23 August 1939
Signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – treaty of non-aggression between Germany and USSR along with a secret protocol assuming, among others, ‘in case of political and territorial changes’ a division of spheres of influence across the territories of Poland along Narev, Vistula and San rivers lines.
1 September 1939
Germany invades Poland without a declaration of war, thereby beginning the Second World War.
17 September 1939
The Red Army crosses the east border of Poland along its entire length breaching the Polish-Russian non-aggression pact and fulfilling the provisions of the secret protocol of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
19 September 1939
The chief of the NKVD USSR Lavrentiy Beria appoints Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees within NKVD while simultaneously ordering the creation of a network of the camps.
1-4 November 1939
Placing officers of the Polish Army that were taken into captivity in camps in Kozelsk and Starobelsk, and the officers of the Police, Border Protection Corps and Prison Service in a camp in Ostashkov.
1 December 1939
In NKVD prisoner of war camp in Ostashkov there is 5963 Polish prisoners of war, among others, officers of Police, Prison Service, judiciary of Poland, Border Protection Corps.
9 February 1940
Information from the Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War about 27 Polish prisoners of war that died in camps or hospitals, after bringing them there from the camps.
20 February 1940
Proposal of the board of Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War to USSR People’s Commissioner for Internal Affairs – Lavrentiy Beria to ‘disembark’ prisoner of war camps in Kozelsk and Starobelsk. The ‘disembarking’ could take place through, among others, a release to homes seriously ill prisoners of war, total invalids, tuberculars, old persons, who are more than 60 years old, ca. 300 prisoners of war altogether, also 400 – 500 reserve officers, citizens of west oblasts of USSR and BSSR: agronomists, doctors, engineers and technicians, teachers against which there is no incriminating evidence. The files of officers of Border Protection Corps, workers of courts and prosecutor’s office, landowners, active members of Polish Military Organization and ‘Sokół’, officers of the Second Department of Polish General Staff, information officers (ca. 400 POWs) should be ‘prepared for consideration by Special Council of the NKVD’.
21 February 1940
The report of Sanitary Department of the Main Administration of Prisoners of War about diseases and death rate in prisoner of war camps confirms that more than 25.000 prisoners of war became ill, mainly with flu, acute gastrointestinal and skin diseases and – between October and December 1939 – that 60 prisoners of war died mainly due to pneumonia, dysentery, blood poisoning.
27 February 1940
Order of the Chief of the second division of NKVD Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War, Lieutenant of State Security – Ivan Borisovich Maklarski on urgent supplementation of personal questionnaires of Polish prisoners of war. “It would be desirable – he reminded- for the objects to be photographed in full uniform.”
2 March 1940
Two pieces of information from the head of NKVD USSR Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War, Major P.K. Soprunenko about the number of police officers, military policeman and officers that were in prisoner of war camps. According to that, in NKVD camps are 6 192 officers, non-commissioned officers and privates of the police and gendarmerie as well as 8376 officers and ensigns of the Polish Army, including 1 admiral and 12 generals.
5 March 1940
Decision of the Political Bureau of the Central Commitee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) for the NKVD USSR about physical extermination of 14 700 Polish prisoners of war and 11 000 arrested and imprisoned in the western oblasts of Ukraine and Belarus.
[ Item ] 144 – issue NKVD USSR.
- To be referred to the People’s Commissary [for Internal Affairs] of the USSR.
1) matters of 14 700 former Polish officers, office workers, landowners, policemen, intelligent agents, gendarmerie, settlers and prison warders that are in prisoner of war camps.
2) and also matters of 11 000 people arrested and imprisoned in the western oblasts of Ukraine and Belarus – members of different counter-revolutionary spy and diversionary organizations, former landowners and factory-owners, former Polish officers, office workers and fugitives – to be considered on a special basis with the most severe penalty to be imposed on them – execution.
- To be referred without summoning the arrested and without the indictment, and the decisions about the ending of the investigation and conclusions from the indictment – in the following way:
- a) on persons arrested on the basis of documents from the files presented by the NKVD USSR Main Administration for Affairs of POWs,
- b) on persons arrested on the basis of documents from the files presented by the NKVD Ukrainian SRR and NKVD Belarusian SSR.
III. Consideration of matters and decision-making should be commissioned to ‘troika’ consisting of tov. tov. Merkulov, Kobulov and Bashtakov ( Head of the First Special Department of NKVD USSR) „
* Extract from the protocol No. 13 of the session of the Political Bureau of the Central Commitee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in 5 March 1940.
quoted from ‘Obozy jenieckie NKWD IX 1939 – VIII l941’ (‘NKVD prisoner of war camps IX 1939 – VIII l941’), Bellona,, Warszawa1995.
2 April 1940
Order to send 78 prisoners of war from the Kozelsk camp to the head of the UNKVD in the Smolensk oblast.
3 April 1940
74 prisoners of war sent from the Kozelsk camp to Smolensk.
5 April 1940
Confirmation of the UNKVD in the Kaliningrad oblast that the first 343 prisoners of war from the Ostashkov camp were taken in. On the same day, the UNKVD in Kalinin notified Moscow of the murder of the first transport from Ostashkov by ciphertext ‘343 executed’.
5 April 1940
Beginning of the liquidation of the Starobelsk camp. From that day until April 25, transports from 65 to 260 prisoners of war were sent to UNKVD Kharkiv oblast every day. Depending on the number of carriages for prisoners of war at the oil station in Starobelsk.
