On the morning of 17 September 1939, the Red Army crossed the eastern border of Poland, thus acting on the terms of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The invader immediately commenced deportations, transporting hundreds of thousands of Poles away from their homes and deep into the Soviet interior, to the wild steppes of Kazakhstan, the Arkhangelsk region, the Altai Krai, and to the autonomous Soviet republics of Yakutia and Komi.
The policy which the Germans pursued in occupied Poland involved the extermination of the country’s intellectual elites. Among those targeted by the occupiers were scientists, lawyers, doctors, high ranking officials, social activists, scouts, priests and artists – “the leading elements of the Polish nation”. Oskar Tadeusz Stuhr testified before the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. His testimony concerned the Nazi persecution of the Kraków intelligentsia.
Totalitarian machinery left no room for human kindness, even the cruelest crimes were part of a plan. Despite this knowledge, it is still difficult to understand some decisions.
Edmund Stanberg, a pharmacist from Warsaw, was one of the few people who managed to escape from a transport to Treblinka. He jumped off the train bound for the extermination camp during a snowstorm.