Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Crazy World of Walter Sanning (Part 6)

In the previous five parts of this series, we exposed Sanning's fraudulent use of sources. This sixth part examines the convergence of evidence from Soviet and Polish archives that allows us to state, beyond reasonable doubt, that the number of Polish Jews deported to the Soviet interior in 1940-41 was less than 100,000.

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The first source of archival data is Aleksander Gurjanov, who obtained access to Soviet deportation records at GARF and published his findings in Cztery deportacje 1940–1941 (Four deportations 1940-1941), KARTA, 12, 1994, pp. 114–136; available on-line here. Gurjanov concluded that approximately 315,000 people were deported, in four sets of deportations, on transports which we have listed in English here. Gurjanov's data allow us to estimate the maximum number of deportees who were refugees from western Poland. The deportation that targeted Jewish refugees took place in June-July 1940; the transports in that action totaled 75,267 deportees, not all of whom were Jews.

Gurjanov’s data refute Sanning, not just for the overall total of deportees, but also for individual cities. Sanning (p.41-42) claims that 50,000 Jewish refugees were deported from Lvov, and 50,000-60,000 from Bialystok, but Gurjanov’s data show only 26,798 deportees in total from Lvov and 9,551 in total from Bialystok.

Gurjanov’s data closely converge with the second source: NKVD archive data concerning camps in the USSR. Sergey Romanov found an excellent discussion of such archives in Mordechai Altshuler's Soviet Jewry on the Eve of the Holocaust (1998: p. 325-326). This cited an NKVD report, dated 1 April 1941, which showed that the number of deported western Polish refugees (bezhentsy) being held in camps under NKVD control on that date was 76,068, of which 64,533 were Jews. Altschuler concludes that these data, when adjusted for births and deaths, correspond to the June-July 1940 transports.

Other declassified, previously ‘top secret’, Soviet documents also corroborate the number of deportees. This source states that, on 13 January, 1943, 215,081 former Polish citizens remained in the Soviet interior, among them 102,153 Jews (Source: Katyn. Mart 1940 - sentyabr' 2000. Rasstrel. Sud'by zhivykh. Ekho Katyn, compiled by N.S.Lebedeva, Moscow, "Ves' mir", 2001, document 184). Moreover, the same document states that 389,041 former Polish citizens had been freed in the amnesty of August 1941, of which 90,662 were Jews. It also reveals that, in 1939-1941, 218,606 former Polish citizens from Western Ukraine and Belorussia volunteered for work in the Soviet interior, of which 8,830 were Jews. A note from the NKGB head, V. Merkulov, dated May 1st, 1944, tells us that 257,660 of the amnestied 389,041 former Polish citizens were passportised in the USSR in January 1943 (221,150 civilians, 36,510 Berling army) and that among these former Polish citizens, the number of registered Jews plus their children amounted to 81,217 (source: GARF 9401-2-64, pp. 381-384; image and transcription here, translated by Nick Terry here).

In our view, it is reasonable to infer that the 81,217 amnestied Polish Jews alive in the Soviet interior in January 1943 in the 1944 document, after adjustment for births and deaths, was a subset of the 90,662 amnestied Jews alive in August 1941 in the 1943 Beria-Stalin document. The 81,217 figure was also a subset of the total number of 102,153 Polish Jews alive in January 1943 that were counted by Beria (both figures refer to the same month: January 1943). The difference between the 90,662 and 81,217 figures may be partially accounted for by the 4,226 Polish Jews who went to Iran with the Anders Army during 1942, and by deaths between August 1941 and January 1943. The difference between the 102,153 and 81,217 figures consists of 20,936 Polish Jews who were not in the amnestied figure because they were never arrested. It may be explained by the number of labour volunteers, such as the 8,830 in Beria’s document, and by the number other refugees who may have fled to the Soviet interior on their own initiative instead of being deported.

