops were divided into two fronts with 25 rifle divisions, 16 cavalry divisions and 12 tank brigades. The total strength was 466,516 men, 3,739 tanks, 380 armored cars and about 2,000 fighter planes.

  • Main directions of attack by the Belarusian front:

Vilnius - Baranowicze - Wołkowysk - Grodno - Suwałki - Brest-Litowsk , reaching Vilnius, Grodno and Brest between September 20th and 22nd and Suwałki on September 24th.

  • Main directions of attack by the Ukrainian front:

Dubno - Łuck - Vladimir Wolinsk - Chełm - Zamość - Lublin , Tarnopol - Lviv - Czortków - Stanislau - Stryj - Sambor and Kolomea .

The Red Army reached Lviv on September 19th, Lublin on September 28th. All in all, the units of the Ukrainian Front were involved in various combat operations until the beginning of October .

On September 22, 1939, General of the Panzer Troop Heinz Guderian and Brigade Commander Semjon Kriwoschein attended the first joint German-Soviet military parade in Poland, ceremoniously exchanged swastika for Red Flag, and wounded soldiers of the Wehrmacht who had been tended by Soviet doctors were handed over. During the parade on the demarcation line in the city of Brest-Litovsk , which was shared between the two allied aggressors, Krivoschein congratulated the Germans on their war successes on behalf of the Soviet leadership and declared that they would like to greet the Germans in Moscow after their impending victory over Britain .

There were several reasons for the rapid pace of the Soviet advances: On the one hand, it was the war successes of the Wehrmacht in western Poland, but also the fact that the Soviet attack came as a complete surprise and thus the Polish army was not properly positioned to attack from the east still had clear battle orders against the Red Army. Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły issued only one order on September 17, 1939:

“[...] general retreat to Romania and Hungary. […] Do not fight with Bolsheviks unless they attempt to disarm or attack. "

In addition, there were also purely military reasons: both aggressors were far superior to the Polish troops both in numbers and in terms of their equipment with modern weapons such as tanks and fighter planes. The Polish army was simply not up to a two-front war .

International reactions

Poland's western allies reacted cautiously to the Soviet invasion. According to their declaration of guarantee of March 25, 1939, they were not only not obliged to counterattack, they were also not militarily capable of doing so: they had not reacted to the German attack with any significant acts of war, but only with the so-called seated war . On September 18, the chiefs of staff in the London War Cabinet declared that Poland's fate now depended on the ultimate outcome of the war, that is, on Britain's ability to conquer Germany. Foreign Minister Lord Halifax said to the Polish Ambassador Edward Raczyński "disgust and horror" about the invasion of the Red Army, reiterated the British alliance commitments and expressed the hope that Poland would be restored at the end of the war. Raczyński's request to officially protest against the invasion in Moscow was not followed by the government of Neville Chamberlain . Instead, it affirmed its alliance commitments to Poland in a public statement. This less resolute attitude was due, on the one hand, to the fact that the motives behind the Soviet invasion were initially not clear. More important was the hope of winning the Soviet Union despite everything as an ally against Germany, which was considered the main adversary. Winston Churchill commented that one must "subordinate one's anger" to this goal. The British ambassador in Moscow William Seeds even saw long-term advantages for Great Britain in the Soviet invasion, as it consumes resources that would otherwise be supplied to the Germans and the now common border could possibly lead to friction between Germany and the Soviet Union.

Great Britain and France did not agree with the Soviet thesis that the Polish state had perished, but quickly recognized the Polish government- in- exile , which was established in France under President Władysław Raczkiewicz and Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski .

In Berlin, on the other hand, people were happy about the invasion, which the German ambassador Schulenburg had long pushed for. On September 18 and 23, 1939, joint communiqués were published in which the German Reich and the Soviet Union declared that they had agreed a “demarcation line” (the “spheres of interest” agreed on August 23, 1939 were kept silent) Rivers Pisa , Narew , Vistula and San was formed. It roughly corresponded to the Curzon Line of 1919, the course of which was determined partly by historical and partly by ethnic factors. Wehrmacht and Red Army withdrew behind this line.

