The paper deals with the fate of Polish officers imprisoned in Soviet POW camps in the years 1939-1940. On the 17th of September 1939, Poland, which had already been fighting a war against the invading Germany, was attacked by the Soviet Red Army. Several hundred thousand military personnel were imprisoned by the Soviets, including over 20 thousand officers. Among the latter group, there were many representatives of the Polish intelligentsia, from a variety of professional millieus, most notably researchers, eminent specialists of international renown. Almost all of the prisoners were killed as a result of a decision by the Politburo of the Soviet Communist Party. Despite the sixty-six years that have passed since it was committed, many details connected with the atrocity, known in Poland as the 'Katyn Crime', still remain unknown. Sheets from a diary of the archaeologist Jan Bartys, held in the camp at Kozielsk, provide new information on the life of the prisoners and on the situation in the camps, and they also give an account of the activities and studies of the prisoners, including lectures delivered by university teachers and scholars in various fields of knowledge, as well as of religious rites and celebrations of religious and state holidays. The prisoners were severely punished for such activites, but these were a way of combatting their longing for home and of keeping up spirits, while for the young officers they also provided a chance to continue their education. The diaries, which were found in the Katyn graves, have made a small but valuable contribution to our knowledge of the last days of the Polish officers imprisoned at the camp at Kozielsk, in the Smolensk region.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.