"This hour is in many respects a veritable hora tenebrarum, in which the spirit of violence and of discord is
pouring a bloody cup of nameless sorrow over humanity... The peoples dragged into the tragic vortex of the war are perhaps
still only at the beginning of their sorrows; but already death and desolation, lamentation and misery reign in thousands
of families. The blood of innumerable human beings, even of non-combatants, evokes a poignant cry of sorrow, especially for
the well-beloved nation Poland, who, by her services in the defence of Christian civilization, which are inscribed indelibly
in the annals of history, has the right to the human and fraternal sympathy of the world..."
So spoke the Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical, issued at the beginning of the war, in October, 1939.
Since that time, many months have past. But from the reports which have come to hand it has steadily grown clearer that
the policy of the German authorities is striving to achieve something more than breaking the resistance of the Poles, among
whom the search for a Quisling has been in vain. It is growing clear that it is striving by resort to the most barbarous methods
to destroy an entire great nation.
At the end of 1940 the Polish Minister of Information gave in a statement the following picture of the situation in German
"After more than a year of German domination in the part of Poland occupied by the Reich it can be stated that never
yet in the history of Europe has there been so great an oppression of a whole nation coupled with so deep a penetration of
destructive methods into the very life springs of the nation. This is no exaggeration. On the contrary, I almost fear my statement
does not depict the whole terrible reality nor the enormity of the sufferings of the millions of Poles in my country.
"The following facts constitute a veritable pandemonium of oppression and destruction far more terrible than anything
that happened during the inroads into Europe of Huns or Vandals and far more devastating than any predatory enterprises undertaken
during European wars in the course of the centuries.
"1. The German Reich does not acknowledge, nor apply, any rules of international law. Even the occupation of enemy territory
in war time is governed by precepts of international law, which clearly define what the occupying Power may, or may not, do.
The Germans, however, have arbitrarily decreed that the Western part of Poland is not to be considered as occupied territory,
but to be incorporated into the Reich, and in this part of Poland they do not recognize the existence of the Poles as such,
and they either expel them or condemn them to a quick death by mass-executions or to a slow death in prisons or concentration
camps. The other part of Poland, the so-called Government General, is regarded by the Germans as a territory whose only right
of existence consists in serving German interests.
"2. In the incorporated part of Poland, that is to say in Pomerania, the province of Poznan and Upper Silesia, to which
has been added a broad strip of land farther to the East, there lived at the outbreak of the war about ten million Poles and
about six hundred thousand Germans. Hitler's Germany has declared that in a short space of time there would not be even one
single Pole to be found in this country. From the very beginning of their occupation they have been murdering prominent and
particularly active Poles not in their hundreds, not in their thousands, but in their tens of thousands. And hundreds of thousands
are being driven out of the country despoiled of all their possessions. They are now busy assessing exactly how many hundreds
of thousands of Germans are to be transferred to each district in order to replace the Polish population thrown out of their
"3. In the other part of Poland, occupied by Germany, with Warsaw, Cracow and Lublin, the Germans adopted and proclaimed
the principle, that in this country only Germans may be masters and constitute the ruling class in a social sense, whilst
Poles may only be agricultural labourers and industrial workers. Thus, also, in this part of the country the Polish political
and social leaders are murdered by thousands without any legal proceedings whatsoever, and this happens usually secretly after
imprisonment, so that families hear about it only after many months. The educated class is being systematically suppressed,
deprived of employment, forced to take up manual labour, as, for instance, scientists who are sweeping streets. Only one of
the instances of this system of extirpation of the educated classes was the deportation into a concentration camp in Germany
of all Polish professors of the University of Cracow, founded six hundred years ago, who, hundred and sixty-seven in all,
were cruelly maltreated, so that seventeen of them died. As the Poles were not allowed to have their own educated class, all
Polish higher and secondary educational establishments have been closed down and, at the same time, Polish libraries are being
destroyed or transferred to Germany.
"4. Religious faith, as a mainstay of the spiritual life of the nation, is being persecuted throughout the territory
occupied by Germany. Bishops and priests are being sent to internment camps and ill-treated there worse than were the early
Christians, and scores of priests have already been done to death. This applies mainly to Catholics, as belonging to the principal
religious denomination in Poland, but Protestants are also being persecuted. Jews are not considered human beings by the Germans,
who trample on their dignity and self-respect on every occasion.
"5. The only economic doctrine observed by the Germans in Poland is, in conformity with their totalitarian ideas, a totalitarian
system of wholesale robbery directed against all Polish property and all the wealth the country possesses. In the incorporated
part of Poland only Germans are entitled to own property of any sort, rural or urban, and any who wants to remain a Pole is
driven away with empty hands. As regards the other part of Poland, the so-called Government General, Reichsmarshal Goering
has, ten months ago, issued the notorious, though secret, decree, forbidding any national economic activities, and enjoining
that the country be exploited to the utmost for the benefit of the Reich. The Germans are seizing and exporting, as if they
were mere cattle, men, women and young people for forced labour in Germany, and they are organising manhunts in towns and
villages for this purpose.
"6. At the same time Hitler's essential plan is being carried out of gradual extermination of Polish population through
hunger. This is not only a means of supplying the German population with food, but also, and this is in the first instance,
a deliberate attempt to destroy the Polish nation by malnutrition. For obvious reasons any help from abroad must encounter
difficulties: it is plain that the more foodstuffs or other goods come into Poland thanks to foreign assistance, the more
can the Germans take for themselves from the country.
"In conclusion we can say that the Germans by the abuses they are committing in Poland are piling up a mountain of crimes
such as the world has never seen. But the destinies of the world and of nations are not in the hands of Germans but of God.
The Germans' crimes will not kill Poland and will ultimately fall back upon the Reich with the full weight of the responsibility."
The months that have elapsed since have been marked by a continuance of the Polish nation's sufferings. There has been
no improvement in the situation of the country under German occupation. Indeed, in many respects it has even worsened.
In a broadcast on March 1st, 1941, eighteen months from the moment of the German invasion of Poland, Mr. Rackiewicz,
the President of the Polish Republic, declared:
"The Germans have murdered thousands of scholars, professors, artists, social workers, writers, and even priests. The
flower of the Polish intellectual class and the finest sons of the nation, as well as young women and girls, are being deported
to German concentration camps and prisons, and condemned to a lingering death of martyrdom.
"The Germans are systematically starving the population of Poland.
"With barbaric ruthlessness they are evicting hundreds of thousands of industrious people from their ancestral homes,
robbing them of their lands, their houses, their property, throwing them down anywhere, without shelter and without means
of sustenance, either to perish, or deporting them as slaves for forced labour in Germany.
"No one knows how many men, women and helpless children have perished of hunger, cold and torture in consequence of these
"Walled-up ghettoes are being established in Polish cities, as during the darkest periods of the Middle Ages, and people
are being persecuted for their nationality and creed.
"Simultaneously with the extermination of the nation Polish culture is being destroyed. Ancient monuments, temples of
learning, museums, national memorials and theatres which escaped destruction by bombs and bombardments are being closed down,
pillaged, broken up. The religion of the devout Polish people is being persecuted and their churches destroyed. All higher
and secondary schools have been closed, the printing and sale of books are prohibited, the newspapers suppressed."
A report received from Poland in April, 1941, tells the same tragic story. We quote some parts of this report:
"Mass executions are a regular feature; in Palmiry, near Warsaw, there are the graves of several thousand Poles, including
many prominent representatives of Polish political and cultural circles.
"Manhunts are organized in the streets of Warsaw and other towns, sometimes as many as 10,000 or more people being held
under arrest. These people are afterwards sent to concentration camps or compulsory labour.
"The monstrous principle of so-called collective responsibility still reigns; a German policeman has only to be killed
in a fight with a common bandit in some place or other for a Gestapo 'punitive expedition' to arrive and wreak vengeance by
murdering hundreds of completely innocent people. Entire villages are sent up in smoke; frequently the peasants are locked
up in sheds to which the Germans then set fire.
"Over 800,000 Polish workers from the 'Government General' alone are being transported to the interior of the Reich including
young girls aged sixteen, as to whose ultimate destination terrible reports are in circulation.
"All the Polish universities and secondary schools have been closed down; special commissioners have been appointed to
liquidate them. In the 'incorporated' areas all the Polish elementary schools have also been liquidated. Throughout the occupied
area Polish cultural property is being pillaged on a great scale: the most valuable articles in museums, art collections,
libraries, and scientific laboratories have been carried off to Germany, and stolen by German officials for their private
"It is forbidden to publish any Polish books, or periodicals; in the 'Government General' there are only a few official
German publications in Polish; in the 'incorporated' areas the Polish language has been completely eliminated from public
life. The Poles are humiliated and shamed by the occupants at every turn.
"Simultaneously a mass expulsion of Poles is going on from Poznania, Pomerania, Silesia and those parts of central and
southern Poland which have also been 'incorporated' with the Reich. Polish towns such as Poznan, Gdynia, Bydgoszcz, Lodz,
Kalisz, Plock, Wloclawek, are given an appearance of being German towns by means of incredible violence. The Germans are talking
of deporting a further three to four million souls."
These reports confirm all the tragic truth of Mr. Churchill's words in his magnificent speech addressed to the Polish
people all over the world on May 3, 1941:
"All over Europe races and States whose culture and history made them a part of the general life of Christendom in the
centuries when the Prussians were no better than a barbarous tribe and the German Empire no more than an agglomeration of
pumpernickel principalities are now prostate under the dark, cruel yoke of Hitler and his Nazi gang. Every week his firing
parties are busy in a dozen lands. Monday he shoots Dutchmen, Tuesday Norwegians, Wednesday French or Belgians stand against
the wall; while on Thursday it is the Czechs who must suffer and now there are the Serbs and the Greeks to fill his repulsive
bill of execution. But always, all the days, there are the Poles. The atrocities committed by Hitler upon the Poles, the ravaging
of their country, the scattering of their homes, affronts to their religion, the enslavement of the man-power, exceed in severity
and scale the violence perpetrated by Hitler in any other conquered land."
The principle that Poland must be treated more oppressively, must be held down more brutally than other occupied countries,
is openly enunciated by the Germans in the leading article of the Krakauer Zeitung, for April 25, 1941:
"The principles applied in the Bohemian-Moravian Space could not be applied to the Polish Space owing to the unbridled
Polish character, which was sharply revealed during the Polish campaign as an element which requires a different method of
The heads of the German administration frankly declare that the Poles are to become serfs to the German Herrenvolk,
deprived of their own culture and their own intelletual spheres.
Dr. Hans Frank, Reich Minister, and Governer-General for the occupied Polish territories called the "Government General,"
in an article, published in the Warschauer Zeitung of December 5, 1939, has repeated the peculiarly Nazi definition
of the raison d'etre of law:
"Law is all that which serves the German people. Illegality is all that which is harmful to that people."
The present book reveals how the above principles, which for that matter are only a rehash of old Prussian theories of
hegemony and the cult of force, are being applied in the Polish occupied territories.
The average foreigner, who is acquainted with the Passion Play of Oberammergau, with Bayreuth, and the smiling banks
of the Rhine, who has possibly studied German scientific works, but who has failed to understand the character of the "Musicians
and Barbarians," as the famous German writer Emil Ludwig has called them, is frequently reluctant to believe the terrible
reports which come from the areas under German occupation in the years 1939, 1940 and 1941. So it is worth while citing the
Germans themselves, and giving reproductions of the sinister Bekanntmachungen (public notices) issued in occupied
Poland for the purpose of terrifying a famished and martyred population.
Throughout the pages of this book the reader will find extracts from reports, depositions and documents relating to the
organization of the German Lebensraum in the East which is becoming the "death-space" of a great nation. In
these pages the reader will find the clearest picture of what the German New Order in Europe is to look like in practice.
We repeat: the clearest picture, because the conduct of the German authorities in other occupied countries, in Norway, Denmark,
Belgium, Holland, France is, for tactical reasons, and despite all its severity, incomparably more considerate of the local
population, and never reaches the degree of bestiality which is raging in Poland for nearly two years. Even in Czechoslovakia
the Germans have put certain brakes on their behaviour, in consideration of its position as a Protectorate, although there
also the terror is growing more and more ruthless month by month. But in Poland the German regime has revealed in all its
fullness what the German Herrenvolk is capable of.
General Information on the German Occupation of Poland
In accordance with the German-Soviet Pact of September 28, 1939, the Republic of Poland was partitioned as follows:
Out of the entire territory of 152,226 square miles, with a population (all population figures given in this section
are valid as of the outbreak of war) of 35,340,000, some 73,676 square miles, with a population of some 22,250,000 were taken
over by the Germans,and some 78,550 square miles, with a population of some 13,090,000, came under Soviet occupation.
The territories occupied by the Germans are much more densely populated, which explains the fact that the total number
of inhabitants is considerably greater in this area than in that under Soviet occupation.
From the beginning, the German-occupied territories were divided into two parts almost equal in extent.
1. The territories of Western and a considerable part of Central and Southern Poland which, in accordance with the decree
of October 8, 1939, published in the German Law Journal (Reichsgesetzblatt) but contrary to all principles of international
law, were "incorporated" with the German Reich on October 26, 1939. These territories amount to some 36,117 square miles,
with a population of some 10,740,000 people.
2. The remainder of the German-occupied territory, including the cities of Warsaw, Cracow and Lublin, is called the "Government
General." This area is some 37,320 square miles in extent, and has a population of some 11,485,000 people. The area
was originally intended by the Germans to form a kind of protectorate. Originally it was called the "Government General of
the occupied Polish areas" (General Gouvernement der besetzten polnischen Gebiete) so that the emphasis was laid
on the "occupation" as distinct from the "incorporation" of the other area. On August 18, 1940, this terminology was changed;
thenceforth this area is called only "General Gouvernement" or "General Gouvernement des Deutschen Reichs"
in official acts, and the reference to "occupied Polish areas" is omitted.
The German press interprets this change to mean that the "Government General" has also become a part of the "Great German
Reich," as a Nebenland. In a word, here we have a further cynical violation of international law.
Despite this new "incorporation," a distinction continues to be made in the treatment of the two sections of the Polish
territory under German occupation. Therefore in this book, for the sake of simplification, we use the term "incorporated areas"
for that part of the German-occupied areas which was annexed to the Reich on October 26, 1939, and "Government General" for
It has to be added that a scrap of territory in the south of Poland (in the neighbourhood of the Tatra mountains), some
239 square miles with a population of some 25,000, was given by the Germans to the "Slovak State," which is under the "protection"
of the Third Reich.
From the beginning the German terror was most intense in the areas "incorporated" with the Reich.
The regions involved are those which Prussia had forcibly seized at various times and which in the years 1918 to 1920
returned to the Polish Republic, namely Poznania, Pomerania and Silesia. The rest of the "incorporated" areas consists of
the provinces of central and southern Poland, which before the 1914-18 war were part of Russia and Austria-Hungary, with the
towns of Lodz (the second largest town in Poland), Suwalki, Ciechanow, Wloclawek, Plock, Kalisz, Sosnowiec, Dabrowa, Gornicza,
Cieszyn, Bielsko, Biala, Zywiec and Wadowice. The frontiers of the "incorporated" area run barely twenty miles from the capital
of Poland, Warsaw.
In extent the "incorporated" area comprises 23.7 per cent of the total territory of the Polish State, and in regard to
population 30.4 per cent. It is land which has been purely Polish for many centuries. At the outbreak of war the Germans comprised
barely six per cent of the total population.
Of these provinces those of Poznania, Pomerania and Silesia were socially and economically the most developed areas in
Poland. Historically, these provinces were the cradle of the Polish people and State. Estimates in 1939 gave the Polish section
of the population as amounting to 92 per cent in Poznania, 91 per cent in Pomerania, and 93 per cent in Silesia. In Poznan,
the capital of Western Poland, the Poles comprised 97 per cent of the inhabitants, and a similar percentage obtained in almost
all the other towns. In Gdynia the Poles were 99 per cent of the population, in Torun 96 per cent, and in Bydgoszcz 93 per
All official and unofficial German statistics dating from both before and after the 1914-18 war revealed the existence
of an overwhelming Polish majority in all the provinces in question.
The Polish people of Poznania, Pomerania and Silesia were always distinguished by their high sense of civic responsibility.
They were admirably organized in the economic sphere, and were fully aware of the danger threatening Poland from Germany.
Fate had charged this people with the duty of guarding two essential elements of the political and economic independence of
the Polish State, namely, access to the sea and the mineral wealth of Silesia.
And this was the people against whom the German occupants applied the most brutal system of extermination. The main feature
of this system was the mass expulsion of the Poles from their age-old homes, with complete confiscation of their real and
movable property. The leaders of the Third Reich foretell that in a few years the Polish character of these areas will be
For administration purposes two new provinces of the Reich (Reichsgaue) were created from the "incorporated"
The Reichsgau Wartheland (abbreviated to Warthegau) comprises Poznania and the adjacent territory of
central Poland as far as the Vistula on the north-east, with the towns of Poznan, Lodz, Inowroclaw, Leszno, Ostrow, Kalisz
and Wloclawek. The Gauleiter, Herr Greiser, the former President of the Senate of the Free City of Danzig, has his
residence at Poznan.
The Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen consists of Polish Pomerania, the Free City of Danzig and adjacent German
counties; in addition to Danzig it includes the towns of Gdynia, Bydgoszcz, Grudziadz, Torun, Lipno and Rypin. The Gauleiter
is the former Gauleiter of the Free City of Danzig, Forster.
The northern part of central Poland with the towns of Ciechanow, Plock and others was incorporated with Eastern Prussia
(Gau Ostpreussen) as a separate administrative area (Regierungsbezirk) with its administrative centre at
the town of Ciechanow (renamed Zichenau by the Germans).
The northern scrap of Polish territory with the towns of Suwalki and Augustow, which was cut off from the rest of the
German-occupied area by a strip of territory under Soviet occupation, was also incorporated with Eastern Prussia.
The Polish Upper Silesia, the district of Cieszyn (called Cieszyn Silesia) and the adjoining part of the province of
Cracow have been incorporated to the Gau Oberschlesien and form now the Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz. This
Bezirk covers the whole of the Polish coal-field.
In area the "Government General" comprises barely 23.7 per cent of the Polish State, and in population 32.5 per centv
It is divided into four districts: Cracow, Warsaw, Lublin and Radom, each possessing their own governors. The head of
the administration is the Governor-General, Dr. Frank, former Minister of Justice in the Third Reich, who now resides in the
ancient castle of the Polish Kings, the Wawel, at Cracow.
The territory of the "Government General," an area smaller than Bulgaria (which has six million inhabitants) has been
destined by Hitler to become the home (Heimstatte) of 15-16 million Poles and two million Jews; here all the great
masses of population deported from the "incorporated" territories are to find accomodation. To realise all the barbaric absurdity
of this conception it need be only stated that the area greatly overpopulated before 1939, was deliberately ravaged by the
Germans during war operations and the occupation, and is an economic monstrosity; it is not only cut off from access to the
sea on the west, but also from the coal fields of Silesia, Dabrowa, Gornicza and Cracow, as well as the Lodz district, with
its highly developed textile and metallurgical industry.
According to Hitler's plan the "Government General" is to become a reservoir of labour power for the needs of the Reich.
From the moment the terrible truth of the German terror in Poland began to spread through the world, arousing anger and
indignation, Goebbel's propaganda resorted to various villainous tricks to prevent the further spread of the truth.
To this end the German press, wireless and officials in their speeches attempt to convey the impression to the outside
world that the only Polish area under German rule is the "Government General."
Another cynical trick is publicising of the alleged "benefits" of the German occupation, such as compulsory anti-typhoid
inoculation and struggle against epidemics (which during the times of Polish rule never achieved any greater dimensions than
those in the German Reich). Naturally there is no mention of the fact that tens and hundreds of thousands of people are perishing
as the result of their being beaten and ill-treated by the German authorities, and that a greater part of the Polish population
is living in misery and hunger as a result of the German policy.
In regard to its statements about Poland, German propaganda has beaten all its previous records of infamy.
In conclusion it has to be stated that this book concerns only the conditions existing under the German occupation, and
covers the period from September 1, 1939, the day of the German invasion of Poland, till June 22, 1941, when the war with
Soviet Russia extended the German occupation of Polish territories further towards the East.
END OF INTRODUCTION
CAUTION: NOT FOR THE YOUNG OR FOR THE SQUEAMISH!
PART ONE: Persecutions, Murders, Expulsions
Chapter One: The Deliberate Murder of the Civil Population During the Military Operations
Even during the military operations, the German troops had
organized systematic and frightful murders of the Polish population.
Airmen especially were employed in these massacres. In bombing military objectives the pilots executed only
a part of their orders. The principal task of the German bombing seemed to consist of destroying the open towns, the villages
and rural areas of Poland. Thus the German pilots proceeded deliberately to murder masses of the civilian population.
To this end, the German airmen were not content to drop high explosive and incendiary bombs upon the homes and centres of
the civilian population. Whenever possible, they flew very low and machine-gunned thousands of people, raking entire
villages, and attacking refugees fleeing along the roads.
The first volume of the Black Book: The German Invasion of Poland (excerpts have been reproduced
on this web site under the heading "The Invasion"), published by the Polish Government (in 1940),
which contains a great number of depositions and eye-witness accounts on the German invasion of Poland, in September of 1939,
describes the most outstanding facts of the German airmen's conduct.
These enemy pilots literally engaged in man hunts. During the siege of Warsaw they circled above the
fields in the vicinity of the city, where women were digging a few potatoes to take back to their starving families. The German
airmen flew low over the fields and systematically machine-gunned these women and their children. In the suburb of Czerniakow
the blackened bodies of people murdered in this way lay in heaps for several weeks.
Similarly, the bodies of men, women and children, whom the German airmen had shot as they were fleeing eastward
before the invasion of Western Poland, littered the Kutno-Warsaw road, as well as many other main arteries and intersecting
roads of communication. And even country roads, far from any road or objective of military significance. Hundreds of reports
confirm that people alone in the fields, for instance shepherds, were attacked and killed; hospitals and Red Cross first aid
statins, evacuation trains and single cars carrying refugees were bombed.
As for the bombing of cities, towns and villages, here is one of innumerable such cases;
On September 5, fourteen German aeroplanes heavily bombed Sulejow, a little town on the Pilica River, numbering
no more than 6,500 inhabitants - an unfortified place without military importance - with the result that the town literally
ceased to exist. The German pilots then circled above the ruins and machine-gunned the inhabitants as they fled. A book published
in Berlin in 1940, entitled "Unsere Flieger uber Polen (Our Airmen over Poland)", contains a cynically boastful passage
by a German airman on the bombing of Sulejow.
The fate of Sulejow was shared by hundreds of Polish towns and villages. The total number of civilians killed
and severly wounded by bombardment from the air cannot be precisely stated; but in any case, it certainly exceeds 100,000
persons. In Warsaw alone, as a result of air and artillery bombardment, the dead amounted to more than 60,000.
The German land forces were no less barbarous than the air force.
On September 3, the Germans entered the villages of Truskolasy and Trzepaczka, near Czestochowa. They
burned them to the ground, after which they proceeded to shoot a large number of the inhabitants. At Truskolasy, 55 people
were shot, including a small child of two.
