In the spring of 2012, the European Court of Human Rights decided on Russia's innocence in the mass shooting of soldiers and officers of the Polish army near Katyn. The Polish side has almost completely lost the case. There are surprisingly few reports about this in the media, but a lack of accurate information about the fate of the dead should not open the way to political speculations that poison relations between the two nations. And this applies not only to the fate of thousands of Polish soldiers and officers, but also to the fate of tens of thousands of Russian compatriots who have fallen into captivity after the Polish-Soviet war 1919-1921. This article is an attempt to shed light on one of the "dark spots" of Russian, Polish and European stories.
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As a result of the war started by Poland against Soviet Russia, the Polish army captured over 150 thousand Red Army soldiers. In total, in combination with political prisoners and interned civilians, more than 200 thousands of Red Army soldiers, civilians, White Guards, anti-Bolshevik and nationalist (Ukrainian and Belarusian) militia turned out to be in Polish captivity and concentration camps.
The second Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created a huge "archipelago" of dozens of concentration camps, stations, prisons and serf casemates. It is spread over the territory of Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania and included not only dozens of concentration camps, including the openly named in the then European press “death camps” and the so-called. internment camps (these were mainly concentration camps built by Germans and Austrians during the First World War, such as Stshalkovo, Shiptyurno, Lancut, Tuhole), but also prisons, sorting concentration stations, concentration points and various military facilities like Modlin and the Brest Fortress, where there were four concentration camps at once - the Bug-shuppe, the fort of Berg, the barracks of Graevsky and the officers ...
The islands and islands of the archipelago were located including in Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Lithuanian cities and towns and were called Pikulitsa, Korosten, Zhytomyr, Aleksandrov, Lukov, Ostrov-Lomzhinskiy, Rombertov, Zdunska Volya, Torun, Dorogusk, Plotsk, Radom, Przemysl, Lviv, Fridrikhovka, Zvyagel, Dombe, Demblin, Petrokov, Wadovitsa, Bialystok, Baranovichi, Molodechno, Vilna, Pinsk, Ruzhany, Bobruisk, Grodno, Luninets, Volkovyssk, Minsk, Pulawy, Powazki, Rovno, Stryi, Kovel ...
This should also include the so-called. work teams that worked in the district and in the surrounding landowners, formed from prisoners, among which at times mortality exceeded 75%. The most deadly for prisoners were concentration camps located in Poland - Strzalkovo and Tuchol.
The situation of the prisoners in the first months of the concentration camps was so terrible and disastrous that in September 1919, the Polish legislature (Sejm) created a special commission to investigate the situation in the concentration camps. The commission completed its work in the 1920 year immediately before the start of the Polish offensive on Kiev. She not only pointed out poor sanitary conditions in the camps, as well as the famine prevailing among the prisoners, but also admitted the guilt of the military authorities for the fact that "the death rate from typhoid fever was reduced to an extreme degree."
As Russian researchers note, today “the Polish side, despite the indisputable facts of inhuman treatment of Red Army prisoners in 1919-1922, does not recognize its responsibility for their death in Polish captivity and categorically rejects any accusations in this regard. Special indignation of the Poles is caused by attempts to draw parallels between the Nazi concentration camps and Polish camps for prisoners of war. However, there are grounds for such comparisons ... Documents and testimonies “allow us to conclude that the local executors were guided not by correct orders and instructions, but by verbal directives of the highest Polish leaders.”
V.Shved gives the following explanation to this: “The head of the Polish state, a former terrorist fighter Jozef Pilsudski, became famous in tsarist Russia as the organizer of the most successful actions and expropriations. He always provided maximum secrecy of his plans. The military coup that Pilsudski carried out in May 1926 of the year was a complete surprise for everyone in Poland. Pilsudski was a master of camouflage and diversion maneuvers. There is no doubt that he applied this tactic in the situation with the prisoners of the Red Army. ” “It is also possible to conclude with a high degree of confidence that the predetermination of the death of captured Red Army soldiers in the Polish camps was caused by the general anti-Russian mood of Polish society — the more the Bolsheviks die, the better. Most politicians and military leaders of Poland at that time shared these sentiments. ”
The most vividly anti-Russian sentiments that reigned in Polish society were formulated by Polish Deputy Interior Minister Jozef Beck: “As for Russia, I don’t find enough epithets to characterize the hatred that we have towards it.” The head of the then Polish state, Jozef Pilsudski, was no less colorful: “When I take Moscow, I’ll write on the Kremlin wall:“ To speak Russian is forbidden ”.”
As noted by the Deputy General Commissar of the Civil Administration of the Eastern Lands, Michal Kossakovsky, it was not considered a sin to kill or torture the “Bolshevik”, which included Soviet civilians. One example of what this poured into practice: N. Valden, a cultural worker of the Red Army captivated by the summer of 1919, later recalled how, at stops to the train, where he, stripped by Poles to “underpants and a shirt, barefoot,” was loaded and in which the prisoners of the first 7-8 days traveled “without any food”, Polish intellectuals came to mock or check their personal weapon on the prisoners, as a result of which “we missed many of our trip”.
