On March 5, 1940, pursuant to a note to Stalin from Lavrenty Beria, the members of the Politburo (including Stalin) signed an order to execute 25,700 Polish POWs, labelled “nationalists and counterrevolutionaries”, kept at camps and prisons in occupied western Ukraine and Belarus.
PEOPLE’S COMMISSARIAT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Central Committee, VKP(b)
TO COMRADE STALIN
A large quantity of former officials of the Polish Army, employees of the Polish Police and intelligence services, members of the Polish Nationalistic Party, counter-revolutionaries, discovered members pertaining to insurgent groups of counter-revolutionaries, fugitive and others, all of them sworn enemies of the Soviet régime, who hate the Soviet system, are at the moment in prisoners of war field camps of the NKVD OF THE USSR and in prisons of Ukraine and Byelorussia.
The prisoners of war and policemen in field camps conduct anti-Soviet agitation. Each one of them is only hoping and awaits release in order to have the capability actively to be included in activities against the Soviet régime.
The organs of the NKVD in the western provinces of Ukraine and Byelorussia have discovered a number of insurgent counter-revolutionary organizations.
Former officials of the former Polish Army and policemen, as well as of gendarmerie have shown that they are participating in espionage and insurgent activities. Among the prisoners (without considering the soldiers and officials composition), there are 14,736 former officials, government civil employees, landowners, police, gendarmes, prison guards, colonizers of border regions and intelligence officials – by nationality more than 97% are Polish, among them:
295 generals, colonels and lieutenant colonels
2,080 majors and captains
6,049 lieutenants, second lieutenants
1,030 Senior officers and low-order commanders of the police
5,138 Policemen, gendarmes, prison guards and personnel to us of intelligence
144 officials, landowners, Roman Catholic priests and colonizers of border regions
In the western region of Ukraine and Byelorussia, there are 18,632 Prisoners (10,685 of them Poles), including:
1,207 former officials
5,141 former policemen, intelligence officials and gendarmerie
347 spies and saboteurs
465 former landowners, factory owners and civil employees of government
5,345 Members of several insurgent organizations and other counter-revolutionary elements.
On the basis of the fact that they all are declared enemy of the Soviet régime, the NKVD OF THE USSR considers it necessary:
I. To authorize the NKVD OF THE USSR:
in the matters about the prisoners of war in field camps of 14,700 people of former Polish officials, landowners, policemen, civil employees of government, intelligence officials, gendarmes, colonizers of the border regions and prison guards
and also the matter about those arrested and located in prisons in the western regions of Ukraine and Byelorussia in a quantity of 11,000 people, insurgents, spies and saboteurs, former landowners, factory owners, former Polish police officials, fugitive civil employees of government, the highest method of punishment due to apply to them - execution.
II. The examination of the cases will have to be carried out without instructing summary and without raising positions. The manifestos with the final decision about the end consequence and accusatory conclusion in following:
a) for the people located in field camps for prisoners of war, the certificate form emitted by the NKVD OF THE USSR;
b) for the arrested persons in the certificate form emitted by the NKVD OF THE RSS of Ukraine and the NKVD OF THE RSS of Byelorussia.
III. the cases will have to be examined and the verdicts pronounced by a court of three consistent members of the comrades Merkulov, Kobulov and Bashtakov (chief of the 1st special section NKVD OF THE USSR)
PEOPLES COMMISSIONER OF THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Of the Union of SSR
(Other signatures: In favor - Stalin, Voroshilov, Molotov, Mikoyan)
(Comrade Kalinin - In favor. Comrade Kaganovich - In favor.)