UKNOWN GENOCIDE FROM 80 YEARS AGO
JAN MARIA JACKOWSKI
Each executioner was so soaked with the smell of human blood that even a dog was running away….
We have a better knowledge on our modern history. But still, the shooting 111 091 Poles by NKWD in the years 1937-38 is hardly known, despite the fact that since that tragedy it has been just 80 years. The genesis of this genocide was as follows. When in 1921 a ryski peace treaty was contracted in the Soviet Union, there were about 1.2 million Poles, and according to some authors – even 3 times more. The main places where Poles were clustered were on the previous borderlines of the First Republic of Poland – on Żytomierszczyzna (soviet Ukraine) and Mińszczyzna (soviet Belarus).
As a result of the Bolshevik revolution, our compatriots lost everything: mother tongue, customs, religion, national culture, property. However, they remained faithful to their national traditions and catholic religion and opposed to collectivization massively, overcome in Ukraine by force and hunger. Only in 1933 people of areas inhabited by Poles got reduced – as a result of deportation into the depth of USSR – by about one-fourth. On Marchlewszczyzna, created in Ukraine in 1925, the second Polish autonomic district after Dzierżyńszczyzna in Ukraine, which were to help the authorities communize Poles – since 1931 nearly 19 percent households had been collectivized which caused the Soviets’ outrage. Only a few Poles joined a communist party and the expected influence of the Polish autonomic districts on the situation in the Second Republic of Poland was weak. Poland was defending itself effectively from the soviet infiltration.
Both Polish autonomic districts were liquidated in 1935. In the years 1935-36 there were deportations of those to Kazakhstan who were opposing the collectivization (about 100 thousand Poles in total who had set up even 307 Polish villages) and mass arrests began. Those actions were to lead to the final de-Polonization of the borderline areas and also to complete de-nationalization of Poles. However, the basis for this terrible terrorism was an operational command NKWD USSR no. 00485 from 11 August 1937 by NIkołaj Jeżow. On its basis, from 15 August 1937 to 15 November 1938, within a ‘Polish operation’ over 168 thousand, including 111 091, were sentenced to death penalty; the others – to imprisonment from 5 to 10 years or for death camp for 15 years. Accusations were false from the beginning to end. Arrests were carried out at night time, massively, in haste, efficiently and without publicity in a cunning and secret way. Shootings took place at night time in the district police stations of NKWD. Technology of genocide was the same – shooting a victim at the back of the head – like it was later in Katyń, Charków and Miednoje. 250 people were murdered during one shift, in the execution place there were two buckets: one with water, another one with men’s perfumed water. Mieczysław Łoziński, the author of memories of those terrible events, wrote: Each executioner was so soaked with the smell of human blood that even a dog was running away….and only from a distance it started barking at the executioner nervously….’. Mass executions of Poles in the years 1937-38 took place in Kijów-Bykownia, Mińsk- Kuropaty, in Lewaszów near Petersburg, Smoleńsk, Chanków, Winnica and in other places. Bodies of the murdered at night time were transported away to nearby forests, where in well-hidden places they were thrown into deep trenches and buried.
In Senate we accepted a special act in which we wrote: Senate of the Republic of Poland, not wanting to allow for removing information from history and social memory about suffering of Poles inhabiting the former borderline lands of the Republic of Poland, regarding the history justice, and wanting to pursue responsible historic policy, pays tribute to the Victims of the ‘Polish operation’ NKWD from the years 1937-38 and declares that the Polish country has a duty bring back remembrance about them to the Polish society and the whole world’.