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"In favor," wrote Soviet leader Josef Stalin in thick blue pencil on secret police chief Lavrenti Beria's March 5, 1940, note condemning to execution without trial 24,700 Polish officers, gendarmes, officials and landlords captured by the Red Army in September 1939, when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland. The secret document was also signed by other members of the Communist Party Central Committe's Politburo. In April and May 1940, at different locations across the western flank of the Soviet Union, 21,857 Poles were executed and buried at secret locations in the woods.
1940 massacre of Poles remains potent issue