Furthermore, it also seems reasonable to infer that the 64,553 deported refugees as of 1 April 1941 in the NKVD document cited by Altschuler formed a subset (adjusted for births and deaths) of the 90,662 Jews amnestied in August 1941 in the Beria-Stalin document. The other 26,009 amnestied Jews may have been on the other transports in Gurjanov's data (in deportations that did not target refugees), or may have been arrested inside the Soviet interior, or may have been survivors from the group of POW's taken prisoner by the USSR in 1939.

When we have posted some of these facts on the RODOH forum on this thread, 'revisionists' have raised four objections, which we will rebut below. Firstly, they state that death rates among deportees were as high as 50% so deaths must be added to the NKVD data. Secondly, they insist that Soviet data was deceitful and should not be trusted. Thirdly, they claim that our figures are lower than those in Polish Government In Exile sources. Fourthly, they note that the number of Polish Jews repatriated from the USSR after the war was higher than our number of deportees.

The claim concerning deaths overlooks the fact that refugees were deported in the Summer of 1940, so deaths from cold weather would be far lower than those among Poles deported in February. Furthermore, data for Gulag deaths, which Roberto Muehlencamp has posted here, show that overall death rates were far lower than revisionists assume. Total deaths for all Gulag inmates were 46,665 in 1940, out of a total Gulag population of 1,344,408, making a death rate of 3.47% (source: Richard Overy, The Dictators, 2004, Tables 14.2 & 14.3). Moreover, as we have shown above, the number of amnestied Polish Jews passportised in early 1943 (81,217) was only 5.76% lower than the number of Jews amnestied in August 1941 minus the Polish Jews who went to Iran with the Anders Army (i.e. 90,662 minus 4,226).

The claim that NKVD sources are suspect ignores the fact that Beria and other NKVD officers were writing for their superiors, not a public audience, and that the punishment for lying to one's superiors in Stalin's terror state would have been certain death.

The third revisionist objection cites Sanning's claim (p.42) that "The Polish Government In Exile, too, declared the Soviets deported 600,000 Jewish refugees from western Poland in the spring of 1940." However, Sanning provides no footnote for this sentence so does not allow us to check his source. More importantly, Sanning's claim is contradicted by Polish Government In Exile statistics whose sources can be traced precisely. In his contribution to the collection of essays edited by Polonsky and Davies, Jews in Eastern Poland and the U.S.S.R., 1939-46, published in 1991, David Engel (p.177) cites a communication from the Polish Government In Exile Foreign Minister, Raczynski, to Bund representative Zygielbojm, dated 17 March 1943, stating that there were 260,000 Polish citizens in the USSR, "half of whom are Jews". The figure of 260,000 Poles is very similar to that cited above in the note from the NKGB head, V. Merkulov, dated May 1st, 1944, which stated that 257,660 of the amnestied 389,041 Poles were still in the USSR in January 1943. Raczynski is therefore clearly a far more valid source than Sanning's unidentified one.

As to why Raczynski gave a higher figure for Jews than does the NKVB data, the most likely explanation is provided by the context, namely that Raczynski was warning the Bund that aid to Jewish refugees may be jeapordised if the Bund were to criticise Stalin's actions. Raczynski therefore probably exaggerated the proportion of Jews in the refugee population in order to make his point more persuasive.

This hypothesis can be supported by reference to a second Polish Government In Exile source. In another contribution to the Polonsky and Davies collection, Keith Sword (p.155) discussed a document that he found in the archives of the Polish Institute and General Sikorski Museum (PIGSM), located in London. The document was compiled by Raczynski's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is entitled 'Relief accorded to Polish citizens by the Polish Embassy in the USSR (with special reference to Polish Citizens of Jewish Nationality)' (PIGSM File A/11.49 (Sow).31). The report revealed that the Embassy was co-ordinating relief for 260,399 Polish citizens, of whom the proportion of Jews was either 36.15% or 39.4% (the report gave two different breakdowns). The report therefore corroborates Raczynski's total figure for Poles but reveals that his figure for Jews was indeed higher than that reported within his own Ministry.