“The horrors were going on in the Polish camps ...” Representatives of the joint Soviet-Polish commission, representatives of the Polish and Russian Red Cross, and the French military mission in Poland, and the émigré press [Svoboda ”B. Savinkov, Paris“ Common Cause ”agreed on this opinion. ”, Berlin’s“ Rudder ”...), and international organizations (among them the American Union of Christian Youth under the direction of the prisoner of war secretary D.O. Wilson (USMCA), American Relief Administration (ARA)].
In fact, the stay of the Red Army soldiers in Polish captivity was not regulated by any legal norms, since the government of J. Pilsudski refused to sign agreements prepared by the delegations of the Red Cross societies of Poland and Russia at the beginning of 1920. Moreover, the “political-psychological atmosphere in Poland did not contribute to the observance of the generally accepted humane attitude towards ex-combatants”. This is eloquently stated in the documents of the Mixed (Russian, Ukrainian and Polish delegations) commission on the repatriation of prisoners.
For example, the real position of the supreme Polish authorities in relation to the “Bolshevik prisoners” is set forth in the minutes of the 11 meeting of the commission from July 28 of 1921. It states: "When the camp command considers it possible ... to provide more human conditions for the existence of prisoners of war, prohibitions come from the center." In the same protocol, a general assessment was made of the situation in which the captured Red Army men were in Polish camps. The Polish side was forced to agree with this assessment: “The ORE (Russian-Ukrainian delegation) could never allow prisoners to be treated so inhumanly and with such cruelty ... it is not uncommon that the Red Army men are in the camp literally without any clothes and shoes or even there is no underwear ... OUR delegation does not recall the continuous nightmare and horror of beatings, injuries and continuous physical extermination, which was carried out to Russian prisoners of war of the Red Army, especially the Communists, in the first days and months of captivity tions. "
The fact that nothing has changed even after a year and a half follows from the report of the Chairman of the Russian-Ukrainian delegation of the Mixed Soviet-Polish Commission for Prisoners of War, Refugees and Hostages E.Eboltin, prepared in February 1923: “Maybe due to historical hatred of the Poles for Russians or for other economic and political reasons, prisoners of war in Poland were not considered as unarmed enemy soldiers, but as disfranchised slaves ... Food was provided unfit for consumption and below any subsistence minimum. When a prisoner of war was taken prisoner, all uniforms were removed, and prisoners of war remained very often in the same underwear in which they lived behind the camp wire ... the Poles treated them not as people of equal race, but as slaves. The beatings of prisoners of war were practiced at every turn. ” Here there is a mention of bringing these unfortunates to work degrading human dignity: people were harnessed instead of horses into carts, plows, harrows, cesspool carts.
From the A.Ioffe telegram to Comrade Chicherin, Polburo, Centroevak from 14 December 1920 Riga: “The position of prisoners in the Strzhalkovo camp is especially hard. Mortality among prisoners of war is so great that if it does not decrease, they will all die out within six months. In the same mode as the Communists, they keep all the captured Jews of the Red Army, keeping them in separate barracks. Their regime is deteriorating due to anti-Semitism cultivated in Poland. Ioffe.
“The death rate of prisoners under the above conditions was terrible,” the report of the Russian-Ukrainian delegation noted. “How many of our prisoners of war died in Poland cannot be established, since the Poles did not keep any records of those who died in the year 1920, and the biggest death rate in the camps was in the autumn of the year 1920.”
According to the order of counting prisoners of war adopted in the Polish army in 1920, not only those who were actually taken to the camps were taken prisoners, but also those who were left wounded without help on the battlefield or shot on the spot. Therefore, many of the "disappeared" tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers were killed long before being detained in concentration camps. In general, the prisoners were destroyed in two main ways: 1) with executions and massacres and 2) with the creation of intolerable conditions.
