Poland First To Fight
Soviet Invasion of Poland

On 17 September 1939, based on a secret protocol to the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the USSR, which is also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, named after the foreign ministers who had signed it on 23 August 1939, Soviet troops started crossing Poland's eastern borders and occupying areas designated on a map that was attached to the treaty as a secret annex. This new surprising strategic initiative essentially determined Poland's fate in a conflict that had just begun.

Early morning on 17 September 1939, Wac&lstroke;aw Grzybowski, the Polish ambassador to Moscow, refused to collect a Soviet note which sought to justify USSR's aggression. That move was backed by the Foreign Minister Józef Beck, who at the time was in course of evacuation, along with the diplomatic corps accredited in Warsaw, towards the Romanian border and was staying in the town of Kuty.

The Soviet aggression accelerated Poland's military defeat in the September campaign, highlighting the imperial nature of the interests and policies of both of Poland's neighbours. In April 1939, Germany denounced the 1934 Polish-German No Force Declaration and then on 17 September 1939, the USSR broke the Treaty of Non-Aggression signed with Poland in 1932.


This section contains wartime publications and documents related to the Soviet invasion and occupation of Poland during Second World War.


The Soviet Occupation of Poland

A Free Europe Pamphlet No.3, edited by Casimir Smogorzewski. The pamphlet was published in England in December 1940 to counter Soviet claims that Eastern Poland was doing just fine, or better, under the occupation of the "liberating" Red Army. It contains an introduction by J. B. Morton, writer and columnist with Daily Express.

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The Soviet Occupation of Poland

A confidential report written for the War Office by British Liaison Officer Lieutenant Colonel Leslie R. Hulls. It was sent from the HQ of the Polish Army in Uzbekistan in June 1942. Hulls reports on the miserable condition of the Polish Army in Russia. It provides clear evidence that the "mystery" of the missing Polish officers was known in the West.

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The Soviet Occupation of Poland

"Soviet policy is clear to everyone. One million of the best Polish citizens is being gradually condemned to destruction. All the successive moves tend clearly and logically to the realisation of this plan, moves inspired by the consequent policy which has been applied since 1939 up to the present moment." - Hulls report on the Polish Soviet relations sent in October 1942.

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Sir Owen O'Malley Katyn Reports

"We have been obliged to... restrain the Poles from putting their case clearly before the public, to discourage any attempts by the public and the press to probe the ugly story to the bottom" Sir Owen O'Malley dramatic despatches establish beyond doubt, that the Russians (who in 1940 were allied to the Germans) carried out the Katyn massacre.

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British Reactions to the Katyn Massacre

Historical paper published by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 2003. It traces the development of the British response to the massacre. The report contains previously unpublished memorandum by the late Dr. Rohan D'Olier Butler who was Historical Adviser to Secretaries of State from 1963 to 1982.

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Digest of Information Regarding the Situation in Poland

Digest of information regarding the situation in Poland prepared by the Polish Telegraph Agency in April 1945. Describes Soviet arrests and mass deportations of Poles.

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Russian Rule in Poland, 1939-1941

Final report to National Council for Soviet and East European Research. The report provides a summary of Soviet occupation policies and practices in Poland. Written by Jan Gross in 1983.

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