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The Gestapo-NKVD conferences were a series of meetings organized in late 1939 and early 1940, whose purpose was the mutual cooperation between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union. In spite of several differences, both Heinrich Himmler and Lavrentiy Beria had common purposes as far as the fate of Poland was concerned, and the conferences discussed coordinating plans for occupation of the Polish nation and in fighting the Polish resistance movement, which was an irritant to both Nazi and Soviet occupiers of Poland.
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Out of four conferences, the third took place in the famous Tatra Mountains spa of Zakopane, and is the most remembered (the Zakopane Conference). From the Soviet side, several officers of the NKVD participated in these meetings, and the Germans brought a group of experts from the Gestapo.
In 1939, after the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in August, the German invasion of Poland on 1 September and Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September resulted in the country being occupied by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
Little is known about this meeting. It reportedly took place on September 27, 1939 in Brzesc nad Bugiem, while some units of the Polish Army were still fighting (see: Invasion of Poland). Both sides correctly expected that Polish resistance would start soon, thus they discussed ways of nipping it in the bud.
It took place some time at the end of November 1939, probably in Przemyśl - a city which in the period September 1939 - June 1941 was divided into two parts, German and Soviet. Apart from talks of fighting Polish resistance, the Soviets and the Germans discussed ways of exchanging Polish POWs. Also, first discussions about the occupation of Poland were started. Some historians claim this meeting took place in Lviv. It is also claimed a meeting was held in December.
This one is the best known, and took place in Zakopane, starting on February 20, 1940 in the villa “Pan Tadeusz”, located on the road from Zakopane to Białka Tatrzańska. The German side was represented by Adolf Eichmann and an official by the name of Zimmermann, who later became chief of the Radom District of the General Government. The Soviets, among others, brought Rita Zimmerman (director of a gold mine in Kolyma) and a man named Eichmans, creator of an efficient way of killing in the back of the head.
According to several sources, one of the effects of this conference was the German ''Ausserordentliche Befriedungsaktion (see: German AB Action operation in Poland), elimination of Krakow inteligentia Sonderaktion Krakau and the Soviet Katyn massacre (a number of historians, including Norman Davies, claim that these two events were carried out cooperatively). Also, both sides agreed in the final protocol that the Polish nation should be completely moved out by the year 1975, either by mass murders or by deportations to remote areas of Siberia (by that year, 95% of the Poles still alive were going to be deported to the shores of the Jana river, located in northern Siberia, about two thousand miles north of Vladivostok).
News about the conference must have leaked out to Great Britain , but London did not seem to care, which was immediately noticed by Joseph Stalin. Also, most probably in Zakopane, the Germans rejected suggestions of the Soviets to take over Polish officers, which sealed their fate. On March 5, 1940, in Moscow, the decision was made to murder them.
British historian Robert Conquest in his 1991 book Stalin: Breaker of Nations stated: "Terminal horror suffered by so many millions of innocent Jewish, Slavic, and other European peoples as a result of this meeting of evil minds is an indelible stain on the history and integrity of Western civilization, with all of its humanitarian pretensions". Also, professor George Watson from Cambridge University concluded in his "Rehearsal for the Holocaust?" commentary (June 1981) that the fate of the interned Polish officers may have been decided at this conference.
The fourth and last meeting took place in March 1940 in Krakow (according to some historians, it was part of the Zakopane Conference). This event was described by General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, commander of Armia Krajowa in his book “Armia Podziemna” (“The Secret Army”). In it he describes how a special delegation of NKVD came to Krakow, which was going to discuss with Gestapo how to act against the Polish resistance. The talks lasted for several weeks.
One of the ways of fighting Polish organized resistance in the General Government was creation of communist organizations (such as "Hammer and Sickle" or "Association of Friends of Soviet Union"), overseen by Moscow. Left-wing activists were cooperating with the NKVD, passing to them information about Polish patriotic groups. The Soviets then handed these reports to the Gestapo.
- Rees, Laurence World War Two Behind Closed Doors BBC Books, 2008 ISBN 978-0-56-349335-8
- Zaloga, S.J. (2003) Poland 1939 Osprey ISBN 1 84176 408 6
- Davies, N. (1986) God's Playground Volume II Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-821944-X Page 437
- Conquest, Robert (1991). "Stalin: Breaker of Nations" Phoenix, 2000 ISBN 1-84212-439-0 Page 229
- Stenton, M. "Radio London and Resistance in Occupied Europe" Oxford,2000 ISBN 978-0198208433 page 277
- Bór-Komorowski, T. (1950). "The Secret Army" Victor Gollancz, 1950 Page 46
- Bor-Komorowski, Tadeusz (1951). "The Secret Army". New York, N.Y.: Macmillan. OCLC: 1524738