Mass killings and executions
Polish historians significantly underestimate the number of Soviet prisoners of war and most often do not take into account that not all of them fell into the camps. Many died before. The reasonableness of this assumption of Russian historians is consistent with Polish documentary evidence. Thus, in one of the Polish military command telegrams from 3 December 1919, it is said: “According to available data, the fronts do not adhere to the procedure for transporting, registering and sending prisoners of war to the camp ... Prisoners are often not sent to assembly points, but directly after taking captivity is detained at the fronts and used at work, because of this, accurate accounting of prisoners of war is impossible. Due to the poor state of clothing and food ... epidemic diseases spread in a frightening way among them, bringing a huge percentage of mortality due to the general depletion of the body. ”
Modern Polish authors, speaking of the enormous mortality among prisoners who were sent to concentration camps, themselves note that “Polish journalists and most historians point out, first of all, the lack of money. The resurgent Speech of the Commonwealth could barely put on and feed its own soldiers. The prisoners were not enough, because it could not be enough. However, not everything can be explained by lack of funds. The problems of the captives of that war did not begin behind the barbed wire of the camps, but on the first line when they threw weapons. ”
Russian scientists and researchers believe that even before being sent to concentration camps, only during the period of capture and transportation of captured Red Army soldiers from the front, a significant part of them (about 40%) died. A very eloquent testimony to this is, for example, the report of the command of the 14 th Wielkopolska Infantry Division to the command of the 4 th army from October 12 1920, in which, in particular, it was reported that “during the fighting from Brest-Litovsk to Baranovichi, a total of 5000 was taken about 40% of the named amount of wounded and killed Bolsheviks was captured and left on the battlefield
20 December 1919, at a meeting of the Polish High Command, Major Yakushevich, an employee of the Volyn Voucher (commanding of the landmark district), reported: “Prisoners of war arriving in the Galician front look exhausted, hungry and sick. Only in one train sent from Ternopil and counting 700 prisoners of war only 400 arrived. ” The death rate of prisoners of war in this case was about 43%.
“Perhaps the most tragic fate is among the new arrivals, who are brought in unheated cars without appropriate clothes, caught cold, hungry and tired, often with the first symptoms of illnesses that lie insanely with apathy on bare boards,” described Natalia Belezhinska from the Polish Red Cross. “Therefore, many of them after such a trip end up in the hospital, and the weaker die.” Mortality of prisoners, recorded at the marshalling yards and shipments, was very high. For example, in Bobruisk in December 1919 - January 1920 933 prisoners died, in Brest-Litovsk from 18 to 28 November 1920 - 75 prisoners, in Pulawy in less than a month, from November 10 to 2 December 1920, - 247 prisoners ...
8 December 1920, Minister of Military Affairs Kazimierz Sosnkovsky even appointed an investigation regarding the transportation of hungry and sick prisoners of war. The direct reason for this was information about the transport of 200 prisoners from Kovel to a kind of “vestibule” before entering the camps - a concentration point for filtering prisoners of war in Puławy. On the 37 train, the prisoners died, the sick arrived. “They were on the way for 137 days and during all this time they were not allowed to eat. As soon as they were unloaded in Pulavy, the prisoners immediately attacked the horse’s corpse and ate raw carrion. ” General Godlevsky, in a letter to Sosnkovsky, indicates that he counted 5 people on that day on the day of departure, which means that 700 people died on the way. “Most of them are so hungry that they could not get out of the cars on their own. On the very first day in Pulawy, 473 people died. ”
From the diary of the Red Army soldier Mikhail Ilyichev (taken prisoner on the territory of Belarus, he was a prisoner of the Strzalkovo concentration camp): “... in the autumn of 1920, we were taken in cars half filled with coal. The tightness was hellish, before reaching the landing station, six people died. Then for a day we were marinated in some kind of swamp - this is so that we could not lie down on the ground and sleep. Then drove under escort to the place. One wounded man could not walk; we took turns dragging him in turn, thus knocking down a column. Convoys this tired, and they beat him with rifle butts. It became clear - for a long time we would not stretch that way, and when we saw the rotten barracks and ours, who were wandering behind a thorn in what the mother gave birth, the reality of a speedy death became obvious. ”
Mass executions of Russian prisoners 1919-1920 - This is not propaganda fabrication, as some Polish media are trying to present the case. One of the first evidence we know belongs to Tadeusz Kossak, a fighter formed by the Austrians of the Polish Corps during the First World War and described in his memoirs published in 1927 (“Jak to bylo w armii austriackiej”), as in 1919 in Volyn, the streets of the 1 regiment were shot 18 Red Army.
Polish researcher A. Velieveysky wrote about orders of General Sikorsky (the future prime minister of the second Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) to shoot Russian prisoners of war with 23 machine guns and not Russian soldiers into the prisoner of 1994, which is a popular newspaper in Poland, the newspaper “Picks out” from 300 in February. There is information about other similar cases. Including the evidence of systematic reprisals of Poles with prisoners on the front lines of the aforementioned K. Svitsalsky, one of the closest officers of Pilsudski. Polish historian Marcin Handelsman, a volunteer in 1920, also recalled that "our commissars were not taken alive at all." This is confirmed by the participant of the Warsaw battle, Stanislav Kavchak, who is in the book “The Silent Echo. Memories of the 1914-1920 War. ”Describes how the commander of the 18 Infantry Regiment hung all the commissars taken prisoner. According to the testimony of the Red Army soldier A. Chestnov, who was taken prisoner in May 1920, after the arrival of their group of prisoners in Sedliec, all "... party comrades among 33 people were singled out and shot right there"
According to the testimony of VVValuev, a Red Army man who escaped from captivity, who was captured on 18 in August near Novominsk: “Of the entire composition (about 1000 was captivated a man - approx.),” He showed during the interrogation in Kovno, “they chose communists, officers, commissars and Jews, and right there in front of all the Red Army soldiers, one Jewish commissar was beaten and then shot. ” He further testified that everyone was taken away their uniforms, and who did not immediately execute orders, the Polish legionaries were beaten to death. All those who were taken prisoner were sent to the Tuchol concentration camp of the Pomeranian province, where there were already many wounded who had not been tied up for weeks, as a result of which they had worms in their wounds. Many of the wounded died, every day they were buried by 30-35 people.
