July 6, 1944, Moscow -
Report of Lavrentiy Beria to J. Stalin, V. Molotov, A. Antonov
RE: Tactical [secret police] security operations in Wilno.
State Defense Committee
Comrade J.[Joseph] V.[ Vissarionovich] Stalin
RKL. USSR, Com.[rade] V. [Vyacheslav] M. [Mikhailovich] Molotov
The Deputy People’s Commissar of the Internal Affairs, Comrade [Ivan] Serov, who along with a group of NKVD personnel was delegated by us to Wilno, reports as follow:
In order to conduct [secret police tactical] operations, 19 operational groups of the NKVD-NKGB were assigned; these began their activities on the morning of 14th June.
The security within the city, the stores, and other [vital] objects, was undertaken by the NKVD battalions.
During the day, uncovered and confiscated were two munitions stores of the Home Army containing 302 heavy caliber machine guns, 152 light machine guns, and 40 hand grenades. The Poles were attempting to transport these weapons to their units in the forests, but were apprehended.
These dispatched NKVD units are conducting combing [operations] in order to apprehend those Germans who are in hiding, and to liquidate them. 12 were apprehended, and 4 were killed.
By the end of the day, order was restored in the city, fires were put out, patrol units were dispatched, and the corpses of the dead Germans were cleaned up.
During the German occupation of Wilno region, a representative of the so-called Polish Government in London, nom de guerre “Wilk” arrived illegally via plane as a “Commandant of the Nowogródek and Wilno Military Districts [of Armia Krajowa].” [pol. "Komendant Wileńskiego i Nowogródzkiego Okręgów Wojennych”]; according to the information on-hand, his last name is Kasplicki. In addition to “Wilk”, there is also certain Colonel “Szczebic” /Umbek/ who refers to himself as the representative of the Polish General Staff. “Wilk” and “Szernicz” made considerable efforts to form, and to direct, Polish military units.
Based on the statements of many officers of the Polish Home Army who were interrogated, as well as our personal observations, altogether these [military] formations have 30 autonomous brigades, having between 300 to 600 men each. In addition, during the German occupation, the Polish underground organization in Wilno was organized into three operational units. From among these three units, the unit No. 1, still exists, and it has 1,500 men. According to the Chief of Staff of these units, two of them no longer exist, as one of them, was destroyed by the Germans during its attempt to liberate Wilno; the other one, was penetrated [and destroyed] by the Germans while it was being formed.
As of today, there are no more than 2,000 soldiers of the Polish Home Army in Wilno, and in the following counties: Nowogródek/Turkele/ Wołkorabiszki up to 7[,000] – 8,000 men; Miedniki / Kolonia Górka up to 8,000 men; and around Wilno / Wierki Nowe estate 3[,000] – 4,000 men. Altogether, there are no more than 25,000 men.
Our [NKVD/NKGB] officers and generals visited all of these counties, and saw their [the Home Army units] locations and their manpower.
All Polish soldiers are organized into brigades, and for the most part, are armed with Russian rifles, and machine guns, revolvers, and grenades. In addition, these brigades have [both] heavy, and light machine guns, anti-tank weapons, light artillery pieces, German self-propelled artillery pieces, and even tanks. / In the 2nd brigade, we saw 3 tanks. They also have means of transportation [at their disposal] - [that is] vehicles, motorcycles, [and] horses.
The Poles receive their provisions from the locals. In addition, the commandant of the 2[nd] Brigade, Maj. Więgiel, told us that in regards to this, he received permission from Major-General Bielkin / Gladyshev, Commandant of the 277 Division, 5th [Soviet] Army.
[…] All Polish [Home] Army soldiers wear Polish-German uniforms with brassards, and sown-on stripes, four-pointed caps [known as Konfederatki], pilotki [caps] on their heads with, for the most part, a badge affixed on them, [the Polish] eagle, and red-and-white armbands. The vehicles are marked with white-yellow bows; the houses where the Poles took quarters are also marked with bows. Each man has a printed ID stating, that he is a Polish Home Army soldier, and that he belongs to a specific unit. The Poles diligently hide [the identities of their] commanding officers and their locations.