On the same day the German troops occupied Czestochowa, a city of 100,000 inhabitants, famous for its ancient
monastery and church of Pauline Friars, where a miraculous picture of the Madonna had been worshipped for centuries by the
The following is a carefully verified report of what took place there:
"On September 4, the Germans drove between 700 and 800 men and women, Polish and Jewish, into the free area
surrounding the Cathedral of the Most Holy Family. All these people were ordered to stand with their arms raised for
two hours; and any who fainted or lowered their hands were beaten and kicked by the soldiers. Towards evening they were all
herded into the Cathedral, where they were locked in for two days and nights without food. Dozens of them fainted. The
cathedral was shockingly befouled. Appeals to the German authorities were fruitless.
"The same day, people were hunted down in the town, on the pretext that an attempt had been made to fire
at German soldiers from one of the houses. This was the same lie as was employed by the Germans in Belgium and at Kalisz,
in Poland, in 1914, to justify their barbarous massacres.
"About 60 people were seized and shot. One of the houses in the street of The Blessed Virgin Mary
was set on fire by the Germans, after they had thrown hand grenades into it. There were many persons inside. They were
not allowed to escape, and were burned alive. It was forbidden to bury or to remove the bodies of those who had been shot,
the object being to terrorize the inhabitants by the sight of these corpses. They were left unburied until two days later.
"In the evening some 600 persons, including 3 priests, were arrested in their houses, conducted before
the municipal buildings, and threatened with death.The Germans pretended that an order for their execution was expected from
higher authorities; and in the meantime they were compelled to stand with raised arms. When the orders arrived, the Germans
stood them against the wall of the building, facing a squad of soldiers armed with rifles and a machine-gun. The soldiers
hurled curses and insults at the Poles, after which the unfortunates were ordered to turn to the wall and lie down on the
ground. The machine-gun was then fired over their heads. About three hundred rounds were used in this way. Later the
terror-stricken people were taken to the prison at Zawodzie. Under this monstrous torture some of them lost their nerve; five
died of heart failure - three against the wall of the municipal building and two in prison, while eleven went mad.
"Those imprisoned were given no food or water for two days. They were not allowed to receive anything from
outside, or at least if any exception were made it was after great exertions on the part of friends and relatives. A German
soldier of Polish origin from the vicinity of Opole (Oppeln) in German Silesia, who permitted food to be taken in to
the prisoners, was shot on the spot.
"As the German authorities had issued an order the previous day, September 5, that all arms were to
be surrendered before 8 p.m., there was a general search for such arms. In the Institute of the Order of the School Brothers,
an old gun and several Scouts' caps were found in the theatre wardrobe. On the false pretext that they had been 'concealing
arms', two of the Friars and the father of another were taken out and shot in the barrack square of the 27th Infantry Regiment.
Their bodies were buried in the barrack garden.
"Many persons were shot simply because toy pistols had been found in their houses, or old sabres which had
been forgotten among the lumber in the attics."
In many of the villages in the County of Czestochowa (for example at Romanow), the Germans murdered the
Polish farmers, and burned down their property.
In other Polish districts the German troops behaved similarly.
Even at this early date cases were known of Polish farmers being locked into sheds which were subsequently
set on fire, so that they perished in the flames. In the following months this hideous crime was adopted on a much greater
scale by the German occupation regime, as will be described later.
In the Kracow Province, the Germans burned down a number of villages, allowing nothing and no one to be
saved. In a little place called Rokiciny, on the Krakow-Zakopane railway, German soldiers prevented the escape of some people
who had been trapped in the cellars of burning houses. The soldiers also prevented cattle being released from burning
enclosures. In the well-known health resort for children, Rabka-Zaryte, a farmer and his son were shot because they endeavoured
to break the window out of a burning building. In the village of Skomielna the Germans burned down the church and 74 farms
and shot the Parish priest in the head, severely wounding him.
In the village of Wisniewo, after a drinking bout, a group of German soldiers murdered six Polish farmers,
by laying them in the path of tanks which crushed them one after another. In the wood near this village the inhabitants
found 20 crushed and disfigured corpses, principally women and children. The traces of tanks were visible nearby.
The German soldiers and the Gestapo were particularly responsible for the torture of the civilian population
of Kalisz, a city which already once, in August 1914, had been sacrificed to German barbarism. At the time, by order of the
German commander, Major Preusker, the place was set on fire and utterly destroyed, a large number of its citizens being killed.
Re-built by the Poles in the course of 20 years, 1919-39, unfortunate Kalisz once more, at the very beginning of the
present war, became the victim of the invaders' savage terrorism.
After the occupation of Tomaszow Mazowiecki town, the Germans assembled the inhabitants in the market-place
and forced them to lie face downward. They remained in this position for 15 hours. If anyone attempted to move, the German
soldiers opened fire. Eighty persons perished in this way.
At the town of Lowicz the inhabitants were seized and driven in front of the advancing German troops, who
used them as a living screen against the Polish detachments.
On September 4, 1939, immediately after the German entry into Sosnowiec, one of the centres of the Polish
coalfield, the German soldiers went from house to house, turning out their occupants, whom they drove into the square before
the town hall. From the crowd, they chose some 30 persons to be shot. One of the German officers dispatched several of the
wounded with shots from his revolver. The Germans ordered the bodies to be left in the square for several hours.
The Massacre of Poles in Bydgoszcz
The most terrible massacre committed by the Germans took place in Bydgoszcz, the largest city in Pomerania
(140,000 inhabitants), in which 93 percent of the population was Polish.
The Germans began with mass arrests of the Polish population, which were followed by murders and executions.
"On entering the city," says one report, "the Germans arrested important members of the civil population
and the clergy. The prisoners were lined up in the town square and ordered to remain motionless, with their arms raised for
4 hours. When the narrator, a member of the group, felt that his strength was failing, he asked a priest to give him absolution.
At this moment the prisoners were granted a little respite. But when our informant crossed his hands on his breast, a German
exclaimed: 'You ass, you can pray; but that won't do you any good.' One of the victims, a woman, unable any longer to endure
this martyrdom, endeavoured to escape. She was immediately shot.
"There were already 7 bodies in the square, including those of Fathers Szarek and Wiorek. The former had
suffered cruelly. His nose was broken, his eyes evidently put out, and his jaw broken. To one corpulent priest the torturers
cried out: 'You ass, why aren't you married?'
"After such ill-treatment, some of the prisoners were placed in cellars of the Lazarists, others in the
barracks and in stables. Often they were forced to line up while their tormentors struck at them."
It is stated in another report that 5,000 men, women and children were shut up in one of the stables. They
were so closely crowded that none of the prisoners had room even to sit down on the ground. They were treated inhumanly. Priests
and Jews were ordered to use their bare hands to carry out excrement from a corner of the stable which had been set aside
as latrines. In general the worst treated were the clergy, of whom more will be said in the chapter dealing with religious
The Germans at once began to execute the Poles in a wholesale fashion, without trial, without even a shadow
of pretext. People were conducted to the centre of the town and mowed down with machine-guns, or were shot as they walked
along the streets. Cases were known of entire Polish families being murdered in their own homes.
In the barracks of the 15th Light Cavalry Regiment, the Germans machine-gunned nearly a thousand persons,
whose bodies were afterwards buried behind the stables. Hundreds of people were shot in the market-place, where their bodies
were left for several hours. Later, members of the Bydgoszcz clergy were forced to dig common graves and to bury the
Thousands of Poles, men and women and even young boys, were murdered in this way. For several days in September,
1939, the squares and the streets of the city flowed with the blood of the murdered. In order to terrorize the population
their bodies were left lying in the streets and the traces of blood were not removed.
A further spate of mass executions followed in the second half of October and in November, 1939.
It is difficult to fix exactly the total number of Polish people murdered in Bydgoszcz. In any case, down
to January 1st, 1940 it exceeded 10,000 persons. The majority consisted of representatives of the Polish intellectual and
middle classes: priest, officials, judges, professors, merchants, industrialists, although there were also many workmen, craftsmen,
etc. A large proportion of the victims consisted of women and young boys. This was admitted a year later even by the National-Socialist
newspaper Thorner Freiheit.
Among the more prominent people shot was Konrad Fiedler, vice-chairman of the Bydgoszcz City Council, one
of the National Democratic leaders of Pomorze, a well-known writer and publicist, chairman of the Pomeranian Association
of Journalists. Other victims included Mr. Typrowicz, a lawyer, an engineer and architect, Grodzki, and many members of the
Union for Defence of the Western Borders and the Societies of Insurgents and Ex-Service Men.
Mr. Barciszewski, Mayor of the City of Bydgoszcz, met a cruel death. Before the entry of the German troops,
he was ordered by the Ministry for Home Affairs at Warsaw to leave the city with the city funds and the most important municipal
documents. The German authorities perfidiously accused him on these grounds of stealing the city funds. When Mr. Barciszewski
decided to return to Bydgoszcz to defend himself against these infamous charges, the German authorities guaranteed him safe
conduct and provided him with authorization to travel. After a mockery of a trial, Mr. Barciszewski was shot. Before his death,
he was bestially tortured, being beaten, humiliated and ordered to clean the mud from a Gestapo car by licking it with his
tongue. For two days the Germans paraded him in a cart through the streets of Bydgoszcz for several hours each day; around
his neck was hung an insulting inscription ending with the announcement that the execution would take place on November 11,
One of the most moving incidents of the Bydgoszcz massacres was the shooting of more than one hundred High
School boys and scouts on the steps of the Jesuit Church in the old market-place. Some of them were boys of from 12 to 16
years of age; they were seized in the streets, and till the last moment they did not know what awaited them. They were mown
down with machine-guns. In the face of death, these boys behaved heroically, as even German witnesses declared, singing the
Polish national hymn: God Who Protects Poland.
At the last moment, a young priest ran up to the boys, making a sign of the Cross, and anxious to administer
the last sacrament. He was also seized and shot. He received 5 wounds.
A large number of disabled soldiers and veterans of the war of 1914-18 were also murdered.
Whole Polish families were wiped out. According to one report, the bodies were often laid out in the form
of the swastika: the father constituting one arm, the mother a second arm, whilst the others were formed by the bodies
of the children and relations.
The Polish Government possesses a number of authentic depositions made by Poles who succeeded in escaping
from Bydgoszcz. Some of them are particularly shocking. Among them is the deposition of a certain young Polish girl,
who was cashier at the Bydgoszcz railway station. When one day early in September she returned home from work, she found the
bodies of her aged parents, who had been murdered by Germans living in the same house.
The course of events in Bydgoszcz was also recorded by a number of witnesses of non-Polish nationality.
Particularly valuable and exhaustive is the account of this period given by an Englishwoman, Miss Baker-Beall, who lived in
Bydgoszcz before the war, was aquainted with local conditions, and remained in the city for some time after the entry of the
On February 4, 1940, the great Copenhagen daily, Politiken, carried a lengthy report from its Berlin
correspondent, entitled: "What is happening behind the closed frontier of the Government of Poland." Part of this article
deals with the Bydgoszcz massacres. On this subject the writer said:
"It is a war of extermination against the Poles ... This war took on its true aspect with this Saint Bartholomew's
night in Bydgoszcz.
"One of the judges of the German courts martial told me: 'The great market-place of Bydgoszcz was chosen
as the place of execution. The bodies were left lying there for a day as a warning. Masses of Poles were dragged and put up
against the wall.' Among the examples of heroic deaths the judge recalled that of a young Pole, who gazed proudly at the firing
squad and cried as he fell: 'Poland has not yet perished!'
"This same judge often saw Polish children of from 4 to 6 years playing a new game in the streets, pretending
to be the execution squads. The heroes these little children acclaimed were always those who cried: 'Poland has not yet perished!'
These children will grow up; and they will never forget. ..."
In order to provide some justification for the monstrous slaughter in Bydgoszcz, the official German propaganda
put out a calumnious story that many Germans had been murdered by the Polish population in Bydgoszcz on September 3, 1939.
In reality, on that day the Germans of Bydgoszcz, belonging to illegal Nazi organizations, brought out their rifles, hand
grenades and machine-guns, and attacked their Polish fellow citizens and the last retreating Polish detachments. However,
the German troops were still too far away; and Polish detachments retiring from the front came to the aid of the unarmed Polish
population. A street skirmish ensued, in which the Poles finally got the upper hand. About 150 to 160 Germans were killed
on that Sunday. It transpired that the majority of them were not members of the local population, but were diversionists and
saboteurs, who had been sent across the frontier in the days immediately preceding.
The events of that day have been stated clearly and unchallengeably in the above-mentioned report of Miss
Baker-Beall, and also in many reports from other eye-witnesses, as published in the book The German Fifth Column in Poland.
The slaughter in Bydgoszcz, together with similar happenings in other localities, for example in Leszno,
was only the beginning of the mass murders of the Polish population, which began from the first days of the German Occupation,
both in territories later "incorporated" in the Reich and in those of the so-called "Government General."
END OF CHAPTER ONE
Chapter Two: Mass Slaughters and Executions Under the Occupation
In the "Incorporated Territories"
Immediately after their entry into Poland, the Germans set to work to exterminate the Polish intellectual
classes. They at once murdered large numbers of Polish priests, landowners, officials, lawyers, professors, teachers and doctors.
Then came mass executions, which reached their greatest intensity in the period following October 15, 1939. It appeared that
the Germans had determined to exterminate entirely the leading elements in the Western provinces of Poland. In addition to
the categories already mentioned, these murders also included merchants, artisans, labour leaders, Trade Union leaders, leaders
of peasants' agricultural organizations, etc.
Especially during the first period, these murders were committed without even a parody of court procedure,
without even the formalities of a charge. A Pole had only to be indicated as "inimically disposed towards the Germans' (deutschfeindlich
gesinnt). Poles were executed either publicly, usually in the market-places, or the Gestapo disposed of them secretly,
often at night; very many were murdered in the prisons. Hundreds of hostages were also murdered. The most glaring cases in
each of the Western provinces of Poland are given below.
At Gdynia, 350 of the leading men were arrested as hostages. First they were taken to Danzig, where
they were made to do hard labour, then to Wejherowo. Many of these hostages were shot in the local prison, on the Polish Independence
Day, November 11, 1939. Before the executions took place, these men dug their own graves. The shooting was carried out in
relays, each group being obliged to witness the deaths of those who preceded them. The Gestapo agents killed their
victims by a revolver shot in the head.
The attitude of these unfortunate men was heroic. They died crying "Long live Poland!" There was not a suggestion
of court procedure. No statement was made as to why these massacres took place.
Here are the names of some of the leading men, whose fate, after nearly two years, is unknown:
Messrs. Legowski, director of the port of Gdynia; W. Szaniawski, Governmental Vice-commissioner for
Gdynia, President of the Franco-Polish Association, former French officer, decorated with the Legion of Honour; Jagodzinski,
Counsellor of the Gdynia Governmental Commissioner's Office; Czarlinski, President of the District Court; Schwarz, Konwinski,
Kiedrowski, Judges; Kozlowski, Prosecuting Attorney; Linke, director of the Communal Savings Bank; Boryslawski, director of
the local branch of the Agricultural Bank; Jozewicz, lawyer; Stanislaw Borkowski, director of the Naval Department; Prelate
Turzynski and his brother; Pinecki, a Danzig Professor.
At Obluze, near Gdynia, an unknown person was said to have broken a pane of glass in the police station
on the night of November 11. The German authorities made this an excuse for arresting some 50 Polish school-boys, demanding
that they produce the culprit. Unable to learn who he was, they ordered the boys' parents to whip their sons publicly, in
front of the church. When they refused, the S.S. agents beat the boys brutally with clubs. Afterwards they shot 10 of the
students and forbade the burial of the bodies, which lay exposed before the church for 24 hours. Yet it was stated by Poles
of the highest integrity that no pane of glass had been broken in the police station.
At Danzig, the members of the staff of the High Commissioner of the Polish Republic were arrested. In prison
they were beaten and ill-treated outrageously. Mr. Lendzion, Polish Deputy to the Volkstag at Danzig, who had been
imprisoned with the rest, was first beaten with bestial cruelty, then his jailors tore out his tongue.
The employees of the Polish Post Office at Danzig, among whom were 5 women, as well as the Polish railway
employees, were all assassinated.
At Torun, capital of Pomerania Province several hundred such murders were committed at the beginning of
the occupation. On November 22, six women were shot, on the pretext that a German was said to have been assaulted by a Pole.
In the same city, civilians were compelled to repair the bridge over the Vistula. Among them were Mr. Hozakowski,
French Honorary Counsel, and an aged priest, respected and revered by the community. Exhausted by his efforts, the old priest
finally fell into the water. His fellow workmen endeavoured to save him, but were prevented by the S.S. agents, who drew revolvers
and shot him as he struggled in the river.
At Grudziadz, a factory town, numbering 60,000 inhabitants, 300 Poles were shot, 30 percent of the population
was deported to the "Government General" or to Germany; children between 7 and 14 years old were also deported to Germany.
Among others, Mr. Alfons Sergot, lawyer, a leader of the Trades Union Praca Polska (Polish Labour) was shot.
In the first half of December, 1939, in Inowroclaw, one of the largest cities in Pomerania, a group of drunken
German officers visited the local prison, where 70 Poles were interned as hostages, and shot them all with revolvers. With
the officers was the Landrat of the County of Inowroclaw, who himself shot some 20 of the prisoners. The Landrat
stood higher up the steps, and as the prisoners were brought up one by one from below, he shot them. The Mayor of the city
of Inowroclaw, Mr. Jankowski, and the deputy mayor, Mr. Jungst, were among the victims; others who shared their fate were
Messrs. Wlodzimierz Wichlinski, Stanislaw Wichlinski, Count Poninski, Katalowski, Hoppe, all landowners; Knast, proprietor
of a book shop; Fajgiel, a merchant, Laubitz, brother of the late Bishop of Gniezno; Reszka, a chemist, whose house had been
destroyed by the Germans; and a number of workmen whose names are unknown.
In this city also several hundred young girls of from 14 to 20 years of age were imprisoned. A few days
later, the prison guards and members of the German S.A. opened the doors and announced that those who desired could go. As
the girls started to file out they were shot down. Over 40 fell thus wantonly murdered.
Among others shot at Inowroclaw, was Father Mateusz Zablocki, of Gniezno, a man past 60, revered by all.
With him were shot 14 Polish workmen from Gniezno. The Polish prisoners in Inowroclaw were cruelly beaten and tortured. A
17 year-old Polish lad was buried alive.
In the market place at Tezew, Father Chudzinski, from Pelplin, publisher and editor of two well-known Polish
journals of Pomerania, the Pielgrzym (The Pilgrim) and the Goniec Pomorski (The Pomorze Messenger) was executed;
also Father Bronislaw Dembienski of Nowe Miasto Lubawskie, publisher of the journal Drweca, and director of a well-known
local publishing company.
The most prominent representatives of the Polish clergy in Pomerania were also murdered. They included the
80 year-old priest, Canon Bernard Losinski, of Sierakowice (County of Kartuzy) for many years a Deputy to the Polish Parliament
(Sejm) at Warsaw; Canon Jozef Wrycza from Wiele (County of Chojnice), Chaplain of Polish troops at the time of the
war with the Bolsheviks in 1919-20, and many other priests.
At Lubawa the chairman of the local gymnastics organization, Sokol, Mr. Wolski, was murdered; and
in December, 1939, the Mayor and 5 inhabitants of the town of Fordon, among them 2 priests, were shot in Bydgoszcz.
Numerous assassinations were reported from Wloclawek, of which details are wanting.
The following document illustrates German methods. It is an announcement which appeared in the German daily
Weichsel-Zeitung in October, 1939. Piastoszyn (in German Petztin) is the name of a village near the town of Tuchola:
"Ten Polish Saboteurs Against the Wall.
"Tuchola..... At Piastoszyn, in the district of Tuchola, a building on the property of the German
(Volksdeutsche) Superior (Amtsvorsteher) Fritz was burned by a Polish bandit. The property was situated
outside the village. The Amtsvorsteher died of a heart attack.
"By order of the Chief of the Civil Administration, a preventative action has been taken in this locality.
The object of this action is to give the bandit culprits to understand that underhanded deeds of this sort will be punished
in the most rigorous fashion. By way of reparation, and in order to inspire a legitimate fear, 10 Poles, known for their anti-German
sentiments, have been shot. Furthermore, the Polish population of the region has been ordered to rebuild the building that
was burned, and to repair the total damage done.
"Measures have been taken to prevent a repetition of such happenings."
It is not known in what circumstances the fire on this property occurred.
The total number of Poles shot and murdered in Pomerania down to January 1, 1940, is estimated at 20,000.
Of this number more than 10,000, as has been previously stated, were in the city of Bydgoszcz alone.
The situation in Poznania was exactly like that in Pomerania. Here, too, the Germans determined to wipe
out the entire Polish intellectual classes, the middle class and the leaders of the peasants and workmen.
There is hardly a town in Poznania, nor even a larger village which has not been the scene of public mass
executions of Poles.
On the eve of execution, the condemned were often shut up in narrow cells, where they were forced to remain
standing. They were not permitted to take leave of their families, nor to receive the last rites. On the contrary, many of
them were insulted, beaten and tortured even at the last moment.
The mass executions, which, for the most part occurred between the 20th and 25th of October, 1939, were
carried out principally in the public squares of the cities and towns. The members of the S.S. drove the population into
the squares and forced them to witness these collective murders. Frequently they took place at night, by the light of
car headlamps. After the executions, the representatives of the Polish intellectual classes who were left alive - chiefly
priests, lawyers, etc. - were compelled to load their compatriots' bodies on to carts and to haul them to the cemetery or
to the environs of the cemetery. (Frequently the Germans did not permit burial in the cemeteries.) There they dug trenches
and buried the bodies.
Cases were reported in which the victims were forced to dig their own graves before execution.
An example of these methods is provided by the execution of five Poles in the market-place of Szamotuly,
a provincial town of 10,000 inhabitants.
There, members of the S.S. barred off the streets leading to the market square. Five young men, whom they
had driven into the square, were placed against a wall. They had just time before their execution to cry: "Long live Poland!"
after which they were shot with revolvers by the S.S. guard. The commanding officer then passed along the line, putting a
bullet through the head of each dying man. Shouts and screams of protest and indignation arose; women fainted. Later, several
representatives of the local intellectual circles were chosen, among them a priest, a doctor, a lawyer and ordered to load
the bodies of their fellow citizens on to a car, and to drive them to the vicinity of the cemetery and bury them. The murdered
men were peasants from Otorowo, a nearby village. Someone in the locality, whom the Germans failed to discover, had hoisted
a Polish flag, and so the population of the town had to pay this terrible price for the Polish cause.
In Otorowo, also, 19 men, from ages of 15 to 75 were shot on the same charges.
Particularly revolting were the executions in Koscian, a town of 10,000 inhabitants, south of Poznan.
In this town, 8 persons were executed together on October 2, 18 on October 23 and 42 on November 7. These
executions were held in the market-place, against the wall of the Town Hall. On October 23, the Germans shot Mr. Mieczyslaw
Chlapowski, Count Szoldrski, Mr. Koscielski, of Sepno, landowners, Mr. Helczynski of Bonikowo, who before his death was cruelly
beaten; Dr. Tomaszewski, dental surgeon; Mr. Irzabek, High School Principal; Mr. Sowinski, retired School Inspector; Mr. Wydra,
School Inspector; Mr. Hefner, Head of the Elementary School; Mr. Obaro, local Railway Director; Mr, Ido, an employee in a
sugar refinery; Messrs. Wenski and Janicki, merchants, the latter with his son.
Father Graszynski was forced to wash the blood from the stones where the victims of executions had fallen.
