Flying Tigers

The order to shoot 22,000 Poles

The Katyn order
This is the first page of Beria's memo to Josef Stalin proposing the murder of 22,000 Polish officers, gendarmes, police, military settlers, and others. It was accepted by the Politoburo on March 5, 1940, and bears the scrawled signatures of "I.V. Stalin, K. Voroshilov, A. Mikoyan, V. Molotov."

The translation that follows is from Anna Cienciala, Natalia Lebedeva, and Wojciech Materski, Katyn: A Crime Without Punishment, Yale University Press, 2008.

Top Secret

Central Committee of the All Union Communist Party

To Comrade Stalin

In the USSR NKVD prisoner-of-war camps of the western regions of Ukraine and Belorussia [that is, occupied eastern Poland], there are at present a large number of former officers of the Polish Army, former workers in the Polish Police and intelligence organs, members of Polish nationalist c-r [counter-revolutionary] parties, participants in exposed c-r insurgent organizations, refugees, and others. They are all sworn enemies of Soviet power, filled with hatred for the Soviet system of government.

Prisoner-of-war officers and police in the camps are attempting to continue their c-r work and are conducting anti-Soviet agitation. Each one of them is just waiting to be released in order to be able to enter actively into the battle against Soviet power.

The NKVD organs in the western oblasts [provinces] of Ukraine and Belorussia have exposed several c-r insurgent organisations. In all these c-r organizations, an active guiding role is played by former officers of the former Polish Army and former police and gendarmes.

Among the detained refugees and those who have violated the state border, a significant number of individuals who are participants in c-r espionage and insurgent organisations have also been uncovered.

The prisoner-of-war camps are holding a total (not counting the soldiers and the NCOs) of 14,736 former officers, officials, landowners, police, gendarmes, prison guards, settlers [i.e., Polish army veterans given grants of land in the border area], and intelligence agents, who are more than 97 percent Polish by nationality.

Among them are:

generals, colonels and lieutenant colonels 295
majors and captains 2,080
lieutenants, 2nd lieutenants, and ensigns 6,049
police officers, junior officers, border guards, and gendarmerie 1,030
rank-and-file police, gendarmes, prison guards, and intelligence agents 5,138
officials, landowners, priests, and settlers 144

In the prisons of the western oblasts of Ukraine and Belarussia a total of 18,632 arrested people (including 10,685 Poles) are held, including:

former officers 1,207
former police, intelligence agents, and gendarme 5141
spies and saboteurs 347
former land owners, factory owners, and officials 465
members of various c-5 and insurgent organisations and of various c-r elements 5,345
refugees 6127

Based on the fact that they are all hardened, irremediable enemies of Soviet power, the NKVD USSR believes it is essential:

I. To direct the USSR NKVD to:

1) examine the cases of the 14,700 former Polish officers, officials, landowners, police, intelligence agents, gendarmes, settlers, and prison guards who are now in the prisoner-of-war camps

2) and also examine the cases of those who have been arrested and are in the prisons of western oblasts of Ukraine and Belorussia, numbering 11,000, members of various c-r espionage and sabotage organizations, former landowners, manufaturers, former Polish officers, officials, and refugees, [and] using the special procedure, apply to them the supreme punishment, [execution by] shooting.

II. Examine [these] cases without calling in the arrested men and without presenting the charges, the decisions about the end of the investigation, or the documents of indictment, according to the following procedure:

a) against individuals in the prisoner-of-war camps on the basis of information presented by the USSR NKVD UPV

b) against individuals who have been arrested on the basis of information from files presented by the UkSSR NKVD and the BSSR NKVD

III. Assign the examination of cases and the carrying out of decisions to a troika consisting of Comrades Beria, Merkulov, Kobulov, and Bashtakov.

USSR People's Commissar of Internal Affairs
L. Beria

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Poland's Daughter

On this website: Front page | Flying Tigers | Chinese Air Force | Japan at War | Brewster Buffalo | Glen Edwards & the Flying Wing | Vietnam | War in the Modern World | Bluie West One | Poland 1939-1948 | Book Club | Book reviews | Question? | Google us | Website & webmaster | Site map

Other sites: Flying Tigers: the book | Daniel Ford's blog | Daniel Ford's books | Facebook | Piper Cub Forum | Raintree County | Reading Proust | Expedition Yacht Seal

Posted July 2019. Websites © 1997-2019 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved. This site sets no cookies, but the Mailchimp sign-up service does, and so does Amazon if you click through to their store.