Soviet raid on Stołpce

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Soviet raid on Stołpce refers to the events of the night of August 3/4, 1924, when a group of 150 Soviet agents, commanded by Leutnant Boryshkevich, raided the town of Stołpce (now: Stoubcy, Belarus), which back then was a railroad border crossing between Second Polish Republic, and Soviet Union. The raid ended in temporary capture of the town, and destruction of a police station, railroad station, and several houses.[1]

Background[edit]

After Polish-Soviet War, the border between the two countries was established roughly along the 1400-kilometer line going from the Daugava in the north, to the Dniester in the south - east of the line marked by the towns of Wilejka - Baranowicze - Luniniec - Sarny - Rowne - Brody. The town of Stołpce therefore became part of the Second Polish Republic, and was a border rail station along the main European rail line Paris - Berlin - Warsaw - Minsk - Moscow.

Newly established Polish - Soviet border from the beginning was marred by violence. The Soviets regarded it as temporary, and, hoping to ignite a revolution in Poland, carried out a guerilla war against Polish authorities. At the same time, the Poles supported for a time Belorussian partisan movement, and Polish Army teams also penetrated into the Soviet area.[2] In one of the most famous incidents of this kind, Soviet agents captured a passenger train from Pinsk to Luniniec. This event took place on September 24, 1924, near the village of Lowcza, and the Soviets were commanded by Trofim Kalinienko. Among passengers of the train, there were local personalities - Voivode of Polesie Voivodeship Stanislaw Downarowicz, Roman Catholic bishop Zygmunt Łoziński of Minsk and Pinsk, and well-known Senator of the Second Polish Republic, Boleslaw Wyslouch. After robbing all valuables, the attackers escaped into Soviet territory.[3] Before escaping, Kalinienko handed a “receipt” to train conductor. It stated: “Ataman Trofim Kalinienko, Headquarters Timkowicze”[4]

Originally, the border was guarded by units of the Polish Police, but the situation was getting out of control, and the government in Warsaw knew it had to find a solution. Altogether, in the year 1924, along the Polish - Soviet border there were some 200 raids, in which around 1000 Soviet agents participated, and at least 54 people died.[5] Year 1924 was by far the worst, especially summer and autumn. In the night of July 18/19, 1924, some 30 armed Soviet agents attacked the village of Wiszniew, located in Wolozyn county of Nowogródek Voivodeship. During the raid, the perpetrators stole the valuables, and a skirmish ensued, during which commandant of Polish Police station was killed.[4] Raids also took place in Polish part of Volhynia, where manor houses and villages were robbed, and horses were stolen.

Polish authorities knew well who stood behind these raids, and what was their real purpose. In 1925, Colonel Juliusz Ulrych of freshly created Border Protection Corps (Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza, KOP) wrote: “The Soviets have undertaken the plan to capture eastern lands of Poland, even though there is no official war. They want to use these provinces as a foreground of their struggle, in which the sphere of influence of Russian statehood would dominate over the sphere of influence of Poland. Therefore we witness immense activities of diversionary nature, with widespread Communist groups, willingly supporting banditry”.[4]

Raid on Stołpce[edit]

The raid on Stołpce, which was described as “uniquely brazen” took place in the night of August 3/4, 1924.[citation needed] It was a well-organized, meticulously planned action, carried out by a group of 150 Soviet agents, divided into four platoons.[citation needed] Apart from handguns and grenades, the perpetrators had three machine guns.[citation needed] Those who were captured by Polish police officers, stated that they had been trained for the mission by Soviet officers in Minsk, the capital of Soviet Belarus.[citation needed]

The purpose of the raid was to free two imprisoned Communist activists.[6] According to some Polish sources, the raid, as well as other incidents of this kind along the border, was organized by Zakordonnyj Otdiel (Zakordot), a Soviet agency created in Moscow in 1920, whose purpose was to set eastern Poland on fire.[citation needed] These sources claim that agents of Zakordot carried out the raid, during which they destroyed Stołpce's Police Station, rail station, post office and kidnapped a number of Polish citizens.[citation needed]

After the raid, the invaders got back to the Soviet Union, but due to diplomatic consequences of that action, Moscow decided to quit its program of peacetime attacks on its neighbors, preferring to start preparations for wartime sabotage and diversion under the authority of the Red Army's Intelligence Directorate.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Border Defence Corps - history
  2. ^ Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, The Last Rising in the Eastern Borderlands: The Ejszyszki Epilogue in its Historical Context
  3. ^ Kalendarium: 24 września. Nasz Dziennik 24 September 2009, Nr 224 (3545).
  4. ^ a b c Association of Veterans of Polish Border Units
  5. ^ Wojciech Materski "Na widecie. II Rzeczpospolita wobec Sowietów 1918-1943”. Warszawa 2005, Wyd. ISP PAN i oficyna "Rytm" ISBN 83-88490-84-2
  6. ^ a b The August 1924 raid on Stolpce, Poland, and the evolution of Soviet active intelligence. Intelligence and National Security. Volume 21, Issue 3