7 April 1940
Ciphertext to the commands of the camps in Kozelsk, Ostashkov and Starobelsk on leaving NKVD informants in the camp
8 April 1940
On that day there were 4599 people in the Kozelsk camp, 6364 in the Ostashkov camp and 3894 in the Starobelsk camp. In total, 14,857 prisoners of war were held in these three NKVD camps.
13 April 1940
Another – the sixth in April – transport of 300 prisoners from Ostashkov to the UNKVD in Kalinin.
16 April 1940
Transport letters no. 036/1, 036/2, 036/3 and 036/4, sent from Moscow to Kozelsk with the names of 400 prisoners of war, together with an order to put them for disposal of the UNKVD Board in Smolensk.
20 April 1940
Transport list no. 040/3, sent from Moscow to Kozelsk with the names of 100 prisoners of war and an order to bring them for disposal of the UNKVD Board in Smolensk.
24 April 1940
The ciphertext signed by Tokarev was sent from Kalinin to Moscow with information about the killing of 195 prisoners of war from the Ostashkov camp on that day.
27 April 1940
XVII transport from the camp in Kozelsk; 100 prisoners from list no. 040/3 were sent to Smolensk.
29 April 1940
The list sent to Moscow shows that from April 6 to 29, 17 transports of 5291 Polish prisoners of war from the Ostashkov camp were sent for disposal of the UNKVD in Kalinin.
29 April – 5 May 1940
Break in transports from Kozelsk to Smolensk.
30 April 1940
The ciphertext from Kalinin to were brought from the Ostashkov camp.
5 May 1940
According to the information provided by the Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War in three NKVD camps there were 1065 people: 88 prisoners of war in Starobelsk, 270 in Kozelsk, and 707 in Ostashkov.
11 May 1940
The export list no. 059/ 1 included 113 names; the transport of this group was the last of twenty (?) sent from Kozelsk to the place of death in the internal NKVD prison in Smolensk or Katyn Forest.
19 May 1940
Order to send eight Polish prisoners of war who are still in the Ostashkov camp to the UNKVD in the Kaliningrad Oblast.
19 May 1940
Information from the Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War about prisoners of war sent to the UNKVD in Smolensk, Kalinin and Kharkiv: from the Ostashkov camp 6236 people, from the Kozelsk camp 4403 people, from the Starobelsk camp 3811+ 51 [the number 51 is handwritten in the document]. According to this information, 99 prisoners of war were sent from Ostashkov to the Jukhnovo camp, and 198 Poles from Kozelsk went there.
20 May 1940
The last six prisoners of war from the Kozelsk camp were sent to the UNKVD in Smolensk.
22 May 1940
A ciphertext to Moscow with confirmation of the murder of 64 prisoners of war, brought to UNKVD in Kalinin from the Ostashkov camp.
27 May 1940
A letter from four Polish children sent a week earlier, addressed to Joseph Stalin, arrives in Moscow.
“We, small children,” write Barbara Kowalewska, Iwan Denyszyn, Zbigniew Jędrzejczyk and Figej Zawadzki from Siberia, „with a great request to the great Father Stalin, we ask from with all our hearts to return to us our fathers who work in Ostashkov…..”
The little exiles informed that „nowadays it is hard to live, mothers with all their children are not healthy and cannot work, and nobody thinks of us at all, how we live and do not give us any work. They mention the starvation and declare that „we will always be a well-working nation in the Soviet Union, but it is hard to live without our beloved fathers.”
15 June 1940
The Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War in Moscow ordered the commander of the NKVD Starobelsk camp to destroy the correspondence, negatives and photographs of over 4200 Polish prisoners of war left in the camp in April and May 1940, transported to Kharkiv and murdered there.
23 July 1940
In the Starobelsk camp, NKVD officers sign a protocol of destruction of more than 4000 ordinary letters, registered letters, postcards and telegrams addressed to Polish prisoners of war who ‘disappeared from the camp’
July [ ca. 23 ?] 1940
According to information on Polish prisoners of war in the NKVD Gryazovets camp, 386 people, previously detained in the camps in Kozelsk, Ostashkov and Starobelsk, are staying here.*
This information differs from the list of prisoners of war held in the Gryazovets camp published by Jędrzej Tucholski (‘Mord w Katyniu’ (‘Murder in Katyn’)). Tucholski gives 432 names of survivors after the April and May 1940 massacres. For example, he mentions officers who, like Reserve Lieutenant Dr. of Law St. Swianiewicz or Certified Officer Leon Koc, were in Kozelsk or Starobelsk, and instead of being sent to the Gryazovets camp after the investigation in Moscow was completed, they were sent to the Gulags.
7 August 1940.
A special report about a mass refusal of prisoners of war to accept meals in the Gryazovets camp and too frequent phenomenon of locking prisoners in a prison ‘for offences which do not require completely such repressive measures.’
26 October 1940
The list of NKVD officers, signed on that day by Lavrentiy Beria, who were awarded for performing a ‘special task’ – murdering prisoners of war deported from Kozelsk, Ostashkov and Starobelsk – included 125 names. Prizes amounting to one month’s salary or 800 rubles were awarded to these Cheks on the occasion of the anniversary of the October Revolution.