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Thread: Polish camps for Russian POWs in 1920

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    Marshal of Poland Halibutt's Avatar
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    Polish camps for Russian POWs in 1920

    In the Katyn' anniversary thread several of our Russian colleagues mentioned the Polish POW camps for Bolshevist prisoners during the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920. Some of the Russian contributors to this forum even mentioned that these camps were a place of mass extermination of Russian prisoners.

    To be sincere, I never heard of such war crimes or POW camps. For sure there were POW camps for Russians in 1920, otherwise the Polish government would have a really serious trouble with dozens of thousands of Russians taken POW. However, apart from the typhoid and flu epidemics, I never heard of any maltreatment of the prisoners. To the contrary, the only example of crimes against the prisoners of war I know is the case of some 1000 Poles taken POW in the Battle of Warsaw by Gay-Khan's Cavalry Corps and murdered by the retreating Bolsheviks shortly before they entered East Prussia.

    So, are there any reliable sources to read on the topic? Or is it just a legend, supported by the Soviet propaganda?
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    Originally posted by Juu:
    The Soviets won the war. We happened to be nearby.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Halibutt
    In the Katyn' anniversary thread several of our Russian colleagues mentioned the Polish POW camps for Bolshevist prisoners during the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920. Some of the Russian contributors to this forum even mentioned that these camps were a place of mass extermination of Russian prisoners.

    To be sincere, I never heard of such war crimes or POW camps. For sure there were POW camps for Russians in 1920, otherwise the Polish government would have a really serious trouble with dozens of thousands of Russians taken POW. However, apart from the typhoid and flu epidemics, I never heard of any maltreatment of the prisoners. To the contrary, the only example of crimes against the prisoners of war I know is the case of some 1000 Poles taken POW in the Battle of Warsaw by Gay-Khan's Cavalry Corps and murdered by the retreating Bolsheviks shortly before they entered East Prussia.

    So, are there any reliable sources to read on the topic? Or is it just a legend, supported by the Soviet propaganda?
    Cheers
    http://www.ksiegarnia.uni.torun.pl/karpusz.html

    http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache...%22+1921&hl=pl
    General chaos and disarray in Poland, the Great Interregnum of Anno Domini 1382. Royal Court of Poland in the Medieval EURPG

  3. #3
    Marshal of Poland Halibutt's Avatar
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    Thanks. I'll try to find that book in my library.
    Cheers
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    Originally posted by Juu:
    The Soviets won the war. We happened to be nearby.

  4. #4
    Feel free to report back on your findings.
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by.
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  5. #5
    Marshal of Poland Halibutt's Avatar
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    You bet I will
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    Originally posted by Juu:
    The Soviets won the war. We happened to be nearby.

  6. #6
    Marshal of Poland Halibutt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRAKoris
    3. Over 80k PoWs were deliberately tortured to death in Polish camps in Baranovichi, Tuhol, Schelkovo, Pulava. For instance, in Mednoe there was killed some officer Grobizki, former field-officer of general Listowski (sp?) who was recognized by some of the Red Army soldiers as one who participated in mass murders of civilians Jews and Red Army PoWs in Pinsk in a deliberately inhuman way. Locals claimed that these mass murders and tortures had a significant scale. So this is what i am talking.
    Hummm... Could you post any data that would back up this claim? From the links posted by Longinus it seems that your revelations are somehow absurd. According do Zbigniew Karpus' estimates, on October 18th, 1920, when the cease fire was signed, there were not more than 110.000 Bolshevist POWs in Poland. Approximately 25.000 of them volunteered for various anti-Bolshevik formations, including the Army of Gen. Bułak-Bałachowicz, 3rd White Russian Army under Boris Peremykin, Cossack Brigade under Aleksandr Salnikov, Cossack unit under Vadim Yakovlev and the army of Ukraine.

    So, there were not more than 85.000 POWs that passed through the Polish camps. It would mean that the Poles murdered practically every single POW they had in their captivity. However, if your claim is true, then where did Poland take from the 65.797 that were returned to Russia after the war ended (until mid-October of 1921)?
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    Originally posted by Juu:
    The Soviets won the war. We happened to be nearby.

  7. #7
    Marshal of Poland Halibutt's Avatar
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    Oh, and another question: could you also post more info on that "Grobizki"? The name sounds like a re-translation of a Polish name "Grobicki", but the problem is that there is no such name on the Katyn list nor is he mentioned in the lists of victims presented to the Poles in 1990's.
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    Originally posted by Juu:
    The Soviets won the war. We happened to be nearby.

