The Internment of Polish Troops in Latvia in the Years 19391940[1]

 

 

During the Polish-German and Polish-Soviet war in September 1939, after the invasion of 17 September 1939, a vast part of the Polish Army and its dependent paramilitary forces crossed the borders of the neghbouring states where they were interned. Hitherto, much has been said about Poles interned in Hungary, Romania and Lithuania. Yet, little, and often erroneously and imprecisely, has been said about the fate of Poles in Latvia, which had a 104 km long frontier with Poland. Press articles and also scientific publications by Polish authors still (sic!) feature exaggerated, much mistaken numbers of troops interned in Latvia (usually ranging from 4,000 to 6,000 people).[2] Only lately there has been a detailed research at the State Historical Archives of Latvia undertaken by a historian from the Military History Institute, M. Szczurowski Ph.D., whose seminal article on the issue was published in Poland.[3] Another essential work has been the article published by the professor of the University of Lodz, A. Glowacki, which dealt with the seizure of the troops interned in Latvia by the NKVD on the basis of sources from the Russian archives.[4] It is a remarkable fact that the LVVA and the Military Archives Commission reached an agreement over the exchange of copy documents of interest to both parties, under which Polish researchers have received photocopies of a substantial body of documentation on the internment of Polish troops. Unfortunately, Polish historians still struggle with the language problems, since most of the documentation is made in Latvian.

 

 

Stance taken by the Latvian government

An overview of the then international situation is a prerequisite for thorough understanding of the attitude of the Latvian government to Poland and interned Polish soldiers as of 1939. The efforts to establish a strong defence alliance undertaken in 1919 by the Baltic states, Poland and Finland failed altogether as early as in 1925, just as did the following attempts of Latvia to bind an alliance at least with Estonia and Lithuania (the military convention of 1923 contracted with Estonia was rather declarative, while the Baltic Entente treaty of 1934 provided only for certain diplomatic cooperation, which also failed to bring the required results in the period of 19391940 yet gave the Soviet Union a convenient pretext for the occupation of the Baltic States in 1940). None of the Baltic States succeed in securing their independence by guarantees from the Western powers. In this situation, at the beginning of 1939 the authoritarian governments of the Baltic states could only set their (groundless) hopes on the neutrality policy and respect for it on the part of the potential aggressors, i.e. Germany and the Soviet Union.

The outbreak of war against Poland, a country generally on good terms with Latvia, raised widespread anxiety. For instance, on 2 September, the local press reported that the citizens of Jelgava first got the news at 9 o’clock from the radio, after which the beginning of the war was much rumoured about in the city and the newspapers were sold out immediately. Similar reports came from other cities as well. President K. Ulmanis made a declaration to confirm Latvia’s neutrality on 1 September, further reinforced by the government announcement of 3 September: “In this vexed time, the government calls on all the citizens to demonstrate unanimity and eagerness in their support for the neutrality policy declared by the President of the State, which will be the direction for the government to follow in every single field of activity. It is with calm and all seriousness, without emotional reactions and free from panic, that the whole nation will continue their work to overcome the difficulties and limitations that a war between foreign countries may bring also to our land. Let the sense of responsibility and the sense of duty be the guides for every citizen, as it is announced that the government expects an active and reasoned support of all of you. We will work together and pray together for peace for the nations which today entered into war, we will sacrifice all our efforts for the sake of power and honour of our Motherland. God bless Latvia!”

Although some press releases (especially during the first week of the war) featured certain illicit sympathies for Poland, the authorities and newspapers complied strictly with the neutrality policy. For instance, on 1 September the Polish diplomatic representative S. Klopotowski gave an elaborate interview for the press but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put a ban on the publication and instructed the press that the text of similar future interviews were subject to a prior approval of the ministry.[5] On 4 September, the director of the State Telegraphic Agency “Leta” was visited by a PAT correspondent in Riga, Mr. Glinka, who said that he was organising a press office at the Polish diplomatic agent and offered providing the latest war news for the Latvian press. The director responded in all kindness that “taking into account the neutrality position, I will approve official releases only” (Mr. Glinka declared his understanding of the clue).[6] At the same time, the government desperately deployed the diplomatic channels to clarify the rumours about the dissolution of the 23 August pact between Germany and the Soviet Union and the Baltic States, yet received only declarations from the representatives of the two states on the groundlessness of such concerns, or else the replies were vague. On 11 September, an order was issued to mobilise three classes of the reserve. On the very same day, secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs M. Nukša stressed during a briefing for the Latvian diplomats abroad that “the warfare in Poland and Western Europe has not so far complicated the political situation of the Baltic states” while “no mobilisation of non-civilians or non-military personnel has been reported at our border with Poland”. However, the border with Poland was far from peaceful. Single Poles began crossing the border as early as at the beginning of September, in search for asylum in Latvia (some of which were deported).[7] On the other hand, already on 3 September Polish border guard sent back to Latvia two young Poles from Daugavpils who were willing to join the Polish Army (other Polish volunteers from Latvia managed to reach as far as Vilnius).[8]

A rapid shift took place on 17 September when hundreds of refugees fled to Latvia. On that day, after Poland was attacked also by the Soviet Union, the Polish government escaped to Romania, the Soviet Union threatened to invade Estonia and the Polish submarine “Orzel” (Eagle) broke away from the internment in the Tallinn port, the Latvian government decided upon the approach towards Polish diplomatic agents. The decision was taken by the government meeting, which, though not unanimously (with some votes to the contrary), approved the proposal by President K. Ulmanis and Foreign Minister V. Munters to sever the relations with Polish diplomatic agents, so as to avoid any objections from the aggressor countries, the Soviet Union and Germany. On 21 September, Mr. Munters invited the Polish diplomatic representative Mr. Klopotowski to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and read out a noticein which he stressed: “Due to the fact that the Polish government deserted its territory, so that the government of Latvia cannot maintain mutual contacts, the government is hereby forced to sever the relations with the diplomatic representative of Poland” and withdraw the authorisations of Polish consuls. Mr. Munters tried to mitigate the outcome of the notice, stating that “the notice is not final and, if the Polish government is able to resume its activity, who knows what might happen”, yet the talk with the diplomat “was really tragic at times” (the representative and other diplomatic personnel were granted time and opportunity to finish any ongoing affairs; the legate left Latvia on 3 October; he and the military attaché were allowed to sell their private cars without customs duties and take all their private and state-owned funds with them[9]). On the same day (21 September), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in line with the declaration that “the relations with the Polish military attaché have been severed”, rejected the request by the diplomatic agent of Poland for a permission for the attaché Maj. F. Brzeskwinski to visit the internment camp.[10] As a matter of fact, Latvia thus ceased to be a neutral state. On the other hand, although on 20 September the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and Lithuania communicated to the Latvian diplomats an oral approval of the step planned by Latvia, the Estonian and Lithuanian governments were not so eager to declare a similar measure. The two states suspended their relations with Poland only in October, in a far more gentle and less drastic form (on 25 September the Foreign Minister of Estonia told the Latvian diplomatic representative that he would not manage to transfer a relevant declaration to the Polish legate in person, and that a vice-Minister would do so instead, which in fact he did not. On 30 September the Foreign Minister of Lithuania was quite explicit to inform the Latvian diplomatic representative that would not make a similar step, as “both the Lithuanian public opinion and diplomatic corps were against such a measure”). Other neutral countries, in particular the Scandinavian states, did not even consider that option and Polish diplomatic missions continued their work there. As early as on 25 September the Latvian government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were forced to justify the measure to the diplomatic agent of Great Britain and then also of France, as they had expressed their disapproval. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had to put all its efforts in presenting the grounds of the Latvian position abroad. For instance, on 22 September the representative in Sweden received a letter, which explained that “the declaration means exclusively that we state that the diplomatic agent of Poland is no longer supported by authorities empowered to give him guidelines or ordinances. By no means are we willing to decide legally over the position of the Polish state and government. Unless Poles themselves use the declaration to support an inimical action against us, we are not going to make it public.”[11] Those wordings were obviously very awkward. The situation could not be helped by Mr. Munters himself. In October, he received a former diplomatic representative in Latvia and then in Lithuania, Mr. F. Charwat, on his way from Lithuania via Riga to Sweden, and during a discussion tried to convince him that the Latvian government had not demanded that the Polish diplomatic mission in Latvia be closed down, but only “refused cooperation” with legate Klopotowski,[12] which was clearly contrary to the facts.