The execution of Mr. Mieczyslaw Chlapowski, of Kopaszewo, made a profound impression. This gentleman was
well known for his patriotic activities, and was chairman of various agricultural organizations in Poznania. He was a cousin
of the former Polish Ambassador to France, Mr. Alfred Chlapowski.
Carried out as usual, without the formal pretext of a trial, the execution took place in the market-place
of Koscian. The Gestapo agents had packed the square with spectators.
Mr. Chlapowski knelt down with his rosary, saying a prayer. Then he made the sign of the cross to the crowd;
and cried: "Poland has not yet perished! Long live France. Long live England!" At that moment he fell before the bullets of
No less moving was the death of the young landowner, Mr. Madalinski of Debicz, whose ancestors had fought
in all the Polish insurrections against Russia and Germany. Hearing the order given to the firing squad to shoot him in the
back, he turned toward the S.S. agents, tore open his shirt, and pointing to his breast, exclaimed: "Shoot here; for never
has a Madalinski been killed like a dog! ... May God bless Poland!" he added, as the volley sounded.
To cite still another incident, 2 Polish landowners with German names, Boening and Graeve, were arrested
by the Germans and given their choice between the two alternatives: either to sign a declaration stating that they were Volksdeutsche
(of German race), or to be shot. They both declared themselves proud to be Poles, and refused to
sign the infamous document. They paid the penalty of death.
Another prominent Pole, Mr. Taczanowski, had his eyes burnt out by the Germans before execution.
Count Szoldrski, a landowner at Golebin, had a smile on his lips as he came to the place of execution in
Koscian. The Germans thought he was sneering at them, so they first beat him until he was unable to stand.
On November 7, 42 Poles were shot in the face and left in a ditch filled with lime. In this group was a
number of High School students. On November 9 the Germans shot several dozen peasants from the neighbouring villages and buried
them in the forest of Racot, near Koscian.
In addition, a number of secret executions took place at Koscian at different times, often at night.
In the County of Koscian not only the local Gestapo detachment but also certain German officials distinguished
themselves by their brutality. They were the Landrat, Lize, and his adjutant, Lehman; the German Burgomaster, Schreiter;
a School Inspector named Heinze; Lorenz, a landowner; the official, Ischdonat, and Frau von Hofmannswaldau, of Koszanowo,
who again and again intervened with the German authorities to carry out more executions.
Immediately after the executions at Koscian, the same German guard moved on to Smigiel, a town in the same
county, where on October 2, 8 persons were murdered, including the Mayor, Piach, and the chemist, Mr. Ciesielski. On October
23, 16 more sentences were carried out. Besides these collective executions, there were numerous individual cases which were
always dealt with at night.
In the County town of Gostyn, at 11 o'clock on the morning of October 21, 1939, 30 persons were shot, among
them the local leader of the National Party, Mieczyslaw Hejnowicz and his brother, several prominent members of the intellectual
class, as well as many landowners from the surrounding country, including Mr. Edward Potworowski, of Gola, a Papal Chamberlain
and Director of the Catholic Action organization; the former Senator, Stanislaw Karlowski of Szelejewo; Count Grocholski and
the previously mentioned Baron Graeve of Borek. The son of one of the condemned suceeded only in obtaining permission to be
shot in his father's place.
In the neighbouring town of Krobia, the shooting of 15 Poles was later followed by more executions. Similarly
26 Polish people were to be shot at Poniec, another town in Gostyn County. Here, however, an unexpected thing happened. The
older men and women among the local Germans would not permit the executions to take place. They placed themselves in front
of the condemned, declaring that they did not wish such a thing to happen, as they lived on good terms with the Poles. As
a result only 3 of the 26 were shot. This, however, was a unique exception.
A group of Poles was publicly executed in the town of Wolsztyn at night, by the light of the Gestapo car
headlamps. The entire local population were awakened and obliged to come to the square to witness the executions.
Sixteen persons were assassinated at Kornik, including Mr. Wolniewicz, the Mayor, aged 70 years, infirm
and unable to walk. After the others had been shot, Mr. Wolniewicz was thrown on a cart, on top of their dead bodies, and
killed point blank with a revolver shot.
Similar public executions were recorded at Mosina, Rogozno, at Trzemeszno (30 persons), at Antoninek (20),
at Srem (118), at Rawicz, Grodzisk, Nowy Tomysl, Miedzychod, Znin, Sroda, Wrzesnia and many other localities.
In Poznan, executions by beheadings took place every week at the prison in Mlynska Street. Only some of
the verdicts were made public. Many young people were shot without any trial whatever in the woods near Poznan in the neighbourhood
of Paledzie, Dabrowka and Zakrzewo. This happened almost every week. Up to 30 persons lost their lives on each occasion. The
execution area was guarded and inaccessible to Poles. Only the cries of the victims testified that they were Polish.
"The Gestapo agent's lorries arrived in the market-place of the town of Pobiedziska on September 1," says
one report. Machine-guns were set up in the streets. At 7 o'clock in the morning the Germans issued the order through a municipal
clerk that males from 18 to 40 years were to go immediately to the market-place. The order was so unexpected that many of
the men approached in their night shirts. Foreseeing that they might be arrested the youth of the town attempted to hide in
the surrounding woods, but were caught by the Gestapo and driven into the market-place at the point of the bayonet. One
young man's hand was pierced. They were detained until 9:30 and then were beaten with rifle butts all the way to the station,
where they were packed into trucks. Other groups were treated similarly.
"They were carried by night to the locality of Wierzonka and placed in a paddock. The paddock was lit up
by the headlamps of 4 cars. Machine-guns were set up in the lamplight. Women who brought food for the prisoners were brutally
"During the whole time, the Gestapo made the prisoners do 'gymnastic execises' to the commands 'get up'
and 'lie down' in the mud and rain. Two men brought to this camp had been tortured with especial bestiality. A certain
workman named Szwajcar was shot and thrown into a hole which he himself had been obliged to dig. One of the German officers
told the prisoners that at Wierzonka, 22 Poles had been shot that night. To drown the noise of the shots, the engines of the
police cars had been started. Next day, all those arrested in Pobiedziska were interrogated. A few were sent home, and the
rest were taken to prison in the Poznan citadel. Although normally this place accommodates only 2,000 soldiers at most, 5,000
persons were held there. The prisoners were thrashed, driven to 'exercise' and awakened every hour of the day and night."
In the frontier town of Leszno, capital of the County (20,000 inhabitants), at the beginning of September,
1939, the Germans of Polish nationality, armed with grenades, revolvers, rifles and machine-guns, made an attack upon their
fellow Polish citizens. As in Bydgoszcz, the Germans attacked too early, and were defeated; and several of them, captured
with arms in their hands, were shot by the Polish troops. After the occupation of Leszno by the German troops, massacres were
started, which continued until the month of November. A great number of prominent men were arrested and were brutally
beaten with rifle butts, truncheons and whips. Mr. Machnikowski, a professor, was martyred for refusing to denounce members
of the Polish association whom the Germans considered particularly anti-German.
On October 21, 20 representatives of the local population were shot at the foot of the Court-House wall.
Among these were B. Karpinski, retired Professor of the Leszno High School; Nowicki, secretary to the Town Council; Gunter,
clerk of the Finance Department; Podlarski, Samolewicz, Tredowicz, merchants; Nowak, a hotel proprietor; Horowski, a chemist;
Bartoszewicz and Hanca, the latter a high school student. The bodies were buried in trenches which had been prepared by the
Polish anti-aircraft defence. The task of the burial was performed by Mr. Kowalski, the Mayor, and the officials of the municipality.
Dozens of Poles, among them Mr. Donimirski, a landowner from Golanice, were assassinated in the Leszno prison
and secretly buried in the neighbouring forests. A ditch used as a common grave was discovered in the forests of Rydzyna.
Besides the Gestapo and their Chief of Police (Polizeirat) Grunt, several other Germans should
be mentioned in connection with the extermination of the Polish population in the town and district of Leszno, namely: Landrat
von Baumbach; the German Burgomaster, Dr. Schneider; the Pastor, Wolfgang Bickerich, who, before the war, behaved as a friend
of Professor Machnikowski, yet was present when he was tortured in prison, and at his execution; Baron Losen of Drzeczkow;
Leon Zabka, a butcher (he was responsible for the death of a school-boy, Hanca) and even a woman, the wife of the principal
of the German High School at Leszno.
Among other localities in Poznania, where Poles were especially tortured, mention should be made of the
border town of Ujscie. During the night of September 1, a civilian detachment (Freikorps) attacked the town and massacred
the Polish population, including women and children.
Many representatives of the intellectual class at Kalisz were murdered. In one instance 22 were executed,
including Madame Bzowska, wife of a judge. A Catholic priest also was publicly shot, afterwards buried in the Jewish cemetery.
Details of the numerous executions of priests will be found in the chapter dealing with the persecution
of the Church.
To the names already mentioned of well-known persons shot and otherwise murdered in the provinces of Poznania
and Pomerania the following should be added:
Roman Komierowski, of Komierowo, Papal Chamberlain (N.B. Dr. Roman Komierowski, Dr. of Law, former member
of the Reichstag, actually died in 1924. It was Tomasz Komierowski -1885-1939- who was arrested in the early hours of September
1, 1939 at the Komierowo Estate and brutally murdered on September 4 at the nearby Skarpa Estate, according to nephew Rafal
Komierowski, 04/09/2007); Marian Suminski, of Kuczyna; Count Henryk Grocholski, of Zimnowoda; Jozef Korytowski, of Chwalkowo;
Ignacy Mlicki, of Pokrzywnica; Stanislaw Mlicki, of Kownaty; Fenrych, of Pudliszki; Taczanowski, of Wilczyn; Edward Poninski,
of Koscielec; Speichert; Doerffer, of Brzostownia; Swiecicki, of Trabinek; Ponikiewski; Count Mielzynski; Dziembowski; Glabisz;
Antoni Pacynski, Director of the Kornik Foundation; Edward Mieczkowski, of Srebrna Gora; Grabczewski, of Gaj; Edward Trzcinski,
of Gocanowko; Brzeski, of Wolka; R. Poninski; Goetzendorff-Grabowski and his wife.
After his arrest Edward Mieczkowski was driven barefoot for several kilometres and finally shot in the back.
A number of families were entirely wiped out. The case of the Sierakowskis, well-known Polish landowners,
is an out-standing example. They possessed an estate in East Prussia, Waplewo, with a splendid library and art collection.
Count Sierakowski, his wife, daughter and son-in-law were all shot.
The Gniazdowski family were similarly murdered.
In the course of a few weeks three members of the Donimirski family, which has been known for centuries,
were murdered: Jan Donimirski, of Tarchalin; Jerzy Donimirski, of Golanice; and Witold Donimirski, of Marusza. A fourth member
of this family, Jan Donimirski, of Lysomice, died, according to a report, while working as a prisoner to repair the bridge
over the Vistula in Torun, standing in the water up to his chest.
Following is another report, describing the fate of the Taczanowski and Mlicki families.
Kazimierz Taczanowski, aged 70 years, proprietor of estates in Wilczyn and Kownaty, was arrested one day
by the Gestapo agents from Konin, the neighbouring County town.
He was freed on a bond of 10,000 zloty paid to the Gestapo, being assured that henceforth he and his son-in-law,
Mr. Mlicki, of Gnojo, had nothing to fear. Wilczyn had been for some time under the compulsory administration of German Treuhander,
so the Taczanowskis and Mlickis were living at Kownaty.
In the evening of November 13, 1939, they heard a violent pounding on the gate which at that late hour was
locked. The house stands before extensive woodlands, by way of which the proprietor and his family could easily have escaped
if they had anticipated danger. But in the face of the solemn guarantee they had been given of peace and freedom, it did not
even occur to them that the Germans had come. The gate was opened. The local Treuhander, a certain Geppert from Berlin,
the greatest sadist in all the district, drove in. He arrested the aged Taczanowski with his son Zygmunt and son-in-law Stanislaw
Mlicki on the spot and took them all to his car, where he had an adequate escort of Gestapo agents.
They drove to the wood, and there ordered the prisoners to get out. The place was lit up by car headlamps.
One of the Germans said: "Leave the old man to me. I'll take care of him." Taczanowski and his guard were accordingly left
behind. Almost at once, before the eyes of the father, Geppert himself shot the young Taczanowski and his brother-in-law,
At that the elder Taczanowski instinctively struck his German guard with all his strength, and fled back
in the direction of the light railway. As it happened, just at that moment a goods train was coming along, loaded with sugar
beets. He succeeded in crossing to the farther side of the track before the train came up. The Germans opened fire at him
as he fled, but while the train was passing he had time to hide. A reward of 10,000 zlotys was offered for his capture.
The parents of the young Mlicki who had been shot in the road were arrested. His mother had been a devoted
social worker and a local leader of the Women Landowners' Association and the Catholic Action. She was kept for 5 weeks in
prison at Inowroclaw, where she was used to scrub the lavoratories and do other tasks of a similar nature. A sufferer from
liver touble and gall stones, she was seized with a severe attack, and was sent to hospital; but even then she was not set
free. Her husband, an aged man of 70, totally paralyzed, was also arrested and imprisoned. He also had to be removed to the
hospital, where he died.
The aforesaid Treuhander, Geppert, got drunk every day, shot at the mirrors and paintings and used
his whip on all who waited on him and on the servants.
The Chlapowski family, famous in Poznania and throughout Poland, whose ancestor, Dezyderiusz Chlapowski,
was an eminent general in the army of Napoleon I, lost 3 of its principal members: Mieczyslaw Chlapowski, of Kopaszewo, shot,
as we have said, by the Germans in the marketplace of Koscian; Alfred Chlapowski, for many years Polish Ambassador in Paris,
who died in the prison hospital at Koscian; and Roman Chlapowski, one of the founders and directors of the hospital of the
Knights of Malta in Warsaw, who was killed by a German bomb.
Besides the public executions, such as those described, masses of Poles were murdered at night. On the outskirts
of the towns and villages bodies of murdered men and women were frequently found, sometimes several at a time. Often these
bodies had been uncovered by dogs. For instance, in the town of Rogozno (Oborniki County) 8 bodies were found in a garden;
their discovery was due to the scratching of dogs. Among them were the landowner Goetzendorf-Grabowski and his wife, an official
of a distillery and a steward from Mechlin, the local parish priest, the organist and the sexton. After the disinternment,
the German authorities would not allow the bodies to be buried in a normal fashion, but ordered to be placed in one coffin
and buried in the Rogozno cemetery. Such things were almost daily occurrences during November, 1939, in the Poznania
A merchant, aged 74, Franciszek Ksawery Witkowski, of Witkowo, suddenly disappeared one day. He had
been for many years secretary of the local branch of the Insurgents' Association of Poznania. His mutilated corpse was found
a few days later in a field near Strzalkowo, many miles from Witkowo.
At one spot in Wolsztyn County, 2 Poles were driven to a pond on which ice was still floating. The Germans
beat them with long poles, aiming at their heads, driving them out into water beyond their depth. They were both drowned.
Afterwards their bodies were fished out and hung on a roadside cross.
One local German named Schobert drove a knife into the shoulder of a Pole with the German name of Schneider,
who publicly maintained that he was a Pole. Then Schobert drove Schneider through the streets of the village, beating him
as he went.
In Kolniczki, a village in the County of Jarocin, Mr. Majewski, President of the Peasant Party for the county,
as well as 2 other farmers of the village, was dragged out unexpectedly from his home and shot in a wood. Their bodies were
thrown into a ditch. Many other political and economic leaders of the peasants were murdered similarly.
According to a report of June, 1941, it is estimated that in each county of Poznania, fro 400 to 600 Poles
have been murdered; the figures for the whole province amount to at least 20,000 persons, men, women and children. The executions
Most of the victims in Poznania and also in Pomerania consisted of Poles arrested in their homes or in the
streets with a view to immediate execution.
Apart from those in this category, a number of individuals were sentenced by German Special Tribunals for
possessing arms - sometimes only knives, forgotten revolver bullets, and in one case an ordinary razor - or for assault or
Kriegsverrat, a term which means all actions detrimental to the Army of Occupation.
The following communique, distributed by the official German News Agency (Deutsches Nachrichten-Buro),
relates to this kind of case:
"Poznan, April 18, 1940 - The local Special Tribunal (Sondergericht), to-day condemned 4 Poles
to death and to life-long deprivation of rights for the crime of violating the order protecting metals salvaged by the German
nation. These 4 Poles were employed to sort the metals collected in Poznan, and continually stole from the reserves of metal.
The stolen metal was seized by the German security authorities. The accused admitted that during their work they had been
informed every day in both German and Polish of the penalty involved in the violation of this German salvage order."
In this area also, immediately after the German Army's invasion of Silesia, mass executions of Poles were
carried out. The Gestapo agents slaughtered the members of the Association of Silesian Insurgents, who had fought in 1919-1921
for the liberation of Silesia from the German yoke. The number of persons shot in the courtyard of the House of the Insurgents
in Matejko Street, at Katowice, alone was estimated in November, 1939, at 250. In addition many other Katowice Poles were
shot including the chemist, Mr. Olejniczak, of the Third of May Street, whose body was left for three days in front of his
shop in order to terrorise others.
The number of Poles who were murdered during the first days of September 1939 in the locality of Panewniki-Ligota,
is estimated at 80, of whom half were boys under 18, and women.
At Mikolow, Rybnik and laziska, victims were chosen from the ranks of the lower classes, most of them
factory hands. Here also 4 students from Lwow Polytechnic, working while on holiday in Silesia, were shot. A witness of Swiss
nationality declared that the attitude of these young men was nothing short of heroic.
At Laziska the local vicar was shot, also Dr. Tomala and the Mayor, Mr. Otawa; Mr. Galuszka, a factory cashier;
Mr. Zelislawski, an engineer from Rybnik; and Mr. Kulejewski, among others.
In the prison at Mikolow, an Austrian citizen, Hans Bergstein, director of the Ch. Dietrich paper factory
in that town, suffered a terrible death. The Gestapo agents strangled him. The Gestapists spread the story that Bergstein
had been killed for maintaining relations with the former Chancellor Schuschnigg, which is obviously nonsense, in view of
the conditions in which the former Austrian Chancellor is living, if he is still alive at all.
During the months of September and October, the Germans shot numerous inhabitants of the County of Czestochowa,
at Lubliniec, in Silesia; and at Katowice they condemned to death nearly 60 inhabitants of the province of Kielce and 43 from
the county of Zywiec (Province of Krakow).
The treatment reserved for the Polish intellectuals of Silesia was especially cruel and brutal. For instance,
on September 8, agents of the Gestapo and the S.S. arrested Dr. Olszak and his wife, aged respectively 65 and 60, at Karwina,
in Cieszyn Silesia. He was one of the most respected citizens of Karwina, a great philanthropist, and for 40 years had been
a leader of local Catholic and social activities.
Dr. Olszak and his wife were taken away in a car by night to Frysztat, the county town. At the Gestapo and
S.S. headquarters they were both tortured with incredible cruelty. They were beaten with iron rods and kicked while they lay
on the ground. This battering with heavy military boots fractured Dr. Olszak's skull. The bodies of both the husband and wife
were black with bruises. They were taken, unconscious, back to Karwina, where they were abandoned at the door of their house.
The executioners, who were 4 in number, feasted in their victims' house. During the evening they violated the maids, one after
another. The house was sacked and plundered. The doctor had several fractured ribs, and an internal haemorrhage caused
by the skull injury. He died on September 11.
Although the dead man had been president of the parochial committee, the Gestapo forbade the tolling of
bells, and the public was not permitted to be present at the funeral. Despite the ban a crowd collected, and lined the roadsides,
standing in the gutters, to pay a last silent tribute to their benefactor. They were dispersed with blows.
Mrs. Olszak, though wounded and ill, was deported to the Sudetenland, and made to do forced labour on the
land. She died a few days later.
Province of Lodz and Neighbouring Areas
Massacres of the Polish population took place on a large scale also in the "incorporated" areas of Central
and Southern Poland.
Executions were very numerous in Lodz. The condemned were shot or hanged. A gallows made of railway lines
set up on end was erected in the market-place of Baluty, a working-class district of Lodz. A gallows was also erected in Haller
On the day of the proclamation of the "annexation" of the city of Lodz to the Reich, seven Poles were hanged
there for reasons never stated then or since.
Among those murdered in Lodz were two prominent local industrialists, Robert Geyer, President of the
Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and a proprietor of a textile mill known throughout Europe, and Guido John, proprietor of
a great metallurgical establishment. Both were from families of German origin, but considered themselves Poles and repudiated
the freedom offered them if they signed a statement that they were Volksdeutsch. The Gestapo took its revenge
by murdering them. Mr. Geyer was killed by 4 shots in the back of his head, as he was returning home through the garden.
Mr. John was shot in the lobby of his own home. This was on the 17th or 18th of December, 1939. Their families were informed
a week later, on Christmas Eve.
An engineer of German origin, one E.K., employed in the Scheibler and Grohman mills at Lodz, attempted to
intercede for a Polish employee who had been arrested by the Gestapo. To punish him, a rope was fastened to his hands,
and then he was drawn up and suspended from a gallows, while his body was sprayed with cold water. This occurred on one of
the principal squares, the Liberty Square, of Lodz. An inscription denouncing this "German's" attitude to his Polish fellow-citizens was fastened to the man's chest. He died two hours later.
In the village of Piatek, near Lodz, German troops murdered nearly the whole of the male population; because,
while they were quartered in the place, children unscrewed a wheel of a military car.
The author of a report from Aleksandrow Kujawski declared that on November 2, 1939, he saw 5 Poles being
conducted with raised arms through the town, by members of the auxiliary police. These Poles were taken outside the town and
shot behind a shed. An hour later our informant saw pools of blood in this spot. Meanwhile at Aleksandrow, Mr. Strzelecki,
a Pole, was shot on the charge of having accused a certain German of espionage, before the war. In the streets of the town
the Germans shot a Polish soldier only just freed from a prison camp.
On November 8 a group of 50 Polish officers were led through the streets of a famous Polish spa, Ciechocinek,
with their hands up. They were subsequently shot.
Immediately after the German occupation, numerous executions were carried out among Polish inhabitants of
In the village of Lipowa (Zywiec County), about 100 Poles were shot in one batch. Forty-three persons from
this county, including one priest, were taken to Katowice, as already stated above, and there executed.
Massacres of Poles were also organized in the northern parts of Central Poland annexed to the Reich, for
example, in the counties of Pultusk, Ciechanow, Plock, Mlawa and others. Many executions took place in the important town
In February, 1940, a large number of Polish high school students, both boys and girls, were arrested in
Plock on the charge of posting up anti-German placards on the walls. Seventeen lads, all under 16, were shot. Placards bearing
the names of those executed were posted up in Plock and Plonsk.
In the County of Pultusk, Poles are shot at the Jewish cemeteries, first being compelled to dig their own
graves. In the villages, hostages are taken, consisting usually of the village head and ten farmers.
In this county the Germans arrested Messrs. Dluzewski, father and son, proprietors of the estate of Lubraniec.
Learning that they were threatened with death, the brother of Mr. Dluzewski senior made an effort to save them; but this
resulted only in the murder of the 2 brothers, who were shot, together with their sons. The family were thus bereaved of 4
of their members.
In the frontier town of Mlawa, the Germans drove several hundred persons to the square, where they were
ordered to lie face downward in the snow for 12 hours. The Gestapo men set upon the prostate figures, beating them with rifle
butts and rods.
