The “Polish Operation” of the NKVD, 1937–8

  • Nikita Petrov
  • Arsenii Roginskii


The scope allotted to us merely allows a description of the general contours of the “Polish operation” of the NKVD in the years 1937–8. We place the main emphasis on how it originated, the policy behind it, how it worked and to what extent it was realised. The core document in this connection is Order no. 00485 of the NKVD of the USSR. Order 00485 was confirmed by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the VKP(b) (as the CPSU was then called) on 9 August 1937. It was signed by Ezhov two days later, together with the “sealed” letter “On Fascist-Insurgent, Espionage, Sabotage, Defeatist and Terrorist Activities of Polish Intelligence in the USSR”. This letter had also been approved by Stalin beforehand, and was then signed by Ezhov for circulation to all NKVD units.2


Central Committee Public Prosecutor Military Collegium Military Tribunal Secret Police 
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  1. 1.
    This article has appeared in a somewhat longer format in L. S. Eremina (ed.), Repressii protivpoliakov i pol’skikh grazhdan (Moscow, 1997), pp. 22–43.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Prikaz (Order) no. 00485 of the NKVD was published, with some abridgements, in A. Ia. Razumov (ed.), Leningradskii martirolog 1937–1938, vol. 2 (St. Petersburg, 1996), pp. 454–6, and in full in Karta (Warsaw), no. 11 (1993), pp. 27–9. For the text of the sealed letter, see Tsentr Khraneniia sovremennoi dokumentatsii (TsKhSD), Moscow, f. 6, op. 13, d. 6,11. 8–51.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    For Order no. 00446 of the NKVD, see E. A. Zaitsev (ed.), Sbornik zakonoda-tel’nykh i normativnykh aktov o repressiiakh i reabilitatsii zhertvpoliticheskikh repressii (Moscow, 1993), pp. 86–93. The text of the order was first published by Nikita Okhotin in Memorial-Aspekt (Moscow), nos 2–3 (1993). We are obliged to colleague Okhotin for his valuable advice in planning our article.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    Concerning the liquidation of alleged “fifth columns” and other goals of the Great Terror, see Oleg Khlevniuk, Politbiuro. Mekhanizmy politicheskoi vlasti v 1930-egg. (Moscow, 1996), pp. 196–8.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikita Petrov
  • Arsenii Roginskii

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