The buildings of the Polish legation in Riga and consulate in Daugavpils were taken over by the diplomatic mission of Great Britain, which organised a section of Polish affairs led by M. Szembek (a local Pole B. Golubiec being his substitute), operational until the occupation of Latvia. In the late September and early October (Latvia – on 5 October) the Baltic States were forced to sign treaties with the Soviet Union, which allowed the latter to deploy in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia its military garrisons, where the numbers of troops were close or over the headcounts of their national armed forces. From that moment on, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were almost completely dependent on the Soviet Union. In June 1940 the dependence turned regular occupation.

 

 

The internment period

In the evening of 13 September, having received from the Headquarters of the Polish Navy a permission to break through the German blockade, Lieutenant-Commander S. Hryniewiecki, four officers (Captains W. Lomidze, S. Uniechowski, Lieutenants S. Pohorecki and J. Kozielkowski) and two Able Seamen (A. Wiszniewski and J. Jarema) went on sea from the Gdynia area on the cutter Gdy 55 (Albatross), owned by fishermen Karol and Henryk Krüger (both of whom onboard as well) and requisitioned by the military on 28 August. Their destination was Sweden but on their way Hryniewiecki decided to change the course and headed for the Lipava port in Latvia. At 10.00 PM of 14 September the cutter called at the Lipava port. The nine Polish seamen (initially the Krüger brothers were counted among the soldiers but as civilians they were afterwards released and returned to Gdynia[13]) and four German airmen, who landed in Latvia at that time (later on the number of interned German airmen increased to 8, and to 9 in March 1940), were the first soldiers whom Latvia, as a neutral state, was forced to intern.[14]

On 15 September the seamen were offered a rest. Lieutenant Pohorecki recollected later that the officers were invited for a dinner at a Latvian Navy barrack. Over a cup of coffee, cognac and cigars, a Latvian officer of the higher rank explained the reasons of their internment and expressed his sympathy and understanding.[15] In the afternoon of 15 September the Commander-in-Chief ordered the General of the Kurzemes (Courland) Division in Lipava to intern the Poles, officers and seamen separately, in any case not with the interned Germans. The cutter was confiscated and pulled onshore. On 16 September, a commission drafted a record of the cutter’s equipment, which listed naval items, gas masks and a steel helmet. Four pistols were confiscated from the officers. On 16 September, the interned signed a document made in the Russian language, which read as follows: “Hereby I, the undersigned officer [or seamen – Ē. J.] commit myself upon my word not to abandon the area of my destination, which I confirm by signing hereunder”. The attitude of the authorities towards the interned shifted after the escape of the submarine “Eagle” from Tallinn. On 19 September, the Head of the Army Staff commanded that “such conditions be established that will in any case prevent the interned Poles and Germans from escaping”.[16]

In the evening of 17 September, Polish refugees began crossing the border. Railway traffic was stopped between the Turmonty station in Poland and the Zemgale station in Latvia.[17] On 18 September, the charge of border defence in the Zemgale station area was taken over by the commander of the 9th Company of the 10th Aizpute Infantry Regiment called from Daugavpils, Captain P. Lapainis, who also commanded over the units of the 1st Horse Regiment. As early as at the beginning of September local members of the Aizsargi paramilitary group were involved in the protection of the entire Latvian-Polish border.[18] Refugees handed their weapons to Latvian officers. P. Lapainis was ordered to begin the action in the Zemgale area directly by the General of the Zemgale Division, leaving out the Head of the Regiment. No detailed instructions were issued apart from the order to undertake action according to local conditions. One of the interned Poles, M. Zawilo, remembered that the frontier had been fortified [probably at Zemgale station area only – Ē. J.], with a number of cavalry and infantry patrols, and along the railway tracks Poles had been surrendering weapons and ammunition. In the lounge of the railway station, at several tables, records were made of the personal data of Polish soldiers. They were then transported in passenger cars to Daugavpils. Taking photos of the interned at the border was strictly forbidden and civilians were barred from the whole area.[19] The troops entering Latvia came mainly from the battalions of the Border Guard Corps from Luzhki, Dzisna and Braslav, the National Defence squads, the air defence section of Grudek, the Riflemen’s Association and other military and paramilitary units. Among them, there were also policemen from the Braslav and Dzisna districts.

On 18 and 19 September, the border was crossed in total by 83 Polish airplanes, interned together with the crews: 38 RWD-8, 35 PWS-26, 1 PZL-11A, 2 RWD-10, 2 RWD-17, 1 RWD-21, 2 Lublin R XIII, 1 Lublin R XIIIC, 1 Lublin R XIV. Those were mostly training airplanes from the north-eastern Poland, which were concentrated by mid-September in Vilnius, a few training and reserve military aircraft from Vilnius and Lida. Combat aircraft included only 3 RWD-8 machines from the 9th Liaison Aviation Squadron in Pinsk. The planes landed at the Daugavpils airport but in some cases the landing was forced by fire from air defence artillery and machine guns. Such fire was opened in Daugavpils to an airplane, which refused to land and flew away in the Jēkabpils direction. Later on, the 20 RWD-8 aircraft were used as training machines in the Aviation Regiment of the Latvian Army, 6 planes were transferred to the Aviation Club of Latvia and several others to the aviation sections of the Aizsargi paramilitary organisation, but most of them were disassembled and stored in Riga.[20] A correspondent of the Daugavpils newspaper “Daugavas Vēstnesis” was in Vilnius in September. He reported that in the morning of 18 September the atmosphere at the Vilnius airport was marked by anxiety. The weather was bad but some pilots departed to Latvia. The younger of the crews, in an elevated mood, shouted wishes of a good trip to the airplanes at the take-off. At least four airmen left with their wives. Among the interned airmen, the majority came from the 5th Aviation Regiment in Lida, a part from the 5th Regiment in Torun, from the Vilnius Aviation School and a few from the 1st Aviation Regiment. Their armament was relatively substantial. From 10 aircraft, onboard machine guns were collected, together with 47 pistols, 17 rifles and 5 fowling pieces from the airmen. The headcount of the airmen, including the technical personnel of aviation regiments, reached several hundreds of people. The correspondent described what he had witnessed of the situation of Polish refugees at the Polish-Latvian border. When he arrived at the Zemgale station, he left behind on the Polish side a long line of cars and a crowd of refugees. A change came soon. On 21 September, it was declared that the influx of refugees was over but the Border Defence had not entered into contact with the Red Army yet. The border was closed down (the Soviet units reached the Turmonty station only in the evening of 22 September).[21]

The official tasks of registration and preliminary internment were handled by the Zemgale Division in Daugavpils (including provisions). Initially, the internment camp was established in Daugavpils, where the interned troops received medical attention (mainly the cases of foot skin abrasion). The refugees were calm and seemed resigned to their fate. Until the evening of 20 September, 533 military personnel were registered at the officers’ camp (including 125 officers and 108 civilians[22]) and 841 people at the private soldier camp. On 21 September, the commander of the Zemgale Division reported that the camp housed the total of 1,810 people (including 338 civilians), of which 202 troops were transferred in the evening of 20 September to a newly-established camp in Lipava and 269 civilians were handed over to the Ministry of Interior, to be transported to the Sigulda and Valmiera camps (the remainder of 69 civilians were sent away on the very same day).[23] Those were the initial data, subject to verification at a later time.

