Chapter 18: Prisoners ,Escape,liquidation,deportations and first resistance.




Significant year 1939,1940.

                                                                                              Murder and captivity.

These men are walking into the Soviet Union. About 250,000 Polish soldiers were taken. The officers were separated and most were killed at the Katyn Forest massacre,and elsewhere. 

Captured Polish officers by the Soviets.

                                                                           Polish prisoners going into Soviet captivity.



                                                      Hundreds of Polish prisoners gathered to be moved on to POW camps.
                                               Unusual photo of a captured Polish soldier eating from a German field kitchen.


                                            Polish officers welcomed by a German commandant into a German POW camp.



Because the Western Ukraine and almost half of Belarus belonged to Poland in 1939 many of these ethnic minorities were conscripted into the Polish army.These territories had always been disputed with the people there and the Soviets.Here is a photo of  of some Ukranians captured in Polish uniform in 1939.

                                       Trucks filled with Russian troops drive into Poland past marching Russoan soldiers.



Both German and Soviet occupations began with murder and brutality. Many prisoners of war were executed on the spot or later during the war. Countless civilians were also shot or sent to concentration camps, including political leaders, clergy, boy scouts, professors, teachers, government officials, doctors, and professional athletes. Among them was Mayor Starzynski of Warsaw who had rallied his city to resist the Nazi onslaught. In the German sector, Jews were singled out for special brutality.

                                                                                           Mayor Starzynski of Warsaw.


Many small army units continued to fight from remote forests. Among the most famous was the legendary “Major Hubal,” the pseudonym of Major Henryk Dobrzański. Major Hubal and his band of 70–100 men waged unrelenting guerilla warfare on both occupiers until they were cornered by German forces in April 1940 and wiped out. Hubal’s body was burned by the Germans and buried in secret so he would not become a martyr, but others soon took his place.



                                    Polish policemen and civilians captured by the Red Army after the Soviet invasion of Poland.


POWs captured by the Germans were to be sent to labour  and prison camps. Many soldiers escaped and disappeared into the local population. Those who remained in German custody were frequently abused, used for slave la, or shot. POWs captured by the Soviets suffered an even worse fate. Officers were separated from the enlisted men and an estimated 22,000 were massacred by the Soviets. Enlisted men were often sent to Siberian gulags where many died.




                                         Polish prisoners of war captured by the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Poland



                                                                                  Russian tropos marching into Poland.

Large numbers of Polish soldiers had fled into neighing Hungary and Rumania where they were interned. While both countries were officially allied to Germany, both had strong sympathy for the Poles. This was especially true in Hungary. Polish soldiers began to disappear from internment camps as bribable or sympathetic guards and officials pretended to look the other way. Individually and in small groups, they made their way to France and Britain. German diplomats raged at their Hungarian and Rumanian counterparts, but officials in neither country had much interest in enforcing Berlin’s decrees. As a result, within months a new Polish army had begun to form in the West.



October 5, 1939: Wehrmacht soldiers hold a victory parade on Warsaw's Aleje Ujazdowskie, which was watched by Adolf Hitler.

 Polish prisoners captured later in the campaign by Germans somewhere in Eastern Poland when the first rains started to fall.




                          A communist  hands out propaganda leaflets  in Eastern Poland.Notice the banners in the background.

                As the wording states;a map showing deportations from the Soviet part of Poland until the German invasion in 1941.


                                                   Polish prisoners being put on to a lorry to be transporteed  a prison camp.

A group of Polish soldiers cross into Romania.

 Târgoviște. Internowani żołnierze, FOT. INSTYTUT POLSKI I MUZEUM IM. GEN. SIKORSKIEGO W LONDYNIE (IPiMS) (źródło: kwartalnik Karta)

                                                             Polish soldiers and civilians having been interned in Romania.

A Polish girl beside the graves of deceased Poles in Romania.

A group of Polish soldiers in Romania.

Interned Polish pilots in Latvia.

Interned motorised unit in Hungary.

The General Government.Created by the Nazis for Poles and Jews as a colony for exploitation and liquidation.

The General Government.

The General Government, sometimes also General Governorate (German: Generalgouvernement, Polish: Generalne Gubernatorstwo, Ukrainian: Генеральна губернія) was an occupied area of the Second Republic of Poland that was under the colonial administration of Nazi Germany during World War II, from 1939 to early 1945. The Nazi government designated the territory as a separate administrative region of the Third Reich.In 1941 it comprised much of central and southern Poland and of modern-day western Ukraine, including the major cities of Warsaw, Kraków and Lviv. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, the region of Eastern Galicia, formerly Polish territory which was invaded and annexed by the Soviet Union subsequent to the Nazi–Soviet pact, was incorporated into the General Government.

The area was a colony rather than a puppet state; its rulers had no goal of cooperating with Poles or Ukrainians throughout the war, regardless of their political orientation. The authorities rarely even mentioned the name "Poland" in government correspondence. The only exception to this was the General Government's Bank of Issue in Poland (Polish: Bank Emisyjny w Polsce, German: Emissionbank in Polen). The government and administration of the General Government was composed entirely of Germans, with the intent that the area was to be colonized by German settlers who would exterminate most of Poles and reduce the remaining population to the level of serfs before their final genocide.


The full title of the regime in German until July 1940 was the Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete, a name that is usually translated as the General Government for the Occupied Polish Territories. On 31 July 1940 governor Hans Frank, on Hitler's authority, shortened the name to just Generalgouvernement. A more literal translation of Generalgouvernement, which is a borrowing from French, would be General Governorate. The correct translation of the term "Gouvernement" is not government but actually governorate, which is a type of administrative division or territory. The area was also known colloquially as the Restpolen ("Remainder of Poland").

The designation General Government was chosen in reference to the Government General of Warsaw, a civil entity created in the area by the German Empire during World War I. This district existed from 1914 to 1918 together with an Austro-Hungarian-controlled Military Government of Lublin alongside the short-lived Kingdom of Poland of 1916-1918, a similar rump state formed out of the then-Russian controlled parts of Poland.


After Germany's attack on Poland, all areas (including the Free City of Danzig) which the German army occupied came initially under military rule. This area extended from the 1939 eastern border of Germany proper and of East Prussia up to the Bug River where the German armies had halted their advance and linked up with the Soviet Red Army.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty (signed on 23 August 1939) had assigned the territory between the Vistula and Bug rivers to the Soviet sphere of influence in divided Poland, while the two powers would have jointly ruled Warsaw. To settle the deviation from the original agreement, the German and Soviet representatives met again on September 28 to delineate a permanent border between the two countries. Under this revised version of the pact the territory concerned was exchanged for the inclusion in the Soviet sphere of Lithuania, which had originally fallen within the ambit of Germany. With the new agreement the entire central part of Poland, including the core ethnic area of the Poles, came under exclusively German control.

Hitler decreed the direct annexation to the German Reich of large parts of the occupied Polish territory in the western half of the German zone, in order to increase the Reich's Lebensraum. Germany organized most of these areas as two new Reichsgaue: Danzig-West Prussia and Wartheland. The remaining three regions, the so-called areas of Zichenau, Eastern Upper Silesia and the Suwałki triangle, became attached to adjacent Gaue of Germany. Draconian measures were introduced to facilitate the immediate Germanization of the annexed territory, typically resulting in mass expulsions, especially in the Warthegau. The remaining parts of the former Poland were to become a German Nebenland (March, borderland) as a frontier post of German rule in the east. A Führer's decree of October 12, 1939 established the General Government; the decree came into force on October 26, 1939.

Hans Frank, Gauleiter of occupied central Poland.

Hans Frank was appointed as the Governor-General of the General Government. German authorities made a sharp contrast between the new Reich territory and a supposedly occupied rump state that could serve both as a bargaining chip with the Western powers as well as a reservoir of slave labor. The Germans established a closed border between the two German zones to heighten the difficulty of cross-frontier communication between the different segments of the Polish population.

Official proclamation of the General-Government in Poland by Germany, October 1939.

The official name chosen for the new entity was the Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete (General Government for the Occupied Polish Territories), then changed to the Generalgouvernement (General Government) by Frank's decree of July 31, 1940. However, this name did not imply anything about the actual nature of the administration. The German authorities never regarded these Polish lands (apart from the short period of military administration during the actual invasion of Poland) as an occupied territory.The Nazis considered the Polish state to have effectively ceased to exist with its defeat in the September campaign.

Overall, 4 million of the 1939 population of the General Government area had lost their lives by the time the Soviet armed forces entered the area in late 1944. If the Polish underground killed a German, 50–100 Poles were executed[by whom?] as a punishment and as a warning to other Poles.

As the Soviets advanced through Poland in late 1944 the General Government collapsed. American troops captured Hans Frank, who had governed the region, in May 1945; he became one of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials. During his trial he resumed his childhood practice of Catholicism and expressed repentance. Frank surrendered forty volumes of his diaries to the Tribunal and much evidence against him and others was gathered from them. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. On October 1, 1946 he was sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out on October 16.

Announcement of the execution of 60 Polish hostages and a list of 40 new hostages taken by Nazi authorities in Poland, 1943.

German intentions regarding the region.

In March 1941 Hans Frank informed his subordinates that Hitler had made the decision to "turn this region into a purely German area within 15–20 years." He explained that "Where 12 million Poles now live, is to be populated by 4 to 5 million Germans. The Generalgouvernement must become as German as the Rhineland." By 1942, Hitler and Frank had agreed that the Kraków ("with its purely German capital") and Lublin districts would be the first areas to be repopulated with German colonists. Hitler stated that "When these two weak points have been strengthened, it should be possible to slowly drive back the Poles". It was subsequently German policy that lower-class Poles were to be reduced to the status of serfs, while the middle and upper classes would be deported or otherwise eliminated and eventually replaced by German colonists of the "master race."

" The General Gouvernment is our work force reservoir for lowgrade work (brick plants, road building, etc.,etc.). Unconditionally, attention should be paid to the fact that there can be no "Polish masters"; where there are Polish masters, and I do not care how hard this sounds, they must be killed. The Fuhrer must emphazize once again that for Poles there is only one master and he is a German, there can be no two masters beside each other and there is no consent to such, hence all representatives of the Polish intelligentsia are to be killed. The General Gouvernment is a Polish reservation, a great Polish labor camp." - note of Martin Bormann from the meeting of Dr. Hans Frank with Adolf Hitler, Berlin, 2 October 1940.

        Part of Hans Frank’s ordinance from 31st October 1939 on "counteracting the acts of violence in General Government"

Various plans regarding the future of the original population were drawn, with one calling for deportation of about 20 million Poles to Western Siberia, and Germanisation of 4 to 5 million; although deportation in reality meant many Poles were to be put to death, a small number would be "Germanized," and young Poles of desirable qualities would be kidnapped and raised in Germany.In the General Government, all secondary education was abolished and all Polish cultural institutions closed.

In 1943, the government selected the Zamojskie area for further Germanization on account of its fertile black soil, and German colonial settlements were planned. Zamość was initially renamed to Himmlerstadt (Himmler City), but this was later changed to Pflugstadt (Plough City). The Polish population was expelled with great brutality, but few Germans settled in the area before 1944. Himmler intended the city of Lublin to have a German population of 20-25% by the beginning of 1944, and 30-40% by the following year, at which time Lublin was to be declared a German city and given a German mayor.

                                      Administrative map of the General Government, August 1941 (following Barbarossa).

Territorial dissection.

The exact territorial reorganization of the Polish provinces in the event of German victory in the east was never definitively resolved. Large parts of western pre-war Poland had already been annexed upon the establishment of the General Government, and the remaining region was also intended to be directly incorporated into the German Reich at some future date. Numerous initiatives to this effect were discussed by the Nazi leadership.

The earliest such proposal (October/November 1939) called for the creation of a separate Reichsgau Beskidenland which was to encompass several southern sections of the Polish territories conquered in 1939 (around 18,000 km2), stretching from the area to the west of Kraków to the San river in the east. At this time the Łódź area had not yet been directly annexed by Germany, and served as the capital of the General Government rather than Kraków.

Gauleiter Arthur Greiser.

In November 1940, Gauleiter Arthur Greiser of Reichsgau Wartheland argued for Hitler that the counties of Tomaschow Mazowiecki and Petrikau should be transferred from the General Government's Radom district to his Gau. Hitler agreed, but since Frank refused to surrender the counties, the resolution to the border question was postponed until after the final victory.

Upon hearing of the German plans to create a "Gau of the Goths" (Gotengau) in the Crimea and the Southern Ukraine after the start of Operation Barbarossa, Frank himself expressed his intention to turn the district under his control into a German province called the Vandalengau (Gau of the Vandals) in a speech he gave on 16 December 1941.

When Frank unsuccessfully attempted to resign his position on 24 August 1942, Nazi Party Secretary Martin Bormann tried to advance a project to dissolve the General Government altogether and partition its territory into a number of Reichsgaue, arguing that only this method could guarantee the territory's Germanization, while also claiming that it could also be economically exploited more effectively, particularly as a source of food.He suggested separating the "more restful" population of the formerly Austrian territories (because this part of Poland had been under German-Austrian rule for a long period of time it was deemed more racially acceptable) from the rest of the Poles and to cordon off the city of Warsaw, as the center of "criminality" and underground activity.

The proposed administrative streamlining resulting from these discussions was opposed by Ludwig Fischer (governor of Warsaw), who prepared his own project in his Main Office for Spatial Ordering (Hauptamt für Raumordnung) located in Warsaw.He suggested the creation of the three provinces Beskiden, Weichselland ("Vistula Land"), and Galizien (Galicia and Chelm) by dividing the Radom and Lublin districts between them. Weichselland was to have a "Polish character", Galizien a "Ukrainian" one, and the Beskiden-province to provide a German "admixture" (i.e. colonial settlement).Further territorial planning carried out by this Warsaw-based organization under Major Dr. Ernst Zvanetti in a May 1943 study to demarcate the eastern border of "Central Europe" (i.e. the Greater German Reich) with the "Eastern European landmass" proposed an eastern German border along the "line Memel-Odessa".

In this context this study propagated a re-ordering of the "Eastern Gaue" into three geopolitical blocks:

  • a western group with the Gaue Danzig-Westpreußen, Wartheland, and Schlesien (Silesia);
  • a central group with the Gaue Ostpreußen (East Prussia), Südpreußen (South Prussia), Litzmannstadt (Łódź), and Beskidenland;
  • and an eastern group with the Gaue Südostpreußen (South-East Prussia), Wolhynien (Volhynia and the Lublin district), Galizien, and Podolien (Podolia).

The General Government was administered by a General-Governor (German: Generalgouverneur) aided by the Office of the General-Governor (Amt des Generalgouverneurs), changed on December 9, 1940 to the Government of the General Government (Regierung des Generalgouvernements). For the entire period of its wartime history, there was only one General-Governor: Dr. Hans Frank. The Office was headed by Chief of the Government (Regierung, title translated also as the State Secretary or Deputy Governor) Josef Bühler. Several other individuals had powers to issue legislative decrees in addition to the General Governor, most notably the Higher SS and Police Leader of General Government (Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, later Wilhelm Koppe).

"No government protectorate is anticipated for Poland, but a complete German administration. Leadership layer of the population in Poland should be as far as possible, disposed of. The other lower layers of the population will receive no special schools, but are to be oppressed in some form". - The excerpts of the minute of the first conference of Heads of the main police officers and commanders of operational groups led by Heydrich's deputy, SS-Brigadefuhrer Dr. Werner Best, Berlin 7 September 1939.

The General Government had no international recognition. The territories it administered were never either in whole or part intended as any future Polish state within a German-dominated Europe. According to the Nazi government the Polish state had effectively ceased to exist, in spite of the existence of a Polish government-in-exile.Its character was a type of colonial state. It was not a Polish puppet government, as there were no Polish representatives above the local administration.

The government seat of the General Government was located in Kraków (German: Krakau) rather than Warsaw for security reasons. The official state language was German, although Polish continued to be used by local government. Useful institutions of the old Polish state were retained for ease of administration. The Polish police, with no high-ranking Polish officers (who were arrested or demoted), was reorganised as the Blue Police and became subordinated to the Ordnungspolizei. The Polish educational system was similarly kept, but most higher institutions were closed. The Polish local administration was kept, subordinated to new German bosses. The Polish fiscal system, including the złoty currency, was kept, but with revenues now going to the German state. A new bank was created and issued new banknotes.

The Germans sought to play Ukrainians and Poles off against each other. Within ethnic Ukrainian areas annexed by Germany, beginning in October 1939, Ukrainian Committees were established with the purpose of representing the Ukrainian community to the German authorities and assisting the approximately 30,000 Ukrainian refugees who fled from Soviet-controlled territories. These committees also undertook cultural and economic activities that had been banned by the previous Polish government. Schools, choirs, reading societies and theaters were opened, and twenty Ukrainian churches that had been closed by the Polish government were reopened. A Ukrainian publishing house was created in Cracow, which despite having to struggle with German censors and paper shortages was able to publish school textbooks, classics of Ukrainian literature, and the works of dissident Ukrainian writers from the Soviet Union. By March 1941 there were 808 Ukrainian educational societies with 46,000 members. Ukrainian organizations within the General Government were able to negotiate the release of 85,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war from the German-Polish conflict (although they were unable to help Soviet POWs of Ukrainian ethnicity).

After the war, the Polish Supreme National Tribunal declared that the government of the General Government was a criminal institution.

Judicial system.

Part of Hans Frank’s ordinance from 31st October 1939 on "counteracting the acts of violence in General Government"
Other than summary German military tribunals, no courts operated in Poland between the German invasion and early 1940. At that time, the Polish court system was reinstated and made decisions in cases not concerning German interests, for which a parallel German court system was created. The German system was given priority in cases of overlapping jurisdiction.

Nur für Deutsche on the tram number 8 in occupied Kraków.

New laws were passed, discriminating against ethnic Poles and, in particular, the Jews. In 1941 a new criminal law was introduced, introducing many new crimes, and making the death penalty very common. A death penalty was introduced for, among other things:

  • on October 31, 1939, for any acts against the German government;
  • on January 21, 1940, for economic speculation;
  • on February 20, 1940, for spreading sexually transmitted diseases;
  • on July 31, 1940, for any Polish officers who did not register immediately with the German administration (to be taken to prisoner of war camps);
  • on November 10, 1941, for giving any assistance to the Jews;
  • on July 11, 1942, for farmers who failed to provide requested contingents of crops;
  • on July 24, 1943, for not joining the forced labor battalions (Baudienst) when requested;
  • on October 2, 1943, for impeding the German Reconstruction Plan;


The police in the General Government was divided into: Ordnungspolizei (OrPo) (native German), the Blue Police (Polish under German control), and Sicherheitspolizei (native German) composed of Kriminalpolizei (German) and Gestapo (German). On 6 May 1940 Gauleiter Hans Frank who stationed in occupied Kraków created Sonderdienst, based on similar SS formations called Selbstschutz operating in the Warthegau district of German-annexed western part of Poland since 1939.Sonderdienst were made up of ethnic German Volksdeutsche who lived in Poland before the attack and joined the invading force thereafter. However, after the 1941 Operation Barbarossa they included also the Soviet prisoners of war who volunteered for special training, such as the "Trawniki men" (German: Trawnikimänner) deployed at all major killing sites of the "Final Solution". A lot of those men did not know German and required translation by their native commanders..
Some 3,000 men served with the Sonderdienst in the General Government, formally assigned to the head of the civil administration.[23] The existence of Sonderdienst constituted a grave danger for the non-Jewish Poles who attempted to help ghettoised Jews in the cities, as in the Mińsk Mazowiecki Ghetto among numerous others, because Christian Poles were executed under the charge of aiding Jews.

Military occupation forces.

Through the occupation Germany diverted a significant number of its military forces to keep control over Polish territories.

Administrative districts.

For administrative purposes the General Government was subdivided into four districts (Distrikte). These were the Distrikt Warschau, the Distrikt Lublin, the Distrikt Radom, and the Distrikt Krakau. After the Operation Barbarossa against the Soviets in June 1941, East Galicia (part of the Ukrainian SSR), was incorporated into the General Government and became its fifth district, the District of Galicia (Distrikt Galizien). The new German administrative units were much larger than those organized by the Polish government, reflecting the German lack of sufficient administrative personnel to staff smaller units.

The five districts were further sub-divided into urban counties (Stadtkreise) and rural counties (Kreishauptmannschaften). Following a decree on September 15, 1941, the names of most of the major cities (and their respective counties) were renamed based on historical German data or given germanified versions of their Polish and Soviet names if none existed. At times the previous names remained the same as well (i.e. Radom). The districts and counties were as follows:

District of Galicia (Distrikt Galizien.)

Stadtkreise Lemberg (Lviv/Lwów)

Kreishauptmannschaften Breschan (Brzeżany), Tschortkau (Czortków), Drohobycz, Kamionka-Strumilowa (Kamianka-Buzka), Kolomea (Kolomyia), Lemberg-Land, Rawa-Ruska (Rava-Ruska), Stanislau (Ivano-Frankivsk), Sambor (Sambir) Stryj, Tarnopol, Solotschiw (Zolochiv), Kallusch (Kalush)

Distrikt Krakau.

Stadtkreise Krakau (Kraków)

Kreishauptmannschaften   Dembitz (Dębica), Jaroslau (Jarosław), Jassel (Jaslo), Krakau-Land, Krosno, Meekow (Miechow), Neumarkt (Nowy Targ), Neu-Sandez (Nowy Sącz), Przemyśl, Reichshof (Rzeszow), Sanok, Tarnau (Tarnów)

Distrikt Lublin.

Stadtkreise Lublin

Kreishauptmannschaften Biala-Podlaska (Biała Podlaska), Bilgoraj, Cholm (Chelm), Grubeschow (Hrubieszow), Janow Lubelski, Krasnystaw, Lublin-Land, Pulawy, Rehden (Radzyn), Zamosch/Himmlerstadt/Pflugstadt (Zamość)

Distrikt Radom.


Kielce, Radom, Tschenstochau (Częstochowa)
Kreishauptmannschaften Busko (Busko-Zdrój), Jedrzejow, Kielce-Land, Konskie (Końskie), Opatau (Opatów), Petrikau (Piotrków Trybunalski), Radom-Land, Radomsko, Starachowitz (Starachowice), Tomaschow Mazowiecki (Tomaszów Mazowiecki)

Distrikt Warschau.

Stadtkreise Warschau (Warsaw).

Kreishauptmannschaften Garwolin, Grojec (Grójec), Lowitsch (Lowicz), Minsk (Mińsk Mazowiecki), Ostrau (Ostrów Mazowiecka), Siedlce, Sochaczew, Sokolow-Wengrow (Sokołów Podlaski-Węgrów), Warschau-Land.

A change in the administrative structure was desired by Finance Minister Lutz von Krosigk, who for financial reasons wanted to see the five existing districts (Warsaw, Kraków, Radom, Lublin, and Galicia) reduced to three. In March 1943 he announced the merger of the Kraków and Galicia districts, and the split of the Warsaw district between the Radom district and the Lublin district.The latter acquired a special status of "Germandom district", Deutschtumsdistrikt, as a "test run" of the Germanization according to the Generalplan Ost. The restructuring further involved the changing of Warsaw and Kraków into separate city-districts (Stadtdistrikte), with Warsaw under the direct control of the General Government. This decree was to go into effect on 1 April 1943 and was nominally accepted by Heinrich Himmler, but Martin Bormann opposed the move, as he simply wanted to see the region turned into Reichsgaue (Germany proper). Wilhelm Frick and Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger were also skeptic about the usefulness of this reorganization, resulting in its abolition after subsequent discussions between Himmler and Frank.


The population in the General Government's territory was initially about 12 million, but this increased as about 860,000 Poles and Jews were expelled from the Germany-annexed areas and resettled in the General Government. Offsetting this was the German campaign of liquidation of the Polish intelligentsia and other elements considered likely to resist. From 1941 disease and hunger also began to reduce the population.

Distribution of food in General Government as of December, 1941.

          Nationality Daily food energy intake
  • Germans 2,310 calories (9,700 kJ)
  • Foreigners 1,790 calories (7,500 kJ)
  • Ukrainians 930 calories (3,900 kJ)
  • Poles 654 calories (2,740 kJ)
  • Jews 184 calories (770 kJ)
Poles were also deported in large numbers to work as forced labor in Germany: eventually about a million were deported, of whom many died in Germany. In 1940 the population was divided into different groups. Each group had different rights, food rations, allowed strips in the cities, public transportation and restricted restaurants. Listed from the most privileged to the least:

  • Germans from Germany (Reichdeutsche),
  • Germans from outside, active ethnic Germans, Volksliste category 1 and 2 (see Volksdeutsche).
  • Germans from outside, passive Germans and members of families (this group also included some ethnic Poles), Volksliste category 3 and 4,
  • Ukrainians,
  • Highlanders (Goralenvolk) – an attempt to split the Polish nation by using local collaborators
  • Poles (partially exterminated),
  • Gypsies (eventually largely exterminated as a category),
  • Jews (eventually largely exterminated as a category).

Since the autumn of 1939, Poles from other regions of Poland conquered by Germany were expelled to the General Government and the area was used as a slave labour pool from which men and women taken by force to work as laborers in factories and farms in Germany.

Former Polish state property was confiscated by the General Government (or the Third Reich on the annexed territories). Notable property of Polish individuals (ex. factories and large land estates) was often confiscated as well. Farmers were required to provide large food contingents for the Germans, and there were plans for nationalization of all but the smallest estates. Currency was managed by the newly created Bank Emisyjny w Polsce.


Resistance to the German occupation began almost at once, although there is little terrain in Poland suitable for guerrilla operations. The main resistance force was the Home Army (in Polish: Armia Krajowa or AK), loyal to the Polish government in exile in London. It was formed mainly of the surviving remnants of the pre-War Polish Army, together with many volunteers. Other forces existed side-by-side, such as the communist People's Army (Armia Ludowa or AL), backed by the Soviet Union and controlled by the Polish Communist Party. By 1944 the AK had some 380,000 men, although few arms. During the occupation, the various Polish resistance organizations killed about 150,000 Axis soldiers. The AL was about 15% of the size of the AK.

Young Polish girl wearing Letter "P" patch.

In April 1943 the Germans began deporting the remaining Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, provoking the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 19 to May. 16 That was the first armed uprising against the Germans in Poland, and prefigured the larger and longer Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

In July 1944, as the Soviet armed forces approached Warsaw, the government in exile called for an uprising in the city, so that they could return to a liberated Warsaw and try to prevent a Communist take-over. The AK, led by Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, launched the Warsaw Rising on August 1 in response both to their government and to Soviet and Allied promises of help. However Soviet help was never forthcoming, despite the Soviet army being only 18 miles (30 km) away, and Soviet denial of their airbases to British and American planes prevented any effective resupply or air support of the insurgents by the Western allies. After 63 days of fighting the leaders of the rising agreed a conditional surrender with the Wehrmacht. The 15,000 remaining Home Army soldiers were granted POW status (prior to the agreement, captured rebels were shot), and the remaining civilian population of 180,000 expelled.

German announcement of the execution of 9 Polish peasants for unfurnished contingents (quotas). Signed by governor of Lublin district 25 November 1941.

The Holocaust in the General Government.

During the Wannsee conference on January 20, 1942, The State Secretary of the General Government, Dr. Josef Bühler pushed Heydrich to implement the "final solution" in the General Government. As far as he was concerned, the main problem of General Government was an overdeveloped black market that disorganised the work of the authorities. He saw a remedy in solving the "Jewish question" in the country as fast as possible. An additional point in favor was that there were no transportation problems here.

Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland (marked with black and white skulls).

In 1942, the Germans began the elimination of the Jewish population. The General Government was the location of four of the seven extermination camps in which the most extreme measures of the Holocaust were carried out, such as Majdanek concentration camp, Sobibor extermination camp and Belzec extermination camp. The genocide of undesired "races", chiefly millions of Jews from Poland and other countries, was carried out by gassing between 1942 and 1944.

See Part 4.Chapter 23.

                                                                      Pacification operations in German-occupied Poland




The pacification operations in German-occupied Poland was the use of military force and punitive measures conducted during World War II by Nazi Germany with the goal of suppressing any Polish resistance.

     Polish civilians having escaped to the German side of Poland from the Soviet zone.Out of the frying pan into the fire,
Pacification" operations are one example of the extermination policies used against Poland and were of a massive scale, resulting in the murders of approximately 20,000 villagers. They were mainly conducted in the areas of General Government, Pomorze, and in the vicinities of Białystok and Wielkopolska. The number of villages which were an object of pacification in Poland is approximately 825. Collective punishment was used during such operations to discourage both the hiding of Jews or Soviet POWs, and the aiding of any guerilla forces. Pacifications included the extermination of entire villages including women and children, expulsions, the burning of homes, confiscation of private property, and arrests. In many instances these operations were characterized by extreme brutality. An example of such behaviour is the burning alive of 81 civilians and the shooting of 15 others in the village of Jabłoń-Dobki.

The first pacifications were conducted on the ground by Wehrmacht officers and soldiers, and took place in Złoczew on September 3 and 4, 1939, in which the German soldiers murdered some 200 Poles.[1] From the air, Luftwaffe planes bombed the villages of Momoty Dolne, Momoty Górne, Pawłów, Tokary, Sochy and Klew. Some places were subjected to multiple pacification operations. In the town of Aleksandrów in Biłgoraj County between 1939 and 1944, German authorities murdered 290 civilians (444 according to WIEM), wounded 43, deported 434 to forced labour camps, and burned at least 113 households.