  8. #8
    Lt. General Pomerania Prince's Avatar

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    When you done reding can you give us summery? There is almost no chance of me finding this book in PA but it is very intresting part of history.
    Old signature did not meet forum rules. So after 6 years of using it I was forced to change it to this one

  9. #9
    Marshal of Poland Halibutt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pomerania Prince
    When you done reding can you give us summery? There is almost no chance of me finding this book in PA but it is very intresting part of history.
    No problem. I guess the short synapsis published by Longinus says more or less the same, but I'll check the book if ony I get it at my university library.

    OTOH, I still hope that some of the Russian posters will post some data here.
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    Originally posted by Juu:
    The Soviets won the war. We happened to be nearby.

  10. #10
    Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni MRAKoris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halibutt
    Hummm... Could you post any data that would back up this claim? From the links posted by Longinus it seems that your revelations are somehow absurd. According do Zbigniew Karpus' estimates, on October 18th, 1920, when the cease fire was signed, there were not more than 110.000 Bolshevist POWs in Poland. Approximately 25.000 of them volunteered for various anti-Bolshevik formations, including the Army of Gen. Bułak-Bałachowicz, 3rd White Russian Army under Boris Peremykin, Cossack Brigade under Aleksandr Salnikov, Cossack unit under Vadim Yakovlev and the army of Ukraine.

    So, there were not more than 85.000 POWs that passed through the Polish camps. It would mean that the Poles murdered practically every single POW they had in their captivity. However, if your claim is true, then where did Poland take from the 65.797 that were returned to Russia after the war ended (until mid-October of 1921)?
    Cheers

    1. Grobicki i believe, was in a hurry, he was executed in Mednoye in accordance with the Criminal legislation of USSR on a charge for mass murders in Pinsk. (As you remember Mednoye, Kharkiv and Smolensk were major places where Poles were killed) As for the source i will go and look for it, that's a part of the project search called "Anti-Katyn" in Russia.

    2. As for the figures you cited i must confess i have different, both Soviet and independent authors cite different figures.
    Lecz ja znam - i ogół zna - zwykłą
    Prawdę, jasną nawet dla dzieci:
    Ci, którym wyrządza się zło,
    Sami zło wyrządzają w odwecie.

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  11. #11
    Marshal of Poland Halibutt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRAKoris
    1. Grobicki i believe, was in a hurry, he was executed in Mednoye in accordance with the Criminal legislation of USSR on a charge for mass murders in Pinsk. As for the source i will go and look for it
    It would be interesting.

    that's a part of the project search called "Anti-Katyn" in Russia.
    And what is that project?

    2. As for the figures you cited i must confess i have different, both Soviet and independent authors cite different figures.
    Great! Could you cite the authors, quote the numbers they use and cite the sources?
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    Originally posted by Juu:
    The Soviets won the war. We happened to be nearby.

  12. #12
    Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni MRAKoris's Avatar
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    Anti-Katyn is the project which USSR developed foreseeing the problems with Katyn case, in order to have a good defence stance the atrocities during Soviet-Polish war were taken as the basis for fututre claims to Poland. But during Soviet times for the sake of peoples' friendship in Soviet camp this case was silenced until "better" times.
    Lecz ja znam - i ogół zna - zwykłą
    Prawdę, jasną nawet dla dzieci:
    Ci, którym wyrządza się zło,
    Sami zło wyrządzają w odwecie.

    W.H. Auden

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRAKoris
    2. As for the figures you cited i must confess i have different, both Soviet and independent authors cite different figures.
    you still fail to deliver us any Soviet and independant authors
    General chaos and disarray in Poland, the Great Interregnum of Anno Domini 1382. Royal Court of Poland in the Medieval EURPG

  14. #14
    You don' t let me to end discussion about Katyn.

    I have seen this thread. Ok I have checked my links.

    Links on Russian language.