Together with the people, the border was crossed by 187 horses owned by the Polish Army. 147 of them were requisitioned by the Army and 40 returned to Polish civilian refugees, of which 8 were further bought out by the Army. Out of 71 cars, 50 were confiscated by the Tank and Vehicle regiment of the Latvian Army, out of 18 motorcycles 10 were passed on to the Army. Moreover, the Zemgale Division received 359 bicycles. Among other items and equipment transferred to the Latvian Army was a field kitchen, a chest containing medical devices, engineering apparatus, some clothing, food, a high number of horse carts and even 7 dogs. Apart from the weapons confiscated from the airmen as described above, Poles were deprived of further 21 machine guns, 1,133 rifles and fowling pieces, 16 sabres and 199 pistols. It was confirmed only afterwards that the interned troops managed to retain a certain number of pistols.[24]

The Daugavpils was a transitional camp. On 20 September, the head of the Lipava garrison reported that the quarantine rooms previously occupied by the infirm Latvian soldiers had been cleaned-up and disinfected, and on 21 September the first group of Poles came there from Daugavpils, including 30 officers and 72 non-commissioned officers and private soldiers. The infirmary of the camp, referred to also as the Tosmar Camp (from the name of a military port where it was established), housed the officers. Private soldiers were lodged in the so-called Emigrant House, being another building at the same street. On 21 September, the orders to establish internment camps (for 400 troops each) in Litene and Lilaste were communicated respectively to the commandments of the Latgal and Vidzem Divisions. The supervision was performed by one company of infantry per each camp. The camps were established at the locations of summer camps of the Latvian Army, with the area fenced with barbed wire and the barracks adapted for the winter conditions. The camps received the first interned troops from Daugavpils on 23 and 24 September.

On 21 September, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army ordered that 20 Polish senior officers, including Colonel E. Perkowicz, be sent to Cēsis, where a special camp was established at the armed forces sanatorium “Pipari”. The camp featured an officer guard, it was forbidden to send those interned to work, they could be visited only subject to an each-time consent by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, they were not allowed to go to town, and the walks could only take place under a strict supervision. The group of 20 officers left Daugavpils on 22 September, and apart from Perkowicz it consisted of several majors and lower-rank officers (as a result, a few Lieutenant-Colonels were excluded from the group). However, they did not stay in Cēsis long. The Headquarters decided that the internment of four German airmen in Lipava in the close vicinity of Poles was a rather imperfect solution. On 3 October, an order was issued to transfer the Poles from Cēsis to Lipava, fulfilled on 6 October. The four Germans were transported to Cēsis and were soon joined by the crew of a German hydroplane that landed on the territorial waters of Latvia, and in 1940 – by the ninth German airman.

According to the documents issued to Latvian officers who escorted the groups of interned troops, starting from 20 September, every day a group of 50, 100 or 150 interned left Daugavpils (150 people were escorted by a platoon of Latvian soldiers). The transports were effected quickly, as the Headquarters disapproved of the presence of the interned troops in Daugavpils. By 6 October, all the interned had been sent away (except for one sick soldier in the infirmary) and the Daugavpils camp was liquidated.[25]

Starting from 11 October the assistant of the Head of the Army Staff, General H. Buks, was appointed a higher commissar for the interned. On 12 October, Lieutenant-Colonel R. Skritulis was appointed the commander of the interned (the job position was secured at the Army Staff in order to supervise all the issues concerning the interned troops). An officer-rank Latvian commander was operational in every camp. R. Skritulis reported in October that there were 1,573 troops in 4 camps (including the camp for the four Germans in Cēsis), of which 393 in Lilaste, 400 in Litene and 776 in Lipava (including 176 officers).[26] Slight changes in the headcounts were later possible as well.

In the late October, due to an escape attempt of 61 officers in the night of from 21 to 22 September, an order was issued to transport part of the interned troops from the Liepava camp to the newly established camp in Ulbroka near Riga (mainly officers). The first train arrived there on 27 October, with 176 officers (all of the passengers). To that camp were further transferred 81 non-commissioned officers and private soldiers (the number of the latter changed afterwards), of which 44 were separated without delay as the personnel to serve the officers – for the works in the kitchen, wood-shed, canteen, etc. Apart from them, the camp housed 2 teachers, 2 shoemakers, 2 hospital orderlies, 2 hair-dressers, 2 tailors and one person to handle the billiard table. The rule was observed that those people be volunteers.[27]

 

 

The order at the camps

The internal order at the camps may be discussed based on the documentation of the Ulbroka camp. The reveille was scheduled at 7 o’clock, followed by the morning assembly and the breakfast; from 9.00 AM to 12.30 PM was the time for work, lessons and walking in the courtyard, then the lunch; afterwards a free time until the dinner (6.00 PM); then the evening assembly at 9.00 PM and the lights-out at 10.00 PM. On holidays the reveille was postponed by one hour. Starting from 23 November the interned were allowed to go to sleep at 11.00 PM. Officers and other prisoners, each at their indicated time, could take baths in the lake within the camp area but the water temperature should be at least +18 degree Celsius (the camp doctor took the measurements at 7.00 AM every morning). The interned were permitted to listen to the camp radio throughout the day.

Colonel E. Perkowicz was appointed the senior head of the officers and was given orders directly by the Latvian commander of the camp. Captain T. Dombrowicki reported to the commander over general issues and Captain S. Bobrowski over economic affairs (other camps featured similar regimes; for instance at the Lilaste camp, on the order by the commander on 1 October 1939 a superior of the camp was elected, Ensign of the 5th Aviation Regiment W Chwalik.[28] The interned could take lessons of Latvian, Russian, English, German and French, continue their curricula of the primary and secondary schools, participate in courses in agriculture, land reclamation and beekeeping. Doing sports was allowed (the Latvian Red Cross offered footballs, skates, chess and draughts boards and dominoes). Guests were received every day from midday to 8.00 PM but the items given by them to the interned were subject to inspection by a Latvian orderly officer. The mail allowance was set at one postcard per week free of charge (postage paid by the International Red Cross) and 23 letters per month for a fee. Letters and parcels sent from the home country of the interned troops were exempt from customs duties. The camp administration had to be saluted. The camps were ordered to put in place censorship of letters sent by the interned, so Polish-speaking officers and non-commissioned officers of the Division had to be selected for the task; this order was executed shortly.[29]

Internal order instructions were issued by Colonel Perkowicz; among others, they provided that the highest-rank soldier should be appointed superior in every room, while all captains were in charge of the orderly officers’ tasks (alternately within 24 hours). Those who had friends or relatives in Latvia could be granted a 2-day leave twice per month to visit their families in Sigulda at the camp for civilian refugees or their relatives in Riga (once per month). As a matter of fact, the interned were admitted leaves relatively often, regardless of whether they really had relatives in Latvia or not. Therefore, all of them were required to sign a declaration of a faultless conduct beyond the camp, stating moreover that in case of breach of the rules they would be responsible for the withdrawal of the right to a leave from all the interned. As early as on 11 October, 1939 the Commander-in-Chief of the Army consented that the interned meet with their spouses, relatives, or their spouses’ relatives, but it results from the records in the guest book that a permit was given on a sheer formal declaration of kinship with the interned.[30]

From the very beginning the Latvian authorities had to resolve the financial security of the interned troops. Already at the Daugavpils camp, on 21 and 22 September every officer was paid 19.1 Latvian Lats, every private soldier and non-commissioned officer – 1.601.70 Latvian Lats, every cadet and police officer – 17.33 Latvian Lats. On the meeting on 19 October the government conceded that the Ministry of War buy out monies from the interned troops at the total amount of 10,000 Latvian Lats. On 21 December the amount was increased to 20,000 Latvian Lats (at the exchange rate of 10 Latvian Lats for 100 Polish zloty). Polish zloty currency was accepted on the condition that Poles would redeem it within 5 years by paying relevant amounts in Latvian Lats. In case of a failure to redeem the currency, the money was to be transferred to the Latvian state treasury upon the expiry of the 5-year period. Individual amounts were exchanged without limitations. Moreover, there was a chest at the camp, containing state treasury money from Poland at the amount of 36,200 Polish zloty; the chest had been returned to the troops upon the internment. In May 1940 Colonel Perkowicz, on behalf of the Polish officers, petitioned that this amount be exchanged to Latvian Lats and made available to the Poles, on the grounds of insufficient funds. A decision was then taken to make payments of 20 Latvian Lats per every interned officer (112 people, which totalled 2,240 Latvian Lats).[31]