                                       Beginning of Lebensraum, the Nazi German expulsion of Poles from central Poland, 1939.


At least 750 villages had at least 10 inhabitants murdered and at least 75 villages were destroyed completely,] (see: table for partial list of names of villages and the number of dead victims).

Modern international law considers these kinds of actions to be genocid whether conducted within national boundaries or in occupied territories.

1.             According to article by Witold Kulesza published in "Komentarze Historyczne" by the Institute of National Remembrance, German Regiment SS-Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler" of the 17th Division arrived in Złoczew on September 3, 1939 on motorcycles and on bicycles. The burning of the village and mass killings began the same night. According to eye-witness Janina Modrzewska, who survived the pacification of Złoczew, the soldiers were killing everyone they saw. Total casualties amounted to 200 dead victims. Witold Kulesza, Vice-president of GKBZPNP – IPN: "ZBRODNIE WEHRMACHTU W POLSCE – WRZESIEŃ 1939"

2.             In his article for "Komentarze Historyczne" by the Institute of National Remembrance Marcin Markiewicz wrote that in September 1939 alone, with no connection with military manoeuvres, Wehrmacht razed to the ground 30 villages in Bielsko, Masovian, Suwalki and Lomza Voivodeships. 19 villages were burned and destroyed in Bialystok Voivodeship. The most brutal were the pacifications and killings in the villages of Wyliny Rus, Drogoszewo, Rutki and Pietraszki, where the Germans were shooting children and elderly.Marcin Markiewicz, REPRESJE HITLEROWSKIE WOBEC WSI BIAŁOSTOCKIEJ, chapter Polski wrzesień 1939

3.            Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

Gestapo-NKVD Conferences.


Nazi persecution of the Catholic Church in Poland.

The Catholic Church in Poland was brutally suppressed by the Nazis during the German Occupation of Poland (1939-1945). Repression of the Church was at its most severe in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, where churches were systematically closed and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported. From across Poland, thousands of priests died in prisons and concentration camps; thousands of churches and monasteries were confiscated, closed or destroyed; and priceless works of religious art and sacred objects were lost forever. Church leaders were targeted as part of an overall effort to destroy Polish culture. At least 1811 Polish clergy died in Nazi concentration camps. An estimated 3000 clergy were killed in all. Hitler's plans for the Germanization of the East saw no place for the Christian Churches.

The massive crimes inflected against Polish Catholicism took place in the wider context of the Nazi crimes against Poles under Generalplan Ost, as the German regime implanted a general policy of eventually eliminating Poland's existence. Adolf Hitler himself remarked in August 1939 that he wanted his Death's Head forces "to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish descent or language."


Catholicism had a presence in Poland stretching back almost 1000 years. The historian Richard J. Evans wrote that the Catholic Church was the institution that, "more than any other had sustained Polish national identity over the centuries". By 1939, around 65% of Poles professed to be Catholic. The invasion of predominantly Catholic Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939 ignited the Second World War. Britain and France declared war on Germany as a result of the invasion, while the Soviet Union invaded the Eastern half of Poland in accordance with an agreement reached with Hitler. The Catholic Church in Poland was about to face decades of repression, both at Nazi and Communist hands.

Soviet Prime Minister Vyacheslav Molotov signs the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Behind him stand (left) German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and (right) Joseph Stalin. The Pact created a Nazi-Soviet alliance and sealed the fate of Poland.

Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the West on 1 September 1939 and a period of brutal occupation commenced. Racist Nazi ideology targeted the Jews of Poland for extermination and categorized ethnic Poles (mostly Catholics) as an inferior race. Jews were rounded up into Ghettos or sent to extermination camps. The ethnic Polish intelligentsia were also targeted for elimination, with priests and politicians alike murdered in a campaign of terror. Forced labour was also extensively used. The Red Army invaded Poland from the East on 17 September 1939.The Soviets were also responsible for repression of Polish Catholics and clergy, with an emphasis on "class enemies". Operation Barbarossa, the German attack on the Soviet Union was launched in June 1941, shattering the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, and bringing Eastern Poland under Nazi domination.Norman Davies wrote:

Adolf Hitler hated Poland with a will. For Poland lay at the heart of the Nazis' Lebensraum, the ideological "living space" into which Germany was raring to expand. It was inhabited moreover by a mixture of Slavs and Jews, both of which were classed in the Nazi handbooks as Untermenschen, or subhumans. Hitler specifically ordered his minions to act with great cruelty.

— Norman Davies; Rising '44: the Battle for Warsaw

Public execution of Polish priests and civilians in Bydgoszcz's Old Market Square on 9 September 1939..

The Nazi plan for Poland entailed the destruction of the Polish nation. This necessarily required attacking the Polish Church, particularly in those areas annexed to Germany. According to Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw, in his scheme for the Germanization of Eastern Europe, Hitler made clear that there would be "no place in this utopia for the Christian Churches". Historically, the Catholic Church had been a leading force in Polish nationalism against foreign domination, thus the Nazis targeted clergy, monks and nuns in their terror campaigns to eliminate Polish culture. Nazi ideology was hostile to Christianity and Hitler held the teachings of the Catholic Church in contempt. Hitler's chosen deputy and private secretary, Martin Bormann, was firmly anti-Christian as was the official Nazi philosopher, Alfred Rosenberg. In his "Myth of the Twentieth Century", published in 1930 Rosenberg wrote that the main enemies of the Germans were the "Russian Tartars" and "Semites" - with "Semites" including Christians, especially the Catholic Church:

Division of Poland.

The German Military's control of Poland lasted until 25 October 1939. Following this, Germany directly annexed Polish territories along Germany's eastern border: West Prussia, Poznań, Upper Silesia, and the city of Danzig. The remainder of Nazi-occupied Poland came under the administration of the so-called Generalgouvernement (General Government) - a "police run mini-state" under SS control and the rule of Nazi lawyer Hans Frank, which, wrote Davies, "became the lawless laboratory of Nazi racial ideology" and in due course the base for the main Nazi concentration camps. Yet here, Nazi policy toward the Church was less severe than in the annexed regions.


Polish prisoners in Dachau toast their liberation from the camp. Poles constituted the largest ethnic group in the camp and the largest proportion of those imprisonded in the Priest Barracks of Dachau.

                                                                The Polish Franciscan St Maximillian Kolbe died at Auschwitz.

Targeting of intelligentsia and clergy.

According to Norman Davies, the Nazi terror was "much fiercer and more protracted in Poland than anywhere in Europe." Nazi ideology viewed ethnic "Poles" - the mainly Catholic ethnic majority of Poland - as "sub-humans". Following their 1939 invasion of West Poland, the Nazis instigated a policy of genocide against Poland's Jewish minority and of murdering or suppressing the ethnic Polish elites: including religious leaders.During the 1939 invasion, special death squads of SS and police arrested or executed those considered capable of resisting the occupation: including professionals, clergymen and government officials.

The following summer, the A-B Aktion (Extraordinary Pacification Operation) further round up of several thousand Polish intelligentsia by the SS saw many priests shot in the General Government sector.Of the brief period of military control from 1 September 1939 – 25 October 1939, Davies wrote: "according to one source, 714 mass executions were carried out, and 6,376 people, mainly Catholics, were shot. Other put the death toll in one town alone at 20,000. It was a taste of things to come."

In 1940, Hitler proclaimed: "Poles may have only one master – a German. Two masters cannot exist side by side, and this is why all members of the Polish intelligentsia must be killed."[16] According to Craughwell, between 1939 and 1945, an estimated 3,000 members (18%) of the Polish clergy, were murdered; of these, 1,992 died in concentration camps.[18] (the Encyclopedia Britannica cites 1811 Polish priests died in Nazi concentration camps

On 16 and 17 November 1940, Vatican Radio said that religious life for Catholics in Poland continued to be brutally restricted and that at least 400 clergy had been deported to Germany in the preceding four months:

The Catholic Associations in the General Government also have been dissolved, the Catholic educational institutions have been closed down, and Catholic professors and teachers have been reduced to a state of extreme need or have been sent to concentration camps. The Catholic press has been rendered impotent. In the part incorporated into the Reich, and especially in Posnania, the representatives of the Catholic priests and orders have been shut up in concentration camps. In other dioceses the priests have been put in prison. Entire areas of the country have been deprived of all spiritual ministrations and the church seminaries have been dispersed.

— Vatican Radio, November 1940

Between 150,000 and 180,000 civilians, and thousands of captured insurgents, were killed in the suppression of the uprising. Until the end of September 1944, Polish resistance fighters were not considered by Germans as combatants; thus, when captured, they were summarily executed. One hundred sixty-five thousand surviving civilians were sent to labour camps, and 50,000 were shipped to concentration camps, while the ruined city was systematically demolished. Reinefarth was ever tried for their crimes committed during the suppression of the uprising. (The Polish request for extradition of amnestied Wilhelm Koppe from Germany was also refused.)

Arthur Greiser, the Reichsstatthalter of Wartheland, led a radical attack on the Catholic Church. By late 1941, the Polish Church had effectively been outlawed in Wartheland..

Annexed Regions.

Nazi policy towards the Church was at its most severe in the territories it annexed to Greater Germany, where the Nazis set about systematically dismantling the Church - arresting its leaders, exiling its clergymen, closing its churches, monasteries and convents. Many clergymen were murdered. The annexed areas included the Catholic archdiocese of Gniezno-Poznań and the dioceses of Chełmno, Katowice and Włocławek, and parts of the dioceses of Częstochowa, Kielce, Kraków, Łomża, Łódź, Płock and Warsaw, which were all to be "Germanized". In these areas the Polish Church was to be thoroughly eradicated, though German Catholics could remain or settle there.

Hitler intended to use Poland as a colony for settlement by Germans. The "racially inferior" indigenous Poles were to be cleared out to make room for German settlers. Following the defeat of Poland, Heinrich Himmler was appointed Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of the German Race. Germanization of the annexed regions began in December 1939 with deportations of men, women and children. In the Wartheland, regional leader Arthur Greiser, with the encouragement of Reinhard Heydrich and Martin Bormann, launched a severe attack on the Catholic Church. Its properties and funds were confiscated, and lay organisations shut down. Evans wrote that "Numerous clergy were, monks, diocesan administrators and officials of the Church were arrested, deported to the General Government, taken off to a concentration camp in the Reich, or simply shot. Altogether some 1700 Polish priests ended up at Dachau: half of them did not survive their imprisonment." Greiser's administrative chief August Jager had earlier led the effort at Nazification of the Evangelical Church in Prussia. In Poland, he earned the nickname "Kirchen-Jager" (Church-Hunter) for the vehemence of his hostility to the Church. "By the end of 1941", wrote Evans, "the Polish Catholic Church had been effectively outlawed in the Wartheland. It was more or less Germanized in the other occupied territories, despite an encyclical issued by the Pope as early as 27 October 1939 protesting against this persecution."

In West Prussia, 460 were arrested of 690 Polish priests were arrested; the survivors simply fled; only 20 were still serving in 1940. Of the arrested, 214 were executed; the rest were deported to General Government.Fatalities were numerous: everywhere in Wrocław, 49.2% of the clergy were dead; in Chełmno, 47.8%; in Łódź, 36.8%; in Poznań, 31.1%. In the Warsaw diocese, 212 clergy were murdered; in Wilno, 92; in Lwów, 81; in Kraków, 30; in Kielce, 13. Nuns shared a similar fate; about 400 nuns were imprisoned at Bojanowo concentration camp. Many seminary students and nuns were conscripted as forced laborers. In Poznań, all but two churches were closed or repurposed; in Łódź, only four remained open.

Poland's higher clergy was not exempt from repression; some were forced to retire, whereas others were outrigjt arrested, imprisoned and even executed. Among those, Bishops Marian Leon Fulman, Władysław Goral, Michał Kozal, Antoni Julian Nowowiejski and Leon Wetmański were sent to concentration camps, with Goral, Nowowiejski, Kozal and Wetmański perishing in Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Soldau and Auschwitz, respectively.

Cardinal Hlond's Report.

The Primate of Poland, Cardinal August Hlond, advised the Pope that "Hitlerism aims at the systematic and total destruction of the Catholic Church" in territories of Poland annexed by Germany.

In the aftermath of invasion, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal August Hlond, submitted an official account of the persecutions of the Polish Church to the Vatican. He reported seizures of church property and abuse of clergy and nuns in the Archdiocese of Gniezno:

Many priests are imprisoned, suffering humiliations, blows, maltreatment. A certain number were deported to Germany... Others have been detained in concentration camps... It is not rare to see a priest in the midst of labour gangs working in the fields... Some of them have even been shut up for the night in pigsties, barbarously beaten and subjected to other tortures... The Canon Casimir Stepczynski... was forced in company with a Jew to carry away the human excrement... the curate who wished to take the place of the venerable priest was brutally beaten with a rifle butt

— Excerpts from Cardinal Hlond's report to the Vatican.

Opening hours for churches which still had their priests had been restricted to Sundays from 9 to 11 in the morning and sermons allowed to be preached only in German. Polish hymns were forbidden. Crucifixes were removed from schools and religious instruction forbidden. Catholic Action had been banned and Catholic charities like St Vincent de Paul dissolved and their funds confiscated. Religious shrines and statues in public places had been "battered to the ground".

In the Archdiocese of Poznań, Hlond reported that clergy were being subjected to the same mistreatment as in Gniezno and a number had been shot, deported, imprisoned or were missing. In Poznań which had served as the centre for organisation of Church activities in Poland, the Nazis had suppressed the National Institute for Catholic Action, the Pontifical Association for the Propagation of the Faith, the Association of Catholic Women, and Catholic youth groups. Other Catholic media and educational organisations were suppressed. The leaders of Catholic Action were imprisoned and Edward Potworowski, the president of the Catholic Youth Association was publicly shot in Gostyn Square, and the president of the Catholic Girls Association was expelled to Central Poland. The Curia and the Metropolitan court had been taken over by the Gestapo and their records seized. The archiepiscopal palace had been invaded and taken over by soldiers and its archives handed over to the Gestapo. The Cathedral of Poznań had been closed and the theological seminary converted into a police school. Polish youth were being arrested after mass and deported to Germany.

In the Diocese of Chełmno, which had been incorporated into the Reich, Hlond reported that religious life had been almost entirely suppressed, and the ancient cathedral had been closed and turned into a garage - its landmark statue of Mary overturned, and its bishop's residence ransacked. Clergy and laymen had been tortured and church properties seized. Just 20 of 650 priests remained - the rest imprisoned, deported or forced into labour - sometimes resulting in death from fatigue:

[In the Diocese of Chełmno] It is stated that a large number of priests have been shot, but neither the number nor the details are as yet known, as the occupation authorities maintain an obstinate silence on the subject... The Churches have almost all been closed and confiscated by the Gestapo... all the crosses and sacred emblems by the roadside have been destroyed... 95% of the priests have been imprisoned, expelled, or humiliated before the eyes of the faithful... and the most eminent Catholics executed.

— Excerpts from Cardinal August Hlond's report to the Vatican.

Hlond reported similar outrages and terror in the Dioceses of Katowice, Łódź and Włocławek which had also been incorporated into the Reich. In his final observations for Pope Pius XII, Hlond wrote:

Hitlerism aims at the systematic and total destruction of the Catholic Church in the rich and fertile territories of Poland which have been incorporated into the Reich... It is known for certain that 35 priests have been shot, but the real number of victims... undoubtedly amounts to more than a hundred... In many districts the life of the Church has been completely crushed, the clergy have been almost all expelled; the Catholic churches and cemeteries are in the hands of the invaders... Catholic worship hardly exists any more... Monasteries and convents have been methodically suppressed... [Church properties] all have been pillaged by the invaders.

— Excerpts from Cardinal Hlond's report to the Vatican

Polish Clergy during occupation[edit]

Eighty per cent of the Catholic clergy and five bishops of Warthegau were sent to concentration camps in 1939; 108 of them are regarded as blessed martyrs.[18] Around 1.5 million Poles were transported to work as forced labor in Germany. Treated as racially inferior, they had to wear purple P's sewn into their clothing - sexual relations with Poles was punishable by death. Beyond the genocide of the Polish Jews, it is estimated that 1.8 to 1.9 million Polish civilians were killed during the German Occupation and the war. Hundreds of priests and nuns are among the 5000 Polish Catholics honoured by Israel for their role in saving Jews.

The university professor, and post-war Primate of Poland, Fr. Stefan Wyszynski, was ordered to leave Włocławek by his bishop, Michal Kozal and thus escaped the fate of Kozal and nearly 2000 other priests who died in Nazi Concentration camps.

Priests of Dachau.

The Blessed Antoni Zawistowski was tortured and died at Dachau in 1942. 1780 Polish clergy were sent to Dachau, and many are remembered among the 108 Polish Martyrs of World War II.

Dachau was established in March 1933 as the first Nazi Concentration Camp. Dachau was chiefly a political camp and it was here that around 2,720 (mainly Catholic) clergy were imprisoned and the Nazis established dedicated Clergy Barracks for opponents of the Nazi regime. Of a total of 2,720 clergy recorded as imprisoned at Dachau, some 2,579 (or 94.88%) were Catholic and a total of 1,034 clergy were recorded overall as dying in the camp, with 132 "transferred or liquidated" during that time - although in Dachau: The Official History 1933-1945, Paul Berben noted that R. Schnabel's 1966 investigation, Die Frommen in der Holle found an alternative total of 2,771 and included the fate all the clergy listed, with 692 noted as deceased and 336 sent out on "invalid trainloads" and therefore presumed dead.

Total numbers are difficult to assert, for some clergy were not recognised as such by the camp authorities, and some - particularly Poles - did not wish to be identified as such, fearing they would be mistreated.[33] But by far the greatest number of clerical prisoners came from Poland - in all some 1,748 Polish Catholic clerics, of whom some 868 died in the camp. From 1940, Dachau became the concentration point for clerical prisoners.Priests were gathered in Blocks 26, 28 - and 30, though only temporarily. 26 became the international block and 28 was reserved for Poles - the most numerous group.

The Nazis introduced a racial hierarchy - keeping Poles in harsh conditions, while favouring German priests. 697 Poles arrived in December 1941, and a further 500 of mainly elderly clergy were brought in October the following year. Inadequately clothed for the bitter cold, of this group only 82 survived. A large number of Polish priests were chosen for Nazi medical experiments. In November 1942, 20 were given phlegmons. 120 were used by Dr Schilling for malaria experiments between July 1942 and May 1944. Several Poles met their deaths with the "invalid trains" sent out from the camp, others were liquidated in the camp and given bogus death certificates. Some died of cruel punishment for misdemeanors - beaten to death or run to exhaustion.

Polish priests were not permitted religious activity. Anti-religious prisoners were planted in the Polish block to watch that the rule was not broken, but some found ways to circumvent the prohibition: clandestinely celebrating the mass on their work details. By 1944, conditions had been relaxed and Poles could hold a weekly service. Eventually, they were allowed to attend the chapel, with Germany's hopes of victory in the war fading. Religious activity outside the chapel was totally forbidden. Non-clergy were forbidden from the chapel, and, wrote Berben, the German clergy feared that breaking this rule would lose them their chapel: "the clergy in Block 26 observed this rule in a heartless way which naturally raised a storm of protest. With the Poles in Block 28 it was different: all Christians of whatever nationality were welcomed as brothers and invited to attend the clandestine Sunday masses, celebrated before dawn in conditions reminiscent of the catacombs".


Adam Sapieha, Archbishop of Lvov, became the de facto head of the Polish church following the invasion and was a principal figure in the Polish resistance.

Memorial to Pope John Paul II, in Krakow. As a young man, John Paul II had participated in the Polish cultural resistance to the Nazi occupation of Poland.

Following the Polish surrender, the Polish Underground and the Armia Krajowa (Home Army), loyal to the Polish Government in exile resisted the Nazi occupation. The position of the Polish resistance was complicated greatly following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, and Stalin, who intended to install a post-war Communist regime, allowed the Warsaw Uprising to be brutally put down by the Nazis - resulting in 200,000 civilian dead - and the Western Allies eventually recognised the Moscow backed government over the London-based legal government of Poland. At wars end, the Sovietisation of Poland ensued,

The Polish Home Army was conscious of the link between morale and religious practice and the Catholic religion was integral to much Polish resistance, particularly during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Despite persecution, Catholic priests preached national spirit and encouraged resistance across Poland, and the Resistance was full of clergy. Thousands of Poles have been honoured as Righteous Among the Nations for helping Jews - constituting the largest national contingent - and hundreds of clergymen and nuns were involved in aiding Jews during the war.

Adam Sapieha, Archbishop of Kraków, became the de facto head of the Polish church following the invasion. He openly criticised Nazi terror. Saphieha became a symbol of Polish Resistance and pride, and played an important role in the rescue of Jews. He opened a clandestine seminary in an act of cultural resistance. Among the seminarians was Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II. Wojtyla had been a member of the Rhapsodic Theatre, an underground resistance group, which sought to sustain Polish culture through forbidden readings of poetry and drama performances. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a co-founder of Zegota, had worked with the Catholic underground movement, the Front for the Rebirth of Poland, and was arrested in a 1940 Nazi purge of the intelligentsia, and sent to Auschwitz. Freed seven months later following pressure from the international Red Cross, Bartoszewski and Zegota saved thousands of Jews.

Poland had a large Jewish population, and according to Davies, more Jews were both killed and rescued in Poland, than in any other nation: the rescue figure usually being put at between 100-150,000. Poland had its own tradition of antisemitism. According to Davies, as part of its efforts to repress potential opponents of the regime, the Communist state which established itself in Poland following the war exaggerated the presence of antisemitism in Poland, and systematically besmirched and repressed dedicated Catholics who had opposed the Holocaust, as in the 1948-9 "Zegota Case". Hundreds of clergymen and nuns were involved in aiding Poland's Jews during the war, though precise numbers are difficult to confirm. The monasteries played an important role in the protection of Jews.Matylda Getter, mother superior of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary, hid many children in her Pludy convent. In Kolonia Wilenska, Sister Anna Borkowska hid men from the Jewish underground from the Vilna ghetto. From 1941, such aid carried the death penalty. A number of Bishops provided aid to Polish Jews, notably Karol Niemira, the Bishop of Pinsk, who co-operated with the underground organization maintaining ties with the Jewish ghetto and sheltered Jews in the Archbishop's residence.

When AK Home Army Intelligence discovered the true fate of transports leaving the Jewish Ghetto, the Council to Aid Jews - Rada Pomocy Żydom (codename Zegota) was established in late 1942, in co-operation with church groups. The organisation saved thousands. Emphasis was placed on protecting children, as it was near impossible to intervene directly against the heavily guarded transports. False papers were prepared, and children were distributed among safe houses and church networks.[54] Jewish children were often placed in church orphanages and convents.

Catholic religious fervour was a feature of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. General Antoni Chruściel issued instructions on how front-line troops could continue to pray, recite the rosary and offer confession, and that religious festivals be celebrated. Churches were destroyed, but congregations were not deterred. The religious orders, particularly nuns, devoted themselves to praying for the Uprising. Clergy were involved on many levels - as chaplains to military units, or tending to the ever increasing wounded and dying. "Nuns of various orders", wrote Davies, "acted as universal sisters of mercy and won widespread praise. Mortality among them higher than among most categories of civilians. When captured by the SS, they aroused a special fury, which frequently ended in rape or butchery". According to Davies, the Catholic religion was integral to the struggle:

Among the hundreds of chaplains attached to the Home Army was Stefan Wyszyński, who later served as Cardinal Primate of Poland in the Communist era. The religious communities in general remained during the Uprising, converting their crypts and cellars to bomb shelters and hospitals, and throwing themselves into social work. The enclosed Convent of the Benedictine Sisters of Eternal Adoration lifted a centuries-old ban on male visitors to serve as a strategic base for the Home Army and threw open its doors to refugees, who were nursed and fed by the sisters. The prioress received an ultimatum from the Germans, but refused to leave for fear of impact on morale. Davies wrote that the sisters began their evening prayers gathered around the tabernacle, surrounded by a thousand people, as German aircraft flew overhead and "the church collapsed in one thunderous explosion... rescue teams dug to save the living... a much diminished convent choir was singing to encourage them. At dawn a handful of nuns... filed out. Lines of insurgents saluted. And the German guns reopened fire."


The Polish Church honours 108 Martyrs of World War II, including the 11 Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth murdered by the Gestapo in 1943 and known as the Blessed Martyrs of Nowogródek. The Polish church opened the cause of Józef and Wiktoria Ulma to the process of beatification in 2003. The couple and their family were murdered for sheltering Jews.

Among the most revered Polish martyrs was the Franciscan, Saint Maximillian Kolbe, who died at Auschwitz-Birkenau, having offered his own life to save a fellow prisoner who had been condemned to death by the camp authorities. The cell in which he died is now a shrine. During the War he provided shelter to refugees, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid in his friary in Niepokalanów.

Pope Pius XII.

Poland's allegiance to the papacy gave its plight an international dimension, of which both the Nazi and Soviet occupying powers were aware. In Poland, the Church was well organised, and clergy were respected. Garlinski wrote that the Polish Church's "thousand year link with Rome afforded it some protection. The German Reich contained 30 million Catholics, who recognised the Pope's authority... and [each German ruler], however strongly opposed to Rome, had to take account of this..." Pope Pius XII succeeded Pius XI in March 1939, on the eve of World War II. The new Pope faced the aggressive foreign policy of Nazism, and perceived a threat to Europe and the Church from Soviet Communism, which preached atheism - "each system attacked religion, both denied freedom and the victory of either would be a defeat for the Church", wrote Garlinski. Pius XII lobbied world leaders to avoid war and then sought to negotiate a peace, but was ignored by the belligerents, as Germany and Russia began to treat Catholic Poland as their colony. In his first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus of 20 October 1939, Pius responded to the invasion of Poland. The encyclical attacked Hitler's war as "unchristian" and offered these words for Poland:

[This is an] "Hour of Darkness"... in which the spirit of violence and of discord brings indescribable suffering on mankind... The nations swept into the tragic whirlpool of war are perhaps as yet only at the "beginnings of sorrows"... but even now there reigns in thousands of families death and desolation, lamentation and misery. The blood of countless human beings, even noncombatants, raises a piteous dirge over a nation such as Our dear Poland, which, for its fidelity to the Church, for its services in the defense of Christian civilization, written in indelible characters in the annals of history, has a right to the generous and brotherly sympathy of the whole world, while it awaits, relying on the powerful intercession of Mary, Help of Christians, the hour of a resurrection in harmony with the principles of justice and true peace.

— Summi Pontificatus - Pope Pius XII, Oct. 1939

The Papal Nuncio to Poland, Fillippo Cortesi had abandoned Warsaw along with the diplomatic corps, after the invasion and the Papal Nuncio to Germany, Cesare Orsenigo, assumed the role of communicating the situation of the territories annexed to Germany - but his role of protecting the Church in Poland was in conflict with his role of facilitating better relations with the German government, and his own fascistic sympathies. Other channels existed for communications, including via the Polish primate Cardinal Hlond. The Holy See refused German requests to fill the bishoprics of the annexed territories with German bishops, claiming that it would not recognise the new boundaries until a peace treaty was signed.

In April 1940, the Holy See advised the US government of Franklin D. Roosevelt that all its efforts to deliver humanitarian aid had been blocked by the Germans, and that it was therefore seeking to channel assistance through indirect routes like the American "Commission for Polish Relief". In 1942, the American National Catholic Welfare Conference reported that "as Cardinal Hlond's reports poured into the Vatican, Pope Pius XII protested against the enormities they recounted with unrelenting vigor". The Conference noted the Pope's 28 October Encyclical and reported that Pius addressed Polish clergy on 30 September 1939, speaking of "a vision of mad horror and gloomy despair" and saying that he hoped that despite the work of the "enemies of God", Catholic life would survive in Poland. In a Christmas Eve address to the College of Cardinals, Pius condemned the atrocities "even against non-combatants, refugees, old persons, women and children, and the disregard of human dignity, liberty and human life" that had taken place in the Polish war as "acts that cry for the vengeance of God".

The Vatican used its press and radio to tell the world in January 1940 of terrorization of the Polish people. On 16 and 17 November 1940, Vatican Radio said that religious life for Catholics in Poland continued to be brutally restricted and that at least 400 clergy had been deported to Germany in the preceding four months:

The Catholic Associations in the General Government also have been dissolved, the Catholic educational institutions have been closed down, and Catholic professors and teachers have been reduced to a state of extreme need or have been sent to concentration camps. The Catholic press has been rendered impotent. In the part incorporated into the Reich, and especially in Posnania, the representatives of the Catholic priests and orders have been shut up in concentration camps. In other dioceses the priests have been put in prison. Entire areas of the country have been deprived of all spiritual ministrations and the church seminaries have been dispersed.