In addition to the recollections of eyewitnesses and participants, there are at least two official reports about the execution of prisoners of Red Army. The first is contained in Summary III (Operational) Division of the High Command of the Polish Army (VP) of 5 in March 1919. The second is in the operational summary of the command of the 5 Army of the Interim Government signed by the Chief of Staff of the 5 Army Lieutenant Colonel R. Volikovsky, who says that 24 August 1920 west of the Dzyadlov-Mlawa-Tsekhanov line fell into Polish captivity around Soviet Cossacks 400 3 Guy's cavalry corps. In retaliation "for 92 soldiers and 7 officers who were brutally murdered by the Soviet cavalry corps 3", the soldiers of the 49 Infantry Regiment of the 5 Polish Army shot prisoner Cossacks with 200 guns. This fact was not noted in the reports of Division III of the Supreme Command of the Interim Government.
As the Red Army men who returned from Polish captivity, V.A. Bakmanov and PT Karamnokov, the selection of prisoners to be shot near Mlawoy was carried out by a Polish officer “by persons”, “representative and cleaner dressed, and more cavalrymen”. The number of people to be shot was determined by a French officer (pastor) who was present among the Poles, who said that an 200 man would be enough.
Polish operational reports contain several direct and indirect reports about the shooting of the Red Army soldiers in captivity. An example is the live summary from 22 June 1920 of the year. Another example is a summary from 5 in March 1919 from the grouping gene. A. Listovsky, in which it was reported: “... a detachment under the command of the pores. Yesman, supported by the Wetzek mobile unit, occupied the village of Brodnica, where 25 Red Army prisoners were captured, including several Poles. Some of them were shot. ” The existing practice of dealing with prisoners of war is evidenced by the report of the Polish North-Eastern Front from 7 August 1920 from the Polissya grouping: “During the night, units from the [Soviet] 8 and 17 infantry divisions came over to our side. Several mouths went in full with officers. Among the reasons for surrender, officers call excessive fatigue, apathy and food shortages, as well as the proven fact that the 32 infantry regiment does not shoot prisoners. ” It is quite obvious, says GF Matveev, that “the execution of prisoners could hardly be considered something exceptional if the information about them fell into documents intended for the high command. In the reports there are reports of Polish punitive expeditions against insurgents in Volhynia and in Belarus, accompanied by executions, arsons of individual houses and entire villages. ”
It should be said that the fate of many prisoners, who for one reason or another did not want to "mess around" the Poles, was unenviable. The fact is that at the final stage of the war, the destruction of the Red Army soldiers who were in the Polish rear was widespread. True, there is not much evidence at our disposal, but they are very weighty. How can the meaning of the appeal of the head of the Polish state and supreme commander Y. Pilsudski "Toward the Polish people", dated approximately August 24 1920 of the year, i.e. a time when the red pieces crushed near Warsaw were rapidly retreating to the east. Its text was not included in the Marshal’s collected works, but is reproduced in full in the work of the Catholic priest, M.M., devoted to the 1920 war. Grzybowski. In particular, it stated:
"The defeated and cut off Bolshevik gangs still wander and hide in the forests, robbing and plundering the property of the inhabitants.
Polish people! Stand shoulder to shoulder to fight the fleeing enemy. Let no aggressor leave the Polish land! For those who died while defending the Fatherland and brothers' homeland, let your punishing fists, armed with pitchforks, braids and flails, fall upon the shoulders of the Bolsheviks. Captured alive give into the hands of the nearest military or civilian authorities.
Let the retreating enemy not have a minute of rest, let death and bondage await him on all sides! Polish people! To arms! "
Pilsudski’s address was extremely ambiguous, its content could also be interpreted as a direct call for the extermination of Red Army soldiers who were in the Polish rear, although this is not directly mentioned. Pilsudski’s appeal had the most serious consequences for the “generously” wounded Red Army soldiers abandoned on the battlefield. Evidence of this can be a hotline following the Warsaw battle in the Polish military magazine Bellona, containing information about the losses of the Red Army. In particular, it says: “The losses of prisoners to 75 thousand, the losses of those killed on the battlefield, killed by our peasants and the wounded are very large” (In this context, it is appropriate to recall that according to the calculations of the head of the Defense Ministry’s department to perpetuate the memory A.V. Kirilin who died during the defense of the Fatherland, "approximately 216 thousand were captured, of which a little more than 160 thousand were sent to the camps. That is, before the Red Army soldiers got into the camps, they were killed on the way").
