The massacre of peace: what did the poles in the city of Brest on the first day of the war

History 21/02/20 the Massacre of civilians, what did the poles in the city of Brest on the first day of the war,

that happened in Brest, Belarus, on 22 June 1941, most often mentioned in connection with the events of the heroic defense of the Brest fortress. However, few people know that the invading Germans supported the Polish minority in the city, which took Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union as a “carte Blanche” for the vengeance of the Communists.

non-peaceful Brest

Before the Second world war the main part of the Brest region was a part of the Polesie Voivodeship of the second Polish Republic. The poles, being the “titular nation” was in this part of the Eastern Borderlands, only 15% of the population (census 1931). However, it was a Patriotic and active part of the population. Among them were the “osadniki” – former soldiers, who in the 1920-ies, the Polish government began to distribute land to the East of the country. After the annexation of Brest and the surrounding area to the Soviet Belarus many poles went into the nationalist underground.

“the idea of the struggle of the poles on two fronts against the Soviets and against Germany had significant support among the Polish population of the Brest region,” – said the researcher Ekaterina Savinova.

the Polish minority especially hardened after in February 1940, the NKVD deported from the Brest region in the inner regions of the USSR 38 thousand people. The fate of 10 thousand poles, victims of repression, remained unknown, there were rumors about their deaths. Trains with thousands of repressed, among whom were many poles continued to go to the East until 21 June 1941. In addition to the “pacification” newly annexed territory the security officers decided thus the housing issue – families of the new leaders of Brest and the region needed a place to settle. All of this explains why the poles who two years ago defended Brest against the Germans, in 1941, took them inmove friendly.

the events of June 22

About 8:30 am in Brest, which already includes the first German units began a spontaneous uprising of the anti-Soviet minded elements. Apparently, many were preparing for these events in advance, stockpiling weapons. Soon the beginning of the war to anyone in Brest was not a secret – too many German troops were concentrated for the bug. About the coming attack testified including defectors from the German General government.

the Role of “first violin” in rebellion rightfully belonged to the poles as the most “offended” the Soviet power of the population. Their enemies they believed the Communists and their wives”Soweto”, all other “Easterners” as well as Jews. First under attack were evacuated.

“the city begins chaos – unknown shoot with lofts and balconies. Is the looting of apartments had escaped from Brest “Easterners”. It became known that gangs are trying to attack those who go out of the city” – tells about the events of June 22, historian Rostislav Aliyev in the book “Storm of Brest fortress”.

On the street, Bialystok unidentified persons fired from shotguns and machine guns the truck out to the families of officials. The fire was fought and for passenger cars, in which party leaders tried to leave the city. From Brest post office heard several bursts of machine gun – the aim of the attackers was the regional recruitment office.

at the same time with the Germans, the rebels rushed to the prison on the street Zygmuntowska where hastily freed of relatives and friends. In conclusion, there were 4 thousand people. One of those was released on June 22, was for example, a Catholic priest Kazimir Sviontek (later cardinal).

Former inmates actively helped the invaders “hunt” for the NKVD who were trying to “disappear” in the confusion.

the German occupation with a Polish accent

After the occupation by the Nazis of Western Belarus many local poles settled in the German administrative structure. In fact, the pre-war Polish officials whorotated into place. Poles, according to historian Jerzy Turonek, occupied key positions in city and County councils. They commanded a force of auxiliary police. However, another part of the poles had resisted the Germans, joining the Polish Home Army or the Soviet partisans.

Timur Sagdiyev

© Russian Seven

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