When the Red Army invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939,   they began the first of three waves of
Sovietization - the execution of thousands of Polish intelligentsia, and mass deportations. Hundreds of thousands of
Poles, military and civilian, were arrested, and deported to the Russian gulags. They were shoved into trains headed
for the farthest reaches of Russia.  The voyage took over a week - there was no food, no water, no heat (in sub-zero
temperatures), no window,  no toilets.  Many people died - standing. Upon arrival, those who were too weak to work
were shot.  Within two years, over 1.5 million Poles were interned in Russian labor camps and concentration camps
throughout Russia.  Fifty-two per cent of them were ethnic Poles, 30% were Jewish, and18% Ukrainians and

Stalin's objective was to finish what the tsars, emperors and kaisers could not accomplish in the past centuries: the
total destruction of the Polish nation off the face of the earth. Lenin established the first totalitarian rule, but Stalin
perfected it. The entire Russian territory literally became an open prison with thousands of internment camps.  Stalin
imposed the death penalty on children as young as twelve years old - just for stealing a loaf of bread.  He treated
animals better than human beings.  While horses were well fed, kept in separate stalls with warm blankets, the
prisoners were helpless - trying to keep warm by covering themselves with dirty rags, and were given rotting fish
heads to eat, and very little water.

Stalin was a killer.  He surpassed even Hitler in the brutality and the number of victims that were massacred by his
decree. The most infamous was the Katyn Massacre, where the NKVD under orders by Stalin, arrested and detained
15,000 Polish officers and systematically executed them, burying them in mass graves. These graves were
discovered German troops when they invaded Russia.  After examining the corpses, the Germans accused the
Russians of the atrocity, but the Russians denied any responsibility.

The Soviet-Maisky agreement made between Russian and Poland re-established diplomatic ties, and called for the
creation of a new Polish army to be assembled on Russian soil. Though Stalin gave the order to release Polish
POWs from Soviet camps, he allowed only about 100,000 of them to leave. The Poles came from as far away as
Lake Baikal, and the borders of Mancukug and Manchuria.  The remaining 1.4 million Poles were detained as
prisoners and not permitted to leave.  The NKVD made every effort to obstruct the passage of the refugees trying to
reach army checkpoints.  Thousands of Poles died travelling on foot through the Russian Steppes, with no food, no
water, and insufficient clothing - in the worst sub-zero temperatures.  Many refugees managed to reach safety and
enlisted in the Polish Army, but once there they faced other perils.  Already sick and severely emaciated from years f
Soviet oppression, they were not given enough food to eat, although Stalin did promise to provide food rations for
them all.  The NKVD even prevented the American Red Cross from providing the refugees with food, medicine, and
clothing. It was Stalin's plan to kill as many Poles as possible - by starvation, or on the battlefield.  He wanted to send
the fledgling Polish army straight into battle against the Germans, without backup reinforcements, thus ensuring that
as many Poles died as possible. General Wladyslaw Anders, the Commander of the II Polish Corps, refused to
permit it.  Of the 20,000 Poles who were sent to work in the Kolyma mines, only 170 made it to the army camp on the
Volga. Thousands of Polish prisoners were released from the gulag of Navaya Zemlya (situated near the Arctic
Circle).  They walked more than 3,000 miles.  There was only one survivor.  He died on the day he arrived at the
army camp. Of 3,000 Poles sent to work in the lead mines of North Kamchatka, all died of lead poisoning.

General Anders concern for the safety and lives of his men lead him to negotiate with the Allies for an immediate
evacuation, which began on March 1942.  It was one of the largest evacuations in modern history.  But all efforts at
obtaining the release of the remaining Polish prisoners in Russia were in vain. Stalin adamantly refused to give in,
insisting that they were Soviet citizens .Of the Polish prisoners in Russia, 415,800 died and were buried at registered
graves - 434,300 were lost or disappeared, and the 681,400 were never permitted to leave Russia - dead or alive.