A substantial support came from the aid programme of the Polish community led by the Polish Association. Already in October the organisation was given a permit to raise funds for the interned troops (including money, clothes, soap, tobacco, etc.). Care centres were established for the children of refugees, at Polish families and the alms-house in Riga, together with learning posts at local Polish schools. All the collected funds were transferred to the Latvian Red Cross, which was in charge of the further distribution. With the help of local Poles and camp commanders, the camps were furnished with altars, where regular masses were held. Solemn celebrations were held on Christmas 1939. Until the summer 1940 the Polish Association received letters from the interned troops requesting various kinds of support, with pleas for the addresses of relatives or acquaintances, or for the provision of indispensables or extra items (for instance musical instruments, etc.).[32]

The arrest penalty for a breach of the camp discipline was set at 10 days at a maximum and the limitation of food portions could be as strict as bread and water. In special cases, the interned troops would be tried before military court. In fact, minor arrest penalties were imposed for instance for a purposeful injury to a horse, conspiring to avoid work, late returns from the leaves, a refusal to clean up the room, a breach of hospital rules, or hiding weapons, etc. A Jewish newspaper published in Kaunas reported that at some camp in Latvia Polish troops allegedly refused to share a table with interned soldiers of the Polish Army of the Jewish origin. It is difficult to confirm how reliable the news was but it is a fact that among the interned Polish officers there were only two non-Poles, namely a Jewish doctor, Second Lieutenant H. Perelman and a Georgian Captain of the Navy W. Lomidze. There was only a single case referred to military court (1 March 1940), for the disobedience to the commander of the Lipava camp. In October 1939 the commander ordered a few of the interned to move to other rooms but they disobeyed. When a Latvian officer accompanied by 2 policemen entered the room, with 19 people present, and ordered non-commissioned officers Rogowski and Bakala to get dressed and follow him, the others began dressing up in a gesture of solidarity. After the oral command was defied and one of the policemen used a rubber cudgel, the interned started to shout and raise their clenched fists and finished only after the officers pulled out their revolvers. Over the charge of conspiracy to disobey, the authorities arrested Corporals Rozczewski and Kochanski and a few others (who declared that the conditions of the interned in other countries were much better). The dossier of the proceedings was attached with 2 anonymous letters threatening escapes should the administration fail to enhance the camp conditions. Military court adjudicated a minor penalty – the defendants were given “the administrative supervision” and the case was over.[33] Nonetheless, escapes were the most frequent breach of the camp rules in autumn 1939.[34]

 

 

Escapes

Probably the first fugitive was Corporal of the Border Guard Corps H. Koronaty, who escaped in the night of 27 to 28 September through the fencing of the transitional camp in Daugavpils. In October, the number of fugitives increased to an alarming level. In the evening of 4 September an escape attempt of 8 airmen was recorded at the Lilaste camp; this category of the interned was named “very restless people”. Five of them were successful in their attempt. Two were detained by a local policeman at 5.00 AM. They explained that upon the entry to Latvia commanders had told them that the guard would be rather lax so that they would have an opportunity to escape. Before escaping Lance Corporal J. Mioduszewski wrote a letter to the camp commander, which read as follows: “We are reporting to Mr. Commander that due to the establishment of a new army in France, bearing in mind our previous oaths and loyal to the obligations of Polish soldiers, we have been forced to escape from the camp in order to sacrifice what we still have to our Motherland when she needs it. We have organised the escape autonomously, fully on our own, without the knowledge on the part of our direct superiors, colleagues or complicity of Latvian soldiers. We are leaving all the received uniform equipment and personal items at the camp. While making our true apologies to Mr. Commander for any possible inconvenience, we would like to thank you for the hitherto care and protection, and bid you farewell: Viva Latvia! Viva the heroic allied Latvian Army! Viva free Poland!” The fugitives planned to manage to Riga and embark on an English or French ship, or else to get to France via Russia and Romania.[35]

In the afternoon 8 October, 10 of the interned broke away from the Litene camp. They were detained with the help of mobilised members of the Aizsargi organisation and the local police. On the same day the fourth fugitive was arrested and on the next day – another 3 ones. On 10 October, the Rēzekne Police arrested the remainder of the runaways. Due to the incident, the number of patrols at the camp was increased from 9 to 13. On 13 October, an airman P. Pujdak successfully escaped from hospital in Riga. On 19 October, owing to the negligent duty of a patrol soldier, 2 corporals ran away from the Lipava camp (they were detained on 21 October). After the incident, and also having received information that the officers were in possession of weapons, the administration ordered an inspection on 21 October. The outcome of the search included 12 revolvers (of which 4 on the senior camp officer Colonel Perkowicz), a fowling piece and ammunition. Perkowicz in liaison with a few senior officers incited the remaining troops to a hunger strike, with a view to extorting permission for walks outside the camp.[36] The actual reason behind this move was a long-planned escape of officers. They escape next night (21 to 22 October) at 1.00 AM. The version of the Latvians was as follows. Having damaged the external lighting, 61 officers managed to break through the fencing and escape. The sentry opened fire in the darkness and wounded 2 of the officers. After the company on guard was alarmed, the area was surrounded and all fugitives caught except six people. Both lightly wounded were transferred to hospital, the guard was doubled and machine guns were deployed around the camp. The last of the fugitives, Lieutenant Cz. Rynkiewicz, was captured on 24 October. The detainees were deprived of 11 daggers and 2 knives. The personal search of the officers on 21 October had not brought any results because the escape had been planned before. One of the accomplices had claimed to have eczema on his face and was escorted every day by a Latvian soldier to the hair dresser at one of the Regiments at the Lipava garrison, a local Pole Ms. Aleksandra Jablonska, who was a liaison person with the mastermind and delivered the wire cutter and the operating instructions for the guard system. The officer Pohorecki remembered that the escape had been allegedly organised by British intelligence and the officers had been planned to be transferred to Sweden. The plan was that the officers force their way through the sentries’ possible fire, get to an agreed place with a truck waiting delivered by a local Pole Rozanski, who would then take the fugitives to Pāvilosta, where another Pole, F. Kozakiewicz, was waiting with boats purchased from fishermen and the ship “Mintauts” was moored (it called at the port in the evening 21 October). The plan was good but the truck was missing at the agreed place (the Latvian Police had received information and carried out an inspection at Rozanski’s). In those circumstances, the fugitives decided to return to the camp, which they did, pretending that they had escaped to have a rest at night clubs. Only the senior officer of the Navy S. Hryniewiecki with several companions tried to get to Lithuania but their attempt was unsuccessful. However, according to the statement of one of the organisers of the escape F. Skierszkan, on the same day he succeeded in transferring 12 of the interned from Riga, who were transported in a truck onto a tugboat and then further to Sweden.[37]

Escape attempts were undertaken also afterwards. In the night of 23 to 24 October a sentry at the Lilaste camp opened fire and detained 3 airmen but another 3 broke away and were seized only on 25 October. The alarm was communicated to the whole Police and the Aizsargi group of the Riga district. The interrogation of the runaways confirmed that people from the Riga military hospital had delivered intelligence and addresses of Poles in Riga, where they could get hideout and support. On 25 October, four troops escaped from the Litene camp, three of which were detained on the next day in the Kuprava railway station area, etc.[38] Cases of escape attempts were recorded later on as well but it is obvious that the majority of them were organised in October 1939.

