NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

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NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 28 Dec 2022 09:49

The NKVD prisoner massacres were a series of mass executions of political prisoners carried out by the NKVD, the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union, across Eastern Europe, primarily Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Bessarabia. After the start of the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the NKVD troops were supposed to evacuate political prisoners into the interior of the Soviet Union, but the hasty retreat of the Red Army, the lack of transportation and other supplies and the general disregard for legal procedures often meant that the prisoners were executed.

Estimates of the death toll vary between locations; nearly 9,000 in the Ukrainian SSR, 20,000–30,000 in eastern Poland (now part of Western Ukraine), with the total number reaching approximately 100,000 victims of extrajudicial executions in the span of a few weeks.
From The Great West Ukrainian Prison Massacre of 1941 by Ksenya Kiebuzinski and Alexander Motyl
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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by David Thompson » 28 Dec 2022 20:32

See also the discussions at:

NKVD massacres of prisoners 1941
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=239963
Soviet clearing murders 1941
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=76922
Did the Wehrmacht liberate any GULAG camps in 1941/42?
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=169004
Massacre in Lvov, Ukraine 1941
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=28082
Lvov-1941
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=113291
Soviet NKVD crimes in Lviv video
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=120679
Lemberg/Lvov Fotos - Warning: Some are a bit graphic
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=92916

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by Art » 28 Dec 2022 21:01

wm wrote:
28 Dec 2022 09:49
with the total number reaching approximately 100,000 victims of extrajudicial executions in the span of a few weeks.
Unfortunately, at this point anonymous wiki authors put on the clown cap. The number of prisoners in prisons of the entire Soviet Union was 332,936 in mid-May 1941 (Zemskov, 1991) or 317,183 as of 10 June 1941 (Naryshkina, 2012). In prisons of Western (i.e. beyond the 1939 borders) Ukraine, where most execustions occured, 23,236 prisoners were held as of 10 June 1941. Approximately 100,000 victims is beyong any realm of possibility.
According to the NKVD's Prison Administration by 22 January 1942 141,527 prisoners were evacuated from prisons of the western regions of the USSR, while 42,776 were lost for some reasons, including 9,817 men executed in prisons. The last number included 530 men executed in prisons of Belorussian SSSR, 8789 - Ukrainian SSSR, 205 - Estonian SSR, 291 - Orel region, and 2 - Smolensk region.
Also some 2,500 prisoners died or were shot during the evacuation. While these numbers were neither fully complete or fully accurate they provide some rough idea of the casualties.

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 29 Dec 2022 00:08

There is also disagreement about the total number of killed prisoners.
NKVD sources place the number at 9,817.
Orest Subtelny, a Canadian historian, says it was 15,000;
two Ukrainian historians suggest the number was 22,000.
One Polish historian, Krzysztof Popiński, places it between 20,000 and 24,000;
two others, Witold Mędykowski and Bogdan Musial, put it between 20,000 and 30,000.
Least plausibly, Gross notes that
the NKVD may have killed as many as 100,000 people during the evacuation of prisons in the Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia during June and July 1941.
The NKVD number has the advantage of being derived from secret police documents, but its extreme precision at a time of chaos and mass flight before the advancing Wehrmacht warrants suspicion.
Could the NKVD really have noted every single prisoner it executed, especially if it did so under the pressure of the advancing German army or while torturing prisoners?
We know, for example, that the NKVD number excludes the prisoners killed in Dobromyl and the slaughter in the neighboring Salina salt mine, as well as the scores of sporadic killings in smaller towns and villages, such as Bibrka and Zhovkva.
Could the NKVD really keep track of all the people who were killed while trying to flee? Is it plausible to think it kept tabs on all those who died while being transported or during forced marches?
As one NKVD official in Lviv noted on 24 June 1941:
Since the start of the war many arrestees have been entering Prison No. 1 without the suitable paperwork.
Another official described the extreme confusion that characterized the killings in Berezhany.
Musial points out that Soviet data exist for only twenty-eight of fifty-eight prisons and that there are no statistics at all for local holding pens.
The Great West Ukrainian Prison Massacre of 1941 by Ksenya Kiebuzinski and Alexander Motyl

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 30 Dec 2022 17:47

Whatever the exact number – 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, or what is likely, despite Gross’s estimate, the highest possible number, 40,000 – there is general agreement that over two-thirds of the victims were Ukrainians and one-fifth (or slightly more) were Poles.
If we consider that the total number of Ukrainians in Western Ukraine (about 5 million) was about three times that of Poles (about 1.5 million), then the relative size of the population loss was as great for Poles as for Ukrainians.