    Polish historian write about 80 000 POW of Red army.

    http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:g...%B2+1920&hl=ru


    Russian historian gives data and links to documents about 130 000-165 000 POW in response.

    from 18000 to 83000 died.

    http://www.ng.ru/ideas/2000-11-03/8_poland-ru.html

    EDIT
    1) Additional link of this discussion
    http://www.ng.ru/politics/2002-07-17/2_tuleev.html

    2) Data from book
    http://militera.lib.ru/research/meltyukhov2/index.html

    К сожалению, до сих пор не ясны потери сторон в войне 1919—1920 гг. Согласно польским данным, польская армия только с апреля по октябрь 1920 г. потеряла 184 246 человек, правда, о каких потерях идет речь, не уточняется{217}. Потери Красной армии неизвестны. Известно лишь, что за время войны польские войска взяли в плен более 146 тыс. человек, содержание которых в Польше было очень далеко от каких-либо гуманитарных стандартов. Особым издевательствам подвергались коммунисты или заподозренные в принадлежности к ним, а пленные красноармейцы-немцы вообще расстреливались на месте. Но даже и простые пленные зачастую становились жертвами произвола польских военных властей. Широко было распространено ограбление пленных, издевательство над пленными женщинами. Видимо, подобное отношение к советским военнопленным явилось в значительной степени результатом многолетней пропаганды «вины» России перед Польшей. Все это привело к тому, что около 60 тыс. советских военнопленных умерли в польских лагерях. К 21 ноября 1921 г. из Польши вернулись 75 699 бывших военнопленных (932 человека отказались возвращаться), а из [104] Германии — 40 986 интернированных. Польских пленных в Советской России было около 60 тыс. (видимо, это число включает также гражданских пленных, заложников и интернированных лиц) и их содержание не преследовало цели уничтожить или унизить их. Наоборот, подавляющее большинство пленных рассматривалось как «братья по классу» и какие-либо репрессии в отношении них были просто немыслимы. Политическая работа в лагерях военнопленных преследовала цель развить у них «классовое» сознание. Конечно, нельзя отрицать, что в условиях боевых действий имели место отдельные эксцессы в отношении пленных, особенно офицеров, но советское командование стремилось пресекать их и наказывать виновных. На содержании пленных в РСФСР, безусловно, сказывалась общая экономическая разруха. По окончании войны в Польшу вернулось 27 598 бывших военнопленных, а около 2 тыс. осталось в РСФСР{218}. [105]
    Last edited by De Slard; 30-03-2005 at 15:00.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRAKoris
    Anti-Katyn is the project which USSR developed foreseeing the problems with Katyn case, in order to have a good defence stance the atrocities during Soviet-Polish war were taken as the basis for fututre claims to Poland. But during Soviet times for the sake of peoples' friendship in Soviet camp this case was silenced until "better" times.
    "Crisis management" in its finest example.

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    The traditional fallback - "provakatsiya" (provocation)...

  17. #17
    Marshal of Poland Halibutt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by De Slard
    Links on Russian language.

    Polish historian write about 80 000 POW of Red army.

    http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:g...%B2+1920&hl=ru
    That's exactly the same article Longinus posted a link to. Good we have both the Polish and Russian translations.

    Russian historian gives data and links to documents about 130 000-165 000 POW

    from 18000 to 83000 died.
    http://www.ng.ru/ideas/2000-11-03/8_poland-ru.html
    Now, that is something! Thanks!

    First of all, there are lots of contradicting numbers mentioned in that article. Let alone the Chicherin's note since it's not backed up by anything (130.000 POWs, 65.000 died in captivity...). This seems rather not credible because his note was sent on September 9th, 1921, that is before the repatriation of POWs ended.

    Next, we have the "Гриф секретности снят: потери Вооруженных Сил СССР в войнах, боевых действиях и военных конфликтах" publication, which lists 94 880 officers and soldiers of Western and South-Western Fronts that were declared missing in 1919 and 1920. Apart from the fact that MIA is not yet a KIA and that the South-Western Front was also fighting against the Whites and Ukraine for some time, these numbers seem quite accurate and in accordance with the Polish data (even if we assume that all of them were taken POW and none were dead and torn to pieces by artillery fire or drowned in Vistula).

    Then the author mentions that according to the data of the 2nd Department of the Polish HQ (intelligence and counter-intelligence), there were more than 146.000 Russian POWs captured. I would like to see some backup for that claim, since it's completely different number that the author drew from the same sources Karpus was using.

    Then he mentions Mukhitina, who also published some numbers, quite different from those above. According to her, there were 165.500 POWs taken by the Polish side, including 13.000 in 1919 (Karpus quotes 7096 POWs in November of 1919), 30.000 in April-July of 1920 and 117.550 taken immediately after the battle of Warsaw in mid-August of 1920.