We must acknowledge the support offered to the fugitives by local Poles. As mentioned before, they took an active part in the escape attempt of the officers to Sweden (the Polish House in Riga operated a centre for the aid to the interned, a scouts section and the Lipava division of the Latvian Poles Association, whose members complied a storage of civilian clothes, etc.). The H. and F. Skierszkan brothers (leaders of the Poles Association) in Riga also organised transfers of single interned soldiers to Sweden. In October, at F. Skierszkan’s place (he was in Lipava, busy with plotting an escape and transfer of the interned to Sweden) the police detained J. Scentrej, who had run away from the Lilaste camp, and at H. Skierszkan’s place – W. Kazymirczak and R. Franckiewicz, also from the Lilaste camp, etc. The Skierszkan brothers and others (including P. Cadko from Lipava) were arrested and interrogated yet, as recollected by F. Skierszkan, “apparently the Latvian authorities were not interested in further investigation of the escape affair” and the Riga prefect penalised H. Skierszkan with one-month arrest and a 1,000-Latvian Lats fine and F. Skierszkan with 2-week arrest, for “public disorder”.[39] On 3 November, the director of the Security Police Department received the order to carry out an inspection of the documentation at the Poles Association, in particular at the Lipava division, in order to find evidence of support given to the interned in their escape attempts. Moreover, the orders covered an investigation into the support granted to the fugitives by Polish society activists, i.e. the above-mentioned Skierszkan brothers, N. Liberys, W. Urbanowicz. Z. Gizelewski and others.[40] A Latvian emigrant historian E. Andersons also confirms that with the help of Great Britain the Polish government tried to organise transfers of the troops to the West. The Riga operation was allegedly masterminded by W. Sworakowski, supported by M. Miz-Miszyn (the editor if the Polish periodical in Riga “Nasze Zycie” (Our Life)).[41] According to Latvian sources, the operation was supported financially by the Polish section at the diplomatic mission of Great Britain, which helped the above activists with certain amounts of money (there were also instructions in place on which interned to transfer to the West – young persons, technically educated people, non-commissioned officers and lower-rank officers aged up to 35, staff officers up to the colonel rank, aged up to 50).[42]

 

 

Measures undertaken by the government to resolve the internment issue

As early as on 28 November 1939, the Police Department, in response to a letter from the commander of the interned, declared that the Ministry of Interior, for political reasons, could not consent to the release of Polish troops from the camps and permit them to settle down in Latvia. It was stressed that no residence permits could be issued.[43]

In October 1939, the Latvian government endeavoured to obtain financial support from Great Britain but failed in that attempt (an inquiry was made at the diplomatic mission of Great Britain whether the state could grant any aid, including via the exchange of the Polish zloty currency in possession of the interned). The diplomatic representative responded that at that time no support was feasible.[44] Certain efforts were undertaken also in the United States (on 9 January 1940, the diplomatic agent of Latvia was instructed to gain the interest of relevant US institutions in providing support for the refugees in Latvia) but brought only a grant of 1,000 Latvian Lats and a certain amount of clothes from the US Red Cross.[45] On 17 May 1940, the diplomatic agent of Latvia reported from Washington D.C. that he had lost any hopes for a financial aid for the Polish refugees in Latvia. In March 1940, the diplomatic agent of Latvia in London was informed by the British FCO that Latvia could obtain clothes and medical supplies for the Polish refugees in autumn 1940. However, already on 20 May the diplomatic mission of Great Britain in Riga transferred to the bank account of the Ministry of War the amount of 5,400 Latvian Lats, intended for allowance payments to the interned officers and cadets (per 30 Latvian Lats each), non-commissioned officers performing camp functions or those infirm (per 30 Latvian Lats each) and private soldiers appointed for camp jobs or those infirm (per 15 Latvian Lats each). That was the outcome of the negotiations between the Latvian Army Staff and the British diplomatic agent. On 7 June, the Britons transferred another 5,100 Latvian Lats and on 18 July the final amount of 5,130 Latvian Lats for the interned troops.[46]

On 11 January 1940, the agenda of a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia featured the discussion over a proposal to employ volunteer interned troops for agricultural and forestry works. Soon after, the first work programme of the kind was organised under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior. Every farmer who accepted the interned for work was required to sign a contract for their employment. The interned were also sent to job positions in the state forests and joint-stock companies (for instance turf manufacturers) which suffered from shortage of workforce. They were referred to the Labour Centre offices, which were in charge of the further distribution. The remuneration was fixed in advance but many of the interned returned to the camps, as the works proved too hard for them. Due to the fact that many of the interned deserted their posts on 1 March 1940, the Order Police Department commanded that they be detained and transferred to the internment camp in Lilaste. Since many of the working interned troops, in breach of the agreements between the Labour Centre and employers, under which the workers should be furnished with civilian clothes, were wearing their military uniforms, an order was issued to detain and transfer them to their original camps. On 9 May, the order was reissued, with a stress put in the statement that according to the Geneva Convention a state should provide for the camps to house the interned and if they were given the opportunity to work outside of camps, they should wear civilian clothes of uniforms without their military distinctions.[47]

With a view to resolving the issue of the interned at least provisionally, the government entered into talks with the states that occupied Poland, i.e. the Soviet Union, Germany and Lithuania, over the return of those willing to do so to the home country. On 25 October, the diplomatic agent of German declared to the Foreign Minister of Latvia that his state raised no objections to the interned Poles’ leaving the territory of Latvia and committed himself to consult the decision with his government. During the subsequent discussions the agent communicated a similar message, emphasising that he had not yet received an official reply from Berlin but a relevant letter had been written in such a way that the silence was to be understood as consent. Consent to the return of those coming from its territory was given without delay by Lithuania (although the state raised formal objections until the latest date). Consent by the Soviet Union came as the last.

The poll held among the interned demonstrated that most of them were willing to get to the United States (160 officers, 5 cadets, 10 non-commissioned officers, 30 private soldiers, 20 troops of the Border Guard Corps, 10 members of the Riflemen’s Association); to the Vilnius district in Lithuania – 3 officers, 2 cadets, 10 non-commissioned officers, 15 private soldiers, 20 troops of the Border Guard Corps, 5 policemen, 1 rifleman; to France – 3 officers, 32 cadets, 27 non-commissioned officers, 20 private soldiers, 300 troops of the Border Guard Corps, 2 policemen, 5 riflemen; to Great Britain – 20 non-commissioned officers, 63 private soldiers, 10 troops of the Border Guard Corps, 50 policemen, 9 riflemen; to Belgium – 2 officers; to the Soviet Union – 1 non-commissioned officer, 2 private soldiers; to the Polish territories occupied by the Soviet Union and Germany – 7 officers, 190 private soldiers, 240 troops of the Border Guard Corps, 32 policemen, 21 riflemen; 45 non-commissioned officers, 40 private soldiers, 20 troops of the Border Guard Corps, 22 policemen and 6 riflemen would choose to stay in Latvia. In total, 1,598 troops declared their willingness to leave Latvia. The differences in numbers are certainly due to the fact that part of the troops was included in the category of civilian refugees. 162 questionnaires of those interned willing to go to the United States were processed but in spring 1940 only six people had their documents waiting for a decision, which was ultimately made only after Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union.[48]