Military administration

In response to the invasion, the Polish government-in-exile declared a state of war with the Soviet Union on December 18, 1939 . The occupation lasted until the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

As provided for in international law for occupied countries, the two Soviet armies set up occupation authorities with the highest civil and political authority. From October 3, 1939, military command offices were set up in cities and larger towns. After a few weeks of looting and murders carried out by local Belarusians and Ukrainians, Red Army soldiers and NKVD officials, they restored order. The fact that the voivodeships , the Polish state administrations and self-governing bodies were also dissolved and replaced by district administrations based on the Soviet model, however, contradicted international law.

Incorporation into Ukrainian and Belarusian SSR

Partition of Poland in 1939

As early as October 1, 1939, the Central Committee of the Communist Party ordered people's assemblies to be held on state membership. The Soviets deported the Polish ruling class to labor camps and in sham democratic elections national assemblies were held on October 22, 1939 in Lviv for "Western Ukraine" and in Bialystok for "Western Belarus". At the request of these assemblies, in November the areas were incorporated into the Belarusian and Ukrainian SSR and Sovietized . Vilnius was handed over to Lithuania by the Soviet Union in October 1939, at the same time as the conclusion of a forced assistance pact . According to the German-Soviet border and friendship treaty, the Soviet Union fell to 201,000 km² with 13.2 million people who received Soviet citizenship in November. Ethnically it was about 40% Poles, 34.2% Ukrainians, 8.4% Belarusians, Lithuanians and others.

Prisoners of war

The Soviet Union captured more than 240,000 Polish soldiers. Around 42,400 ordinary soldiers and NCOs were released within the first three weeks, and another 43,000 were transferred to the German Wehrmacht because they lived in the western part of Poland, which had been conquered by the German Reich during the attack on Poland .

In April 1940, between 22,000 and 25,000 career and reserve officers, policemen and other Polish citizens were shot. The family members of the officers and policemen who were shot were deported to Kazakhstan and assigned as workers to light industry or metal-producing companies.

War crimes and crimes against civilians

During the conquest of Eastern Poland, the Red Army was guilty of numerous war crimes. The historian Andrzej Friszke puts the casualties at 2500 murdered prisoners of war ( soldiers and police officers) and several hundred civilians. Despite the existing nationality conflicts, the relationship between Poles and Ukrainians remained largely peaceful shortly after the invasion of the Red Army. The occupying power encouraged riots. Ukrainians and Belarusians were asked to "beat the Polish gentlemen". Express courts, tolerated by the Soviets, sentenced Poles to death. When these requests only succeeded in individual locations, the Soviets resorted to mass deportations from February 1940.

The most prominent crimes took place in Katyn, Rohatyn , Grodno, Nowogródek , Sarny , Tarnopol , Wołkowysk , Oszmiana , Świsłocz , Mołodeczno and Kosów Poleski .

Cooperation with Germany

Resettlers from eastern Poland cross the border river San, Przemysl 1940

In 1939, around 13 million people lived in the Polish territories that fell under the Soviet Union. Of these, almost 40 percent were Poles and 8.3 percent Jews. The remaining seven million people (52 percent) were mostly Ukrainians and Belarusians, but also Lemks , Bojken , Hutsuls , Poleshuks , Russians , Lithuanians , Czechs , Germans and other ethnic minorities . Most of the cities such as Białystok , Vilnius, and Lviv were mostly Polish - with a high proportion of Jewish populations .

On September 28, 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany agreed to relocate people of German origin to the German Reich, as well as people of Ukrainian and Belarusian descent from the German sphere of influence to the Soviet Union. To a large extent, the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle assigned the Volksdeutsche from eastern Poland in the Warthegau apartments and farms to previously displaced Poles under the slogan Heim ins Reich .

With two economic agreements of 1940 and 1941, extensive supplies of raw materials and food were agreed to the German Reich, which enabled the German Reich to mitigate the consequences of the British naval blockade. In return, Germany undertook to deliver machines and weapons. The last tank car with Russian oil was still rolling hours before the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Poland disappeared from the Soviet maps of 1940/1941: the parts of the country that belonged to Germany in 1914 were simply part of Germany, the other areas occupied by Germany (including the Generalgouvernement ) were known as the " Oblast gosudarstwennychinterestow Germanii " ( Область государственнерх есорственных рественных Германии - about "area of ​​state interests of Germany").

