The Release and Rehabilitation of Victims of Stalinist Terror in Poland
Stalinism made its mark on Poland twice. The first phase began on 17 September 1939 when the Red Army marched into the eastern part of the country as part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and ended in 1941 with the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union. The second period lasted from January 1944, when the Eastern Front in the Second World War again reached pre-war Polish territory, until the ‘Thaw’ following the death of Stalin in 1953. In 1945, the borders of Poland shifted dramatically towards the west (to the Oder and Neisse rivers) as a consequence of agreements reached at Yalta between the victorious powers. At the same time, Poland lost its pre-war territories east of the river Bug, which were incorporated into the Soviet Union. These territorial changes were accompanied by the forced resettlement of people of German origin from the western territories annexed to Poland, and the settlement there of Poles from the eastern regions. The introduction of the Stalinist system in Poland was clearly a tragedy for the entire nation and for every section of society. Nevertheless, there were certain groups of people who suffered a disproportionately harsh fate. For political and geopolitical reasons, these people were not commemorated in any way or rehabilitated until after 1989. Among them were Ukrainians resettled from their ancestral territories in Poland and removed to the Soviet Union as part of the Vistula Action of 1947, or Polish soldier-miners from Silesia (formerly part of Germany) who were likewise deported and forced into slave labour.
KeywordsCentral Committee Public Security Public Prosecutor Political Prisoner Polish Authority
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