On August 23, 1939, a German-Soviet non-aggression pact was signed in Moscow which
went down in history as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It contained a secret clause defining
the distribution of the sphere of influence in Central Europe. It was mainly thanks to Soviet
guarantees of aid that Hitler decided to start the war with Poland in September 1939, which
soon turned into a world conflict, long-awaited in the Kremlin. According to the findings of
the secret memorandum of understanding, in the first phase of World War II, the Soviet Union
acted de facto as an ally of the Nazi Third Reich. The joint division of Poland, into which the
Red Army entered just over two weeks after the German troops, in breach of the existing non-
aggression pact and the Lithuanian Protocol, was only an overture for further cooperation. In
exchange for supplying the Third Reich with strategic raw materials, the USSR gained a free
hand to deal with the neighbouring independent states. The scenario was typical for Soviet
expansion. Both in the areas of eastern Poland occupied in September 1939 and annexed in
June 1940, the three Baltic republics convened under the bayonets of the Red Army and
controlled by the agency of the People's Assembly themselves submitted a proposal to join the
Soviet Union to which, of course, generous consent was given. As a result, Poland found itself
under two occupations - German and Soviet.
Katyń, a small holiday village located near Smolensk, became a gloomy symbol of this policy,
where in the spring of 1940 the NKVD murdered 4415 Polish officers, mostly representatives
of the Polish elite, taken captive in September 1939 (there were several similar places of
execution - Ostashkov, Kharkov, Mednoye - a total of about 22 thousand Polish officers,
policemen, officials, officers of the Fire Protection Corps and political prisoners died as a
result of similar executions).
Moreover, according to various estimates, between 700,000 and even 1.5 million Poles were
deported to the East - many of them died.