From the testimony of Ilya Tumarkin, who returned from Polish captivity: “First of all: when we were captured, the cutting of the Jews began and got rid of death by some strange coincidence. The next day we were driven on foot to Lublin, and this transition was for us a real Golgotha. The ferocity of the peasants was so great that the little boys threw stones at us. Accompanied by curses, abuse, we arrived in the city of Lublin on a feeding point, and here the most shameless beating of Jews and Chinese began ... 24 / V-21g. "
According to the testimony of the deputy. Commissioner-General of the Civil Administration of the Eastern Lands of Michal Kossakovsky, it was not considered a sin to kill or torture a captive Bolshevik. He recalls that "... in the presence of General Listovsky (the commander of the task force in Polesie) shot the boy just because he allegedly smiled unkindly." In the concentration camps themselves, the prisoners could also be shot for nothing. Thus, the captured Red Army soldier M. Sherstnev in the Belostok camp was killed on 12 in September of 1920, only for having dared to object to the lieutenant Kalchinsky in a conversation on the officers' kitchen, who on this basis ordered him to be shot.
There is also evidence of the use of prisoners as living targets. Major General V.I. Filatov - at the beginning of 1990's The editor of the Military History Magazine, one of the first to raise the topic of the mass death of Red Army soldiers in Polish concentration camps, writes that a favorite occupation of some Polish cavalrymen (“the best in Europe”) was to place Red Army prisoners throughout the huge cavalry parade and learn from them how to “collapse to the waist” from all over the “heroic” shoulder, at the full gallop of a person. Brave lords cut the captives "on the fly, with a turn." There were many placings for "training" in the cavalry felling. Just like the death camps. In Pulava, Domba, Strzalkowo, Tucholi, Baranovichi ... The garrisons of brave cavalrymen stood in every small town and had thousands of prisoners "at hand". For example, only the Lithuanian-Belarusian division of the Polish army left 1153 prisoners at its disposal in Bobruisk.
According to I.V. Mikhutina, “all these unknown victims of arbitrariness, beyond even approximate calculation, expand the scale of the tragedy of Soviet prisoners of war in Polish captivity and show how incomplete they reflect his known data.”
Some Polish and Russian-speaking authors claim that the brutality of the Poles in the 1919-1920 war was caused by the brutality of the Red Army. At the same time, they refer to scenes of violence against prisoners of Poles, described in the diary of I. Babel, which served as the basis for the novel “Conarmia” and represent Poland as the victim of aggressive Bolsheviks. Yes, the Bolsheviks knew that the nearest way to exporting the revolution to Europe was through Poland, which was important in the plans of the "world revolution". However, the Polish leadership also dreamed of restoring the second Speech to the Commonwealth within the boundaries of 1772, that is, passing just west of Smolensk. However, in both 1919 and 1920, the aggressor was Poland, which, after independence, was the first to move its troops eastward. This is a historical fact.
In connection with the widespread opinion in Polish scientific literature and journalism about the brutality of the Red Army in the occupied Polish territory in the summer of 1920, Mr. G.F. Matveev gives evidence of the competent Polish military institution - 6 of the 2nd section (military intelligence and counterintelligence) of the Warsaw Military Headquarters County from September 19 1920. In the so-called "invasive report" she described the behavior of the Red Army: "The behavior of the Soviet troops throughout the occupation was impeccable, it was proved that until the time of retreat they did not allow any unnecessary robbery and violence. They tried to carry out requisition formally and pay the required prices in money , although depreciated. The impeccable behavior of the Soviet troops in comparison with the violence and unnecessary robbery of our retreating units significantly undermined the trust in the Polish authorities "(CAW. SRI DOK II371.1 / A; Z doswiadczen ostatnich t ygodni. - Bellona, 1920, No. 7, s. 484).
Creating intolerable conditions
In the works of Polish authors, as a rule, the fact of the very high mortality of Soviet soldiers in captivity is denied or hushed up due to unbearable conditions of existence. However, not only survivors' memories remained, but also diplomatic notes of the Russian side (for example, a note from January 6 1921) with protests against the cruel treatment of prisoners, which detail the monstrous facts of the Red Army camp life.
