Few days ago some crucial facts came to the day light. A Russian historian, Nikita Pietrov, found the documents in Russian archives which confirm that 592 polish citizens were captured and held by NKVD in July 1945 in result of Augustow Roundup. Their fate remains unknown and their bodies were never found.
Below you can find an article copied from http://www.doomedsoldiers.com/augustow-roundup.html
I’m personally interested in this story because some of the facts seem to concur with ma grandfather’s experiences.
Unsolved Communist Crimes: The Augustow Roundup in July, 1945 (Pol. “Oblawa Augustowska w lipcu 1945.”)
The Augustow roundup was one of the most bloody mass murders committed by the Soviets on Polish citizens, after the end of the II World War. Despite that fact however, neither school books, nor encyclopedias, even mention this tragic episode in the post-World-War II history of Poland. The whereabouts of those who perished during this roundup are unknown, as is unknown their place of burial.
In July, 1945 the Red Army units supported by the communist UB (Urzad Bezpieczenstwa – The State Security), and MO (pol. Milicja Obywatelska – The People’s Milicia) conducted a grand-scale pacification in the Puszcza Augustowska [eng. Augustow Primeval Forest], and in the surrounding area. The Soviet forces combed through the forests and villages, arresting all those suspected of collaboration with the Polish Underground. During the course of the roundup, nearly 2,000 individuals were detained. Some of those returned home after being interrogated and tortured, while 600 were sent to an unknown location, never to be heard from again. This is their story.
At the outset of the II World War, the Suwalki and Augustow counties fell under control of two occupiers: the Soviets, who established hegemony over the entire county of Suwalki, along with a portion of the Augustow county, and the Nazis, who reigned over a greater portion of the Augustow county. Right from the outset of this dual occupation, the Polish population residing in this area, began to form underground organizations to resist the occupiers.
Many armed underground organizations, such as Temporary Council of Suwalki Region (pol. Tymczasowa Rada Ziemi Suwalskiej), the Pilsudski’s Legion (pol. Legion Pilsudskiego), the Near-Niemen Legion (pol. Legion Nadniemenski), and National Revival (pol. Odrodzenie Narodowe) sprang into action, and ultimately united under the banner of ZWS, the Association of Armed Struggle (pol. Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej). The underground soldiers didn’t let the occupiers rest.
“During the time I was stationed in Augustow, we lost around 50 of our people […] the Poles were making it [the occupation] really difficult for us. It was real war.” – writes in his memoirs secretary of the Regional Committee of Belarus, which at that time (commonly known as the First Soviet Occupation), occupied this area.
After the Soviet-German war began, the infrastructure of the patriotic underground became unified under the standard of the Home Army, and was known in this area, as the Polish Insurrection Union (pol. Polski Zwiazek Powstanczy). In the beginning of Spring, 1944, the Home Army had nearly 5 thousand sworn members.
During the operation “Tempest” (pol. “Burza”), in Spring, 1944, the Home Army units had to, in large part, reveal their identities, a fact which after the Germans are ejected from the North-Eastern part of Poland, and are replaced by the Soviets, will have tragic consequences. The Home Army soldiers were arrested, and either sent to the East, or forcibly conscripted into the communist Polish People’s Army (pol. Ludowe Wojsko Polskie). These repressions considerably undermined the strength of the underground infrastructure. Only in Spring, 1945, the soldiers who hid in the forests, began to reorganize themselves into new units, and to engage the new communist regime. As a result of these activities, in the Suwalki county, the democratic underground units destroyed seventeen, out of eighteen MO (pol. People’s Militia) stations, and from among fourteen rural municipalities (pol. Gmina) created by the communists, only two functioned. Furthermore, twenty three death sentences against the communist collaborators, and dedicated “helpers” of the new “people’s government” were carried out. Equally active were units conducting activities in the Augustow county. The success of the Home Army aggravated the Polish communists, and their Soviet masters, particularly, since the Soviet Red Army, and the NKWD, who took active part against the underground units, and the population at large, became more frequent targets of the democratic underground. After the capture of Berlin and the end of the World War II, a much larger number of personnel from the UB, NKVD, and the Red Army was dispatched to conduct activities against the democratic underground. These activities were conducted mainly by the Soviets, and at the “request” of the provincial, and county “governments”.
“The Roundup of Death”
The largest “cleanup” operation against the democratic armed underground, was conducted in July, 1945, and thus, became known as either the “July Roundup”, or as the “Augustow” Roundup, as it took place in and around Augustow area. The operation was conducted mainly by the Soviet forces, including the NKWD, Smersh (Soviet acronym: “SMERt’ SHpionam” - engl. Death To the Spies) and the soldiers of the 3rd Belarusian Front. The functionaries of the UB, MO, and local informers played the role of the betrayer Judas, pointing out individuals who should be arrested, serving as guides, and as interpreters, during horrific interrogations that ensued. The communist forces which took part in the roundup, amounted to nearly fifteen thousand men. The methods, and circumstances, under which arrests took place varied. The Home Army soldiers, and individuals sympathetic to them who lived in the cities, were arrested either during evenings, or at night. The inhabitants of the villages on the other hand, were dragged out of their homes, snatched from country roads, or fields.
In the village of Jaziewo, for example, all villagers were called for a meeting, and all those who showed up were arrested. Many Home Army soldiers were arrested during firefights and skirmishes that took place during the roundup. Witold Zurawski, a Home Army Soldier from Jastrzebna, near Sztabin, reminisces :
“They encircled the entire village, and there were thousands of them – the Soviet henchmen marched, as if they were attacking in a line formation. They ordered us to exit our homes, so they could check our identity papers. After that they took all of us, men and some women, and they raced us to the barn, where we were held for two weeks. I had a feeling, that I am not going to make it, and when one day they took us out, I jumped into the crop field, and I was gone. The other villagers told me later, that after two weeks, the UB men wearing plain clothes arrived. They brought with them lists [with names] of people who were to be arrested. Those arrested were transported to Sztabin, and from there, they were taken to some unknown place. They vanished into thin air, [never to be seen again].”
Those detained were jailed in various places, and often subjected to horrible tortures. From among 1,900 to 2,000 arrested, around 600 people were selected from the list, which was prepared earlier by the communist collaborators. Among those selected, were women, and 15, or 16-years old boys. According to the information obtained from the witnesses, these individuals were placed on trucks and transported towards the Soviet boarder. From that moment on, their whereabouts are unknown. Today, one thing is certain – they were murdered on orders issued by the Soviets, and their remains are located somewhere on the territory of the former USSR. The search for the missing was undertaken by their families immediately after the roundup, but the trail ended at the selection camps, where they were held for a short time. […]
to be continued in the next post…