*** NAZI-Soviet Cooperation: Security Coferences in Occupied Poland (1939-40)

NAZI-Soviet Cooperation: NKVD-SS Security Conferences in Poland (1939-40)

Figure 1.--.

One little known aspect of the coopeartion betwen the NAZIs and Soviets was cooperation between the Soviet NKVD and NAZI SS min occpied Poland as part nof the NAZI Soviet Pact. Some readers tell us that that the NAZI-Soviet Pact was not an alliance, but it was very much an alliance. It is true that there were differences between the NAZIs and Soviets, but it is also true that Stalin and Hitker had given their security chiefs, Heinrich Himmler and Lavrentiy Beria simlar orders on the occupation and supression of the Polish people. [Rees, p. 54.] There was diplomatic, economic, and military coordination and cooperation. In fact the level of coopearion was closer than the multitude of alliance made in Europe for centuries. An nothing shows this more clearly than the cooperation between the security agencies of the two totalitarian giants security agencies--the NKVD and SS. The vtwo agencies were similar in many ways. Chilingly, Stalin intouded NKVD Comander Lavrentiy Beria tom President Roosevelt at Yalta as 'Our Himmler'. [Montefiore, p. 483.] Both agencies were involved in mass mirder and left mass graves throughout Eastern Europe. There were several high-level meeyings amd lower level meetings that are not recorded. It is unclear just what was discussed at these meetings, but it is clear that the primary goal was to coordinate the vrepression o the occupied Polish people including possible population exchanges. The meetings occurred before the industrialized killing of Polish Jews began, but it is almost certain that the Jews were on the agenda. Just what was discussed is unclear, but it is notable that the architect of the Holocaust SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann participated. The meetings occurred in 1939 and early 1940.

Invasion (September 1, 1939)

The Germans more than any other military, correctly assessed the lessons of World War II. The War in Europe began in 1939 when the German blitzkrieg smashed Poland in only a few weeks. The invasion was made possible the preceeding week when Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler. The Panzers crossed the Polish frontier on September 1 along with a devestating strike by the Luftwaffe. The Polish Army and Air Force was shattered. About 1.8 million German soldiers surged into Poland. Hitler emerged from the Reich Chancellery in a new grey uniform with his World War I Iron Cross. In a speech at the Reichstag before cheering NAZIs he declared, "I myself am today, and will be from now on, nothing but the soldier of the German Reich." Whithin 6 days Cracow, the center of Polish nationhood, fell. Pincer movements began on September 9 to encirle the major remaining Polish forces. Once certain of Polish defeat, Stalin ordered the Red Army to attack from the East. The Polish Army was ordered not to resist bthe Soviets. Most were interned. Units in southeastern Poland were allowed to retreat into Romania.German and Russian forces met at Brest-Litovsk on September 18. Warsaw fell a few days later after a ruthless bombing assault. The Blitzkrieg tactics that were to prove so devestaing in the West during 1940 were all on display in 1939. Neither the British or French showed much attention, abscribing Polish defeat to military incompetance. The French had promissed the Poles an offensive in the West. It never came.

Victory Parades (September 22 and October 5, 1939)

The NAZI Wehrmacht and Soviet Red Army held a joint victory parade in Brest/Brześć (September 22, 1939). Soviet corps commander V. Chuikov (the future herom of Staligrad) participated in the the pass in review with a German general, and General Heinz Guderian and Soviet brigade comman-der S. Kryvoshein oversaw the pass in review. Isolated Polish Army units were still resisting, but thebback mof the Polish Army had been broken and some units retreating into Romanis. A NAZI victory parade would be held in Warsa shortly after overseen by Hitler. After the conclusion of the Polish Campaign, he went to Warsaw to view a miltary parade through the devestated city (October 5). The least damaged section of the city was embassy row, which is where the Germans held their first victory parade of the War. After the martial music and mandatory goose-stepping, Hitler returned to the airfield for the flight back to Berlin. He makes no secret of his intentions. He tells assembled foreign journalists, “Take a good look around Warsaw. That is how I can deal with any European city.” The foreign correspondents who were largely excluded from the combat areas were allowed to see the destruction. They took back with them shocking photographs of bomb and shell blasted Warsaw. What they saw, however, was just the beginning of the desruction Hitler planned to visit on Warsaw. After returning from the Warsaw victory parade (October 5). He ordered the western areas of Poland were annexed to the Reich (October 8). Four days later he organized central Poland as the General Government (Gubernia) (October 12). The capital of the Gubernia was located Kraków (Cracow) for security reasons. The Germans assigned to admiister the (Gubernia) were concerned by what the saw as a still unsubdued Warsaw with its large Polish and Jewish population, calling the Polish capital the 'City of Bandits' (Banditenstadt Warschau).

