During the week of 22/29 June, 1941, thousands of Ukrainian and Polish political prisoners were murdered in their cells by the Soviet NKVD (KGB). The Soviets' hurried retreat had tragic consequences for all political prisoners in the jails of Western Ukraine. Soon after the German attack on the Soviet Union, the retreating Soviets had no time to care for their prisoners locked up in prisons in the Ukraine, so they were simply killed.
In some cities the whole prison was set on fire and the helpless prisoners burned to death. In Lutsk, 2,800 out of the 4000 inmates in the NKVD prison, were murdered. When the German 49th Army Corps occupied the Polish-Ukrainian city of Lvov, (now Limberg) around 2,400 dead bodies were found by German troops in the NKVD prison. Some were killed by hand-grenades thrown into their cells, most were killed by a shot in the neck. In the cellars of the Brygidky Prison on Palczymska Street, 423 bodies were recovered.
Hundreds more were piled up in the courtyard. In the military prison at Samarstinov, which had been set on fire, 460 charred bodies were found, many showing signs of brutal torture. In the cellars, bodies were piled up layer upon layer almost to the ceiling. Owing to the stench of the decomposing corpses, the German commander of Lvov ordered all doors to the cellars bricked up after the bodies were covered with lime.
On June 26-27, 1941, some 520 Ukrainians were shot at Sambor, and at Zlochev, another 700, including the entire local intelligentsia, were arrested and shot on July 16, 1941. At Kremenets, between 100 and 150 were killed and when the bodies were recovered some bodies were without skin, having been thrown into boiling water.
Altogether, in the Ukraine, around 10,000 Ukrainian and Polish political prisoners were killed in their prisons. It is a sad fact that many members of the NKVD execution squads in the Ukraine, were Jewish collaborators. These collaborators were hated by other Jews more than the German SS. (A memorial plaque at the former headquarters of the NKVD/KGB in Simferpol, Ukraine, is engraved with the names of thirty NKVD agents who gave their lives in the Great Patriotic War (the Soviet name for World War II). The amazing thing is that all thirty names are Jewish!
About half a million Jews served in the Red Army and approximately 200,000 were killed. A total of 160,000 Jewish soldiers were decorated with Soviet awards, 145 receiving the highest Soviet award, 'Hero of the Soviet Union'. Two Jewish women were also awarded this honour. (Many Soviet soldiers, after capture, joined the Waffen SS. The 30th SS Division was composed of such troops.)
Photo: German and Russian soldiers stroll around Sambor after the German-Soviet invasion of Poland.