— Vatican Radio, November 1940

In Pomerania, the Nazi Gauleiter Albert Forster permitted German priests, and believed that Poles themselves could be Germanized. However, under the exceptionally aggressive policies of Arthur Greiser, the Nazi Gauleiter of the Warta region, German Catholics and the Protestant Church suffered a campaign to eradicate the Polish Church, prompting the head of the German Bishops Conference to ask the Pope for assistance, but Pius offered a cautious response. Though Pius had assisted with the drafting of the anti-Nazi encyclical Mit brennender Sorge, which remained binding through the war, he did not repeat it during the war, and, wrote Garlinksi, he was conscious that Hitler's expansion brought 150 million Catholics under the control of the Third Reich, and that conditions for Catholics outside of Poland could be adversely affected by his pronouncements. This "restrained and reasoned stance", wrote Garlinksi, though justified in the long term, "did not suit the Poles" who expected more forthright language against the Nazis, Yet, wrote Garlinksi:

[T]he centuries old ties which bound [Poland] to Rome weakened the force of the occupation. The Church's role in the nation's struggle for survival and for its soul was very great and was evident in almost every area of national life. Despite losses and setbacks, the network of parishes covered the whole country and in its ministry brought comfort faith and hope. Despite personal risk, priests used their pulpits for maintaining national spirit and encouraged resistance, the bishoprics were a visible sign of the existence of an organisation, although not governmental and the resistance movement was full of clergy in all sorts of positions the Catholic Church emerged from the war victorious, spiritually strengthened, inwardly toughened by its losses, surrounded by universal respect and ready for new and difficult days ahead.

— Extract from Poland and the Second World War by Jozef Garlinski; 1985.

The question of Polish forced labour.

German soldiers round up forced labour in Poland.

The Polish forced labourers, who were used by Germani industry in the Second World War, is, in view of the political changes inEastern Europe, an urgent challenge for historians and lawyers. While thisquestion was not ignored by the Allies following the war, it becameincreasingly unimportant in the wrangle between the Super Powers forGermany and in the wake of the Cold War.

In Post War Germany and in the West, the question of the compensation andrehabilitation of these “displaced persons” became less and less importantas the threat in the East became more real. The successful integration ofthe Federal Republic of Germany into the West was of prime interest to theUnited States and its Allied Partners in the early Fifties. KonradAdenauer, in his capacity as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of theFederal Republic of Germany, was able to persuade the Western Allies andGermany’s creditors responsible for the Federal Republic’sreparations-debts at the Paris Conference on the German War Debt of l951that Germany’s compensation and reparation commitments must be held to aminimum.

Geerman forced labour poster,in this case asking for volunteers.

In order to prevent a repetition of the German reparations-disaster of theTwenties and Thirties, and to ensure the successful integration of theFederal Republic into the West, certain restraining measures had to betaken in order to secure the financial stability of the emerging newcountry. Certain groups of Nazi-victims were to be excluded from directcompensation through the German Government. At best, these victims couldhope for some sort of compensation through the German reparations paymentsto their home country. In the case of the Poles, this was to take placethrough the Germans reparations to the Soviet Union, as agreed upon at thePotsdam Agreements of l945.

Neither the Polish (non-jewish as well as Jewish) forced labourers of World War II, nor any of the other numerous victims of Nazi War Crimes in Poland received any sort of adequate compensation through thesereparations agreements. There are a number of reasons for this, not theleast of which is that Poland never received any sort of reparationpayments as such: The Soviet Union arranged to share their part of theGerman reparation payments with Poland through a complicated system oftrade and exchange payments. The truth of the matter is that the PolishNation never received any concrete reparations payments and thatindividual victims of Nazi terror never received any sort of realcompensation for the injustice that was done to them. The only exceptionto this rule is the case of the Polish victims of Dr. Mengele’spseudo-medical experiments. This group of victims is entitled throughseparate agreements to a pension through the German Government.

Forced labour in Poland.

The question of Polish forced labourers in World War II is a questionwhich continues to nag at the German conscience and will probably remainthe basis for a hopeless fight for justice on the part of these victims ofNazi-terror who still live.

The group of Polish forced labourers with which I am familiar with comefrom the “Gau Wartheland”, one of four administrative districts which theNazis cut out of the part of Western Poland which they annected in l939.The “Warthegau”, as many Nazis referred to this district, was a Nazicreation with little or no bearing on the historical realities of theregion. It was to become an experimental laboratory, where theeconomic, cultural and social supremacy of the German people wouldinevitably lead to the extermination of all other indigenous peoples inthe region (most Poles and all Jews).

In a complicated system of burocratically determined ethniticity,”Volksdeutsche” (Germans by descent, but not by citizenship) were to besegregated from the rest of the population. Jews were to be crowded intolocal and then consolidated regional gettos. Following the WannseeConference (January 20, l942), the Nazis planned the industrial murder ofthese and all other European Jews en masse. The Poles were to be used asan inexhaustible source of slave labour for the colonisation of this andother regions of Poland and were then to be eventually exterminated.Germans from all parts of Eastern and Western Europe were to be brought into take their place in the biggest colonisation project ever planned inEurope.

In the case of the “Warthegau”, the governor in charge (Artur Greiser) wasfaced with an extreme dilemma as to what to do with the Polish population.On the one hand, it was not only official Nazi dogma that this “Warthegau”was to become “German”, but his own personal goal that this district wasto become ethnically “German”, and, if possible, in the course of thewar. On the other hand, the Poles were a necessary part of the daily workforce. They were necessary in the normal civilian production and theywere a necessary element in the Nazi colonisation projects throughout the”Warthegau”. (This included many different kinds of infrastructureimprovement projects: pavement and building of roads, construction ofadministrative buildings, park planning and improvement, water works andcanalisation, rerouting of rivers, etc.) In addition, there was anincreasing tendency throughout the war for the German industrialists toset up armaments factories in this and other “annected” parts of Europe.It was thought, and to some extent rightly so, that the Allies would beless likely to bomb factories in this region. Poles were a necessary partof this war production work force, especially after the advent of theEastern Front in the Summer of l94l and the German Declaration of Waragainst the United States on the llth of December l94l.

Round up of forced labourers for Germany in Warsaw.

Arthur Greiser.

As I have already mentioned, Governor Greiser was faced throughout thecourse of World War II with an essential dilemma: On the one hand hewanted to rid his district of unwanted Poles, in order to realise his goalof a purely “German Warthegau”. On the other hand he needed thesepeople in order to keep the economy on its feet. He, the bureaucratsunder him and the local firms who needed these Polish workers, were even forced l942-43 to compete with firms in the “Altreich” (Germany in itsborders from l937) for these workers.

Jewish forced labour in Zamosc,Poland.

While more than 360,000 Poles from this “Warthegau” were deported to other parts of Germany to do forced labour, many more Poles were made to doforced labour in their home country during World War II. How many is aquestion of definition: Who is a forced labourer in a war situation? Areall native workers in an occupied country “forced labourers”? Or are onlythose who are deported “forced labourers”? How does one define thisconcept? And how can one define this concept and still do justice to thevictims of these horrendous crimes to humanity without overreaching thebounds of common sense? A reasonable educated guess is that somewherearound l to l l/2 Million Poles in this “Warthegau”, above and beyondthose who were deported, were engaged in some sort of forced labour inthe course of the war. (The pre-war population in the region that becamethe “Warthegau” was around 4 Million.)

Photos of Polish forced labourers in Heilbronn,Germany.

In the Nurnberger Trials against the 25 chief Nazi War Criminals , theprosecution emphasized that the deportation and use of “Fremdarbeiter”(foreign workers) in the “Reichskriegeinsatz” (Nazi Work Programm) was aviolation of International Law, in particular of the Hague Agreementsconcerning Land Warfare from l907. While the prosecution, in their caseagainst the defendants’ crimes against humanity, never tried to spare theNazi War Criminals of their responsibility for the deportation and slaveryof foreign workers, they were forced in the absence of a better legalbasis to base their case on the said Agreements from the Hague. Articles46 and 52 of the fourth Hague Agreements gave them the chance to presentthe “Reichskriegseinsatz” as an infringement of the occupying army againstthe rights of the domestic population. The prosecution interpreted theAgreements from the Hague as following: The occupying army, in this casethe Wehrmacht, had a right to require civilians in the occupied lands (butonly against proper payment for services provided) to provide provisionsfor the occupying troops. Under no circumstances were German authoritiesentitled to deport civilians to the éAltreich‚ (Germany in it’s bordersfrom l937) and require them to work in order to help the war effort on theGerman home front and against their native countries.

Badge worn by Polish forced labourers.

The real situation in which these ex-forced labourers found themselveswas, however, not rendered in the interpretation and representation of theprosecution. While the hierarchy of the “Fremdvolkischen” (foreignpeoples) and the living conditions of the imprisoned workers – plenty ofphotos were presented the court as evidence – were aptly described, thecharges which were made in Nurnberg don’t come close to doing justice tothe plight of these victims of Nazi treachery. These people, the”P-Arbeiter” (Polish Workers) and the Russian “Ostarbeiter” (Easternworkers) were, despite the fact that they were legal alien workers in theGerman Reich, paid taxes, social security, health insurance dues and otherdisriminatory “Sonderabgaben” (special taxes for racially discriminatedpeoples in the Third Reich), under no circumstances normal workers, butrather inhumanly treated slaves. They were given the chance to live through doing work for the Third Reich. They received daily rations of onthe average 600-800 Kcal. The fare was representative for concentrationcamps in the Third Reich: substitute coffee once daily, a watery soupwith little or no meat, 750 Grams of black bread every three days. Andthe German authorities and industrialists responsible for this tragedyexpected their slaves to work 6-7 days a week, l0-l2 hours daily.

Depending on the size of the German firm which employed these inmates ofthe German industry, their treatment varied. In general, though, thelarger the firm, the worse the treatment. The “Arado” – FlugzeugwerkeGmbH Out-Placement Works in Rathenow on the Havel river near Berlin, forexample, were nothing less than a concentration camp. The some l0,000workers in this armament factory had to deal with not only hunger,overwork and the loss of any sort of private sphere, but also with thespectrum of typical concentration camp diseases: typhoid fever,tuberculosis and diphtheria. The greater the level of rationalisation,the more important it was for the workers to stay “healthy” and remain attheir work place. Sickness and failure to work meant a break in the chainof production for the employing firm. For forced workers this meantrisking being replaced, handed over to the SS and at worse beingexterminated.

Children on their way to forced labour,Kielce ,Poland.

Following the war, the chance of these forced labourers from the Eastreceiving a just compensation were not good. In particular, the eventsand decisions surrounding the “German Question” made it difficult tospeculate as to whether there would ever again be the necessarygeopolitical conditions necessary to approach the question of thecompensation of the forced labourers:

Polish women register at a transit camp.

Even before the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht on the8./9. May l945 in Karlshorst near Berlin, Stalin had made his claims to Eastern Europe clear: The Soviet war booty was to be not only the sovereignty over all lands east of the border set by the secret protocolto the Hitler-Stalin Pact (August 23, l939) regarding the borders of theThird Reich and the Soviet Union, but also the betrayal of Poland and therest of the lands east of of the Soviet Zone of Occupation in Germany.The negotiations of the “Big Three” in Jalta (February 4-ll, 1945) and inPotsdam (July l7- August 2, l945) were the realisation of Stalin’s goals:The recognition of the Curzon Line as the eastern border of Poland, aswell as the division of Germany in Zones of Occupation were set down inthe “Declaration of Freed Europe”.

Polish farm labouers in Germany.

Shrewd observers of the time knew precisely how to interpret thesehistorical events: The Division of Germany could only mean the Divisionof Europe. Millions of people were to be left to their fate under theStalinists. The basis of an economic and political dictatorship wascreated beyond the West German border. Out of the ashes of the SecondWorld War arose two Super Powers: One of which, the Soviet Union, was totake the lead of the socialist dictatorships. The western occupationZones of Germany and Austria were to return to the cradle of Capitalism.Their leaders were to be formed through “Reeducation”, Lucky Strikes, U.S.Dollars, open markets and American troups.

Warsaw, Poland, Young Jews being taken to forced labor on trucks, May 1941.

The forced labourers about whom this paper is about, returned to life inthis divided world. Physically at ends, most of them without any sort of contact to their immediate families, in a foreign land and at the mercy ofrelief organisations, wanted for the most part only to go home. This homewas, unfortunately, only a thing of the past and for many of them would only be a reality in their everlasting homesickness. Many of them were still children, when the Nazis deported them to the “Altreich”. Aftertheir liberation from the work camps, they were looked after appropriatelyfor the first time in the Allied camps which were set up for them afterthe war. The official Allied policy in regards to these physically andpsychologically damaged victims of Nazi terror, was that they were to betreated for the worst of the abuse to their persons and then be sent”home”. These displaced persons were expected to take up with their liveswhere they left off.

Many of them returned to their previous homeland. Many returned on foot,others with special trains and still others were at the time of theirliberation already at home, as they were enslaved in their home country.Many of these displaced persons, however, were more than aware of thepolitical and economic changes that were taking place in Eastern andCentral Europe after the signing of the Potsdam Agreements from August 2,l945 and used their “displacement” as an opportunity to emigrate. Inparticular the generation of Poles and other Central Europeans, whoreceived their socialisation before the war, were more than aware of thedanger in returning to their home country.

Decision-makers and the press in pre-war Poland were more than aware ofthe hegemonial threat that the Soviet Union for Poland represented: Forthis reason, the Pilsudski-Government signed a non-agression Treaty withNazi-Germany l934. This treaty, otherwise so inappropriate in the pre-warpolicies of Poland, expressed the great fear which the generation ofPost-Versailles Poland had of Soviet-Russia and their French alliance.

Polish force labourers in Germany.

Many of the ex-forced labourers decided to stay in Germany. Some 60,000of them remained in post-war Germany. In addition, many of thesedisplaced persons emigrated from Europe after their liberation. The U.S.Government, for example, well aware of the political changes which weretaking place in Europe, kept the immediate post-war policy regardingquotas of immigrants from Eastern Europe at their pre-war level, even ifthis wasn’t representative among the different immigrating nations in theUS quota system. The limit for Eastern Europe was set at 20,000immigrants per year from the respective leading emigration countries.Nonetheless, this solution was a difficult one, as the demand to immigratewas much greater than the number spaces available. In particular, familymembers, who were of age, were not automatically guaranteed the right toaccompany these immigrants.

The efforts of the many Eastern and Central European exile organisationsin the U.S. and other immigration-countries could only ease thedifficulties these people had in integrating themselves in their newsociety: During the war, they were forced to leave their homeland and goto work for a totalitarian regime. After their liberation, they wereoften incapable of finding themselves the right nitch in their newcountry. The obvious difficulties that most of them had with learning anew language was certainly nothing compared to the isolation which many ofthem must have felt in their immigration experience. Who can really say,what sort of psychological barriers these people had to cross, in order todeal with a new language and culture? What must have gone through theirheads, the first time they saw an American city or town? How difficult was it for them to get their papers and lives in order?

The official youngest age that boys and girls were to be exploited as forced labourers was fourteen but in practice many much younger children were used.

Their immediate goals were certainly no different than those of otherpost-war consumers: a regular income, an apartment or a house, a car, thefirst television… For many of these ex-forced labourers, the work theydid for the Nazis was the only qualification they had to find a job. Even after the war, they were to be reminded of this dreadful war experience.

Many of these ex-forced labourers have since died. Often, the cause oftheir deaths is directly related to their work experience under the ThirdReich. This is, of course, not always as easy to prove as to suppose.And even if the damage to their person is determined and documented duringtheir lifetime, they are not entitled to any sort of compensation orindemnification by German law:

These non-Jewish displaced persons, who were forced labourers under theThird Reich are categorised by the German Authorities in the CompensationAgency (now the Referat V B of the Finance Ministry) as national or atbest political, and not as racially disriminated war victims. Inaddition, since they are foreigners who live outside of the German”Kulturkreis” (“cultural circle”), they are not entitled to a compensationor indemnification under German national law, but are rather expected toturn to their native countries, who have theoretically received reparationpayments following the war. In the case of Poland, this is especiallyquestionable, as Poland was theoretically granted reparations through theSoviet Union in the Potsdamer Agreements. For practical purposes,however, Poland received only goods and services from the Soviet Union,and at prices based on hard currency and not at the usual East Bloc”Transfer Ruble” prices.

An exception was made following the war for “NationalgeschÉdigte”(“damaged nationals”), who couldn’t return home after the war: Therequirement for this sort of indemnification, was that the person inquestion was a political refugee as defined in the Geneva Convention fromJuly 28, l95l. These persons had to have been war victims, who wereunable to return home on political grounds or because of the changingpolitical situation in Eastern Europe. This category of war victim wasto be indemnified by the German Government directly, because they couldnot otherwise request help from their native countries.

Many of the displaced persons, who would have otherwise qualified aspolitical refugees as defined by the Geneva Convention from l95l, had,however, in l953, at which point in time the “BundesentschÉdigungsgesetz”(BEG: the German “Federal Compensation Law”) became effective, long sinceemigrated and taken on new citizenships. These ex-displaced persons wereno longer refugees, but rather had established new lives in new countries.

The rest of the “NationalgeschÉdigte”, as I have already mentioned, wereto be compensated or indemnified through their home countries. Germanreparations were to be the basis of this compensation. The one exceptionto this policy, was, as I have already mentioned, Polish non-Jewishvictims of pseudo-medical experiments, of the sort which Mengele did.They were compensated l972, following Willy Brandt’s visit to Poland,through a special fund set up by the German Government as officialsuccessor-state of the German Reich.

Some — mostly Jewish or German — ex-forced labourers received a minimalone-time “Hilfe” (“help”) payment from the firm, for which they hadworked. In order to receive such an indemnification, they were requiredto waive all further claims for compensation from the firm in question andfrom the Federal Republic as the official successor-state of the GermanReich. For the most part, the ex-forced labourers who came in question,were concentration camp inmates in Auschwitz, who had not even received atoken wage for their slave labour. As German Citizens, this was aviolation of their civil rights. For the successor firms of IG Farben(among others: Hoechst, Agfa, BASF, Bayer Leverkusen and Dynamit Nobel),it was important to clear the way for their participation in therearmament of Germany in the framework of the NATO and the westernintegration of Germany. The IG Farben Auschwitz-works were undeniable.And following the case of Norbert Wollheim vs. the successor firms of IGFarben, they were forced to settle out of court for the some 4,000 victims who came in question.

The rest of the ex-forced labourers, some l0-l2 Million victims of Naz iterror, were, as I have already mentioned, expected to be compensated inthe framework of reparation payments, which were agreed upon in Potsdamand above all in the London Creditor Agreements of l95l. The successorstates of the German Reich, the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria,negotiated concrete reparation and compensation sums with the westernallies and their creditors, which they agreed to pay under specificconditions. The Londoner Agreements, were, in particular, a frameworkwhich the Federal Republic used to keep the “Wiedergutmachung” (warreparations, compensation, and indemnification payments) costs down.

In the wake of the London Agreements, the Peopleïs Republic of Polandannounced in l953 it’s waiver of further claims of reparations from thesuccesor states of the German Reich. This was in accordance with theSoviet Union and the other East Bloc countries, and was a move designed toprotect the German Democratic Republic from being forced to fufill furtherreparations claims. (Up until then, reparations had been paid in kindthrough demontage.)

All Polish governments, including the socialist governments during theperiod of the “Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa”, have never put the separateclaims of the individual ex-forced labourers in question! The PolishGovernment recognises the rights of the ex-forced labourers toindemnification for the work done with minimal or no pay, for pensionswhich are now due, as well as the compensation due these victims for thedeportation and abuse done to them by their persecutors.

The Federal Republic and the German firms in question have in the post-warperiod consistently refused to acknowledge these rights of the ex-forcedlabourers and use the Londoner Agreements and the BEG, which is based onthe terms of these agreements to justify their refusal. Should one of themany ex-forced labourers, who have taken this matter to a German court,win, it would mean a precedence for further such cases…an avalanche ofsuch cases would have to be expected, and this at a time when the FederalRepublic is beginning to drown in the unexpected costs of theReunification. Even if only half or one quarter of the l0-l2 Millionex-forced labourers still live, it would be very difficult for the FederalRepublic to satisfy all the claims that could be made.

Following the “Quiet Revolution” in Poland and thereafter in all otherEastern Bloc countries, the Polish and German Governments signed twofriendship treaties in l991 and held talks which were the basis of theborder agreements (preceeding the German Reunification) from l99l. It wasagreed among other things, that the German Government would finance afoundation with 500 Million DM paid over a 3 year period in 3 payments,which would “help” the Polish victims of Nazi terror who were stillliving. The foundation was not supposed to “compensate” these victims,but rather to “linder” the misery these people had to live with. For themost part these people receive a one-time payment of between 5 – l2Million Zloty (approximately $300-500). (This means that an averagePolish ex-forced labourer – and only those still living in Poland -isentitled to a one-time “help”-payment of around $700 for up to 5 1/2years slave labour! ) The word “compensation” has been intentionallyavoided in order to prevent any sort of future legal obligation to Nazivictims of this sort. These “help” payments are the result of a politicalcompromise between the Polish and German Governments and should in no way,shape or form be interpreted as a sort of “compensation”.

In the last few years the criticism of this “help” funds has taken a sharpturn: Following an investment scandal on the part of thefunds-management, the German Government and the German press has put, withgood reason, the management capability of the Polish board of directorsinto question: The Warsaw District Attorney`s Office is presentlyinvestigating charges of bad management practices and possibly assisted orattempted embezzelment on the part of Bronislaw Wilk, Director of theFundacja Polsko-Niemieckie Pojednanie. Wilk deposited about $ 2,5Million of the funds monies into an account with a small private bank (notguaranteed by the State) in Warsaw, the Bank for Energy-Development andEnvironmental Conservation, Megabank SA. A party friend of Wilk’s,Eugeniusz S., apparantly forged Wilk’s signature to use the Funds moniesin the Mega Bank account to guarantee loans to five different blind firms,all of which belonged to Eugeniusz S. The firms and the bank which loanedthe money went bankrupt. The $2.5 Million disappeared. Eugeniusz S.,the directors of the bank and one of their employees are now beingdetained pending trial. And the district attorney’s office is alsolooking into Wilk’s questionable investmentment practices.

A group of liberated slave labourers.

The German Government and the German press has been following the courseof this drama with great interest. The accusations of fraud andincompetence which are making the rounds in Warsaw diminish the reallyimportant questions regarding this fonds: Why was so little money paidinto the fonds in the first place? (500 Millionen DM divided byapproximately 600,000 estimated victims entitled to this “help”‚ leaves anaverage “help” of less than l,000 DM or $600 per victim. And there aremany more victims who do not qualify under the present very rigidstipulations.) The real questions that need to be asked as to the size ofthe “help” per victim are lost in the debate about the management of thefonds.

500 Million deutsche mark is about 250 Million dollars. The Americansgave the Poles $600 Million following the transition to democracy. TheGermans have spent 1,000 Billion German Marks on bettering theinfrastructure in East Germany and wiping away all signs of communism inEast Germany.

"Ostarbeiter" (eastern workers) were mostly eastern European women brought to Germany for forced labor. They wore an "OST" identification patch (lower center of photograph) Germany, after 1942.

Ostarbeiter" (eastern workers) were mostly eastern European women brought to Germany for forced labor. They wore an "OST" identification patch (lower center of photograph) Germany, after 1942.

OST badge.

The interest group which represents these forced labourers, StowarzyszeniePoszkodowanych przez III Rzeszy, have a suit going against the Federal Republic of Germany in its capacity as successor state of the German Reichat the International Court of Justice in the Haag. Their goal is to tryto force the German Government to pay them a pension for the time thatthey paid into the German social insurance funds. They believe that evenif the firms and the German Government refuse to pay them the salary whichwas kept from them for their forced labour, that they should at leastreceive a pension, as is the right of every German who worked and paidsocial insurance dues during the Third Reich, for the time they paid intothe social insurance fonds.

The question of Polish forced workers will probably remain an unansweredand very difficult one in the relations between the German and Polishpeoples. Even after the last Polish victim of Nazi forced labour ceasesto draw his or her last breath, this question will remain one of a numberof open sores in the relations between these two peoples.

Czarny Las massacre.

Czarny Las massacre (Polish: Mord w Czarnym Lesie, English: Black Forest Massacre) was a mass murder of around 250–300 ethnic Poles during World War II, carried out by the Gestapo on the orders of SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Krueger (also spelled Krüger) in Czarny Las (Black Forest) near Stanisławów, during the night of August 14/15, 1941.
After the German attack on the Soviet positions in Eastern Poland in 1941, the city of Stanisławów, seat of the Stanisławów Voivodeship in the Second Polish Republic before the invasion (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine) was captured by the Hungarian contingent of the Wehrmacht friendlier towards the local Polish people. They put an end to pogroms of local Jews, carried out by groups of Ukrainian nationalists. In early August 1941 the Hungarians were replaced by the Germans, who with help from Ukrainian nationalists, began preparation for the mass murder of Polish intelligentsia, under SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Krüger, who had already participated in the Massacre of Lviv professors.

SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Krüger.


Upon the order of Gestapo Chief Hans Krueger, during the night of August 8/9 1941, Ukrainian auxiliary police arrested members of Polish intelligentsia, mostly teachers. The list of those arrested, like in Lviv, had been prepared by the Ukrainians, among others, a professor of the Ukrainian high school, Ivan Rybczyn. The Poles were told that they were asked to come for an organizational meeting, due to the oncoming school year. Since the policemen acted in a polite way, future victims did not suspect anything wrong. On that night, some 250 people were arrested. All were kept in a Gestapo prison, and at first their families were allowed to meet them. During the night of August 14/15, Poles were ordered to load on trucks, and some 250 of them were taken to Czarny Las (Black Forest), near the village of Pawełcze, where they were shot. Before the execution, the Germans had ordered a group of peasants from Pawełcze to dig mass graves. One person survived the massacre, a Polish forester from the village of Sołotwina, who, taking advantage of rain and night, managed to escape from a truck. Among those murdered were teachers, doctors, priests and civil servants.

The fate of those murdered was not known to their families, who in September 1941 sent a delegation to the local Gestapo. Hans Kruger assured them that all were alive, and the investigation was still going on. The Germans allowed families to send food parcels and clothes to their loved ones. The food was given to dogs, and the clothes were taken by wards of Gestapo prison. In the winter of 1942, Countess Karolina Lanckorońska went to Stanisławów as an envoy of Central Welfare Council. She talked to Krueger, and German prosecutor Rotter. In a conversation with Rotter, he suggested to her that Krueger had killed the Stanisławów intelligentsia.

Among those murdered were a number of high school teachers, such as Leon Buchowski, Maksymilian Fleszer, Henryka Halpern, Kajetan Isakiewicz (a relative of Rev. Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski[6]), Aleksander Jordan (father of Maria Jordan, biologist of the Polish Academy of Sciences[6]), Antoni Karsznia, Franciszek Jun, Kazimierz Waligóra, Rev. Łucjan Tokarski, Stanisław Umański, Maksymilian Chudnio, Witold Dąbrowski, Kazimierz Firganek, Henryka Halpern, Wawrzyniec Jakubiec, Antoni Karsznia, Władysław Łuczyński, Józef Majgier, Alojzy Rotter, Anatol Scherman, Ignacy Stamper, Stanisław Telichowski, Roman Jacyk, Radosław Jawecki, Maksymilian Rosenberg, Joanna Kopytowa, Stanisława Antoszewska, Zygmunt Kamiński, Emil Planer, Kazimiera Skwarczyńska, Stanisław Szczepanowski, Władysław Begier, Włodzimierz Kamiński, Franciszek Sawicki, Aleksander Ilczyszyn, Marian Stefanów, Stanisława Czaprażanka, Władysława Rozozińska, Kamila Szczepanowska, Józef Drozd, Marcin Folger, Marian Płaczek, Jadwiga Robinowa, Irena Moldauer, Józef Kujbida.

Mass graves were discovered in Czarny Las in 1988, due to efforts of families of victims, and with help from local people. In 1991, Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites erected a monument there. In August 2011 a commemorative cross was placed in Czarny Las, during a ceremony attended by governor of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Mykhailo Vyshyvaniuk, Andrzej Kunert of Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites, and families of victims. During the ceremony, Kunert said: "It was not only a brutal attack of the Germans on Polish intelligentsia, regarded by them as main enemy, as the most dangerous part of the nation. It also was part of a broader plan of both occupiers".


The Wawer massacre .

The Wawer massacre refers to the execution of 107 Polish civilians on the night of 26 to 27 December 1939 by the Nazi German occupiers of Wawer (near Warsaw), Poland. The execution was a response to the deaths of two German NCOs. 120 people were arrested and 114 shot, of which 7 survived.

It is considered to be one of the first large scale massacres of Polish civilians by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland.


Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Poland in September 1939. From the start, the war against Poland was intended to be the fulfilment of a plan described by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf. The main gist of the plan was for all of Eastern Europe to become part of a Greater Germany, the German Lebensraum ("living space").

Antoni Bartoszek hanged by the Germans near the entrance to his restaurant at Wawer 27 December 1939.

Later photo of colonel Max Daume .

 the evening of 26 December, two known Polish criminals, Marian Prasuła and Stanisław Dąbek, killed two German non-commissioned officers from Baubataillon 538. After learning of it, the acting commander of the Ordnungspolizei in Warsaw, colonel Max Daume ordered an immediate reprisal, consisting of a series of arrests of random Polish males, aged 16 to 70, found in the region where the killings occurred (in Wawer and the neighboring Anin villages).

Massacre in Wawer 1939


After a kangaroo court presided over by Major General Friedrich Wilhelm Wenzl, 114 of the 120 people arrested - who had no knowledge of the recent killings, many of whom were roused from their beds - were sentenced to death. They were not given the opportunity to plead their case. Of the 114, one managed to escape, 7 were shot but not killed and managed to escape later, and 107 were shot dead. The dead included one professional military officer, one journalist, two Polish-American citizens and a 12-year-old boy. Some of the executed were not locals, but merely visiting their families for Christmas.

