He ordered Laventry Beria, the NKVD head, to comb eastern Poland and identify veterans of the 1920 Polish-Soviet war, along with others who might be anti-Soviet, and forcibly deport their entire families.
“The deportation of the locals from the western territories, which looked horrible, was nonetheless not a surprise to us because we'd seen it all before. We were raised to believe that these were enemies of the people and that they had to be deported. At the time it was the norm for us.”- Georgy Dragunov, 3rd Assault Brigade, Red Army
But not every veteran was deported. In the Kremlin on March 5, 1940, Stalin and other senior Soviet figures signed a document ordering the murder of nearly 22,000 Polish officers and members of the elite who were being held in special NKVD prisons. This act, carried out in April, would become known as the Katyn massacre and would later haunt relations between Stalin and the Western Allies.