Territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union

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Temporary borders created by advancing German and Soviet troops. The border was soon readjusted following diplomatic agreements. Wrzesien2.jpg
Temporary borders created by advancing German and Soviet troops. The border was soon readjusted following diplomatic agreements.

Seventeen days after the German invasion of Poland in 1939, which marked the beginning of the Second World War, the Soviet Union invaded the eastern regions of Poland (known as the " Kresy "), which Poland re-established during the Polish–Soviet War, and annexed territories totaling 201,015 square kilometres (77,612 sq mi) with a population of 13,299,000. Inhabitants besides ethnic Poles included Czech, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Jewish, and other minority groups.

Invasion of Poland invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent

The invasion of Poland, known in Poland as the September campaign or the 1939 defensive war, and in Germany as the Poland campaign (Polenfeldzug), was an invasion of Poland by Germany that marked the beginning of World War II. The German invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviets invaded Poland on 17 September following the Molotov–Tōgō agreement that terminated the Soviet and Japanese Battles of Khalkhin Gol in the east on 16 September. The campaign ended on 6 October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland under the terms of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty.

Soviet invasion of Poland

The Soviet invasion of Poland was a military operation by the Soviet Union without a formal declaration of war. On 17 September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east, sixteen days after Germany invaded Poland from the west. Subsequent military operations lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly approved by Germany following the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August 1939.

Second Polish Republic 1918-1939 republic in Eastern Europe

The Second Polish Republic, commonly known as interwar Poland, refers to the country of Poland in the period between the First and Second World Wars (1918–1939). Officially known as the Republic of Poland, the state was re-established in 1918, in the aftermath of World War I. The Second Republic ceased to exist in 1939, when Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic, marking the beginning of the European theatre of World War II.

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Most of these territories remained within the Soviet Union in 1945 as a consequence of European-wide territorial rearrangements configured during the Tehran Conference of 1943. Poland was compensated for this territorial loss with the pre-War German eastern territories. The Polish People's Republic described the territories as the "Recovered Territories". The number of Poles in the Kresy in the year 1939 was around 5.274 million, but after ethnic cleansing in 1939-1945 by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Ukrainian nationalist forces consisted of approximately 1.8 million inhabitants. [1] The post-World War II territory of Poland was significantly smaller than the pre-1939 land areas, shrinking by some 77,000 square kilometres (30,000 sq mi) (roughly equaling that of the territories of Belgium and the Netherlands combined).

Tehran Conference convention

The Tehran Conference was a strategy meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill from 28 November to 1 December 1943, after the Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iran. It was held in the Soviet Union's embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first of the World War II conferences of the "Big Three" Allied leaders. It closely followed the Cairo Conference which had taken place on 22–26 November 1943, and preceded the 1945 Yalta and Potsdam conferences. Although the three leaders arrived with differing objectives, the main outcome of the Tehran Conference was the Western Allies' commitment to open a second front against Nazi Germany. The conference also addressed the 'Big Three' Allies' relations with Turkey and Iran, operations in Yugoslavia and against Japan, and the envisaged post-war settlement. A separate protocol signed at the conference pledged the Big Three to recognize Iran's independence.

Former eastern territories of Germany

The former eastern territories of Germany are those provinces or regions east of the current eastern border of Germany which were lost by Germany after World War I and then World War II.

Polish Peoples Republic official name of Poland from 1952 to 1989

The Polish People's Republic was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1947 to 1989, and the predecessor of the modern democratic Republic of Poland. With a population of approximately 37.9 million inhabitants near the end of its existence, it was the most populous state of the Eastern Bloc after the Soviet Union. Having a unitary Marxist–Leninist communist government imposed by the Soviet Union following World War II, it was also one of the main signatories of the Warsaw Pact. The largest city and official capital since 1947 was Warsaw, followed by industrial Łódź and cultural Kraków.

Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact

Planned and actual divisions of Europe, according to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, with later adjustments Ribbentrop-Molotov.svg
Planned and actual divisions of Europe, according to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, with later adjustments

Early in the morning of August 24, 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a 10-year non-aggression pact, called the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact. Most notably, the pact contained a secret protocol, revealed only after Germany's defeat in 1945, according to which the states of Northern and Eastern Europe were divided into German and Soviet "spheres of influence". [2] In the North, Finland, Estonia and Latvia were assigned to the Soviet sphere. [2] Poland was to be partitioned in the event of its "political rearrangement"the areas east of the Narev, Vistula and San Rivers going to the Soviet Union while Germany would occupy the west. [2] [3] Initially annexed by Poland in a series of wars between 1918 and 1921 (primarily the Polish-Soviet War), these territories had mixed urban national populations with Poles and Ukrainians being the most numerous ethnic groups, with significant minorities of Belarusians and Jews. [4] Much of this rural territory had its own significant local non-Polish majority (Ukrainians in the south and Belarusians in the north). [5]

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Northern Europe northern region of the European continent

Northern Europe is the geographical region in Europe roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54°N. Narrower definitions may be based on other geographical factors such as climate and ecology. A broader definition would include the area north of the Alps. Countries which are central-western, central or central-eastern are not usually considered part of either Northern or Southern Europe.