Brest/Brześć (September 27, 1939)

Brest was the location of the first Nazi-Sovietsecurity meeting (September 27, 1939). It was a historic city in central Poland positioned on the NAZI-Soviet demarcation line. It is today part of Belarus. The NAZI and Soviet Governments signed mutual agreements in Moscow (September 28).

Lviv/Lwów (October 1939)

Lviv in southeastern Poland was quickly reached and surrounded by the Germans (September 14), but as it was in the one alloted to the Soviets, the Germans did not enter the city. The Red Army seized the city and began to Uranianize it. There are reports of an early meeting in Lwów (October 1939) [Rees, p.54.]. We can not yet confirm this meeting. There are also reports on a December meeting. [Paul] The Soviets commitred terrible atrocities in the early two years they controlled the city.

Przemyśl (Late-November 1939)

The NKVD and SS security officers met again in occupied Przemyśl (Late-November). Przemyśl was a border crossing between the the NAZI and Soviet occupation zones of Poland. These talks appear to have focused on fighting Polish resistance and an exchange of Polish POWs. It is nor clear to us as to just which Polish POWs the two victors would have wished to excahnge. We have not found any evidence of population excahnges, but we do note instances of the Soviets handing over Jews to the NAZIs.

Kraków (December 6-7, 1939)

Kraków was a historic Polish city, second in importance only to Warsaw. The Germans ruled General Government (occupied Poland) from Kraków. The next series of meetings began in Kraków (December 6-7). A polish source writes, "Apparently the NKVD methods for combating our underground were greatly admired by the Gestapo, and it was suggested that they should be adopted in the German zone," Russian methods being "a hundred times 60 more dangerous and efficient" than those of the Germans ..." There were some arrangements about the excahnges of indivisuals. Here we have been able to find few details. We note one reportb by a German Jewish Communist woman the NKVD turned over to th SS. She described in her memoir how Soviet secret police officers crossed the Brest-Litovsk bridge in front of their prisoners, to return with SS officers, the two commanders saluting each other before the reading out of names and the handing over Jews to the Nazis. [Buber] A German historian has a website devoted to the fate of those who fled Hitler’s Germany only to be arrested in the USSR, sent to the GULAG or handed back to the NAZIs. [Mensing]

Zakopane (December 8-9, 1939)

The Kraków meeting continued for the next 2 days in the resort town of Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains of southern Poland (100 km from Kraków). It is abeautiful semic area, sometimes referred to as "the winter capital of Poland”. It is a popular destination for mountaineering, skiing, and tourism. Today it is a popular site or all kinds of national and international conferences. Thus it was the place the Germans chose to their NKVD guests (December 8-9, 1939). The Zakopane Conference is the best known meeting based on Soviet documentation. Several senior NKVD secret police officers participated. The Germans who hosted the meeting brought in Gestapo officers. [Kalbarczyk (2015), p. 19] The first post-War assessments winter conferences in Kraków and Zakopane depicted meetings devoted to coordinating plans for joint destruction Polish national identity and how to deal with any Polish resistance to the occupation. It is widely believed that one of the outcomes of the meeting the German Ausserordentliche Befriedungsaktion (AB Action) targeting prominent Polish intelectuals. [Jambrek.] The Germans also mproceeded with the distruction of the Krakow intelligentsia (Sonderaktion Krakau). And the Soviets proceeded with the Katyn massacre. [Conquest, p. 229.] See that their partners were also considered mass murder in dealing with the Poles may have emboldened both security agencies. One historian believes that the fate of the Polish officers interne by the NKVD was decided at this conference. [Watson] One report suggests that NKVD representatives proposed to set up in the NAZI-occupied area a secret Communist organization of agents provocateurs to penetrate the Polish Home Army underground and submit reports to both the Gestapo and the NKVD alike. The proposal was accepted, and after successful penetration numerous Polish resistance leaders were liquidated. This organization of traitors later transformed itself into the PPR, the Polish Workers' Party PPR) as the Communist party in Poland was named during the War. In the final years of the War, a principal objectives of the PPR was to incite the Home Army into a premature uprising would be crushed by the Germans as occurred in Warsaw. This Poland dominated by the Soviet controlled PPR and the NKVD. Other historians are less sure, pointing out the lack of documentary evidence. More recent historical work has concluded that mass population transfer were discussed.

