The Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland, 1939–41
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On 17 September 1939 the Red Army advanced cautiously into the eastern half of Poland. It was an unusual invasion as some inhabitants initially thought that the Soviet troops had come to help them fight the Germans.1 Advancing Soviet forces rapidly disabused them, however, by installing their own authority in the occupied areas. The public justification for the Soviet advance was the need to restore order and protect the kindred Belorussian and Ukrainian peoples after the collapse of the Polish state.2 In fact Stalin was merely securing his prize of eastern Poland as negotiated under the secret terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
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