THE POLISH HATE THE GERMANS EVEN TODAY
"Póki swiat swiatem, Polak Niemcowi nie bedzie bratem." This is a Polish proverb, and translated into English it means: "As long as the world will exist, the Pole will never be the German's brother." While the age of this proverb cannot be traced precisely, it is reflected by a recent poll (1989) taken amongst students of three educational establishments in Warsaw, where only four of 135 fourth-graders [ten-year-olds!] declared having amicable feelings toward the German people. Half of the students questioned considered the Germans to be cruel, spiteful and bloodthirsty. One of the students wrote: "The Germans are as bad as wild animals. Such a people oughtn't even to exist. And now they even want to unite!"2 One year later, in 1990, the then Polish Prime Minister Lech Walesa made his feelings towards his German neighbors publicly known: "I do not even shrink from a statement that is not going to make me popular in Germany: if the Germans destabilize Europe anew, in some way or other, then partition is no longer what will have to be resorted to, but rather that country will have to be erased from the map, pure and simple. East and West have at their disposal the advanced technology necessary to carry this verdict out."
A few days later, on 10 September 1939, Gerhard M.’s unit was fired on from another Polish village and set the houses alight.Soon burning houses were lining our route, and out of the flames there sounded the screams of the people who had hidden in them and were unable any more to rescue themselves. The animals were bellowing in fear of death, a dog howled until it was burned up, but worst of all was the screaming of the people. It was dreadful. It’s still ringing in my ears even today. But they shot at us and so they deserved death
Universities, schools, libraries, publishing houses, archives, museums and other centres of Polish culture were closed down.‘The Poles,’ said Frank, ‘do not need universities or secondary schools: the Polish lands are to be changed into an intellectual desert.’‘For the Poles,’ he declared on 31 October 1939, ‘the only educational opportunities that are to be made available are those that demonstrate to them the hopelessness of their ethnic fate.’ Frank only allowed Poles cheap, undemanding entertainment such as sex shows, light opera and drink. Music by Polish composers (including Chopin) was banned, and Polish national monuments were blown up or pulled down
The Polish fire-fighters are all agog to spring into action.
Not only were supposedly suitable Poles reclassified as German, but large numbers of ethnic Germans quickly began to be moved in to take over the farms and businesses from which the Poles had been so brutally expelled. Already in late September 1939, Hitler specifically requested the ‘repatriation’of ethnic Germans in Latvia and Estonia as well as from the Soviet-controlled eastern part of Poland. Over the following months, Himmler took steps to carry out his wishes. Several thousand ethnic Germans were moved into the incorporated areas from the General Government, but most were transported there from areas controlled by the Soviet Union, under a series of international agreements negotiated by Himmler. So many German settlers arrived In the General Government and the incorporated territories in the course of the early 1940s that another 400,000 Poles were thrown out of their homes from March 1941 onwards, without actually being deported, so that the settlers could be provided with accommodation. Over the course of the following months and years, 136,000 ethnic Germans came in from eastern Poland, 150,000 from the Baltic states, 30,000 from the General Government and200,000 from Romania. They were persuaded to leave by the promise of better conditions and a more prosperous life, and the threat of oppression under Soviet Communism or Romanian nationalism. By May 1943 some 408,000 had been resettled in the Wartheland and the other incorporated parts of Poland, and another 74,000 in the Old Reich.
The civilians initially fled as the Germans moved in.
But many adults went voluntarily to the incorporated territories, seeing them as an ideal area for colonial settlement. Often they regarded themselves as pioneers. One such was Melita Maschmann, sent as press officer for the Hitler Youth in the Wartheland in November 1939. Noticing the absence of educated people amongst the Polish population, she concluded that the Poles were a miserable, poverty-stricken, underdeveloped people who were incapable of forming a viable state of their own. Their high birth-rate made them a serious threat to the German future, as she had learned from her ‘racialscience’ lessons at school.
INVASION OF POLAND
Dr Klukowski noted with despair the rapid disintegration of Polish society under the impact of such horrifying levels of violence, destruction and deprivation. Bands of robbers were roaming the countryside, breaking into people’s houses, terrorizing the inhabitants, looting the contents and raping the women. Poles were denouncing each other, mainly for possessing hidden weapons. Many were volunteering for work in Germany, and collaboration was rife. Polish girls were consorting with German soldiers, and prostitution was spreading; by November 1940 Klukowski was treating thirty-two women for venereal diseases in his hospital, and noted that ‘some are young girls also, even as young as sixteen, who were first raped and later started prostitution as the only way to support themselves’. ‘Drunkenness is growing,’ he reported in January 1941, ‘and naturally there are more drunken fights,but it appears that the Germans are rather pleased about it.’ Poles were joining in the looting of Jewish shops, and officers of the prewar Polish police were now working for the Germans. ‘I never expected the morale of the Polish population to sink so low,’ he wrote on 19 February 1940, ‘with such a complete lack of national pride.’ ‘We are lacking a uniform stand against the Germans,’ he complained two months later: ‘all the rumours, intrigues,and denunciations are growing.
The Polish cavalry units were no match for the German armored divisions. The horse is all that remained of an Polish army unit.
The general atmosphere of racial hatred and contempt encouraged by Hitler’s instructions to the generals before the outbreak of the war gave soldiers clear encouragement to take whatever they wanted from Poland’s Jews. As the German army entered Warsaw, the troops immediately began looting Jewish shops and robbing Jews at gunpoint in the street.
The Jewish schoolmaster Chaim Kaplan recorded in his diary on 6 October 1939 that German troops had broken into his flat and raped his Christian maid (they were not raping Jewish women because of the Nuremberg Laws, he thought -although in practice this did not prove much of a hindrance). Then they beat her to try to get her to reveal where he had hidden his money (he had in fact already removed it). Kaplan recorded how even officers were manhandling Jews in the street and roughly cutting off their beards. They forced Jewish girls to clean public latrines with their blouses, and committed innumerable other acts of sadism against Warsaw’s Jewish inhabitants.
Zygmunt Klukowski recorded many instances of theft and looting by German soldiers, often aided and abetted by local Poles, particularly where Jewish shops and premises were concerned. Theft was often followed by arson and wanton destruction, in which local people, their prejudices fed by years of antisemitic propaganda and indoctrination from Polish nationalists, including senior figures in the Polish Catholic Church, participated with enthusiasm
The Polish soon capitulated. In the image are piles of arms seized from Polish soldiers.
Many Polish civilians died in the fierce German attack.
The Polish soon understood that they had nowhere to flee as Germany and Russia carved up the country. Civilians return to Warsaw.
The German soldiers made searches to capture Polish elements that they perceived as a threat.
Many civilians were executed by the Germans in Poland during the occupation.
Another image of executions of Polish civilians. This was in 1943.
German troops rounding up Polish people, at Warsaw, Poland, in 1942
The Warsaw ghetto uprising in August, 1944, was an important event during the occupation. See the article.
More on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising