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The Dark Side of the Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon: The Incredible Story of What Really Happened in Poland During the Russian Occupation 1939-45 (New York: Scribner's, 1947) Look for this book at Amazon.com

The author of this searing book was Zoe Zajdlerowa, an Irishwoman married to a Pole, herself caught in eastern Poland by the Russian invasion of 1939.

T.S. Eliot preface: "It is not for Britain, who declared war on Germany because of the German attack on Poland, and who subsequently was glad to avail herself of Polish soldiers and airmen whose gallantry and sacrifice have served her cause and not that of Poland--it is not for Britain to forget Poland, or to decline to contemplate, now, facts which were given no prominence in the Press when they were news. Nor do I think that Americans should forget these things." p. viii

As they would do to eastern Germany in 1945, the Russians carted off everything they could from eastern Poland in 1939: factories and their workers; crops from the fields, trees from the forests, goods from the shops, furniture from the houses.... Zoe Zajdlerowa, an Irishwoman married to a Pole, watched "whole convoys of common cabbages, used household brooms, three-legged stools and floor-boards torn out of private houses, barracks, and schoolrooms, leaving the town of Wilno for the [Soviet] Union in 1939." (p46) Private savings were confiscated by the simple act of substituting ruble for zlotys, an immediate loss of four-fifths of everyone's wealth, and inflation soared. A blacksmith or carpenter might earn 150 rubles a month. For convenience's sake, figure three rubles to the dollar, so: $50. From this sum he must pay $2 for a kilogram of potatoes--$20 for sugar--$230 for tea. A second-hand pair of shoes cost $165. (p.47)

Deportations: February 1940, farmers, forestry workers, police, civil servants, government officials. April 1940: families of those previously arrested, families of Polish soldiers, tradesmen, farmers. June 1940: refugees from western Poland; intellectuals, professionals, and "speculators." p53

"The whole infinitely costly storehouse of generations had been burst open and destroyed ... from a profound contempt for the care and toil of the individual and for the mystery of man's long husbandry of the soil. Even the village hearths had grown cold." p57

After the Pact, the Poles set up eight hundred primitive relief stations throughout the Soviet Union, providing five thousand tons of food and clothing to the wretches released from kolkhozy and prison camps--which, if they were as few as 250,000, amounted to forty pounds per person. Money, too, was distributed: 110,000,000 rubles. Call it $440 per person. p221

"Hundreds of thousands of persons traveled by rail, by water, in carts, on foot, in one another's arms and one one another's backs.... All were undernourished, ragged, wretchedly clad, physically and mentally exhausted." p214 "Very many of these people were carriers of disease. Enormous numbers of them were children; and for the most part orphans.... The conditions of the deportations, with their epidemics, loss of life, monstrous sufferings, privation and disease of all kinds, were now being reproduced in reverse, and on a still more gigantic scale." p215

The Russian plan had been to assign the former Polish soldiers into divisions of 10,000 or 12,000 men and send them directly to the front, with few weapons, scant training, and no chance to recover their health. Only the newly formed 5th Division was armed. p224 By October, General Anders had enlisted 40,000 men. p225 End of February 5th Div passed its arms to other divisions so they could train, which effectively disarmed everyone. p239 In March Anders was ordered to evacuate 44,000 Polish soldiers and civilians to Iran. "... every [Polish] army encampment was surrounded by whole nightmare settlements of famished, destitute and frantic civilians (women and children) squatting in the mud; unwilling to let the army out of sight and blindly looking to it for rescue, somehow, and for food." p240

First transport left Mar 31; last on Apr 5. British flabbergasted to receive 44,000 when they had expected 25,000. p.240

71,000 in second evacuation by Aug 6, when General Zhukov of NKVD declared that the base at Ashabad must be closed. p242

Oct 1 1941 - Feb 1942, Polish Embassy organized in USSR. "In Kazakhstan, in particular, the first district of all to be organized, regional and local collaboration was friendly and even active. An orphanage was opened in Kustanaiz, a feeding centre and night refuge in Pavlodar, a school in Irkutsk, a school and other classes in Semipalatinsk, etc." Feb onward, set up a network of Polish delegates throughout the Union to represent the Polish deportees. p.257

"Then in July, without warning, all the Embassy delegations were liquidated, the delegates themselves were arrested and the acts and documents of the delegations confiscated. Throughout Kazakhstan, where an enormous number of Poles were still concentrated, the relief organizations also--infant schools, orphanages, medical stations, etc., were closed down. Embassy property, including clothing, footwear, medical supplies, etc., was in places confiscated or put under seal." p.260

"From now on ... the pace became almost furious. One terrible event followed another, until after the second army evacuation in August only a vast mass of unarmed and increasingly helpless women, children, and civilians were left behind. Very large numbers of Polish civilians remained in or were returning to prison. Others were being incorporated in the Red Army, or posted to labour battalions or to Soviet factories." p.261

Jan 15 1943: all Polish institutions for relief in the USSR taken under Soviet administration. Jan 16: all persons who in November 1939 resided in eastern Poland were henceforth citizens of the Soviet Union. p262

Those who refused to give up their Polish citizenship were jailed for questioning by the NKVD. "tens of thousands" p.266 Those who did sign were conscripted into the Red Army or (Berling?). Those who did not were sentenced to two-five years in the Gulag for the crime of being on Soviet soil without papers. This included Polish PWs who hadn't been accepted to Anders's army because of health. p.268

July 30 1944: Radio Moscow called upon the Underground Army in Warsaw to rise against the Germans. p283 For all of August and half of September, they fought with only scant air drops from British and American planes based in Italy, with the Russians denying them landing rights and refueling that could have doubled their loads. p285

When the Home Army destroyed, Russians condemned its leaders to prison for rising prematurely and then for having surrendered! p.286

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