    Then the author mentions a difference in the number of repatriated POWs by the end of October of 1921. Polish data gives the number of 65.797 men (and some 2.000 that were left as a warrant of safe return of additional 3.000 Poles stille held in Russian captivity; these were returned two months later). On the other hand, the Mobilisation Authority of the Red Army quotes 75.699 repatriated by the end of November of 1921. So, in other words, if we assume that both these numbers are correct, the Russians received some 10.000 more POWs than Poles sent them. This could be due to the fact, that many of the Russian POWs volunteered for service with the ill-fated Ukrainian and White Russian units that crossed the demarcation line after the cease-fire and wanted to continue the fight, but were defeated soon afterwards. Some of them returned to Poland (and were yet again put in the POW camps, BTW) but others might've been taken by the Reds and counted as former Polish POWs. However, this is but my assumption.

    Then the writer passes on to the question of difficult situation within the POW camps. He mentions an YMCA report (yup, YMCA had a division devoted to POWs during and after WWI), in which it is said that the POWs were kept in barracks that were not suitable for that purpose. The report also mentions lack of linen and that some of the POWs don't have it at all while others have not received fresh linen in three months. It also mentions that in the transit camp of the Polish 18th infantry division most of the POWs were not given any civilian clothing.

    The report does not mention, however, that Poland did not build any POW camps. Those that were used in 1919 and 1920 were simply Russian and German POW camps from WWI.

    The author also mentions a report of certain "RFSR representative to Warsaw", who on January 5th, 1922, wrote that "overnight of 18th - 19th of December there was a systematical slaughter of Russian POWs and citizens in the camp (in of Strzałkowo - Halibutt). It came down to shooting at the barracks, and in the result one prisoner, Korney Kalita who was sleeping in his bed was wounded.(...)"

    This report is somehow strange, not only because there were no Bolshevik POWs there any more (the repatriation ended months before), but also that I don't understand what a Bolshevik representative was doing in a camp where White Russian and Ukrainian POWs were held.

    Then the author mentions some mysterious letter from Polish commander of all the POW camps to general Sosnkowski, in which he mentions that 22.000 Russians died in Strzałkowo. I would really like to know the source of that document, since it would solve many questions.

    Then he also mentions a report of some Bolshevik commission that was supposedly dispatched to various POW camps in Poland in... February of 1923. That report, according to the author, mentions beatings and other acts of maltreatment of defenceless POWs. The problem is the same as with the previous documents - according to the Polish sources mentioned by Karpus, there were no Bolshevik POWs in Poland then.

    Then he critisizes the Polish term "Polish-Bolshevik War" and suggests that it should be called "Polish-Russian War". Calling it otherwise, suggests Vladimir Daynes, that the war was fought between states and not between nations, and that that's why the humanitarian rights were supposedly not obeyed. And then - guess what - he gets carried away and mentions Katyn'.

    All in all, the article mentions several versions and supports one of them - though why does he support that version of facts remains a mystery to me. The author found several versions of numbers and assumed that the highest possible number of POWs and victims must be right. However, I have yet to see some documents that would back it up.

    Note that I'm not denying that there were Russian POWs in Poland and that I'm not denying that many of them died. Similarily, I guess none of the Russian historians want to deny that there were Polish POWs in Russian camps and that many of them died. It's all about numbers and their interpretation. Apparently mr. Vladimir Daynes' thesis was that the Poles murdered on purpose thousands of Russian POWs and that Poles nowadays don't want to apologise for that. IMO first we'd have to find out the true number of victims and reason of their death.
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    Originally posted by Juu:
    The Soviets won the war. We happened to be nearby.

  18. #18
    to Halibutt

    You didn't mention my last link.

    It includes serious statements and sources.

    Sources:

    {217}Залусский 3. Пути к достоверности{Наленч Д., Наленч Т. Юзеф Пилсудский — легенды и факты. Пер. с польск. М., 1990. С. 264.

    {104}Какурин Н.Е., Меликов В.А. Указ. соч. С. 165; Директивы командования фронтов. Т. 3. С. 178—185.

    {218}Гриф секретности снят: Потери Вооруженных Сил СССР в войнах, боевых действиях и военных конфликтах: Статистическое исследование. М., 1993. С. 34; Мыхутина И.В. Так сколько же советских военнопленных погибло в Польше в 1919—1921 гг.? {Новая и новейшая история. 1995. № 3. С. 64—69; Костюшко И. И. К вопросу о польских военнопленных 1920 года{Славяноведение. 2000. № 3. С. 42—62; Дайнес В.О. Россия — Польша. Работа над ошибками{Независимая газета. 3 ноября 2000 г.; Филимошин М.В. «Десятками стрелял людей только за то, что... выглядели как большевики»{Военно-исторический журнал. 2001. № 2. С. 43—48.