The War Cemetery commemorating 107 victims of the Wawer massacre, committed by German police in German-occupied Poland on 27 December 1939 in Warsaw.


It was one of the earliest massacres (probably the second, after the Bochnia massacre of 52 civilians on December 18) to occur in occupied Poland. It was also one of the first instances of the large scale implementation by Germany of the doctrine of collective responsibility in the General Government in Poland since the end of the invasion in September.



Soon after the massacre, a Polish youth resistance organization, "Wawer", was created. It was part of the Szare Szeregi (the underground Polish Scouting Association), and its first act was to create a series of graffiti in Warsaw around the Christmas of 1940, commemorating the massacre.Members of the AK Wawer "Small Sabotage" unit painted "Pomścimy Wawer" ("We'll avenge Wawer") on Warsaw walls. At first they painted the whole text, then to save time they shortened it to two letters, P and W. Later they invented Kotwica -"Anchor" - the symbol, a combination of these 2 letters, was easy and fast to paint. Next kotwica gained more meanings - Polska Walcząca ("Fighting Poland") . It also stands for Wojsko Polskie ("Polish Army") and Powstanie Warszawskie ("Warsaw Uprising"). Finally "Kotwica" became a patriotic symbol of defiance against the occupiers and was painted on building walls everywhere.

On 3 March 1947, the Polish Supreme National Tribunal for the Trial of War Criminals (Najwyższy Trybunał Narodowy) sentenced Max Daume to death. Wilhelm Wenzel was extradited to Poland by the Soviets in 1950 and executed in November 1951.

There is now a monument in Wawer commemorating the massacre.

Albert Maria Forster.

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Albert Maria Forster

Albert Maria Forster (26 July 1902 – 28 February 1952) was a Nazi German politician. Under his administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia during the Second World War, the local non-German population of Poles and Jews was classified as sub-human and subjected to extermination campaign involving ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forceful Germanisation. Forster was tried, convicted and hanged for his crimes after Germany was defeated.


Forster was born in Fürth, Bavaria, where he attended the Humanistisches Gymnasium from 1912 to 1920. In 1923, he became a member of the SA in Fürth and observed the trial for high treason of Erich Ludendorff, Adolf Hitler and eight others, which took place between 26 February and 1 April 1924 in the court of Munich.

Free City of Danzig.

In 1930, Forster became the Nazi Party's Gauleiter of the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). In the spring of 1933, Forster spearheaded the Nazi take-over of Danzig. Between 1933 and 1939, Forster became embroiled in a feud with the Nazi President of the Danzig Senate, Arthur Greiser, who was to remain Forster's lifelong nemesis.

Before World War II Forster had tried and failed to gain control over the organisation of the irredentist activities of the ethnic German population in the Polish Corridor, neighbouring Freie Stadt Danzig, which was created in 1920 by the Treaty of Versailles; rather it was the SS-dominated Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle that won control. With Forster and Himmler engaged in a power struggle, this rendered the (ethnic) Germans concerned suspicious of Forster. When these territories were annexed after the Invasion of Poland and they became Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia, Forster's mistrust of the local Nazi leaders led him to deny them political power. Forster filled all the significant positions with his allies from the pre-war Free City of Danzig. This snub created a great bitterness among the local Germans in addition to Forster's Germanisation policies, which denied them higher status than local Poles.

In May 1934 Forster, who had been made an Honorable Citizen of Fürth and of Danzig, married Gertrud Deetz. The wedding took place in the Berlin Chancellory, with Hitler and Rudolf Hess as witnesses and wedding guests.

In 1937 Forster boasted about his fight against "subhumans" and communists.
In 1939, following orders from Berlin, Forster led the agitation in Danzig to step up pressure for annexation by Nazi Germany and proclaimed that in future "Poland will be only a dream". The Danzig issue was one of the pretexts used for the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. He was hateful of Jews whom he called "dirty and slippery race" and he expressed his desire to control parts of Poland after Poles would be expelled from them.

Forster making a speech in 1939.

World War II.

Following Poland's defeat, Greiser became Gauleiter in the Warthegau, which became part of Germany after 1939. Forster became the Gauleiter and Reichstatthalter (governor) of the province Danzig-West Prussia from 1939–1945, thereby concentrating both the State and Nazi Party power in his hands. Adolf Hitler instructed the Gauleiters, namely Forster and his rival Arthur Greiser, in the Warthegau to Germanise the area, promising that "There would be no questions asked" about how this "Germanisation" was to be accomplished. Forster's goal was to make the area fully Germanised within ten years, and he was directly responsible for extermination policy in the region.

Extermination and ethnic cleansing.

Forster was directly responsible for extermination of non Germans in Danzig-West Prussia. He personally believed in the need to engage in genocide of Poles and stated that "We have to exterminate this nation, starting from the cradle" and declared that Poles and Jews are not human.
Around 70 camps were created for Polish population in Pomerania where they were subjected to murder, torture and in case of women and girls, rape before executions. Between 10 and 15 September Forster organised a meeting of top Nazi officials in his region and ordered to immediately remove all "dangerous" Poles, all Jews and Polish clergy- In some cases Forster individually ordered executions.On 19 October he reprimanded Nazi officials in the city of Grudziadz for not "spilling enough Polish blood"

The total number of victims of what Christopher Browning calls an "orgy of murder and deportation" cannot be precisely estimated. Forster reported that 87,000 people had been "evacuated" from the region by February 1940.

Mass execution in Piaśnica.

Execution in Piaśnica.

Forster was one of those responsible for the mass murders in Piaśnica, where approximately 12,000 to 16,000 Poles, Jews, Czechs and Germans were killed in the winter of 1939-1940. Forster personally encouraged such violence; in a speech at the Prusinski Hotel in Wejherowo he agitated ethnic Germans to attack Poles by saying "We have to eliminate the lice ridden Poles, starting with those in the cradle. In your hands I give the fate of the Poles; you can do with them what you want". The crowd gathered before the hotel chanted "Kill the Polish dogs!" and "Death to the Poles". The Selbstschutz later participated in the massacres as Piaśnica.

In 1946 a Polish National Tribunal in Gdańsk held Forster responsible for the murders at Piasnica.

Role in the Jewish Holocaust.

Forster at the outbreak of the war declared that "Jews are not humans, and must be eradicated like vermin...mercy towards Jews is reprehensible. Any means of destruction of Jews is desirable."Jews were killed locally or deported to the General Government. By November 1939 Danzig-West Prussia was declared "Judenfrei".It is estimated that up to 30,000 Jews from Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany in Pomerania and attached to Danzig-West Prussia were murdered during the war.

Germanisation policies.

The Nazi policy and terror instituted by Forster offered only two possibilities to the Polish population: extermination or Germanisation. Forster pursued a policy of genocide and forced assimilation of the population in his area of responsibility.At the start of the war Forster planned to ethnically cleanse all Polish population originating from Congress Poland and all Jewish population by February 1940 from his Gau, but unforeseen problems with agriculture workers and inadequate character of German settlers forced him to revise his policies.Forster was willing to accept any and all Poles who claimed to have "German blood" as Germans.In practice, the method of determining whether Poles had any German ancestry or not was to send out Nazi Party workers to interview the local Poles; all Poles who stated that they had German ancestry had their answers taken at face value with no documentation required.Refusal to become Germanised was punishable by deportation to the General Government or imprisonment in a concentration camp.In some cases whole settlements were classed as populated by Germans in order to meet quotas Forster laid down.Practical issues like food production could influence Forster's decisions on who to expel.

Forster was at odds with Arthur Greiser, who had complained to Heinrich Himmler, the 'Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germandom', that Forster's assimilation policy was against Nazi racial theory. When Himmler approached Forster over this issue, Forster simply ignored him, realizing that Hitler allowed each Gauleiter to run his area as he saw fit. Both Greiser and Himmler complained to Hitler that Forster was allowing thousands of Poles to be classified as Germans, but Hitler merely bounced the problem back to them, telling them to go sort out their problems with Forster on their own. This was a difficult task; Himmler's attempts to cajole Forster to see matters his way met with resentment and contempt. In a discussion with Richard Hildebrandt Forster scoffed, "if I looked like Himmler, I wouldn't talk about race".

The outcome of these policies was that two thirds of the ethnic Polish population of Forster's Gau would be classed as German under the Deutsche Volksliste.

Although far fewer Poles would be removed from Danzig-West Prussia than in the neighbouring Warthegauit is estimated that by the end of the war, up to 60,000 people had been murdered in the region and up to 170,000 expelled. Other estimates place the expulsion figure at around 35,000 people.Forster himself reported that 87,000 people had been "evacuated" from the region by February 1940.

Conflict with SS and colonization policies.
Forster's conflict with the SS also had direct and injurious consequences for ethnic Germans. During the war, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans were moved by Nazi-Soviet agreement from the Soviet Union into Poland and used as colonists in Nazi occupied Poland. While Greiser did all he could to accommodate them in his Reichsgau, Forster viewed them with hostility, claiming that his region needed young farmers while the refugees were old and urbanized. He initially refused to admit any of them into his Reichsgau. When a ship bearing several thousands of ethnic Germans from the Baltic states arrived at Danzig he initially refused them entry unless Himmler promised that they would not be settled in Danzig-West Prussia but proceed immediately elsewhere, an assurance that Himmler could not provide. It was only following a lengthy telephone consultation with the desperate Himmler that Forster allowed the passengers to disembark, on the understanding that their residence in the Reichsgau would be temporary, though most did not, ultimately, leave the region. In time he had to relent, and by June 1944 53,258 colonists had settled in Danzig-West Prussia, a far cry from the 421,780 settled in the Warthegau. Forster's Germanization policies left less free land and housing than Greiser's mass expulsions, although it is evident that Forster's perception of the ethnic German refugees as wards of the SS played its role in determining his attitude.

Trial and death.

At the end of the war, Forster took refuge in the British Occupation Zone of Germany. The British handed him to communist Poland. Forster was condemned to death by the Polish court for war crimes (the Supreme National Tribunal) and crimes against humanity in 1948. He was held and had his sentence deferred. The Polish president denied clemency on 21 February 1952 and Forster was moved from Danzig to Mokotów Prison in Warsaw, where he was hanged on 28 February 1952. His wife, who had not heard from him since 1949, was informed of his death in 1954.

Arthur Karl Greiser .

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-E05455, Arthur Greiser (2).jpg

Arthur Karl Greiser 

Arthur Karl Greiser (22 January 1897 – 21 July 1946) was a Nazi German politician, SS-Obergruppenführer and Reichsstatthalter (Reich Governor) of the German-occupied territory of Wartheland annexed from Poland.. He was one of the persons primarily responsible for organizing the Holocaust in Poland and numerous other crimes against humanity. Arrested by the Americans in 1945, he was tried, convicted and executed by hanging in Poland in 1946.

Early life and career.

Born in Schroda (Środa Wielkopolska), Province of Posen, Imperial Germany, Greiser was the son of a minor local bailiff (Gerichtsvollzieher). He learned to speak Polish fluently during his childhood. In 1903, he enrolled in elementary school, which was followed by two years of intermediate school and finally the Königlich-Humanistisches Gymnasium (Royal Humanities Secondary School) in Hohensalza, which he left in 1914 without receiving a diploma. In August 1914, he volunteered to join the Imperial German Navy. He served in the Kiel harbour naval forts at Korugen, Falckenstein, and in the fortress tower of Laboe from August, 1914 to July, 1915. He was then assigned as an artillery observer in Flanders as well as participating in minesweeping operations in Friedrichsort. In April, 1917, he volunteered for service in the Naval Flying Corps where he initially served as an observer with SEE I and II and then with Küstenfliegerstaffel I and II. From August, 1917 to August, 1918, he was assigned as a naval aviator to Marine Schutzstaffel I. During this time, he was transferred to Seeflugstation Flandern II (Ostende) and he later flew with the Seefrontstaffel and MFJ IV. From December, 1917 to January, 1918, he was attached to the KE-Schule Langfuhr (near Danzig). While deployed to combat duty, he flew missions over the North Sea between the southern English and Belgian coasts. He was later shot down and wounded by gunfire. On 30 September 1919, he was classified as 50% war-disabled and discharged from naval service.

He earned the Iron Cross (First and Second Class), the Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 and a Wound Badge in Black in 1914. From 1919 to May 1921, he served in the Freikorps Grenzschutz Ost and fought in the Baltic states.

Beginning career in the Nazi Party.

Greiser was fanatically anti-Christian and an early member of the Nazi Party (number 166,635). After many years with the nationalist Deutschsoziale Partei (DtSP) founded by Richard Kunze and membership in the Stahlhelm in the mid-1920s, he joined the NSDAP and SA on 1 November 1929. He joined the SS on 30 June 1931 and was later awarded the Golden Party Badge.

He was the Senate President (Senatspräsident) of the Free City of Danzig (Gdańsk, Poland) in 1935–1939, and the administrator (Reichsstatthalter und Gauleiter) of Reichsgau Wartheland (1939–1945). As Senate President of Danzig, he was described as a "hothead" and was a serious rival to his nominal superior Albert Forster, Gauleiter of the city since 1930. Greiser was part of the SS empire whilst Forster was closely aligned to the Nazi Party Mandarins Rudolf Hess and later Martin Bormann.

Greiser was directly responsible for escalating tensions between the Free City and the Republic of Poland in 1939. When the Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Józef Beck threatened economic reprisals following the harassment of Polish frontier guards and customs officers, Greiser issued an announcement on 29 July 1939 declaring that the Danzig police no longer recognised their authority or power, and demanded their immediate withdrawal. The notice was so rudely worded that the Polish diplomatic representative to Danzig, Marian Chodacki, refused to forward it to Beck and instead sent a court summary.

Greiser as Senate President in 1936 with his wife.

World War II.

In Poznan, 1939.

Immediately following the German invasion of Poland, Greiser was transferred from Danzig and appointed "Chef der Zivilverwaltung im Militärbezirk Posen" or Chief of Civil Administration in the military district of Posen, which was annexed to the German Reich on 8 September 1939. The military administration ended the following month, and he was then appointed Gauleiter (21 October) and "Reichsstatthalter für den Reichsgau Posen" (26 October). On 29 January 1940, the region was renamed Reichsgau Wartheland.

The territory was potentially very rich – the Prussian Imperial province of Posen had been the breadbasket of Wilhelmine Germany before 1914, possessed an excellent rail and road network, and a comparatively healthy and well educated workforce; Litzmanstadt (Łódź) had developed a fairly sophisticated industrial base during the 19th century. Although every Gauleiter was expected to fully Germanize his assigned area by any means, Greiser emphasized brutality to achieve this goal. He was an ardent racist who enthusiastically pursued an 'ethnic cleansing' program to rid the Warthegau of Poles and to resettle the 'cleansed' areas with ethnic Germans. This was along the lines of the racial theories espoused by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler.

Public execution of Polish civilians by the Nazi Germans in Łódź, 1942.

 Mass expulsions of Poles from the Warthegau to the General Government and summary executions were the norm. A Polish servant in Greiser's house described him as "a powerfully built figure. He was a tall man, you could see his arrogance, his conceit. He was so vain, so full of himself—as if there was nothing above him, a god, almost. Everybody tried to get out of his way, people had to bow to him, salute him. And the Poles, he treated them with great contempt. For him the Poles were slaves, good for nothing but work". Greiser himself stated his beliefs: "If, in past times, other peoples enjoyed their century-long history by living well, and doing so by getting foreign peoples to work for them without compensating them accordingly and without meting out justice to them, then we too, as Germans want to learn from this history. No longer must we stand in the wings; on the contrary, we must altogether become a master race!".

Reviewing the troops in Posen, November 1939. Greiser is on the right with Wilhelm Frick (center) and Generalmajor Walter Petzel (left.).

In addition to mass deportation, Greiser's district was also at the forefront of "internal" racial cleansing according to Nazi ideals. His subordinate Wilhelm Koppe provided the 'Special Detachment (Sonderkommando) Lange' to the nearby Gau of East Prussia during May and June 1940. This SS squad gassed 1558 patients from mental asylums at the Soldau concentration camp and then returned to his region to continue this process.

Greiser was also involved in the resettlement of German refugees from lands annexed to the Soviet Union in 1939 and 1940. Between October and December 1939, nearly 60,000 Volksdeutsche arrived in Germany from the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia. Evidently Wilfried Strik-Strikfeldt (later employed as translator for General Andrey Vlasov) was in this group, as he "resettled" in Posen. Neighbouring Gauleiter and rival Albert Forster refused them entry, and they were largely settled in properties seized from Poles in Poznań and across the Wartheland. However even Greiser was wary, noting that many were elderly and urbanized aristocrats with a strong class consciousness, not the virile peasant warrior types idolized by the SS. Closer to his heart were the over 100,000 Volksdeutsche who were evacuated from Volhynia and eastern Galicia. These were mostly farmers and rural people, and, learning from the Baltic experience, Łódź in eastern Wartheland was designated the main Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (VoMi) reception centre. In May 1940 a further 30,000 Volksdeutsche were relocated from the Nazi General Government of Poland to Greiser's domain. After 1941 a further 300,000 Volksdeutsche were evacuated from Russia and Ukraine to Wartheland during the German invasion and occupation of the Soviet Union. Greiser's Poznań was considered the Germanised city par excellence, and on 3 August 1943 he hosted a national gathering of Gauleiter and senior Nazis, including Martin Bormann, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler.

Arthur Greiser in March 1944 welcoming the one-millionth Volksdeutscher resettled from East Europe to occupied Poland as part of the "Heim ins Reich" campaign.

Anti-Church campaign.

Richard J. Evans wrote that the Catholic Church was the institution that, "more than any other had sustained Polish national identity over the centuries". The Nazi plan for Poland entailed the destruction of the Polish nation. This necessarily required attacking the Polish Church, particularly in those areas annexed to Germany. Greiser, with the encouragement of Reinhard Heydrich and Martin Bormann, launched a severe attack on the Catholic Church. He cut off support to the Church from the state and from outside influences such as the Vatican and Germany. In July 1940 he instituted Bormann's anti-church "thirteen point" measures in the territory. The anti-church measures, which had Hitler's approval, suggest how the Nazis aimed to de-church German society.

Catholic Church properties and funds were confiscated, and lay organisations shut down. Evans wrote that "Numerous clergy, monks, diocesan administrators and officials of the Church were arrested, deported to the General Government, taken off to a concentration camp in the Reich, or simply shot. Altogether some 1700 Polish priests ended up at Dachau: half of them did not survive their imprisonment." Greiser's administrative chief August Jager had earlier led the effort at Nazification of the Evangelical Church in Prussia. In Poland, he earned the nickname "Kirchenjäger" (Church Hunter) for the vehemence of his hostility to the Church. "By the end of 1941", wrote Evans, "the Polish Catholic Church had been effectively outlawed in the Wartheland. It was more or less Germanized in the other occupied territories, despite an encyclical issued by the Pope as early as 27 October 1939 protesting against this persecution."


SS-Obergruppenführer Greiser was not only fully aware of the Holocaust but actively participated in it. Early in 1940, Greiser is on record challenging Hermann Göring over efforts to delay the expulsion of Łódź Jews to Poland. On 18 September 1941, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler informed Greiser that he intended to transfer 60,000 Czech and German Jews to the Łódź ghetto until spring 1942, when they would be "resettled". The first transport arrived a few weeks later, and Greiser sought and received permission from Himmler to kill 100,000 Jews in his area. He then instructed HSSPF Wilhelm Koppe to manage the overcrowding. Koppe and SS-Sturmbannführer Herbert Lange proceeded to manage the problem by experimenting at a country estate at Chełmno nad Nerem with gas vans, establishing the first extermination unit which ultimately carried out the mass murder of approximately 150,000 Jews between late 1941 and April 1942. Furthermore on 6 October 1943 Greiser hosted a national assembly of senior SS officers in Posen at which Himmler candidly spoke of the mass executions of civilians (the infamous Posen Speech).

On 20 January 1945, Greiser ordered a general evacuation of Posen (having received a telegram from Bormann relaying Hitler's order to leave the city). Greiser left the city the same evening and reported to Himmler's personal train in Frankfurt am Oder. There Greiser found that he had been tricked by Bormann. Hitler had announced that Posen must be held at all costs, and Greiser was now viewed as a deserter and coward, particularly by Goebbels, who in his diary on 2 March 1945 labeled Greiser "a real disgrace to the (Nazi) Party", but his recommendations for punishment after the capture of Poznań were ignored.

He surrendered to the Americans in Austria with SS-Obergruppenführer Heinz Reinefarth in 1945.

Trial and execution.

After the war, the Polish government (the Supreme National Tribunal) tried him for war crimes. His defence that he was only following orders did not hold up as it was shown that other Gauleiters had not followed a similar policy. For example, Albert Forster, Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia (the other German-annexed section of occupied Poland), simply declared all Poles in his area who were reasonably proficient in German to be Germans (although he was guilty of the elimination of the Jewish population under his jurisdiction either by murder or deportation). Greiser's advocates, Stanisław Hejmowski and Jan Kręglewski, tried to convince the Tribunal that Greiser, as a head of formally independent state, the Free City of Danzig, could not be judged by another country, an argument rejected by the court. Greiser was convicted of:

  • genocide and the murder of civilians and POWs;
  • torture, persecution, and injuring civilians and POWs;
  • organized and systematic destruction of Polish culture, plunder of Polish cultural heritage, Germanisation of the country and the Polish people, illegal appropriation of public property;
  • organised and systematic looting of Polish property;
  • insulting and deriding the Polish nation by propagating its cultural inferiority and low social worth;
  • forcibly expelling individuals, families, neighbourhoods and whole districts to the General Government or forced labour camps in the German Reich;
  • persecution and murder of Polish Jews by killing them in their places of residence, grouping them in closed ghettos from which they were sent to the Chelmno extermination camp for extermination in gas chambers, deriding the Jewish people in actions and words, causing physical suffering, injury and humiliation of human dignity;
  • taking Polish children against the will of their parents or guardians, forcibly putting them in German families or public orphanages within the Reich while severing all contacts with their families and nation by giving them German names.
The Tribunal decided that Greiser was guilty of all charges and sentenced him to death by hanging, civil death, and confiscation of all his property. In the early morning of 21 July 1946 he was transported from prison to the slope of Fort Winiary where he was hanged before a large crowd.It was the last public execution in Poland .

 Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger.

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  Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger (8 May 1894[1] – 10 May 1945) was a Nazi official and high-ranking member of the SA and SS. Between 1939 and 1943 he was Higher SS and Police the General Government in German-occupied Poland and in that capacity he organized and supervised numerous acts of war crimes and had a major responsibility for the Holocaust.

Early life.

Krüger was born into a military family in Strassburg, Alsace-Lorraine, Germany (nowadays in France) in 1894; he received elementary school education, but ultimately left school before graduating to begin a military career as a cadet in military schools in Karlsruhe and Gross-Lichterfelde. In June 1914, Krüger was commissioned a second lieutenant in the German Army when World War I broke out. During the course of the war, he was wounded three times and awarded the 1st and 2nd class Iron Crosses. After the war, Krüger first joined a naval brigade; in August 1919, he became a member of the Freikorps von Lützow, which he left again in March 1920.Returning to civil employment, he worked as a clerk in Berlin until 1923, then assumed another position as the director of the Berlin's refuse company (Bemag) in 1924. He stayed in that position until 1928, then left the company and began a career as a self-employed entrepreneur. Krüger married in 1922; he and his wife had two children, and adopted three foster children.


While working at the refuse company, he probably also met Kurt Daluege for the first time. Daluege was an engineer at the company at that time who later on became SS commander in Berlin and leader of the Ordnungspolizei ("order police") or Orpo.The two men soon formed a friendship. In November 1929, Krüger joined the NSDAP (as member 171199) ; in February 1931, he also joined the SS (6123),which he left again abruptly in April to transfer to the SA. With the help of Daluege, Krüger instantly acquired the SA rank and the power necessary to conduct reforms of the SA Formation East. He was promoted to SA-Gruppenführer (equivalent to major-general) in 1932 and joined Ernst Röhm's personal staff.

In June 1933, Krüger was promoted again to SA-Obergruppenführer and appointed chief of the Ausbildungswesen[6] ("training", AW). Cooperating closely with the Reichswehr, he used his new position to school the SA's best recruits (an estimated 250,000) to become officers. Krüger was not caught in the Night of the Long Knives, in which Röhm and many other high-ranking SA members were killed, and it has been speculated that his switch from the SS to the SA was only for pragmatic reasons, especially in the light of Krüger transferring the SA armouries of which he was in charge to the Reichswehr as soon as the purge began. Nevertheless, Krüger was left without a job temporarily, until he re-entered the SS while still keeping his SA rank.

In 1935, Krüger was appointed SS-Oberabschnittsführer. On 21 February 1936, he was appointed inspector of border guard units as well as Adolf Hitler's personal representative at a variety of formal and informal NSDAP events. Krüger enjoyed continued promotions as a result of his loyalty to the Nazi Party as well as his military, police and administration skills.

Promotion and war crimes in Poland.

On 4 October 1939, because of his ambition and his loyalty to the party, Heinrich Himmler, appointed him to as Higher SS and Police Leader (HSSPF East) (Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer) in the part of German-occupied Poland called the General Government. Krüger thus became one of the most powerful men in occupied Poland. Among other things he was responsible for: crushing rebellion in the extermination camps, setting up forced labour camps, the employment of police and SS in the evacuations of people from Warsaw ghettos, the execution of Aktion Erntefest, the so-called "anti-partisan" fighting in the General Government, and the driving out of over 1,000,000 Polish farmers from the area around Zamość. Authority quarrels with governor general Hans Frank led to his dismissal on 9 November 1943. He was replaced by Wilhelm Koppe. The Polish Secret State ordered his death, but an assassination attempt on 20 April 1943 in Kraków failed when two bombs hurled at his car missed the target. Six months later, he wrote in a letter, "I have lost honour and reputation due to my four year struggle in the GG (General Government) (Ich habe für meinen vierjährigen Kampf im GG Ehre und Reputation verloren).

Later career and death.

From November 1943 until April 1944 Krüger served with the 7th SS mountain infantry "Prince Eugen" division in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. While ostensibly engaged in anti-partisan actions in Yugoslavia, this unit became notorious for committing atrocities against the civilian population.

Later from June to August Krüger took over the command over the 6th SS Mountain Division Nord in northern Finland. From August 1944 until February 1945 Krüger was commanding general of the 5th SS Mountain Infantry Corps. In February 1945 he was Himmler's representative at the German southeast front and in April and May 1945 he was commander of a combat unit of the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo) at Army Group South (known as Army Group Ostmark after 1 May 1945). At the end of the war Krüger committed suicide in upper Austria.

Erich Koch. 

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H13717, Erich Koch.jpg

Erich Koch.

Erich Koch (19 June 1896 – 12 November 1986) was a Gauleiter of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in East Prussia from 1928 until 1945. Between 1941 and 1945 he was the Chief of Civil Administration (Chef der Zivilverwaltung) of Bezirk Bialystok. During this period, he was also the Reichskommissar in Reichskommissariat Ukraine from 1941 until 1943. After the Second World War, Koch stood trial in Poland and was convicted in 1959 of war crimes and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment a year later.

Early life and First World War.

Koch was born in Elberfeld, today part of Wuppertal, as the son of foreman Gustav Adolf Koch (1862 – 1932) and his wife Henriette, née Matthes (1863 – 1939). In World War I he served without distinction as a soldier from 1915 till 1918 and later fought as a member of Freikorps Rossbach in Upper Silesia. A skilled trader, Koch joined the railway service as an aspirant for the middle level of the civil service. He was dismissed from this position in 1926 for anti-republican activities.

Rise in the Nazi Party.

Koch joined the NSDAP in 1922 {member # 90}. From 1922 he worked in various party positions in the NSDAP-Gau Ruhr. During the Occupation of the Ruhr, he was a member of Albert Leo Schlageter's group and was imprisoned several times by the French authorities.In 1927 he became Bezirksführer of the NSDAP in Essen and later the deputy Gauleiter of Gau Ruhr. Koch belonged to the left wing of the party and was a supporter of the faction led by Gregor Strasser.


In 1928 Koch became Gauleiter of the Province of East Prussia and the leader of the NSDAP faction in the provincial diet. From September 1930 he was a member of the Reichstag for East Prussia. After the Machtergreifung, Koch was appointed to the Prussian State Council in July 1933.[1] He became Oberpräsident of East Prussia in September 1933, replacing Wilhelm Kutscher. In 1938 Koch was appointed SA-Obergruppenführer.


Gauleiter of East Prussia.

Koch's pre-war rule in East Prussia was characterized by efforts to collectivize the local agriculture and ruthlessness in dealing with his critics inside and outside the Party. He also had long-term plans for mass-scale industrialization of the largely agricultural province. These actions made him unpopular among the local peasants. However, through publicly funded emergency relief programs concentrating on agricultural land-improvement projects and road construction, the "Erich Koch Plan" for East Prussia allegedly made the province free of unemployment; on August 16, 1933 Koch reported to Hitler that unemployment had been banished entirely from East Prussia, a feat that gained admiration throughout the Reich.


Koch's industrialization plans led him into conflict with R. Walther Darré, who held the office of the Reich Peasant Leader (Reichsbauernführer) and Minister of Agriculture. Darré, a neopaganist rural romantic, wanted to enforce his vision of an agricultural East Prussia. When his "Land" representatives challenged Koch's plans, Koch had them arrested.