At the same time, the fact that the Massacre was an overwhelmingly Ukrainian tragedy, and thus an overwhelmingly Ukrainian shock and trauma, may go some way toward explaining why most observers appear to agree that Ukrainians, who were a minority in most Galician cities and towns, figured more prominently than Poles in subsequent anti-Jewish violence.
No less important than the number of dead is that they were discovered within the space of little more than one week, in a single sustained, relentless wave.
Every time the Soviets evacuated and/or the Germans entered a city or town, heaps of rotting corpses were found in prisons, ditches, or rivers. And since this was the height of summer, memoirists and eyewitnesses invariably mention the unbearable stench.
The fact that the NKVD spent scarce time and resources massacring and gratuitously torturing prisoners struck many Ukrainians and Poles as proof of their victimization at the hands of communists in general and Jewish communists in particular.
The Great West Ukrainian Prison Massacre of 1941 by Ksenya Kiebuzinski and Alexander Motyl

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 01 Jan 2023 12:16

STANYSLAVIV Mr. Mykola K. now living in Austria, testifies

During the first German air raids on Stanyslaviv (in June 1941), a small but determined and well-armed group of Ukrainian partisans was formed in my native village Ch. (near Stanyslaviv.)
When the Soviet troops began to withdraw from the environs of Stanislaviv, this group — upon higher orders — carried out a raid on the prison in order to liberate the Ukrainian political prisoners.

There were still a few Bolshevist units here and there in the town, but they put up no resistance.
When we broke open the door of the prison and entered the building, we found that there were no longer any NKVD men there and practically no prisoners who had survived; it was only in one or two cells that the prisoners were still alive; all the rest had been murdered.

I can well recall searching for the body of a Ukrainian patriot who was a close friend of mine, amongst the corpses.
The marks of dreadful tortures were clearly visible on most of the bodies; broken arms and legs, or their eyes had been put out, and in the case of some of the women, their breasts had been cut off. Many of the prisoners had been killed by large nails driven through their nostrils into their brains, others by having their throats cut.
In the prison yard, three bodies were exhumed of persons who had apparently been buried alive.
The bodies of small children, who had been tied to the corpses of their parents with barbed wire, were also found.
Russian Oppression in Ukraine: Reports and Documents [1962]


The Polish website dedicated to the history of Stanislaviv, created by former Polish inhabitants of the town and their descendants, has this to say about the massacre:
Before the German troops entered Stanisławów, the NKVD managed to massacre prisoners in the local prison at Biliński Street.

The bodies of the victims were horribly mutilated, pierced with bayonets, with traces of skin peeling and burns, hands without nails. All this testified to the horrendous tortures inflicted on the prisoners before they were murdered.
How many victims were there? This has not been determined so far and probably won't be. The new German authorities didn't care to determine the number of corpses of the murdered prisoners. Rumor had it that there were about 4,000 of them, including Ukrainians.

Covering their tracks, the NKVD killed prisoners in prison cells, in the prison courtyard, and those who were not killed in time were herded east like cattle on foot or transported by any means available.

A similar thing happened in many other prisons throughout the province: everywhere, they were murdered with incredible cruelty. The Germans, wishing to use this fact for propaganda purposes, agreed to a demonstrative funeral of the murdered.
Stanyslaviv was liberated by the Hungarians; I wonder if a Hungarian account of the events exists.

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 03 Jan 2023 12:19

The months preceding the massacre weren't peaceful either, from the same site:
On September 19, 1939, the German army entered the area of Stanisławów county, greeted enthusiastically by the local Ukrainian population. After three days, they withdrew behind the border line established in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Agreement, and the area was occupied by the Soviet Army. It was also greeted with ovations by the same Ukrainian population, as well as by the Jewish population.

Immediately after taking Stanisławów, the Soviets gave the local Ukrainian population three days of "freedom", during which the so-called revolutionary committees could do with the Poles as they pleased. So arrests were carried out, often with the participation of the NKVD. Poles were detained and starved in inhumanly overcrowded and unheated prisons, where they were plagued by vermin; they were mistreated, blackmailed, and forced to give incriminating statements, using beatings and torture. Prisoners were often murdered without any sentence.

A particular terror for Polish residents was the self-proclaimed Ukrainian militia, composed of local scum, in civilian clothes, with red armbands on their sleeves and rifles on a string. They just disarmed and murdered Polish Army soldiers and police officers. More active Poles were rounded up and murdered. One of the first actions of the NKVD was the arrest and deportation to Russia of Polish officers taken prisoner in the city and its vicinity.

The next victims of the Soviet terror, in addition to the military and police officers I have already mentioned, were political party activists, judges, prosecutors, and others. All of them were transported in closed cattle train cars to POW camps in Kozielsk, Ostaszków, Starobielsk, and others. After the deportations, all traces of them disappeared. Only years later were their remains discovered in mass graves. Then it was the turn of teachers, lawyers, and other important people because they were all suspected without exception. The Poles have kept a painful memory of these events to this day.

The operation to destroy the Polish population was carried out on a huge scale. In a brutal and barbaric way, people were thrown from their homes, arrested, and sent to "white bears", as it was then called. The criterion for including the deportees in the group by the Soviet authorities was not nationality, but the possible attitude towards the new regime: those who could be or were its opponents were deported. According to Russian stereotypes, they were mainly Poles, as a nation of "lords" and oppressors. Polish refugees from central Poland, who had taken refuge in this city from the Nazis, were also deported en masse.