We were only able to ascertain the identities of the commanding officers delegated to the [immediate] “urgent matters” as [their assignment] was related to the stationing of the Red Army units in this area.
Because of the fact that the command of the 3rd Belarusian Front prevented the Polish military organizations from conducting [their military] activities, the Poles became brassy. After Wilno was cleared form the Germans, a Soviet flag was hoisted on the town hall. After some time, below the Soviet flag, a Polish flag appeared as well; however, it was removed shortly thereafter.
Last evening in Wilno, our officers, who died during the operations to take the city, were buried. The regiment commander standing above the grave said that they died to liberate Wilno, the capital of Latvia. Two Polish officers standing next to our Colonel Kapralov remarked, that the Colonel, who was speaking, apparently doesn’t know that Wilno never was, and never will be Latvian. When the units of the Red Army approached the outskirts of Wilno, the commanding officer of the 2nd Polish [Home Army] Brigade established contact with our General [Sergei] Byelkin-Gladyshev, and proposed that the Poles would cooperate with us in taking Wilno.
General Byelkin-Gladyshev wrote an official document to the commandant of the Polish Brigade, pointing out that “in regards to the cooperation of the Red Army with your [Polish] units in taking Wilno, you need to contact Colonel Morozov, who received orders in this matter. Particular attention is to be paid to our left flank that remains exposed to the Germans from the north.” After several days this Pole received an official document expressing our gratitude to the Poles from General Byelkin.
General Byelkin wrote the following: “I, General Byelkin state that the Polish soldiers fought bravely to take Wilno. On behalf of units under my command, I express my gratitude. The [Polish] Brigade earned the right to receive all necessary privileges.”
According to the Poles, these two documents give them right to state that they took Wilno along with the Red Army. Factually, the matters looked as follow: General “Wilk” received orders from Warsaw to alone take Wilno with his Polish Home Army units. One brigade factually moved there, but the Germans decimated them, and that was the end of it.
Taking of Wilno by the Poles.
At this moment, the Poles are spreading rumors that a Polish “Division” will be created from among the [Home Army] Brigades.
The Polish population is sympathetic and friendly towards these [Home Army] formations, and many people wear white-and-yellow ribbons on their lapels, as a sign of Polish patriotism.
A Polish officer came today to see [our] Wilno city commandant to ask for permission to organize a [patriotic] demonstration and a parade of two, or three hundred Polish soldiers [through the city].
We didn’t permit that.
At present, the Poles intensified mobilization of men into the Home Army and are gathering weapons. Yesterday, a Polish soldier carrying weapons on a horse and cart was stopped. During the interrogation, he stated that the weapons were gathered from the population, and it was to be delivered to the Polish Brigades. The weapons were confiscated.
In addition, the presence of this “Polish Army” is confusing the local population. Many people think that this is Berling’s [Communist People's] Polish Army; when the provisions officers of the 3rd Belarusian Front came to Oszamiany to gather supplies, the locals told them that all mandatory provisions were [already] turned-in to the Berling’s Polish Army.
The NKVD reports that in addition to two battalions present in Wilno, and one additional regiment that will arrive tomorrow, on July 16, we are moving into the Wilno area one additional division of the NKVD Internal Security Troops, and four Border Security units. Thus, in a matter of 4-5 days, altogether, a concentration of NKVD units having in their ranks 12,000 men will be concentrated around Wilno. Additional orders were dispatched to Com.[rade] Serov to aid the command and the Front’s War Council to carry out the Directive of the General Staff of the High Command No. 220145 from 14.07 [July 14] of this year, and in accordance with the directive to secure the necessary secret police operations.
People’s Commisar for Internal Affairs of the Soviet Socialist Republics,
L. [Lavrenti] Beria