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Author: Katarzyna Ossowska
Year of publication: 2011
Source: Show
Pages: 97-112
DOI Address: http://dx.doi.org/10.15804/ksm201105
PDF: ksm/15/ksm201105.pdf

The events that occurred on September 17 were extremely tragic, especially for Polish civilian population. After the defeat in September, a lot of Polish soldiers retreating to Hungary and Romania were taken captive. The reason behind their sad plight was the fact that, although captives, they were not entitled to prisoner-of-war status. They were grouped in camps built particularly for that purpose. Three of the camps were given a special status and the Polish captives detained there were murdered in spring 1940. After their invasion on the Second Republic of Poland, the Soviets started to consistently implement the previously sketched plan to exterminate the Polish nation. Due to mass arrests and deportations, hundreds of thousands of Poles, including women, children and elderly people, were taken to the wild backwoods regions of the USSR and left without any protection whatsoever. The flower of our nation was forced to hard labour, such as railway construction or deforestation of some Siberian areas. That tragic situation did not change until the summer of 1941, when the London-based Polish government, after long and stormy negotiations, signed an agreement with the Soviet government. By virtue of Sikorski-Majski agreement, masses of Polish citizens were granted amnesty and a Polish army was to be formed in the USSR. After announcement of the amnesty decree, Poles from the furthest recesses of the USSR started their southward journey to meet their “brothers”. Władysław Anders, general and commander of the Polish Army, had to face a number of difficulties in order to provide his soldiers with relatively good living conditions. The army was short of virtually everything, especially as it also gave shelter to civilians, who wanted to escape death. Therefore, it was an army composed of down-at-heel, rugged human skeletons. Thanks to their persistence and the feeling of great injustice, however, they became highly skilled soldiers and the Polish Army in the USSR was exceptionally vital and resilient.

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