The daily life of the inhabitants of the city under the Soviet occupation was a constant series of fears and anxiety before an unexpected arrest and deportation to Siberia. Very active assistance in determining the so-called lists of "enemies of the people" were provided to the Soviet authorities by Ukrainian nationalists, as well as Jews, who largely sided with the Soviet occupier.

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 03 Jan 2023 12:35

Although Poles were overrepresented among the prisoners in 1939-1940 (41 percent of the prison population), most of them had been forcibly resettled to Siberia and Central Asia during the four mass deportation operations of February, April, and June 1940, and from mid-May to mid-June 1941 (or had died or been killed during the process).

According to NKVD statistics, the monthly tally of arrests of Poles peaked ... in April 1940 and then slowly declined. Monthly arrests of Ukrainians rose and reached their highest point, … in September 1940, and then fell off, while remaining four times higher than the total number of arrests of Poles from October 1940 to May 1941 … Ukrainians comprised 75 percent of the total number of inmates from January to May 1941.

The shift in emphasis from arresting Poles in 1939-1940 to arresting Ukrainians in 1940-1941 was not accidental, reflecting a growing realization by the Soviet authorities that Germany posed a serious threat. That realization implied both a relaxation of Soviet policy toward Poles (and perhaps Jews) and an intensified crackdown on Ukrainian nationalists, viewed by Soviet authorities as being pro-German. (As the large number of non-members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN] among the massacred dead attests, the Soviets had a broad definition of Ukrainian nationalists.)

… Less is known about the nationality of the persons arrested in the last week of June 1941, although it is very likely that most would have been Ukrainian nationalists perceived by the NKVD as allies of the approaching German forces. It is, thus, quite possible that Ukrainians comprised 75 percent or more of the victims of the Massacre. Until more reliable estimates are made, however, we think it wise to adopt the more conservative figure of 70 percent.
The Great West Ukrainian Prison Massacre of 1941 by Ksenya Kiebuzinski and Alexander Motyl

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 12 Jan 2023 19:49

The Fall of Lvov (excerpts), Part One
The Ringelblum Archive
Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto
Accounts from the Borderlands 1939-1941

After 29 September 1941, Warsaw, ghetto.
Memoir of Stanisław Różycki about the situation in Lvov between 1 June and 29 September 1941
1 June
Our biggest worry is that they will never let us leave here. The borders of the Soviet Union are worse than the Chinese Wall. Pushed away from the West, from our country, from bourgeois, democratic, Western culture, we fear that we will never return to our own European culture.
What overwhelms us most is this fear of staying in the Bolshevik paradise for the rest of our lives.
3 June
Deportations, deportations ... This is the refrain most often repeated by upset Lvov inhabitants. Indeed, a larger number of lorries and passenger cars have been mobilised along with trains with a few dozen arrest wagons, which are so characteristic of deportations. There is something in the air.
They have already deported about ten thousand Ukrainian nationalists and families of anybody arrested for whatever reason during the last two years. That affected the families of those Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians who had been detained for being bourgeois …, for participation in political life …, for their past life in capitalist Poland (settlers, civil servants, officers, judges, etc.), for speculation, theft, counter-revolutionary activity, sabotage, etc. Consequently, entire families were deported to Siberia.

And now we await our turn, because we, refugees, have contact with the world. We receive and send letters to "Germania", that is over the border, while any contact abroad is punishable with [deportation to] Siberia. And this is our current worry, which prevents us from taking a sharper look at the increasingly clouded political horizon.

The English radio is insistently and persistently warning us and anticipating, but seeing so many new NKVD functionaries moving about, the only thing we are afraid of is deportation. We would even prefer war to Siberia.
10 June
Opinions of MOPR agitators and party speakers cast some light on political tendencies. Most people think that Russia wants to engage in the war as late as during its final, decisive stage, letting the two sides murder each other and become weak and incapable of active defence. Only then will Russia intervene and commence the victorious march of the international proletarian revolution.
Russia will defeat both the Nazi and the democratic states simultaneously due to the brilliant foreign policy of Molotov, who sets the two camps against each other and helps both sides continue the war so that they keep murdering each other for as long as possible and with as much energy as possible, for where two dogs fight for a bone, a third runs away with it.

On the other hand, nobody has faith in the staff, komandirs, communications, transport, organisation, or unity of the party, army, and citizens. Indeed, these are the weakest points, for neither organisation nor transport inspires hope for victory. Moreover, komandirs indeed lack the intelligence, training, and preparation to face the responsibility that awaits them. Similarly, the staff is surely not mature enough to do what the situation will call for.

Besides, the general hatred of NKVD functionaries, political commissioners, and party aristocrats could easily contribute to betrayal of the revolution, separatism, and revival of nationalisms. The last subject is particularly topical in Lvov, where the Ukrainians fully and openly sympathise with the Germans. They cross the German border by entire villages and prepare for the Germans' arrival.

