Skoblin's History Blog

This blog is composed of articles and translations written by Skoblin pertaining to the Soviet Security forces, White Russian underground movements and Russian counter-revolutionary forces during the 1920s and 1930s. Skoblin can be reached at

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Katyn Documents (I)

NKVD note concerning Polish prisoners of war, 5 March 1940.


"..." MARCH 1940
№ 794/B

5 March 1940

In the camps for war prisoners of the NKVD USSR and in the prisons of the western regions of the Ukraine and Belorussia at the present time are a large number of former officers of the Polish army, former officials of the Polish police and intelligence organs, members of Polish K-R [counter-revolutionary]* parties, members of openly K-R [counter-revolutionary] insurgent organizations, deserters and others. These are all sworn enemies of Soviet power, filled with hatred for the Soviet state.

The imprisoned military officers and police officials, situated in the prison camps, are attempting to continue their K-R [counter-revolutionary] work, and conduct anti-Soviet agitation. Each of them is only waiting for the moment of liberation, in order to engage in the possibility of active struggle against Soviet power.

A number of K-R [counter-revolutionary] insurgent organizations have been uncovered by the organs of the NKVD in the western regions of the Ukraine and Belorussia. In all of these K-R [counter-revolutionary] organizations, former officers from the former Polish army and former police and gendarme officials were playing an active leadership role.

Among the detained deserters and border violators, there have also been discovered a significant number of individuals, who are members of K-R [counter-revolutionary] espionage and insurgent organizations.

In the prisoner of war camps, there are in total (not counting soldiers and non-commissioned officers) 14736 officers, officials, landowners, policemen, gendarmes, prison guards, settlers and intelligence officials, more than 97% of which are Polish by nationality.

These include:

Generals, colonels and lieutenant-colonels - 295
Majors and captains - 2080
Lieutenants, 2nd lieutenants and cornets - 6049
Officers and junior commanders from the police, border guards and gendarmes - 1030
Policemen, gendarmes, prison guards, and intelligence officials - 5138
Officials, landowners, catholic priests and settlers - 144

The prisons in the western regions of the Ukraine and Belorussia contain 18632 arrested persons (of which 10685 are Polish), including:

Former officers - 1207
Former policemen, intelligence officials and gendarmes - 5141
Spies and saboteurs - 347
Former landowners, factory owners and officials - 465
Members of various K-R [counter-revolutionary] and insurgent organizations and various K-R [counter-revolutionary] elements - 5345
Deserters - 6127

Proceeding on the basis that these are all inveterate and irreparable enemies of Soviet power, the NKVD USSR considers it necessary:

I. To propose NKVD USSR

1) the matter concerning the 14700 former Polish officers, officials, landowners, policemen, intelligence officials, gendarmes, settlers and prison guards
located in prisoner of war camps,

2) as well as the matter concerning the 11000 members of various K-R [counter-revolutionary], espionage and saboteur organizations, former landowners, factory owners, former Polish officers, officials and deserters, who have been arrested and placed in prisons in the western regions of the Ukraine and Belorussia -

- be considered by special order for the application of the highest method of punishment - execution.

II. Consideration that this matter be carried out without appeal on the part of the arrested and without presentation of the charges, the conclusions of the investigation, and the statement of indictment in the following manner:

a) against persons located in the prisoner of war camps, - according to information, presented by the Administration of Prisoner of War Affairs NKVD USSR,

b) against arrested persons - according to information presented by the NKVD USSR [Ukrainian] and NKVD BSSR [Belorussian]

III. Consideration that judgment in this matter be decided by a troika, consisting of comrades Beria [crossed out in blue pencil], Merkulov [Kobulov added in blue pencil] and Bashtakov (Head of the 1st Special Section of the NKVD USSR).

People's Commissar of Internal Affairs

Union of SSR

L. Beria

* [all italics added by skoblin]


1. On front page, "for" followed by Stalin's signature in bold blue pencil / across text
2. On front page, Voroshilov's signature in bold blue pencil / across text
On front page, Molotov's signature in plain pencil / across text
On front page, Mikoyan's signature in bold blue pencil / across text
On front page, "t. [comrade] Kalinin - for" inscribed in pencil / side margin
On front page, "t. [ comrade] Kaganovich - for" inscribed in pencil / side margin


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