The Crime of Genocide Committed against the Poles by the USSR before and during World War II: An International Legal Study

By Karski, Karol | Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

The Crime of Genocide Committed against the Poles by the USSR before and during World War II: An International Legal Study


Karski, Karol, Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law


Also, some Russian scholars studying the crimes of Stalin's era--including Lebedeva--admit that the treatment of the Poles by the Soviet authorities was influenced by their nationality (i.e., being Polish was an incriminating circumstance). (135) The attitude of the Soviet authorities to the Poles can be seen, for instance, in a proposal submitted by the People's Commissar for Defence, Grigoriy Kulik, on September 21, 1939, to Stalin, regarding "the release of Belarusian and Ukrainian prisoners," but not Polish prisoners. (136) Lebedeva points to the arrests of Poles. She stresses that these arrests:

   [W]ere not isolated excesses of overzealous NKVD officers, but
   were a result of a carefully planned policy of destroying the
   representatives of the Polish statehood, a policy that began to
   be pursued long before Katyn, Kharkhov and Mednoye. The
   idea was to demolish the foundations of the Polish state and its
   culture. The arrests were overseen by the central authorities. In
   December [1939], for instance, they ordered the arrest of all
   reserve officers, also those that had retired, and shortly before
   in the war [of 1941] the arrests included people from central and
   western parts of Poland. (137)

Petrov explains why the Poles murdered at the time were not, for instance, sent to forced labor camps, where, after all, they would not be able to do any harm to the Soviet authorities. As the Russian scholar notes:

   Stalin thought otherwise. For him, those young, very well-educated
   and very patriotic Poles were Poland itself. Little
   crystals or, rather, seeds that would sprout wherever they would
   be thrown. They would return to Poland and create Poland in
   it. Sent to Voronezh or Magadan, they would build Poland
   there. And for Stalin, after September 1939 your state was to be
   no more. He agreed that within the territory of the former
   Second Polish Republic there would remain a mass of ordinary
   people he would be able to mould into whatever he chose. (138)

Historical publications compare the fates of various victims:

   [S]ome of the best scholars--not only in Poland but also in the
   world--became victims of [both] totalitarian regimes. The
   Krakow Gestapo wrote down just one cause of the arrest:
   Aktion gegen Univers. Professoren [action against university
   professors], while the Political Bureau of the Central Committee
   of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) condemned to
   death 25,700 Polish citizens as "diehard, inveterate enemies of
   the Soviet authorities. (139)

It is worth noting here that the extermination of the Polish intellectual elite happened simultaneously on either side of the German-Soviet partition border. (140) Some authors, when comparing the German Nazi and the Stalinist crimes, point out that in some respects the Stalinist regime was even more criminal than its German Nazi equivalent. For example, according to Marek Rezler:

   The murder of the Polish POWs from the three camps was
   completely different in nature to the extermination in the Nazi
   concentration camps or the Soviet labour camps. The attack
   was deliberate and--as it turned out--effective, because the
   murdered officers were often part of the elite of Polish science,
   medicine, culture and politics. (141)

Rezler also notes that this was unique, at least when it comes to World War II, as there were no other cases of deliberate extermination of an entire camp, not to mention three camps at the same time. He adds:

   Even the Germans, who had a specific extermination plan,
   provided for a similar action only after they had won the war.
   By liquidating the Kozelsk, Starobelsk and Ostashkov camps,
   the Soviet leaders assumed from the very beginning that the
   decisions sanctioning the division of the Polish state were final;
   they did not consider a possibility of the rebuilding of Poland or
   a military conflict in which the newly imprisoned Polish officers
   would become useful--not to mention their becoming allies. 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Crime of Genocide Committed against the Poles by the USSR before and during World War II: An International Legal Study
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.