Mass arrests

Mass arrests were among the first repression used against " class enemies - and enemies of the people " after the Soviet invasion . Between 1939 and 1941 a total of around 110,000 people were arrested in eastern Poland. The fate of the prisoners varied and is partly not fully known. The known victims are z. B. Approx. 40,000 people who were deported to the Vorkuta labor camp ; Another group, about 7,300 civilians, was murdered after a few months in prisons in Belarus and the Ukraine, in the spring of 1940 in Bykiwnja (near Kiev) and in Kurapaty (near Minsk). Another 10,000 or so were murdered during the evacuation of the prisons in the summer of 1941 .


Memorial in Warsaw (2015)

In the course of the Sovietization of the annexed areas, several hundred thousand Polish citizens were forced to leave their homeland. Between February 1940 and June 1941 - according to the NKVD files - a total of 330,000 people were deported to Siberia and Central Asia in four large waves . The first wave in February 1940 mainly affected Polish landowners, former military settlers, members of the forest administration and the police with their families. In April 1940, teachers, members of the army, municipal officials and municipal economic operators were deported, including Jews disproportionately in relation to their share of the population. These deportations were related to the collectivization in the summer of 1940 and were similar to the deculakization in the Soviet Union. The third wave, from May to June 1940, primarily affected numerous Poles and Jews who had fled the Generalgouvernement . In the last deportations in June 1941, people were recorded who had accidentally escaped the earlier deportations. The last two waves of deportation had a national, anti-Polish thrust. The background was, among other things, Stalin's theory of nationality, according to which Poland is a "nation without territory".

However, the deportations were not all anti-Polish. It is true that 63% of the deportees were ethnic Poles, while the proportion of Poles in the total population of the Polish eastern regions was less than 50%. But Jews, Ukrainians and Belarusians were also deported. While the National Socialist expulsions in the Warthegau were racially and nationalistically motivated, the Soviets in eastern Poland wanted to reshape society. They tried to knock out the earlier elites. In accordance with the social stratification in eastern Poland, their policy therefore meant depolonization.

No consideration was given to human rights or human life during the deportations. The victims were transported to the east in freight wagons, often without food, at temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius. At their destination, the people were housed in labor camps or barracks. There are estimates that 30% of the camp inmates and up to 15% of the exiles died per year. According to calculations by Stanislaw Ciesielski, only about half of the deportees survived. The deported Poles and Jews were not allowed to return to their homeland in 1945, but were settled in the formerly German eastern regions .

Polish government in exile

Until the German-Soviet War , the Polish government in exile saw the Soviet Union as an enemy. She called for the termination of the Soviet treaties with Germany of August 23 and September 28, 1939 , as well as the reaffirmation of the Riga Peace Treaty in 1921 . On July 30, 1941, the Sikorski-Maiski Agreement was finally concluded with British help . In it the Soviet Union declared to recognize that the German-Soviet treaties "concerning the territorial changes in Poland have ceased to be in force". A Polish army could be formed on the territory of the Soviet Union.

At the end of 1942, the British government agreed to territorial compensation for Poland at Germany's expense "for probable losses in the East". The Polish government-in-exile no longer saw their demand with regard to the drawing of the Polish-Soviet border as recognized. At the Tehran conference at the end of 1943, at which the heads of government of the three main allies of the anti-Hitler coalition in World War II , Great Britain , the USA and the Soviet Union, Stalin pushed through the annexation of the former Polish eastern territories. In 1944, the Red Army recaptured eastern Poland, supported by the Polish Berling Army , and began to purge the underground structures of the Polish Armia Krajowa .


The borders of Poland between 1918 and 1945.
Green Line : Curzon Line, based on the ethnographic principle, proclaimed by the Western Allies on December 8, 1919 as the demarcation line between Soviet Russia and the Second Republic of Poland.
Blue Line : after the end of the First World War until 1922 through the conquests of Poland under General Józef Piłsudski (Galicia 1919, Volynia 1921 and Vilnius area 1922) across the Curzon Line, which lasted until September 1, 1939.
Orange line : German-Soviet demarcation line from September 28, 1939.
Red line : today's state border of Poland; left the Oder-Neisse line.
Turquoise-colored area : territory expansion carried out by Poland after the end of the First World War until 1922, which had previously been recognized by the Soviet Union.
Yellow area : East areas of the German Reich claimed by Stalin as compensation for the loss of the Polish areas east of the Curzon Line within the borders of 1937 (“West displacement”).