How the Murders are Committed
The victims in Poznania, Pomerania and Silesia frequently included large numbers of students. These groups
consisted of numbers of completely innocent persons. They were from various spheres of life, often people who had never engaged
in any kind of social or political activity. It was often quite by chance that their names were placed on the lists of
the condemned, in order to complete the number of victims arbitrarily fixed for a given locality. If a person on the list
happened to be released through the intervention of some German, his place was filled by the first Polish man or woman
encountered on the street, or by choosing a name in the telephone directory.
Priests were often placed at the head of the groups as they marched toward the place of death, never knowing
in advance whether they were on the way to the execution of others or to their own. With rare exceptions, these unhappy people
were refused the consolation their religion could have afforded them.
The executions took place, as already said, in the market-places and squares of the towns, against the walls
of the Town Hall, the churches or specially erected "walls of death," usually built by conscripted detachments of the local population.
Frequently the "walls of death" stood in the market-places for weeks. In many towns mass executions were repeated two or three
The bodies of the executed Poles were buried in the fields, the woods, the Jewish cemeteries, etc. The bodies
were flung into one hole. Often they were buried while still alive.
There was no observation even of formalities of justice. No hearing was given to the condemned, and no charge
was made, still less proved. In addition the so-called collective responsibility of Poles was introduced. Whenever a German
was killed or beaten up 10 to 20 entirely innocent Poles from the same locality were shot. Later, 50 or 100 or 200 were shot.
It was and is customary for the Gestapo to provoke persons whom they wish to be rid of. They "frame" them by placing arms
in their homes, and bring false accusations by means of alleged "witnesses," etc.
During all these terrible experiences, the Polish population has maintained an heroic attitude, which has
won the admiration even of the German executioners.
When the Germans offered to let Madame Chlapowska have the body of her husband, she replied: "He died for
our common cause. Let him lie in a common grave."
The mass murders were committed by detachments of special police (Schutzpolizei), under the Gestapo
or Nazi party organizations (S.S. and S.A). They are known as "Murder Detachments" (Mord-Kommando). Certain statements,
made by a chief officer of one of these detachments, are characteristic enough to be repeated here. He remarked particularly
upon the attitude of victims as being everywhere extraordinary (ausgezeichnete Haltung), and said that the soldiers
had to be changed every 8 days, as they could not stand this work for a longer time. Whether from nerves or out of pity, they
ended by aiming badly, so that the officer had to draw his own revolver (sich einsetzen) to put the victims out of
their agony. Nevertheless, one bulging Nazi soldier boasted of having 50 executions to his credit.
In the "Government General"
At the beginning of the occupation, the number of German murders of Poles was considerably higher in the
"incorporated" areas than in the "Government General." This state of things changed later, so that it is difficult to-day
to state in which area the situation is worse.
In the "incorporated" territories as well as in the "Government General," these murders may be divided into
two categories: a) mass murders of the inhabitants of the towns and villages and b) individual executions.
Both these crimes against the population of the occupied territories have taken on a character and dimensions
unprecedented in the annals of war. They surpass in their cruelty the atrocities committed by the Germans in the other subjected
countries at present occupied by them, such as Czechoslovakia, Norway, Belgium, Holland and France.
The Massacre in Wawer, and other Mass Murders
While war operations were still proceeding there were numerous cases of mass murder of the population in
towns and villages. Some of these, at Czestochowa, Tomaszow Mazowiecki and other localities, have already been described.
But these massacres developed on a large scale under the occupant regime. Instead of normalizing conditions
at least to some extent, this regime brought with it an even more frightful terror.
One of the cruelest and most inhuman methods is the so-called collective responsibility of the Polish population.
This is applied in cases where a German, not necessarily a soldier or even an official, but an ordinary Volksdeutsche,
has been wounded or killed, often in a common brawl, or by bandits. Fifty to a hundred times as many entirely innocent residents
of those localities who know nothing about the affair are at once shot, including often women and children. These mass repressions
frequently have the character of punitive expeditions. Cases are known of people being killed with hand grenades, or of buildings
being burned with their inhabitants locked inside them.
A particularly shocking event of this kind took place on December 26, 1939 - 3 months after the occupation
of the country - when inhabitants of the town of Wawer, near Warsaw and of the neighbouring summer resort of Anin were
In the former town, two German soldiers were killed in a small restaurant by two common criminals, fugitives
from justice attempting to evade arrest.
Two hours later, a battalion of Landesschutzen arrived at Wawer. At 2 o'clock in the morning soldiers
went from house to house, rousing the innocent inhabitants from sleep and dragging them from their beds, though they knew
nothing whatever of the affair. Some of them were given no explanation whatever; others were told that as a punitive measure
every tenth inhabitant of Wawer and Anin would be shot. Terrible scenes were witnessed. In some houses, where there were
several men in the family, the women were ordered to choose who should go; in one case, a mother had to chose between her
two sons; another had to choose between husband, brother and father. From other houses, all the men were taken, including
old men over 60 years of age, and boys of 12. Despite the 36 degrees of frost, many of them were dragged out of their homes
in overcoats thrown over their shirts. In addition to Wawer and Anin, this raid embraced the neighbouring villages of
Marysinek Wawerski and Zastow.
Futhermore, all of the men who arrived by train from the direction of Otwock, to report for work, were held
up at the Wawer railway station. These men and those taken from their homes - in all about 170 persons - were assembled in
a railway tunnel and obliged to stand in the frost for several hours, with their hands above their heads. At 6 o'clock a dozen
or so men were detached from the whole group and led out of the tunnel; a few minutes later the noise of machine-guns was
heard. Every few minutes a fresh group of a dozen or so men was led out and conducted to a place where already there were
heaps of bodies, lighted by the lamps of the police cars. The unfortunates were placed with their backs to the machine-guns,
and ordered to kneel.
Those of the last group were not shot, but were ordered to dig the graves of the murdered men, who numbered
107 in all. Among the victims were 2 doctors, of whom one, 60 years old, was the physician of the Hospital of the Felician
Sisters; also a boy of 14, with his father, an engineer, etc. Thirty-four were less than 18 years of age, and 12 were over
60. There were 2 American citizens, a man named Szczygiel, and his son, the latter 16 years old. Mr. Przedlacki and his 2
sons and a 12 year-old boy named Dankowski were also shot.
Mr. Bartoszek, the proprietor of the restaurant where the original incident had taken place, was hanged
and buried. Not long after, his body was exhumed and hanged again. The bodies of the other victims were not returned to their
families, but were buried on the spot.
It has been possible to ascertain the names of most of the victims of this mass slaughter, which the Germans
belatedly described as due to a "misunderstanding." They are:
Andrej Jasienski, Wiktor Skuza, Jerzy Pieczynis, Juda Wladynow, Jan Rozental, Edward Suchodolski, Jan Gawrys,
M. Rozenberg, Jan Krajewski, Bazyli Feduski, Jan Wierzbicki, Jerzy Bialowieski, Zbigniew Sawicki, Alfons Sawicki (aged
63), Eljasz Brajtman, Dr. Julian Falencki, Kazimierz Bienkowski, Zygfryd Jablonski, Zbigniew Liszewski, Zbigniew Trzaskowski,
Michal Rozanski, Mikolaj Iskierka, Andrzej Bielowiejski (aged 16), Tadeusz Ajrzynski, Waclaw Jurkowski, Stanislaw Przedlacki
and sons: Mieczyslaw and Jozef, Stanislaw Kozlik, Jerzy Stryjewski, Jan Bystodzinski, Julian Puchalski, Wladyslaw Sylwestrzak,
Zenobi Bienkowski, Tadeusz Tutaj, Stefan Kowalski, Tadeusz Bartosiewicz, Michal Poduchowski, Zbigniew Pruchniecki, Karol Benicki,
Franciszek Kosinski, Kazimierz Gawryszewski, Jan Wewiurowicz, Tadeusz Ryszke (aged 15), Jan Sosinski, Piotr Grzyb, Leon Rosenberg,
Daniel Gering, Ryszard Przepiorkiewicz, Michal Tuch, Stanislaw Kozinski, Aleksander Sobotka, Ignacy Bogusz, Tadeusz Cacko,
Wiktor Jocz, Kazimierz Wloczewski, Zygmunt Szczygiel and son, Lejba Platkowski, Jozef Stryjewski, Stefan Pawlak, Pawel Piotrowski,
Koziobrodzski, Stanislaw Galko, Wladyslaw Morusik, Jan Chodowny, Michal Wiszczyk, Kazimierz Poduchowski, Antoni Gajewski,
Stanislaw Waszak, Jozef Garnowski, Stefanek Dankowski (aged 12), Wlodzimierz Goscicki, Seweryn Dudzinski, Eliasz Mirenbaum,
Jan Kempa, Mieczyslaw Perlinski, Stefan Suski, Mieczyslaw Mazurek, Stanislaw Szalewicz, Jozef Gnebisz, Tadeusz Lepianka (24
names are lacking).
The massacre at Wawer was not an isolated case. Almost at the same time, 62 Poles and Jews were shot
in Bochnia (acounty town near Krakow); and two others were hanged on the pretext that two bandits had killed two German policemen.
At Zielonka, on the outskirts of Warsaw, 12 innocent persons paid with their lives for an inscription
chalked on a wall, and reading: "Poland existed, exists and will continue for ever to exist."
In Warsaw, at No. 9 Nalewki Street, some policemen were shot by thieves. All the inhabitants of that house,
numbering 53 persons, were shot.
In the village of Mszadla-Sieciska (Province of Warsaw), the German authorities burned 40 houses and shot
40 inhabitants against whom they brought no charges whatever.
In the town of Skarzysko-Kamienna (near Radom), 300 workmen of one of the local factories were shot.
In the vicinity of Miechow (Province of Kielce), 60 persons were shot.
Hundreds of People Burned Alive by the Germans
In the village of Szczuczki, (Provinve of Lublin), ammunition was found in the peasants' fields. Two hundred
men were driven into a shed, which was raked with fire and then burnt, with the men inside.
At Lublin 120 people were shot soley because there was an attempt on a German police agent, made by a common
criminal whom German authorities were pursuing at the request of the local Polish police, who had been disarmed.
In Ostrow Mazowiecka (Province of Warsaw), a Jewish store, together with some confiscated goods, caught
fire. As a result, some 600 Jews were conducted outside the town and shot with machine-guns. The wounded were finished off,
but some were even burned alive.
All the facts above recorded, constituting only a part of the occurrences of this nature, took place during
1939; 1940 brought no change whatever in this cruel and bestial terror.
The following records some of the massacres which took place in the Province of Lublin:
In Kazimierz Dolny, 60 men were shot.
At the end of June 230 persons were arrested in the village of Motycz, where one of the local Germans was
shot by an unkown assailant. Of the 230, 103 were shot, including 3 women; the others were taken to an unknown destination.
At Radawiec, some 80 men were shot, on the pretext that a Volksdeutscher had been murdered by a
In Rogozno, a dozen or more of the local inhabitants were shot, including one priest.
Almost the entire village of Konopnica was wiped out.
In the village of Rudno the police and the Selbstschutz seized men on the roads and dragged them
out of the houses. Fifty-seven of those thus arrested were shot in the wood at Rudno.
In another village on June 10, 1940, the Gestapo and the Selbstschutz seized about 150 men from the village
and local landowner's house. Sixty-two of them were shot in a wood nearby. Orders were given to bury the wounded and dying
with the dead.
A terrible slaughter took place in the village of Jozefow and neighbouring villages. Here a family of German
colonists had been robbed and murdered by ordinary bandits - as the Germans themselves acknowledged. Cars loaded with Selbstschutz
were sent from Lublin on a "punitive expedition," under the direction of Count Alvensleben. On the way, they were stuck in
the mud in a side road. Peasants from a neighbouring village, some distance from Jozefow, dragged the cars out of the mud.
As soon as they had accomplished this task, all of them, 11 men, were shot. Next, all the men that could be seized in Jozefow
and in the surrounding hamlets, even down to 11 year old boys, and also some women, were arrested and shot.
In Jozefow Maly, 30 were shot; in Jozefow Duzy, 14; in Bronislawow Stary, 70; in Zakepie, 60; in Bielany,
25; in Ruda, 18; in Nowiny, 26; in Sereba, 13 besides many inhabitants of Serokomla, Hordzieszow, Okrzeja, and other villages.
In all more than 300 persons were murdered. The condemned, including men, women and children, were placed in 3 rows and mowed
down by machine-guns. Seventeen workmen who had been brought from a distant village to dig the graves were also shot,
as well as several village chiefs returning from the county offices. Over 60 houses in 5 villages were burned.
All these occurrences took place in the Province of Lublin. Still more horrible massacres were carried out
by the Germans towards the end of March, 1940, in the Province of Kielce, Knoskie County. Under some vague pretext a
punitive expedition was sent out which burned down several villages and murdered their inhabitants.
This expedition entirely wiped out the villages of Huciska, with 26 farms; Krolewiec, Lelitkow, and Skloby,
with 328 farms; Sulki and Szalasy, with 54 farms; and Wisniewiec; while 72 farms were burned in 7 villages of the district
of Miedzieza. Forty people were shot at Chlewiska, 123 at Krolewiec, 350 at Hucisko and Lelitkow, 42 at Sulki, and 360 at
Skloby. At Szalasy all the men over 15 years of age were murdered; some of them were shot; and others shut in the school and
burned alive. At the end of this punitive expedition, about 300 persons were brought to Radom, and later executed at Firlej.
Altogether 1,200 persons were murdered.
Another report telling of executions by shooting in the Konskie and Opoczno Counties adds the following
details: six persons shot in the village of Stadnicka Wola, nine in Jelenia Gora, 2 in Niebo, 4 in Pieklo, 12 in Malachowo.
The village of Galkow was burnt to the ground. By order of the civilian authorities the graves of fallen Polish soldiers were
destroyed, and the inscriptions removed.
Toward the end of July, 1940, in the old Polish County town of Olkusz, to the north-west of Krakow, during
the pursuit of some bandits a member of the German military police was shot. In reprisal, the Gestapo agents shot 20 completely
innocent Polish workmen, seized at random. They then surrounded the town of Olkusz with 500 German soldiers, and conducted
to the market-place all the Polish male population between the ages of 16 and 60 years. They ordered the Poles to lie face
downwards, and proceded to beat the unfortunates ruthlessly. This torture lasted from 4 o'clock in the morning until
1:30 in the afternoon. A priest, who put his cap under his chin, was so brutally kicked that he lost all his teeth. A Pole
was shot in an attempt to escape.
At Rzeszow (situated in that part of the Province of Lwow which lies in German-occupied territory), at the
beginning of August, 1940, 51 persons, including one woman, were arrested, and shot immediately. Numerous executions were
carried out in the well-known Polish health resorts of Zakopane and Szczawnica.
At Zeran, near Warsaw, and in neighbouring localities, such as Targowek, about 300 persons were arrested
and brutally tortured, after which 68 men and 6 women among them were shot.
Warsaw also experienced a number of massacres of the Polish population in 1940. For example, on January
3 of that year, during a round-up of criminal elements, shots were exchanged in Stalowa Street, in the suburb of Praga, between
the German police and some thieves. One of the police agents was wounded. A detachment of German police arrived on the scene
and dragged innocent persons out of their houses in Stalowa Street, shooting them at once in the yard of a factory in the
On September 14, 1940, in Warsaw, 3 German policemen endeavoured to arrest 2 men in one of the houses in Lwowska
Street. There was some firing, and the wanted men escaped. Later a larger force of German police arrived, and arrested all
the inhabitants of the house and a number of men from neighbouring buildings - altogether 200 persons (180 men and 20 women).
They were first thrown into the Pawiak prison, and later taken out and shot.
Mass murders of the Jewish population, besides the massacre at Ostrow Mazowiecka previously described,
have also taken place.
From the beginning of the invasion, executions have been so numerous throughout the "Government General"
that it is difficult to call them single executions. Each month some hundreds of persons at least are thus sacrificed.
Some of the executions are announced by placards, but the charges mentioned are usually of a very general
nature. The slightest pretext is sufficient to entail a death sentence.
In Warsaw a young woman student of 22, Mlle. Zahorska, was shot on the charge of having torn down a German
propaganda poster. The poster had a picture representing Warsaw in ruins, while standing on one side with averted gaze was
Mr. Chamberlain. In the foreground, a wounded Polish soldier was pointing an accusing finger at the British Prime Minister,
while below was a printed legend reading: "England, behold thy work!"
Many young Poles were shot for this same reason.
In the first months of the German occupation Poles were not allowed to be out in the streets of Warsaw after
8 o'clock in the evening. A lad of 16 was shot on these grounds, and his body was returned to his parents with a card pinned
to the clothing, bearing the laconic inscription: "8:15."
A doctor was shot in the street one evening for the same reason, although he was answering an urgent call
from a patient, and the German authorities had provided him with a safe conduct.
For several months, between 10 and 12 persons were shot every day in Warsaw. These executions, which took
place twice a day, were formerly held in the Sejm (lower House of the Polish Parliament) Gardens at 2 in the morning and at
3:30 in the afternoon. On one occasion 40 officers were shot on one day in two groups of 14 and 26.
On another occasion, a 12 year old boy and a young woman were shot in these gardens.
One report states that Jews were employed to bury persons murdered in the Sejm Gardens.
"In order to force confessions," the same report says, "prisoners were tortured horribly. It was common
for the tortured people to go out of their minds, and this also applied to the Jews forced into service there. These Jews
were frequently compelled to bury people still living, thrusting them into sacks and burying them in the Sejm Gardens. Certain
witnesses declare that they saw victims with the skin flayed from their faces, with nails torn away from fingers and toes,
and similar horrors. Better-off Jews paid 50 to 100 zlotys to have substitutes take their place in this work.
"On February 14, 1940," another eye-witness states, "after 3:00 p.m. a crowd of Jews with shovels was driven
to the place of execution. Forcing them along with butt-ends and whips, the Germans ordered them to dig nine holes. When the
holes were ready the Jews were driven over a little rise, kicked and bawled at as they went. Then a group of Gestapo-men conducting
9 prisoners came from the direction of the Sejm building. One of them was in the uniform of a customs official, two were in
police uniforms, without belts and hats, the others were civilians, without caps, overcoats, coats and probably braces, in
threes. They were escorted up to the holes and came to a halt at the order of an officer walking, carrying a document case,
behind the group. The officer took a sheet of paper no larger than the size of a scribbling pad from his case and, after reding
something from it, turned and went off. The Gestapo men made the first three men stand in line. Six soldiers armed with revolvers
went up to them; the revolvers were fitted with a muffling device. Aiming at the condemned men's chests, the soldiers fired
without any word of command. The 3 men fell. Jews were then summoned, and were thrown bayonets to cut the bonds fastening
the dead men's hands; then they were ordered to throw the bodies into the first three holes, and cover them with earth. The
Jews were driven over the rise again, and the next 3 condemned men were drawn up for execution."
Often the victims are tortured for a time by being warned of their fate, in order to prolong the agony of
"On the night of January 20, 1940," says one of the reoprts, "Thirty-one persons were led out from the prison
in Dzielna Street, Warsaw, to be shot. Among them were a 16 year-old boy and a woman. They were taken outside the city and
ordered to dig their graves. After several hours of this arduous labour in the frozen earth, they were taken back to the prison.
This was repeated for 3 days, and finally, on the 3rd day, they were shot. For three days these unfortunate people dug the
graves in which at last they were laid. Twice they returned to the prison with the hope that perhaps their executioners had
relented and had decided to let them live."
Sometimes the procedure was reversed. Mrs. R.N., who had been imprisoned, was told several times that she
was being taken to her execution, and ordered to take leave of her children, whereas in reality, the guards were escorting
her only to be interrogated. The family's despair, the condemned woman's fear, these were only subjects for the Germans' amusement.
Some time ago the chief scene of execution for the condemned in Warsaw was changed from the Sejm Gardens
to Palmiry, a place not far from the capital (in the Kampinos Forest). There many common graves are to be found in a number
of spots. It is estimated that these graves contain the bodies of more than 5,000 murdered persons.
At Palmiry executions take place periodically. The police wait until the numbers condemned have accumulated.
There are always a few trenches dug and made ready previously by Jews, mobilized for this work. Every trench is twenty yards
long, two yards wide and two yards deep. The condemned are brought here in police lorries.
The executions are carried out by police firing squads. They take place either at night by the light of
car headlamps or else at dawn. Twenty persons are lined up along the edge of the trench. Each soldier aims at the back of
the head. When the volley is fired, the bodies fall into the trench. Many of the victims faint during the proceedings and
the soldiers do not always aim straight, in which case the wounded are dispatched with revolver shots. A second batch is finished
off like the first, then a third, and so on until the trench is full. After that the next trench is filled in the same way.
The trenches are filled in with sand and covered with pine needles. The families are never informed of the execution of the
In Palmiry, as in other places of execution at Warsaw and the vicinity, many of the most prominent
representatives of Polish political, intellectual, artistic and economic spheres have been sacrificed. We shall mention them
more specifically in a later chapter.
Similar executions took place in other cities of the "Government General."
At Lublin, 8 students paid the death penalty in one day. On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1939, Mr. Sekutowicz,
chairman of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Bryla, chairman of the Tribunal of Lublin district, professors of the Catholic University,
Mr. Krzyzanowski, Principal of the Young Ladies' School, two starostas (prefects), and 4 lawyers were taken from
their Christmas Eve supper to the Jewish cemetery and shot.
Every night there are summary executions at the two cemeteries of Lublin.
The executions in Lublin were of so cruel a nature that they caused indignation even among the German soldiers
who witnessed them. On this subject the Berlin correspondent of the Denmark daily Politiken, in an article from which
we have already quoted, wrote on February 4, 1940:
"Lublin... raids, burning of houses... twenty-seven Poles placed against the wall and shot; such are the
murmurs of the German soldiers on furlough, expressed in broken phrases. They must not speak openly of what is going on in
Poland; other soldiers beckon them to be quiet. What most frightens the Germans returning from Poland, who feel the need to
talk in hushed voices of the horrors they have witnessed, is the 'macabre' determination which characterizes the spirit of
the Poles, who no longer have any means of subsistence; and those who can be persuaded to talk a little declare that it would
be better to throw oneself under a train."
In Kielce, a town which numbers 50,000 inhabitants, the Germans shot the Mayor, Mr. Artwinski, who
was 70 years old.
In June, 1940 a large number of people were arrested in the Chelm and Krasnystaw Counties in Lublin Province,
and put in prison at Krasnystaw. On July 4 at 3 a.m. thirty of them were carried off in a lorry. On the road to Lublin they
were forced out of the lorry and shot on the roadside. The following day a further 32 persons were shot in the same way.
On July 6, 60 persons were taken from the prison at Zamosc and shot in a similar fashion, a further 30 being
shot the next day.
On July 6, 4 persons belonging to the town of Biala Podlaska and 19 from the neighbourhood were shot in
town. The names of the inhabitants of Biala Podlaska thus executed are: Zofia Kucharska, Maria Sobol, Jerzy Sobol and Jerzy
Prisoners at Radom were horribly massacred. The prison at Radom was built to hold 300, but now 1,200 are
frequently held there, and hundreds have been shot. From October 1939 to July 1940 some 1,000 of the prisoners were shot,
the names of 570 of them being known. Among them was one of the most prominent citizens of the town.
One night 30 men were carried off from the prison, dressed only in their underclothes, and driven out of
the town in open lorries. Outside the town they were ordered to dig holes, then they were driven into the holes and murdered
with hand grenades.
At the end of January 1941 there was a further spate of arrests at Radom. Some 2,800 people were murdered,
most of them consisting of intellectuals.
