Skip to comments.Poles pleaded with Hitler to free them from Stalin's grip
Posted on 08/02/2005 12:11:04 PM PDT by lizol
Poles pleaded with Hitler to free them from Stalin's grip
New documents on attempts to Polish officers from Soviet POW camps have been found in the archives of the German Foreign Office. Russians continued negotiations concerning freeing a few hundreds Polish army officers even long after they had been shot death in the spring of 1940 - a Polish institute probing Nazi and Stalinist crimes has found out.
Families of a few hundreds of Polish officers wrote letters to German Foreign Office pointing out their German origin or other kinds of connection to get their husbands, brothers and fathers back free from the soviet captivity. Unaware that Stalin had already given orders to shoot some 22 thousands of Polish soldiers, Germans kept intervening to save 500 officers. Its not quite clear whether its only the families who desired to free the officers in this way or if the soldiers claimed their German ancestry too. As the Institute says, its difficult to estimate the exact number of those released in this way, so far only some 70 cases were known. The 10 thousand of pages from German Foreign Office archives will shed a completely new light on the case, says a historian Wojciech Roszkowski:
The Third Reich was allied with the Soviet Union at that time and until the German-Soviet war broke out in June 1941, the correspondence went on. Russians would refuse releasing the officers due to insufficient evidence of their German roots.
The Polish officers and men were taken prisoner by the Red Army when the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland in 1939. On Stalins orders 22 thousand Poles were executed in Katyn Forest and Kharkov, both in Ukraine. The Nazis revealed the crime in 1943 but the Soviet Union thereafter always blamed Hitler for the massacre, until 1990 when Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader acknowledged the Soviet responsibility. However, Polish and Russian interpretations are still at variance with each other. Wojciech Roszkowski says though, that every year new facts are revealed giving objective information on the case:
Poland considers the massacre in Katyn a war crime of genocide and wants to find all suspects still alive, the new findings seem to bring the case closer to an end.
Stalin was a monster, not as crazy as Hitler perhaps, but just as evil.
And so another page in history has been written.
My grandfather was an officer imprisoned at Starobielsk. His story follows:
His family fled communism in the Ukraine when he was at a very young age, but his parents taught him well later on in life. He knew the Soviet mentality: the lower you are on the totem pole, the better off you are.
So he stripped his uniform of any badges that told he was an officer. His fellow imprisoned officers told him he was crazy, that officers were always treated better.
When they were lined up, he purposefully kept himself ungroomed and put on this dumb look on his face.
He was thus spared as a common soldier, while his fellow officers were sent to Katyn to their deaths.
Being trapped between two political monsters and mass murderers is the worst thing imaginable. I can perfectly sympathize how these Polish officers tried the best they could to be freed from the Stalin's Soviet Union captivity. Not sure what would Hitler would have done with them though if they had succeeded. Third Reich thoroughly investigated racial background of its subjects, and if it turned out that Polish officers were lying about their German roots, they would be shipped straight to Nazi Camps from NKVD Prisons.
Russia really needs an institute like the one in Poland to broadly investigate Stalin crimes so no attempts to rehabilitate this murderer can ever be justified.
Last month my wife and I visited a newly opened WWII museum in Warsaw, Poland. It depicted the Warsaw uprising which occurred rather late in the war [not the Jewish uprising which occurred earlier].
Our guide described the events leading up to the invasion of Poland simultaneously by both the Germans and the Russians.
The Polish student that was with us told us that his grandparents had fled from the invading Germans by taking a train to the east. They arrived on the Russian border on the same day that the Russians were invading by train. His grandparents hopped on the first train back to Warsaw. His grandfather was captured by the Germans and forced to work on a German farm until the end of the war. He said that his Grandfather was treated well by the farmer and released just prior to the allies invasion at the end of the war.
Hitler wanted to exterminate the Polish race, every bit as much as he wanted to eliminate the Jews, albeit at a slower pace.
Yes, I am aware of this. I was wondering what could have happened to the Polish officers if they had succeeded in getting them released from Soviet Prisons to the Nazi third Reich on the ground of Germanic origin. Just terrible to think that people were exterminated simply for belonging to "wrong" classes, races, etc.
Where are MoveOn and CodePink when you need them?
If Hitler had been less paranoid and kept his word to the Russians, we might well have been fighting both of them in the war. What I don't get is why they thought that the Nazis would treat them any better.
Doesn't surprise me, but it seems pretty silly. A lot of Poles would be "Aryans" descended from Swedes who conquered large parts of Poland. Strange... what a bunch of wackos...
Because the immediate threat is always worse than the deferred threat. Yes, the Nazis might have executed the officers as well, but unlike with the Russians, there was a chance that they wouldn't. In the end, the Germans did not institute a wholesale slaughter of Polish officers (they were too busy killing other peoples) so the families were right to have gone to them for help.
And captured Red army soldiers pleaded with Eisehower not to be sent back to the Soviet Union and certain execution.
Eisenhower refused to listen (although his officers begged him to) and sent them back to their deaths.
That's easy. Soviets were considered to be "barbarians" and "savages" whereas the Germans were "civilized people". It was simply unimaginable at that time, that the Germans could commit such crimes. On the other hand many Polish officers had experience with the Soviets from the 1919-1921 war and knew what to expect.
The exhibits then go on to the occupation and the resistance. They have recordings of some of the actual people involved. They have weapons from both the resistance and the invaders. They also display artifacts used by the resistance like a stove which was really a radio.
It was very impressive. We did not get to the exhibits of the uprising, because the museum lost power. The rooms went dark and the main event appeared to be a movie which we could not watch. The Polish students we were with were impressed. I would recommend it.
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