The Definitive Work on the Communist Genocide (Yes) of Soviet Poles During the Great Terror (1937-1938), and Jewish Complicity in It

  • Operacja Antypolska NKWD 1937-1938 by Tomasz Sommer  – Published 2014 by 3 S Media. Edition Language: Polish.


THE ANTI-POLISH OPERATION OF THE NKVD, 1937-1938 is the title of this Polish-language book on the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Poles. It is a scholarly work, based extensively on Soviet archives. The work is loaded with information on personages, events, and locations. There is also a section on the testimonies of Soviet Poles who had survived the genocide.

For purposes of introduction, author Tomasz Sommer (pp. 89-90) cites the few English-language works that had alluded to this genocide. One of them is The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (The Wilder House Series in Politics, History and Culture). Otherwise, this genocide had largely been a “blank spot” in history. (p. 382). However, Sommer does not elaborate as to why this was a „blank spot”. Was it because the class warfare and classicide, for which Communists are best known, have tended to overshadow other forms of murderous Communist crimes? Was it because the crimes of the Soviet Communists have never been recognized as having the same gravity as the crimes of the Nazi Germans? Was it because massive crimes against Poles were never deemed as significant as massive crimes against the Jews?



Let us first establish the fact of genocide:

There were, of course, victims of the Great Terror other than Poles, but this in no way negates the fact of the genocide of Poles. We must consider not only the vast number of Polish victims, but also Soviet INTENT behind the state-sponsored mass murders, and that is what the author does, as elaborated in the following paragraphs:

Author Tomasz Sommer (p. 63) makes it clear that the Soviet murderers themselves were talking about Poles as a distinctive ethno-cultural group, and not as “class enemies” that happened to be Polish. (p. 63, 216). This fulfills the definition of genocide as coined by Rafal Lemkin, and more recent thinkers. (p. 63, 77).

Put in the broader context of events, Poles died from murderous Communist actions “as Poles” and “not as Poles”. The author points out that Order 00485 was a specifically anti-Polish operation, while other orders that were part of the Great Terror (the bloodiest of which was Order 00447), while not specifically calling for the murder of Poles, nonetheless took many Polish lives. (p. 231, 365). An NKVD document, dated November 17, 1937, identified various groups to be eliminated, with Poles listed explicitly, and separately from “anti-Soviet elements” and “kulaks”. (pp. 246-247). Sommer adds that, in Byelorussian SSR, the fulfillment of Order 00485 was so obviously anti-Polish that the “anti-kulak” and “anti-nationalist” aspects of Communist totalitarian action were decidedly secondary. (p. 365).

Moreover, the genocidal targeting of Soviet Poles did not occur only within the scope of internal Soviet politics. It went hand-in-hand with a Soviet-propaganda smear campaign against neighboring Poland. The Poles of the USSR were demonized, and directly linked with next-door “landlord”, “clerical”, and, especially “fascist” Poland. (p. 94, 213).

After the Great Terror, the still-living Poles in the USSR were so traumatized that they commonly concealed their nationality, even from their own children. (p. 339-340, 366). No wonder that subsequent population statistics, in the USSR, greatly undercounted the remaining Poles!



According to Soviet estimates, the “Polish Operation” of 1937-1938 cost the lives of 111,091 Poles. (p. 347). However, Sommer shows that, according to the actual NKVD records, between 135,000 and 140,000 Poles perished. When actual population figures are compared with each other, the death toll reaches 200,000. (p. 363).

Tomasz Sommer estimates that, of the Poles arrested by the NKVD, 80%-90% were shot. The remainder were dispatched to the Gulags. (p. 73). Of course, a certain fraction of these incarcerated Poles died there from the deliberately inhumane conditions.

Now consider the geographic deployment of the genocide of the Poles. Not surprisingly, the largest number of Poles murdered were in Soviet-ruled Ukraine and Soviet-ruled Belarus, as that is where most Soviet Poles lived. However, significant numbers of Poles were also murdered in other parts of the USSR, including Kazakhstan and Siberia. (pp. 300-301, 348-350).



The reader may ask why we should remember Jewish crimes. Here is the reason: Nowadays, Jews commonly say that Poles were “complicit in the Holocaust”. How so? Does the fact that perhaps 0.01% or 0.1%, of the killers of Jews on German-occupied Polish soil, were ethnic Poles, now make Poles “complicit in the Holocaust”? If so, then Jews, who, as we shall see, were far more than 0.1% of all Communist killers (Zydokomuna), are all the more complicit in the heinous crimes of Communism, including the 1937-1938 genocide of Poles in the USSR.

The heyday of murderous Communist operations was the 1930’s, coinciding with the very large percentage of Jewish leaders of the dreaded NKVD. The best known of these operations was the HOLODOMOR (1932-1933). Later, in 1935-1936, the top leadership of the NKVD in Soviet-ruled Ukraine was 66.7% Jewish. [See the Peczkis review of: Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 26: Jews and Ukrainians.]

Now consider the events of the Great Terror and the genocide of Poles (1937-1938). Author Tomasz Sommer cites a Russian-language scholarly work which indicates that, in Soviet-ruled Ukraine, the top leadership of the NKVD was 67% Jewish in 1935-1936. (p. 321). [I speak some Russian, and can read the Cyrillic alphabet. I now inform the reader that one of the authors of the cited work, written in 2012, is Vadym Zolator’ov, who has long been studying the NKVD in considerable detail. The approximate title of the cited work, in English translation, is: JEWS IN THE NKVD OF THE USSR IN THE YEARS 1936-1938.]

Author Sommer rejects the exculpatory argument that Jewish Communists are “not really Jews”. They certainly are. For example, famous Jewish writer Isaak Babel once expressed a feeling of conflict with his Jewishness and his Communism, but, later in life, went back to the Talmud. (p. 321).

The victimized Poles may have gotten a measure of revenge. Sommer quotes Czeslaw Karpinski, who survived the genocide of the Poles. He reported hearing of Poles denouncing the Jewish Communist killers to the Nazis following Nazi Germany’s invasion of the USSR in 1941. (p. 325).

The Nazis are best-known for digging-up the Katyn graves. However, they also re-exhumed the remains of many of the victims of the 1937-1938 Great Terror, notably at Winnica (Vinnitsa). (p. 333).

A superb book! It should be translated into English.


Jan Peczkis

Published with the author’s permission.


– More reviews by Jan Peczkis on PCO  ….. .


  • Title image: „Operacja Antypolska NKWD 1937-1938” by Tomasz Sommer, part of the cover / selected by wg.pco

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