The NKVD prisoner massacres were a series of mass executions committed by the Soviet NKVD against prisoners in Eastern Europe, primarily Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Bessarabia and other parts of the Soviet Union from which the Red Army was withdrawing after the German invasion in 1941 (see Operation Barbarossa). Estimates on the death toll vary, from nearly 9000 in all of Ukraine to 100,000,with 10,000 in Western Ukraine alone. Not all prisoners were murdered; some of them were abandoned or managed to escape because the retreating, panicked Soviet executioners logistically could not kill all of them.
The NKVD and the Red Army killed prisoners in many places from Poland (e.g. Białystok) to Crimea. Immediately after the start of the German invasion of the USSR, the NKVD commenced the execution of large numbers of prisoners in most of their prisons, while the remainder was to be evacuated in death marches. Most of them were political prisoners, imprisoned and executed without a trial. The massacres were documented by German authorities and used in anti-Soviet and anti-Jewish propaganda. With few exceptions, the huge group of prisoners of Western Belarus and Western Ukraine was either marched eastwards, executed, or both. After the war and in recent years, the authorities of Germany, Poland, Belarus, and Israel identified no fewer than 25 prisons whose prisoners were killed—and a much larger number of mass execution sites.Among the notable cases of such mass execution of prisoners were the following:
The hurdles to quality research on the NKVD execution directives, the NKVD chosen centres and timing of executions, or deaths in their custody, and scale of deaths is a task for democratic historians that will take decades to establish since access to data is a sensitive matter.
From a time line perspective, there are distinct periods where the NKVD carried out directives to isolate victims within any given dwelling as well as a wider role in enslaving economic output on a mass scale in important industries (e.g. gold mining) (1) prior to August 1939, after the Bolsheviks took power (2) during the cosy alliance of the Soviet government with the Chancellor of Germany Adolf Hitler, following the Molotov-Ribbentrop alliance, from late August 1939 through to a little after 22 June 1941, when Stalin had to eventually acknowledge that Soviet territory was being seized: the alliance was over (3) July 1941 through to April 1945 in the era of the Eastern Front of WWII (4) May 1945 onwards as the NKVD culture evolved under different labels (e.g. KGB ).
An indication of the scale of deaths or torture commanded by the NKVD, either as executions, or in combination with forced labor camps and gulags needs a literature review section. Nevertheless, a text with a solid thumb nail sketch with valuable documentation can be read in the publication "The Forsaken" by Tim Tzouliadis, which is an award winning book (2009) awarded by Longman-History publishers. For example, even an approximate figure of the human death toll in the secretive Magadan (Siberia) gold mines, across all four time periods is a mystery, where, in block units of 100,000 victims, the analysis is defied by political barriers.
- Hrodna (Grodno): on June 22, the NKVD executed several dozen people at the local prison. The mass execution of the remaining 1,700 prisoners was not possible due to the advance of the German army and hurried retreat of the NKVD crew.
- Berezwecz, near Vitebsk: on June 24, the NKVD executed approximately 800 prisoners, most of them Polish citizens. Several thousands more perished during a death march to Nikolaevo near Ulla.
- Chervyen, near Minsk: in late June, the NKVD started the evacuation of all prisons in Minsk. Between June 24 and June 27, several thousand people were killed in Cherven and during the death marches.
- Vileyka (Wilejka): several dozen people, mostly political prisoners, sick and wounded, were executed prior to the departure of the Soviet guards on June 24.
By 1941, most of the ethnically Polish population, subject to Soviet rule for two years already, had already been deported off the border regions to remote areas of the Soviet Union. Others, including a large number of Polish civilians of other ethnicities (mostly Belarusians and Ukrainians), were kept in provisional prisons in the towns of the region, where they awaited deportation either to NKVD prisons in Moscow or to the Gulag. It is estimated that out of 13 million people living in the pre-war Eastern Poland, roughly half a million of people were arrested, more than 90% of them being males. Thus approximately every tenth adult male was imprisoned at the time of the German offensive. Many died in prisons from torture or neglect. Methods of torture included scalding victims in boiling water and cutting off ears, noses and fingers. Timothy Snyder estimates that the NKVD shot some 9,817 imprisoned Polish citizens following the German invasion of the USSR in 1941.
- Berezhany (Brzeżany) near Ternopil (Tarnopol): between June 22 and July 1 the crew of the local NKVD prison has executed without a trial approximately 300 Polish citizens, among them a large number of Ukrainians.
- Dubno: All the prisoners, including women and children, were executed in Dubno's three-story prison.
- Kharkiv 8,000 NKVD inmates along with interned Polish officers were executed on the outskirts of Kharkiv in the area of Piatykhatky, Kharkiv Oblast and buried on the grounds of a NKVD summer hostel.