The annexation of Polish territories was celebrated in the Soviet Union and is celebrated in Belarus to this day as the "reunification of western Belarus with the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic ", the invasion of Soviet troops is officially called the "liberation campaign of the Red Army". In the Ukraine one speaks of the "Golden September 1939" in which Galicia, Volhynia and Bukovina returned to Ukraine. This argumentation was also the official view in the GDR until 1989 : The Soviet troops had only marched in to protect the life and freedom of the Belarusians and Ukrainians, who fell under Polish rule in 1920, from the German troops after Poland's resistance to the Wehrmacht had collapsed. The denial of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, however, was opposed by the fact, which was also visible in Soviet and GDR history books, that the German troops advanced to the cities of Białystok, Brest and Lwów (Lwiw) and handed over these already conquered areas to the Red Army without a fight or confrontation had passed.

To this day, the prehistory of the Second World War is interpreted differently by Poland and Russia. Because of the Soviet invasion 17 days after the invasion of the Wehrmacht in the west and because of the Katyn massacre , Poland is remembering the Soviet Union as an aggressor state. In Polish historiography, the invasion of the Red Army is known as the occupation . This implies that according to the international law of war the occupying power must hand over the administration to special military or civil-military organs as soon as the acts of war in the area concerned are over. According to the wording of the Hague Agreement, it must “restore order and public life, and in so far as there is no compelling obstacle, in compliance with the state laws”. An annexation before the end of the war is not permitted. In fact, the Soviet Union had violated these provisions and illegally assumed rights of sovereignty in Eastern Poland . Their approach was therefore inadmissible under international law.

Russian President Putin criticized the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 2009. He also criticized the fact that Poland had already signed a non-aggression pact with the German Reich in 1934 and, after the Munich Agreement, had participated in the smashing of Czechoslovakia by the German Reich and occupied and annexed the Olsa region . In 2014 Putin presented the Hitler-Stalin Pact as necessary from the perspective of the then security and military policy considerations of the USSR. The Supreme Court of Russia ruled on September 1, 2016 that it is a criminal offense to say that the Soviet Union cooperates with the German Reich invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The background to this is the conviction of a blogger in Perm who shared an article on the social network that described the German-Soviet attack on Poland. The blogger was found guilty of disseminating false information about the activities of the Soviet Union during World War II. The European Court of Human Rights has since dealt with the case .

