The day the order to kill the Polish elite was signed – level 3

05-03-1940

In August 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed a non-aggression pact. It also included a secret agreement on the division of Poland. The Germans were the first to invade Poland on September 1, 1939. Two weeks later, Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union, as well.

Poland bravely resisted this double attack, but it was heavily outnumbered. Within a few weeks, Poland surrendered and then it was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union.

Polish army officers as well as prominent scientists, teachers, and artists were taken to special camps in the Soviet Union, where they were imprisoned. There were about 22,000 important Polish people in these camps.

On March 5, 1940, the Soviet leadership agreed to murder the Polish elite. They were transported to remote locations in the forest. Then, they were killed without trial or chance for a defense and buried in mass graves.

In the winter of 1943, the Germans discovered the mass graves and found thousands of dead bodies in them. Their hands were tied behind the back, there were gunshot wounds in the back of the neck, and they had Polish uniforms.

Stalin denied any responsibility for the massacre. It was not until 1990 that the Soviet Union admitted the Stalinist regime was to blame for the murders of the Polish military and social elite.

Difficult words: resist (to use force to stop something), surrender (to say that you want to stop fighting), prominent (important), imprison (to put someone in prison), elite (people who are the best at something), remote (very far), trial (a process in front of a judge), defense (words that you say to show that you are not guilty), bury (to put under the ground), grave (a place for a dead body under the ground), wound (an injury), admit (to say that you have done something).

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