17. Invitation to the Homeland
In march 1933 I received a letter without a return address, in handwriting unfamiliar to me, and addressed to the Polish Bureau of Military History. I was very surprised because nobody was suppose to know that I was working there, and those that knew did not have to write since they could speak to me any day. I opened the letter in the presence of my co-workers. It was a letter from Captain Orel-Orlenko (whose name has been mentioned as a student of our Staff courses), who had unexpectedly left for France in 1925 ostensibly to look for work, but as we learned later, he applied to the Soviet Mission with a request to help him get back home. Even before that rumors had reached us that Orel-Orlenko was engaged in subversive work among Ukrainian emigrant laborers in Belgium and France, persuading them to return home. Orel-Orlenko was offered to meet me at the Continental Hotel in Danzig, he gave his address in Danzig and enclosed $10.00 for my trip. I took the letter to Gen. Salsky and we immediately went together to President Livytsky. After long deliberation President Livytsky came to the conclusion that I should accept Orlenko's invitation and find out what it's all about. President Livytsky also thought that it may be possible that Orlenko wanted my help to get back into Poland having had enough of the "Red Paradise," or perhaps he wanted to come to Poland to work as a Soviet agent. I firmly rejected any idea of seeing Orlenko and Gen. Salsky agreed with me. We also decided that I was to inform Gen. Stachiewicz about this matter, and Gen. Salsky would inform Col. Pelczynski. Gen. Stachiewicz fully approved my position stating that he saw nothing sensational in an offer to meet a subordinate communist agent, and if the Bolsheviks know about my work, then we should not exclude the possibility of their plan to kidnap me. As is well known, this is what they did with the Russian emigre General Kutiepov who lived in Paris. Of course, I did not answer Orlenko and gave the $10.00 to charity. Two weeks later I had another letter from Orlenko addressed to my home in which he wrote: "The matter is so interesting that you will surely regret not wanting to see me." This time a conference was held between President Livytsky, Gen. Salsky, Gen. Stachiewicz and myself, and we decided that if I were to consent to the trip to Danzig, the Polish authorities would take steps to guarantee my safety. Again I refused, and again two weeks went by when I got another letter from Orlenko of the same contents. After long persuasion by President Livytsky, I consented to go, but I was guarded by the Polish secret police. This was not a difficult matter for Poland because Poland had a diplomatic representation in Danzig and a military mission. They surrounded the Continental Hotel with plainclothesmen, the room in which I was to meet Orlenko was thoroughly searched, and an agent was placed in the hall. On my trip to Danzig I was accompanied by a non-commisioned officer of the military police who was of adequate physical build to handle any situation.
The meeting took place on June 24. I did not offer my hand to Orlenko on meeting him, and he was so taken aback that he could not find words to start the conversation and I was unwilling to make a beginning. In a two-hour talk Orlenko tried to present to me a picture of national-political concessions to Ukraine by Moscow in the form of a separate government, armed forces, schools, etc., and from this fact he alleged a need for constructive forces to take part in building "an independent Soviet Ukraine." He showed me an authorization for the talk with me signed by the Soviet Ambassador to France which stated that all propositions made by Orlenko to me will be accepted by the Ukrainian Soviet Government, and Orlenko proposed: I should report to the Soviet Embassy in Warsaw immediately, from there I will be taken to Paris, and then to Kiev. In Kiev my rank of General will be confirmed and I will be appointed commander of the Soviet Ukrainian 23rd Division in Kharkiv (the 23rd Ukrainian Chapayev Division was actually garrisoned in Kharkiv). I should not have the slightest fear that the agreement would not be kept or that I would have any surprises, in the event of my consent, my wife could accompany me, and he was ready to give me (1,000.00 for expenses right away. To my inquiry whether he had made similar proposals to all Ukrainian generals (there was a total of sixty-three emigre Ukrainian generals at the time), Orlenko replied: "we know whom to approach," and that "the same offer was made to two other generals, but their names or their decisions cannot be disclosed." To end the conversation, I firmly rejected his offer stating that not only I, but all Ukrainian soldiers will gladly go back to Ukraine if the Muscovites (that is the word I used) leave Ukraine and if Ukrainian national authorities take over. Orlenko also made hints that it was not worthwhile to ally ourselves with Poland because Poland "was a seasonal state." I concluded from the conversation that the Bolsheviks really knew about my work in the Staff, and that this was a very important matter to them, since in the event of a conflict between the USSR and Poland, the Ukrainian Army would stand on the side of Poland with its political demands, and then, of course, all Ukraine would rise and fight against Moscow occupation, and this was what they had to paralyze. In parting Orlenko told me that if I did not want to go to Ukraine, he proposes that I leave Poland and settle in Switzerland, where the Ukrainian Soviet Government will give me full support. During my stay in Danzig, neither I nor the Polish police could find any trace of plans of violence against me on the part of the Bolsheviks, and I returned to Warsaw without incident. The whole conversation with Orlenko was recorded. There were no more attempts by Orlenko or any other Moscow agents to talk to me. Orlenko disappeared from the emigre horizon.