Bullying and beatings. Polish concentration camps systematically practiced beatings, harassment, and cruel punishment of prisoners. As a result, “the inhuman conditions of captivity had the most terrible consequences and led to their rapid extinction. In the camp of Dереbie, cases of the beating of prisoners by officers of the Polish army were recorded ... In the camp of Tucholi, the commissar of the 12 regiment Kuzmin was beaten. In the Bobruisk Prison, a prisoner of war was slaughtered by the fact that he did not obey orders to clean up the sewage with his bare hands. Instructor Myshkina, taken prisoner near Warsaw, was raped by two officers and thrown into jail on Dzelitnaya Street in Warsaw without any clothes. The actress of the Red Army field theater, Topolnitskaya, also captured near Warsaw, was beaten during interrogation with a rubber band, hung by her feet from the ceiling, and then sent to a camp in Dбеbie. These and similar incidents of bullying Russian prisoners of war became known to the Polish press and provoked certain voices of protest and even parliamentary requests.
Paragraph 20 instructions of the Ministry of Military Affairs of Poland for the camps of 21 June 1920, the punishment of prisoners by flogging was strictly prohibited. At the same time, as evidenced by the documents, the punishment with rods "became a system in most Polish camps for prisoners of war and interned during the whole period of their existence." N.S. Raysky notes that in Zlochev, the Red Army men also "were beaten with wire whips made of iron wire from electrical wires." Cases have been recorded in which prisoners were pinned to death with rods and barbed wire whips. And even the then press openly wrote about such facts.
In some Polish camps, Russian prisoners were used as traction force, instead of horses, in logging, arable land, and road works. In the Strshalkovo camp, “prisoners of war are forced to carry their own stool instead of horses on themselves. They carry both plows and harrows. ”
As the Plenipotentiary of the RSFSR in Poland wrote 6 on January 1922, “those arrested are daily expelled to the streets and instead of walking exhausted people under the command to run, ordering them to fall into the mud and rise again. If the prisoners refuse to go to the mud or if someone of them, having executed the order, cannot rise, exhausted by the harsh conditions of their maintenance, then they are beaten with rifle butts ”.
“Disciplinary sanctions applied to prisoners of war are marked by barbarous cruelty. The room for those arrested in the same camp is a 2 cubicle of a coffer house, similar in nature to the cattle shed. In this punishment cell, 10 to 17 are planted ... In addition to these cruel punishments, cane and fist reprisals against prisoners of war flourish in the camps ... The attempts of our delegation to soften the regime in the camps, citing the Polish delegation’s sabotage "(from the certificate the plenipotentiary of the RSFSR in Warsaw on August 10 1922).
In fairness, it’s worth pointing out that in the same way the Poles dealt not only with Soviet prisoners, but also with the Poles - the Communists, of whom several thousand also died in the same camps.
On the basis of complaints and statements as a result of collected information from camps and prisons, the chairman of the ORE department E.N. Ignatov informed 20 of June 1921 of the year to Moscow (head of the Department of the NKID, Yakubovich and Tsentroevak Pilyavsky) that “the situation of prisoners of war in the camps did not improve much, some even deteriorated in terms of the regime, and the beatings have not stopped until now. High and commanding personnel now rarely resort to assault, but the guards still beat. ”
Hunger and exhaustion. On paper, the daily food ration of prisoners included 500 g of bread, 150 g of meat or fish (beef - four times a week, horse meat - twice a week, dried fish or herring - once a week), 700 g of potatoes, various seasonings and two coffees. In the month of prisoners supposed 100 g of soap. If desired, healthy prisoners were allowed to be employed at work — initially in the military department (in garrisons, etc.), and later in state institutions and from private individuals; it was possible to form working teams from prisoners to replace civilian workers in jobs requiring a large number of workers, such as railway construction, unloading products, etc. ”. Working prisoners received a full soldier's ration and a cash allowance. The wounded and sick should “be interpreted on a par with the soldiers of the Polish Army, and the civilian hospitals pay as much for their upkeep as they were for their soldiers.” In fact, such detailed and humane rules for the detention of prisoners of war were not respected, conditions in the camps were very difficult, as shown by dozens of documents.
A common occurrence in the Polish camps, despite the measures declared by the Polish authorities, was the death of prisoners from exhaustion. The cultural worker of the Red Army, Walden (Podolsky), who went through all the hell circles of Polish captivity in 1919-20, in his memoirs “In Polish Captivity” published in 1931, as if anticipating the controversy that broke out later on 80 years, wrote: “I hear protests of the indignant Polish patriot, who cites official reports indicating that so many grams of fats, carbohydrates, etc. were relied on every prisoner. That is why, apparently, Polish officers were so willing to go to administrative positions in concentration camps. "
Polish historians claim that at this time the camp guard was no better fed than prisoners, as the food situation was widespread. I wonder how often in the diet of the Polish guard were cleaning and hay? It is known that there was no famine in Poland in 1919 — 1921. It is not by chance that the official norms established by the Polish Ministry of Military Affairs in May 1919 of the year were quite benign. On the day of the prisoner, as already mentioned above, 500 g of bread, 150 g of meat, 700 g of potatoes, etc. were supposed. Moreover, during the inspection checks of the camps, the prisoners were fed according to these standards. For example, the Inspectorate of the High Command of the Polish Army, after checking in the autumn of 1920, the nutritional status at the camp in Modlin, recognized the “food of the prisoners satisfactory”. For this, it was enough that on the day of the inspection in the camp “soup with meat, thick and tasty, in sufficient quantity” was cooked and the prisoners got a pound of bread, coffee and marmalade. However, just a few days before the check, a telegram was sent from Modlin to Warsaw that there were 900 gastric patients in the camp hospital and that 58 people had already died. The telegram stated that “the main causes of the disease are the prisoners eating various raw cleanings and completely lacking shoes and clothes”.