Furthermore, this reveals yet another omission on Sanning's part: a document in a London archive, written in English, from a wartime Polish Embassy source in the USSR, would have disabused Sanning of his misconception that refugee agencies were providing aid to 600,000 Polish Jews in central Asia.

With regard to repatriation, 157,420 Jewish "repatriates" were registered by the Central Committee of Polish Jewry as having returned to Poland by the end of June 1946. This figure was cited by Sanning and confirmed by Yosef Litvak in his contribution (Chapter 13; pp. 227-239) to the collection of essays edited by Polonsky and Davies, cited above. Litvak (p.235) also claimed that more than 70,000 further Polish Jewish repatriates returned by the end of the decade (bringing the total to 230,700), and a further 30,000 returned under the repatriation agreement of 1957. However, Sanning (p.45) falsely assumes that all of the repatriated Jews were refugees from western Poland who had fled across the Polish-Soviet demarcation line in 1939:
Of the many hundreds of thousands who fled to the Soviet Union in 1939 only 157,420 took advantage of this option and returned to Poland. In other words, the primary source which released these figures - the Central Committee for Jews in Poland, a Communist organization - wants to make us believe that only 83,059 Jews of western Poland (240,489 minus 157,420) survived the Second World War under German administration.
Sanning's claim is another example of his poor quality of research because it overlooks the fact that the Polish-Soviet repatriation agreement, signed on 6 July 1945, allowed any person who had been a Polish citizen on 17 September 1939 to return. Repatriates therefore could include not only western Polish refugees but anyone in eastern Poland who took Soviet citizenship in 1939-41.

Repatriates thus included Jews who were not deportees. Anyone who crossed the Polish-Soviet demarcation line in 1939-1941 but was not deported could be a repatriate; and anyone who fled eastwards when the Nazis crossed the demarcation line in June 1941 could be a repatriate, provided they had been Polish citizens on 17 September 1939.

Moreover, the total of 157,420 that had returned by June 1946 did not only consist of repatriates from the agreement of 6 July 1945, but also included many of the returnees who were repatriated under the agreements of September 1944 between Poland and the districts of the western USSR, which resulted (between 7 September 1944 and 1 January 1947) in 784,000 Polish repatriates from the Ukraine, 272,000 from Belorussia and 170,800 from Lithuania (Source: Piotrowski (2000), Genocide and Rescue in Wolyn, p. 248). The research of Czerniakiewicz (Repatriacja ludnosci polskiej z ZSRR, 1944-1948, Warsaw, 1987, p.154) found that 54,594 of these were Jews. Consequently, not all of the repatriates had been in the Soviet interior in September 1944. This is further evidence that repatriates included not only deportees, but also migrants who had fled from the Nazis on their own initiative, and Polish Jews in annexed territories of former eastern Poland who had been unable to flee from the Nazis in 1941 but survived Nazi occupation.

The repatriation figures are further complicated by three other factors. Firstly, Litvak (p.231) reveals that Poles who married Soviet citizens during the war were allowed to take their spouses, and the spouses' children from previous marriages, back to Poland. He claims that many Soviet war widows had married Poles. Secondly, Litvak (p.235) advises us that the Central Committee of Polish Jewry reported that the number of registered repatriates was 10-15 per cent higher than that of actual repatriates, because some people registered more than once. Thirdly, Litvak's breakdown of repatriates by sex (p.235) also shows that the proportion of males to females was higher than in the 1931 census, suggesting that a significant number of repatriates were labour volunteers rather than refugees.

Repatriation data does not therefore, when properly analysed, refute the evidence we have presented from Soviet and Polish sources, which in our view proves, beyond reasonable doubt, that fewer than 100,000 Polish Jews were deported to the Soviet interior in 1940-41.

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