In the secret protocol to the German-Russian Boundary and Friendship Treaty signed on September 28, 1939, when Warsaw finally surrendered at the urging of Great Britain, Hitler and Stalin committed themselves to cooperate closely in combating Polish resistance. Yet another Secret Protocol provided that:
“both parties will tolerate in their territories no Polish agitation which affects the territory of the other party. They will suppress in their territories all beginnings of such agitation and inform each other concerning suitable measures for this purpose.”
This declaration laid the foundation for close Nazi-Soviet cooperation in combating any signs of Polish resistance. In the winter of 1939-1940 senior secret police officers of both invaders held regular meetings in such Polish bastions as Kraków and Zakopane, exchanging top secret information about combating the Polish resistance and developing the best methods to infiltrate the Polish underground and destroy any signs of the Polish identity.
Remains of victims from the Katyn Massacre
Security forces of both Nazi Gestapo and Soviet NKVD joint forces to exterminate Polish intelligencia, clergy, gentry, and all those who were considered carrier of Polish identity. On both sides of the partition line, the Poles were targeted for total and permanent extermination. While the German atrocities committed on the Polish people are better known, the Soviet extermination policies towards ethnic Poles are rarely discussed or even mentioned. For half a century this subject, of which the Katyń crime became the symbol, was on the censorship list all over the world. Today there is a growing realization that the Polish loses on the Soviet side were at least equal to if not greater than those on the German side of the partition line. The extent of the genocide committed on the Polish population on the Soviet side of the partition line is well illustrated on a website the Kresy–Siberia Virtual Museum, launched by children of Polish deportee from Eastern Poland under the leadership of Stefan Wiśniowski who found his new home in Australia.
As a result of the failure of the international community to assure Poland’s security, the Polish people were subjected to inconceivable suffering with grave implications for many generations to come, the entire world was plunged into the greatest catastrophe ever, and the entire region of Eastern and Central Europe was enslaved for half a century. This tragic history teaches that the voice of Poland must be carefully taken into account while debating any international security arrangements.
Maria Szonert, Esq.