Eastern Europe Eastern part of the European continent

Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic connotations. There are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region". A related United Nations paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and cultural construct". One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural entity: the region lying in Europe with the main characteristics consisting of Greek, Byzantine, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, and some Ottoman culture influences. Another definition was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. The majority of historians and social scientists view such definitions as outdated or relegated, but they are still sometimes used for statistical purposes.

Lithuania, adjacent to East Prussia, would be in the German sphere of influence, although a second secret protocol agreed in September 1939 assigned the majority of Lithuania to the USSR. [6] According to the secret protocol, Lithuania would retrieve its historical capital Vilnius, subjugated during the inter-war period by Poland.

Lithuania Republic in Northeastern Europe

Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Lithuania is considered to be one of the Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2019, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Baltic people. The official language, Lithuanian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family, the other being Latvian.

East Prussia province of Prussia

East Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 ; following World War I it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945. Its capital city was Königsberg. East Prussia was the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast.

Vilnius City in Lithuania

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and its largest city, with a population of 574,147 as of 2018. The population of Vilnius functional urban area, that stretches beyond the city limits, is estimated at 697,691, while according to statistics of Vilnius territorial health insurance fund, there are 723,016 permanent inhabitants in Vilnius city and Vilnius district municipalities combined. Vilnius is in the southeast part of Lithuania and is the second largest city in the Baltic states. Vilnius is the seat of the main government institutions of Lithuania and the Vilnius District Municipality.

Soviet annexation of eastern Poland, 1939–1941

Soviet annexation of territory of eastern Poland ceded to Ukrainian SSR (yellow), 1940 Western Ukrainian SSR 1940 after annexation of eastern Poland.jpg
Soviet annexation of territory of eastern Poland ceded to Ukrainian SSR (yellow), 1940
Soviet map of the newly expanded Byelorussian SSR (yellow), 1940. Parts of prewar Poland invaded by the Nazis labeled area of state interests of Germany Belorussian SSR in 1940 after annexation of eastern Poland.jpg
Soviet map of the newly expanded Byelorussian SSR (yellow), 1940. Parts of prewar Poland invaded by the Nazis labeled area of state interests of Germany

The Polish–Soviet border, as of 1939, had been determined in 1921 at the Treaty of Riga peace talks, which followed the Polish–Soviet War. [7] Under the terms of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, two weeks after the German invasion of western Poland the Soviet Union invaded the portions of eastern Poland assigned to it by the Pact, followed by co-ordination with German forces in Poland. [8] [9] See map.

Peace of Riga peace treaty between Soviet Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine and Poland, signed on March 18, 1921 in Riga

The Peace of Riga, also known as the Treaty of Riga, was signed in Riga on 18 March 1921, among Poland, Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine. The treaty ended the Polish–Soviet War.

Polish–Soviet War 20th-century conflict between Poland and the USSR

The Polish–Soviet War was fought by the Second Polish Republic, Ukrainian People's Republic and the proto-Soviet Union over a region comparable to today's westernmost Ukraine and parts of modern Belarus.

The "need to protect" the Ukrainian and Belarusian majority populations was used as a pretext for Soviet invasion of Eastern Poland (including Western Ukraine and Belarus) carried out in the wake of Poland's dismemberment under the Nazi invasion with Warsaw being besieged and Poland's government being in the process of evacuation. [10] The total area, including the area given to Lithuania, was 201,015 square kilometres (77,612 sq mi), with a population of 13.299 million, of which 5.274 million were ethnic Poles and 1.109 million were Jews. [11] An additional 138,000 ethnic Poles and 198,000 Jews fled the German occupied zone and became refugees in the Soviet occupied region. [12]