Zakopane (February 20, 1940)

Kraków (March 1940)

The last NKVS-SS conference was held in Krakow (March 1940). It appears to have followed on to the Zakopane Conference. A polish resistance account suggests a special delegation of NKVD officers came to Krakow to discus with SS officers from the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA). The RSHA headed by Reinhard Heydrich would play a major role in the Holocaust. They discussed how to deal with the Polish resistance. The talks apparently lasted for several weeks. [Bór-Komorowski] There are reports that the NKVD shared its well-practiced terror and extermination technology with the SS. Presumably the SS shared some of their methods. Russian historians dispute this. One Russian historian claims, based on the original Soviet documents, that the conference was not between NKVD and SS security officers, but between Soviet and German commissions dealing with refugees in both occupied territories and that the topic of discussion was allegedly the 'refugee exchange'. He claims that the conference had nothing to do with repressions against Poles or with the Katyn massacre. [Vishlyov] There are problems with the Russian account. First, neither the NAZIs or Soviet are known for concern with Polish refugees. Second, NKVD patrols are known to have fired on Polish refugees trying to flee the NAZIs. Third, Russian historians often deny or try to diminish repressive Soviet actions. Fourth, Russian authorities have basically closed Western access to Soviet archives.


These meetings were apparently terminated after the last Kraków (March 1940) conference. This was more than a year before the NAZI 1941 Barbarossa invasion. We do mot know why they were terminated. Or who terminated them.


Bór-Komorowski, Tadeusz. Armia Podziemna (The Secret/Home Army). Gen. Bór-Komorowski was commander of Armia Krajowa.

Buber, Margarete. Under Two Dictators (1949).

Conquest, Robert (1991). Stalin: Breaker of Nations (Phoenix: 1991).

Jambrek, Peter. Ed. "Crimes committed by totalitarian regimes," Reports and Proceedings of the European Commission. (January–June 2008).

Kalbarczyk, Sławomir, ed. Zbrodni Katyńskiej: W Kregu Prawdy I Klamstwa [The Katyn Crimes] (Warsza: 2010).

Kalbarczyk. Zbrodnia, 33/266 (2015).

Mensing, Wilhelm. “The NKVD and the Gestapo”. Mensing is also the author of Von der Ruhr in den GULAG (2001).

Montefiore, Simon Sebag. Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar (Random House, 2005).

Paul, Mark. (2006). "Foreword (cooperation between the NKVD and the Gestapo)". Neighbours on the Eve of the Holocaust: Polish-Jewish Relations in Soviet-occupied Eastern Poland, 1939-1941. Electronicmuseum.ca. (September 26, 2007).

Rees, Laurence. "An alliance in all but name," World War Two Behind Closed Doors (BBC Books: 2008).

Vishlyov, Oleg. [Олег В. Вишлёв] Накануне 22 июня 1941 года, М.: Наука (2001), pp.9-123.

Watson, George. "Rehearsal for the Holocaust?". Commentary Magazine (June 1981).


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Created: 4:38 AM 3/18/2019
Last updated: 4:38 AM 3/18/2019