- Lutsk (Łuck): After the prison was hit by German bombs, the Soviet authorities promised amnesty to all political prisoners, in order to prevent escapes. As they lined up outside they were machine-gunned by Soviet tanks. They were told: "Those still alive get up." Some 370 stood up and were forced to bury the dead, after which they were murdered as well. The Nazi foreign ministry claimed 1500 Ukrainians were killed while the SS and Nazi military intelligence claimed 4000.
- Lviv (Lwów): the massacres in this city began immediately after German attack, on June 22 and continued until June 28. The NKVD executed several thousand inmates in a number of provisional prisons. Among the common methods of extermination were shooting the prisoners in their cells, killing them with grenades thrown into the cells or starving them to death in the cellars. Some were simply bayoneted to death. It is estimated that over 4000 people were murdered that way, while the number of survivors is estimated at ca. 270. The slaughter was briefly terminated when local Ukrainian uprising forced the NKVD to retreat, but then it returned.
- Sambir (Sambor): 570 killed
- Simferopol: on October 31, the NKVD shot a number of people in the NKVD building and in the city prison. In Yalta, on November 4, the NKVD shot all the prisoners in the city prisons.
- Vinnitsa: over 9,000 executed.
4) RUSSIA :
- Oryol: In September 1941, over 150 political prisoners (among them Christian Rakovsky, Maria Spiridonova and Olga Kameneva) were executed in Medvedevsky Forest near Oryol.
5) Romania: The Fântâna Albă massacre took place April 1, 1941, in Northern Bukovina when between 200 and 2,000 civilians were killed when their attempt to cross the border from the Soviet Union to Romania, near the village of Fântâna Albă (Bila Krynytsia in Ukrainian), now in Chernivtsi Oblast, Ukraine, was met with open fire by the Soviet Border Troops. Although according to some data no more than 48 civilians were killed, local witnesses assert a much higher toll, claiming that survivors were tortured, killed, or buried in mass graves. Other survivors were allegedly taken away to be tortured and killed at the hands of the NKVD.
In June 1940, Romania was forced to withdraw from a territory inhabited by 3.76 million people, submitting to an ultimatum by the Soviet Union. The Romanian administration and military were evacuated, and the Red Army and NKVD quickly occupied the land. Many families were caught by surprise by the rapid unfolding of events, and had members on both sides of the new border. Therefore, many tried to cross the border, with or without official permission. According to official Soviet data, during, in the area patrolled by the 97th Unit of Soviet Border Troops, 471 people had crossed the border illegally from the districts of Hlyboka, Hertsa, Putila, and Storozhynets. The zone assigned to this unit extended from the border to about 7.5 km south of Chernivtsi.
From the more remote areas of the Chernivtsi Oblast (northern portion of the acquired territories that was included in the USSR), such as the districts of Vashkivtsi, Zastavna, Novoselytsia, Sadhora, and Chernivtsi-rural, during, 628 people crossed the border to find refuge in Romania. This phenomenon cut across all ethnic and social groups in the occupied territories. A Ukrainian scholar estimated the number of refugees to Romania during the first year of Soviet administration at 7,000.
The Soviet authorities' reaction to this phenomenon was twofold. First, border patrol efforts were strengthened. Second, lists were made of families that had one or more members which had fled to Romania, and thus were considered "traitors of the Motherland", therefore subject to labor camp deportation. On January 1, 1941, the lists made by the 97th Unit of the Soviet Border Guards mentioned 1,085 persons. Tables for other localities included names for 1,294 people (on December 7, 1940). At this point, even people who were merely suspected of intending to flee to Romania began to be included.
On November 19, 1940, 40 families (a total of 105 people) from Suceveni village, also carrying 20 guns, tried to cross the frontier at Fântâna Albă. At night, a battle ensued with the Soviet border guards, during which 3 people were killed, 2 were wounded and captured by the Soviets, while the rest of the group (including 5 wounded) managed to arrive in Rădăuţi, on the other side of the border. However, in short order, the relatives of the 105 people were all arrested and internally deported (to Siberia)
In January 1941, over 100 villagers from Mahala, Ostriţa, Horecea and other villages crossed successfully the border and arrived in Romania. This gave confidence to other villagers. Therefore, a group of over 500 people from the villages of Mahala, Cotul-Ostriţei, Buda, Sirăuţi, Horecea-Urbana and Ostriţa tried to cross to Romania during the night of February 6, 1941. However, they had been denounced to the authorities and were discovered by the border guards at 6 o'clock in the morning. Volleys of machine-gun fire from multiple directions resulted in numerous dead, including the organizers N. Merticar, N. Nica and N. Isac. About 57 people managed to arrive in Romania, but 44 others were arrested and tried as "members of a counter-revolutionary organization". On April 14, 1941, the Kiev Military District Tribunal sentenced 12 of them to death, while the other 32 were sentenced to 10 years forced labor and 5 years of loss of civic rights each. As had been the case before, all the family members of these "traitors to the Motherland" were also arrested and deported to Siberia.
