NKVD Order No. 00485

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NKVD Order № 00485 "On liquidation of Polish sabotage and espionage groups and units of POW (Polish Military Organization, Polska Organizacja Wojskowa) " ("О ликвидации польских диверсионно-шпионских групп и организаций ПОВ") approved on August 9, 1937 by the VKP(b) Central Committee Politburo and signed by Nikolai Yezhov, the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs on August 11, 1937 laid the foundation for systematic repressions of ethnic Poles in 1937 and 1938. The operation was one of national operations of the NKVD.

According to the Order, the list of those subject to repression included, among others, "former Polish prisoners of war, defectors from Poland, Polish refugees, Polish political émigrés, those admitted through prisoners' exchange (политобменянные), former members of PPS and other Polish political parties". Polish convicts suspected of espionage that were about to complete their labor camp sentences could not be released and their files had to be referred to the Special Council of the NKVD.

Particularly affected were ethnic Poles employed in "strategic" sectors (transportation and telecommunications, defense industry, armed forces, security services, etc.), as well as members of Polish cultural organizations.

The Order created an extrajudicial body composed of two persons, the so-called "Dvoika", a Committee of the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs (chief of the NKVD) and the Prosecutor of the USSR, and instituted a special procedure for handling of such cases. Specifically, regional (oblast, krai, respublic) NKVD units had to compile lists of the Polish cases, bind them into so-called "albums" and send the "albums" to Moscow, where the suspects were summarily tried in absentia by the Dvoika. This procedure had to be applied to all other national operations of 1937-1938: German, Latvian, Finnish, Estonian, Romanian, Greek, and others.

This procedure was amended in September, 1938. To expedite the process, regional NKVD units were instructed to set up so called "Special Troikas" (not to be confused with the regional Troikas established under the NKVD Order № 00447) authorized to try the "national operations" cases locally.

All in all, 139,815 people were sentenced under the Polish mass operation, including 111,071 sentenced to death.[citation needed]

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