Soviet authorities immediately started a campaign of sovietization [13] [14] of the newly acquired areas. The Soviets organized staged elections, [15] the result of which was to become a legitimization of Soviet annexation of eastern Poland. [16] Soviet authorities attempted to erase Polish history and culture, [4] withdrew the Polish currency without exchanging ruble, [17] collectivized agriculture, [18] and nationalized and redistributed private and state-owned Polish property. [19] Soviet authorities regarded service for the pre-war Polish state as a "crime against revolution" [20] and "counter-revolutionary activity", [21] and subsequently started arresting large numbers of Polish citizens. During the initial Soviet invasion of Poland, between 230,000 to 450,000 Poles were taken as prisoner, some of whom were executed. NKVD officers conducted lengthy interrogations of the prisoners in camps that were, in effect, a selection process to determine who would be killed. [22] On March 5, 1940, pursuant to a note to Stalin from Lavrenty Beria, the members of the Soviet Politburo (including Stalin) signed an order to execute POWs, labeled "nationalists and counterrevolutionaries", kept at camps and prisons in occupied western Ukraine and Belarus. This became known as the Katyn massacre,in all some 22,000 were executed [22] [23] [24] [25]

During 19391941 1.45 million of the people inhabiting the region were deported by the Soviet regime, of whom 63.1% were Poles, and 7.4% were Jews. [12] Previously it was believed that about one million Polish citizens died at the hands of the Soviets, [26] however recently Polish historians, based mostly on queries in Soviet archives, estimate the number of deaths at about 350,000 people deported in 19391945. [27]

Territories around Wilno (now Vilnius) annexed by Poland in 1920, were transferred to Lithuania on the basis of Lithuania-Soviet Union agreement (however Lithuania was soon annexed by Soviet Union to become the Lithuanian SSR). Other northern territories were attached to Belastok Voblast, Hrodna Voblast, Navahrudak Voblast (soon renamed to Baranavichy Voblast), Pinsk Voblast and Vileyka (later Maladzyechna) Voblast in Byelorussian SSR. The territories to the south were transferred to the Ukrainian SSR  : Drohobych Oblast, Lviv Oblast, Rivne Oblast, Stanislav (later known as Ivano-Frankivsk) Oblast, Tarnopil Oblast and Volyn Oblast.

German occupation 19411944

Sectors of prewar Poland under the Nazi German occupational authority Occupation of Poland 1941.png
Sectors of prewar Poland under the Nazi German occupational authority

These areas were conquered by Nazi Germany in 1941 during Operation Barbarossa. The Nazis divided them up as follows:

During 19431944 ethnic cleansing operations took place in Ukraine (commonly known as the Massacres of Poles in Volhynia) which brought about an estimated 100,000 deaths and an exodus of ethnic Poles from this territory.

The Polish and Jewish language population of the regions in 1939 totaled about 6.7 million. During the war, an estimated 2 million persons perished (including 1.2 million Jews). These numbers are included with Polish war losses. 2 million (including 250,000 Jews) became refugees to Poland or the West, 1.5 million were in the territories returned to Poland in 1945 and 1.2 million remained in the USSR. [28] Contemporary Russian historians also include the war losses of Poles and Jews from this region with Soviet war dead. [29]

Soviet 1945 annexation and incorporation

Curzon-Namier Line's variants. Tehran, 1943 Linie A-F ang.png
Curzon-Namier Line's variants. Tehran, 1943

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union annexed most of the territories it had invaded in 1939. Some parts of eastern Poland occupied by the Nazis in 1939 with an area of 21,275 square kilometres (8,214 sq mi) and 1.5 million inhabitants near Białystok and Przemyśl were returned to postwar Poland. [30] The Western Allies were unaware of the existence of the secret clause dividing Poland between Hitler and Stalin already in 1939 along the Curzon Line. [31]

Soon after the Soviet re-entry to Poland in July 1944 in pursuit of the German army, the Polish prime minister from London flew to Moscow along with Churchill in an attempt to prevent the Soviet annexation of Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed by the Soviet Union. [32] He offered a smaller section of land, but Stalin declined, telling him that he would allow the exiled government to participate in the Polish Committee of National Liberation. [33] An agreement between the Allies was reluctantly reached at the Yalta Conference where the Soviets would annex the entirety of their Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact portion of Eastern Poland, but would grant Poland part of Eastern Germany in return. [33] Thereafter, eastern Poland was annexed into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. [33]

On August 16, 1945 the Communist-dominated Polish government signed a treaty with the USSR to formally cede these territories. The total population of the territories annexed by the USSR, not including the portion returned to Poland in 1945, had an estimated population of 10,653,000 according to the 1931 Polish census. In 1939 this had increased to about 11.6 million. The composition by language group was Ukrainian 37.1%, Polish 36.5%, Belarusian 15.1%, Yiddish 8.3%, Other 3%. Religious affiliation: Eastern Orthodox 31.6%, Roman Catholic 30.1%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church 26.7%, Jewish 9.9%, Other 1.7%. [34]

