1939 passport of a Katyn victim
Issued Polish passport to a murdered medical officer.
One of the horrendous and shocking massacres of World War Two was committed by the Russians, the NKVD, in 1940. In three main locations Polish nationals were shot and buried in mass graves: Russian Katyn Forest, Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons (click bellow on the link).
Following the defeat of Poland in September of 1939, large groups of prisoners of war where taken. Both sides, Germany & the Soviet Union, held them in camps and other facilities. Close to 22,000 thousand people were murdered, 14,000 of them where both army & police personnel. In 1943 the graves where discovered by the Germans who shed light to this horrific crime, which was denied by Moscow (only to be confirmed in 1990) and caused the final break of relations between the Polish government in exile based in London and Stalin. These ties would never recover again.
Passport rej. 614/B23/39 belonged to physician Zygmunt Sloninski (1890-1940), who was also an army reserve officer, a Major. Issued at the end of June to participate in an international medical conference in Switzerland, he obtained the transit visas through France & Germany. The Swiss visa was issued in the city of Lodz on June 23rd. After attending this conference, he left the country on July 22nd, into France the same date and then leaving Germany for Poland late July 30th, arriving back on the 31st.
According to the evidence we have today, he was murdered between April and May the following year.
His final resting place is at the Cemetery of the Victims of Totalitarianism in Kharkiv.
Today, as time passes by, there is a race to preserve as much as possible all evidence and memorabilia related to the past, and such a passport is an important reminder of letting us know that behind each name was a face, a human being, and those who died had families and friends who never got the chance to reunite after the war…
Small image source: Wikipedia.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.