Only those who had relevant funds could leave for neutral states. In the late 1939 and early 1940 the total of 54 people went to Sweden and 1 to Finland. All of them were officers (5 from the Navy, 2 from the Border Guard Corps, 1 from the 13th Uhlan Regiment and 46 from the 1st and 5th Aviation Regiments). Somewhat later on, another 6 private soldiers left for Stockholm and then, similarly to other interned troops, to the Western countries (1 on 8 February and 5 on 5 April). They declared the willingness to get to Great Britain but lacked sufficient funds. They were all drivers from the 1st, 4th or 5th Aviation Regiments and were relatively young.[49] It should be assumed that they received financing from outside (from the diplomatic mission of Great Britain?), as they apparently were of a high military value. Probably the Polish section of the British diplomatic mission (with the head substitute being a local Polish activist B. Golubiec) was somehow involved in the operation. In the late December the diplomatic agent of the Soviet Union declared at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs his disapproval of the fact that the interned were allowed to go from Latvia to Finland [which at that time was factually at war with the Soviet Union, even if there had been no formal declaration of war – Ē. J.]. The Latvian representative responded that those people were going to Sweden, while most of them were transit passengers from Lithuania (in December 40 interned troops left Latvia and approximately 400 Lithuania). Moreover, the Soviet agent was told that formally his objections were groundless, as the Soviet Union “had waged war neither against Poland nor Finland”.[50]

On 1 December 1939, the diplomatic agent of Germany received a list of the interned willing to leave Latvia for the territory occupied by Germany, and on 6 December 203 former troops of the Polish Army went on sea from the Riga port. On 13 December, another group of 123 interned soldiers left via the same route. Less numerous groups went to Germany also in January 1940. In total, 418 Polish troops left for Germany (of which 3 officers). The complicated situation at the camps in relation to the departures to Germany was reported by M. Zawilo. Also, he described the methods used by the initiators of the trips to enforce decisions to register from the undecided troops. At the Litene camp Polish airmen led by the barrack superior named Dombrowski beat those who wanted to embark (Dombrowski was not punished for the incident because in 1920 he had taken part in the liberation of Daugavpils from the Bolsheviks).[51]

The transports to Lithuania left on 23 April and 7 June 1940. They consisted of 376 interned troops, including 4 officers. Lithuania was very cautious about the repatriation. On 1725 May, a special representative of Lithuania visited Latvia and personally checked all the applications for the return to Lithuania. Only a half of those registered were admitted since the remainder, although they came from the Vilnius district, had their roots in that part of the district that had not been annexed by Lithuania.[52]

The Latvian diplomatic agent in Moscow first raised the issue of the interned troops in autumn 1939. The agent Fricis Kociņš visited the head of the Baltic States Department at the Soviet Foreign Ministry, Vasjukov, for several times. Initially Moscow considered a possibility to appoint a special commission (a similar one was established for the interned from Lithuania) but eventually the idea was abandoned, as the numbers of interned troops in Latvia were quite low. On 7 February 1940, Vasjukov consented via phone to the return of 200 Polish soldiers and asked that they be sent to Druja in groups of at most 25 people. The schedule of the departure and other details were delegated to the competences of the border guard authorities from both states. In the beginning, 220 interned troops and 20 civilian refugees registered for the trip to the Soviet Union. However, eventually over 100 of them changed their mind and refused to embark. The leaving soldiers were transferred in the Piedrūja area, on the ice of the frozen Dvina River. The transfer was effected under the act signed by the plenipotentiary of the Border Defence of the Soviet Union, Captain Kleszczynov, and an officer of the Latvian Border Defence Brigade. The transfer procedure took approximately 1 hour. There was also a case when the Soviet authorities refused to accept an interned soldier, S. Andruszka, on the grounds that he did not have any relatives in the Western Belarus. 111 troops and 3 civilian refugees were sent to the Soviet Union.[53]

In spring 1940, due to the lowered headcount of the interned, the number of internment camps was reduced. On 14 March, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army ordered that the Litene camp be liquidated effective from 20 March. 30 people housed in the camp were to be sent to service at the officer camp in Ulbroka, just as they wished (hair dressers, tailors, shoemakers). Initially, also the Lipava camp was liquidated and the interned soldiers transported to the Lilaste camp. On 9 May, an order was issued to liquidate the Lilaste camp. On 11 May, the troops were moved to Ulbroka, the only remaining internment camp in Latvia (Germans from the Cēsis camp were released in April and May 1940).

 

 

Epilogue of the internment in Latvia

On 17 June 1940, Latvia went under occupation of the Soviet Union and was annexed by that state on 4 August. In those circumstances, many of the interned troops resumed their escape attempts with a view to reaching the home country of the Western countries. For instance, in the early July 6 interned soldiers abandoned their work at the turf manufacturer in the Kalnciema district; on 1819 July the following people, who had not returned from a several-day leave to Riga, were missing at the Ulbroka camp: Lieutenant-Colonel L. Rapsewicz, Major J. Maciejowski, Captain S. Kraszewski, Second Lieutenants J. Jodynis and F. Nowak and Junior Inspector K. Ziolowski; on 14 August, to the Ulbroka camp 3 soldiers were brought who worked in a district near Riga and tried to cross the border between Latvia and Poland (Western Belarus). They explained that they had thought that the border between the Soviet Union and Latvia was abolished (the border guard was operational throughout the Soviet occupation in the years 19401941); on 24 August, Major W. Trubicki and Captain J. Kolesnik were missing at the Riga military hospital from the leave to town, etc.[54] The Ulbroka camp gradually collected all the interned troops employed at the farms and in forestry.

On 16 August, the Headquarters of the so-called Latvian People’s Army ordered the commander of the Vidzem Division which supervised the Ulbroka camp to “release from the camp” and transfer to the Ministry of Interior (i.e. NKVD) 12 Polish senior officers, including Colonel Perkowicz, Captains Bobrowski and Dambrowicki, Lieutenant-Colonel Swiatkowski, and others. As confirmed by the letter made in the Russian language, the officers were transferred to the representative of the Soviet State Security Directorate. They were transported to the central prison in Riga without delay and interrogated.

On 22 August, “in connection with the possibility to send Polish troops to their previous places of residence” the order was issued “to transfer all those remaining in the Ulbroka camp to the representatives of the Red Army”. The prisoners were given dried foods; on the same day a Soviet major confirmed reception of 75 officers, 10 cadets, 1 ensign, 14 border guard officers, 19 policemen, 47 non-commissioned officers and 4 civilians (170 people in total). On 2 September, 312 troops of the Border Guard Corps, 59 policemen, 16 “military officers”, 11 officers, 223 private soldiers and 20 civilians were transferred to the Soviet military. On 9 September, a representative of the NKVD A. Fiszman accepted the last 23 prisoners from the camp, of which 2 officers and the remainder the troops of the Border Guard Corps. On the same day an order was issued to liquidate the camp. Those interned soldiers who had not yet returned from work were to be transferred to the NKVD. Radio receivers were distributed among local schools, the library was offered to nearby Polish schools, and the dishes and linen once received from the Red Cross were returned to that organisation.

Not all the interned had left Latvia by that time. On 21 October, the Staff of the 24th Corpse founded out of the Latvian Army reported to the NKVD that in the territory of the Soviet Latvia there were still 90 interned troops, who were using certificates illegally issued by the diplomatic mission of Great Britain. The Staff denounced that the task of finding them out had been undertaken by “a militia of workers and peasants” and explained further that no free rooms were available to house the fugitives before they were sent to the Soviet Union, so they should be assembled at the central prison in Riga and then transferred in small groups (per 20 people each). By 25 November, 32 of the runaways had been detained and sent to the Soviet Union via the prison.[55]

The data collected on 10 September 1940, demonstrates the total of 1,572 interned troops (including 9 German soldiers). Out of them, 627 troops left for the Soviet Union, Germany, Lithuania and neutral states. After Latvia went under occupation, 168 troops were transported to the Soviet Union in a single train (the transfer document from the Ulbroka camp indicates 170 people), and 641 people in another train. On 16 August, 12 senior officers were transferred to the NKVD and then distributed among prisons in the Soviet Union. By June 1940 10 troops had been moved to civilian camps (including reserve Colonel A. Goworowicz)[56][PT1] , followed by another 4 soldiers transferred on 29 August and 1 September. One of them was at the Dikli sanatorium (with diagnosed tuberculosis), and another one died there.[57]

 

 