Mass arrests were also carried out at Czestochowa. Many of the prisoners were carried off to Olsztyn, where
72 were shot. Among the victims were several women and a number of well-known citizens of Czestochowa, including Senator Zbirski,
the vice-president of the town, Dr. Nowak, and pharmacist Kozerski with his son, and the lawyers Plebanek and Gawronski.
At Starachowice near Radom, where the military industrial establishments founded by the Polish Government
are situated, the Gestapo arrested two members of the factory technical staff who knew where the precision instruments for
production machinery were hidden. They were promised a large financial reward if they betrayed the secret. When they refused
they were terribly tortured in prison for 3 weeks. Their faces were one open wound, their ribs were crushed. Then, during
cross-examination, they were knifed to death.
In the local prison at Jaslo, built for 200 prisoners, over 700 are held. On July 6 1940, 84 Poles were
shot there, the majority of them being youngsters from 16 to 25 years old.
In Zwierzyniec on the river Wieprz, a 14 year old boy named Jokaj was shot. He was first arrested, and,
after being cross-examined, was ordered to run. He was fired at as he ran, being seriously wounded, and was finished off with
In the counties of Nowy Targ, Nowy Sacz and neighbouring Counties, after the Governor-General Frank
had stayed in the district, some 1,000 persons were shot in the prisons in November 1940. Most of them had been arrested on
the charge of attempting to cross the Polish-Slovakian frontier. In Nowy Sacz, among those shot was a group of captured Polish
According to German reports, during the 3 summer months of June, July and August, 1940, over 400 persons
were shot in Warsaw, 24 in Karkow, 87 in Jaslo, 97 in Rzeszow, 69 in Kielce, 60 in Piotrkow, 103 in Czestochowa, 52 in Lublin,
122 in Zamosc, 62 in Krasnystaw, 20 in Olkusz, and 20 in Sosnowiec. These figures are far less than the actual number executed.
Nor do they include those murdered in the collective executions and so-called "punitive expeditions."
A report from March, 1941, states that during February over 100 people had been shot at Palmiry; 15 at Biala
Podlaska and 25 at Radom; at Siedlce 20 former Polish army officers who failed to report to the German military authorities
The Murder of Poles Who Did Their Duty
One of the most glaring examples of the violation by the German authorities of the fundamental principles
of international law is the mass murder of those Poles who, in September, 1939, fulfilling their duty towards their own country,
reported the German spies and diversionists to the Polish authorities and co-operated in the suppression of the subversive
elements which formed part of the German "fifth column," working in the rear of the Polish Army.
These executions have gone on steadily from the moment of the German invasion down to the present time.
A Volksdeutsche has only to make the slightest denunciation, often enough merely to pay off some personal grudge,
for the Pole so denounced to be summoned before one of the so-called special courts (Sondergerichte), which habitually
delivers the verdict of death. More rarely the penalty consists of a sentence of many years' penal servitude. Needless to
say, the entire procedure before these courts is not only completely illegal from the point of view of international law,
but there is no question of any genuine evidence as to the guilt of the defendant being required. Furthermore, as a rule,
the accused is given no opportunity whatever to defend himself.
Before execution the "condemned" are nearly always inhumanly tortured in prison.
Some reports of these "trials" and death sentences have found there way to the columns of the German
dailies. Although they cover only a small part of the actual executions, they appear in the National-Socialist press with
We give below a few of these reports of death-sentences upon Poles for alleged "offences against German
minorities" in September, 1939:
"Ten Poles were executed in Chojnice" (Polish Pomerania), Weichsel-Zeitung, November 22, 1939.
"On November 23, 1939, Gestapo agents at Bydgoszcz executed a Polish railway employee, Stanislaw Wittek,
and five Polish women: Maria Zawadzka, Maria Mdlinska, Maria Blazejczak, Helena Buchnowska and Stanislawa Koszczak." German
"The German 'Special Court' at Poznan has condemned to death a Polish policeman, Jan Luczak." Frankfurter
Zeitung, January 18, 1940.
"The German 'Special Court' at Bydgoszcz has condemned to death 3 brothers: Stanislaw, Jan and Jozef Stachura.
Stanislaw and Jan were executed. Jozef escaped." Franfurter Zeitung, January 19, 1940.
"The German 'Special Court' at Poznan has sentenced to death Mr. Klemens Walkowiak." Report received
in Copenhagen, January 19,1940.
"The German 'Special Court' at Lodz has passed sentence of death on Mr. Parenczewski." German official
"The 'Special Court' at Bydgoszcz has condemned to death two Poles, Andrzej Winkowski and Bernard Zakrzewski,
for having caused the arrest and execution of several Germans by Polish authorities." Essener National-Zeitung.
"Michal Haremza, a Pole, aged 60 years, has been sentenced to death by the German 'Special Court' at Bydgoszcz.
Helena Plichcinska, a Polish woman aged 20 years, was sentenced to 8 years penal servitude. Both sentences were passed because
the accused were charged with taking part in anti-German demonstrations which took place during September, 1939, when the
city was still in Polish hands." Essener National-Zeitung, January 24, 1940.
"Wladyslaw Borkowski, a Polish auxilliary policeman, has been sentenced to death by a 'Special Court' at
Bydgoszcz." Essener National-Zeitung.
"The German 'Special Court' in Poznan has condemned to death 3 women: Marta Buszka, Pelagia Dobrzynska and
Jozefa Ratajczak, and 5 men: Bronislaw Luczak, Jan Lipinski, Maciejowski, Cichoczewski and Jozef Wroblewski." German official
"The German 'Special Court' in Poznan has passed sentence of death on Jozef Makowski, aged 35 years, and
Franciszek Strzebinski, aged 47 years; and has sentenced Andrzej and Michal Piechocki to 15 years' imprisonment. Marcin Walczak
and Franciszek Szymanski were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. All are from Rybow (County of Wagrowiec)." German official
"On June 12, 1940, the 'Special Court' at Torun sentenced Jan Bordowicz to 10 years', Jozef Blaszczyk to
8 years', Waclaw Witkowski to 5 years', Lucjan Blaszczyk to 4 years' and Stanislaw Wroblewski to 2 years' imprisonment." German
"On June 25, 1940, two Poles, Janka and Paluszczynski, were sentenced to death by the 'Special Court' at
Inowroclaw. Two others, Zierzlewicz and Halajczak received sentences of 10 years' imprisonment. At Wroclaw Tadeusz Gralak
has been sentenced to death. Three other Poles were sentenced: Mirowski to 15 years' imprisonment, Karwata to 12 years' and
Liniewski to 8 years' penal servitude. At Aleksandrow Kujawski the death sentence has been carried out on the Poles: Roszak,
Bronislaw Niedzialkowski and Romanowski. Franciszek Niedzialkowski was sentenced to 6 years' penal servitude." German
" During the first few days of July, 1940, the 'Special Court' at Strzelno passed sentences of imprisonment
from 4 to 10 years upon the following Poles: Jan Matera, Helena Szczepaniak, Weronika Niemczynska, Stanislawa Padernoga, Katarzyna
Kwiatkowska, Helena Aleksander, Jozef Lyk, Popielewski, Wanda Staszewska, Zofia Staszewska, Jozef Kowalski, Czeslaw Tarczewski,
Waclaw Muszynski, Feliks Kruszynski, Stanislawa Lyk, Teresa Aleksander, Waleria Kurzawska, Stanislaw Muszynski, Kazimierz
Lysak." German official report.
"The death sentence has been carried out on Wanda Brys, aged 22 years, Szczepan Klokocki, aged 43 years,
and Wladyslaw Przepylski, aged 39 years." Deutsche Rundschau.
"At the end of July, 1940, the death sentence was passed by the 'Special Court' at Inowroclaw on a Pole,
Ludwik Malinger, on a charge of denouncing a German, Erich Torns, to the Polish military authorities. Torns was suspected
of espionage and was shot. The Pole, Tadeusz Frackowiak, of Mogilno, was condemned to 15 years' penal servitude and 10 years'
loss of citizenship rights." German official report.
"On September 22, 1940, a 'Special Court' condemned to death the Poles Brzozowski and Czeslaw Racik."
Ostdeutscher Beobachter, September, 1940.
"On September 22, the 'Special Court' at Poznan condemned to death the Polish Sergeant, Antoni Hetman."
Litzmannstadter Zeitung, September 25, 1940.
"The 'Special Court' at Inowroclaw has condemned to death Katarzyna Przybysz, aged 70 years, and her son,
Stabislaw Przybysz, of Rybno, charged with denouncing Germans to the Polish authorities in September, 1939." German official
"Katarzyna Swiatkowska, aged 45 years, has been sentenced to 15 years' penal servitude by the 'Special Court'
at Inowroclaw." German official report.
"Two Poles: Ignacy Pieszowicz, of Gostynin, and Wladyslaw Lubanski, of Wloclawek, have been brought before
a German 'Special Court.' " German official report.
"Jakub Jasinski, aged 59, a Polish policeman from Poznan, has been condemned to death." Ostdeutscher
Beobachter, October 24, 1940.
"A 'Special Court' has condemned to death two Poles from Bydgoszcz: Edward Rymer and Bronislaw Skalski.
A 'Special Court' at Kalisz has passed prison sentences of 10, 8 and 2 years respectively upon the labourers, Wladyslaw Tomaszewski,
Andrzej Kawka and Stanislaw Kawka." German official report.
"The Bydgoszcz 'Special Court' has sentenced Leon Dolewski, of Torun, and Brunon Trawinski to 5 years' imprisonment.
Two sisters, Franciszka and Maria Konieczna, have been sentenced to 3 years and 4 months' imprisonment at Grudziadz, on the
charge of harbouring a Pole, Edward Granica, who had been sentenced to death by a German court." German official report.
"A 'Special Court' at Lodz has sentenced a carpenter, Antoni Gasiorowski, to 12 years' imprisonment." Litzmannstadter
"A German 'Special Court' at Koenigsberg has condemned to death the Polish prisoners of war - Jewish reservists
- Moszek Warczewski, of Stanislawow, and Natan Perylman, of Minsk Mazowiecki." Litzmannstadter Zeitung, October 31,
"A 'Special Court' at Inowroclaw has condemned 8 Poles to death and 9 to terms of imprisonment ranging from
1 to 15 years." Ostdeutscher Beobachter, November 3, 1940.
"On November 5, 1940, a 'Special Court' at poznan passed death sentences on Wojciech Lisowski, aged 33,
and Waclaw Napierala, aged 27. Walentyn Gotowy, Stanislaw Tom and Wladyslaw Mikolajczyk each received 5 years' imprisonment."
Ostdeutscher Beobachter, November 8, 1940.
"The 'Special Court' at Bydgoszcz has sentenced Maria Jarosz, aged 61 years, accused of denouncing a local
German to the Polish authorities in September, 1939, to 3 years' imprisonment.
"The German court at Bydgoszcz has sentenced Jan Poleszewski, aged 50 years, to 8 years' imprisonment."
"A 'Special Court' at Poznan has condemned to death Franciszek Lawicki, aged 58." Litzmannstadter Zeitung,
"A 'Special Court' at Bydgoszcz has sentenced Antoni and Franciszek Malkowski, Stefan Kaliszewski and Jan
Cagaszewski, of ages ranging from 17 to 27 years, to terms of imprisonment from 18 months to 10 years." Deutsche Rundschau,
"A 'Special Court' at Bydgoszcz has condemned to death the former pointsman, Jan Tylmanowski, aged 27 years."
Deutsche Rundschau, December, 1940.
"A Court at Poznan has passed sentences of 6 years' imprisonment uopn Jozef Hurysz and Hejwosz Klopstok.
"At Wloclawek a 'Special Court' has passed a death sentence upon the former sergeant, Zygmunt Wnukowski,
and on Jozef Cygan. The same court has also sentenced a large number of Poles to prison terms of from 1 to 4 years." Ostdeutscher
Beobachter, December, 1940.
"The 'Special Court' at Kalisz has condemned to death the shoemaker, Ryszard Pelczynski, of the town of
Zduny, near Krotoszyn." Litzmannstadter Zeitung, December 10, 1940.
"A 'Special Court' at Poznan has tried 39 Poles. The death penalty was passed on Klemens Frackowiak, Bronislaw
and Stanislaw Jaskowiak, Stanislaw Krajewski, Adam Moszak, Franciszek Szaferski, Edmund Zak, Jerzy Kazimierski and Antoni
Kruk. Jozef Zuchthaus was given a sentence of 15 years' imprisonment; Tomasz Bilski, 12 years; 19 year old Jozef Hanysz, 8
years; 18 year old Stanislaw Grosz, 6 years. Nineteen of the accused were condemned to 5 years' imprisonment, one to 4 years,
and Ludwik Ratajczyk, aged 16, to 2 years." Ostdeutscher Beobachter, December 4, 1940.
"A German court at Gniezno has passed a sentence of 10 years' imprisonment upon a Polish mountaineer." Ostdeutscher
Beobachter, December 7, 1940.
"A 'Special Court' has sentenced Franciszek Nawrocki to death." Ostdeutscher Beobachter, December
"In the neighbourhood of Naklo the German police have arrested 17 Poles accused of taking part in incidents
at the beginning of September, 1939." Ostdeutscher Beobachter, December 15, 1940.
"A 'Special Court' at Poznan has condemned a Pole, Maksymilian Wojtecki, and 3 others, to death. At the
same trial 3 other Poles were sentenced to 15, 10 and 8 years' imprisonment." Litzmannstadter Zeitung, December 20,
"A 'Special Court' at Bydgoszcz has sentenced a former frontier guard, Stefan Galinski, to death. Four
other Poles aged from 18 to 23 years, tried by the same tribunal, have received sentences of from 5 months to 5 years'
"At Wlodawa, Jozef Kowalewski has been condemned to death and Michal Markowski to 12 years' penal servitude.
"At Grudziadz the tram conductor, Julian Plutowski, has been condemned to 15 years' penal servitude." Deutsche
Rundschau, December 20, 1940.
"At Poznan, Andrzej Wladysiak, aged 21, Waclaw Czechowski, aged 29, and Antoni Kwasniewicz, aged 27, have
all been condemned to six years' penal servitude; Eryk Faust, aged 20, received 5 years' penal servitude; Tadeusz Baszczynski,
aged 21, was given 4 years; 20 year-old Waclaw Grzelski, 3 years; while Kazimierz Boryszak, aged 16, and Henryk Czechowski
received 2 years imprisonment." Ostdeutscher Beobacher, January 8, 1941.
"At Poznan, Franciszek Kordus, of Leszno, has been condemned to death." Ostdeutscher Beobacher,
January 10, 1941.
"Zygmunt Dabrowski has been sentenced to 7 years' hard labour; Jan Waszak has been given 4 years' hard labour.
Four other Poles will serve prison sentences of from 1 to 2 years. At Wagrowiec, Alojzy Saenger has received a sentence of
10 and a half years' penal servitude." Ostdeutscher Beobachter, January 14, 1941.
"At Danzig, sentences of from 9 months to three and one-half years have been passed upon 4 Poles. At Lodz,
Ignacy Rzetelski, of Konstantynow, has received a sentence of 12 years' penal servitude." Ostdeutscher Beobachter,
January 17, 1941.
"At Bydgoszcz, 2 workmen, Franciszek Makowski and Franciszek Swieracki, have been condemned to death, while
a sentence of 10 years' penal servitude has been passed on the workman, Aleksander Dutka." Deutsche Rundschau, January
The months since January have not brought any change. The German press continues to announce similar sentences.
The verdicts quoted above comprise only a small fraction of the murders committed by the Germans in Poland
upon citizens whose only crime, we must repeat, was that they were loyal to their own country when the German troops treacherously
and unexpectedly invaded it in September, 1939, and that they had helped to suppress German espionage and subversive activity
(detailed, with extensive supporting documentation in the book The German Fifth Column in Poland, London, 1941, Hutchinson
& Co.). All these 'crimes' attributed to them were committed not during the German occupation but in localities that were
still in the hands of the Polish authorities.
It is impossible to estimate the number of Poles "condemned" in this manner, but the figure would certainly
run into tens of thousands, and the so-called "Special Courts" still continue their activities. During the first period of
the occupation, especially, the German Press confined tself to publishing a general statement on the number of persons condemned
to death without mentioning names. For example, it would be stated that a "Special Court" at Bydgoszcz had sentenced to death
Women and juvenile males constituted a very considerable proportion of these murdered Poles. Indeed, this
has been admitted by the Thorner Freiheit, a National-Socialist daily published in Torun, in the printing works confiscated
from the Polish daily, Slowo Pomorskie. The Thorner Freiheit stated that among the Poles sentenced to death
by the Sondergerichte, 13% were women (as a matter of fact this percentage was much higher) and a large number of
These courts do not limit their "activities" to incidents which took place after the outbreak of war in
September, 1939. Their verdicts are even more retrospective.
For instance, on October 9, 1940, the Danzig National-Socialist organ, Danziger Vorposten, stated
that a "Special Court" at Danzig had sentenced the Pole, Jan Bielinski, of Starogard, to one year's imprisonment for having
appeared as a witness in the trial of a German charged with sedition in May, 1939, several months before the opening of hostilities!
Further, the Litzmannstadter Zeitung of November 15, 1940, stated that the previous day a German
Court had sentenced to death 12 Poles, including Stanislaw and Boleslaw Chelmicki, Wincenty Pietrzak, Walenty and Jozef Kubacki
and Stanislaw Pijanowicki. They had all appeared before a German "Special Court" charged with offences of an anti-German character,
committed in the district of Aleksandrow, near Lodz, also in May, 1939.
An official German report of December, 1940, also stated that at Lodz a carpenter, Jan Kierski, aged 19,
had been condemned to 2 years' hard labour for taking part in an anti-German demonstration at Pabianice in June, 1939.
The Litzmannstadter Zeitung, of February 21, 1941, announced that in Lodz a nurse, Wktoria Wolowiec,
was sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment, charged with having participated in anti-German manifestations in Lodz on August 27,
1939, just before the war broke out.
According to the Danziger Vorposten, of December 11, 1940, the Gestapo in Krakow had arrested Dr.
Aleksander Szyller, the former director of the Polish Postal Savings Bank (PKO) in Danzig, on the charge of having taken part
in an incident which occurred at Kalthof on May 21, 1939, more than 3 months before the war.
It is worth noting that the period of May and June, 1939, was one of unrestricted anti-Polish agitation
fostered by the leaders of the Third Reich, and of constant threats to Poland, culminating in the invasion on September
1 of that year. The anti-German demonstrations referred to in the charges against Poles were merely an expression of the people's
determination to defend their independence. It is worth recalling that the incident at Kalthof on the territory of the Free
City of Danzig was one of these numerous German provocative acts which were given wide-spread publicity in the world Press
at the time.
Now those who were faithful to their country and to the Polish nation are being bestially murdered by the
Nor is this all. A number of Polish judges and lawyers have been murdered for being concerned in pre-war
trials of Germans accused of espionage and activities jeopardizing the safety of Poland. Such instances of revenge have been
recorded at Krakow and Lublin.
At Krakow, Judge Frackiewicz was killed on December 26, 1939, by a German named Brockman whom he had sentenced
to prison for subversive activities. At Lublin, as already stated, the following members of the legal profession were shot
for the same reason: the President of the Court of Appeal, Sekutowicz; the President of the District Court, Bryla; 4 lawyers
and the county authorities.
What light these revolting incidents throw upon the National-Socialist justice, designed to serve as the
basis of the "new order' in Europe and the world!
For What Other Reasons are Poles Murdered
The following examples, chosen from strictly verified reports, testify further to the treatment of Poles
in the German-occupied areas.
About the middle of February 1940, at one of the railway stations (Dworzec Fabryczny) in Lodz, German soldiers
killed a Pole with their rifle butts because he entered a train out of his turn. When the crowd began to show its indignation,
the detachment on guard fired a volley, killing three persons, and injuring several others.
At a number of railway stations, including that of Sosnowiec, people were fired at while trying to give
pieces of bread or glasses of tea to women and children deported by train from Poznania and Pomerania. A number of persons
were killed when soldiers fired at the crowd.
The brutal refusal to allow any food to be supplied to the Polish deportees, transported in cattle trucks,
caused hundreds of deaths, especially among the children, during the unusually severe winter of 1939-40. This will be treated
at length elsewhere.
On March 8, 1940, a certain Polish workman was shot in a street of Krakow by a Gestapo man for humming the
tune of the national anthem: "Poland Has Not Yet Perished."
In a village near Lowicz, German soldiers shot a man 70 years old for possessing a razor, justifying this
deed by sayng that it would be dangerous for German troops if the Poles were left in possession of razors, scissors and knives.
Even when the Germans appear to be acting in defence of law and order, they do so cruelly and barbarously.
A butcher of Zelana Street, Warsaw, was hanged for charging a customer 2 zlotys a kilogramme in excess of
the fixed price for meat. The man's body was left hanging in a sack before his shop for a whole week; the German police would
not allow it to be removed.
Frequently elderly women are brutally beaten with rifle butts for such petty offences as not observing the
traffic regulations when crossing the street.
Smoke Screen for Crimes Committed
As we have already stated, the pretexts under which these mass murders and executions are committed by the
Germans, in the "incorporated" territories as well as in the "Government General," were and are many and various. Sometimes
it is the barbarous and inhuman principle of "collective responsibility," which often entails the deaths of hundreds of innocent
persons because a German has been shot by an ordinary bandit. Sometimes the charge is simply of "anti-German" sentiment, or
else some quite minor accusation. For that matter, in thousands of cases people are murdered without even the pretence
Apart from the pretexts mentioned, the German authorities put forward yet another "argument," in order to
"justify" their massacres in Poland. This is the alleged murder by Poles of the German minority in September, 1939, during
the first few days of military activities. The German Government even published a special book on this subject, while the
German press and wireless conducted and are conducting a noisy and lying propaganda campaign on the subject.
Without doubt this German campaign will one day be appraised by history as one of the most villainous
propagandist slanders that has ever been put out, for the purpose of creating a smoke screen to conceal the crimes committed;
an imposture, in comparison with which the famous burning of the Reichstag was, despite its ignominy, mere child's play.
What is the truth? Long before the war broke out, agents of the German Fifth Column had been developing
treacherous activities in Poland, aided by the Polish Government's extremely liberal policy toward the German minorities.
When the German Armies began the invasion the Fifth Column began an extensive action of sabotage and subversion in the
rear of the Polish defence forces which were fighting desperately against overwhelming enemy strength. As we have said, in
many localities - among others at Bydgoszcz and Leszno, the agents of the German Fifth Column shot at the retreating Polish
detachments and the Polish civil population. This resulted in some small, local clashes which involved a certain number
of casualties on both sides. A few hundred Germans, caught in the act of treachery and sabotage, were shot in accordance
with the verdicts of the Polish military courts.
The total number killed in these affrays was proportionately not large. At Bydgoszcz, as all witnesses confirm,
it did not exceed 150 to 160 persons, the majority of whom were not German Poles but agents from the Reich, smuggled into
the town at the last moment. In other localities where such skirmishes occurred, the number was far less.
The Goebbels propaganda cynically distorted and continues to distort the facts regarding the first days
of the war. It is worth while quoting the words of Miss Baker-Beall, whose deposition has been previously mentioned,
from her report of events in Bydgoszcz:
"When the soldiers first entered the town, their minds were inflamed against the Poles by a series of horrible
atrocities perpetrated by the Poles on the Germans; and in revenge, they themselves acted with the most appalling savagery.