The mistaken policy of oppression of Poles and even Jews aimed at ingratiating the Ukrainians has rebounded. The party's realisation that Ukrainian nationalism could not be destroyed came too late. Too late, for in the case of war the entire Western Ukraine would have become a territory openly hostile to the Soviet Union, and that was why the strategic plans needed to be altered.

Attempts at winning over Poles, who due to raison d'etat did regard the Soviet Union as their natural ally, though without enthusiasm, came too late. Frantic deportations of entire frontier villages have begun but it is too late to suppress the Ukrainian movement - the peasants are hiding in forests, the intelligentsia is operating in the underground, and instructions are regularly delivered from Germany. What about the Poles whose families have been deported? They regard the Bolsheviks with intensifying hatred and accept offers of friendship with growing distrust even though they know that in the case of a conflict with Germany Russia would help liberate Poland.
The Jews are the only ones who do not hesitate regardless of heir emotional or reasonable attitude towards the Soviet Union. Despite their grievances, confiscation of their property, and deportation of their families, they count only on Russia, for everything is better than the Germans.
19 June
The English radio is warning. Every day the radio broadcasts detailed information about concentrations of German troops on the border with Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, on the River Bug, and in Finland. It warns that the invasion of Russia is about to start any day now. The famous TASS's lamenting the fact that the Soviet Union knows nothing about that concentration of troops being directed against Russia does not help. But this peace and quiet has a soothing effect on the population. The English, as always, must be lying because it would not be so calm if a war were to break out any day now.

We already know that we will find out about the war only when, simultaneously with a declaration of war, the first bombs fall on Lvov.
20 June
the more reasonable individuals are beginning to think about gathering supplies. Some people even dream about being deported to Siberia or Kazakhstan. Some buy putiovkas (passes for travel and stay in health resorts) for Crimea and the Caucasus, only to move as far east as possible, or apply to their institutions for transfer to Kharkov, Donbas, or further, even if it means demotion. Still others regret that a year ago they were hiding from the NKVD, which was looking for them to deport them. Many simply envy their relatives and friends who were deported to Asia. Despite the NKVD running rampant and spreading terror and the forced conscription (which is a dangerous thing as it means deportation, transfer to training into the interior of Russia), there is peace here, employment in all trades, enough food, and equality of civil rights.
22 June
A bolt from the blue. That is, dive bombs over Lvov at three in the morning. I am woken up at 1:45 a.m. by the clatter of a lorry, komandirs' screams, and knocking on the gate. "Aha, it's the deportations", I wake up with this thought and, scared, look out the window.

The Russians totally disbelieve that the war has already broken out. They are deluding themselves with faith in the official version claiming it to be manoeuvres. …
It was not until Molotov's address at noon on Sunday, 22 June 1941, which confirmed the unprovoked German aggression and promised immediate help from the allied USA and England, that they finally believed it.
23 June
Young local communists (mostly Jews), Komsomol members, and all locals also actively engaged as communists or directors at responsible positions are fleeing, even on foot if necessary. Newcomers from the Soviet Union, civil servants, and party members are waiting, knowing that trains and cars have been prepared for them. They are frantically packing their things while cynically telling their subordinates that the Red Army has advanced west by one hundred kilometres. Even though they have been inculcated with propaganda, they clearly harbour fear deep in their heart - the higher their position, the greater the fear.

All the Jews are terrified. Nobody wants as much as to catch a glimpse of the Germans and everybody is sure that their marching in is just a matter of hours, not days. Not having their property here, the refugees are faster in making the decision to flee even though few believe that it will give them anything because they already know from experience that the Germans can reach them anywhere.

The opinions among the Poles are divided, with Schadenfreude towards Jews, Bolsheviks, and Russians the dominant sentiment. Deep at heart, however, the Poles are terrified of the Ukrainians and Germans, with resignation; they say that the Bolsheviks are the lesser of the two evils.
Some voice this opinion aloud clearly for political reasons — they are promoting loyalty towards the Bolsheviks, with whom Sikorski has purportedly made a pact. Besides, the party has clearly changed its attitude towards the Poles. But there is also a strong, numerous Polish faction declaring that the Germans are the lesser of the two evils, as they are purportedly the only ones who can do something for Poland.

But they too are very scared of the Ukrainians, who have warned about a spring massacre of Liakhs [Poles], Jews, and Muscovites. One needs to admit that the Ukrainians are carrying out their programme systematically. They declared their support for the Germans already on the first day and have been doing everything to speed up their liberators' arrival, though carefully, for the NKVD has to be taken seriously.

Even the Ukrainians, who held top positions and publicly engaged in rallies, meetings, and conferences in favour of the Bolsheviks, in industry, trade, administration, at the university, in the educational system, etc., are now cynically taking off their masks, revealing their true faces of nationalists or organized conspirators.
Irredentism is spreading at the top and at the bottom, among the middle class and the peasantry, the inteligenntsia, to bourgeois and the proletariat, and the older and younger generations.

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by steve248 » 13 Jan 2023 12:02

In what must have been late 1941, the Auswärtiges Amt in Berlin published a 200 page or so booklet entitled "Bolschewistische Verbrechen gegen Kriegsrecht und Menschlichkeit" which listed (1) NKVD shootings in various prisons etc in 1941 as they withdrew, and (2) Soviet crimes against German soldiers (utter hypocrisy there). The first section includes a report dated 8 Sept 1941 by Chef Sipo und des SD, Berlin (Heydrich) detailing information from Einsatzgruppe A; before the NKVD left Kowno they "bestially murdered" in the prison cellar, three doctors - Zemulys, Maceulis and Gudonis ("Bolschewistische Mordtaten in Litauen").
This booklet must have been made widely available as the British Foreign Office had a copy in 1942. Visitors can copy this at UK National Archives, reference FO 371/30915. Probably also available in the German Foreign Office archives in (can't remember, Bonn?).

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 14 Jan 2023 22:53

The Fall of Lvov (excerpts), Part Two
25 June
The uprising of the Ukrainian nationalists has become an accomplished fact. They were shooting at the troops from windows, towers, trees, churches, and hills. They were communicating with the enemy, hiding weapons, organising themselves into military units, and assigning functions in case of the Germans' arrival.
28 June
The Ukrainians have practically taken control over all residential buildings. The Jews and Poles are voluntarily surrendering OPL command over all tenements and blocks of flats. Characteristically, these [Ukrainian] confidants of the Bolsheviks who enjoyed favours and top positions are now unceremoniously and brutally paving the way for the new "order."
30 June
A silent night before the storm. The air raids have ceased. The Bolshevik troops are scarce.

In the evening and in the dead of night the jackals and hyenas are in their element. They loot storehouses, shops, and storerooms. They are ownerless though, they do not belong to anybody. We have already had a foretaste, as Jews were not allowed to participate in the looting. Besides, Jews are not striving for participation at all because they know their fate in advance.

There are characteristic shifts of sympathies among individual ethnic groups. The Poles have taken an excessively opportunistic stance towards the Jews. Even though they are allies from a political point of view as well as companions of distress when it comes to the Ukrainians' hatred, a Jew is a Jew.
Besides, after the Germans' arrival it would be better not to have any contact with them. Consequently, our neighbours, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances step aside and suddenly stop visiting us, even though they have continuously sought contact with us since 1939, believing that friendship with a Jew was a good recommendation for a Pole in the Bolsheviks' eyes.
Luckily, that opportunism has not affected everybody, as a lot of labourers and educated people in Lvov did not change their attitude after the Bolsheviks' departure.

There is no point talking about the Ukrainians. Dumb and clumsy, unqualified and conceited, they are doing whatever they want everywhere. They truly hate only Poles. They would like to organise a massacre, a pogrom of the Poles immediately, tonight, but the instructions they received earlier from the Nazi Ukrainians clearly forbade any hostile actions against the Poles.
Thus, their basic instincts and primitive emotions are being shifted onto the safe track - against the Jews, the Bolshevik lackeys.
1 July
The Germans are already in Lvov we have been hearing this news for about twelve hours. …
What the people have feared most has not yet happened. For now we have avoided the Ukrainians' immediate "impulse" to conduct a pogrom. The Germans are still not here but they gave their orders a long time ago: no pogroms, no spontaneous "impulses", no harm to the Poles.
The first German motorcyclists arrive at six in the morning today. In an hour there is already a swastika on the city hall.

The Germans came to us as if to friends. Smiling, self-confident, with rifles slung on their backs and usually only with pistols in holders, they incited absolutely no fear or panic. This must be the power of the German Army's suggestive authority, because I witnessed a German soldier disarm and escort a dozen fighters to a guardhouse without even taking out the pistol he had at his belt.
2 July
The same men who on 21 September 1939 warmly welcomed their "liberators" from the Polish nobility's knout and then were given good positions in councils and public institutions, the so-far highly esteemed former comrades, managers, deputies, directors, professors, and dignitaries are now cruising with German officers in cars, helping them capture the "enemy elements": party members, NKVD functionaries, higher-ranking civil servants, professors, and those locals ... who held any higher positions, but predominantly the people indicated by the denunciators.
Those who did not flee with the Bolsheviks or hide are doomed.

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 19 Jan 2023 21:56

The Fall of Lvov (excerpts), Part Three
4 July. "Ukrainian hecatombs"
During the first days this topical issue does not leave the people's lips and it fills all columns of the newly established Ukrainian scrap newspaper. This term refers to the victims of the Bolsheviks murdered before the Germans' arrival. Over the last couple of weeks and during the first days of the war the NKVD conducted mass arrests. The prisoners whom the Bolsheviks did not manage to deport before leaving Lvov were slaughtered on the spot. Indeed, the prisons were an incredible sight, as the mass executions were conducted at the last moment and under horrible conditions: the prisoners were finished off with rifle butts, the wounded were left lying under heaps of corpses, the victims were not buried, etc.