From 1944 until 1952 the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA) were engaged in an armed struggle against the communists (in the early 1940s, the UIA, supported by local Ukrainians, participated in the ethnic cleansing operations). As a result of the skirmishes between the UIA and Soviet units, the Soviets deported 600,000 people from these territories and in the process 170,000 of the local population were killed in the fighting. See also Operation Vistula. [35]

See also

Notes

  1. Ciesielski, Stanisław; Borodziej, Włodzimierz (2000), Przesiedlenie ludności polskiej z kresów wschodnich do Polski 1944–1947 (in Polish), Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Neriton, ISBN   978-83-86842-56-8
  2. 1 2 3 Text of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, executed August 23, 1939
  3. Wilson Center, Secret Texts of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact, 1939 Point 1 of the secret supplementary protocol signed on August 23, 1939, is changed so that the territory of the Lithuanian state is included in the sphere of interest of the USSR because, on the other side, Lublin voivodeship and parts of Warsaw voivodeship are included in the sphere of interest of Germany
  4. 1 2 Elżbieta Trela-Mazur (1997). Włodzimierz Bonusiak; Stanisław Jan Ciesielski; Zygmunt Mańkowski; Mikołaj Iwanow (eds.). Sowietyzacja oświaty w Małopolsce Wschodniej pod radziecką okupacją 1939–1941. Sovietization of education in eastern Lesser Poland during the Soviet occupation 1939–1941. Kielce: Wyższa Szkoła Pedagogiczna im. Jana Kochanowskiego. pp. 294–. ISBN   8371331002 via Google Books. Of the 13.5 million civilians living in Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union according to the last official Polish census, the population was over 38% Poles (5.1 million), 37% Polish Ukrainians (4.7 million), 14.5% Belarusians, 8.4% Jews, 0.9% Russians and 0.6% Germans. Also in: Wrocławskie Studia Wschodnie, Wrocław, 1997.
  5. Jan Tomasz Gross, Revolution from Abroad, pp. 4, 5, Princeton, 2005, ISBN   0-691-09603-1 (Google books link)
  6. Christie, Kenneth, Historical Injustice and Democratic Transition in Eastern Asia and Northern Europe: Ghosts at the Table of Democracy, RoutledgeCurzon, 2002, ISBN   0-7007-1599-1
  7. Heart of Europe. A Short History of Poland by Norman Davies. Oxford: Oxford University Press paperback 1986. ISBN   0-19-285152-7 (pbk.), pp. 115-121
  8. Roberts 2006 , p. 43
  9. Sanford, George (2005). Katyn and the Soviet Massacre Of 1940: Truth, Justice And Memory. London, New York: Routledge. ISBN   0-415-33873-5.
  10. Telegram of the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union, (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office Moscow, Moscow, September 16 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2007-04-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link): ...the Soviet Union had thus far not concerned itself about the plight of its minorities in Poland and had to justify abroad, in some way or other, its present intervention.
  11. Concise statistical year-book of Poland, Polish Ministry of Information. London June 1941 P.9 & 10
  12. 1 2 Poland's Holocaust, Tadeusz Piotrowski, 1998 ISBN   0-7864-0371-3 P.14
  13. various authors (1998). Adam Sudoł (ed.). Sowietyzacja Kresów Wschodnich II Rzeczypospolitej po 17 września 1939 (in Polish). Bydgoszcz: Wyższa Szkoła Pedagogiczna. p. 441. ISBN   83-7096-281-5.
  14. various authors (2001). "Stalinist Forced Relocation Policies". In Myron Weiner, Sharon Stanton Russell (ed.). Demography and National Security. Berghahn Books. pp. 308–315. ISBN   1-57181-339-X.
  15. Bartłomiej Kozłowski (2005). ""Wybory" do Zgromadzeń Ludowych Zachodniej Ukrainy i Zachodniej Białorusi". Polska.pl (in Polish). NASK. Archived from the original on June 28, 2006. Retrieved March 13, 2006.
  16. Jan Tomasz Gross (2003). Revolution from Abroad. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 396. ISBN   0-691-09603-1.
  17. Karolina Lanckorońska (2001). "I - Lwów". Wspomnienia wojenne; 22 IX 1939 - 5 IV 1945 (in Polish). Kraków: ZNAK. p. 364. ISBN   83-240-0077-1.
  18. ‹See Tfd› (in Polish) Encyklopedia PWN, "OKUPACJA SOWIECKA W POLSCE 1939–41", last accessed on 1 March 2006, online Archived 2005-04-20 at the Wayback Machine , Polish language
  19. Piotrowski 2007 , p. 11
  20. Gustaw Herling-Grudziński (1996). A World Apart: Imprisonment in a Soviet Labor Camp During World War II. Penguin Books. p. 284. ISBN   0-14-025184-7.
  21. Władysław Anders (1995). Bez ostatniego rozdziału (in Polish). Lublin: Test. p. 540. ISBN   83-7038-168-5.
  22. 1 2 Fischer, Benjamin B., "The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field", Studies in Intelligence , Winter 1999-2000.
  23. Sanford, Google Books, p. 20-24.
  24. "Stalin's Killing Field" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-07-19.
  25. Parfitt, Tom (2010-11-26). "Russian parliament admits guilt over Polish massacre". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  26. Franciszek Proch, Poland's Way of the Cross, New York 1987. P.146
  27. Project In Posterum (go to note on Polish Casualties by Tadeusz Piotrowski)
  28. Krystyna Kersten, Szacunek strat osobowych w Polsce Wschodniej. Dzieje Najnowsze Rocznik XXI 1994, p. 46 & 47
  29. Rossiiskaia Akademiia nauk. Liudskie poteri SSSR v period vtoroi mirovoi voiny:sbornik statei. Sankt-Peterburg 1995 ISBN   5-86789-023-6 p. 84
  30. " U.S. Bureau of the Census The Population of Poland Ed. W. Parker Mauldin, Washington, 1954 p. 140
  31. Nick Shepley (2015). Hitler, Chamberlain and Munich: The End Of The Twenty Year Truce. Andrews UK Limited. p. 69. ISBN   1783331089.
  32. Wettig 2008 , p. 47
  33. 1 2 3 Wettig 2008 , pp. 47–8
  34. " U.S. Bureau of the Census The Population of Poland Ed. W. Parker Mauldin, Washington, 1954 pp. 148149
  35. Vadim Erlikman. Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke : spravochnik. Moscow 2004. ISBN   5-93165-107-1 pp. 22 & 34

