August 12, 2018




Stalin granted a temporary one-time amnesty for all Polish citizens imprisoned in the Soviet Union.  (Polish Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Jews were excluded because they were considered Soviets).  The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet signed the document on August 12, 1941 which temporarily halted persecutions against Polish civilians under Soviet occupation.  (About two million Polish men, women and children had been deported to Russian camps after the Soviet Union invaded Poland on September 17, 1939) With the outbreak of war with Germany in 1941, Russia was seeking help from other  countries.   On July 5, 1941, Sikorski initiated negotiations with Russia to re-establish diplomatic relations and it culminated in the Sikorski-Maysky Treaty, signed on July 30, 1941, which forged  a military alliance.  At the same time, the previous German-Russian pact (the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) of August 1939 was nullified, and an agreement was made for the release of some Polish prisoners - but only about 100,000 Polish men, women and children were permitted to leave.   General Wladyslaw Anders ordered an evacuation, the first phase which took place between  March 24 and April 4, 1942 where 33,069 soldiers, 10,789 civilians, and 3,100 children left the Soviet Union for Iran.  (at this point  Polish - Soviet relations deteriorated and the NKVD began arresting Polish officials. ) The second evacuation took place from August 9 to September 1, 1942 consisting of over 43,000 soldiers and about 25,000 civilians. Thousands died along the way.  Only 40,000 Polish men were recruited to a new Polish Army, which became the 2nd Polish Corps, commanded by General  Anders.  The Polish army earned a reputation for being skilled, fierce soldiers in the battlefield.


The Battle of the Falaise (or Falaise Pocket) (Aug 12-21,1944) was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy.  The Western Allies formed a pocket around Falaise, Calvados in which the German Army Group B,  and the 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army were encircled.  In the ensuing battle, most of the Army Group B west of the Seine were decimated, thus opening the way to Paris and the Franco-German border for the Allied forces on the Western Front.  The Germans began to withdraw on August 17,  and on August 19 the Allies linked up in Chambois. Gaps were forced in the Allied lines by German counter-attacks, the biggest being a corridor forced past the 1st Polish Armoured Division on Hill 262, a commanding position at the mouth of the pocket. By the evening of August 21, the pocket had been sealed, with approximately 50,000 Germans trapped inside. Though it was a decisive allied victory. Allied troops suffered 5,150 casualties of which 2,300 were the soldiers of the Polish 1st Armoued Division.  Canadian troops suffered 5,679 casualties. German casualties were 60,000 ( 10,000 killed, 50,000 captured)

PERSONAL AND MOST SECRET MESSAGE FROM Mr CHURCHILL TO MARSHAL STALIN (no.317)   "I have seen a distressing message from the Poles in Warsaw, who after ten days are still fighting against considerable German forces which have cut the city into three. They implore machine-guns and ammunition. Can you not give them some further help, as the distance from Italy is so very great?" (August 12th, 1944 )


The Potsdam Agreement was signed on this day in 1945. In connection with this, the Allied leaders planned the new postwar German government, resettled war territory boundaries, de facto annexed a quarter of pre-war Germany situated east of the Oder-Neisse line, and mandated and organized the expulsion of the millions of Germans who remained in the annexed territories and elsewhere in the east. They also ordered German demilitarization, denazification, industrial disarmament and settlements of war reparations.  The Agreement included a Protocol which included administrative and territorial terms for Poland, as follows:  "There should be a Provisional Government of National Unity recognized by all three powers, and that those Poles who were serving in British Army formations should be free to return to Poland. The provisional western border should be the Oder–Neisse line, with territories to the east of this excluded from the Soviet Occupation zone and placed under Polish and Soviet administration. Poland would receive former German territories in the north and west, but the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should await the peace settlement; which eventually took place as the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany in 1990."

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