Many had been awaiting sentence in prison for several months. They had not been tried yet; many of them had been accused of trivial offences. But at the end of June the prisoners were not segregated according to the seriousness of their offence: whether they were doing time for petty theft, profiteering, or hooliganism. All prisoners were eliminated.

The funerals were a political manifestation, obviously directed against the Jews and concluded with a pogrom and looting of the Jewish district. So far the Germans seem not to notice the Jews at all, as if they took absolutely no interest in them.
6 July
A beginning of a dismal chapter of the Jewish martyrology in Lvov. So far the Germans have handed over the initiative to the hastily, incompetently, and primitively organised Ukrainian police. Its functionaries are the worst scum of society - people devoid of morality or any feeling of responsibility. Their only qualification is the bestial instinct to rob, beat, and torture the weak. These shady characters and dumb illiterates do not know whom they are beating, what for, or why. As long as they can rob they do not care if their victims are the bourgeois, Bolsheviks, Jews, or Poles. That element was sent to Jewish homes to drag women, men, the elderly, children, the healthy, and the sick out of bed and send them to perform particularly hard labour.
A grim column of Jewish men and women captured for forced labour marches through the entire city, beaten, starved, tortured with carrying heavy weights, humiliated, and laughed at. This sudden change of the situation, this radical shift from one extreme to another is too severe a blow.
25 July
Petlura's black night. The Ukrainians need a full revel, because the things they have done were not entertaining enough: just some robberies, a few people killed here, about a dozen there. All that has not been enough. There is an occasion, as it is an anniversary of Petlura's assassination by a Jew. It is a wonderful occasion, and because the Jews are spreading rumours about the German offensive halting at Kiev, they need to be taught a lesson for this Greuelpropaganda.

So this time the Gestapo and the Ukrainian police begin to capture the Jews systematically. Neither the figures nor the facts are definite or reliable. We have only our estimates. It is rumoured that 15,000 men have been executed or deported. First were arrests, beating, persecutions, robberies, followed by deportations, camps, and executions, and then a purported collection of hostages from among the intelligentsia and the bourgeoisie. That time the airmen, officers, the Gestapo, and the Schupo showed active initiative and cooperation, so the excesses, robberies, and killings became commonplace.

The madness on the streets went on for three days. A Jew could avoid death, beating, or deportation to a camp only by a miracle. But the Jews were not captured only on the streets, for men were removed from their homes both during the day and at night by the Ukrainian police, never to be seen again.
I was lucky that my dearest Polish friends sheltered me and that the "sentries" that kept guard day and night saved us - three Jews from the entire tenement - from sharing the tragic end of our brothers.
1 August
"Distrikt Galizien" - this is the surprise the Germans have had for the Ukrainians! All hopes for a Ukrainian state with Lvov and Kiev are long gone. But the Ukrainians consoled themselves with the thought that the Germans would lay some foundations for their future independence. The incorporation of eastern Lesser Poland"' into the General Government is simply tantamount to a victory of Polish interests in eastern Lesser Poland! What an utter prestige failure! The Ukrainians have had so many promises and hopes connected with the Germans.

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 08 Feb 2023 21:41

There is no doubt that on the eve of the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, anti-Semitic views were very popular in the Bandera faction of the OUN. At the same time, the organization adhered to the vision of an ethnically homogeneous state, seeing each minority as a threat to its cohesion.
...
Jews were accused of supporting the communists, and they were widely believed to be overrepresented in the power structures. Aversion to Jews was additionally deepened by animosities dating back to the interwar period. In the Polish-Ukrainian rivalry that took place in Eastern Galicia, as Shimon Redlich writes: "Jews usually allied with Polish colleagues against Ukrainians."

After the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, the areas occupied by the Wehrmacht from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea were swept by a wave of pogroms against the Jewish population.
Although the Germans inspired them, the direct perpetrators were the local population:
In Lithuania - Lithuanians; in the Białystok region - Poles; in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, mainly Ukrainians.

Andrzej Żbikowski cites 31 towns where pogroms with fatalities took place and about twenty places where Jews were only harassed but not killed. According to Bogdan Musiał, the number of pogroms was even greater. According to Shmul Spektor, only in Volhynia Ukrainians "encouraged by the Germans" organized pogroms in 26 towns and twelve villages. About five hundred people lost their lives there.
Unfortunately, we only know the course of events and the number of victims in general terms.

So far, the involvement of the OUN in pogroms remains unclear. According to German reports, "the Ukrainian population showed (...) commendable activity towards Jews".

