2007 | 3 | 43-56
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The crime committed upon the basis of a decision of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the All–Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) against Polish prisoners of war interned in special camps in Kozielsk, Starobielsk and Ostaszków (Ostashkov) as well as in prisons across the so–called Western Ukraine and Byelorussia, was supposed to remain an eternal secret. Its concealment was to be guaranteed by the manner in which it had been perpetrated and the small group of insiders. Next to Party–state leaders the only source of information could have been the functionaries of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD). Documents disclosed in the 1990s, originating from reserved Russian collections, whose copies were presented to Poland and compared with unpublished Starobielsk material concerning the Plewako family, make it possible to declare that the titular case of insubordination associated with an unauthorised transference of information about the fate of the inmates did take place, and even allows us to describe it in detail upon the basis of various sources. The leak was connected with a violation of the information blockade, in force during the summer of 1940. Nothing indicates that Chekholski had any other objective than putting at rest the minds of the Poles writing the incriminating letters and telegrams. As a translator he did not make any attempt at disclosing the criminal operation, as testified by the contents of the information. His knowledge about the operation involving the Polish POWs was more extensive than the news passed on to their families. Obviously, he did not have in mind far–reaching intentions at odds with the interests of the Soviet Union. Nor did he have any collaborators within the commissariat or any connections outside. The only conducive factor could have been the negligence of the camp command, entrusted with the correspondence blockade, a fault concealed by Bierezhkov and Kirshin by the energetic inquest. More than likely, Chekholski was inspired to pass on information to the relatives of the Polish inmates by sheer humanitarian impulses or, as the NKVD report asserted, 'he commiserated with the weeping families of the prisoners of war' whom he helped in an impulse of human solidarity.
  • W. Wasilewski, Instytut Pamieci Narodowej, Biuro Edukacji Publicznej, Warszawa, Poland
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