Stories had been spread of how hundreds of mutilated German corpses had been found in the forests with eyes put out and
tongues torn out, and photographs of the victims were shown to foreign newspaper correspondents.
"It was quite true that hundreds of such corpses had been found; but they were of Poles, great numbers being
those of women and children, who had fled from the town when the Germans approached, and who had been hunted and machine-gunned
by the German airmen that followed them. An acquaintance of mine, who fled with her husband and two children but had to return,
as they found no place of refuge, said that the saddest sight was the number of little corpses that strewed the way, babies
and little ones who had succumbed to exposure and want of food or who had been shot down in the flight.
"There were corpses of Germans, who had also fled; but the number was small, and they, like the Poles,
would have been targets for the planes. It was also observed that the names of these people were printed at intervals 6 or
8 times in the lists of victims, but each time were reckoned as fresh victims, in order to lengthen the list.
"The following occurrence told to a friend of mine by the only survivor, may illustrate this point. An old
German woman and twelve other Germans decided to flee together to a forest placed several kilometres from the town, and to
take refuge with the Catholic priest there. They were on foot; and when evening came on, they were still about an hour's
walk from the place, so they turned into a cottage of the hamlet they were passing through, deciding to spend the night there.
The old woman was uneasy and wished to press on; but the others refused. When the others were sleeping, she got up and crept
out of the house (she was a very devout Catholic, and said that a voice told her not to delay). When only a short distance
from the house, she heard planes approaching and turning to see where they were going, saw the cottage struck by a bomb and
totally destroyed. She said that every one in the house was killed, and the corpses terribly mutilated; but - as we see -
by German planes, not Polish murderers.
Massacres of Insane, Sufferers from Nervous Diseases, Old People, and Cripples
All over the Polish occupied areas the German authorities have carried out massacres, not only of the insane
but also of people suffering from nervous diseases. The patients in institutions of this type were either shot or poisoned
with gases, and the buildings were taken over to serve as barracks for the S.S. or as offices for Gestapo and National-Socialist
The massacre which occured on February 1, 1940, at the town of Chelm in the province of Lublin was especially
monstrous. The details, which have been furnished by a number of responsible witnesses, are as follows:
The German occupation authorities decided to requisition the new and spacious mental hospital in Chelm.
First the Gestapo officials ordered all the doctors and nurses to leave the building. Those who resisted were expelled by
force at the point of revolver. The Gestapo police then proceeded to lock the doors and with their revolvers shot all the
patients, numbering over 400. The hospital staff, held in the street under a heavy guard, were horrified to hear the despairing
cries and groans of the victims, as they were hunted down by the murderers.
When they had finished their terrible work the executioners left, after informing the staff:
"The hospital is now empty. You are to remove all the bodies at once, as we shall be occupying the building
within two hours."
After the Gestapo had left the building it was ascertained that, in addition to the 400 patients, they had
shot 40 children war orphans, who had been given temporary shelter in one of the hospital wards.
At the mental hospital, in the locality of Owinska, near Poznan, the Germans shot 53 patients; while at
the the instituition at Tworki, near Warsaw, all the patients were killed.
From other institutions of this character, including that for nervous diseases in Koscian; from "Dziekanka,"
an institution for the insane at Gniezno; and from the institution at Kocborowo, in Pomerania, as well as others, hundreds
of patients were sent in lorries to Poznan, where they were poison-gassed in special chambers in Fort VII, called Entwesungs-Kammer.
The children of the establishment at Jankowice were also poison-gassed.
Cripples were disposed of in this manner. A considerable number of them were poisoned at Fort VII in Poznan.
In one locality of the "Government General," all the cripples were summoned to the authorities on the ground that they were
to receive public assistance. When they arrived they were arrested, taken out to the fields and shot.
In January, 1940, the Germans carried off old people, cripples and young children from the villages of Rozanna,
Makow and elsewhere on the river Narew into the forest, and there shot them.
On January 16, 1940, 42 old people were taken from the old people's home at Plock and shot in the forest.
In Fort VII at Poznan, some 60 prostitutes were also poison-gassed.
At Radom, 29 prostitutes were taken into custody. They were carried to the vicinity of the airfield at the
neighbouring town of Jedlinsk, flung into the ditches dug at the beginning of the war for air raid shelters, and were then
blown to bits with hand grenades.
The Extermination of an Entire Nation
We have said enough. But it must be remembered that all these murders and massacres took place long after
the invasion was effected, during the occupation of the territories, when the population, respecting the laws and usages of
war, refrained from all demonstartions against the occupying troops, which, in any case, would have been futile. The German
crimes are not to be explained or justified on the grounds of the fortunes of war nor by the exigencies of martial law, however
severe in its application. They are due purely to a policy of extermination, of suppression of a whole nation, beginning with
its ruling classes. In fact this was the admitted object of the Germans' ruthless method of occupation.
In a speech made at Poznan in December, 1939, Herr Greiser, former President of the Senate of the free city
of Danzig, now Gauleiter of the Warthegau, remarked: "This province must rapidly become the most German
and the most faithful to the Fuhrer of all the provinces of the Reich." And in another speech, made a little later
at Sroda, he announced: "It is our duty to treat the Poles with merciless severity" (erbarmungslose Harte).
After over a year of German occupation of Poland, on October 19, 1940, Herr Greiser gave the following instructions
to the German teachers of the Warthegau assembled in congress:
"Besides love for the German nation the teacher must also spread aversion from this alien (i.e. Polish)
nation. The teacher must stand firmly and uncompromisingly in the national struggle and direct the youth entrusted to him along no other path. Nothing would have been gained if we were to fall into the softness of feelings
of past times. This must be injected into the hearts of the German youth in no transient fashion."
On October 20, Herr Greiser said the following words to the party leaders under him:
"From the beginning, i.e., for a year now, I took the attitude that the German is now lord in this country...
The Pole can be only a serving element... You, my party comrades, must as political leaders act in accordance with the motto:
whoever is not with us, is against us, and anyone who is against us will be destroyed in the Reichsgau Wartheland.
I renew the call to firmness: be hard, and again be hard."
On November 15, 1940, Greiser said at Srem:
"When God introduced justice into the world, he also created hatred. And that is how we have learnt to hate
This same Gauleiter of the Wartheland spoke in the same strain at Poznan on November 22, 1940,
on the occasion of the visit of the Reich Minister for Education, Rust:
"I shall educate the youth, Minister, to be hard," he said. "As we love the German nation, so we hate the
Polish nation like the plague."
At the beginning of November 1940, the leader of the German women of the Wartheland, Helga Three, made
a speech at Pabianice in which she appealed for a "clear line of demarcation between Poles and Germans, and the elimination
of all friendly relations, all sympathy for the Poles."
This sort of exhortation is repeated many times by the National-Socialist officials of occupied Poland,
and upon every occasion: party conventions, teachers' congresses, and official celebrations of the "German Christmas." Never
before has mankind known such an official propaganda of atrocity, void of all human feeling.
The extermination of Polish leaders affected all political parties and all classes of society. In the western
provinces of Poland almost all the leaders of the National Party were murdered, to say nothing of the heads of the local village
groups. Many active village members of the Peasants' Party were also killed. The Silesian victims of executions and prisons
included many representatives of the Polish Labour Party.
At Warsaw, in May, 1940, during the Gestapo investigations, Mr. Maciej Rataj, one of the most prominent
of Polish politicians, a former Speaker of the Parliament and leader of the Polish Peasant Party, was tortured to death. The
Germans had imprisoned him during the previous winter, and after suffering inhuman torments, he was finally murdered.
On June 26, 1940, the victims of the mass executions in Palmiry included Mr. Mieczyslaw Niedzialkowski,
a leader of the Polish Socialists, for many years deputy to the Sejm and editor of the Socialist organ, Robotnik.
Nothing is known of the fate of many other imprisoned politicians and statesmen, among whom is Wincenty
Witos, several times Prime Minister of Poland.
All trace has been lost of the heroic Mayor of Warsaw, Stefan Starzynski, who became famous for his leadership
during the defence of the Polish capital in the four weeks of September, 1939. Shortly after the Germans entered the city
they arrested him and sent him to a concentration camp. His fate is unknown.
The Germans have also inflicted tortures upon Polish intellectuals and scientists. The terrible fate of
the professors of the Jagellonian University in Krakow will stand as an eternal shame in the annals of civilized mankind.
Their fate was shared by dozens of professors from other Polish universities.
Many writers and actors have been imprisoned.
Among leaders of the economic world, Mr. Henryk Brun, President of the Society of Polish Merchants in Warsaw,
and one of the leading citizens of the capital, suffered a particularly cruel death. In April, 1940, Mr. Brun, together with
some 30 other members of industrial and commercial spheres, received an invitation, written on the official notepaper
of the Warsaw governor, to attend a conference at a certain restaurant. At the conference the Poles present were called upon
to make financial contributions to the German Selbstschutz organization. Mr. Brun declared that he saw no reason
why he should make financial contributions to this organization. A few days later, Mr. Brun was arrested, and a couple of
months after his family was informed that he was dead. It appears that he was shot on a charge of "sabotage"; before his death
he was bestially beaten and tortured in prison. Mr. Brun thus shared the fate of many other Poles who had German surnames,
but who preferred death to renouncing their Polish allegiance. Among them the venerable General Superintendent of the Polish
Evangelical Church, Dr. Julius Bursche, was sent to a concentration camp, where he died. The same fate has befallen his brother,
Dr. Edmund Bursche, professor of Protestant Theology.
Hundreds of Trades Union leaders and leaders of peasants' and landowners' agricultural associations were
The executions also included a large number of priests, lawyers, professors, officials, doctors and tens
of thousands of merchants, artisans, workmen and peasants, among them many women and children.
The number of Poles killed by the Gestapo in the entire area of the German occupation, i.e., the "incorporated"
territories and the "Government General," was estimated at the end of December, 1940, at more than 70,000 not counting
the tens of thousands tortured to death in the prisons and concentration camps.
Again, "justice" is sometimes privately administered: in Krawow, a German named Brockman killed Judge Frackiewicz
who had passed on him a prison sentence in a trial which took place before the war. On January 21, 1940, a German officer
shot Mr. Opacki in a Krakow street because, while walking with his wife, he had not shown sufficient respect when making way
for the German on the pavement.
In the hospitals, German doctors treat their Polish patients in such a way as to hasten their deaths as
much as possible.
END OF CHAPTER TWO
Chapter Three: Prisons and Tortures Inflicted Upon Prisoners
First, a sampling of prisons, Gestapo jails, killing fields:
- # 4 Waly Jagiellonskie St.
- # 8 Waly Jagiellonskie St.
- # 5 Dobra St.
- Apolonka - A village where in 1940, the Germans carried out mass executions of Poles accused of underground
- na Zawodziu
- Piasnickie Lasy - A forest complex near the town of Wejherowa. Here, from X/39 to early 1940, SS
Sicherheitspolizei units from Gdansk and Gdynia as well as SS led groups of local Volksdeutsche carried out mass and single
executions. The victims were first imprisoned in Wejherowa then taken by car to their execution. Some 12,000 people were murdered
here, including women and small children.
- Szpegawski Las - In the Starograd area, mass executions were carried out (more than 7,000 Poles were
victims) by the Wermacht, Selbstschutz and police from the fall of 1939 to 1945.
- "Szklarczykowka" (13 Gartenstrasse St.)
- Mikulowska St.
- 31 Powstancow St. (at that time Strasse der SA)
- # 7 Montelupich St.
- Krzeslawice - From the fall of 1939 to the spring of 1941 the old fort in this village was the place
of execution for a number of prisoners from Montelupich St. Exhumations carried out after the war yielded 440 corpses
in twenty-nine graves .
- # 2 Pomorska St.
- # 3 Senacka St.
- "Pod Zegarem" (# 3 Uniwersyteckiej St.)
- 13 Gdanska St.
- 29 Kopernika St.
- Przemyslowa St.
- # 23 Powstancow St. (at that time H. Goringstrasse)
- Dom Zolnierza
- Fort VII
- Fort VIII
- Mlynska St.
- Bor - A forest in the area of of Skarzyska Kamienna in which the Radom gestapo executed 360 prisoners
over the course of 4 days (12-15/II/40).
- Brzask - A locality near Skarzyska Kamienna where the Radom gestapo executed 760 Poles on June 29,
- Firlej - Another place of mass executions.
- 18/20 Urszulanska St.
- 17 S. Konarskiego St.
- Kruk - Forest near Skrzyszowa which saw mass executions.
- Barbarka - In the forests near this village some 600 Poles were executed by the Gestapo and Selbstschutz in
November and December 1939.
- Fort VII
- "Okraglak" (at that time # 53 Backergasse)
- Pawiak-Serbia (#24/26 Dzielnej St.) - Over the course of its WW2 existence some 100,000 prisoners
passed through including 80 year olds and 11 year olds. Twenty-five babies were born in the women's unit (Serbia). Thousands
were transported to concentration camps; the first transport to Oswiecim on 14/VIII/40.
- Palmiry - The village near which the Sicherheitspolizei conducted mass executions (by shooting) of mostly
Pawiak-Serbia inmates from 7/XII/39 to July 1941. In 1946 mass graves were uncovered yielding a count of 1,700 corpses.
- Sekocincki Las - The SS executed 223 Pawiak-Serbia prisoners here on the night of 27/28 May, 1942, including
- # 25 al. Szucha (at that time Strasse der Polizei)
- # 37 Rakowiecka St.
- # 7 Danilowiczowska St.
- Ponary - From VII/41 to 1944 in the forests near this locality, some 114,000 Polish citizens of Wilno province
met their death.
- "Palace" (# 7 Chalubinskiego St.)
Individual and collective arrests have become the daily lot of the Polish population under the German occupation.
Whenever a high German official is expected to visit any town, hundreds of the inhabitants are thrown into prison. This also
happens whenever the Germans think they have reason to fear a revolt. Just prior to November 11 (Polish Independence Day),
mass arrests were made all over occupied Poland. The prisons are crowded with tens of thousands of inmates. A similar spate
of arrests took place before the anniversary of the Polish victory over the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in July, 1410, before
that over the Bolsheviks in August, 1920, etc. They have also occurred before every fresh German military offensive, against
Norway, Holland, Belgium and France.
In Warsaw whenever the Governor-General Frank, whose residence is in Krakow, arrives, all the men living
in the vicinity of the former Czechoslovakian Legation in Chopin Street, where he is in the habit of staying, are arrested.
Each visit involves the arrest of some 2,000 persons.
Anyone who refuses to display the German flag or the portrait of the Fuhrer is immediately placed under
arrest. In many towns the order has been given that Poles must bare their heads before German officers or non-commissioned
officers or even before any German, and neglect to do so often involves arrest.
At Rogozno (Province of Poznan) after evicting the priest from the parsonage, the Germans established an
office of the Selbstschutz there, and hung out a black flag bearing the insignia of this organization. Every Pole
passing by was ordered to bare his head before this flag. Any one who failed to comply was dragged inside and beaten, often
to unconsciousness. Similar occurrences took place in many other localities.
As the prisons are not large enough to accomodate all the prisoners a sojourn in one of them becomes a veritable
martyrdom. Five thousand persons were incarcerated in the citadel of Poznan, which was built to hold no more than two thousand
soldiers. At Zory, in Silesia, 54 persons were held in a place intended for 16. In the prison of Cieszyn, built to accomodate
500, the number suddenly increased to over 1,000. These conditions often render it impossible to sleep or to lie down on the
concrete floors. At Gdynia the Germans imprisoned people in the churches, which were desecrated. Such cases of desecration
were very general all over Poland. At Bydgoszcz 2,000 prisoners were placed in the stables of the 15th Cavalry Regiment. They
were so crowded that there was scarcely room to stand upright. At night they slept lying one on top of another. They were
held in this place for 6 weeks. At Torun some 600 people were shut in the casemates of the fortress. Near Poznan the Germans
established a prison that has become famous for its cruel regime in the casemates of Fort No. VII.
Throughout the occupied territories, arrests are usually carried out at night, between the hours of 8 and
12, and also in the early morning hours. Daylight arrests are exceptional. During the searches the German police frequently
secrete arms or ammunition in the houses in order to produce "proofs" against those arrested. Beatings at the time of arrest
are by no means exceptional. Cases are recorded of arrests being made of substitutes: a wife is taken instead of her absent
husband, a tenant instead of the sub-tenant, or a whole family is taken into custody - husband, wife and children.
The first to be imprisoned were invariably prominent members of the clergy, professors, magistrates, lawyers,
doctors, tradesmen, property owners, in short the most influential representatives of the towns and villages and also the
youth of both sexes. The foul air and crowded conditions in the prisons, the terrible filth and the vermin, are coupled with
inadequate and almost uneatable food. A general feature of the regime in the prisons and concentration camps is to supply
the prisoners with no food at all during the first 2, 3 or 4 days. After that, twice a day, morning and evening, they are
given a yellow liquid called coffee, and well under half a pound of bread a day per person, and at noon a watery soup (Wassersuppe)
made without meat, from stale boiled bread, with occasionally a very meagre supplement of vegetables.
The prisoners are always being insulted by the keepers and police agents, who invariably use the contemptuous
form of the second person singular (du) even to women.
But worst of all is the ill treatment and the tortures to which prisoners are subjected. Blows full in the
face, kicks, beatings with rifle butts, clubs and whips are in general use.
Beatings and torture are used to extort confessions. Examinations accompanied by blows are repeated as many
as 3 times in one day. Iron bars are used on prisoners' buttocks, or they are struck on the head and face and the bare belly
with pieces of hose-pipe. When a Nazi uses his fist he holds the prisoner's chin with his other hand, so that it is impossible
to dodge the blow. Often the prisoner's head is covered with open wounds. He cannot stand on his legs, his kidneys are injured
and his spine so seriously damaged that he cannot walk. Then at last he is taken to the prison hospital. Other means of extracting
confessions are starvation and close confinement in dungeons.
"There is hardly any system of police interrogation," states one of our reports of January, 1940. "The method
used is almost exclusively that of extorting confessions by using mediaeval tortures. Beatings, breaking ribs and legs, knocking
out teeth and eyes, tearing off the nails, flaying the skin, injuring the testicles, beating women on the breasts - all these
were resorted to as a regular system, not as sporadic incidents. The maltreated people, men and women, old people and children,
were restored somewhat in the prison hospitals, and then were subjected to further torture."
At Bydgoszcz, certain prisoners were forced to lie at full length, face downward, on the concrete floor,
for several hours at a time. Sanitary conditions at Bydgoszcz were revolting. As there was no closet in the place used as
a prison, a corner of the building was set aside for this purpose. Father Stepczynski, the Senior Canon of Bydgoszcz, and
a Jew were ordered by the jailors to clean out the improvised latrines with their bare hands. One of them said to the old
priest: "Work, you pig! You are here to work." A young priest offered to take the Canon's place but the soldiers set upon
him, knocking out his teeth with the butts of their rifles, and were not content until he fell, covered with blood, injured
Sham executions were frequently organized at Bydgoszcz. Prisoners were lined up against a building, face
to the wall, which was then riddled with bullets above their heads. Those who dared to move were shot. At Gdynia, sham death
volleys were fired several times, with devilsih refinement of torture.
About the middle of October, 1939, the leading citizens of the town of Brodnica in Pomerania were arrested,
including the vicar, Father Orawski, Father Dama, Father Sniegocki, a school teacher named Berezowski, the manager of the
local newspaper, Wojciechowski, Langowski, a property owner and eight merchants: Paszota, Grzywacz, the Marchel brothers,
the Sobocinski brothers, Ostrowski and Solomonowicz. In order to force them to disclose information, they were wrapped in
wet blankets and beaten. Such scenes were common in every other town of Pomerania and Poznania.
The prisoners detained at Gniezno were handled with especial cruelty. They were flogged 3 times a day. Four
men held their arms and legs, while the others took turns with the lash.
The police at Poznan treat the prisoners with great bestiality. People are arrested in the streets without
any given reason, taken to the Chief of Police in the centre of the city (in Liberty Square, changed by the Germans to Wilhelmsplatz)
and there beaten with rubber truncheons, kicked in the face, etc. The prisoners often die under such tortures. One day a man,
covered with blood and almost nude, threw himself from a third floor window of the police station and crashed on to the pavement
below among terrified passers-by. Every day the bodies of Poles who have been tortured to death are carried out of the Poznan
The Training School for Torture in Fort VII at Poznan
Among the Poznan prisons, the most horrible conditions prevailed at Fort VII in the suburb of Lawica, where
many Poles were held, including professors of Poznan University, dozens of members of the Poznan City Council belonging to
the National Party, priests, doctors, architects, retired officers, etc. Father Gieburowski, director of the famous choir
of the Poznan High Cathedral, well known for its tours in Europe, was also imprisoned there.
Fort VII was a kind of school for training Gestapo men in methods of torture, and in sadism towards prisoners.
The course lasted from 3 to 4 weeks. The personnel was always being changed.
Almost all the prisoners who were placed in this fort were beaten unconscious, after which they were
drenched with cold water under a pump and then beaten again. This operation was repeated several times. At night they were
awakened, being struck with rifle butts on their backs, heads or wherever the blows happened to fall.
The gaolers had other very special forms of amusing themselves. For instance, the prisoners were driven
from their cells into the corridor or the courtyard (during the heavy frosts of the winter of 1939-40) where a "game of dog"
was played. The prisoners had to run about on all fours and bark like dogs. Those who would not bark were beaten with long
whips. A similar amusement was the "game of rabbit." In this "game" the prisoners were driven at night into the corridor and
ordered to run in a series of bounds along the passage. The gaolers became "hunters" and shot at the "rabbit" they had
singled out. Whether the wounded were finished off or not depended upon the gaoler's caprice.
Executions were carried out at night in the corridors. Men were shot at the doors of their cells with revolvers,
and the bodies were removed by dragging them along the floor. Traces of blood and even great splashes remained for a long
time on the floors and walls of the corridors.
During the most severe cold spells of winter prisoners were herded out into the courtyard and ordered to
stand with their hands raised above their heads until they were frozen.
Another bestial mode of torture was the "air pump." A rubber tube was inserted into the anus, and air was
pumped with a bicycle pump into the bowels. This operation frequently caused the victim an internal rupture.
It was a daily procedure for prisoners to be beaten with a riding-whip on the eyes until the lids were terribly
Before examination the prisoners were always placed in a brilliantly lighted chamber in such numbers that
they could not sit down, and kept there for 24 hours.
The work in this prison consisted in loading stones on to a cart, hauling them to a distant spot within
the bounds of the fort, unloading them, then reloading them and dragging them back to the place from which they had been taken.
This kind of "work" usually lasted all day. On the following day the same"work" was resumed - exhausting to the last degree
by its utter futility - and was carried on for months.
In this fort existed a "gas chamber," to which dozens of cripples (victims of the terror) and invalids from
various hospitals were carted, and there were poisoned, apparently with military gases.
In the spring of 1940 the prison at Fort VII was closed; and the Gestapo men who had been "trained" there
were sent to special prisons in the occupied territories (including Warsaw) and in Czechoslovakia. These Gestapo men were
recruited mainly from Berlin and other Prussian centres. Few of them were Germans from the Southern provinces.
The results of this "training" are evident in the reports that have recently come to hand concerning the
treatment of Poles and Czechs in the prisons and concentration camps.
A particularly shocking case was that of Mr. Raszewski, formerly a Colonel of Cavalry in the German Army,
and for six years Polish General on the retired list. While he was held in Fort VII his bones were broken in several places,
and he had to be sent to hospital.
