World War Two was began by Germany attacking
Polish town of Wieluń at 4.40 a.m. on 1st September
1939. Five minutes later the battleship Schleswig-
Holstein, then on a "courtesy visit" to the Free City of
Danzig, opened fire on the Polish garrison on
Westerplatte without warning. Then the Germans
crossed the Polish border in many other places.
On 17th September, sixteen days after Nazi
Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet
Union did so from the east. The invasion ended on
6 October 1939 with the division and annexing of
the whole of the Second Polish Republic by
Germany and the Soviet Union.
Joseph Stalin, was the de facto
leader of the Soviet Union from
the mid-1920s until his death in 1953.
He was responsible for millions people
death not only during WW2.
The first victims of the Soviet Union reign were
approximately 250,000 Polish prisoners of war captured by
the USSR during and after the invasion of Poland. As the
Soviet Union had not signed international conventions on
rules of war, the Polish prisoners were denied legal status.
Almost all captured officers were murdered, and a large
number of ordinary soldiers sent to the Soviet Gulag.
In the two years between the invasion of Poland and the
1941 attack on USSR by Germany, the Soviets arrested and
imprisoned about 500,000 Poles.
The number of Poles who died due to Soviet repressions in
the period 1939-1941 is estimated at at least 150,000.
The Katyń Forest exhumation
after a mass execution of Polish
citizens ordered by Soviet
authorities in 1940
In 1940 and the first half of 1941, the Soviets
deported a total of more than 1,200,000 Poles in
four waves of mass deportations from the Soviet-
occupied Polish territories.
The first major operation took place on February
10, 1940, with more than 220,000 people sent to
northern European Russia. The second wave of 13
April 1940, consisted of 320,000 people sent
primarily to Kazakhstan. The third wave of June–
July 1940 totaled more than 240,000. The fourth
and final wave occurred in June 1941, deporting
300,000 Polish people.
The wave of arrests and mock convictions
contributed to forced resettlement of large
categories of people ("kulaks„ - farmers, Polish
civil servants, Polish Army officers, forest workers,
university professors, teachers, doctors, lawyers,
traders, industrialists) to the Gulag labour camps
and exile settlements in remote areas of the Soviet
Union. Altogether roughly a million people were
sent to Siberia. According to Norman Davies,
almost half of them were dead by the time the
Sikorski-Mayski Agreement had been signed in
1941. Around 55% of deportees to Siberia and
Soviet Central Asia were Polish women.
First wave of deportations took place at night from 9th
to 10th February 1940. The temperature was about
minus forty degrees (-40). People had very little time
(not more than half an hour) to pack all the things.
They didn’t know where they were going to be taken.
Those who took warm clothes, featherbeds and food
had a little chance to survive.
People were packed into catle wagons and were going
for weeks, thousands of kilometres. A lot of people
died during the journey. People were given very little
food and water. Sometimes happened they weren’t
given any food or water.
Those who survived the journey had to work very hard – in
mines, forests, they built roads in Siberia. Work conditions
were terrible: little food, long work hours (even 18 hours per
day), very poor medical support, tortures, very bad
accomadation conditions, temperature even below minus 40
It is estimated that only about 10 percent of
deported to Soviet Union Polish people survived.
Some of those who survived returned to Poland
after World War Two, but they couldn’t return to
their houses as the border of Poland was moved
This way some settled in Lower Silesia, which
before the war was a German territory and after
the war became a Polish region.
Szymon Markowicz, class IV CSzymon Markowicz, class IV C
Szkoła Podstawowa nr 9Szkoła Podstawowa nr 9
Dzierżoniów, PolandDzierżoniów, Poland
February 2014February 2014