Second World War.


At the commencement of World War II Koch was appointed Reich Defence Commissioner (Reichsverteidigungskommissar) for East Prussia (Military District I). On 26 October 1939, after the end of the Invasion of Poland, he was transferred from East Prussia to the new Reichsgau Westpreußen, later renamed to Danzig-West Prussia. East Prussia was compensated with Regierungsbezirk Zichenau (previously Ciechanów). These new areas lay approximately between the rivers Vistula and Narew.


In March 1940 Theodor Schieder, who was director in charge of Regional Office for Postwar History (Landesstelle fur Nachkriegsgeschichte), presented Gauleiter Erich Koch with a detailed plan regarding studies of territories annexed to East Prussia; Koch himself wanted to know political, social and ethnic conditions in those areas. Schieder in return sent two reports to Koch, including a population inventory conducted at the end of 19th century of the area in question, which was most relevant to Nazi policies of extermination and settlement, and provided basis for segration of Jewish and "Slavic" spouses from ethnic Germans in the German Volksliste.


Soon after the invasion of the Soviet Union, Koch was appointed "civil commissioner" (Zivilkommissar) on 1 August 1941, and later as Chief of Civil Administration in Bezirk Bialystok.


In 1942 Gauleiter Erich Koch expressed thanks to Theodor Schieder for his help in Nazi operations in annexed Poland wrtiting: As a director of 'Landesstelle Ostpreußen für Nachkriegsgeschichte' you have provided material that provided significant service in our fight against Poles and continues to help us in establishing new order today in Regierungsbezirke Zichenau and Bialystok.


Erich Koch (right) and Alfred Rosenberg (center) in Kiev, Reichskommissariat Ukraine.

On 1 September Koch became Reichskommissar of Reichskommissariat Ukraine with control of the Gestapo and the uniformed police. His domain now extended from the Baltic to the Black Sea;[6] it comprised ethnic German, Polish, Belarus and Ukrainian areas. As Reichskommissar he had full authority in his realm, which led into conflict with other elements of the Nazi bureaucracy. Alfred Rosenberg, Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories (Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete), expressed his disapproval of Koch's autonomous actions to Hitler in December 1941.


Koch's first act as Reichskommissar was to close local schools, declaring that "Ukraine children need no schools. What they'll have to learn will be taught them by their German masters." His brutality is best exemplified by his remark, "If I meet a Ukrainian worthy of being seated at my table, I must have him shot." Koch worked together with the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment (Generalbevollmächtigter für den Arbeitseinsatz) Fritz Sauckel in providing the Reich with forced labor. He was also involved in the persecution of Polish and Ukrainian Jews. Due to his brutal actions, Nazi rule in Ukraine was disturbed by a growing number of partisan uprisings.


Statements about the Germans as a Herrenvolk (master race) belong to the Nazi officials of various ranks. In particular when Reichskommissar Ukraine Erich Koch said:

We are a master race, which must remember that the lowliest German worker is racially and biologically a thousand times more valuable than the population here.

— Erich Koch, March 5th 1943,

Koch was appointed as head of the Volkssturm of East Prussia on 25 November 1944. As the Red Army advanced into his area during 1945, Koch initially fled Königsberg to Berlin at the end of January after condemning the Wehrmacht from attempting a similar breakout from East Prussia. He then returned to the far safer town of Pillau, "where he made a great show of organizing the marine evacuation using Kriegsmarine radio communications, before once more getting away himself" by escaping through this Baltic Sea port on 23 April 1945 on the icebreaker Ostpreußen. From Pillau through Hel Peninsula, Rügen, and Copenhagen he arrived at Flensburg, where he hid himself after unsuccessfully demanding that a U-boat take him to South America. He was captured by British forces in Hamburg in May 1949.


Trial and imprisonment.

The Soviet Union demanded Koch's extradition, but the British government decided to pass him on to the Polish government instead. On 14 January 1950 he was handed over by the British to a prison in Warsaw, the Mokotów Prison, where he remained imprisoned for another eight years before his trial began on 19 October 1958. He faced charges of war crimes for the extermination of 400,000 Poles, but was never indicted for his crimes in Ukraine.


Found guilty of these crimes, he was sentenced to death on 9 March 1959 by the district court in Warsaw for having planned, prepared and organized the mass murder of civilians.


His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment due to ill health, although many believe he was spared because the Soviets thought he possessed information about art looted by the Nazis during the war; in particular, information about the whereabouts of the Amber Room of Tsarskoe Selo palace near Leningrad which was dismantled on Koch's direct orders. The Soviets believed he had ordered parts of this famous room to be hidden on board the Wilhelm Gustloff cruise liner, which was torpedoed and sunk in the Baltic whilst evacuating refugees from East Prussia in early 1945. Salvage attempts by both Soviet and Polish diving teams in the 1950s revealed no evidence to substantiate this theory.


Koch appeared in a television report on Königsberg's history in 1986, interviewed by West German journalists in his Polish prison cell. He remained unrepentant to the end, arguing that he would never have surrendered as "it was a matter of honour". He died shortly thereafter of natural causes in prison at Barczewo, Poland (formerly Wartenburg in East Prussia) at the age of 90, as the last war criminal to serve a term in Poland.


Koch and Christianity.

Koch was one of only a few openly Christian Nazi party members. In addition to his political career, Koch was also the elected praeses of Synod of the old-Prussian Ecclesiastical Province of East Prussia. Although Koch gave preference to the Deutsche Christen movement over traditional Protestantism, his contemporaries regarded Koch as a bona fide Christian, whose success in his church career could be attributed to his commitment to the Lutheran faith.


Koch officially resigned his church membership in 1943, but in his post-war testimony he stated: "I held the view that the Nazi idea had to develop from a basic Prussian-Protestant attitude and from Luther's unfinished Protestant Reformation". On the 450th Anniversary of Luther's birth (10 November 1933), Koch spoke on the circumstances surrounding Luther's birthday. He implied that the Machtergreifung was an act of divine will and stated that both Luther and Hitler struggled in the name of belief.


It has been speculated that Koch's conflicts with Rosenberg and Darré had a religious element to them: both Rosenberg and Darré were anti-Christian Nordicists who did not believe that the Nazi Weltanschauung ("world view") was compatible with Christianity.

                                                                                     The Gestapo NKWD conference,


The Gestapo-NKVD conferences were a series of meetings organized in late 1939 and early 1940, whose purpose was the mutual cooperation between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union. In spite of several differences, both Heinrich Himmler and Lavrentiy Beria had common purposes as far as the fate of Poland was concerned, and the conferences discussed coordinating plans for occupation of the Polish nation and in fighting the Polish resistance movement, which was an irritant to both Nazi and Soviet occupiers of Poland.


                                                                            Heinrich Himmler.               Lavrentiy Beria.
Out of four conferences, the third took place in the famous Tatra Mountains spa of Zakopane, and is the most remembered (the Zakopane Conference). From the Soviet side, several officers of the NKVD participated in these meetings, and the Germans brought a group of experts from the Gestapo.
In 1939, after the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in August, the German invasion of Poland on 1 September and Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September resulted in the country being occupied by the Soviet Union.
First Conference.
Little is known about this meeting. It reportedly took place on September 27, 1939 in Brzesc nad Bugiem, while some units of the Polish Army were still fighting. Both sides correctly expected that Polish resistance would start soon, thus they discussed ways of nipping it in the bud.
Second Conference.
It took place some time at the end of November 1939, probably in Przemyśl - a city which in the period September 1939 - June 1941 was divided into two parts, German and Soviet. Apart from talks of fighting Polish resistance, the Soviets and the Germans discussed ways of exchanging Polish POWs. Also, first discussions about the extermination of the Polish nation were started. Some historians claim this meeting took place in Lviv.
Third Conference.
This one is the best known, and took place in Zakopane, starting on February 20, 1940 in the villa “Pan Tadeusz”, located on the road from Zakopane to Białka Tatrzańska.


                                                                                                       Adolf Eichmann.

The German side was represented by Adolf Eichmann and an official by the name of Zimmermann, who later became chief of the Radom District of the General Government. The Soviets, among others, brought Rita Zimmerman (director of a gold mine in Kolyma) and a man named Eichmans, creator of an efficient way of killing in the back of the head.

According to several sources, one of the effects of this conference was the German ''Ausserordentliche Befriedungsaktion (see: German AB Action operation in Poland) and the Soviet Katyn massacre (a number of historians, including Norman Davies, claim that these two events were carried out cooperatively). Also, both sides agreed in the final protocol that the Polish nation should be completely moved out by the year 1975, either by mass murders or by deportations to remote areas of Siberia (by that year, 95% of the Poles still alive were going to be deported to the shores of the Jana river, located in northern Siberia, about two thousand miles north of Vladivostok).

News about the conference must have leaked out to Great Britain], but London did not seem to care, which was immediately noticed by Joseph Stalin. Also, most probably in Zakopane, the Germans rejected suggestions of the Soviets to take over Polish officers, which sealed their fate. On March 5, 1940, in Moscow, the decision was made to murder them.

British historian Robert Conquest in his 1991 book Stalin: Breaker of Nations stated: "Terminal horror suffered by so many millions of innocent Jewish, Slavic, and other European peoples as a result of this meeting of evil minds is an indelible stain on the history and integrity of Western civilization, with all of its humanitarian pretensions". Also, professor George Watson from Cambridge University concluded in his "Rehearsal for the Holocaust?" commentary (June 1981) that the fate of the interned Polish officers may have been decided at this conference.
Fourth conference.

The fourth and last meeting took place in March 1940 in Krakow (according to some historians, it was part of the Zakopane Conference). This event was described by General Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski,


Bor Komorowskibefore the war.

After the war in England.

            General Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski before he went underground and eventually became the leader of the Home Army. 



commander of Armia Krajowa. In 1940 he was the leader of the Kraków-Silesia Area of AK and, as he wrote in his book “Armia Podziemna” (“The Secret Army”): “In March of 1940 we received news that a special delegation of NKVD came to Krakow, which was going to discuss with Gestapo how to act against the Polish resistance. NKVD had already known that there was a centralized organization directed by a single headquarters. Talks in Krakow lasted for several weeks. I would receive reports of them, names of participants and their addresses”.

One of the ways of fighting Polish organized resistance in the General Government was creation of communist organizations (such as "Hammer and Sickle" or "Association of Friends of Soviet Union"), overseen by Moscow. Left-wing activists were cooperating with the NKVD, passing to them information about Polish patriotic groups. The Soviets then handed these reports to the Gestapo.
                                                                                    German AB-Aktion in Poland.




                  A photo taken by the Polish underground of intellectuals being rounded up in Plamiry near Warsaw 1940.


The German AB Action was a Nazi German campaign during World War II aimed to eliminate the intellectuals and the upper classes of the Polish people and of Polish nationhood. In the spring and summer of 1940, more than 30,000 Poles were arrested by the Nazi authorities in German-occupied Poland. About 7,000 leaders and professors, teachers and priests (labeled as suspected of criminal activities) were subsequently massacred at various locations including at the Palmiry Forest. The others were sent to German concentration camps.

The mass murder of Polish leaders, politicians, artists, aristocrats, the intelligentsia, and people suspected of potential anti-Nazi activity was seen as a pre-emptive measure to keep the Polish resistance scattered and to prevent the Poles from revolting during the planned German invasion of France.The anti-Polish campaign was prepared by Hans Frank, the commander of the General Government, and was also discussed with Soviet officials during a series of secretive Gestapo-NKVD Conferences.

The first elimination of Polish intelligentsia took place soon after the German invasion of Poland, lasting from autumn 1939 until spring 1940. Operation Intelligenzaktion was a plan to eliminate the Polish intelligentsia, Poland's leadership class, realized by Einsatzgruppen and Selbstschutz. As the result of this operation 60,000 Polish nobles, teachers, polish entrepreneurs, social workers, priests, judges and political activists were killed in 10 regional actions. The Intelligenzaktion was continued by the German AB-Aktion operation in Poland.

Prior to the action, in late 1939 and early 1940, most Polish university professors, intellectuals, writers, politicians, teachers and other members of the elite of Polish society were briefly arrested by the Gestapo and had their names registered. Frank finally accepted and approved the Ausserordentliche Befriedungsaktion on May 16, 1940. In the following weeks, the German police, the Gestapo, the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) and units of the Wehrmacht arrested roughly 30,000 Poles in major Polish cities, including Warsaw, Łódź, Lublin and Kraków. The interned were held in a number of prisons, including the infamous Pawiak, where they were subject to brutal interrogations by Nazi officials. After time spent in the prisons of Warsaw, Kraków, Radom, Kielce, Nowy Sącz, Tarnów, Lublin or Wiśnicz, the arrested Poles were transferred to German concentration camps, most notably to the newly-created camp of Auschwitz, as well as Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen. Approximately 3,500 members of the Polish intelligentsia were executed at the mass murder sites in Palmiry near Warsaw, Firlej, Wincentynów near Radom, and in the Bliżyn forest near Skarżysko-Kamienna.


                              Maciej Rataj, Stefan Bryła, Tadeusz Tański, Mieczysław Niedziałkowski and Janusz Kusociński.

Among those killed were Maciej Rataj, Stefan Bryła, Tadeusz Tański, Mieczysław Niedziałkowski and Janusz Kusociński. Actions were started on a similar scale in other Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany. According to many historians, including Norman Davies, the action against Polish leaders was coordinated with the authorities of the Soviet Union, who at the same time perpetrated the mass murder of 22,000 Polish military officers at Katyń and other places.

The active persecution of Polish intellectuals was continued until the end of the war. The direct continuation of the AB Action was a German campaign in the east started after the German invasion of the USSR. Among the most notable mass executions of Polish professors was the massacre of Lwów professors, in which approximately 45 professors of the university in Lwów were murdered together with their families and guests. Among those killed in the massacre were Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, former Polish prime minister Kazimierz Bartel, Włodzimierz Stożek, and Stanisław Ruziewicz. Thousands more perished in the Ponary massacre, in German concentration camps, and in ghettos.




                                      Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, Kazimierz Bartel,, Włodzimierz Stożek,, Stanisław Ruziewicz..


After the war, many people responsible for organisation of the AB Action were tried before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals. However, the majority of responsible German commanders were killed or vanished in the war before being held legally accountable for their crimes. The exact numbers of victims, and the dates of the executions, the causes of death of the Polish intelligentsia members in German captivity, are often contested by other European historians who dismiss a similarity with the Katyn massacres.


Palmiry is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Czosnów, within Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland.It is located at the edge of the Kampinos Forest, approximately 4 kilometres (2 mi) south-east of Czosnów, 11 km (7 mi) south-east of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, and 23 km (14 mi) north-west of Warsaw. In 2000 the village had an approximate population of 220.

Cemetery in Palmiry

The cemetery in Palmiry.

Mass executions during German occupation of Poland.

During World War II, between 1939 and 1943, the village and the surrounding forest were one of the sites of the Nazi German mass executions of Jews,polish intelligentsia, politicians and athletes, killed during the German AB-Aktion in Poland. Most of the victims were first arrested and tortured in the Pawiak prison in Warsaw, then transferred to the execution site. In total, about 2,000 Poles were murdered there in secret executions between December 7, 1939 and July 17, 1941.but the random killings went on beyond that date. After the war, the bodies of at least 2,115 men and women were exhumed on site. It is most likely, that not all remains scattered over a broad area were found. Listed among the known victims are:

Juliusz Dąbrowski, journalist and one of the leaders of Polish Scouting,
Agnieszka Dowbor-Muśnicki, resistance member and daughter of Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki,
Ludwik Dyzenhaus, lawyer,
Witold Hulewicz, poet and radio journalist,
Stefan Kopeć, biologist and physiologist, professor of the University of Warsaw,
Janusz Kusociński, athlete, winner of 10 000 m at the 1932 Summer Olympics.
Mieczysław Niedziałkowski, politician of the Polish Socialist Party,
Stanisław Piasecki, journalist, politician and art critic,
Jan Pohoski, politician, former deputy president of Warsaw,
Dawid Przepiórka, chess master,
Maciej Rataj, politician, Marshal of the Sejm,
Franz Sturm, dental surgeon,
Pinkus Topaz, photographer,
Kazimierz Zakrzewski, scientist, professor of the University of Warsaw,
Adam Zamenhof, ophthalmologist, son of L. L. Zamenhof, creator of the international language Esperanto,

Tomb of Janusz Kusociński.

In 1946, the bodies were exhumed and reburied in a new cemetery, situated approximately 5 kilometres from the village itself. The reburial site has been a Polish national mausoleum since 1948.

Death transport with empty trucks back to Warsaw after the execution in Palmiry.

 Soviet Repressions in Poland 1939-1946.

In the aftermath of the German and Soviet invasion of Poland, which took place in September 1939, the territory of Poland was divided between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (USSR). Both powers were hostile to Poland's sovereignty, the Polish culture and the Polish people, aiming at their destruction. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union coordinated their Poland-related policies right until the Operation Barbarossa, most visibly in the four Gestapo-NKVD Conferences, where the occupiers discussed plans for dealing with the Polish resistance movement and future destruction of Poland. There is some controversy as to whether Soviet policies were harsher than those of the Nazis.

The Soviet Union had ceased to recognise the Polish state at the start of the invasion. About 500,000 Poles were arrested and imprisoned before June 1941, including civic officials, military personnel and other "enemies of the people" like the clergy and the Polish educators: about one in ten of all adult males. Nonetheless, there were large groups of pre-war Polish citizens, notably Jewish youth and, to a lesser extent, the Ukrainian peasants, who saw the Soviet invasion as the opportunity to take part in political and social activity outside of their traditional ethnic or cultural environment. Their enthusiasm faded with time, as it became clear that the Soviet repressions were aimed at all groups equally, regardless of their ideological stance.

It is estimated that some 150,000 Polish citizens died during the Soviet occupation.


                   The 'Road of Bones' built by inmates of the Gulag camps, including those of Polish citizenship.


                    The Katyń Forest exhumation after a mass execution of Polish officers ordered by Soviet authorities in 1940.


The show trial of 16 leaders of Polish wartime underground movement (including Home Army and civil authorities) convicted of "drawing up plans for military action against the U.S.S.R.", Moscow, June 1945. The leaders were invited to help organize the new Polish Government of National Unity in March 1945 and immediately captured by NKVD. Despite the court's conspicuous leniency, only two were still alive six years later.

Aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Poland.

By the end of the Polish Defensive War, the Soviet Union took over 52.1% of the territory of Poland (circa 200,000 km²) with over 13,700,000 citizens. Regarding the ethnic composition of these areas: ca. 5.1 million or 38% of the population were Polish by ethnicity (wrote Elżbieta Trela-Mazur), with 37% Ukrainians, 14.5% Belarusians, 8.4% Jews, 0.9% Russians and 0.6% Germans. There were also 336,000 refugees from areas occupied by Germany, most of them Jews (198,000) All Polish territories occupied by USSR were annexed to the Soviet Union with the exception of the area of Wilno, which was transferred to Lithuania.

On 28 September 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany had changed the secret terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The formerly sovereign Lithuania was moved into the Soviet sphere of influence and attached to USSR as the brand new Lithuanian SSR among the Soviet republics. The demarcation line across the centre of Poland was shifted to the east, giving Germany more Polish territory By this new and final arrangement – often described as a fourth partition of Poland, the Soviet Union secured the lands east of the rivers Pisa, Narew, Bug and San. The area amounted to about 200,000 square kilometres inhabited by 13.5 million formerly Polish citizens.

Initially, the Soviet occupation gained support among some citizens of the Second Polish Republic who were not ethnically Polish. Some members of the Ukrainian population welcomed the unification with the Soviet Ukraine. The Ukrainians had failed to achieve independence in 1919 when their attempt at self-determination was crushed during the Polish-Soviet and Polish-Ukrainian Wars. Also, there were large groups of pre-war Polish citizens, notably Jewish youth and, to a lesser extent, the Ukrainian and Belarusian nationalists, who saw the Soviet NKVD presence as an opportunity to start political and social agitation. Their enthusiasm however faded with time as it became clear that the Soviet repressions were aimed at all peoples equally.. The only difference however, was that poles who were sympathesizers of a ethnic Germans opposed the Soviet invasion. The Nazis destruction of the Slavic lands both in Poland and the Soviet Union served a purpose for Hitler and this is undisputed. It was the Soviet Union that liberated Europe from Hitler.

The reign of terror.

The Soviet Union never officially declared war on Poland, and had ceased to recognise the Polish state at the start of the invasion. The Soviets therefore did not classify Polish military personnel as prisoners of war but as rebels against the new Soviet government in Western Ukraine and the Western Byelorussia.[n] The reign of terror by the NKVD and other Soviet agencies begun in 1939, as an inherent part of the Sovietization of Kresy. The first victims of the new order were approximately 250,000 Polish prisoners of war captured by the USSR during and after the invasion of Poland (see Polish prisoners in the USSR) As the Soviet Union had not signed international conventions on rules of war, the Polish prisoners were denied legal status. Almost all captured officers were murdered, and a large number of ordinary soldiers sent to the Soviet Gulag. In one notorious atrocity ordered by Stalin himself, the Soviet secret police systematically assassinated 21,768 Poles into execution pits in a remote area during the Katyn massacre. Among the 14,471 victims were top Polish Army officers including political leaders, government officials, and intellectuals. Some 4,254 dead bodies were uncovered in mass graves in Katyn Forest by the Nazis in 1943, who then invited an international group of neutral representatives and doctors to examin the corpses and confirm the Soviet guilt.] Even though, over 20,000 Polish military personnel and civilians perished in the Katyn massacre, thousands of others would fall victim to NKVD massacres of prisoners in mid-1941, ahead of the German advance across the Soviet occupation zone.

In total, the Soviets killed tens of thousands of Polish prisoners of war. Many of them, like General Józef Olszyna-Wilczyński, captured, interrogated and shot on 22 September, were executed already during the 1939 campaign.[19][20] On 24 September, the Soviets killed forty-two staff and patients of a Polish military hospital in the village of Grabowiec, near Zamość. The Soviets also executed all the Polish officers they captured after the Battle of Szack, on 28 September.

The Soviet authorities regarded service to the prewar Polish state as a "crime against revolution" and "counter-revolutionary activity", and proceeded to arrest large numbers of Polish intelligentsia, former officials, politicians, civil servants and scientists, intellectuals and the clergy, as well as ordinary people thought to pose a threat to Soviet rule. In the two years between the invasion of Poland and the 1941 attack on USSR by Germany, the Soviets arrested and imprisoned about 500,000 Poles. This was about one in ten of all adult males. The arrested members of the Polish intelligentsia included former prime ministers Leon Kozłowski and Aleksander Prystor and Stanisław Grabski, Stanisław Głąbiński and the Baczewski family. Initially aimed primarily at possible political opponents, by January 1940 the NKVD's campaign was also directed against potential allies, including Polish communists and socialists. Those arrested included Władysław Broniewski, Aleksander Wat, Tadeusz Peiper, Leopold Lewin, Anatol Stern, Teodor Parnicki, Marian Czuchnowski and many others. The Soviet NKVD executed about 65,000 imprisoned Poles after kangaroo trials.

The number of Poles who died due to Soviet repressions in the period 1939-1941 is estimated at at least 150,000.[8][9]

Mass deportations to the East.

Approximately 100,000 Polish citizens were arrested during the two years of Soviet occupation. The prisons soon got severely overcrowded, with all detainees accused of anti-Soviet activities. The NKVD had to open dozens of ad-hoc prison sites in almost all towns of the region. The wave of arrests and mock convictions contributed to forced resettlement of large categories of people ("kulaks", Polish civil servants, forest workers, university professors, "osadniks") to the Gulag labour camps and exile settlements in remote areas of the Soviet Union. Altogether roughly a million people were sent to Siberia. According to Norman Davies, almost half of them were dead by the time the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement had been signed in 1941.[

In 1940 and the first half of 1941, the Soviets deported a total of more than 1,200,000 Poles in four waves of mass deportations from the Soviet territories,while in Poland the Nazis and their collaborators murdered ethnic poles who opposed German rule. The first major operation took place on February 10, 1940, with more than 220,000 people sent to northern European Russia. The second wave of 13 April 1940, consisted of 320,000 people sent primarily to Kazakhstan. The third wave of June–July 1940 totaled more than 240,000. The fourth and final wave occurred in June 1941, deporting 300,000. Upon resumption of Polish-Soviet diplomatic relations in 1941, it was determined (based on Soviet information) that more than 760,000 deportees had died – a large part of those dead being Jewish children, who had comprised about a third of deportees.

According to the Soviet law, all residents of the annexed area, dubbed by the Soviets as citizens of former Poland, automatically acquired Soviet citizenship. However, actual conferral of citizenship still required individual consent and residents were strongly pressured for such consent. Those refugees who opted out were threatened with repatriation to Nazi controlled territories of Poland.

The Poles and the Soviets re-established diplomatic relations in 1941, following the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement; but the Soviets broke them off again in 1943 after the Polish government demanded an independent examination of the recently discovered Katyn burial pits. The Soviets then lobbied the Western Allies to recognize the pro-Soviet Polish puppet government of Wanda Wasilewska in Moscow.

Land reform and collectivisation.

The Red Army had originally sown confusion among the locals by claiming that they were arriving to save Poland from the Nazis. Their advance surprised Polish communities and their leaders, who had not been advised how to respond to a Bolshevik invasion. Polish and Jewish citizens may at first have preferred a Soviet regime to a German one,] but the Soviets soon proved as hostile and destructive towards the Polish citizens and their existence as the Nazis. They began confiscating, nationalising and redistributing all private and state-owned Polish property. Red Army troops requisitioned food and other goods. The Soviet base of support was strengthened temporarily by a land reform program initiated by the NKVD in which most of the owners of large lots of land were labeled "kulaks" and dispossessed of their land which was then divided among poorer peasants.

However, the Soviet authorities then started a campaign of forced collectivisation, which largely nullified the earlier gains from the land reform as the peasants generally did not want to join the Kolkhoz farms, nor to give away their crops for free to fulfill the state-imposed quotas, which undercut nearly everyone's material needs.

Dismantling of Polish governmental and social institutions.

Pro-Soviet caricatures published in Polish language in Lvov in September 1940, ridiculing "enemies of the state" - Polish businessmen, army officers and aristocracy.

While Germans enforced their policies based on racism, the Soviet administration justified their Stalinist policies by appealing to the Soviet ideology, which in reality meant the thorough Sovietization of the area. Immediately after their conquest of eastern Poland, the Soviet authorities started a campaign of sovietization of the newly acquired areas. No later than several weeks after the last Polish units surrendered, on October 22, 1939, the Soviets organized staged elections to the Moscow-controlled Supreme Soviets (legislative body) of Western Byelorussia and Western Ukraine. The result of the staged voting was to become a legitimization of Soviet annexation of eastern Poland.

Subsequently, all institutions of the dismantled Polish state were being closed down and reopened under the Soviet appointed supervisors. Lviv University and many other schools were reopened soon but they were restarted anew as Soviet institutions rather than continued their old legacy. Lviv University was reorganized in accordance with the Statute Books for Soviet Higher Schools. The tuition, that along with the institution's Polonophile traditions, kept the university inaccessible to most of the rural Ukrainophone population, was abolished and several new chairs were opened, particularly the chairs of Russian language and literature. The chairs of Marxism-Leninism, Dialectical and Historical Materialism aimed at strengthening of the Soviet ideology were opened as well. Polish literature and language studies ware dissolved by Soviet authorities. Forty-five new faculty members were assigned to it and transferred from other institutions of Soviet Ukraine, mainly the Kharkiv and Kiev universities. On January 15, 1940 the Lviv University was reopened and started to teach in accordance with Soviet curricula.

Simultaneously Soviet authorities attempted to remove the traces of Polish history of the area by eliminating much of what had any connection to the Polish state or even Polish culture in general. On December 21, 1939, the Polish currency was withdrawn from circulation without any exchange to the newly introduced rouble, which meant that the entire population of the area lost all of their life savings overnight.

All the media became controlled by Moscow. Soviet authorities implemented a political regime similar to police state, based on terror. All Polish parties and organizations were disbanded. Only the Communist Party was allowed to exist with organizations subordinated to it.

All organized religions were persecuted. All enterprises were taken over by the state, while agriculture was made collective.

Exploitation of ethnic tensions

In addition, the Soviets exploited past ethnic tension between Poles and other ethnic groups living in Poland, inciting and encouraging violence against Poles calling the minorities to "rectify the wrongs they had suffered during twenty years of Polish rule". Pre-war Poland was portrayed as a capitalist state based on exploitation of the working people and ethnic minorities. Soviet propaganda claimed that unfair treatment of non-Poles by the Second Polish Republic was a justification of its dismemberment. Soviet officials openly incited mobs to perform killings and robberies agaisnt facists and Nazi collaborators who themselves were involved in the murder of women and childern in Poland during the German occupation (1939-1945). The death toll of the initial Soviet-inspired terror campaign remains unknown.

Restoration of Polish sovereignty.

