Gallery 8. Soviet counterstrike
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Postwar Deportations and Repressions (1944-56)
- Soviet repressions of Poland continued after the War.
- Veterans who had served in the West were arrested, imprisoned, tortured and disappeared.
- The Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa or AK) was disbanded on 19 January 1945 to avoid conflict with the Soviets. Many units continued in their struggle to liberate Poland.
- Even though many AK units aided the Red Army in pushing back the Germans, they were still treated as enemies by the Soviets – arrested, interrogated, imprisoned etc.
- By the end of the war the NKVD arrested 60,000 AK soldiers, with 50,000 of them being sent to gulags in the Soviet Union. They have become known as the ‘cursed soldiers’.
- In addition, between 1944 and 1956, approximately 2 million Polish citizens were arrested by the NKVD.
- Over 20,000 Polish citizens, many veterans, were executed (including the Polish war hero Witold Pilecki).
- A further 6 million Polish citizens were treated as suspicious to the Communist Government and investigated.
- Up to the 1960s AK veterans were still imprisoned.
Deported Pole, Stanislaw Jurkin, in Siberia, 1954 Deported Poles, Siberia, 1954 Deported Pole at work, Siberia, 1954 After repatriation from exile back to Poland, 1954 Survivor describes the barracks in Norylsk gulag Photographs TestimoniesPostwar Repressions (1945-56) - the script for the audio narration
Exiled Poles in posiolek, December 1955Map of gulags in the USSR, 1951. Source: The George Meany Memorial Archives
Member of the Home Army (Wilenska AK) in Wilno area, North Eastern Borderlands