On April 1, 1941, approximately 2,500–3,000 unarmed people from several villages (Pătrăuţii-de-Sus, Pătrăuţii-de-Jos, Cupca, Corceşti, Suceveni), carrying a white flag and religious symbols, walked together towards the new Soviet-Romanian border. There were rumors circulating that the Soviets would now permit crossing to Romania. At the border they were warned by the Soviet troops to stop. After the group ignored the warning, the border guards began to shoot. Casualty figures from just six Bukovina villages amounted to 44 people (17 from Pătrăuţii-de-Jos, 12 from Trestiana, 5 each from Cupca and Suceveni, 3 from Pătrăuţii-de-Sus, 2 from Oprişeni). A partial listing of those victims which were later identified:
From Carapciu: Nicolae Coduban, Cosma Opaiţ, Gheorghe Opaiţ, Vasile Opaiţ, Cosma Tovarniţchi, Gheorghe Tovarniţchi, Vasile Tovarniţchi. From Cupca: Ioan Belmega, Ioan Gaza, Arcadie Plevan, Mihai Ţugui. From Dimca (Trestiana): Nicolae Drevariuc, Petre Cimbru, Vasile Cimbru, Petre Jianu. From Suceveni: Dragoş Bostan, Titiana Lipastean, Gheorghe Sidoreac, Constantin Sucevean. From Iordăneşti: Dumitru Halac, Ion Halac, Nicolae Halac, Dumitru Opaiţ, Constantin Molnar. From Pătrăuţii de Jos: Zaharia Boiciu, Ana Feodoran, Gheorghe Feodoran, Nicolae Feodoran, Teodor Feodoran, Maftei Gavriliuc, Ion Pătrăuceanu, Ştefan Pavel, Rahila Pojoga. From Pătrăuţii de Sus: Constantin Cuciureanu, Gheorghe Moţoc, Arcadie Ursulean. Other peasants shot and killed that day: Ion Cobliuc, Petru Costaş, Ion Hudima, Petru Palahniuc.
The exact death toll remains a matter of controversy. Eyewitnesses to the incident estimate that around 200 people were killed directly by gunfire, many more wounded. Some of the wounded were allegedly caught afterwards, tied to horses and dragged to previously excavated common graves, where they were killed with shovels or buried alive. Other wounded were brought to the Hlyboka NKVD headquarters, where they were tortured and many died. Some of the latter were taken after the torture to the city's Jewish cemetery, and thrown alive into a common grave, over which quicklime was poured.
An account of the events is given by one of the few surviving eyewitnesses, Gheorghe Mihailiuc (born in 1925, now a retired high-school teacher), in his book, "Dincolo de cuvintele rostite" (Beyond spoken words), published in 2004 by Vivacitas, in Hlyboka. Mihailiuc describes what happened at Fântâna Albă on April 1, 1941 as a "massacre", a "genocide", and a "slaughter".
There is some controversy whether the Soviet border guards warned or not the column of people to stop before firing upon it. Some sources say that the Soviets summoned the column to halt, but that a flag-bearer in front of the column reassured the people that the guards were forbidden to open fire upon groups of over 20. One way or the other, seconds later machine gun fire hit the group of unarmed civilians in full force.
During 1940-1941, between 12,000 and 13,000 Bukovinians (mostly, but not only ethnic Romanians) were deported to Siberia and the Gulag. As a result of emigration and killings, the Romanian population of Chernivtsi region dropped by more than 75,000 between the Romanian 1930 census and the first Soviet census of 1959. It has been claimed that these persecutions were part of a program of deliberate extermination, planned and executed by the Soviet regime.
I still cannot understand, what do so many people worldwide see in such inhuman regime like communism. Especially in form made up by the Bolsheviks.
For those interested, who is that hideous bolshevik - he is NKVD/MVD/KGB Mladshyi Politruk ( 2nd Lieutenant in NKVD/MVD/KGB ) Lhakhmanov with newer design. He has to look that ugly to underline him being brutish tool of the inhuman communist system, that was not better than Nazism.
Lhakhmanov's trousers were repaired using varied material the officer found, including piece of brimstone, Rouble banknote with Lenin, Chinese propaganda poster from 1950 about money in war and piece of Soviet flag. Let us consider that as "revolution in fixing outfits".
I would like to thank all the international socialists, who tried to challenge me online, since they have been inspiring me since 2007 to make fun out of their inhuman idols.
My great uncle was murdered by NKVD ( possibly by Blokhin goons, for sure at Maslennikov and Beria's command ) in Katyń in 1940 [link] for being Polish Armed Forces officer, and my paternal grandfather was tortured by same bandits from NKVD for being Polish Resistance [link] member; they wanted him to betray the Western Allies, but grandpa resisted, despite they broke him chest, burnt his legs and forbid him sleeping.
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More