As soon as the forces of Nazi Germany were pushed westward in 1945, the Poland's formal sovereignty was re-established by the Soviet-formed provisional government later renamed as Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland. In reality, the country remained under military occupation for many years to come, controlled by the Soviet Northern Group of Forces stationing in Poland until 1956. Some 25,000 Polish underground fighters including 300 top Home Army officers were captured by NKVD units and SMERSH operational groups in the fall of 1944, which was followed by their mass deportations to the gulags. Between 1944 and 1946, thousands of Polish independence fighters actively opposed the new communist regime, attacking country offices of NKVD, SMERSH and the Polish communist secret service (UB). The events of late 1940s amounted to a full-scale civil war according to some historians, especially in the eastern and central parts of the country (see: the Cursed soldiers). According to deposition by Józef Światło and other communist sources, the number of members of the Polish underground, rounded up on the order of Lavrentiy Beria and deported to Siberia and various camps in the Soviet Union, has reached 50,000 in 1945 alone. Their political leaders were kidnapped by the Soviet Union, tortured and sent to prison after a staged Trial of the Sixteen in Moscow. None survived.

The documents of the era show also that the problem of sexual violence against Polish women by Soviet servicemen was serious both during and after the advance of Soviet forces across Poland.[64] Joanna Ostrowska and Marcin Zaremba of the Polish Academy of Sciences estimate that rapes of Polish women reached a mass scale following the Winter Offensive of 1945. Whether the number of victims could have reached or even exceeded 100,000 is only a matter of guessing, considering the traditional taboos among the women incapable of finding "a voice that would have enabled them to talk openly" about their wartime experiences "while preserving their dignity."

To this day the events of those and the following years are one of the stumbling blocks in Polish-Russian foreign relations. Polish requests for the return of looted property or for an apology for Soviet-era crimes are either ignored or rejected, accompanied by a reminder of the official Russian state version of history: "we freed you from Nazism: be grateful

Poles in the Soviet Union 1939-1947.


Identifying corpses of the Soviet NKVD prisoner massacres in Tarnopol, 1941.


During World War II, after the Soviet invasion of Poland the Soviet Union occupied vast areas of eastern Poland (referred to in Poland as Kresy wschodnie or "eastern Borderlands"), and another 5.2–6.5 million ethnic Poles (from the total population of about 13.5 million residents of these territories) were added, followed by further large-scale forcible deportations to Siberia, Kazakhstan and other remote areas of the Soviet Union.

A Soviet NKWD soldier deags out a family from their home for deportation.

The number of Poland's citizens held captive in the Soviet Union is a matter of dispute, and ranges from over 300,000 up to nearly 2 million, according to various sources. On March 30, 2004, the head of the Archival Service of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, General Vasili Khristoforov gave final exact numbers of deported Poles. According to him, in 1940 exactly 297,280 Poles were deported, in June 1941 another 40,000. These numbers do not include P.O.W.s, prisoners, small groups, people arrested trying to cross the new borders, people who voluntarily moved into the USSR, and men drafted into the Red Army and into construction battalions or stroybats.

Soviet commisar points out photos showing the joys of living under a communist system.

In August 1941, following the German attack on the USSR and the dramatic change in Soviet/Polish relations, according to a January 15, 1943, note from Beria to Stalin, 389,041 Polish citizens (including 200,828 ethnic Poles, 90,662 Jews, 31,392 Ukrainians, 27,418 Belorussians, 3,421 Russians, and 2,291 persons of other nationalities) held in special settlements and prisoner of war camps were granted 'amnesty' and allowed to enrol in Polish army units. The location of reception centres was kept secret and no travel facilities provided.[4] Nevertheless, 119,855 Poles were evacuated to Persia (Iran) with General Anders' army, which subsequently fought alongside the Allies in Iran and Italy; 36,150 were transferred to the Polish Army which fought with the Red Army on the Eastern Front and 11,516 are reported to have died in 1941–1943.

Polish refugees evacuated from the Soviet Union to Persia, 1942.Since the deportations of 1940 from Eastern Poland,many thousands died in the USSR.Also nearly 20,000 officers were executed at three sites in the USSR,one of which was at Katyn ,the one best known.Many prisoners of war were used at slave labourers and died there as well as many civilians.Many more died after the exodus from the USSR.

After World War II most Poles from Kresy were expelled into Poland, but officially 1.3 million stayed in the USSR. Some of them were motivated by the traditional Polish belief that one day they would become again lawful owners of the land they lived on. Some of them were kept forcefully in. Some simply stayed, without force or ideological reasons. There are reasons to believe that those expelled were happier than those who stayed.

Wanda Wasilewska was an exceptional case – she became a Soviet citizen and did not return after the war.



                                                              Major Henryk Dobrzański,the soldier who continued the war.




                                                                                           Major Henryk Dobrzański.

                                                                                   "Hubal", the first partisan of WWII



Major Henryk Dobrzański aka "Hubal" (1897 - 1940) was a Polish soldier, sportsman and partisan, one of the first (if not the first) guerrilla commanders in World War II.



                                                                 Memorial to Henryk Dobrzański in Kielce's old cemetery.

Henryk Dobrzański was born on June 22, 1897, in Jasło, Austria-Hungary to a Polish noble family, (Coat of arms of Leliwa), of Henryk Dobrzański de Hubal and Maria Dobrzańska née Lubieniecka. In 1912 he joined the "Drużyny Strzeleckie", an underground Scouting organisation. When World War I broke out he volunteered to join Józef Piłsudski's Polish Legions. He served with distinction in the 2nd Regiment of Uhlans and participated in many battles such as Stawczany and Battle of Rarańcza. In 1918 after Poland regained its independence he joined the Polish Army.

He took part in the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1918 and fought with his cavalry platoon during the Siege of Lwów. Later he participated in Polish-Bolshevik War of 1919-1921. For his bravery he was awarded with the Virtuti Militari, the highest Polish military award, and four times with Krzyż Walecznych, in addition to many other military awards.

After the Peace of Riga he remained in the Polish Army. He became a member of the Polish equestrian team, winning many international competitions. He also took part in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam and came fourth at the prestigious Aldershot competition. In his sports career he gained 22 golden medals, 3 silver and 4 bronze altogether.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Polish Defence War of 1939 he was assigned to the 110th reserve Cavalry Regiment as a deputy commander. His unit was to enter combat as a second-line formation, but fast advances of the Wehrmacht made the completion of training impossible. On September 11 it was moved to Wołkowysk, from where it marched towards Grodno and Augustów Forest. It fought several skirmishes against the German army and took part in the defence of the city against the Red Army.

After two days of heavy fights against the numerically superior Soviets, on September 20 Grodno was lost and three days later gen. bryg. Wacław Przeździecki, the commander of the defence of the Grodno area, ordered all his troops to escape to neutral Lithuania. The 110th Regiment was the only unit to disobey this order. The unit was joined with remnants of several routed regiments and fought its way towards Warsaw. The unit got surrounded by the Red Army in the Biebrza river area and suffered serious casualties, but managed to break through the enemy defences. After that lt. col. Dąbrowski, the commander of the regiment, decided to disband it. Henryk Dobrzański took command over approximately 180 men and who decided to continue their march towards besieged Warsaw.

When the city capitulated on September 27th, he faced three choices: evacuate (via Hungary or Romania) to France, disband the unit, or continue the fight. He decided to lead his unit southwards and try to break through to France. Approximately 50 men volunteered to stay in the army, while the rest were allowed to leave. On November 1, 1939, they crossed the Vistula near Dęblin and started their march towards the Holy Cross Mountains. The same day his unit fought the first skirmish against the Germans. After that he decided to stay in the Kielce area with his unit and wait until the Allied relief comes, which he expected in the Spring of 1940. He also swore that he will not take off his uniform until after the war.

                                                                         Hubal with white scarf and some of his soldiers.

On October 5, with the Battle of Kock ended the resistance of the last major unit of the Polish Army and thus Hubal became the first partisan commander of World War II. In early November he achieved the first major victory over German forces in the Battle of Cisownik. Thanks to the support of local civilian population, the "Separated Unit of the Polish Army" (Oddział Wydzielony Wojska Polskiego), as he named his unit, managed to evade all raids and traps organised by the Germans. However, the German authorities responded with brutal retaliation against civil population. Because of that the newly-formed ZWZ and the Government Delegate's Office at Home ordered Hubal to disband his unit, but he refused. At the same time he limited his contacts with the civilians not to endanger them more than necessary.

                                                                           Some of Hubals soldiers in the winter of 1939.

In March 1940 his unit completely destroyed a battalion of German infantry in a skirmish near the village of Huciska. A few days later in an ambush near the village of Szałasy it inflicted heavy casualties upon other German unit. To counter this threat the German authorities formed a 1000 men strong anti-partisan unit composed of SS, a battalion of Wehrmacht and a tank group. Although the unit of maj. Dobrzański never exceeded 300 men, the Germans fielded at least 8 000 men in the area to secure it. On April 30, 1940 his staff quarters in a ravine near the village of Anielin (powiat of Opoczno) was ambushed. In an uneven combat Dobrzański and most of his men were killed.


                                          German captors displaying the corpse of Henryk Dobrzański after his death in 1940.



Germans massacred his body and showed it at public view in local villages. Then they transported it to Tomaszów Mazowiecki and either burnt it or buried it in an unknown location. The remnants of the "Separated Unit of the Polish Army" continued the struggle until June 25, 1940, when it was disbanded.


                                                                      Witold Pilecki, founder of the Polish Home Army.



                                                                                           The Polish Home Army flag.


                                                                                                      Witold Pilecki.

Witold Pilecki (May 13, 1901 – May 25, 1948; codenames Roman Jezierski, Tomasz Serafiński, Druh, Witold) was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska) Polish resistance group and a member of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa).

During World War II, he became the only known person to volunteer to be imprisoned at Auschwitz concentration camp. While there, he organized the resistance movement in the camp, and as early as 1940, informed the Western Allies of Nazi Germany's Auschwitz atrocities. He escaped in 1943 and took part in the Warsaw Uprising (August–October 1944). Pilecki was executed in 1948 by the communists.
Pilecki's early life.

Witold Pilecki was born May 13, 1901, in Olonets on the shores of Lake Ladoga in Karelia, Russia, where his family had been forcibly resettled by Tsarist Russian authorities after the suppression of Poland's January Uprising of 1863–1864. His grandfather, Józef Pilecki, had spent seven years in exile in Siberia for his part in the uprising. In 1910, Pilecki moved with his family to Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania), where he completed Commercial School and joined the secret ZHP Scouts organization. In 1916, he moved to Orel, Russia, where he founded a local ZHP group.

During World War I, in 1918, Pilecki joined Polish self-defense units in the Wilno area, and, under General Władysław Wejtka, helped collect weapons and disarm retreating, demoralized German troops in what became the prelude to the Vilna offensive. He subsequently took part in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919–1920. Serving under Major Jerzy Dąbrowski, he commanded a ZHP Scout section. When his sector of the front was overrun by the Bolsheviks, his unit for a time conducted partisan warfare behind enemy lines. Pilecki later joined the regular Polish Army and fought in the Polish retreat from Kiev as part of a cavalry unit defending Grodno (in present-day Belarus). On August 5, 1920, he joined the 211th Uhlan Regiment and fought in the crucial Battle of Warsaw and at Rudniki Forest (Puszcza Rudnicka) and took part in the liberation of Wilno. He was twice awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valor) for gallantry.

After the Polish-Soviet War ended in 1921 with the Peace of Riga, Pilecki passed his high-school graduation exams (matura) in Wilno and in 1926, was demobilized with the rank of cavalry ensign. In the interbellum, he worked on his family's farm in the village of Sukurcze.[1] On April 7, 1931, he married Maria Pilecka (1906 – February 6, 2002), née Ostrowska. They had two children, born in Wilno: Andrzej (January 16, 1932) and Zofia (March 14, 1933).
World War II breaks out.
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, on August 26, 1939, Pilecki was mobilized and joined the 19th Polish Infantry Division of Army Prusy as a cavalry-platoon commander. His unit took part in heavy fighting in the Invasion of Poland against the advancing Germans and was partially destroyed. Pilecki's platoon withdrew southeast toward Lwów (now L'viv, in Ukraine) and the Romanian bridgehead and was incorporated into the recently formed 41st Infantry Division. During the September Campaign, Pilecki and his men destroyed seven German tanks and shot down two aircraft. On September 17, after the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland pursuant to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Pilecki's division was disbanded and he returned to Warsaw with his commander,Major Jan Włodarkiewicz.

Major Jan Włodarkiewicz.
On November 9, 1939, the two men founded the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska, TAP), one of the first underground organizations in Poland. Pilecki became its organizational commander and expanded TAP to cover not only Warsaw but Siedlce, Radom, Lublin and other major cities of central Poland. By 1940, TAP had approximately 8,000 men (more than half of them armed), some 20 machine guns and several anti-tank rifles. Later, the organization was incorporated into the Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and became the core of the Wachlarz unit.
The Auschwitz campaign: 945 days.

In 1940, Pilecki presented to his superiors a plan to enter Germany's Auschwitz concentration camp at Oświęcim (the Polish name of the locality), gather intelligence on the camp from the inside, and organize inmate resistance. Until then, little had been known about the Germans' running of the camp, and it was thought to be an internment camp or large prison rather than a death camp. His superiors approved the plan and provided him a false identity card in the name of "Tomasz Serafiński." On September 19, 1940, he deliberately went out during a Warsaw street roundup (łapanka), and was caught by the Germans along with some 2,000 innocent civilians (among them, Władysław Bartoszewski). After two days of torture in Wehrmacht barracks, the survivors were sent to Auschwitz. Pilecki was tattooed on his forearm with the number 4859.



                                                                       Auschwitz concentration camp photos of Pilecki.



                                                               Street roundup in northern Warsaw's Żoliborz district, 1941.

At Auschwitz, while working in various kommandos and surviving pneumonia, Pilecki organized an underground Union of Military Organizations (Związek Organizacji Wojskowych, ZOW). ZOW's tasks were to improve inmate morale, provide news from outside, distribute extra food and clothing to members, set up intelligence networks, and train detachments to take over the camp in the event of a relief attack by the Home Army, arms airdrops, or an airborne landing by the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, based in Britain.

By 1941, ZOW had grown substantially. Members included the famous Polish sculptor Xawery Dunikowski and ski champion Bronisław Czech, and worked in the camp's SS administration office (Mrs. Rachwalowa, Capt. Rodziewicz, Mr. Olszowka, Mr. Jakubski, Mr. Miciukiewicz), the storage magazines (Mr. Czardybun) and the Sonderkommando, which burned human corpses (Mr. Szloma Dragon and Mr. Henryk Mendelbaum). The organization had its own underground court and supply lines to the outside. Thanks to civilians living nearby, the organization regularly received medical supplies.

ZOW provided the Polish underground with priceless information on the camp. Many smaller underground organizations at Auschwitz eventually merged with ZOW. In the autumn of 1941, Colonel Jan Karcz was transferred to the newly-created Birkenau death camp, where he proceeded to organize ZOW structures. By spring of 1942, the organization had over 1,000 members, including women and people of other nationalities, at most of the sub-camps. The inmates constructed a radio receiver and hid it in the camp hospital.

From October 1940, ZOW sent reports to Warsaw, and beginning March 1941, Pilecki's reports were being forwarded via the Polish resistance to the British government in London. These reports were a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies. Pilecki hoped that either the Allies would drop arms or troops into the camp, or the Home Army would organize an assault on it from outside. By 1943, however, he realized that no such plans existed. Meanwhile the Gestapo redoubled its efforts to ferret out ZOW members, succeeding in killing many of them. Pilecki decided to break out of the camp, with the hope of personally convincing Home Army leaders that a rescue attempt was a valid option. When he was assigned to a night shift at a camp bakery outside the fence, he and two comrades overpowered a guard, cut the phone line and escaped on the night of April 26–April 27, 1943, taking along documents stolen from the Germans. In the event of capture, they were prepared to swallow cyanide. After several days, with the help of local civilians, they contacted Home Army units. Pilecki submitted another detailed report on conditions at Auschwitz.
Back outside Auschwitz: the Warsaw Uprising.

On August 25, 1943, Pilecki reached Warsaw and joined the Home Army's intelligence department. The Home Army, after losing several operatives in reconnoitering the vicinity of the camp, including the Cichociemny commando Stefan Jasieński, decided that it lacked sufficient strength to capture the camp without Allied help. Pilecki's detailed report (Raport Witolda—"Witold's Report") was sent to London. The British authorities refused the Home Army air support for an operation to help the inmates escape. An air raid was considered too risky, and Home Army reports on Nazi atrocities at Auschwitz were deemed to be gross exaggerations (Pilecki wrote: "During the first 3 years, at Auschwitz there perished 2 million people; in the next 2 years—3 million"). The Home Army in turn decided that it didn't have enough force to storm the camp by itself.

Pilecki was soon promoted to cavalry captain (rotmistrz) and joined a secret anti-communist organization, NIE ("NO or NIEpodleglosc - independence"), formed as a secret organization within the Home Army with the goal of preparing resistance against a possible Soviet occupation.

When the Warsaw Uprising broke out on August 1, 1944, Pilecki volunteered for the Kedyw's Chrobry II group. At first, he fought in the northern city center without revealing his actual rank, as a simple private. Later, he disclosed his true identity and accepted command of the 2nd Company, fighting in the Towarowa and Pańska Streets area. His forces held a fortified area called the "Great Bastion of Warsaw". It was one of the most outlying partisan redoubts and caused considerable difficulties for German supply lines. The bastion held for two weeks in the face of constant attacks by German infantry and armor. On the capitulation of the uprising, Pilecki hid some weapons in a private apartment and went into captivity. He spent the rest of the war in German prisoner-of-war camps at Łambinowice and Murnau.
Soviet take over of Poland.

After July 11, 1945, Pilecki joined the 2nd Polish Corps. He received orders to clandestinely transport a large sum of money to Soviet-occupied Poland, but the operation was called off. In September 1945, he was ordered by General Władysław Anders to return to Poland and gather intelligence to be sent to the Polish Government in Exile.



                                                                    Photos of Pilecki from Warsaw's Mokotow prison (1947).


He went back and proceeded to organize his intelligence network, while also writing a monograph on Auschwitz. In the spring of 1946, however, the Polish Government in Exile decided that the postwar political situation afforded no hope of Poland's liberation and ordered all partisans still in the forests either to return to their normal civilian lives or to escape to the West. Pilecki declined to leave, but proceeded to dismantle the partisan forces in eastern Poland. In April 1947, he began collecting evidence on Soviet atrocities and on the prosecution of Poles (mostly members of the Home Army and the 2nd Polish Corps) and their executions or imprisonment in Soviet gulags.

On May 8, 1947, he was arrested by the Polish security service (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa). Prior to trial, he was repeatedly tortured but revealed no sensitive information and sought to protect other prisoners. On March 3, 1948, a staged trial took place. Testimony against him was presented by a future Polish prime minister, Józef Cyrankiewicz, himself an Auschwitz survivor. Pilecki was accused of illegal crossing of the borders, use of forged documents, not enlisting with the military, carrying illegal arms, espionage for general Władysław Anders (head of the military of the Polish Government in Exile) and preparing an assassination on several officials from the Ministry of Public Security of Poland. Pilecki denied the assassination charges, as well as espionage (although he admitted to passing information to the II Polish Corps of whom he considered himself an officer and thus claimed that he was not breaking any laws); he pleaded guilty to the other charges. On May 15, with three of his comrades, he was sentenced to death. Ten days later, on May 25, 1948, he was executed at Warsaw's Mokotow Prison on ulica Rakowiecka (Rakowiecka Street).

Pilecki's conviction was part of a prosecution of Home Army members and others connected with the Polish Government in Exile in London. In 2003, the prosecutor and several others involved in the trial were charged with complicity in Pilecki's murder. Cyrankiewicz escaped similar proceedings, having died.[1]

After Poland regained its independence, Witold Pilecki and all others sentenced in the staged trial were rehabilitated on October 1, 1990. In 1995, he received posthumously the Order of Polonia Restituta.

His place of burial has never been found. He is thought to have been buried in a rubbish dump near Warsaw's Powązki Cemetery.

Until 1989, information on his exploits and fate was suppressed by the Polish communist regime.



                                                                                                   Leopold Okulicki.



                                                                                              General Leopold Okulicki

General Leopold Okulicki (noms de guerre Kobra, Niedźwiadek; 1898-1946) was a General of the Polish Army and the last commander of the anti-German underground Home Army during World War II. He was murdered after the war by the Soviet NKVD.

Early life.


Okulicki was born November 12, 1898 in Bratucice near Bochnia in the Austrian section of partitioned Poland ("Galicia"). His exact date of birth is unknown as the birth record was not preserved in Polish archives and Okulicki himself used two dates: November 11 and November 13. In 1910 he joined a local gymnasium, and after 1913 he was also an active member of the Związek Strzelecki. The following year, at the age of 16, after finishing basic military training, Okulicki passed his NCO exams. After the outbreak of World War I, in October 1915, he left school and volunteered for the Polish Legions, where he served with distinction in the 3rd Legions Infantry Regiment.

He remained in the Polish Army and fought in various units both during the Great War and the following Polish-Bolshevik War. In the interwar period he remained in the army and in 1925 graduated from the prestigious [[Wyzsza Szkola Wojenna#Wyższa Szkoła Wojenna| Warsaw Military Academy. Afterwards Okulicki took a post in Grodno local corps headquarters. Until late 1930s he taught at the Infantry Training Centre in Rembertów, and became commanding officer of Polish 13th Infantry Division.
Nazi Regime.
In 1939 he was nominated the commander of one of the departments of the Polish C-i-C's headquarters. After Edward Rydz-Śmigły evacuated his staff from Warsaw, Okulicki remained in the Polish capital and served at various posts during the Siege of Warsaw. After the capitulation of the Polish troops defending the capital, Okulicki avoided being captured by the Germans and joined the Służba Zwycięstwu Polski, one of the first underground resistance organizations formed in Nazi and Soviet-occupied Poland. In January of 1940 he moved to Łódź, where he assumed the post of a commander of a local area of that organization. After a brief period in the Headquarters, he was moved to Soviet-occupied Lwów and became the head of that area.
Soviet Era.

Arrested by the NKVD in January 1941, he was imprisoned and tortured in various Soviet prisons. Released after the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement of 1941, he joined the Polish Army re-created in the USSR, where he assumed the post of the chief of staff. After a brief period as the commanding officer of the Polish 7th Infantry Division he was moved to London for training in the Cichociemni training camp and then transported to occupied Poland. In July 1944, during Operation Tempest, he became the commander of the 2nd Echelon of the Home Army. General Bór-Komorowski, predicting his arrest by the Soviets after the Warsaw Uprising named him his deputy and successor. Okulicki fought in the Uprising, among other posts as the chief of staff of the Home Army. After the capitulation of the Uprising, he managed to evade being captured by the Germans and moved to Kraków, from where he started to reorganize the Home Army. On October 3, 1944 he became the commander of the entire organization. After the Soviet take-over of Poland, on January 19, 1945, he ordered the disbandment of the Home Army, fearing that future existence of an allied force in Poland would only lead to more people being murdered or arrested by the Soviets. Following an NKVD provocation, he was arrested and imprisoned in Moscow. Sentenced to 10 years in the staged Trial of the Sixteen, he was murdered on December 24, 1946 in Butyrka prison.




                                                                                                   Stefan Rowecki.




                                                                                                     Stefan Rowecki.
Stefan Paweł Rowecki (pseudonym: "Grot", hence the alternate name, Stefan Grot-Rowecki,December 25, 1895 - August 2, 1944) was a Polish general, journalist and the leader of the Armia Krajowa.

Rowecki was born in Piotrków Trybunalski. In his home town he was one of the organizers of a secret scouting organization. During World War I he was conscripted to the Austro-Hungarian army and then to the First Brigade of the Polish Legions. He was interned in August 1917 after most of his unit had refused to pledge loyalty to the Emperor of Austria. In February 1918 he was released from the internment camp in Beniaminów and joined first the Polnische Wehrmacht, then the Polish Army.

Rowecki fought in the Polish-Soviet war (1919-1920). After the war, he remained in the army and organized the first military weekly periodical (Przegląd Wojskowy). From 1930 to 1935, he commanded the 55th Infantry Regiment in Leszno. From June 1939, Rowecki organised the Warsaw Armoured Motorized Brigade (Warszawska Brygada Pancerno-Motorowa, 7TP, TKS tanks). While the unit did not reach full mobilization, it did take part in the September Campaign.

After the Polish defeat, Rowecki managed to avoid capture and returned to Warsaw. In October 1939, he became one of the leaders, then in 1940 commander, of the Związek Walki Zbrojnej. From 1942, he was commander of the Armia Krajowa (Home Army).

In 1941 Rowecki organised sabotage in the territories east of the pre-war Polish borders Wachlarz. On June 30, 1943 he was arrested by Gestapo in Warsaw and sent to Berlin, where he was questioned by many prominent Nazi officials (including Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Heinrich Himmler and Heinrich Müller). He was offered an anti-bolshevik alliance, but refused. He was probably murdered in August 1944 in Sachsenhausen.[
Rowecki was arrested because of the betrayal by Lieutenant Ludwik Kalkstein ("Hanka"), Major Eugeniusz Swierczewski (“Genes”), and Blanka Kaczorowska (“Sroka”). All of them were members of the Home Army and Gestapo agents. Swierczewski, Kalkstein, and Kaczorowska were sentenced to death for high treason by the Secret War Tribunal of the Polish Secret State. The sentence on Eugeniusz Swierczewski was carried out by troops commanded by Stefan Rys (“Jozef”). They hanged Swierczewski in the basement of the house on Krochmalna 74 street in Warsaw. Kalkstein received protection from the Gestapo and avoided the execution. He fought in a Waffen SS unit during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 under the name Konrad Stark. After the war, he worked in Polish Radio in Szczecin and was later recruited as an agent by Urzad Bezpieczenstwa. In 1982, he immigrated to France. Blanka Kaczorowska also survived the war. Her death sentence was never carried out because she was pregnant. After the war, she worked as a secret agent for Urzad Bezpieczenstwa and later for Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa. She immigrated to France in 1971.
There have been claims that the arrest of Rowecki on Jun 30, 1943 was a result of a wider intelligence operation against the Polish Underground State with the goal of eliminating top commanders and political leaders of the Polish resistance. During the same time period, the Gestapo arrested the commander of NSZ (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne), Colonel Ignacy Oziewicz who was arrested on Jun 9, 1943. On July 4, 1943, General Władysław Sikorski died in a plane crash under mysterious circumstances. Within a period of two months, the Polish Army had lost three top commanders.

                                                                                  Ignacy Oziewicz.



                                                                                                    Ignacy Oziewicz.

Ignacy Oziewicz (pseudonyms: Czesław, Czesławski, Netta, Jenczewski) (1887 – 1966). During the World War I served in the Russian Tsarist army on various NCO and officers' posts. In 1919 joined the Polish Army.

During the September Campaign commanded 29 Infantry Division. After its defeat, he avoided being caught and joined the underground movements.

Until arrested in June 9, 1943, he was the commandant of Narodowe Sily Zbrojne. From December 2, 1942 he was negotiating joining Narodowe Sily Zbrojne with the Home Army (AK).

Arrested by the Germans on 9 June 1943. Sent to Auschwitz and Flossenburg concentration camps, yet managed to survive the war.

                                                                                                 Władysław Filipkowski.




                                                                                                Władysław Filipkowski.

Władysław Filipkowski (noms de guerre Cis and Janka; 1892-1950) was a Polish military commander and a professional officer of the Polish Army. During World War II he was the commanding officer of the Armia Krajowa units in the inspectorate of Lwów (modern Lviv) and the commander of the Lwów Uprising. For his merits he was promoted to the titular rank of generał brygady.

Władysław Jakub Filipkowski was born May 1, 1892 in the village of Filipów near Suwałki, then in the Vistulan Country of the Russian Empire. In 1909 he graduated from a local gymnasium in Suwałki and then left for Galicia, the only part of partitioned Poland where teaching in Polish language was permitted. There he started studying at the law faculty of the Lwów University. Simultaneously he also studied at the machine engineering faculty of the Lwów University of Technology, where he became a member of the Związek Strzelecki paramilitary organization. However, he did not finish his studies at the latter university due to the outbreak of the Great War.

On August 1, 1914 he joined the Polish Legions, where he held a number of posts. He fought in the Carpathians, Bukovina and Volhynia, serving as a commander of a single piece of artillery, of an infantry platoon and as an adjutant of a battalion of heavy howitzers. Following the Oath Crisis of 1917 he was interned by the Germans. Released from the prisoner camp on November 1, 1918, he moved to Warsaw, where he joined the newly-born Polish Army immediately after its creation. Initially a clerk in the Inspectorate of Artillery, on November 29 he became an adjutant to the Polish commander-in-chief, General (later Marshal of Poland) Józef Piłsudski. During the early stage of the Polish-Bolshevik War, in November of 1919 he was dispatched to Lwów, where he served as the commander of the local cell of the II Detachment of the Headquarters, that is the intelligence and counter-intelligence service. He held that post until the signing of the peace of Riga.

During the May Coup d'Etat in Poland Filipkowski with an infantry regiment under his command supported the revolters of Piłsudski against the government. He remained in the military until the outbreak of World War II. He fought in the Polish Defensive War as a commander of an improvised infantry unit. Captured by the Soviets on October 2, he was imprisoned in Lwów. However, he managed to escape from the prison and moved to German-held General Government. There he hid in Otwock and then in Warsaw, under a variety of false identities. He joined the SZP resistance organization, which was later reformed into the Association of Armed Resistance and in the end into the Home Army. As one of the high-ranking Polish officers who knew the city of Lwów - yet were not known to a wider public prior to the outbreak of World War II, Filipkowski was a perfect candidate for a chief of Polish resistance in that town. In early 1940 he returned there under a false name and started to organize the Polish resistance. Initially under Soviet occupation, he continued his work as a Home Army inspector for the area of the city after the German take-over of the area in 1941. On August 1, 1943 he was made the commander of all Home Army units in the region.