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The population of Post-World War II Poland became nearly completely ethnically homogeneous as a result of the German-Nazi Holocaust, the radically altered borders, and the deportations ordered by the Soviet authorities, who wished to remove the sizeable Polish minorities from the Baltics (Lithuania) and Eastern Europe.

German–Soviet Border and Commercial Agreement

The German–Soviet Border and Commercial Agreement, signed on January 10, 1941, was a broad agreement which settled border disputes, and continued raw materials and war machine trade between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The agreement continued the countries' relationship that started in 1939 with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which contained secret protocols that divided Eastern Europe between the Soviet Union and Germany. The relationship had continued with the subsequent invasions by Germany and the Soviet Union of that territory. The German–Soviet Border and Commercial Agreement contained additional secret protocols, settling a dispute regarding land in Lithuania which was previously split between the countries. The agreement continued the Nazi–Soviet economic relations that had been expanded by the 1939 German–Soviet Commercial Agreement and the larger 1940 German–Soviet Commercial Agreement.

Polish–Soviet border agreement of August 1945

The Border Agreement between Poland and the USSR of 16 August 1945 established the borders between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the Republic of Poland. It was signed by the Provisional Government of National Unity formed by the Polish communists. According to the treaty, Poland officially accepted the ceding its pre-war Eastern territory to the USSR (Kresy) which was decided earlier in Yalta already. Some of the territory along the Curzon line, established by Stalin during the course of the war, was returned to Poland. The treaty also recognised the division of the former German East Prussia and ultimately approved the finalised delimitation line between the Soviet Union and Poland: from the Baltic sea, to the border tripoint with Czechoslovakia in the Carpathians.

Occupation of Poland (1939–1945) Occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during the Second World War (1939–1945)

The occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II (1939–1945) began with the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, and it was formally concluded with the defeat of Germany by the Allies in May 1945. Throughout the entire course of the foreign occupation, the territory of Poland was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union (USSR) with the intention of eradicating Polish culture and subjugating its people by occupying German and Soviet powers. In summer-autumn of 1941, the lands annexed by the Soviets were overrun by Germany in the course of the initially successful German attack on the USSR. After a few years of fighting, the Red Army drove the German forces out of the USSR and across Poland from the rest of Central and Eastern Europe.

On the basis of a secret clause of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union invaded Poland on September 17, 1939, capturing the eastern provinces of the Second Polish Republic. The eastern provinces of interwar Poland were inhabited by an ethnically mixed population, with ethnic Poles as well as Polish Jews dominant in the cities. These lands now form the backbone of modern Western Ukraine and Western Belarus.

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