From the minutes of the meeting in the High Command of the Polish Army on the situation of prisoners of war (20.12.1919, Warsaw): “Lieutenant Ludwig, answering questions and accusations, states that the reason for the shortcomings is the failure to comply with orders. All the problems of the prisoners were settled by orders, but they are not executed. Prisoners get a lot of food, working — even a full soldier's ration, only theft and abuse are the causes of the plight ... Mr. Magenheim complains that the orders of the High [regarding the FGP] are not carried out; The military authorities ignore the stages of the FGP when sending it to the place of residence. Moreover, both prisoners and refugees and re-emigrants, as well as prisoners with war [last] are being ripped off (meaning the First World War - comment by NM); these latter are often illegally detained. It hurts us in foreign] public opinion. ”
Cold and illness. Another reason for the premature death of many prisoners was the cold due to the lack of clothing and footwear, as well as the condition of camp premises, which are not very suitable for human habitation. Most of the huts lacked heating and light. In many there were no bunks for sleeping, not to mention mattresses and blankets or straw on the floor. From the report of Stephanie Stempolovskaya: “... prisoners ... cannot sleep from the cold at night, run to warm up” (report from 10 / IX 1920). It looked like living conditions in the three camps, which contain about half of the prisoners of war. The second half of the prisoners by small teams lived in rooms about which almost all reports repeat briefly, succinctly “dark, cramped, dirty, cold”, sometimes adding “roofs full of holes, water flowing”, “glasses are broken”, “there are no windows at all, dark” etc.".
The situation was aggravated by epidemics that were raging in Poland during that period of war and devastation. The documents mention typhus, dysentery, Spanish flu (flu), typhoid fever, cholera, smallpox, scabies, diphtheria, scarlet fever, meningitis, malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis. In the first half of 1919, in Poland, 122 thousand diseases with typhus were reported, including about 10 thousand fatalities, from July 1919 to July 1920 in the Polish army there were about 40 thousand cases of illness. POW camps did not avoid infection with infectious diseases, and often were their hotbeds and potential breeding grounds. At the disposal of the Polish Ministry of Military Affairs at the end of August 1919, it was noted that “the repeated dispatch of prisoners to the interior of the country without complying with the most basic requirements of sanitation led to the infection of almost all camps of prisoners of infectious diseases.”
There was no medical care at all. The wounded for two weeks lay without bandages, until the wounds were inflamed and people died from blood poisoning.
Mortality among prisoners in certain periods was terrifying. Thus, according to representatives of the International Red Cross, in the camp in Brest-Litovsk, which was under the authority of the High Command, where there were perhaps the worst conditions, 7 September to 7 October 1919 from 4.165 1.124 patients died, so on. e. 27%. A sad "record" was set in August, when 180 people died from dysentery within 24 hours. During the December 15 1919, the outbreak of typhus in Bobruisk during December and January, 933 people died, i.e. about half of the contingent contained there, consisting only of the Red Army. But on average, mortality was noticeably lower. For example, the sanitary department of the Polish Ministry of War defined in February 1920, when there was not a large influx of prisoners, the "normal" mortality in the camps of prisoners of war under 7% under its jurisdiction, although it did not specify a day, a month or a year.
The report of the sanitary department to the Minister of War on the plight of prisoners of war in the camps and the need for urgent measures to improve it (December 1919) also cited numerous examples from reports describing the state of the camps, and noted that the deprivations and tortures of prisoners leave an “indelible stain on the honor of the Polish people and the army. " For example, in the camp in Stshalkov “the fight against the epidemic, apart from such reasons as the non-functioning of the bathhouse and the lack of disinfectants, made it difficult for two factors to be partially eliminated by the camp commander: a) permanent taking of the prisoners' linen and replacing it with companies of protection; b) the punishment of the prisoners of the whole detachment by the fact that they were not released from the barracks for three or more days ”.
In the Stschalkovo camp, the mortality rate of the 100-200 person per month was the norm, in the worst period for prisoners of war - in the winter 1920-21. - The number of deaths has already been counted in thousands. In Brest in the second half of 1919, people died every day from 60 to 100. In Tucholi, at the end of 1920, 400 people died in two months.