In 1944 the units under his command started the Operation Tempest in the area. Filipkowski commanded the Polish forces in the Lwów Uprising, in which the Home Army, with assistance of the advancing Red Army, took control over the city from the Germans. In the same period his wife, Janina née Obiedzińska and one of his two sons Jan (b. 1922) were active members of the Home Army in Masovia. The latter was killed in the final days of the Warsaw Uprising.

Soon after the German forces were pushed out of the city, Filipkowski was invited to a conference with Michał Rola-Żymierski and arrested by the Soviet NKVD in Zhytomir on August 3, 1944; at the same time most of his soldiers were also arrested and sent to Soviet prisons - or had to flee back to German-held part of Poland. Filipkowski was held in a number of Soviet prisons, including the prison in Kiev, a Smersh camp of the 1st Ukrainian Front, and NKVD camps in Kharkov, Ryazan, Dyagilev, Gryazovets and Brest. In November of 1947 he was handed over to the Polish ministry of internal security in Biała Podlaska, interrogated and set free. However, soon afterwards his younger son Andrzej (b. 1925), also a former soldier of the Home Army, was arrested by the Communists and was held in prisons until the destalinization thaw of 1956.

Władysław Filipkowski then settled in Pieńsk near Zgorzelec, where he found a job of an administrative director of a local state-owned glass works. He died there April 17, 1950 and was buried in the Powązki cemetery of Warsaw.


                                                                                              Jan Nowak-Jeziorański.






                                                                                                Jan Nowak-Jeziorański.


Jan Nowak-Jeziorański (October 3, 1914 Berlin – January 20, 2005 Warsaw) was a Polish journalist, writer, politician, social worker and patriot. He served during the Second World War as one of the most notable resistance fighters of the Home Army. He is best remembered for his work as an emissary shuttling between the commanders of the Home Army and the Polish Government in Exile in London and other Allied governments which gained him the nickname "Courier from Warsaw", and for his participation in the Warsaw Uprising. After the war he worked as the head of the Polish section of Radio Free Europe, and later as a security advisor to the US presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

He was born Zdzisław Antoni Jeziorański, (Jeziora Coat of Arms) but used a number of noms de guerre during the war, the best known of which was Jan Nowak which he later added to his original surname.

Zdzisław Jeziorański was born in Berlin . After finishing his studies in economics in 1936, he worked as a teaching assistant at Poznań University. Mobilized in 1939, he fought in the Polish Army as an artillery NCO. He was taken prisoner of war by the Germans in Volhynia, but managed to escape and returned to Warsaw. Most of his colleagues were taken prisoners of war by the Soviets and later killed in the Katyn Massacre.

He quickly joined the Polish resistance. After 1940 he became the main organiser of the Akcja N, a secret organisation preparing German-language newspapers and other propaganda material pretending to be official German publications, in order to wage psychological warfare against German troops.

He also served as an envoy between the commanders of the Home Army and the Polish Government in Exile and other allied governments. During his first trips to Sweden and Great Britain he informed the Western governments of the fate of Poland under German and Soviet occupation. He was also the first to report of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. During one of such missions, in July of 1944, he returned to Warsaw only a few days before the Warsaw Uprising broke out.

During the Uprising he took an active part in the fights against the Germans and also organised the Polish radio that maintained the contact with the Allied countries through daily broadcasts in Polish and English. Shortly before the capitulation of the Polish capital, he was ordered by Home Army's commander-in-chief Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski to leave the city and find his way to London. He managed to evade being captured and reached Great Britain, bringing with him large quantities of documents and photos. For his bravery and his travels through the German-occupied Europe he was awarded with the Virtuti Militari, the highest Polish military medal.



                                                               Jan Nowak-Jeziorański on Radio Free Europe, 3 May 1952

After the war Jan Nowak-Jeziorański stayed in the West, initially in London and then in Munich and Washington. Between 1948 and 1976 he was one of the most notable personalities of the Polish division of the BBC radio agency. In 1952 he also became the head of the Polish section of the Munich-based Radio Free Europe. Through his daily radio broadcasts he remained one of the most popular radio personalities, both in communist-held Poland and among the Polish diaspora in the West. After giving up his posts in 1976 he became one of the most prominent members of the Polish American Congress and headed the organisation between 1979 and 1996. He was also working as an advisor to the American National Security Agency and the presidents of the USA Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Through his contacts with many notable politicians in the USA, he was one of the proponents of Poland's membership in NATO (achieved in 1999).

In the 1990s he started his cooperation with the Polish Radio and wrote a series of broadcasts titled Polska z oddali (Poland from Distance). Since 1990 he was also present on Polish television as writer/presenter of monthly programs. In July 2002 he returned to Warsaw for good. He was an active supporter of Poland's entry into the European Union. Most of his books, published abroad as well as those published in Poland after 1989, were best-sellers and gained him even more popularity.

For his writings he was awarded some of the most prestigious Polish literary awards, including the Kisiel Award (1999), Ksawery Pruszyński Memorial Prize of the Polish Pen-club (2001) and the Superwiktor award for television personalities. In 2003 he was also awarded the Człowiek Pojednania prize by the Polish Council of Christians and Jews for his part in the Polish-Jewish dialogue. Finally, he was made the doctor honoris causa of many Polish universities, including the Warsaw University, Jagiellonian University and his alma mater, the University in Poznań.

He died in Warsaw on January 20, 2005. He donated all his archives to the Ossolineum institute.


                                                                                                 Jan Włodarkiewicz.






                                                                                                  Jan Włodarkiewicz.


Lieutenant Colonel Jan Włodarkiewicz (1900-1942; noms de guerre Damian, Darwicz and Odważny) was a Polish soldier, an officer of the Polish Army and a freedom fighter during the World War II. He is notable as the first commander of the Wachlarz, the first secret service formed by an underground resistance organization in occupied Europe.

Jan Włodarkiewicz was born May 28, 1900 in Warsaw. A graduate of the prestigious Stanisław Staszic gymnasium in Warsaw, in his youth Włodarkiewicz took part in several anti-tsarist youth organizations. After the outbreak of World War I he joined the clandestine Polish Military Organization, where he received basic military training.

After the war he remained in the Polish Army and since 1918 served in all conflicts Poland fought in. Initially in the Nieśwież-based Polish 27th Uhlans Regiment, in 1929 he was assigned to the staff of the 9th Independent Cavalry brigade in Baranowicze. After his successful service there, in 1930 he was assigned to the Centre for Cavalry Training in Grudziądz. In 1935 he was promoted to rotmistrz (captain of cavalry). Since then until the outbreak of World War II he served in the Polish General Staff as an officer officially responsible for the training of reserve Polish cavalry units. In reality, he served in the Special Command entitled with organization of partisan warfare, diversion and railroad sabotage of the 2nd Department of the Polish General Staff.

After the outbreak of the Polish Defensive War of 1939 he was ordered to supervise the creation of various reserve cavalry units in the Cavalry Reserve Centre in Garwolin. On September 15 he formed a cavalry squadron out of marauders and left-overs from various units. Together with the unit, he joined the Polish 41st Infantry Division and fought in the ranks of the Lublin Army. For his merits he was promoted to major and managed to survive the defeat together with his unit. After the Polish defeat in the Battle of Kock, which ended the Polish campaign, he initially wanted to break through besieged Warsaw and then, after its fall, to Hungary or Romania. However, the Soviet-German cooperation prevented him from getting close to the border and on October 15, 10 days after the last major Polish unit capitulated to the Germans, he disbanded the unit under his command in the village of Mrozy.

Włodarkiewicz and most of his men hid their weapons and broke through to Warsaw. There in November of 1939 Włodarkiewicz met his wartime companion and deputy, Witold Pilecki. Together they formed the Secret Polish Army, one of the first resistance movements in Poland and the occupied Europe. In 1940 the organization melted into a larger merger of resistance groups, the Confederation of the Nation and Włodarkiewicz assumed the military command over the latter organization's forces. In summer of that year he met with Stefan Rowecki, the commander of Związek Walki Zbrojnej (ZWZ), the predecessor of Armia Krajowa. Together they formed the Wachlarz, a separate organization entitled with sabotage and intelligence between the pre-war Polish eastern border and the German Eastern Front. Włodarkiewicz was named the commander of the organization and in September of 1941 he joined the ZWZ. Awarded to Lieutenant Colonel, in March of 1942 he left for Lwów, where he planned to visit the local network of the 1st Sector of the Wachlarz. However, shortly after his arrival, on March 19, 1942 he died in unknown circumstances.


                                                                                        Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz.





                                                                                          Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz
Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz (Belarusian Станіслаў Булак-Балаховіч, Russian Станислав Булак-Балахович) (1883-1940) was a Polish-Belarusian general, veteran of World War I, Russian Civil War, Polish-Bolshevik War and World War II..

Early life.


Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz was born February 10, 1883 in Meyszty, a small village near Vilna (Vilnius, Lithuania, then Russian Empire), to an impoverished szlachta family of mixed Polish, Tatar and Belarusian descent. He graduated from an agricultural faculty and started working as a manager of farms in Horodziec and Łużki.
World War I.

After the outbreak of the Great War and Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich Romanov's address to the Polish people, Bułak-Bałachowicz joined the Russian Imperial army. As a person of noble roots, he was drafted as an ensign to the 2nd Leyb-Courland Infantry Regiment. However, unlike many of his colleagues which were awarded the basic NCO grades for their noble ancestry only, Bułak-Bałachowicz proved himself as a skilled field commander and was quickly promoted. By December of 1914, only four months after he entered the army, he was given command over a group of Cossack volunteers, of whom he formed a cavalry squadron. Together with the 2nd Cavalry Division he fought on the western front, most notably in the area of Sochaczew near Warsaw.

During the German summer offensive of 1915 Warsaw was taken by the Central Powers and Bułak-Bałachowicz's unit was forced to retreat towards Latvia. On September 5 he volunteered to lead a group of 72 officers who were ordered to create a partisan unit behind the enemy lines. The group joined a bigger partisan unit of colonel Punin, where Bułak-Bałachowicz quickly rose to the grade of a squadron commander. His unit was formed of four cavalry platoons: one of Cossack light cavalry, one of hussars, one of uhlans and one of dragoons. Thanks to the versatile and flexible structure of his unit, Bułak-Bałachowicz managed to continue the fight behind the enemy lines until 1918.
Russian Civil War.

On March 5, 1918, unconscious of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk signed only two days before, the unit commanded by Bułak-Bałachowicz got engaged in a skirmish against a German unit near the village of Smolova. Although the enemy unit was severely defeated, forced to retreat and abandon its staff behind, Bułak-Bałachowicz was seriously wounded after being shot in the left lung. Transported to Saint Petersburg, Bułak-Bałachowicz quickly recovered and rejoined with his brother, Józef Bułak-Bałachowicz. The latter got involved in the creation of a Polish cavalry detachment commanded by ensign Przysiecki. The Bolsheviks disbanded the unit soon after its formation, executed its commander and started to persecute its members. However, with a help of French military mission a Polish cavalry detachment was finally created and Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz became its commander. The new unit received Leon Trotsky's recognition and was soon reinforced with non-Polish volunteers from all over Russia and was planned as a cavalry division of the Red Army.

Soon after its creation, Bułak-Bałachowicz was ordered to quell the so-called Baron Korff Revolt in the area of the city of Luga. With his regiment (the unit was still not completely formed) he reached the area and pacified the peasant unrest without the use of force. He was immediately called in to Saint Petersburg by his superiors, but was afraid of being arrested. Because of that, Bułak-Bałachowicz with his cavalry regiment deserted and moved across the Bolshevik lines to the area of Pskov, held by the joint forces of White Russian Northern Army and various German anti-Bolshevik units. Initially the unit fought against the Reds on the White side, but soon conflicts with the German officials arose and Bułak-Bałachowicz had to switch sides yet again. Together with his battle-hardened unit he disarmed the German units surrounding him and broke to the rear of the Red-held territory. From there he fought his way across the fronts to Estonia, where he finally joined the forces of General Nikolai Nikolaevich Yudenich's North-Western Army. A skilled commander, Bułak-Bałachowicz added greatly to the Estonian victories in the battles of Werro, Neuhausen and Dorpat and was soon promoted to lieutenant colonel.

On May 10, 1919, Bałachowicz was given the command over an assault group and was ordered to drive it to the rear of the Bolshevik lines. Three days later his forces took the town of Gdov by surprise and on May 29 Bałachowicz entered Pskov. For this action he was promoted to colonel by General Yudenich himself. Because of his victories, his subordinates (mostly Belarusian, Cossack, and Polish volunteers) nick-named him ataman, though some preferred to use the term Bat'ko - father.

Bułak-Bałachowicz became the military administrator of Pskov. He personally ceded most of his responsibilities to a democratically elected municipal duma and focused on both cultural and economical recovery of the war-impoverished city. He also put an end to censorship of press and allowed for creation of several socialist associations and newspapers, which enraged White generals towards him. Finally, Bułak-Bałachowicz entered in contact with Estonian officers and Poles who were trying to reach the renascent Polish Army, which was seen by Bałachowicz's superiors as a sign of lack of loyalty. After Pskov was yet again lost to the Bolsheviks in mid-July, general Yudenich ordered Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz to be arrested even though only a few days earlier he promoted him to major general (a move Yudenic undertook with hopes of appeasing Bułak-Bałachowicz and encouraging greater subordinance).

However, once again Bułak-Bałachowicz evaded being captured. He handed over his division to his brother Józef and, together with 20 of his friends, left for Estonian-controlled Ostrov. There he once again created a partisan unit. With 600 men he broke through the Red Army front and started to disrupt its supply lines. Despite Yudenich's hostility towards Bułak-Bałachowicz, the latter cooperated with White Russian units during their counter-offensive in the autumn of 1919. His unit captured the railway node in Porkhov and broke the Pskov-Polotsk rail road, which added greatly to the White Russian's initial success. On November 5, 1919 his unit yet again entered the area between Pskov and Ostrov and destroyed the three remaining railway lines linking Pskov with the rest of Russia. However, Yudenich's army could not link up with the areas controlled by Bułak-Bałachowicz and their assault was finally broken.

On January 22, 1920, general Yudenich signed an order of dissolution of his badly-beaten army. On January 28 general Bułak-Bałachowicz, together with several Russian officers and the Estonian police arrested him. A large amount of money was found with him (roughly 227.000 pounds, 250.000 Estonian marks and 110.000.000 Finnish marks) was given to the soldiers of the disbanded army as a last salary, which greatly added to Bałachowicz's popularity amongst them.
Polish-Bolshevik War.

In February of 1920 Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz contacted Józef Piłsudski through the Polish envoy to Riga and proposed to ally his unit with the Polish Army against the Bolshevist Russia. As the fame of the general preceded him, Piłsudski agreed and soon afterwards Bułak-Bałachowicz with some 800 cavalrymen set off for yet another of his great odysseys. After leaving Estonia, they outflanked the Red Russian lines and rode several hundred kilometres behind the enemy lines to Latvia, where they were allowed to pass the Latvian territory. Finally by mid-March they reached Dyneburg (now Daugavpils, then under Polish military administration), where they were greeted as heroes by Józef Piłsudski himself.

Transferred to Brześć Litewski, the Bułak-Bałachowicz's unit was reformed into a Bułak-Bałachowicz Operational Group, sometimes incorrectly referred to as Belarusian-Lithuanian Division. It was composed mostly of Belarusian volunteers, as well as veterans of the Green Army and former Red Army soldiers, and received the status of an allied army. Because of the composition of his troops, Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz is sometimes referred to as a Belarusian[1].

Formally independent, the division was one of the most successful units fighting in the ranks of the Polish Army during the Polish-Bolshevik War. The unit entered combat in late June of 1920 in the area of Polesie Marshes. On June 30 Bułak-Bałachowicz once again broke through the enemy lines and captured the village of Sławeczno in today's Belarus, where the tabors of the Soviet 2nd Rifle Brigade were stationed. The enemy unit was caught by surprise and suffered heavy losses. On July 3 the enemy unit was completely surrounded in the village of Wieledniki and was annihilated. After that action, the Operational Group was withdrawn to the main lines of the Polish 3rd Army and after July 10 it defended the line of the Styr river against Red Army actions.

On July 23, during the Bolshevik offensive towards central Poland, general Bałachowicz's group started an organised retreat as a rear guard of the Polish 3rd Army. During that operation, Bułak-Bałachowicz abandoned the withdrawing Polish troops and stayed with his forces for several days behind the enemy lines only to break through to the Polish forces shortly afterwards. During the Battle of Warsaw overnight of August 14 Bałachowicz's forces were ordered to start a counter-attack towards the town of Włodawa, one of the centres of concentration of the advancing Russian forces. On September 17 the area was secured and the Bułak-Bałachowicz's forces defended it successfully until September 7 against numerically superior enemy forces. Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz organised an active defence and managed to disrupt the concentration of all enemy attacks before they could be started. For instance on August 30 and September 2 his forces, supported by the Polish 7th Infantry Division, managed to attack the Soviet 58th Rifle Division from the rear, before it could attack the town of Włodawa.

On September 15 the unit was yet again advancing in pursuit of the withdrawing Red Army. That day the unit captured Kamień Koszyrski, where it took more than 1000 prisoners of war and the war materiel depot of an entire division. During the Battle of the Niemen River Bałachowicz's unit prevented the enemy from forming a defensive line in Polesie. Overnight of September 21 his unit outflanked and then destroyed completely the Bolshevist 88th Rifle Regiment near the town of Lubieszów. Perhaps the most notable victory of the Bułak-Bałachowicz's Group took place on September 26, when its forces once again broke through enemy lines and captured Pinsk. The city was the most important rail road junction in the area and was planned as the last stand of the Bolshevik forces still fighting to the west of that city. After it was lost, the Red Army central front collapsed and the withdrawal turned into a panic retreat.
Failed uprising in Belarus.

In October Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz was stationed with his forces in Pinsk, where they received supplies and a large amount of former Red Army soldiers who were taken prisoner of war after the Battle of Warsaw and volunteered for the service in anti-Bolshevik units. The unit was to re-enter combat in November, but on October 12 a cease fire was signed. On the insistence of both the Entente and Bolshevik Russia, the allied units were to leave Poland before November 2. General Bułak-Bałachowicz was given the choice of either being interned in Poland with his units and then sent home or to continue the fight against the Reds on his own. He chose the latter option, just like most other White Russian and Ukrainian units fighting on the Polish side in the Polish-Bolshevik War.

On November 2, 1920, his units were renamed the Russian People's Volunteer Army and transferred to the areas that were to be abandoned by the Polish Army and become a no-man's-land until the final Russo-Polish peace treaty was signed. Three days later his forces crossed into Russian-held Belarus and started an offensive towards Homel. General Bułak-Bałachowicz was hoping for a Belarusian all-national uprising against Bolshevik Russia. His forces initially achieved a limited success and captured Homel and Rechytsa. On November 10, 1920 Bułak-Bałachowicz entered Mozyr. There, two days later, he proclaimed the independence of Belarus and started forming a new Belarusian National Army. On November 16 he also created the Belarusian provisional government. However, the planned uprising gained little support in the Belarusian nation tired by six years of constant war and the Red Army finally gained an upper hand. On November 18 Bałachowicz abandoned Mozyr and started a withdrawal towards the Polish frontier. The Belarusian troops, hardened by the years spent behind the enemy lines, fought their way to Poland and managed to inflict heavy casualties on the advancing Russians while suffering negligible losses, but were too weak to turn the tide of war.

On November 28 the last organised unit under his command crossed the Polish border and was subsequently interned. The Russian government demanded that General Bułak-Bałachowicz be handed over to them and tried for high treason. The Riga Peace Conference was even halted by these demands for several days, but eventually these claims were refuted by the Polish government which argued that Bułak-Bałachowicz was a Polish citizen since 1918.
Shortly after the Riga Peace Treaty had been signed, Bułak-Bałachowicz and his men were set free from the internment camps. The general retired from the army and settled in Warsaw. There he became an active member of various veteran societies. Among other functions, he held the post of the head of Society of Former Fighters of the National Uprisings. He was also a political essayist and writer of two books on the possibilities of a future war with Germany: "Wojna będzie czy nie będzie" (Will there be war or will there be not; 1931) and "Precz z Hitlerem czy niech żyje Hitler" (Down with Hitler or long live Hitler?, 1933). Between 1936 and 1939 he briefly served as an advisor to Franco's nationalists in the Spanish Civil War.
[World War II.

During the Polish Defensive War of 1939, Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz volunteered for the Polish army. He created a Volunteer Group that fought in the defence of Warsaw. The unit consisted of approximately 1750 ill-equipped infantrymen and 250 cavalrymen. It was used on the southern flank of the Polish forces defending the Polish capital and adopted the tactics its commander knew perfectly well: fast attacks on the rear of the enemy forces. On September 12, 1939, the unit entered combat for the first time. It took the German defenders by surprise and retook the southernmost borough of Służew and the Służewiec horse track. Soon afterwards the cavalry organised a disrupting attack on the German infantry stationed in Natolin. On September 23 the unit was transferred to northern Warsaw, where it was to organise an assault on the German positions in the Bielany forest. The assault had been prepared, but was thwarted by the cease-fire signed on September 27.

After the capitulation of Warsaw, general Bułak-Bałachowicz (formally retired) evaded being captured by the Germans and returned to civilian life. At the same time he was the main organiser of Konfederacja Wojskowa (Military Confederation), one of the first underground resistance groups in German and Soviet-occupied Poland. In early 1940 the Gestapo found out his whereabouts. He was surrounded with a group of young conspirators in a house in Warsaw's borough of Saska Kępa and arrested by the Germans. He managed to kill one of them with a knife hidden in his walking stick and was subsequently shot to death by the remaining Gestapo agents. Neither the exact date of his death nor the place of his burial are known.

For his resistance against Bolshevik forces that killed local Belarusian peasantry, members of Belarusian minority in Poland regard him as their national hero. White historians have often seen him to be an adventurer.
                                                                                                     Henryk Sławik.


                                                                                                       Henryk Sławik.


Henryk Sławik (1894-1944) was a Polish politician, diplomat, and social worker who during World War II helped save 5,000 Hungarian and Polish Jews from Budapest by giving them false Polish passports.

Henryk Sławik was born in 1894 in the village of Szeroka near Jastrzębie Zdrój, German Empire. The fifth son in a poor peasant family, he was sent by his mother to an academic secondary school. After graduation, Sławik volunteered for the Polish Army. After his term ended he joined the police force and served as a police officer in Silesia until 1939. At the same time Sławik was an activist of the right-wing faction of the Polish Socialist Party.

At the outbreak of the German invasion of Poland in 1939 Sławik joined a mobilised police battalion attached to the Kraków Army. He fought with distinction during the retreat along the northern Carpathians. His battalion was attached to the 2nd Mountain Brigade, with which he defended mountain passes leading to Slovakia.

On September 15 Sławik and his men were ordered to retreat towards the newly established border with Hungary. On September 17, after the Soviet Union joined the war against Poland, Sławik crossed the border and was interned as a prisoner of war. József Antall (Senior), a member of the ministry of internal affairs responsible for the civilian refugees and the father of the future prime minister József Antall (Junior), spotted Sławik in one of the camps. Thanks to his fluent knowledge of German, Sławik was brought to Budapest and allowed to create the Citizen's Committee for Help for Polish Refugees (Komitet Obywatelski ds. Opieki nad Polskimi Uchodźcami). Together with József Antall he organised jobs for the POWs and displaced persons, schools and orphanages. He also clandestinely organised an organisation whose purpose was to help the exiled Poles leave the camps of internment and travel to France or the Middle East to join the Polish Army. Sławik also became a delegate of the Polish Government in Exile.

After the Hungarian government issued racial decrees and separated Polish refugees of Jewish descent from their colleagues, Sławik started to issue false documents confirming their Polish roots and Roman Catholic faith. He also helped several hundred Polish Jews to reach Yugoslavian partisans. One of his initiatives was the creation of an orphanage for Jewish children (officially named School for Children of Polish Officers) in Vác. To help disguise the true nature of the orphanage, the children were visited by Catholic Church authorities, most notably by nuncio Angelo Rotta.

After the Nazis took over Hungary in March 1944, Sławik went underground and ordered as many of the refugees as were under his command to leave Hungary. Because he had appointed a new commanding officer of the camp for Polish Jews, all of them were able to escape and leave Hungary. The Jewish children of the orphanage in Vác were also evacuated. Sławik was arrested by the Germans on March 19, 1944. Although brutally tortured, he did not inform on his Hungarian colleagues. He was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp where he was shot to death, probably in August 1944. His wife survived the Ravensbrück concentration camp and after the war found their daughter hidden in Hungary by the Antall family. Sławik's place of burial remains unknown.

It is estimated that Henryk Sławik helped as many as 30,000 Polish refugees in Hungary, approximately 5,000 of them Jews. After 1948, the communist authorities of both Poland and Hungary did commemorate his deeds and pointed out his importance for humanhe Yad Vashem Commemorative Authority honoured Sławik with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.


                                                                                           Aleksander Krzyżanowski.




                                                                                             Aleksander Krzyżanowski.


Aleksander "Wilk" Krzyżanowski (1895 - 1951) – was a Polish officer, major, member of the Polish resistance movement in World War II and Commandant of the Armia Krajowa in the Wilno (now Vilnius) region


Aleksander Krzyżanowski was born in Bryansk and was conscripted into the Russian Army during the First World War, where he first started to specialize in artillery.

After Poland regained independence in 1918 he joined the Polish military, and took part in the Polish-Soviet War where he distinguished himself in 1919 receiving the Krzyż Walecznych medal, and in January 1920 he took part in the heavy fighting at the Battle of Daugavpils.

During the interwar period in the Second Polish Republic he further continued his military career. At the time of the Nazi invasion of Poland (September 1, 1939) he was in the command of the 26 pułk altylerii lekkich (26th regiment of light artillery), attached to the Polish 26th Infantry Division, part of the Army Poznań under general Tadeusz Kutrzeba. His unit was destroyed during the battle of Bzura.

Soon afterwards he organized a partisan unit at Świętokrzyskie Mountains, but after this unit was defeated by the Germans he arrived in Warsaw by late October, and joined the first Polish resistance organizations, the Służba Zwycięstwu Polski. By November he was assigned to Wilno (now known as Vilnius, Lithuania), at the same time occupied by the Soviet Union which divided Poland with the Nazi Germany according to the earlier concluded Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

Soon SZP was transformed into Związek Walki Zbrojnej. When in April 1941 Soviet NKVD arrested the commander of the ZWP in the Vilnius region, general Nikodema Sulik, it was Krzyżanowski who de facto replaced him, and his position was officially confirmed by general Stefan Rowecki in August. In 1942 ZWP was transformed into Armia Krajowa (AK).

Krzyżanowski attempted to build a larger anti-German coalition[1] and issued explicit orders that no ethnic group, including Jews, should be mistreated.[2] He also opened negotiations with the representatives of the Lithuanian and Belorussian resistance but they were fruitless.[1] The negotiations with the Soviets initially lead nowhere as well. The Soviet Union aimed to ultimately regain the control from Germany over the the territories USSR annexed from Poland in 1939 and Stalin's aim to ensure that an independent Poland would never reemerge in the postwar period.[3] The relationship between the Soviets and the Sikorski's Polish government in exile, formally a commanding force of the AK, was strained at best, especially in the wake of the evidence of the mass execution of the Polish POW officers by the Soviets that were in 1943 widely publicized by the Nazis.

As Soviet partisans increasingly engaged in terror against local population and attacked Home Army units,[4] local AK commanders considered the Soviets as just another enemy.[5] As ordered by Moscow on June 22, 1943 the Soviet partisans started an open fight both against the German forces and the local Polish partisans.[5] In January and February of 1944, in the wake of growing hostilities between the Soviet partisans and the AK forces Krzyzanowski conducted a series of negotiations with Germans. In effect of negotiations with Seidler for Rosenfield of the Nazi German Security Service near Wilejka and Julian Christiansen, the Chief of the Vilnius Abwehr, cooperation between Germans and the AK was established in the area of Krzyżanowski's units' operation and, according to the report of the local Nazi official "three sizeable Polish detachments came over to our side and initially also fought well."[5] While Krzyzanowski refused to sign an explicit agreement on cooperation, the secret arrangement was made that the AK would "capture" the armaments and provisions left to them by Germans. 


As a result, the AK units in the area were armed by Germans,[5] Germans pulled off their mobilization plans in the area (leaving the territory for AK's mobilization campaign) and largely totally withdrew, German spies and agent were spared by AK members and no AK members were executed by Germans in their reprisals against the local population.However any such arrangements were purely tactical and did not evidenced a type of ideological collaboration as shown by Vichy regime in France, Quisling regime in Norway or closer to the region, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. The Poles' main motivation was to gain intelligence on German morale[2] and preparedness and to acquire some badly needed weapons.

There are no known joint Polish-German actions, and the Germans were unsuccessful in their attempt to turn the Poles toward fighting exclusively against Soviet partisans. Such collaboration of local commanders with the Germans was generally atypical and such incidents were condemned by AK High Command.