See also


Web links

Commons : Soviet occupation of Eastern Poland  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. MI Mel'tyuhov: Stalin's lost chance. The Soviet Union and the struggle for Europe 1939-1941. S. 132. (М. И. Мельтюхов: . Упущенный шанс Сталина Советский Союз и борьба за Европу : 1939 to 1941 (Документы факты, суждения). - М .: Вече, 2000.)
  2. The Sovietisation of East Poland. In: George Sanford: Katyn and the Soviet massacre of 1940: truth, justice and memory. Routledge, London 2005, ISBN 0-415-33873-5 ( online ).
  3. PPWK Warszawa-Wrocław (ed.): Atlas Historyczny Polski. 1998, p. 46 .
  4. Kai von Jena: Polish Ostpolitik after the First World War. The problem of relations with Soviet Russia after the Riga Peace of 1921 (= quarterly journals for contemporary history 40). DVA, Stuttgart 1980, ISBN 3-421-01965-7 , p. 34.
  5. ^ Georges-Henri Soutou: L'Alliance franco-polonaise (1925–1933) ou comment s'en débarrasser? In: Revue d'histoire diplomatique 95 (1981), pp. 295-348.
  6. ^ Keith Sword: British Reactions to the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland in September 1939 . In: The Slavonic and East European Review 69, No. 1 (1991), pp. 81-101, here p. 91.
  7. Horst Möller : Europe between the world wars (=  Oldenbourg floor plan of history , vol. 21). Oldenbourg, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-486-52321-X , p. 67; Gerd Wehner: The military negotiations following the British-Polish guarantee of March 31, 1939 . In: Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift 44, Heft 2 (2014), pp. 51–59 (both accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  8. ^ Jean-Baptiste Duroselle : La décadence 1932–1939 . Imprimerie nationale 1979, pp. 421-435.
  9. ^ Ingeborg Fleischhauer : Soviet foreign policy and the genesis of the Hitler-Stalin pact . In: Bernd Wegner (Ed.): Two ways to Moscow . Piper 1991, ISBN 3-492-11346-X , p. 32 ff.
  10. Horst Möller: Europe between the world wars (=  Oldenbourg floor plan of history , vol. 21). Oldenbourg, Munich 1998, p. 74 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  11. ^ Martin Broszat: National Socialist Poland Policy 1939–1945 . De Gruyter, 1961, p. 13 f.
  12. ^ Lev Gincberg, cited above. According to Sergej Slutsch: September 17, 1939: The Soviet Union's entry into World War II. A historical and international legal assessment. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 48 (2000), pp. 219–254, here p. 222 ( PDF , accessed on June 6, 2020)
  13. Sven Felix Kellerhoff : This is how Stalin staged his attack on Poland , Welt Online , September 16, 2019.
  14. 80 years ago: Hitler-Stalin pact , contribution to the background current of the Federal Agency for Civic Education , August 19 of 2019.
  15. Claudia Weber, The Pact: Stalin, Hitler and the Story of a Murderous Alliance , Kindle edition, CH Beck, 2019, chap. 3: “As among party members”, position 1420–1466.
  16. Claudia Weber, The Pact: Stalin, Hitler and the Story of a Murderous Alliance , Kindle edition, CH Beck, 2019, chap. 3: “As among party members”, position 1474.
  17. Kurt Pätzold / Günter Rosenfeld , Soviet star and swastika 1938 to 1941, Akademie Verlag, 1990, p. 247.
  18. Claudia Weber, The Pact: Stalin, Hitler and the Story of a Murderous Alliance , Kindle edition, CH Beck, 2019, chap. 3: "As among party comrades: The Red Army in Poland", position 1489–1502.
  19. ^ Werner Röhr : War in East or West? . In: Christoph Koch (Ed.): Was there a Stalin-Hitler pact? Peter Lang 2015, ISBN 978-3-631-66422-3 , p. 184 f.
  20. ^ Wanda Krystyna Roman: The Soviet occupation of the Polish eastern territories 1939–1941. In: Bernhard Chiari (ed.), Jerzy Kochanowski: The Polish Home Army: History and Myth of the Armia Krajowa since the Second World War (= contributions to military history, volume 57). Oldenbourg, Munich 2003, pp. 87–109, here p. 88, note 5 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  21. ^ Ingeborg Fleischhauer: Diplomatic resistance against "Operation Barbarossa" . Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin 1991, p. 39.
  22. Dmitri Volkogonow: Stalin. Triumph and tragedy. Econ, Düsseldorf / Vienna 1993, p. 529.
  23. Quotation from MI Mel'tjuchov: Sovetsko-pol'skie vojny: Voenno-politicheskoe protivostojanie 1918–1939 vs. Veche, Moscow 2001, p. 383.
  24. ^ Ingeborg Fleischhauer: Soviet foreign policy and the genesis of the Hitler-Stalin pact. In: Bernd Wegner (Ed.): Two ways to Moscow. From the Hitler-Stalin Pact to Operation Barbarossa. Piper Verlag, Munich / Zurich 1991, pp. 19–39.
