Saturday, April 18, 2015

VII - Following Faint Russian Clues

The joy of finally discovering the place of capture was slowly tempered by the nagging fact that 2 important items were not translated from the Russian Record card:  #1 entry "Camp Name" could not be made out because it was too faint. And the tantalizing entry #14 "When and Where from Came to Camp"
Many months later I tried some software to darken, sharpen and enhance the document and re-posted to the Kresy-Siberia Group. Success!

Wow, Wow, Wow!  Not only does this Russian Record Card show place of capture as Lipica Dolna on September 19, 1939. It shows the current place of confinement “ (Camp Name)  as Lagier Putivlski. It also shows "Where and when came from as " Lagier Starobielsk on Oct 21,1939. 
LAGIER is a word for Russian prisoner camp.
So from capture at Lipica Dolna, he was transported 1,315 km to Starobielsk Lagier to the East then one month later,  543 km to Putivlski Lagier to the Northwest. Then within the next 9 days, to Torun, Poland, Stalag XXA, 1332 km to the Northwest. Back and forth,all by rail car and likely crowded like cattle.

My analysis of the Russian part of his journey:
He was captured by the Soviet Red Army, turned over to the NKVD, managed by the administration of POW affairs (UPWI).
      The  Russian NKVD ( Peoples Commissariate of Internal Affairs) aka Soviet Secret Police, predecessor of the KGB, keepers of the Gulag system and mass exterminators of tens of thousands of Poles.

In addition to redrawing the map and dividing up Poland, published top secret documents show the State set up 8 collection points in Belorussia  and Kiev military districts and 2 transit camps set up for new POW's at Kozel'sk (BSSR) and Putivlski (USSR). One day after his capture, the State approved mobilization of the NKVD Calvary for the transfer of POW's from the Red Army at transfer points. A side note was Red Cross was denied access on basis saying prisoners were not POW's but counter- revolutionaries. So this denied POW's basic military prisoner rights.
Starting on October 24,  1939 to mid 1940, 43,000 (33%) of Polish POW's born in Western Poland, now under Nazi occupation, were transferred to the Germans In a prisoner exchange with Russians. This took place at 2 border points, the area of Brzesc (Brest) and Dorohusk. My dad was part of this exchange.

 Later in 1940 the Soviets refused further prisoner transfers but the mindset of prisoners was still hopeful for "exchange and transfers". The following transfers in April and May of 1940 were to the forests to be massacred !  15,000 Polish prisoners were slaughtered in a genocidal crime. My dad missed being slaughtered by months, maybe days while others in the very same camps perished. 

A giant piece of the puzzle, where was he captured,  is solved by 3 faint and forgotten entries in a Russian record.

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