Death in Prison of a Former Ambassador, Alfred Chlapowski
Among the Poles imprisoned by the Germans in Poznan were Mr. Alfred Chlapowski, for many years Polish Ambassador
in Paris, and his wife. The German authorities confiscated his estate, and put the former Ambassador in the prison at Koscian.
As he was seriously ill he had to be removed to the prison hospital, where he died in February, 1940.
His wife, Helena Chlapowska, went to France after she was released. She published her story in the columns
of the daily newspaper Le Petit Parisien, during the second half of May and the first days of June, 1940, dealing
with the period of the war and giving terrible details of the massacre of the Polish people of Poznania carried out by the
Germans, and their treatment of the Chlapowskis.
As we have previously recorded, a close relation of the Ambassador, Mr. Mieczyslaw Chlapowski, was shot
by the Germans in the market-place of Koscian; while his brother, Mr. Roman Chlapowski, one of the directors of the Hospital
of the Knights of Malta in Warsaw, was killed by a German bomb.
Thus in a few months three representatives of one of the most distinguished and public spirited families
of Western Poland were lost.
Hundreds and thousands of other families suffered a similar fate.
In the prison on Montelupi Street at Krakow, prisoners were driven out of doors every day, immediately after
bathing, in exceptionally cold weather and without overcoats. They inevitably contracted lung diseases. This prison has won
the evil reputation of being - after Poznan's Fort VII - the worst place of torture and persecution in Poland.
A reliable witness reports of Lodz in February, 1940:
"At Lodz the director of the Catholic Action was put in prison, together with a number of other prisoners.
They were put on lorries in 4 layers, on top of which Germans sat. During the examinations they were beaten at every opportunity
with rubber truncheons until they lost consciousness."
The Gestapo at Kielce arrested the Mayor, Mr. Artwinski. A few days later his body was found by chance in
a forest nearby, with one of his eyes out and his limbs broken.
After the Gestapo had rigged up a case, 19 persons were arrested at Sanok (in Southern Poland), and repeatedly
beaten almost to death. Some Poles detained in a concentration camp near Sanok were beaten with barbed wire. Many died of
their wounds, which would not heal.
In certain prisons the torture consisted of forcing the victims to eat their own excrement.
It is difficult to determine the number of persons imprisoned throughout the occupied areas. One of the
largest prisons is called the Pawiak, at Dzielna Street in Warsaw. It regularly holds 2,000 prisoners. According to estimates,
during the period from the beginning of September to December 1, 1940, that is, in 3 months, as many as 11,000 persons passed
through that one prison.
During two nights in the middle of July, 1940, 73 lawyers were arrested in Warsaw. Thirty-three of
them were immediately carried off to Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Hohenstein and other concentration camps. By September, 1940, many
of them had died in the camps, including M. Marian Borzecki, a former vice-president of the City of Warsaw; Stefan Urbanowicz,
doyen of the Legal Council in Warsaw, and Apolinary Kostro.
In the month of December, 1939, some 1,000 people of various social classes were held in the prison at Lublin.
The month of January 1941 was marked by a new wave of arrests. Between January 8 and 20, thousands of arrests
were made all over the "Government General" chiefly among intellectuals. Over 1,000 persons were arrested in Warsaw. The first
transport of prisoners to the concentration camps numbered 420 persons; a second transport of 600 left on January 31. During
the night of February 11 a further 300 and more people were arrested in Warsaw.
Six hundred people were arrested at Radom, some 300 at Kielce, some 600 at Lublin. Some of those arrested
at Lublin were shot immediately. One hundred and seventy persons were arrested at Krakow.
March, April and May, 1941 also brought hundreds of arrests and executions.
END OF CHAPTER THREE
Chapter Four: Concentration Camps
Two types of German concentration camps exist: those known as internment camps, which are in reality nothing
more nor less than enormous prisons; and also the temporary concentration camps (Sammellager) where the regime
is usually just as barbarous.
In the internment camps, situated mainly in Germany itself, tens of thousands of Poles have been held since
the very beginning of the German occupation. Most of them are representatives of intellectual and clerical circles, although
there are many labourers and peasants among them.
The concentration camp at Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg aquired particular notoriety all over the world when
in November, 1939, the German authorities deported almost the entire body of professors from the Jagiellonion University of
Krakow. More will be written of the fate of these professors in a later chapter dealing with the destruction of Polish culture.
The Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg camp was organized in the first years of the National-Socialist regime to
hold 12,000 persons. It is always full to capacity. The entire camp is surrounded by wires charged with high tension current,
zones under machine-gun fire, etc.
In this camp several thousand Poles, several thousand Czechs and also many Germans are imprisoned. Among
the Poles, in addition to the professors of Kracow University, there were many important Church dignitaries, including Bishop
Fulman of Lublin and his suffragan Bishop, Father Goral; and many other Polish, Czech and German representatives of the Catholic
and Protestant clergy. Besides those imprisoned for for political and religious reasons, there is no lack in the camp of ordinary
criminals, perverts, felons, etc.
The prisoners wear coloured patches on their clothes according to the nature of their "crimes." Their incarceration
is according to the usual administrative procedure, without court sentence or specified terms of imprisonment.
They are condemned to physical labour, often to such labour as scattering cinders over the camp area, but
more frequently to the utterly futile ocupation of carrying great stones from one place to another. Others are assigned domestic
and farm work, such as cleaning, harvesting potatoes and so on. The "old hands" among the long-term criminals are given supervision
of these workers, whom they ill-treat, beat and kick on any pretext in the hope of pleasing the camp authorities.
One of the cruellest forms of ill treatment resorted to during the severe winter of 1939-40 was the holding
of a roll-call in the courtyard several times a day, during which the men were obliged to stand in temperatures often as low
as thirty degrees below zero without coats or hats sometimes for two hours. They were frequently summoned to these roll-calls
immediately after hot baths, with the result that many developed pneumonia. During these roll-calls individuals were singled
out for beating and abuse sometimes until they lost consciousness. Iron rods and knouts were used. The victims were left lying
on the ground after such torture, and were not allowed to be removed until roll-call was over. In one day alone, sixty men
who had been beaten into unconsciousness were carried in after the roll-call.
During that winter the prisoners slept two together on straw pallets, in cold summer-houses, each couple
sharing a single blanket.
Only patients with a high fever were admitted to the infirmary, and even then they had to wait several hours
in the frost for a medical examination. Those who were taken into the infirmary rarely came out. Every month there are between
300 and 400 deaths in the camp. The annual mortality amounts to 30 percent of the total number of prisoners.
Malnutrition is a contributory factor to this high mortality rate. Each morning prisoners receive turnip
soup, and every few days potatoes, but never any fats. Relations are forbidden to send parcels and money.
It would appear that in other camps an even worse regime prevails. In many of them the prisoners are forced
to clean out the latrines and remove the excrement with their bare hands. This is one of the Germans' favourite ways of tormenting
the Catholic clergy and the Jews.
The chief camp for internees from Cieszyn Silesia was at Starachowice. The Poles imprisoned here were mercilessly
tortured by means of a leather whip bound with wire which caused running wounds leading to a high mortality rate. A citizen
of the town of Bielsko, Mr. Zabinski, is known to have died in this way. Gustaw Morcinek, a well-known Polish novelist, born
in Silesia, and Mr. Polaczek from Goleszow, a Deputy to the Polish Sejm, were among those imprisoned in this camp.
In the Western Provinces of Poland, "incorporated" with the Reich, there are a number of camps, principally
assembly camps, although some internment camps also exist. Two of these were established at Dobrzyca and at Cerekwica, in
Poznania, especially for the landed gentry and their families in the province of Poznan. Among these internees were invalids,
suffering with cancer, congestion of the lungs, grave heart troubles and embolism; but they were not exempted from the common
fate. As soon as they were received in the camps, they were deprived of what little money they possessed, their jewels or
any valuable articles they had been able to bring away from their homes.
At Dobrzyca they were housed in a country house, belonging to Count Czarnecki, which had previously been
stripped of its furnishings by German troops. The owner's mother, an aged woman, with her 2 daughters, had been evicted and
lodged in a summer-house. The prisoners slept on scattered straw. In one room, 15 feet by 9, seven persons were accomodated.
The other rooms were so crowded as to be ipso facto torture chambers. All the men from 18 to 60 years were kept at forced
labour from morning until night, with one hour of rest at noon.
Prince Olgierd Czartoryski, son-in-law of the Archduke Charles-Etienne of Hapsburg, was assigned the task
of cleaning out the toilets. The women made the fires, cooked, and cleaned the rooms. Everbody was continually subjected to
taunts and insults. The superintendent of the camp, a man named Schreiber, was a brute, but the Gestapo gave him a free hand
in the conduct of affairs. When one day a German officer presented himself at the camp, to inquire into the conditions, Schreiber,
infuriated that anyone should dare to challenge his exclusive authority, caused a notice to be posted for the guard's instruction,
reading: "Eingang auch fur Offiziere, selbst fur einen General verboten." (Entrance to officers and even generals forbidden.)
One of the largest concentration camps was at Glowna, on the outskirts of Poznan. It had been a munition
depot, and consisted of 5 barracks, surrounded with double rows of barbed wire. It was lit up all night with searchlights.
Four barracks, built of brick and sheet iron, housed the women and children. The men, about a thousand in number, were placed
in an enormous barn, built of wood. At the beginning of December, 1939, there were in all 3,800 persons of all ages and conditions
in this camp.
Many professors from the University of Poznan were held here, besides bankers, tradesmen, landowners, judges
and judiciary officials, priests, lawyers and doctors, many artisans, labourers, petty officials and even beggars and vagrants,
all with their families; the aged, the new-born, the infirm. An old man of 86, Mr. Ludwik Cwiklinski, an eminent professor
of philology and one time Austrian Minister of Education, was there with his wife, a paralytic, scarcely less aged than he.
Mrs. Cwiklinska was sent from there to a hospital, where she died. The Professor lost his reason and was at last released.
There were cases of child-birth in the camp. As warm water was unavailable, one of these infants had to be bathed in hot coffee,
provided by the other prisoners. There were two cases of suicide among the women.
Chapters Five Through Eight Follow Chapter Ten
Chapter Nine: The Brutal Treatment of the Polish Population
The Germans' treatment of the entire Polish population - men as well as women, and even little boys and
girls - is characterized by quite incredible brutality. The "tone" for this is set by the higher authorities. The first reactions
of a German soldier or police agent to a Pole are kicks and blows with rifle butts, iron bars, cudgels and whips.
Several lorries loaded with military police arrived at Pobiedziska in Poznania on September 21, 1939. Machine-guns
were set up at the approaches to the village and in the streets. Two hundred men were dragged from their homes and entrained
in cattle trucks. They were unloaded at a neighbouring village and driven out into the fields, where the soldiers surrounded
them with machine-guns. Car headlamps lit up the scene. The prisoners were put through a long and exhausting series of exercises.
People who brought them food and drink were roughly dispersed. The Germans ended with cruel floggings and the fusillades.
On November 26 and December 5, 1939, local peasants were taken from their homes in the villages of Dominow,
Marianow and Poswiatne, as well as in other villages in the district of Sroda in Poznania, and shut up in a cellar of a municipal
building. Later they were conducted by twos to the German commissar's room, and there, in his presence, they were beaten into
unconsciousness. One of the victims, Mr. Majdrzycki of Dominow, died a few days later. Another man had 3 ribs broken. Mr.
Sobczynski of Marianow was so severely beaten that he had to be carried to a hospital. Another lost an eye. A few days later,
all the Polish peasants of this same village were evicted, being forbidden to take anything, even sufficient personal clothing.
Twenty marks a head was the maximum amount allowed.
Beatings such as these took place in almost every village and town of Poznania and Pomerania.
At a mental asylum in Lubliniec, a Silesian town, the whole staff was brutally ill-treated. Dr. Drzewiecki
was beaten and lost a great deal of blood. The nurses had to endure mock executions. In this same town, all who chanced to
pass by the prison were stopped and beaten outrageously. Some 600 people suffered in this way.
A peasant named John Mikiel was arrested at Stare Tarnowice, in Silesia. He was flogged in his own house
in the presence of his family, then along the road. Afterwards he was sent to Germany, where he died.
Numerous witnesses report that at the railway station they have seen Germans dealing Poles such hard blows
with their fists that they knocked out all their teeth.
At Plock some Germans were seen pummelling a lad of 12, who had been slow in saluting them. The child would
have been killed but for an officer who intervened and ordered them to cease.
Young Polish boys have been inhumanly beaten for neglecting to rip the facings off their high-school uniforms
(the wearing of any Polish school uniforms or badges is strictly forbidden), or for singing or humming Polish patriotic airs.
In the "Government General" the attitude adopted toward the Polish population does not differ from the methods
followed in the "annexed" provinces. If they have changed since the cessation of hostilities, it is only for the worse.
One of our informers, an inhabitant of Poraj, on the border between the Reich and the "Government General,"
has stated that the German customs-house employees are in the habit of arbitrarily jostling people, knocking them down, and
kicking them with their feet, women particularly being the object of such treatment. On one day (January 9, 1940) they turned
all of the passengers out of the train into 35 degrees of frost, and would not allow them to continue their journey, although
they all had tickets and passes. Nor would they let these people go into the heated station waiting-room, but pushed them
back to wait in the cold.
Here is an extract of a report of March, 1940:
"Towards the end of January, 1940, the following incident took place in Warsaw in the flat of a family of
the intellectual class. The daughters, young women of 18 and 19, were spending the evening at home with a few guests.
There was not the slightest suggestion of political character about this party. Suddenly several agents of the Gestapo appeared
at the door. They walked into the drawing-room and proceded to segregate the girls and young men into two groups. After compelling
them to put their idenification cards on the table, they commanded: 'Hands up.'
"One of the agents approached a young girl and queried: Sind sie eine Polin? (Are you Polish?)
She answered 'Yes,' whereupon the agents passed around the room slapping each girl in the face. They kicked and illtreated
the mistress of the house, injuring her so seriously that a doctor had to be called in to bandage her wounds. They tortured
the host until he lost consciousness, and subjected the young men to the most shameful abuses.
"One evening about the same time, Gestapo men burst into the flat of a well-known family, who were entertaining
a small company of friends. They began by striking all the guests, not excepting the women. One of the Poles succeeded in
escaping into the street, and reported the incident to a German officer who happened to be passing. As this officer was a
decent man, he put a stop to the Germans' shameful conduct."
In Warsaw trains, public offices and stations, such scenes of primitive savagery are daily occurences.
A witness related that on entering the courtyard of a large house in Marszalkowska Street, Warsaw, he once
saw a large bloodstain on the ground. He inquired what had happened, and learned that the preceeding day some German police
officers had assembled six young men on that spot, ordered them to undress and lashed them with whips for more than an hour.
When they stopped, the youngsters' flesh was in ribbons and streaming with blood. After the Germans had gone, the tenants
of the building, who had watched this scene from their windows, took care of the lads.
One day persons waiting in a queue at the Polish Bank building in Warsaw, to transact business, saw a German
policeman attack a white-haired old lady who, in his opinion, was not keeping her place in the queue, and brutally pushed
her down the steps. The poor woman felll down, and was injured and bleeding.
Cases have been reported of parishioners on their way home from Sunday services being beaten with cudgels
by the police.
The Germans have developed an extensive system of spying on not only the Poles but also the Germans. For
instance, every house in Lodz has a "house protector," who is a political spy. Similarly "village protectors" have been installed
in all villages.
END OF CHAPTER NINE
Chapter Ten: Prisoners of War
Even during military operations in Poland the Germans treated their prisoners of war inhumanly, despite
the Hague convention of 1907 regarding the rules and usages of warfare, the Geneva convention of 1929 specifically concerning
the treatment of war prisoners, and despite the most solidly established and recognized principles of ordinary law, never
questioned by the Germans themselves.
It has been confirmed by a number of responsible witnesses that the Germans have been known to kill the
Polish soldiers and officers they took prisoner, as well as to put an end to the wounded. In a number of such cases this was
done with an incredible bestiality.
Following are a number of depositions that have been strictly verified:
1) "After the capitulation of the fortress of Modlin, heroically defended until the moment of the surrender
of Warsaw, the Germans in one sector of the front murdered a whole platoon of captured Polish soldiers. They ordered them
to kneel down and raise their arms, then shot them all with machine-guns. Several Polish officers who had been seized, were
also shot in the same way. Others were transported to Zakroczym, where they were placed against a wall and shot."
2) "On September 2 and 3, 1939, between Rybnik and Wadzim, in Silesia, the Germans captured a detachment
of the 12th Infantry Regiment. They took no prisoners, but threw the men to the ground, and drove over their bodies with tanks."
3) "On September 24, 1939, a large convoy of Polish prisoners passed through the town of Naleczow. These
men had no food whatever except that provided by the local population. The Germans kept them running without pause for breath.
Very many soldiers dropped by the roadside from fatigue and hunger. At the end of the column I saw ten of them who had made
a vain attempt to escape. Before and behind them were cars with machine-guns. Some of the men had faces streaming with blood.
Running alongside them was a German non-commissioned officer, who, from time to time, struck them in the face with some kind
of long whip."
4) Excerpt from a report by Captain R. D., of the 76th Infantry Regiment:
"On September 6, 1939, the Germans shot in the fields around the village of Moryca nineteen officers of
the 76th Infantry Regiment who had been made prisoners. The rank and file prisoners were burned alive in the hut of the
railway pointsman at Moryca and in one of the huts at Longinow. It must be stated that the 76th Infantry Regiment fought heroically
and caused especially great losses to a German tank detachment."
Prisoners' Camps in Poland
The conditions of the prisoners of war in Poland were atrocious: forced marches of 25 miles a day, when
the men were exhausted by the campaign and suffering from wounds and fever; nights passed in the rain and mud, hunger - for
they received only a little soup once a day, after standing in line for several hours - such was the normal regime of the
prisoners so long as they remained on Polish territory. After the capitulation of Warsaw, the defenders of the capital were
held eleven days in the fields of Czersk almost without food, exposed to the rain and weather. many died of exhaustion. Another
group met a similar fate near Baniocha.
At Radom, the Germans made an anti-religious demonstration about the beginning of November, 1939, by shutting
up 2,000 Polish prisoners of war in the Church of Our Lady, the largest in the city, and forbidding them to leave on any pretext
whatsoever for 48 hours.
In other localities also the prisoners were shut up in the churches often for several days without food
or being allowed outside to relieve themselves, in order that the churches should suffer desecration.
The situation of the prisoners in the temporary camp at Blonie was pitiable. They were quartered in small
haylofts, barns, cattle-sheds and stables. In one barn there were 170 men, consisting of 40 officers, 70 cadets and 60 non-commissioned
officers. They were forbidden to leave the buildings they occupied. For food they received nothing but bread and "coffee."
For that matter, they were expected to obtain their own food; but the German non-commissioned officers regularly commandeered
the best of what the prisoners were able to obtain and of what was sent to them by the inhabitants of the little town of Blonie.
The German non-commissioned officers were extremely brutal. Particularly distinguished for their cruelty were those who
had been living in Poland, or members of the German minority who had enrolled in the Army of the Reich. The prisoners slept
on straw without covering. All the officers, non-commissioned officers and privates had to do hard labour, filling up trenches,
and sometimes quite useless work. For a while the camp was regularly visited 2 or 3 times a week by German officers; but no
protest whatever to them had the slightest effect.
According to a deposition which has reached us from Lancut (Southern Poland), 5,000 war prisoners were held
in a country house park. A cold rain fell day and night. The men were forced to keep on their feet and were famished.
Their moans were heart-rending. Count Potocki, proprietor of the park, and the inhabitants of the town of Lancut did all in
their power to provide food for this multitude who had not tasted anything for several days. Each morning the bodies
of many who had succumbed to these hardships were removed.
Prisoners were held at various camps near Krakow, namely: Kobierzyn, Debie, and Lobzow. The situation in
all these places was similar to that at Lancut. Dressed in rags, ill and verminous, they had no other aid than that given
by the local inhabitants. They were taken away in trucks and, incredible as it would appear, as many as seventy persons
were jammed into one wagon. Some of the wagons had just been used to haul manure and had not been cleaned. They were pervaded
by a horrible smell which caused the more squeamish to faint.
Polish Prisoners in Germany
According to Hitler's statement the total number of war prisoners captured during hostilities in Poland
reached 694,000, of whom about 30,000 were officers and 664,000 other ranks. Of this number, at least 10,000 died and about
140,000 were released and sent home. The remainder, about 540,000, were finally transferred to Germany. They may be divided
into three categories.
The first category consists of those condemned to agricultural labour. They are under-fed and over-worked.
They are often treated with brutality; but even so, their situation is better than that of the other 2 classes.
The second category consists of those who are employed on public works, such as road, bridge and railway
repairs. They are under an extremely rigorous and sometimes cruel regime. The work is too heavy for physical endurance; the
food is scanty and bad, the daily ration consisting of "coffee" morning and evening, 200 grammes of bread a day, and
watery soup at noon. Blows with the fist or the rifle are frequent occurrences.
The total number of prisoners of war in these two categories was estimated in August, 1940, at 236,000 persons.
They are not regarded as prisoners, but as civilian workmen.
Undoubtedly the third category of those prisoners shut up in camps have suffered the most tragic fate.
They are quartered in 35 camps all over Germany. A large number were retained in the Western areas (there
were approximately 80,000 in Westphalia); but later groups were sent to East Prussia and Pomerania. There are separate camps
for officers (Oflag), and soldiers (Stallag).
Generally speaking the situation of the Polish prisoners of war is far worse than that of the British and
French prisoners, whom the German authorities treat, for tactical reasons, with infinitely more consideration.
Down to December, 1939, the majority of the prisoners were quartered in tents, sheds, coach-houses and often
even under the open sky. During this first period a large number succumbed to pneumonia. There was also an outbreak of tuberculosis.
Later the housing conditions were somewhat improved, although not everywhere.
Especially hard was the lot of the prisoners in the soldiers' camps. In violation of all usages of civilized
warfare, they were deprived of all their belongings which were of any value. Even their blankets were taken from them and,
as a rule, their overcoats and boots. Their feet were wrapped in rags. During the winter of 1939-40 they slept without covering
of any knid in barracks where the cold was particularly penetrating and sharp. Their food, far from being on a par with that
of the German soldiers, consisted essentially of watery soup, with an occasional potato. Insufficient nourishment caused emaciation
or swelling from hunger; and the valueless watery food causes scurvy and illnesses of the stomach, intestines, bladder. Beating
and torturing the prisoners was a regular procedure, as well as "punitive" gymnastics on the slightest pretext. This applies
especially to Stallags Ia, Ib, IIc, VIIIc and XIIIa.
The treatment accorded to the officers is very little better than that of the men. Their conditions are
for the most part equally terrible. They are kept in damp, unhealthy buildings in which terrible overcrowding is the rule.
The officer-prisoners are obliged to sleep on wooden pallets hastily knocked together, rarely on iron beds. The quarters become
more and more cramped as new transports arrive. In some of the buildings, the bunks have to be built in three tiers. In other
camps hundreds of officers have had to remain for months in attics or cellars where their only covering was dirty straw, never
Parcels of food and clothing for the prisoners are limited to 250 grammes; when the parcels are being distributed
the prisoners are exposed to trickery of every conceivable kind, such as the comandeering of liquids, powders and other toilet
articles and frequently of the whole parcel for some senseless reason. The Germans open all cans of preserves and destroy
food and bread in the search for concealed papers. Often they hold back the parcels until the food has gone bad.