  25. Ingeborg Fleischhauer: Diplomatic resistance against " Operation Barbarossa". Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin 1991, p. 39.
  26. Bianka Pietrow-Ennker: "Howl with the wolves ...". Stalinist foreign and Germany policy. In: Bianka Pietrow-Ennker (Ed.): Preventive War? The German attack on the Soviet Union. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-596-19062-1 (The time of National Socialism. 19062), pp. 80–98, here pp. 86 f.
  27. Sergej Slutsch: June 22, 1941 and the question of the Soviet Union's entry into World War II . In: Hans Schafranek and Robert Streibel (eds.): June 22, 1941. The attack on the Soviet Union . Picus Verlag, Vienna 1991, pp. 53–62, here p. 56 f.
  28. Norman Davies: In the Heart of Europe. History of Poland . CH Beck, Munich 2002, pp. 60 and 118 (here the quote).
  29. Мельтюхов: Советско-польские… Часть третья. Сентябрь 1939 года. Таблица 28. Численность советских войск на 17 сентября 1939 г. P. 299.
  30. GF Krivosheev (ed.): Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. London 1997, ISBN 1-85367-280-7 , p. 57.
  31. ^ Steven J. Zaloga , Howard Gerrard: Poland 1939: The Birth of Blitzkrieg. Osprey, Oxford 2002, ISBN 1-84176-408-6 , p. 80.
  32. ^ John Hiden and Thomas Lane: The Baltic and the Outbreak of the Second World War . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge / New York / Melbourne 2003, p. 143 f.
  33. ^ Keith Sword: British Reactions to the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland in September 1939 . In: The Slavonic and East European Review 69, No. 1 (1991), pp. 81-101, here pp. 88 f.
  34. ^ "Anger must be subordinated to defeating the main enemy". Quoted in Keith Sword: British Reactions to the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland in September 1939 . In: The Slavonic and East European Review 69, No. 1 (1991), pp. 81-101, here p. 100.
  35. ^ Keith Sword: British Reactions to the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland in September 1939 . In: The Slavonic and East European Review 69, No. 1 (1991), pp. 81-101, here p. 85.
  36. ^ Keith Sword: British Reactions to the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland in September 1939 . In: The Slavonic and East European Review 69, No. 1 (1991), pp. 81-101, here p. 89.
  37. Ingeborg Fleischhauer: Diplomatic resistance against " Operation Barbarossa". Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin 1991, pp. 35 ff. And 42 ff.
  38. ^ Wanda Krystyna Roman: The Soviet occupation of the Polish eastern territories 1939–1941. In: Bernhard Chiari (ed.), Jerzy Kochanowski: The Polish Home Army: History and Myth of the Armia Krajowa since the Second World War (= contributions to military history, volume 57). Munich 2003, p. 92 ff.
  39. Воссоединение украинского народа в едином Украинском Советском государстве, Сборорник документот. - К., 1949.
  40. ^ David R. Marples: Russia in the Twentieth Century: The quest for stability . Routledge, ISBN 978-1-4082-2822-7 , pp. 125 ff.
  41. Joachim Tauber: The history of the Baltic states until 1945 . In: Michèle Knodt, Sigita Urdze (ed.): The political systems of the Baltic states: An introduction , Springer, 2012, ISBN 978-3-531-19555-1 , p. 25.
  42. ^ Bogdan Musial: The "fourth partition of Poland" - Poland under German and Soviet occupation 1939–1945 . P. 26.
  43. ^ Natalia Sergeevna Lebedeva: The Deportation of the Polish Population to the USSR, 1939-41. In: Alfred J. Rieber (Ed.): Forced Migration in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939–1950. London / New York 2000, ISBN 0-7146-5132-X .
  44. ^ Natalia Sergeevna Lebedeva: The Deportation of the Polish Population to the USSR, 1939-41. In: Alfred J. Rieber (Ed.): Forced Migration in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939–1950. London / New York 2000, ISBN 0-7146-5132-X , p. 40.
  45. ^ Andrzej Friszke: Polska. Losy państwa i narodu 1939–1989. ISBN 83-207-1711-6 , p. 25.
  46. ^ Philipp Ther : German and Polish expellees. Society and policy of expellees in the Soviet Zone / GDR and in Poland 1945–1956 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, p. 70.
  47. “[…] 130 pupils and cadets fell to the terror and murders in conquered Grodno. Injured defenders were slain, and 12-year-old Tadzik Jasiński was tied to a tank and dragged across the pavement. Numerous executions also took place […] ”In: Julian Siedlecki: Losy Polaków w ZSRR w latach 1939–1986. London 1988, pp. 32-34.