In May 1944 Polish resistance units were attacked by the Local Lithuanian Detachment under general Povilas Plechavičius. Krzyżanowski attempted to negotiate, but Plechavičius demanded that AK and all Polish partisans were to retreat from Wilno region and accept Lithuanian sovereignty over that territory.[7] Krzyżanowski would not agree to such a withdrawal and the fighting escalated, eventually culminating in the Polish victory over the Lithuanian collaborationist forces in the battle of Muravanaya Ashmyanka[1] of May 13-May 14.[7] After that battle Krzyżanowski attempted to resume negotiations but was ignored by the Lithuanian side.[7] The increasing hostilities culminated in June, when Lithuanian pro-Nazi[8] Lithuanian Security Police forces, which had recently suffered a loss of several members in a skirmish with AK, massacred 37 Polish civilians in Glinciszki, a village known to support the Polish partisans. Krzyżanowski ordered his forces to increase the activity against the Lithuanians in retribution and, according to the accounts published in Lithuania, his forces conducted a multitude of actions against the Lithuanian civil population.[9][10][11] It is unclear whether he was aware of the Dubingiai incident, in which a unit under Zygmunt Szendzielarz massacred a number of Lithuanian civilians (the number of victims estimates vary between 27 and close to a hundred or more[). Although the Armia Krajowa's actions are still controversial in Lithuania[a. Lithuanian historian Arunas Bubnys has stated that there were no mass murders by the AK (the only exception being Dubinki)[ but that the AK was guilty only of some war crimes against individuals or selected families. He also noted that accusations of genocide or widespread activities by the AK are false and have underlying political motives, including to counteract accusations of widespread German-Lithuanian collaboration and crimes committed by units such as the Lithuanian Secret Police.

Beginning in the spring of 1944 the Polish underground was preparing for the major Operation Tempest, which was designed to cause a large scale uprising behind the German lines to prevent the Soviet takeover of the territory by establishing a local Polish administration before the Soviet's arrival, as a sign to the entire world that the Polish government in exile commanded significant Polish forces. Operation Tempest would also support of the Soviet Eastern Front offensive. In June Krzyżanowski and his subordinates prepared the plan for the liberation of Wilno: Operation Ostra Brama. On 2 July 1944 he gave orders to begin the operation on the 7 July, although because of the Soviet quick advance the operation was put into effect one day early (on 6 July).

Largely in the effect of the German-AK relationship in the area, only a third of the available AK force took part in the operation against the Nazis.[5] In the end, the Polish forces had to cooperate with the Soviets to secure Wilno. After the Poles and Soviets defeated the Germans on July 17, 1944, Polish officers, including Krzyżanowski, who had been invited to a debriefing with the Soviets, were arrested and imprisoned.

Krzyżanowski was in prison until 1947. In August 1947 he escaped but was quickly re-arrested when he approached a Polish official who worked for the Polish communists. He was repatriated to Poland in October 1947. He did not support any secret resistance against the Soviets, like Wolność i Niezawisłość, arguing that it was pointless in the face of Soviet numerical superiority and the Western betrayal, but he remained in contact with many of his former subordinates. He was however still viewed as a danger to the state by the Polish communist regime, and was arrested in 1948 by Polish secret police, Urząd Bezpieczeństwa. In the prison his health collapsed, and he died on September 29, 1951 from tuberculosis.



                                                                                   Grave of Aleksander Krzyżanowski.



                                                                                                Hieronim Dekutowski.




                                                                                            Hieronim Dekutowski.1946.




Hieronim Dekutowski (noms de guerre “Zapora”, “Odra”, “Rezu”, “Stary”, “Henryk Zagon”) was a Polish boyscout and soldier, who fought in Polish September Campaign, was a member of the elite forces Cichociemni, fought in the Home Army and after World War Two, resisted the communist regime, as one of commandants of Wolnosc i Niezawislosc.
Early years.

Dekutowski was born September 24, 1918 in Dzikow (a district of Tarnobrzeg). He was the youngest of nine kids of Jan Dekutowski, patriotic member of Polish Socialist Party and follower of Jozef Pilsudski. His mother Maria (nee Sudacka), did not work and stayed at home, taking care of the kids. The family was very patriotic, Hieronim’s older brother died in the Polish-Soviet War in 1920.

Young Dekutowski between 1930 and 1938 attended Middle School and High School of Hetman Jan Tarnowski in Tarnobrzeg. At the same time, he was a member of local branch of Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego, where he was a leader of a group of teenagers, as well as Catholic organization Marian Sodality. After graduation and failing final exams (May 1938), Dekutowski worked for Count Artur Tarnowski, one of the biggest landowners in the 1930s Poland. In May of 1939 Dekutowski finally completed his high school education, passing all final exams. He wanted to study at the University of Jan Kazimierz, but German and Soviet invasion on Poland made it impossible.
September 1939 and escape to the West.

At the beginning of September 1939, Dekutowski together with a sister evacuated to Lwow. His exact role in the Polish September Campaign has not been established; he volunteered to the Polish Army and fought in the Battle of Lwów (1939). On September 17, 1939, finding out about Soviet aggression on Eastern Poland, he crossed the Hungarian border, together with a group of soldiers. After escaping from an internment camp, across Yugoslavia and Hungary, he got to France, where volunteered to the Polish Army in France (1940) and was assigned to the 2nd Division of Infantry Rifles.

In the spring of 1940, Dekutowski attended a military academy in Coetquidan, but he did not complete the course due to Battle of France. During this conflict, he fought near Swiss border, and after capitulation of France, he escaped to Switzerland, from where he reached Great Britain. There, in late 1941 he was promoted with distincions to the rank of officer and congratulated by Prime Minister Stanislaw Mikolajczyk. At first Dekutowski served at a tank battalion, but later was transferred to the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade. On April 24, 1942, he volunteered to go to Poland.
Back in Poland.

On March 4, 1943, Dekutowski was sworn as a member of the Cichociemni by Colonel Michal Protasewicz. After a few more months, in the night of September 16/17, 1943, during “Operation Neon 1”, he was dropped on a parachute, together with other Cichociemni - Bronislaw Rachwal and Kazimierz Smolak. They landed in the area of Wyszkow, but Dekutowski was soon afterwards sent to Lublin, where he became member of Kedyw of Lublin’s Home Army District.

Dekutowski distinguished himself during several successful skirmishes with German occupiers, who at that time were resettling Poles from the area of Zamosc, replacing them with German settlers. He helped save a number of Jews, also liquidated pro-Nazi collaborators. His unit attacked German villages, fought Wehrmacht troops, but also punished ordinary criminals.


                                                                                                Hieronim Dekutowski.
In January of 1944, Dekutowski became commandant of Kedyw of the Lublin - Pulawy area. He ordered six smaller Kedyw units to join forces, thus creating a strong, mobile regiment, capable of shock attacks on German outposts and troops. According to historians, his unit carried out more than 80 attacks on Germans in the first six months of 1944. The biggest skirmish took place on May 24, near the village of Kreznica Okragla. Dekutowski’s unit attacked a German column, consisting of sixteen trucks filled with soldiers and SS. The Germans lost some 50 men and a lot of equipment. On July 17, 1944, Dekutowski was wounded in a hand, but managed to recover in time for Operation Tempest. He wanted to come to help fighting Warsaw, but did not succeed with crossing the Vistula.

Anti-Communist resistance.


                                                                       Hieronim Dekutowski (left) and Zdzislaw Bronski.

In January of 1945 Dekutowski decided to continue hiding and fight the Communists. One of main reasons for decision was an incident which took place in the village of Chodel, in the night of February 5/6, 1945. A Jewish Communist and commandant of precinct of Urzad Bezpieczenstwa in Chodel named Abram Tauber, who had been saved by Dekutowski and his men during the war, invited four Poles members of the Home Army to his headquarters. The Poles went there, confident that they would be thanked for saving Tauber’s life. Instead, Tauber tied their hands with barbed wire and shot all four.

As a reprisal, Dekutowski destroyed Tauber’s headquarters, and soon afterwards a local war began. “Zapora” was wounded in a leg in one skirmish, but managed to escape towards the area of Tarnobrzeg. In the spring of 1945 he organized several bold attacks on Communists, among them:

On April 26, his unit seized the town of Janow Lubelski, liquidating several agents and releasing Home Army members from prison,in May he attacked Urzad Bezpieczenstwa office in Belzyce Kazimierz Dolny, killing 5 agents and 2 Soviet officers.

In June, Dekutowski, promoted to major, retreated towards the Janowska Wilderness and put away weapons, telling soldiers to give up fighting and return to homes. However, without any guarantees of safety, he decided to escape to Western Europe with a small party of people. He managed to reach American Consulate in Prague, but had to return as the Americans refused to help.

In late 1945 and early 1946, Dekutowski organized several attacks on Communist outposts in southeastern Poland, during which up to 400 Communist soldiers and agents were killed. He would also attack villages which were sympathetic towards the Communists, such as Moniaki, where on September 24, 1946, he whipped 40 Communist. In early 1947, when the government declared amnesty, he planned to give up fighting, but found out that several of his men had been arrested and continued hiding in the woods until mid-1947.


                                                                             Hieronim Dekutowski with his soldiers.

Capture and death.
In September of 1947 “Zapora” once again tried to escape to the West, but was caught in Nysa. Taken to the infamous Mokotow Prison in Warsaw, he was tortured horribly and beaten during the investigation. The sham trial of Dekutowski and his soldiers took place on November 3, 1948. To humiliate the accused, they were dressed in Wehrmacht uniforms. On November 15, the court presided by Judge Jozef Badecki (who had previously sentenced Witold Pilecki to death) sentenced Dekutowski to seven deaths. “Zapora”, together with six other soldiers, was executed on March 7, 1949. According to witnesses, even though he was 30 at the moment of death, he looked like a senior citizen, without teeth and nails, with grey hair, broken ribs, nose and hands. ‘We shall never surrender!’ he yelled sending his last message to his fellow prisoners.
Dekutowski, and his men, were buried in unknown location. His symbolic tomb is located at the Military Cemetery in Lublin. His sentence was voided by Distric Court in Warsaw on May 23, 1994. Middle School number 9 in Lublin is named after him, in the same city there are 2 monuments of “Zapora” and his men. On November 15, 2007, President Lech Kaczynski posthumously awarded him with Polonia Restituta.

                                                                                         Gustaw Herling-Grudziński.






                                                           Gustaw Herling-Grudziński - NKVD photo Grodno 1940.


Gustaw Herling-Grudziński (May 20, 1919 Kielce, Poland - July 4, 2000 Naples, Italy) was one of the greatest Polish essayists and thinkers. He is best known for writing a personal account of life in the Soviet gulag - A World Apart.

He was born in Kielce. His studies of Polish literature at Warsaw University were interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. During the Fall of 1939 he co-founded an underground resistance organization "Polska Ludowa Akcja Niepodległościowa, PLAN". As the organization’s courier he traveled to then Soviet occupied Lvov, but was arrested in March 1940 by the NKVD and sentenced on fabricated espionage charges. Imprisoned in Vitsebsk and a gulag in Arkhangelsk region for 2 years, he was released in 1942 under the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement. He joined Gen. Wladyslaw Anders' Army (Polish II Corps) and later fought in Italy at Monte Cassino. For his valor in combat he was decorated with the Virtuti Militari, Poland's highest military decoration.

In 1947 he co-founded and initially co-edited the political and cultural magazine Kultura, then published in Rome. When the magazine moved to Paris, he settled first in London and finally in Naples, Italy.

He was the winner of many literary prizes: Kultura (1958), Jurzykowski (1964), Kościelskis (1966), The News (1981), the Italian Premio Viareggio prize, the international Prix Gutenberg, and French Pen-Club. In 1998 he was awarded the Order of the White Eagle.

His most famous book, A World Apart, was translated into English by Andrzej Ciolkosz and published with an introduction by Bertrand Russell in 1951 (the 2005 edition would feature an introduction by Anne Applebaum). By describing life in the gulag in a harrowing personal account, it provides an in-depth, original analysis of the nature of the Soviet communist system. Written 10 years before Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, it brought him international acclaim but also opposition. The French translation of the book was not published until 1995, the Italian one until 1994.

A selection from the Journal Written at Night, a journal that he wrote for 30 years, was translated by Ronald Strom and published as Volcano and Miracle (1997). A collection of his short stories, The Noonday Cemetery and Other Stories (2003), has been translated by Bill Johnston.


                                                                                      Massacre of Lwow Professors.






The murder of the Lviv professors (in Polish Mord profesorów lwowskich) was the organized execution of approximately 25 Polish professors from various tertiary educational establishments in the city of Lviv (Polish: Lwów, German: Lemberg) along with their families and guests. The murder took place in July 1941 while the city was occupied by Nazi Germany during the World War II. The murder was a continuation of the Nazi AB Action, or Ausserordentliche Befriedungsaktion that was started in early 1940.


                                                                         Pñaque in Warsaw in memory of the nassacre.



Prior to September 1939 and the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland, Lviv, then in the Second Polish Republic had 318,000 inhabitants of different ethnic groups and religions, 60% of whom were Poles, 30% Jews and about 10% Ukrainians and Germans.The city was one of the most important cultural centers of prewar Poland, housing 5 tertiary educational facilities including Lwów University and Lwów Polytechnic. It was the home for many Polish and Jewish intellectuals, political and cultural activists, scientists and members of Poland's interwar elite.

Lviv was occupied by the Soviet Union since September 1939 and then was captured by German forces on June 30 after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Along with the German Wehrmacht units, a number of Abwehr and SS formations entered the city.

During the Nazi occupation almost all of the 120,000 Jewish inhabitants of the city were killed, within the city's ghetto or in Bełżec extermination camp. At the end of the war only 200-800 Jews survived.

In order to control the population, prominent citizens and intellectuals of all ethnic groups, particularly Jews and Poles, were eather closed in Getthos or transported to the execution sites such as the Gestapo prison on Pełczyńska Street, the Brygidki Prison, the former military prison at Zamarstynów and to the fields surrounding the city: in the suburb of Winniki, the Kortumówka hills and the Jewish Cemetery. Many of the people killed were prominent leaders of Polish society: politicians, artists, aristocrats, sportsmen, scientists, priests, rabbis and other intelligentsia. The mass murder of people suspected of potential anti-Nazi activity was seen as a pre-emptive measure to keep the Polish resistance scattered and to prevent the Poles from revolting against Nazi rule. It was a direct continuation of the infamous AB Action and one of the early stages of Generalplan Ost, after the German campaign against the USSR started and the eastern half of prewar Poland fell under German occupation in place of that of the Soviet Union. One of the earliest Nazi crimes in Lviv was the mass murder of Polish professors together with some of their relatives and guests, carried out at the beginning of July 1941.




  Monument to the victims in Wrocław, Poland.By July 2, 1941, many of the initial terror actions were halted, yet the individual, planned executions continued. At approximately 3 o'clock in the evening Prof. Kazimierz Bartel was arrested by one of the Einsatzgruppen operating in the area.
According to a Polish historian the victims were not involved in politics in any way. During the night of July 3 and July 4, several dozen professors and their families were arrested. The lists were prepared by their Ukrainian students associated with OUN..In the early morning of July 4 one of the professors and most of his servants were set free while the rest were either brought to the Wulka hills or shot dead in the courtyard of the Bursa Abrahamowiczów building. The victims were buried on the spot, but several days after the massacre their bodies were exhumed and transported by the Wehrmacht to an unknown place. According to a Ukrainian historian, out of approximately 160 Polish professors living in Lviv in June 1941, the professors chosen for execution were specifically those who actively cooperated with the Soviet regime in some way between 1940-1941.
Methodology of the crime.

There are accounts of four different methods used by the German troops. The victims were either beaten to death, killed with a bayonet, killed with a hammer, or shot to death.

The professors themselves were shot to death, although it is highly probable that some of them were buried alive.
According to an eyewitness the executions were made by an Einsatzgruppen unit (Einsatzkommando zur besonderen Verwendung) under the command of SS-Brigadeführer Karl Eberhard Schöngarth with the participation of Ukrainians translators, who were dressed in German uniforms

Karl Eberhard Schöngarth .

The decision was taken by the highest level of the Third Reich authorities The direct decision maker concerning the massacre was the commander of the Sicherheitspolizei (Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD- BdS) in Krakau District Generalgouvernement, Brigadeführer Karl Eberhard Schöngarth. The following Gestapo officers also participated: Heinz Heim (Chief of Staff Schöngarth), Hans Krüger, Walter Kutschmann, Kurt Stawizki, and Felix Landau. They were never punished for that crime.

Abbreviations used:

             UJK = Uniwersytet Jana Kazimierza (Lwów University, now Ivan Franko National University of Lviv)

             PSP = Państwowy Szpital Powszechny (National Public Hospital)

             PL = Politechnika Lwowska (Lwów Polytechnic, now Lviv Polytechic National University)

             AWL = Akademia Weterynaryjna we Lwowie (Academy of Veterinary Sciences in Lwów)

             AHZ = Akademia Handlu Zagranicznego we Lwowie (Academy of Foreign Trade in Lwów)
Murdered on the Wulka hills.

1.            Prof. Dr. Antoni Cieszyński, Professor of Stomatology UJK

2.            Prof. Dr. Władysław Dobrzaniecki, head of the ord. Oddz. Chirurgii PSP

3.            Prof. Dr. Jan Grek, Professor of Internal Medicine, UJK

4.            Maria Grekowa, wife of Jan Grek

5.            Doc. Dr. Jerzy Grzędzielski, head of the Institute of Ophthalmology, UJK

6.            Prof. Dr. Edward Hamerski, Chief of Internal Medicine, AWL

7.            Prof. Dr. Henryk Hilarowicz, Professor of Surgery, UJK

8.            Rev. Dr. Władysław Komornicki, theologian, a relative of the Ostrowski family

9.            Eugeniusz Kostecki, husband of Prof. Dobrzaniecki's servant

10.          Prof. Dr. Włodzimierz Krukowski, Chief of the Institute of Electrical Measurement, PL

11.          Prof. Dr. Roman Longchamps de Bérier, Chief of the Institute of Civil Law, UJK

12.          Bronisław Longchamps de Bérier, son of Prof. Longchamps de Bérier

13.          Zygmunt Longchamps de Bérier, son of Prof. Longchamps de Bérier

14.          Kazimierz Longchamps de Bérier, son of Prof. Longchamps de Bérier

15.          Prof. Dr. Antoni Łomnicki, Chief of the Institute of Mathematics, PL

16.          Adam Mięsowicz, grandson of Prof. Sołowij

17.          Prof. Dr. Witołd Nowicki, Dean of the Faculty of Anatomy and Pathology, UJK

18.          Dr. Med. Jerzy Nowicki, assistant at the Institute of Hygiene, UJK, son of Prof. Nowicki

19.          Prof. Dr. Tadeusz Ostrowski, Chief of the Institute of Surgery, UJK

20.          Jadwiga Ostrowska, wife of Prof. Ostrowski

21.          Prof. Dr. Stanisław Pilat, Chief of the Institute of Technology of Petroleum and Natural Gases, PL

22.          Prof. Dr. Stanisław Progulski, pediatrician, UJK

23.          Andrzej Progulski, son of Prof. Progulski

24.          Prof. Dr. Roman Rencki, Chief of the Institute of Internal Medicine, UJK

25.          Dr. Med. Stanisław Ruff, Chief of the Department of Surgery of the Jewish Hospital

26.          Anna Ruffowa, Dr. Ruff's wife

27.          Inż. Adam Ruff, Dr. Ruff's son

28.          Prof. Dr. Włodzimierz Sieradzki, Dean of the faculty of Court Medicine, UJK

29.          Prof. Dr. Adam Sołowij, former Chief of the Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of the PSP

30.          Prof. Dr. Włodzimierz Stożek, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, PL

31.          Inż. Eustachy Stożek, assistant at the Politechnika Lwowska, son of Prof. Stożek

32.          Emanuel Stożek, son of Prof. Stożek

33.          Dr. Tadeusz Tapkowski, lawyer

34.          Prof. Dr. Kazimierz Vetulani, Dean of the Faculty of Theoretical Mechanics, PL

35.          Prof. Dr. Kacper Weigel, Chief of the Institute of Measures, PL

36.          Mgr Józef Weigel, son of Prof. Weigel

37.          Prof. Dr. Roman Witkiewicz, Chief of the Institute of Machinery, PL

38.          Prof. Dr. Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, writer and gynaecologist, Chief of the Institute of French Literature.
Murdered in the courtyard of Bursa Abrahamowiczów.

1.            Katarzyna Demko, English language teacher

2.            Doc. Dr. Stanisław Mączewski, head of the Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of the PSP

3.            Maria Reymanowa, nurse

4.            Wolisch (name unknown), merchant .
Murdered on July 12.

1.            Prof. Dr. Henryk_Korowicz, Chief of the Institute of Economics, AHZ

2.            Prof. Dr. Stanisław Ruziewicz, Chief of the Institute of Mathematics, AHZ .
Murdered on July 26 in Brygidki Prison.
1.            Prof. Dr. Kazimierz Bartel, former Prime Minister of Poland, former Rector of PL, Chairman of the Department of Geometry, PL .

After World War II the leadership of the Soviet Union made attempts to diminish the Polish cultural and historic legacy of Lviv. Crimes committed east of the Curzon line could not be prosecuted by Polish courts. Information on the atrocities that took place in Lviv was restricted.

In 1960 Dr. Helena Krukowska, the widow of Prof. Dr. Włodzimierz Krukowski, launched an appeal to the court in Hamburg. After five years the German court closed the judicial proceedings. Public prosecutor von Beelow argued that the people responsible for the crime were already dead. This however was not true since at the same time SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Krüger, commander of the Gestapo unit supervising the massacres in Lviv in 1941, was being held in Hamburg prison (he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the mass murder of Jews and Poles in Stanisławów, committed several weeks after his unit was transferred from Lviv). As a result no person has ever been held responsible for this atrocity.

In the 1970s Abrahamowicz Street in Lviv was renamed Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Street.

Various Polish organisations have made deputations to remember the victims of the atrocity with a monument or a symbolic grave in Lviv. These requests have been so-far rejected.

The case of the murder of the professors is currently under investigation by the Institute of National Remembrance.

In May 2009 the monument to the victims in Lviv was defaced with signs "Deaths to Lachs"(Poles)




Some Polish sources contend that members of the Nachtigall Battalion killed the Polish professors, including the ex-Polish Prime minister Kazimierz Bartel, Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński and others.

Russian sources state "That on June 30 in Lviv the German administration started mass repressions. The commander of the Einzatzgruppen C Dr. Rasch had incriminated the death of those incarcerated in the Lviv jails to the "Jews from the NKVD" which became the spark for the terror against the Jews and Poles of Lviv. In the bloody murder of the Jews the Einsatzgruppen under the command of brigadeerfuhrer SS Karl Eberhard Schenhardt took prominence. Sections of this group under the command of H. Kruger and W. Kutshman on July 4 murdered 23 Polish professors and their families. On July 11, 2 more were killed, and later the former prime-minister of Poland, professor Bartel."

Michał Radziwiłł Rudy.

                                                                                             Michał Radziwiłł Rudy.

Michał Radziwiłł Rudy (8 February 1870 – 6 October 1955 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife) was a nobleman and diplomat.

He attained degrees in law and philosophy and worked as a diplomat in the embassy of the Russian Empire in Paris. He also served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the German and as a Major in the British armies. He was involved in several major scandals which led to him being disowned by some members of his family.

He was also a Knight of Malta.


He was born to Ferdynand Radziwiłł and Pelagia Sapieha on 8 February 1870 in Berlin. His great grandfather was Prince Anton Radziwill and his great grandmother was Princess Louise of Prussia (1770–1836). He was a member of the Prussian branch of the Radziwiłł family.

He served as a diplomat in Russian service until the Russian Revolution in 1917, reputedly speaking eight languages. He served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the German army and as a Major in the British army. He returned to the Second Polish Republic in 1926, assuming Polish citizenship that year.

The nickname "Rudy", or "Red", was a reference to the color of his hair. His friends also called him "Munio", while his relatives often referred to him as just "the Renegade" or "the Degenerate". As a Count (Hrabia) whose property was based around the village of Antonin he was also known, especially locally, as the "Maharaja of Antonin (the Olyka ordynacja), ", due to his luxurious and excessive lifestyle.

His activities were a constant source of gossip for the interwar Polish and international press. After he was disinherited by his Father, he tried to get back several properties through the Russian government (at that time, those properties were part of the Russian partition). Increasingly distanced from his family, at one point he sued his own father. He retained the Przygodzice ordynacja, which he brought to the brink of bankruptcy. He closed a family chapel in Antonin, causing a scandal when he attempted to remove some of his ancestors from their burial places in the chapel. Involved in numerous extramarital affairs, once he punched his first wife, throwing her out of a speeding car. One of his cousins, Krzysztof Radziwiłł, in his memoirs described him as a psychopath; many members of the family referred to him as "degenerate".

He married three times. He had two children from his first marriage to Maria Nikołajewna de Bernardaky (in 1898). That marriage caused controversy because Maria, a Greek aristocrat, was Eastern Orthodox, and the couple agreed to raise their children in that faith. He divorced her in 1915. In 1916 he married his second wife, Maria Henrietta Martinez de Medinilla de Santa-Susana. He attempted to divorce her in 1929, but it was never finalized due to technical difficulties; the couple however separated. For that reason, his third marriage in 1938 to Harriet Dawson was seen as possibly illegal, and caused him a new wave of legal problems and scandals.

In 1939, on the outbreak of World War II, he is alleged to have attempted to appease the Nazi Germany occupiers by offering Antonin to Adolf Hitler.At that time, he also declared himself a German, and welcomed the invaders as "liberators". This failed to generate him enough good will with the new authorities, and he was put under house arrest. In 1940 he was allowed to emigrate to France, where he spent several months in the French Riviera. A new wave of scandals there only confirmed his bad reputation. He spent the remainder of World War II with relatives near Berlin and in Switzerland.

After the war, he settled in his second wife's estate in Tenerife, where he lived alone in increasing poverty until his death on 6 October 1955.

Prince Janusz Radziwiłł.

                                                                                              Prince Janusz Radziwiłł.

Prince Janusz Franciszek Radziwiłł (1880-1967) was a Polish nobleman and politician.

Member of the government of the Kingdom of Poland (1916–1918). A conservative politician in the Second Polish Republic, he was a supporter of Józef Piłsudski, member of his BBWR party, Sejm deputy from 1928 to 1935 and a member of the Polish Senate from 1935 to 1939. Despite being a supporter of the government, he was critical of sanacja's excesses (persecution of political opponents, censorship). In 1937 he joined the Camp of National Unity (OZON).

After the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, he was arrested by NKVD. Imprisoned in the infamous Lubyanka prison, he was personally interrogated by Lavrentiy Beria. He was released after a few months after international pressure from among others the Italian royal family (due to the prestige of the Radziwiłł family). He returned to Nazi occupied Poland, where he tried to use his prestige to improve Nazi treatment of the Poles; he met with Hermann Göring (whom he knew from before the war) but his efforts were futile. He was briefly imprisoned by the Germans during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

After the war in 1945 he was again arrested by NKVD; his wife would die in a communist prison in 1947. He was eventually released, with most of his possessions confiscated and nationalized by the communist government. He retired from public life and died in 1967.

Son of: Ferdynand Radziwiłł and Pelagia Sapieżanka. Spouse: Anna Lubomirska. Children: Edmund Ferdynand Radziwiłł, Krystyna Maria Radziwiłł, Ludwik Ferdynand Radziwiłł, Stanisław Albrecht Radziwiłł.

                                                                                         Witold Dzierżykraj-Morawski.

Witold Dzierżykraj-Morawski (1895—1944) was a Polish military commander, diplomat and a Colonel of the Polish Army.

Witold Dzierżykraj-Morawski was born in 1895 in his family's manor in Oporowo near Krummensee, Province of Posen, German Empire. At the age of 15 he inherited the manor and the surrounding village. As a German citizen, after the outbreak of the Great War he was drafted into the Imperial German army. Promoted to officer's grade, in December 1918 he joined the newly reborn Polish Army. A field commander during the Greater Poland Uprising, during the Polish-Bolshevik War he became the chief of staff of the Polish 7th Cavalry Brigade.

Between 1923 and 1926 he served as the military attaché in the Polish embassy in Bucharest. Upon his return he briefly served as one of the commanding officers of the Prużana-based Polish 17th Uhlans Regiment. In 1928 he resumed his post as a military attaché, this time in Berlin. He held that post until 1932. Until 1937 he was the commanding officer of the Polish 25th Uhlans Regiment and one of the staff officers of the Lwów-based Army Inspectorate. During the Polish mobilization prior to the outbreak of the Polish Defensive War he became the chief of staff of the Karpaty Army. During the campaign he also held the same rank within the Małopolska Army.

Taken prisoner of war by the Germans, he spent the remainder of World War II in various German POW camps, including Oflag VII-C in Laufen, Oflag XI-B in Brunswick, Oflag II-C in Woldenberg and Oflag II-B in Arnswalde. Transferred to the Oflag II-D in Gross-Born, he was the highest-ranking officer there and the informal commander of all the allied prisoners held there. He also became the lead organizer of an underground organization there, intending to prepare an escape of the prisoners. Handed over to the Gestapo, he was imprisoned in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, where he died.

In 1964 he was posthumously promoted to the rank of generał brygady.