1939: When Poland was torn to pieces

In September 1939, after Nazi Germany stormed into Poland from the west, the Soviet Union attacked from the east. Both dictatorships installed murderous regimes that, as Roger Moorhouse reveals, were hideously similar...

Red Army tank drivers on a street in the city of Rakov, Poland

The soldiers came in the small hours. Families were woken by a loud banging on the door, and subjected to a bewildering barrage of orders barked in a strange language. Informed that they were a threat to public order, and that they had been slated for deportation, they were told that they had 30 minutes to pack, and would be leaving that very night.

“No one dared move because he would be killed on the spot,” recalled one eyewitness. “They tied daddy up with a chain, and the others searched for weapons and… stole whatever was valuable. They shouted that in half an hour we have to be ready to leave.”

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