  48. Wojciech Roszkowski : Najnowsza historia Polski 1914-1945. Warsaw 2003, ISBN 83-7311-991-4 , p. 410.
  49. ^ Władysław Pobóg-Malinowski: Najnowsza historia polityczna Polski. 1939-1945. Volume 3, Krakow 2004, ISBN 83-89711-10-9 , p. 107.
  50. ^ Witold Pronobis: Świat i Polska w XX wieku. Warsaw 1996, ISBN 83-86802-11-1 , p. 196.
  51. ^ Polish Ministry of Information: Short Statistical Yearbook of Poland. London, June 1941, pp. 9-10.
  52. ^ Jan Michael Dunst: Planning and implementation of the resettlement of the "Volksdeutsche" . In: Germanization in occupied East Upper Silesia during the Second World War . Ed .: Hans-Werner Retterath, Waxmann 2018, ISBN 978-3-8309-3828-6 , p. 61.
  53. Population geography . De Gruyter 1992, ISBN 978-3-1100-8862-5 , p. 680.
  54. Gustavo Corni, Horst Gies: Bread - Butter - Kanonen: The food industry in Germany under the dictatorship of Hitler , Akademie Verlag, 1997, ISBN 3-05-002933-1 , p. 533 f.
  55. ^ Rainer Karlsch, Raymond G. Stokes: Factor oil: the mineral oil industry in Germany 1859-1974 . Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3-406-50276-7 , p. 208.
  57. Until 1993, Polish research estimated that 800,000 to 1.2 million people had been deported. After the opening of the Soviet archives, this information is regarded as excessive. Philipp Ther : German and Polish expellees. Society and policy of expellees in the Soviet Zone / GDR and in Poland 1945–1956 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, pp. 36, 71.
  58. ^ Philipp Ther : German and Polish expellees. Society and policy of expellees in the Soviet Zone / GDR and in Poland 1945–1956 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, p. 71.
  59. ^ A b Philipp Ther : German and Polish expellees. Society and policy of expellees in the Soviet Zone / GDR and in Poland 1945–1956 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, p. 72.
  60. ^ Philipp Ther : German and Polish expellees. Society and policy of expellees in the Soviet Zone / GDR and in Poland 1945–1956 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, p. 36.
  61. ^ Philipp Ther : German and Polish expellees. Society and policy of expellees in the Soviet Zone / GDR and in Poland 1945–1956 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, p. 73.
  62. ^ Agreement between the Government of the USSR and the Polish Government In: Journal for Foreign Public Law and International Law . Vol. 11 1942/43, p. 100: Documents relating to the Soviet-Russian-Polish Agreement of July 30, 1941 ( PDF ).
  63. Michael Schwartz : Ethnic “cleansing” as a consequence of the war In: Rolf-Dieter Müller (Ed. On behalf of the MGFA ): The German Reich and the Second World War . Volume 10/2: The collapse of the German Empire in 1945 and the consequences of the Second World War. Volume 2: The dissolution of the Wehrmacht and the effects of the war. DVA, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-421-04338-2 , p. 542 ff.
  64. Harald Moldenhauer: The Soviet NKVD and the Home Army in "Lublin Poland" 1944/45 . In: Bernhard Chiari (ed.): The Polish Home Army: History and myth of the Armia Krajowa since the Second World War . Oldenbourg 2009, ISBN 3-486-56715-2 , p. 276.
  65. Stefan Troebst : From June 22, 1941 to August 23, 1939: Two places of remembrance in the history politics of larger Europe . pdf, Heinrich Böll Foundation, p. 2.
  66. ^ Wanda Krystyna Roman: The Soviet occupation of the Polish eastern territories 1939–1941. In: Bernhard Chiari (ed.), Jerzy Kochanowski: The Polish Home Army: History and Myth of the Armia Krajowa since the Second World War (= contributions to military history, volume 57). Oldenbourg, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3-486-59623-6 , pp. 87-109, here pp. 88 and 92-95 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  67. “Infinite suffering brought to the world” , FAZ , September 2, 2009.
  68. ↑ Nonaggression Pact: Putin Defends Hitler-Stalin Pact , Spiegel Online , November 7, 2014.
  69. Вера Челищева: Верховный суд оставил в силе приговор блогеру за репост "ВКонтакте" , in: Nowaja Gazeta , September 1, 2016; Ссылка в Нюрнберг , in: Kommersant , June 30, 2016; Gleb Bogush, Ilya Nuzov: Russia's Supreme Court Rewrites History of the Second World War , in: EJIL: Talk! ( European Journal of International Law ), October 28, 2016; Michael Peck: Russia Says It Never Invaded Poland in 1939 , in: The National Interest , October 12, 2016.
  70. ^ Brian Whitmore: The Daily Vertical: History, Mythology, And Heretics (Transcript) . In: Radio Free Europe , March 6, 2017.