Other routes of Polish soldiers across Latvia

Various sources and literature references demonstrate that there were certain numbers of Polish officers and soldiers who managed to get to the West via Latvia without being interned in that country. In the early September the diplomatic mission of Latvia (at least until 45 September) issued visas for transit across Latvia to Polish citizens who were leaving to Sweden. For instance, on 12 September Polish military offices were granted diplomatic visas, together with official visas issued to 12 persons, including Major-General M. Neugebauer-Norwid and Captain F.Kalinowski[58] (from 3 September the head of the Polish Military Mission in London). After the capitulation of Warsaw, Colonel (then General of the Polish Home Army) S. Rostworowski, via Latvia (hiding out in Riga onboard a ship scheduled to Sweden) and Sweden, managed to get to Paris, where on 27 October he was the first witness to report to the government about the defence of the capital city. The commander of the Border Guard Corps, Brigadier W. Orlik-Rückeman, also reached Sweden via Lithuania and Latvia.[59]

There were certainly other successful escapes from the internment camps in Lithuania, where the formerly interned troops managed to get to Sweden and Finland via Latvia and Estonia. For instance, the officer Menteuffel-Szoege ran away from a camp in Lithuania in December 1939, crossed the Latvian border in April 1940, visited his home region in Latgalia, in Riga received from a Polish activist M. Giedrojc-Juraha the addresses of Poles in Tallinn, and then with their support crossed the Finnish Bay.[60][PT2] 

It is interesting that in January 1940 Latvia was visited by the former Prime Minister of Poland, a trusted collaborator of J. Pilsudski, Colonel A. Prystor, who at that time was a refugee in Lithuania (he returned there from Latvia and was arrested by the Soviet authorities after the country went under the occupation). A detailed report has been preserved made by an agent of the Political Police (only his nickname is known) about the confidential discussion with Prystor, when he talked about the situation of the Polish Army and the government in the West, the attitudes in the occupied Poland, and gave a surprisingly correct forecast of future developments on the war arena (including the fate of the Baltic States, with the exception of the position of the Soviet Union – he thought the Soviet Union would be an ally of Germany and that the ultimate victory of the Western democracies would allow a restitution of independent Lithuania).[61]

 

 

*        *        *

 

In September 1939 a substantial number of Polish troops were interned in Latvia, according to the applicable international laws, i.e. in a neutral state. There was a significant shift in the international situation of Latvia in October 1939 when the state became largely dependent on the Soviet Union, which deployed its military bases across the country. However, until the last day of independence, i.e. summer 1940 when Latvia went under occupation of the Soviet Union, the Latvian authorities treated the interned troops with due respect and provided for generally satisfactory conditions of their stay in Latvia. Definitely, this was a result of the sympathies for Poland and Poles on the part of the Latvian society and authorities, supported by the relatively good terms between Latvia and Poland in the past. On the other hand, the measure adopted by the authoritarian government of Latvia, which on 21 September unilaterally severed the diplomatic relations with Poland, should be deemed politically unreasonable, premature and in principle contrary to the declared neutrality.



[1] See also the articles by Jēkabsons, E.: “Uchodźcy wojskowi i cywilni z Polski na Łotwie 1939–1940”, Łossowski, P., Znamierowska-Rakk, E., eds. Studia z dziejów Rosji i Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej, vol. XXX, Warszawa 1995, pp. 129148 (the article deals also with the fates of Polish civilian refugees in Latvia and the situation of Polish agricultural workers in Latvia at the outbreak of the war, which are not included in this article; “Materiały o internowanych polskich żołnierzach na Łotwie 19391940 w Państwowym Archiwum Historycznym Łotwy”, Białostocczyzna, 1999, issue 2, pp. 7782.

[2] See, for instance: Chlebowski, C. Cztery z tysiąca, Warszawa 1981, p. 215; Karwacki, T. “Na Łotwie – za Polskę”, Głos Szczeciński, 1971, issue 8; Kastory, A. Złowrogie sąsiedztwo. Rosyjska polityka wobec europejskich państw ościennych w latach 19391940, Kraków 1998, p. 100.

[3] Szczurowski, M. “Przyczynek do internowania żołnierzy polskich na Łotwie (19391940)”, Łambinowicki Rocznik Muzealny, 1998, vol. 21, pp. 3147.

[4] Głowacki, A. “Przejęcie przez NKWD polskich internowanych na Łotwie”, Dzieje Najnowsze, 1992, year XXIV, issue 4.

[5] Latvijas Valsts vēstures arhīvs (The State Historical Archives of Latvia, hereinafter: the LVVA), coll. 2574; (Marshal Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), descr. 6, file 539, p. 6.

[6] LVVA, coll. 2574, descr. 6, file 560, p. 7.

[7] LVVA, coll. 3235 (Political Police Board), descr. 1/22, file 694, p. 130.

[8] LVVA, coll. 3725 (Marshal Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), decr. 2, file 42, p. 20. Also, a delegation of local Poles visited the Polish diplomatic agent in Riga but the military attaché Maj. F. Brzeskwinski rejected their plea for joining the defence of Poland and advised that “they preserve the loyal human potential for a later time”, stressing that the Polish Army “needed cannons, not people”; Skierski-Skierszkan, F. “W cieniu walki narodu polskiego z hitleryzmem”, Polak na Łotwie, 1992, issue 2, p. 26.

[9] LVVA, coll. 2574, descr. 3, file 3217, p. 80.

[10] LVVA, coll. 2574, descr. 3, file 2679, p. 10.

[11] LVVA, coll. 293 (Diplomatic mission in Washington), descr. 2, file 23, pp. 17.; coll. 2574, descr. 3, file 3217, p. 83.

[12] LVVA, coll. 3235, descr. 1/22, file 691, p. 352.

[13] It was until April 1940 that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs exchanged correspondence with the diplomatic agent of Germany over the return of the cutter to the Krüger brothers. LVVA, coll. 2570 (Administration Departmetn and Contract Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), descr. 3, file 1250, p. 11.

[14] LVVA, coll. 1515 (Headquarters of Kurzemes Division), descr. 1, file 269, p. 539; coll. 1516 (Headquarters of Latgalia Division), descr. 1, file 637, p. 16; coll. 1469, descr. 1, file 1078, p. 150.

[15] Pertek, J. Mała flota wielka duchem, Poznań 1989, pp. 95–99.

[16] LVVA, coll. 1469 (War Ministry Security Board), descr. 1, file 1078, p. 72; coll. 1515, descr. 1, file 269, pp. 537, 539, 547, 953, 956.

[17] “Jaunākās Ziņas”, 18 September 1939; “Brīvā Zeme”, 18 September 1939.

[18] For more on this issue see: Ē. Jēkabsons, Granica łotewsko-polska 19191939, “Zeszyt Naukowy Muzeum Wojska”, issue 15, Białystok 2002, pp. 8591.

[19] LVVA, coll. 1527 (Zemgale Division Staff), 1 apr., 354 l., 92 lp.; Interview with P. Lapainis on the Latvian television, 31 August 1990; Zawiło, M. “Na kresach wschodnich”, Tygodnik Demokratyczny, 6 August 1989, p. 15.

[20] LVVA, coll. 1469, descr. 1, file 1078, pp. 44, 204; Irbītis, K. Of Struggle and Flight, Canada 1986, p. 24.

[21] LVVA, coll. 6455 (Commander of the interned), descr. 1, file 26, not paginated; file 31, p. 1; coll. 1527, descr. 1, file 355, p. 49; “Daugavas Vēstnesis”, 19, 20 September 1939; “Jaunākās Ziņas”, 21 September 1939. It is interesting that in the Latvian territory a Soviet soldier was detained who had crossed the border because he did not want to take part in “warfare against Poland”, as confirmed by a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the diplomatic representative in Moscow, dated 26 September 1939. His further fate is unfortunately unknown. LVVA, coll. 2574, descr. 2, file 6965, p. 18.