The revelation of mass crimes committed in prisons sparked a wave of anger. The local Jewish population was widely blamed for them. The Germans skilfully tried to use these feelings to evoke pogrom moods. In Dobromil, the Ukrainians set fire to a synagogue, and in Sambor, they killed about fifty people.
In Lviv, an enraged mob drove about a thousand Jews to prison, mistreating and committing lynchings. The Jews were forced to carry out exhumations, wash the corpses of the dead decomposing in the heat, and then wash them in the used water.
...
The role of the OUN-B in these events is not clear. There are testimonies confirming the participation of OUN members in individual pogroms, but there is no evidence of their top-down organization by the OUN leadership.
One way or another, the Ukrainian militia, hastily formed by the OUN, and supported by various sections of the population, took part in the anti-Jewish protests. We can also say with certainty that the OUN-B fueled anti-Semitic sentiment through propaganda. Sought to resettle the Jews from Ukraine, and as an alternative, to resettle of the Jewish population from major cities to smaller centers, such as Berdyczów, was considered.
Ukraińska partyzantka 1942-1960 by Grzegorz Motyka

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 11 Feb 2023 01:24

East of the Molotov-Ribbentrop line, the Germans encountered the fresh traces of Soviet state-building as they began to build their own empire. The signs were even starker in what had been eastern Poland than in the Baltics.
Whereas Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania had been incorporated by the Soviet Union a year before the German invasion, in June 1940, eastern Poland had been annexed by the Soviets nine months before that, in September 1939.
Here the Germans found evidence of a social transformation. Industry had been nationalized, some farms had been collectivized, and a native elite had been all but destroyed.
The Soviets had deported more than three hundred thousand Polish citizens and shot tens of thousands more. The German invasion prompted the NKVD to shoot some 9817 imprisoned Polish citizens rather than allow them to fall into German hands. The Germans arrived in the western Soviet Union in summer 1941 to find NKVD prisons full of fresh corpses.
Soviet mass murder provided the Germans with an occasion for propaganda. The Nazi line was that suffering under the Soviets was the fault of the Jews, and it found some resonance. With or without German agitation, many people in interwar Europe associated the Jews with communism.
Interwar communist parties had in fact been heavily Jewish, especially in their leaderships, a fact upon which much of the press throughout Europe had commented for twenty years. Right-wing parties confused the issue by arguing that since many communists were Jews therefore many Jews were communists.
In an arc that extended southward from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, the last week of June and the first weeks of July 1941 brought violence against Jews.
In Lithuania and Latvia, where the Germans could bring local nationalists with them, and could pose at least for a moment as a liberator of whole states, the resonance of propaganda was greater and local participation more notable.
Political calculation and local suffering do not entirely explain the participation in these pogroms. Violence against Jews served to bring the Germans and elements of the local non-Jewish population closer together.
Anger was directed, as the Germans wished, toward the Jews, rather than against collaborators with the Soviet regime as such.
Yet this psychic nazification would have been much more difficult without the palpable evidence of Soviet atrocities. The pogroms took place where the Soviets had recently arrived and where Soviet power was recently installed, where for the previous months Soviet organs of coercion had organized arrests, executions, and deportations.
Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder

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Re: NKVD Prisoner Massacres (1941) and their Consequences

Post by wm » 13 Feb 2023 01:50

The Ringelblum Archive
Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto
Accounts from the Borderlands 1939-1941

After 2 March, 1943, Warsaw, ghetto 
Testimony by Israel Kempner or Yehuda Pinczowski, delegates of the Vilna Betar organisation, concerning the situation of the Jews under the Soviet occupation

In the days of the Bolshevik rule, antisemitic tendencies intensified among the Poles. Largely, the Jews themselves are to be blamed. They took advantage of the situation in such a way that at every opportunity they laughed at the Poles, shouting, "This is not your Poland anymore, gone are those days", and the like.
Often, the Jews reported Poles for allegedly calling them "Jewish mug", and consequently Poles were sent to prison or to Siberia.
Jewish Communists played with the patriotic feelings of Poles, denounced the illegal conversations, identified Polish officers and former senior officials, voluntarily worked in the NKVD, and participated in the arrests.

Another factor that contributed to the growth of antisemitism among the Poles was the fact that after the Bolsheviks had entered, the Jews disarmed Polish soldiers. And they did it in an ugly way, with great satisfaction. A Jew could, for example, walk up to a Polish soldier and spit in his face while taking his gun. They would also try to prevent Poles from celebrating their holidays.

Notable is the fact that the "Union of the Godless" consisted almost exclusively of Jews.

In the spring of 1941, a propaganda film screened in Vilna, titled The Wind from the East. The film told the story of how the Bolsheviks occupied and liberated Polish lands. Images showed the escape and disarming of Polish soldiers, and Jews watching the film expressed their delight by applauding, provoking indignation and increasing hatred of Poles. 

