April 13, 2024

11th August 1937, Moscow Operational order No. 00485 of the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the USSR Nikolai Yezhov on the so-called “Polish Operation”.


11th August 1937, Moscow Operational order No. 00485 of the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the USSR Nikolai Yezhov on the so-called Polish Operation

NKVD Order No. 00485 - Kharkov copy (2).jpg

Top the addressee personally
To the Head of DTO of GUGB of NKVD
Kharkov South Railway
Tovarish Leopold


Top secret

Copy No. 71

Operational order
of the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs
of the USSR

11th August 1937 city of Moscow


No. 00485

The secret letter on fascist and insurgent, espionage, subversion, defeatist and terrorist activities of Polish intelligence in the USSR accompanying the above order and the materials from the investigation on the Polish Military Organisation depict the many years of relatively unpunished subversion and espionage work of the Polish intelligence in the territory of the [Soviet] Union.
These materials show that the destructive activities of the Polish intelligence were and still are carried out openly enough that the impunity of those activities can only be explained by bad work by the GUGB organs and recklessness of CheKa officers.
Even now, work on the elimination of local Polish espionage and subversion groups and the Polish Military Organisation has not fully developed. Both the pace and the scale of the investigations are exceptionally insufficient. The main groups [collaborating with] the Polish intelligence have not even been included operational records (out the total number of refugees from Poland approximating 15 thousand only about 9 thousand have been included in the record). In the West Siberia, out of about 5 thousand refugees, not more than 1 thousand people has been included in the record. The situation is identical with regard to the political emigrants from Poland. As far as espionage work is concerned, it is nearly missing. What is more, the existing body of agents – usually working for both sides – has been installed by the Polish intelligence.
The insufficient determination to eliminate Polish intelligence personnel is particularly threatening in the present situation, when the Moscow headquarters of the Polish Military Organisation has been crushed and its many resilient activists have been arrested. Predicting the inevitability of its future defeat, the Polish intelligence is attempting to establish, and in certain cases, it already is establishing, a subversive network within the economy of the USSR, and primarily on the premise of being important for defence.
For this reason, the present task of the GUGB is to crush the anti-Soviet activities of the Polish intelligence and totally eliminate the previously untouched wide-ranging support base of the Polish Military Organisation and the basic human reserve of the Polish intelligence in the USSR.

I order the following:

1.  On 20th August 1937, a wide-ranging operation aimed at the total elimination of local Polish Military Organisation groups and primarily their subversion and espionage and insurgent personnel in the industry, transport, sovkhozes and kolkhozes shall be initiated.
The entire operation shall be completed within three months, i.e. by 20th November 1937.
2  The following persons shall be arrested:
(a) Polish Military Organisation activists discovered during the investigation who have not been found so far, according to the enclosed list;
(b) all prisoners of war from the Polish Army remaining in the USSR;
(c) refugees from Poland regardless of the time of their arrival in the USSR;
(d) political emigrants from Poland and persons exchanged under the exchange of political [prisoners];
(e) former members of the Polish Socialist Party and other anti-Soviet Polish political parties;
(f) the most active part of the local anti-Soviet nationalist element from the Polish [national] districts
3.  The arrests shall be carried out in two stages:
(a) the first groups to be arrested are the above listed groups of people working in NKVD, in the Red Army, in the arms factories, in other factories important for defence, in the railway, water and air transport, in the energy sector supplying all industrial plants, in natural gas and oil industry plants;
(b) the second group to be arrested includes all the others, working in industrial plants not important for defence, in sovkhozes, kolkhozes and offices.
4.  The investigation shall be instigated upon the arrest. The emphasis in the investigation shall be placed on the discovery of organisers and managers of subversion groups, full uncovering of the subversion network.
All spies, wreckers and saboteurs mentioned in the testimonies shall be arrested immediately.
A special group of operational employees shall be established for the purpose of investigation.
5.  All the arrested persons shall be divided into two categories as their guild is being revealed:
(a) first category – including all espionage, subversion, sabotage and insurgency personnel of the Polish intelligence – subject to death by shooting;
(b) second category, less active [people], subject to imprisonment in prisons and camps for 5 to 10 years.
6.  Every 10 days, lists of [peoples] included to the first and the second category during the investigation accompanied by a short summary of investigation and espionage materials describing the degree of the arrested person’s guild shall be made; [the lists] shall be submitted to the NKVD of the USSR for final approval.
Classification into the first or the second category shall be done on espionage and investigation materials by the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the Republic, head of the UNKVD in the oblast or krai jointly with the competent prosecutor of the republic, oblast or krai.
The lists shall be submitted to the NKVD of the USSR for signing by the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the republic, head of the UNKVD and the prosecutor of the republic, oblast and krai.
After the approval of the lists by the NKVD and the Prosecutor of the [Soviet] Union, the judgement shall be enforced immediately, i.e. the persons adjudged to be in the first category shall be executed by shooting, and the persons adjudged to be in the second shall be transferred to prisons and camps pursuant to the order of the NKVD of the USSR.
7.  Release of people sentenced for spying for Poland whose sentence is nearing the completion shall be stopped. Evidence against each of such persons shall be submitted for examination by the Special Council of the NKVD of the USSR.
8.  The entire work related to the crushing of the Polish Military Organisation and all other Polish intelligence groups shall be skilfully and thoughtfully used to recruit new agents to work against Poland.
During the selection of agents, particular emphasis shall be placed on security measures preventing NKVD from being infiltrated by double agents of the Polish intelligence.
Lists of agents selected for recruitment accompanied by their exhaustive characteristics shall be submitted to the head of GUGB of NKVD Tov. FRINOVSKY for approval.
9.  The course of the operations shall be reported via the telegraph every 5 days, i.e. on 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th of each month.

p.p. People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the USSR
General Commissar for Stat[e] Secuirty

Operational  Secretary of the GUGB of the NKVD of the USSR
Kombrig (—) ULMER

Source: HDA SBU, f. 9, spr. 23, k. 20-24.
Certified true copy, typescript

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