On 23 August 1939 the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed in Moscow between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. This non-aggression official pact contained however a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence in the event of war. One week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, German forces invaded Poland from the west, north, and south, which started WW2.
On 17 September 1939 the Soviet Red Army invaded eastern Poland in accordance with the secret protocol. The Soviet invasion of Poland started without a formal declaration of war. The invasion ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire Second Polish Republic by Germany and the Soviet Union.
The Soviet government announced it was acting to protect the Ukrainians and Belarusians who lived in the eastern part of Poland, because the Polish state – according to Soviet propaganda – had collapsed in the face of the Nazi German attack and could no longer guarantee the security of its own citizens. Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded that the defence was no longer feasible and ordered an emergency evacuation of all uniformed troops to neutral Romania.
The Red Army achieved its targets, vastly outnumbering Polish resistance and capturing some 230,000 Polish prisoners of war. The Soviet government ostensibly annexed the territory under its control and in November 1939 made the 13.5 million Polish citizens under occupation into new subjects of the Soviet Union. The Soviets immediately began a campaign of mass persecution in the newly acquired areas. This included executions and thousands of arrests, deportations to Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union in four major waves between 1939 and 1941. In Spring 1940 some 22 thousand of Polish POWs were secretely shot and burried in mass graves in unknown places….
This crime is now commonly known as The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre, was once referred to the massacre at Katyn Forest, which was discovered first and was the largest execution of this type. However this included a series of mass executions of Polish nationals carried out by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. So far recognized mass graves are located in Katyn, Miednoye (currently both in Russia), Kharkiv (Charkov) and Bykivnia near Kiev (currently both in Ukraine).
ROUTE: Warsaw Katyn Museum guided tour, memorial sites and monuments in Warsaw (i.e. the Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East, Katyn monument in Old Town area, Katyn chapel in the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army, Powazki Military Cemetery, Katyn memorial in Old Powazki cemetery and others)
Please note the Katyn Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday 10:00-16:00, closed Monday-Tuesday
Tour Duration: 4-5 hours (including driving time)