The Soviet capital of West Belarus
After September 17, 1939, the USSR took over the areas inhabited by Belarusians and Ukrainians, who, according to Soviet declarations, were oppressed by Poland. Meanwhile, in Bialystok Voivodeship (province), which was almost fully incorporated into the Soviet Union (SuwaĹ‚ki was taken by Germany), as much as 72% of the population were Poles, 12.5% Belarusians, and 12% Jews. That is perhaps why BiaĹ‚ystok was intended to be the capital of the new Polish Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) â€“ eventually, however, it became the seat of government of the so-called West Belarus.
Soviet Army entering BiaĹ‚ystok. Photo – public domain
The Soviet occupation of Bialystok began on September 22. The NKVD installed itself in the Voivodeship Office building at Mickiewicza Street and began to spread terror without delay. Arrests and repressions targeted state officials, policemen, foresters, veterans of the Polishâ€“Soviet War of 1920, people known for their patriotic activities, entrepreneurs and owners of factories and land estates.