22 December 1920 of the year in the Lviv newspaper Forward reported that 9 numbers in the Polish Tuchol camp died on the same day 45 Russian prisoners of war. The reason for this was that on a frosty and windy day, “half-naked and bare” prisoners “were taken to the bathhouse” with a concrete floor, and then transferred to dirty dugouts without a wooden floor. "As a result," it was reported in the newspaper, "the dead or the seriously ill were continuously carried out." The official, based on the materials of the newspaper, protests from the Russian delegations in Riga and in the Prussk for inhuman treatment of prisoners of war, the Polish military authorities conducted an investigation. His results, of course, denied reports in the newspaper. “9 December 1920,” the Polish delegation to the PRUVSK informed the Russian delegation, “established on that day the death of 10 prisoners who died of typhoid fever ... The bath was heated ... and healthy prisoners were placed in the barracks previously disinfected, after bathing the patients were placed directly in the hospital. ” According to the results of the investigation, the newspaper “Forward” was closed for an indefinite period “for placing exaggerated and tendentious information”.
After the Warsaw battle of 10 in September of 1920, when more than 50 of thousands of Red Army soldiers fell into Polish captivity, the conditions of detention of prisoners of war in Poland deteriorated significantly. Subsequent battles on the Polish-Soviet front further increased the number of prisoners of war.
At the turn of 1920-1921. in the camps for the captured Red Army soldiers, supplies and sanitary conditions deteriorated sharply again. Hunger and infectious diseases claimed the lives of hundreds of prisoners daily. It is no coincidence that Emil Godlevsky, High Emergency Commissioner on Epidemic Control, in his letter to Polish War Minister Kazimierz Sosnkowski in December 1920 described the situation in prisoner of war camps as "just inhuman and contrary to all hygiene requirements, but culture in general."
There were still no mattresses, blankets, and often beds, there were not enough doctors and other medical personnel in the camps and hospitals, and the available specialists and nurses from prisoners of war were placed in conditions that prevented them from performing their professional duties. ”
Pointing out the terrible conditions of the Red Army prisoners of war in various camps and prisons in Poland at that time, the chairman of the Russian-Ukrainian delegation at the peace talks with Poland A.Ioffe 9 January 1921 sent a lengthy letter to the chairman of the Polish delegation J. Dombrovsky. It gave examples of inhuman attitudes, and drew attention to the fact that “repeated promises to take measures to improve the conditions of Russian-Ukrainian prisoners in the situation of their significant changes did not happen ... According to reports of the American Christian Youth Union (Department of Prisoners of War in Poland, report from 20 in October 1920 g.), prisoners of war were placed in rooms completely unsuitable for housing: the absence of any furniture, the absence of sleeping facilities, so we had to sleep on the floor all mattresses and blankets, almost all the windows without glass, the walls of the hole. Everywhere in prisoners of war there is an almost complete lack of shoes and linen and an extreme lack of clothing. For example, in the camps in Strzalkowo, Tucholi and Dombe, prisoners do not change their underwear for three months, most of them having only one shift, and many without any underwear. In Domba, most of the prisoners are barefoot, and in the camp at the headquarters of the 18 division most of them have no clothes. ” “Avoiding thoughts about the possibility of such living conditions for Polish prisoners of war in Russia and Ukraine,” the governments of Russia and Ukraine stated further “categorically insist on an immediate change in the conditions of detention of Russian-Ukrainian prisoners of war, in particular on the immediate removal from their positions of those camp officials who are guilty of the above atrocities. "
The death toll went to tens of thousands. “Modern Polish journalism,” notes Polish researcher I. Mechik, “interprets these figures as follows: prisoners brought deadly diseases to the epidemic camps: typhoid, dysentery, cholera and Spanish flu. This is true and difficult to argue with. Only if the prisoners walked naked, in the mud, were starving, had no blankets or covers, patients who walked under themselves, were not separated from the healthy, then the result of such an attitude to people was to be a terrible death rate. Russian authors often pay attention to this. They ask: was it a deliberate extermination, maybe not at the government level, but at least at the camp leadership level? And it’s also difficult to polemize. ”
Thus, we can draw the following conclusions. In Polish captivity, Red Army soldiers were destroyed in the following main ways:
1. Mass killings and executions. Basically, before the conclusion of their concentration camps:
a) destroyed in an extrajudicial manner, leaving the wounded on the battlefield without providing medical assistance and creating disastrous conditions of transportation to places of detention;
b) executed by sentences of various courts and tribunals;
c) shot while suppressing insubordination.
2. Creating intolerable conditions. Mainly in the concentration camps themselves using:
a) bullying and beatings
b) hunger and exhaustion,
c) cold and disease.
In general, Polish captivity and internment claimed more than 50 thousand lives of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian prisoners: about 10-12 thousand thousand Red Army men died before being sentenced to concentration camps, about 40-44 thousand in places of detention (approximately 30-32 thousand Red Army soldiers plus 10-12 thousand civilians and fighters of anti-Bolshevik and nationalist formations).