A week before the outbreak of the war, the Soviet authorities in Vilna and surrounding areas carried out mass arrests and deported approximately 50,000 Poles and Lithuanians.
Also in this operation the Jewish Komsomol played a prominent role, indicating to the Bolsheviks who should be deported.
For all these reasons Polish hatred of the Jews increased significantly.
...
The Bolsheviks were generally positively inclined towards the Jews, trusting them and feeling confident of their absolute support and affection.
For this reason, they entrusted leadership and high-ranking positions to Jews, instead of to Poles who had formerly occupied them.
...
As for the Lithuanians, their hatred of Jews also increased during the time of Bolshevik rule. Perhaps it was the Jews themselves who fueled this, because after the invasion of the Bolsheviks they disarmed and mocked Lithuanian soldiers as well as the Poles.
A group of Jewish artists went out in the street carrying a caricature of former President Smetona and beat him on the head, causing outrage and helpless annoyance among the Lithuanian witnesses.
The Ringelblum Archive
Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto
Accounts from the Borderlands 1939-1941
31 October 1941, Warsaw, ghetto
Anonymous testimony of a 20-year-old refugee from Warsaw, recorded by Yekhiel Gorny, concerning the situation of the Jews in Grodno under Soviet occupation

... The situation of Jews in the Polish territories occupied by the Soviets was very good. With innate cleverness and ability, they were able to live most comfortably.
When the Bolsheviks entered the Polish territory, they approached the large Polish population with distrust, while they were fully trusting of the Jews.
More influential Poles and those who held important positions before the war were deported into Russia by the Bolsheviks, and all offices were manned mostly by the Jews, who also held managerial positions.
For these reasons, the Polish population generally immediately responded with hostility.

Much hatred arose, even stronger than before the war. The Poles, however, could not find any outlet for that hate, so they swallowed it and suppressed it inside themselves.
It should be noted that to a large extent it was the Jews themselves who provoked that hatred, because as soon as the Russian troops entered, they started to show the Poles their disdain and humiliated them.
The Jews greeted the arrival of the Bolsheviks with great joy - henceforth they felt proud and safe, almost as masters of the situation, and they were condescending and arrogant towards the Poles, often reminding them of their impotence and taunting them with it.

In Grodno, there were many such incidents, for example when a Polish woman came to a Jewish peddler to buy vegetables, the latter would tell her, "You, Polak, get out of here, I don't want to see you here". 
Many Jews who took every opportunity to remind the Poles with satisfaction that the times when they had something to say were over, and they needed to obey the Soviet power.

The economic situation of the Jews in the occupied territories was much better than that of the Polish population. While the Poles had to work hard to earn a living, the Jews manned all the important positions and were employed to do lighter work. Poles were mostly employed in factories and collective farms, and Jews preferred to work as clerks in stores, as shop assistants, and so on.
The Ringelblum Archive
Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto
Accounts from the Borderlands 1939-1941
20 March 1942, Warsaw, ghetto
Anonymous account of a refugee, a Zionist from Warsaw, on the situation under the Soviet occupation in Luck and Lvov

How did the Jewish population receive the Red Army?
Ordinary Jews - coldly; some even with hatred. A large part of the youth showed great enthusiasm, kissed the soldiers, climbed on tanks, and cheered.
Even before the Red Army arrived in the city, some of the Jewish youth had organised meetings and demonstrations.
For us Jews, it wasn't very clever politically that part of the Jewish population acted very rudely towards the Polish population and Polish troops.
February 1940
The Jewish Problem in the Homeland by Jan Karski
[Presented to Government of the Republic of Poland-in-Exile]
The Jews - the Invaders - the Poles
Under Bolshevik Annexation (Occupation)

The attitude of the Jews toward the Bolsheviks a regarded among the Polish populace as quite positive. It is generally believed that the Jews betrayed Poland and the Poles, that they are basically communists, that they crossed over to the Bolsheviks with flags unfurled. In fact, in most cities the Jews greeted the Bolsheviks with baskets of red roses, with submissive declarations and speeches, etc., etc.
...
However, there are worse cases, where they [the Jews] denounce the Poles, Polish nationalist students, assail Polish political figures, when they direct the work of the Bolshevik police force from behind their desks or are members of the police force, when they falsely defame the relations (between Poles and Jews] in former Poland. Unfortunately it is necessary to state that such incidents are quite common, more common than incidents which reveal loyalty toward Poles or sentiment toward Poland.
...
In principle, however, and in their mass, the Jews have created here a situation in which the Poles regard them as devoted to the Bolsheviks and - one can safely say - wait for the moment when they will be able simply to take revenge upon the Jews.
The Ringelblum Archive
Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto
Accounts from the Borderlands 1939-1941
Early 1942, Warsaw, ghetto
Two accounts recorded by Rabbi Simon Huberband
Vilna and surrounding area
The war experiences of a twenty-two-year-old Jewish woman

While we were waiting for the train, we witnessed the following scene. 
A Jew who was working at the station as a forced labourer asked a passing Pole for a light.
The Pole replied: "No Jew will get a light from me. What I will do, is burn their houses down".
25 September 1941
General Stefan Rowecki [the leader of the Polish Underground] to
the Government of the Republic of Poland-in-Exile

I report that all the initiatives and statements of the government ... regarding Jews in Poland make the worst possible impression in the country and greatly facilitate propaganda unfavorable or hostile to the government.
...
Please take it as a fact that the overwhelming majority of the country is anti-Semitic. Even socialists are no exception.
The differences are only in the tactics. Almost nobody is recommending the imitation of German methods.
These methods evoked feelings of sympathy, but this diminished after the two occupations merged and the general public became acquainted with the behavior of the Jews in the East.

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