    {105}Какурин Н.Е., Меликов В.А. Указ. соч. С. 166; Директивы командования фронтов. Т. 3. С. 188, 190.

    http://militera.lib.ru/research/meltyukhov2/index.html

  19. #19
    Marshal of Poland Halibutt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by De Slard
    EDIT
    1) Additional link of this discussion
    http://www.ng.ru/politics/2002-07-17/2_tuleev.html
    Я считаю, что трагедия пленных красноармейцев в концлагерях Польши адекватна трагедии ее офицеров в Катыни.
    Rough translation:
    I understand that the tragedy of the Red Army soldiers imprisoned in the Polish concentration camps as adequate to the tragedy of Polish officers in Katyn'
    No comments.

    But seriously, that article explains why many Russians believe that the crime happened and the fact that it's closely related to the Katyn case is quite clear. However, it doesn't explain what really happened.

    Quite a one-sided story...

    В оккупированных районах Украины захватчики грабили население, сжигали целые деревни, расстреливали и вешали ни в чем не повинных граждан. Пленных красноармейцев подвергали пыткам и издевательствам. В городе Ровно оккупанты расстреляли более 3 тыс. мирных жителей. Грабеж Украины, прикрывавшийся ссылками на договор с Петлюрой о снабжении польских войск, сопровождался террором и насилием: телесные наказания крестьян при реквизициях, аресты и расстрелы советских служащих в городах, конфискации имущества и еврейские погромы.
    a rough translation:

    In the occupied areas of Ukraine the oppressors pillaged all they could, burnt whole villages, shot to death or hanged innocent people. The Red Army soldiers taken POW were subject to interrogations. In the city of Równe the occupants shot to death more than 3.000 civillians. The pillage of Ukraine, covered by the alliance with Petlura, was carried out by force and terror: the peasants were beaten during the requisitions, the Soviet collaborators were arrested and shot, the private property was confiscated and Jewish pogroms were organised.
    Hummm, apart from the fact that:
    • Poland did not organise her own administration in the Ukraine during the offensive. All administration was organised by the Ukrainian government.
    • One can hardly call the Ukrainian government the occupant of... Ukraine. And, I must tell you that most of my Ukrainian friends feel quite happy under Ukrainian yoke. But perhaps in 1920 it was different...
    • In order to strengthen the forming Ukrainian army, the Poles did not draw any recruits nor requisitioned food and horses from the areas east of the Zbruch river - all necessary supplies were delivered from Poland to the depots in Koziatyn, Kharkov and some other towns. Some of these depots were even captured by the Bolsheviks during their counter-offensive. I have no idea where did the author took the whole "requisition" thingie, but if it really happened, it must've been against direct orders. And it would've been pointless, since what the Polish army was lacking were uniforms, shoes, ammo and equipment, not horses and food.
    • I have yet to see any proof that the Polish Army organised pogroms. Especially that there was a large number of Jews fighting in it. Even Petlura's pogroms are quite controversial, not to mention supposed "Polish pogroms".
    • I don't have any data about the Soviet collaborators and what was done with them, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Ukrainians shot many of them. After all collaboration with a foreign state during a war is considered high treason.

    So, apart from the abovementioned facts, all what the guy wrote is true. Anyway, as far as I can tell there is little but propaganda there.
    Cheers
    Last edited by Halibutt; 31-03-2005 at 01:44.
    1.4.5-compatible ICE+MPP+YFP pack
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    Originally posted by Juu:
    The Soviets won the war. We happened to be nearby.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halibutt
    Then the author mentions a difference in the number of repatriated POWs by the end of October of 1921. Polish data gives the number of 65.797 men (and some 2.000 that were left as a warrant of safe return of additional 3.000 Poles stille held in Russian captivity; these were returned two months later). On the other hand, the Mobilisation Authority of the Red Army quotes 75.699 repatriated by the end of November of 1921. So, in other words, if we assume that both these numbers are correct, the Russians received some 10.000 more POWs than Poles sent them. This could be due to the fact, that many of the Russian POWs volunteered for service with the ill-fated Ukrainian and White Russian units that crossed the demarcation line after the cease-fire and wanted to continue the fight, but were defeated soon afterwards. Some of them returned to Poland (and were yet again put in the POW camps, BTW) but others might've been taken by the Reds and counted as former Polish POWs. However, this is but my assumption.
    It’s quite truth I must say. The same story with the military formations of general Bulak-Balachovicz and the Slutsk insurgents, which were interned at the Polish side of the front in 1920-1921 and placed to the POWs camps. And I never heard about any mass death among them…

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