LEAD-UP TO THE OPERATION
Since mid-May 1945, the Soviets concentrated substantial forces in the border area between Puńsk and Sztabin. The first larger actions against the Polish resistance movement took place already in late May and early June. The final lists of people to be arrested were drafted in the same period. On 27 June 1945, the Soviet forces along with the District Office of Public Security (Powiatowy Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, PUBP) and the Citizens’ Militia (Milicja Obywatelska, MO) carried out a clean-up operation against guerrilla units in the forests of the civil parishes of Giby and Sejny along the border. As a result, a hundred and thirty nine people were detained, twenty eight of whom were arrested on the charge of membership in the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK).
On the eve of Operation Tempest (Operacja Burza) in 1944, the total number of soldiers in the AK territorial districts of Augustów and Suwałki was almost five thousand. On 12 May 1944, the Inspector of the Suwałki district of AK, Major Franciszek Szabunia (alias Zemsta) and the commander of the Soviet guerrilla unit operating in the area, Vladimir Tsvetinsky (alias Orlov), signed a cooperation agreement. However, apart from fighting against the Germans, members of Orlov’s unit gathered information about the structure and size of the local AK. Also, Operation Tempest meant that, to an extent, the Home Army blew their cover. As a result, the Soviets arrested about a thousand people in late 1944 and early 1945. In February, the AK began to reorganise as the Citizens’ Home Army (Armia Krajowa Obywatelska, AKO) and spring 1945 saw renewed action against the institutions of the emergent communist system. In mid-May, Polish guerrilla forces controlled most of Augustów and Suwałki districts and the Soviets concentrated their units withdrawn from the frontline in order to quash them.