[22] In total 300400 civilians found their security in Latvia at special camps in Valmiera and Sigulda. However, the actual numbers of civilian refugees were certainly much higher, as many of them were lodged by acquaintances and relatives.

[23] LVVA, coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 31, p. 1; “Daugavas Vēstnesis”, 19 September 1939.

[24] LVVA, coll. 1527, descr. 1, file 3451, pp. 13, 9, 19, 98; file 356, p. 154.

[25] LVVA, coll. 1527, descr. 1, file 636, pp. 3, 10, 55, 57; file 637, p. 16; file 356, pp. 56150; coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 30, pp. 72, 79; file 31, pp. 310, 30.

[26] LVVA, coll. 1469, descr. 1, file 1078, p. 23. To compare, on 23 January 1940, when part of the interned troops left for Germany and neutral states, the Ulbroka camp housed 198 people (114 officers, 3 cadets, 34 non-commissioned officers, 44 private soldiers and 3 members of the Riflemen’s Association); there were 271 troops in the Litene camp (1 medical officer, 26 cadets, 49 non-commissioned officers, 106 private soldiers, 40 troops from the Border Guard Corps, 38 policemen and 11 riflemen); 330 troops in the Lilaste camp (2 cadets, 81 non-commissioned officers, 100 private soldiers, 52 troops of the Border Guard Corps, 63 policemen and 31 riflemen); 278 troops in the Lipava camp (13 non-commissioned officers, 13 private soldiers, 250 troops from the Border Guard Corps and 2 riflemen). Together with the Germans in the Cēsis camp (1 officer, 6 non-commissioned officers and 1 private soldier) – the total of 1,085 interned troops (LVVA, coll. 1469, descr. 1, file 1078, p. 150).

[27] LVVA, coll. 1649 (Inspector of 5th Labour Inspection District), descr. 1, file 1078, p. 268.

[28] Szczurowski, M. Przyczynek do internowania żołnierzy polskich na Łotwie (19391940), p. 39.

[29] LVVA, coll. 1516, descr. 1, file 636, pp. 6973.

[30] LVVA, coll. 1515, descr. 1, file 269, pp. 702, 705; file 356, p. 198; coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 30, p. 42; file 96, pp. 2849; file 97, p. 57, file 100, p. 41; file 25, p. 18; file 26, p. 29; coll. 3404 (Military Court), descr. 3, files 1216; Krajevska, B., Lasmanis, U. “Vojska Polska” Latvijā, Cīņa, 7 June 1990.

[31] LVVA, coll. 1469, descr. 1, file 1078, pp. 6066; coll. 1527, descr. 1, file 353, pp. 2327.

[32] LVVA, coll. 2395 (Polish Association in Latvia), descr. 1, file 40, not paginated; “Nasze Życie”, 22, 29 October, 12 November, 3, 10 December 1939; 14 January, 11 February, 17 March, 2, 30 June 1940.

[33] LVVA, coll. 3404, descr. 3, files 1216; Krajevska, B., Lasmanis, U. “Vojska Polska” Latvijā, Cīņa, 7 June 1990.

[34] It should be noted that an unsuccessful escape attempt was also made in November 1939 by the interned Germans from Cēsis, due to which the camp commander Lieutenant-Colonel A. Lasis was dismissed to the reserve (LVVA, coll. 5601 – Collection of Personal data of the Army headquarters, descr. 1, file 3563, p. 7).

[35] LVVA, coll. 6455, descr. 30, p. 13.

[36] LVVA, coll. 1516, descr. 1, file 636, p. 61; coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 30, pp. 1321, 78, 92.

[37] LVVA, coll. 1515, descr. 1, file 269, p. 702; coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 30, pp. 25, 33; coll. 3235, descr. 13, file 222, p. 82; Skierski-Skierszkan, F. “W cieniu walki narodu polskiego z hitleryzmem”, Polak na Łotwie, 1992, issue 4, pp. 1820. The inspection of 22 October was also carried out at the office of the shipping agency “Hermanis Baumanis”, whose employee, Aleksandrs Vesolovskis, took part in the transfer of the interned from Pāvilosta to Sweden, but it brought no results (LVVA, Politiskās pārvaldes kartotēka [Political Police Files], Hermanis Baumanis’ record).

[38] LVVA, coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 30, pp. 26, 3741, 50, 60, 283.

[39] LVVA, coll. 3235, descr. 5, file 1805, p. 5; Skierski-Skierszkan, F. “W cieniu walki narodu polskiego z hitleryzmem”, Polak na Łotwie, 1992, issue 4, p. 21.

[40] LVVA, coll. 3235, descr.13, file 222, pp. 8182.

[41] Andersons, E. Latvijas vēsture. Ārpolitika. II sēj., Stockholm 1984, p. 161.

[42] Ābola, Z., Niedra, O. “Internēto Polijas karavīru liktenis Latvijā 19391940 gadā”, Latvijas Vēsture, 1999, issue 3, p. 24.

[43] LVVA, coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 30, p. 283.

[44] LVVA, coll. 2574, descr. 3, file 3217, p. 49.

[45] LVVA, coll. 1313 (Foreign Ministry Office), descr. 1, file 152, p. 2.

[46] LVVA, coll. 1469, descr. 1, pp. 264266; coll. 2574, descr. 3, file 3310, p. 159; Gore, I., Stranga, A. Latvija: Neatkarības mijkrēslis. Okupācija, Rîga 1992, p. 10.

[47] LVVA, coll. 1368 (Home Office Secretariat), descr. 3, file 13, pp. 30, 61.

[48] LVVA, coll. 2574, descr. 3, file 2668, pp. 58, 78, 91, 104; descr.1, file 97, p. 39.

[49] LVVA, coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 261, pp. 161.

[50] Lietuvos Centrinis valtybinis archivas, coll. 383, descr. 7, coll. 1888, file 545.

[51] LVVA, coll. 1469, descr. 1, file 1078, pp. 2425; coll. 2574, descr. 3, file 2668, pp. 51, 139; Zawiło, M. Internowanie na Łotwie.

[52] LVVA, coll. 6455, descr. 1, p. 216; file 151, pp. 1426; file 971, pp. 13, 351.

[53] LVVA, coll. 2574, descr. 3, file 2668, pp. 7, 9, 43; file 3310, p. 126; coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 30, p. 422; file 97, p. 42.

[54] LVVA, coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 41, p. 170; file 6, pp. 32, 151; coll. 1368 descr. 3, file 13, pp. 1314, 17.

[55] LVVA, coll. 1469, descr. 1, file 1078, p. 286; coll. 2574, descr. 3, file 2668, p. 5; coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 97, pp. 116149; Liberys, N. Polacy na Łotwie w okresie drugiej wojny światowej, Kraków 1985, p. 12.

[56] The interned were moved to the civilian camp: Reserve Colonel A. Goworowicz, Reserve Luetenant E. Kozłowicz, Captain M. Ustinowicz and Captain A. Kominkowskiego, doctor Second Leutenant Cz. Wolański. As a matter of fact, in summer 1940, after the occupation began, Kominkowski was transferred to Ulbrok and handed over to the Red Army with other officers on 22 August (LVVA, coll. 6455, descr.1, files 30, 70; 31, p. 28; files 97, 33, p. 60).

[57] LVVA, coll. 6455, descr. 1, file 41, p. 216.

[58] LVVA, coll. 2570, descr. 3, file 1240, p. 2.

[59] Mierzwiński, Z. “Generał Stanisław Rostworowski”, Stolica, 3 July 1988; Dominiczak, H. Granica wschodnia Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej w latach 19191939, Warszawa 1992, p. 288.

[60] Inflanty, Inflanty Wspomnienia rodzinne, collected by Manteuffel-Szoege, R., Szopiński, Z., ed., Warszawa 1991, pp. 223–225.

[61] LVVA, coll. 3235, descr. 1/22, file 1853.


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