Invasion of the Red Beasts


Throughout the Second World and in the first years after the war, chief of NKVD Lavrentiy Beria aimed to ensure that Victor Rothschild's master plan to extend the communist regime into Eastern and Central Europe had materialised. Beria worked closely with his deputy, Ivan Serov, and his role was to ensure that members of Jewish diaspora are dominant in public security apparatus and hold key ministerial position in all Soviet's Unions' satellite states. Already in the inter-war period, in Poland, like in many other central European states, Jews constituted a very important segment of the Communist movement. Jews became communists for ideological and opportunistic reasons – to gain privilege and position of influence which they would not have achieved if those countries remained strongly nationalist. Accordingly to Polish sources and to Western estimates, in the largest cities, the percentage of the Jews in the pre-war Polish Communist Party (KPP) often exceeded 50 percent, and in smaller cities often frequently over 60%.375 When the Red Army invaded eastern territories of Poland in September 1939, many witnesses testified ”they displayed a great distrust of the Polish people, but with complete faith in the Jews...they filled all the administrative offices with Jews and also entrusted them with top-level positions.”376 According to one report, under the Soviet occupation 75 percent of all administrative positions in Lwów, Białystok, and Łuck were in hands of the Jews.377 Thousands of testimonies were flowing from other cities in Poland telling of Jewish celebrations, Jewish harassment of Poles, of Jewish denunciations and brutality.378 Shortly after Soviet invasion in September 1939, on the order of Beria, NKVD began to arrange mass deportations of thousands of Poles and members of other nations in the Baltic region to Siberia. Since Jews often came to occupy state archives, they prepared, along with the Ukrainians collaborators, the lists on the basis of which Polish “class enemies” were deported to the Soviet Union or executed by the NKVD. Disproportionate number of them also assisted in the deportations.379 On inspiration of Beria, Rothschild's collaborator, the Soviet Politburo made a decision on March 5, 1940, to liquidate about 22,000 Polish officers and Polish intelligencia.380

The methods by which Beria's NKVD attempted to install communist regime in Poland were described by Izaak Fleichfarb, a Jew and agent of NKVD, who prior to the war belonged to a youth group called Gordonia, associated with a Ahron David Gordon, one of the founders of Labour Zionism.381 The liquidation of the Polish resistance, according to Fleichfarb, followed a chronological, three-pronged approached: Phase I, liquidation through collaboration with the Gestapo; Phase II, liquidation by Soviet “operational groups”, which followed the Soviet army of liberation; Phase III, exposure and liquidation of the underground once the war was over.382 Thus, in accordance with this plan, in December 1941, the “initiative groups” led by two Jews, Marceli Nowotko and Pawel Finder and a Polish communist Bolesław Mojec, were parachuted into Poland by the orders of Beria to revive the pre-war Communist Party under the name of the Polish Worker's Party (Polska Partia Robotnicza, PPR) and denounce the members of the Home Army to Gestapo.383 The PPR was formally established in Warsaw on January 5, 1942 and its military arms was People's Guard (Gwardia Ludowa, GL) which in 1944 would be renamed People's Army (Armia Ludowa, AL). After a mysterious death of Nowotko and Molojec in November 1942, two Polish communists, Władysław Gomułka and Bolesław Bierut, were named as their replacements, to avoid the impression that the new party was Jewish. Władysław Gomułka came from a poor working family and was a member of a pre-war Communist Party in Poland. He was a true believer in a new socialist order. Bierut, on the other hand, was a ruthless man. A devoted agent of Comintern since 1930s, he served during German occupation as German administrator in Mińsk and NKVD agent, denouncing Polish patriots to both Gestapo and NKVD. In 1943, Beria and Merkulow selected General Zygmunt Berling from Polish prisoners of war and made him head of a new Polish division within the Red Army - 1st Polish Kościuszko Infantry Division of the Polish People's Army - that meant to assist the Red Army in defeating Nazis-Germans and installing communism in Poland. Henceforth the formation was known as Berling's Army. Irena Born was among those who joined Berling's Army and she told later of its beginnings: “On June 15, 1943, I joined the Berling army as a volunteer. The formation camp was in Sielce by the Oka river. I was in one of the first groups. Further groups continued to come. The people who came looked shabby and haggard. Their path led through the innumerable gulags and prison camps. They came with an anguish of suffering on their face, full of fear and anxiety. What will the commission say? Will it not send me back. And where? Again to the camp. They came hungry, craving for a warm meal. Yes it was decisive. The desire to get out of this doomed country whether dead or alive. And above all, to satify this hunger that was sweeping them off the feet, and covering eyes with a mist. Propaganda regime tries to present the matter that the Berling army consisted of enthusiasts who wanted to sacrifice their lives for the future Soviet Poland against the so-called London reaction. People full of admiration for the great Soviet ally. It was enough, however, to see these soldiers. It was enough to exchange some words with them to understand how they felt about the Soviets. Against the background of this grey mass of soldiers, stood out the communist dignitaries for whom the Berling army was a springboard for their future career. They received from the Soviets undeserved grades and ranks in the Army. People who never had anything in common with the army, who in independent Poland deserted the army; the people who did not know how to handle a rifle had suddenly became lieutenants, captains, majors. They later left the armies in the ranks of colonels and generals. (...) There were only two old Polish officers in Sielce: Berling and Bukojemski. All others were newly created political commissars like Minc, Modzelewski and Sokorski. (...) The newly-commissioned political officers who had no idea about military service could not obviously train soldiers. So they had to import officers from the Red Army. Initially, the Soviet authorities were sending officers of Polish origin. Justice requires to admit that some of them were attracted to the Polishnesses. On the whole, however, the officers were thoroughly russified and had nothing to do with Polish culture. With time, the Soviet authorities ceased to care about appearances sending in officers who were native Russians. (...) When I speak about the national team of the Berling army, I have to mention about the attitude towards Jews. It was based on the principle that only the Jewish communists who could be used for political work were accepted into the army. An exception was made initially for the Jewish doctors and craftsmen like tailors, shoemakers, and bakers. This corresponded perfectly with the Nazi concept of “useful Jews”, Nützliche Juden. The Jews who did not have these special qualifications, the so-called gray mass, were simply sent away...”384

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375 Jaff Schatz, The Generation: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Communists of Poland (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), p. 96-97 »

376 Piotrowski, Poland's Holocaust. Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947, p. 49 »

377 Andrzej Zwoliński, Starsi Bracia (Kraków, 1994) quoted in Piotrowski, Poland's Holocaust, p. 56 »

378 For examples of Jewish atrocities committed on Poles see Piotrowski, Poland's Holocaust. Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947, pp. 35-75 »

379 Piotrowski, Poland's Holocaust, pp. 51, 56 »

380 Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin, p. 341 »

381 Ayse Omur Atmaca (Dr. Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University), Roots of Labour Zionism: Israel as the New Land of Socialist Idea?”, Ordağou, Volume 4, No 1, July 2012, pp. 165-191 »

382 Piotrowski, Poland's Holocaust. Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947, p. 104 »

383 Ibid., p. 103 »

384 384“The Beginnings of the 1st Polish Army”, memoir of Irena Born, Polish Radio, 29.07. 2014 (translation from Polish),Wanda-Wasilewska-%e2%80%93-gwiazda-Zwiazku-Patriotow-Polskich »