Correspondence with the prisoners' families is restricted to the minimum. The sending of money, photographs
or parcels home to the prisoners' family is forbidden.
There is no question of leaving the prisoner "every latitude for the practice of his religion and attendance
at the services of his cult." International conventions bearing upon the conduct of civilized warfare are totally ignored.
In the prayer-books sent from Poland, the patriotic prayers are deleted. In general all manifestations of
Polish patriotism are ruthlessly stamped out.
The officer prisoners of war are subject to incessant affronts, humiliations and beatings. Frequently officers
and soldiers are beaten on the face with whips by the German sentries. This beating is in accordance with the orders of the
German authorities, and expresses the principle that any German soldier in a helmet and on service is the superior of a prisoner,
whether he be a soldier or officer.
The Germans are always insulting the Polish nation in front of the prisoners and spreading false news. In
one camp the rumour was persistently circulated that the war was finished and that all that remained was to determine the
frontiers of the new Poland, which would be a small German protectorate. The prisoners, it was said, would be detained for
the rest of their lives.
When the unhappy men became hopelessly debilitated by their treatment, they are often returned to Poland,
but forced to travel under the most frightful conditions, as was the case during the exceptionally severe winter of 1939-40.
At the beginning of January, 1940, a transport of prisoners of war was sent from East Prussia, where they
had been interned, to Warsaw, as they had been found by the German authorities to be in a state of virtual collapse.
There were 2,000 soldiers in this transport; and 211 were frozen to death before reaching their destination.
As for the others, when the sealed trucks were opened they appeared to have gone mad. They had been thirteen days on the way
instead of the few hours necessary to cover the distance between East Prussia and Warsaw. From 50 to 70 men were crowded into
each cattle truck. When they arrived, they were too weak to take any nourishment. For several days they were not able to digest
anything except a little tea or milk.
The foregoing information has been confirmed by a witness whose integrity is beyond question. These men
looked more like corpses than human beings. Many of them died as soon as they had been unloaded, and some went insane. All
had been so terrorized that it was difficult to induce them to relate their experiences.
Another witness saw a group of "liberated" prisoners arriving at the Warsaw station on February 13 in weather
thirty below zero (celsius) without overcoats, their feet in wooden sabots or rags instead of shoes. They were in a starving
condition and had been travelling ten days in unheated trucks. They declared that the Germans had taken away their coats,
boots and money. People who saw this scene of misery wept. Another transport, unloaded about the middle of January at Warsaw,
had been 4 days and 4 nights on the road under the same conditions. When the train stopped at a wayside station, one of the
prisoners leaned out the window to accept a piece of bread offered to him by a woman. Immediately shots were heard. The poor
fellow was mortally wounded and died on the spot.
Most of these repatriated prisoners, whom the Germans brought back and dumped on the platforms without taking
any further thought for them, were quite torpid. They did not know where they lived, and could not recall their own names.
People at the station offered them coats, blankets and gloves. In their compassion, some of the spectators took charge of
the men and led them to their own homes to give them shelter and food.
The German Vengeance
For some months past Polish Officers and soldiers have been taken one after another from prisoners of war
camps and charged before civil courts with "violence" against the German population during the military operations in September,
1939. These "acts of violence" were acts of self defence resorted to by the Polish troops against German diversionists. The
death sentence is regularly imposed; and thus, against all principles of justice, the Germans ar murdering people who carried
out their duties as soldiers.
German-Soviet Exchange of Prisoners
During the winter of 1939-40 the German and Soviet authorities exchanged prisoners of war, according to
their place of birth or residence. The prisoners arriving in German-occupied territory were transported in very bad conditions.
In the first two transports of Polish soldiers which arrived from territory occupied by the Bolsheviks,
140 men were frozen to death. Most of their companions had frozen hands or feet. An eminent surgeon who was among them, Dr.
L., was in danger of having to lose both his hands by amputation.
Tragic scenes followed the arrival of the second transport. The platform was heaped with frozen corpses.
The prisoners remained in the trucks, feeble and apathetic, in the midst of a deathly silence. In answer to an inquiry whether
they would prefer tea or milk, a voice answered with difficulty, after a long pause: "If you have any pity for us, give us
poison." At length they began to speak of all they had been through. The Bolsheviks had sent them off without warm clothing
in unheated trucks and without anything to eat or drink. But they had hoped there would be an end of this terrible suffering
when they reached their destination.
Their hopes were cruelly deceived. No relief came to their sufferings.
At the frontier station, on the contrary, they witnessed a scene that dissipated all their illusions. Inspection
of the transport revealed that the Russians had sent along four prisoners too many. The soldiers of the Russian convoy refused
to keep the extra men. The Germans refused to receive them, and, as the Russians insisted, the "civilized Germans" shot all
four of them before the eyes of their horrified comrades. The transport continued on its way with no change of conditions.
The dead were thrown out as the train passed on, and the exchanged prisoners arrived in Warsaw in the state described above.
One person was a witness of several transport arrivals. The first day the local population prepared soup,
bread, water and cigarettes. The train stopped a hundred yards or more from the station. The Germans forbade anyone to approach
it. Two little girls succeeded in slipping through to pass a bottle of water to the men. They were caught, arrested and deported,
and their parents have never been able to discover where they are.
The Hague Convention Brutally Violated
The state of things which we have described in the German prison camps endured approximately until August,
1940. From that time on, as the result of Hitler's decree of July 25, 1940, the Polish prisoners began to be "released" from
the camps on a still greater scale than before, in order that they could be exploited as civilian labourers in Germany. This
went on despite the protests of the Polish Red Cross which, acting in accordance with Article 52 of the Geneva Convention,
demanded the repatriation of the prisoners to their country, and considered the conduct of the German authorities to be inconsistent
with the letter and the spirit of the Geneva and Hague Conventions.
Now, out of over a half-million prisoners, there remain about 40,000: the others, deprived of all benefits
and privileges such as those to which prisoners are entitled under the Geneva and Hague Conventions (protection of the Red
Cross of the Protecting Power; the International Red Cross; theoretical equality in regard to food, quarters, treatment and
penalties, with the German soldier; exemption from postage charges for letters, parcels, etc.) lead the lives of colonial
workmen. These people are chained down to their place of work, scattered over the country and deprived of all protection and
supervision, exploited, maltreated and employed on work which is inconsistent with the Hague regulations, such as work of
military importance in badly bombed regions (for example in Hamburg and Wilhelmshafen) or work that is especially dangerous.
Added to this is the attitude of the German community, which, systematically encouraged by the official
propaganda, cultivates hatred of the prisoners. Any sign of generosity or friendliness towards them is severely punished.
Kindness Towards Polish Prisoners Severely Punished
On this subject, paragraphs and articles in the National-Socialist press speak for themselves. But certain
incidents are worthy of mention as serving to illustrate the attitude toward Polish prisoners, as revealed in German acts
We shall begin by quoting the German appeal to the National Socialist Party in the district of Salzburg,
published in the daily Salzburger Volksblatt, No.33, of February 8, 1940, under the heading: Against the Mildness
Shown Towards Polish Prisoner.
This appeal calls upon all members of the Party to abstain from any relations with Polish prisoners, and
to show them no consideration whatsoever.
"Our national dignity," the appeal declares, "forbids us all intercourse with Polish prisoners, such,
for instance, as that recently carried on with some of those engaged in cleaning the streets of the city, when cigarettes
were offered them. This is a misplaced charity, which, if persisted in, must create difficulties for the soldiers on guard,
whose task in any case, is not an easy one. If this present warning is not heeded, the delinquents are sure to be punished."
Almost simultaneously with this appeal, an order was published to the effect that all contact between the
civil population (even workmen and mechanics in buildings where prisoners were housed) and Polish prisoners of war would
be prohibited by law. No exception would be made in the case of small kindnesses such as offering cigarettes to prisoners
or expressing sympathy for them.
One German publication printed a series of articles discussing the severe punishment of persons who had
violated this order. Here are several examples of such punishments:
1) Der Neue Tag, February 12, 1940. No. 42:
"A special court at Allenstein has condemned to 4 years' hard labour a German who entered into relations
with 5 Polish prisoners, played cards with them, gave them cigarettes and alcohol and translated the news from foreign broadcasts."
2) Munchener Neueste Nachrichten, February 20, 1940. No. 51:
"The court at Halberstadt has condemned a man 49 years of age to a month's imprisonment for offering a box
of cigarettes to a Polish prisoner.
"At Papsdorf a 50 year-old man has been sentenced to 4 months' imprisonment for enebling a prisoner
to correspond with his family.
"A man from Wolmirsleben, aged 39 years, has been sentenced to the same penalty for giving a pullover
and a cake to a Polish prisoner, and permitting him to speak Polish with his wife."
3) The Berliner Lokalanzeiger printed the information that in German Pomerania, the Court
had sentenced a 20 year-old German farm-hand named Karl Lossin to nine months' imprisonment for helping a Polish prisoner
of war employed as a labourer on the estate.
"Twice Lossin had given to this Polish prisoner civilian clothes so that they might go together on an excursion
to Rostock," states the Lokalanzeiger. "The first time they went to see a film, Lossin of course paying for the tickets
and the railway fare out of his own pocket. On the second excursion to Rostock, Lossin took the Pole to a dance hall after
the picture show. After the verdict was pronounced, Lossin was at once taken from the court-room to the prison."
4) The Essener National-Zeitung, Marshal Goering's organ, announced that at the town of Halberstadt,
in the Harz Mountains, a certain German was called to Court to account for "having given a packet of cigarettes to a Polish
prisoner of war occupied in loading a truck." He was given a month's imprisonment. Another German from the same town was sentenced
to 4 months for "giving a prisoner a sweater and some cakes" (in the winter).
5) An Austrian paper printed the news that "At Linz a young local girl, aged 19 years, was sentenced to
two and a half years' imprisonment for taking food to a Polish prisoner."
6) The Neue Zurcher Zeitung of March 3, 1940, reprinted from the Schlesisches Tageblatt
information concerning two Germans who were given sentences for talking to Polish prisoners and giving them cigarettes.
7) The Mindener Tageblatt of March 20,1940, reported the following case:
"Nine months' imprisonment for Mrs. Sophie Br. from Prussian Bornecke, aged 37, of Polish origin, married
to a German now mobilized, for receiving Polish prisoners in her home and giving them food, so reducing the food allowance
of her 5 children."
8) According to the Munsterischer Anzeiger, of March 26, 1940, several Germans suffered severe
punishment for offering cigarettes, cakes, etc., or speaking to Polish prisoners.
9) The National Socialist paper Der Tag, printed in Prague, stated that a certain agriculturalist
near Naumburg, in Central Germany, was arrested for having treated a Polish prisoner humanely. The indignant paper declared
that "the prisoner ate together with the farmer's family, and that relations between them were altogether too friendly." The
farmer's explanations were not accepted, and in consequence he was immediately imprisoned.
In Dresden, stated Der Tag, the Chief of Police forbade a Polish farmhand entrance to any public
10) The Litzmannstadter Zeitung stated that Jan Komorowski, aged 19, of Tammau (East Prussia),
was sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment for becoming friendly with a Polish prisoner of war and sending him letters.
11) The Allensteiner Zeitung announced that the Court in Koenigsberg had passed a sentence of 6
months' imprisonment upon a German charged with offering cigarettes to a Polish prisoner of war.
One of the best examples of the spirit of National Socialist Germany is provided by the treatment meted
out to a number of German women who were found guilty of maintaining relations - quite possibly completely innocent - with
prisoners of war.
"... A profound impression has been created by the methods of the Kreisleiter of the Nazi Party
in the district of Gifhorn, in dealing with a woman who had maintained relations with a prisoner of war. The bulletin of the
district organization states that the Kreisleiter wishes to draw attention to the attitude that party members should
maintain during all contact with the prisoners. In this connection it has been forced to take energetic steps against a German
woman, Mrs. Widenroth, who was unmindful of the conduct befitting a German woman. As was announced, he himself cut off the
hair of Mrs. Widenroth, who, in addition to this, will suffer exemplary punishment to be administered by the competent authorities.
Several women have been sentenced to such exemplary punishment, including a young girl of 22 from Heydekrug (East Prussia),
condemned to 6 years' imprisonment; and a young woman of 25 from Tilsit, who received a sentence of 5 years." (Report of February
The Allensteiner Zeitung announced that on September 22, 1940, a special tribunal at Allenstein
condemned Anna Burchaert, a German woman, to 3 years in prison for relations with a Polish prisoner of war.
Yet another example: Acording to Danziger Vorposten, on December 6, 1940, two German girls with
shaved heads, and bearing sign-boards announcing their disgrace, were conducted through the streets of the city of Preussisch
Eylau. Both of these girls were suspected of having maintained relations with Polish prisoners.
Because they were too friendly with Polish prisoners working on their farm, 5 Germans have received prison
sentences, announced the Nazi paper, Der Angriff. One of the women was sentenced to 18 months, for "permitting
a prisoner to embrace her and kiss her and for responding to these caresses."
The Braunschweiger Neuete Nachrichten of January 13, 1941, announced that 3 German women from
a village near Magdeburg had been sentenced to from 15 to 18 months' imprisonment for showing generosity toward Polish prisoners.
These women gave the prisoners cigarettes and food and even, according to the charge, drank beer from the same bottle with
them. In delivering sentence the Judge declared, states the German daily, that "these women shamefully and boldly treated
Polish prisoners as they would have treated their own fellow-countrymen (deutsche Volksgenossen)."
The Westfalische Landeszeitung printed a paragraph reporting a similar verdict. According to this
newspaper, two German women were sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for cultivating the acquaintance of Polish prisoners
and giving them cigarettes, eggs and beer.
The Volkischer Beobachter of May 16, 1941, writes:
"It sounds incredible: but unfortunately there are still Germans who feel friendly towards the Poles.
"Last Christmas the Nazi leader at Uberlingen, in Baden, discovered that with her mother's approval a girl
of 22 had decorated a Christmas tree for a Polish prisoner of war at her parents' farm.
"This utter shamelessness has now been punished with a sentence of thirty months' hard labour for the daughter
and 18 months' for the mother.
Finally attention must be drawn to the fact that in the prison camps, a notice is posted up stating that
intercourse between a prisoner and a German woman is punishable by death for the prisoner and several years' imprisonment
for the woman.
END OF CHAPTER TEN
|Plate 20: An Object Lesson
|Two Poles, first shot, then hanged in view of passers by.
Chapter V: Hostages
This barbarous institution, repudiated by all the highest authorities on international law, has not disappeared
in practice. The Germans took hostages by the thousands, not only at the time of the invasion, but long after the end of the
armed struggle, during the occupation.
As a rule, the hostages chosen are outstanding members of the population of a given city or village: priests,
professors, doctors, lawyers, leaders of economic and social organizations or of trade unions. Often, however, they are chosen
at random: merchants, artisans, workmen, peasants.
The treatment of hostages varies from one locality to another. In Poznan, for instance, it was relatively
correct. In other cities, and above all in the villages, it was often disgusting. In certain places hostages were allowed
their liberty, but were not permitted to go beyond the city, but had to be always at the disposal of the German authorities.
In others, they were kept in cellars on straw and fed on prison and concentration camp food.
At Warsaw, hostages are taken prior to every event of some importance, such as the arrival of prominent
military or civil personage.
More recently the Germans have been indulging in this practice for the purpose of ensuring order in the
rural areas and to prevent demonstrations and sabotage against the troops and the German administration.
In the "incorporated" provinces, hundreds of hostages met death under conditions which testify to the
German attempts to exterminate the Polish nation. Here it was no longer a case of the executions of hostages, but of criminal
We have written elsewhere of the monstrous massacre of more than 300 hostages, chosen from among the Polish population
of Gdynia. Similar murders took place in many other localities, often without the least pretext.
However, the hostages are not necessarily chosen from among the population and held under lock and key.
As is evident from the facts cited above, the Germans treat the entire Polish population as hostages. A bandit has only to
kill or wound a German somewhere for the incident to be taken as an excuse for the massacre, by way of requital, of a hundred
or more innocent people. Such is the principal of "collective responsibility," applied in Wawer, Bochnia, Skarzysko and so
many other places - one of the most terible devices of the National-Socialist "culture."
The document quoted below is a notice published by order of the local German authorities, by the Mayor of
Kroscienko on the Dunajec, a village situated in the Carpathians, Krakow province.
This document is in two sections, the translation being as follows:
"The Mayor of Kroscienko on the Dunajec.
"By a decree of February 23, 1940, the Kreishauptmann (Prefect) of Nowy Targ has ordered this Mayoralty
to prepare a list of "hostages," who will be responsible for order and public security within the area of the mayoralty
"This responsibility shall be especially exercised to prevent all acts of sabotage such as the destruction
of telephone communications, bridges, etc. In the event of subversive action, if the culprit is not found those persons whose
names are posted on this list must answer before the law. The penalty for an act of sabotage is imprisonment or death.
"The 'lists of hostages' are to be prepared every two weeks, being valid for 14 days, names to be taken
alphabetically (according to streets and rural habitations).
"The persons whose names are posted on the 'list of hostages' will be informed immediately, and the list
itself will be posted by the authorities of the Mayoralty for public information.
"The 'hostages' are charged with seeing that no act of sabotage is committed in this community.
"In publishing this notice, the Mayoralty appeals to all the inhabitants of the community of Kroscienko
with the request that in the case of any subversive activity, they shall make every effort to apprehend the culprits
and deliver them to the police. It is in the interest of the population, and especially to the interest of the 'hostages,'
to keep watch over the public security and to prevent any subversive activity.
"Kroscienko on the Dunajec.
"Mayor: JOZEF BIEL."
"The Mayor of the Community of Kroscienko on the Dunajec.
Kroscienko, March 6, 1940
"Giving effect to the decree of the Kreishauptmann (Prefect) of Nowy Targ dated February 23, 1940,
the Mayoralty of Kroscienko publishes for public information the list of 'hostages' charged with watching over the public
security and preventing and sabotage activity in the Community of Kroscienko, from March 7, 1940, to 8 o'clock on the morning
of March 21, 1940.
"(1) Koterba Jozef, Zdrojowa 36
"(2) Koterba Jan, Kozleczyna 327
"(3) Koczur Jozef, Piekielko 314
"(4) Mikolajczyk Stanislaw, Lakcica 229
"(5) Komorek Antoni, Jagiellonska 195
"(6) Orkisz Stanislaw, Jagiellonska 208
"(7) Tokarczyk Jan, Jagiellonska 326
"(8) Pelczak Mikolaj, Kozleczyna 238
"(9) Szkarlat Karol, Jagiellonska 309
"(10) Wojcik Ludwik, Zdrojowa 179
(Seal of the Mayor)
(-) JOZEF BIEL."
There are many such documents of German terror.
END OF CHAPTER FIVE
Chapter Six: Roundups, Mass Arrests and House Searches
An almost daily experience in the life of the Polish population under the German occupation are the roundups,
organized by the "Gestapo" in the streets, in public places and even in homes. During these roundups, often hundreds and thousands
of people are arrested and later sent either to prisons or concentration camps or else compelled to do forced labour.
The method of conducting these roundups is usually as follows. Without warning, the entrances to several
streets or even to a whole city district are closed by a police patrol. Then all the Poles found in the enclosed area, often
including women, are seized and loaded into lorries. Frequently all the restaurants, cafes and shops are also searched and
everybody in them arrested.
In the "incorporated" territories, veritable manhunts are thus organized of young Polish men and women.
Anyone who cannot produce a certificate stating that he is Volksdeutsch is arrested on the spot. The youngsters are
forcibly transported to Germany without even being given an opportunity to say goodbye to their families or even to notify
them of their departure.
Lorries have been known to stop before long lines of persons, mainly women, waiting outside food shops,
in order to round them up and carry them off to Germany as field labourers.
Numerous cases of house raids are also reported. Lorries stop outside a house at night. The inhabitants
are ordered to dress themselves and to take with them only the most indispensable articles. Often they are even deprived of
all their money. They are then taken to barracks and held there for some time under the most primitive conditions, before
being sent off to an unknown destination.
Families are thus broken up ruthlessly, children are separated from their parents, husbands from their wives.
Occurrences of this sort have been most common in Poznan, Bydgoszcz, Kalisz and other cities of Poznania
and Pomerania, although they have also been numerous in the other "incorporated" areas, and also in the "Government General."
In Poznan, yet another kind of raid has been practised. Restaurants and cafes are surrounded by the police
and a detachment is sent in to seize all the Polish women present, who are torn from their companions. The wives of doctors,
lawyers, professors and officers are arrested, taken to barracks, and forced to scrub floors, dig potatoes, or wash for the
Similar incidents have taken place in other cities of Western Poland; although to-day they are less frequent
as all the Polish intellectual class has been deported from the cities of Poznania, Pomerania and Silesia to the "Government
General," or into Germany. Moreover, Poles have been forbidden entrance to nearly all the restaurants and cafes in the "incorporated"
Manhunts are also organized in the villages of the "incorporated" area as well as in those of the "Government
General," and tens and hundreds of thousands have been sent to forced labour in consequence.
In the larger cities, these raids often have other objects.
The following is a report, dated September 1940, of raids organized in the streets of Warsaw:
"The street roundups of the population were thought at first to have been organized, as they were in the
villages, to get forced labour for the Reich, as only very few people had volunteered for work. However, it turned out that
usually people seized in the streets and cafes were sent to concentration camps. As they were principally from intellectual
circles and of ages varying from 16 to 50, it became clear that the object was the destruction of the Polish intellectual
"The seizure of people in the cafes began as early as the winter of 1939-40; it was applied to both
men and women, more or less at random. Then street roundups began, usually affecting whole districts. Lately such a seizure
took place all over Warsaw all at once. It occurred on Monday, August 12, and began at 9:30 o'clock in the morning, finishing
at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. All the streets were closed at the same time by the Gestapo, the military police and the Selbstschutz
(formed from the local Volksdeutsche). The trams were held up, and all the Polish men passengers told to alight
(Jews were not arrested). The police entered all the shops, cafes, hairdressers, etc., and ordered the men out into the streets.
Every one who attempted to escape or resist was shot. Nearly a score of people were thus killed.
"The men thus captured were taken to 10 or 20 different assembly points in the city: to the Old Station
Square in Chmielna Street, to the old Bloch barracks in Powisle, to the parks, to Mysliwiecka Street, to former barracks and
so on. A number, who possessed employment cards, were freed. The rest, numbering probably over 10,000 persons, were sent away
from Warsaw that same day; and it is supposed that they were transported eastward to work on fortifications.
"After one of the raids, a group of persons from the families of arrested men were waiting in the Gestapo
building at Aleja Szucha in an effort to ascertain the fate of their relations and to secure their release, when they were
themselves arrested. One of the Poles was smoking a cigarette. Without any previous warning or objection, one of the Gestapo
men went up to him and struck him in the face with his fist so hard that the man fell to the floor. After 2 hours, some of
the group, including the women, were freed. The majority of the men were taken off to prison.
"A similar roundup to that of August 12 took place a month later, on September 19, 1940. The police and
soldiers surrounded an entire district of the city, not only seizing the people in the streets, but also searching the houses
from cellar to attic. The greater part of those arrested were sent to forced labour in the quarries of Mauthausen in
Austria, and others to the concentration camp in Oswiecim."
There were great roundups at Lublin also. In the spring of 1940, on Corpus Christi day the Gestapo
surrounded all the churches and arrested people as they came out. Some 5,000 people were carried off on this occasion, half
of them were taken the next day for work in Germany. A second great roundup occurred in the autumn of 1940; this time
a large number of girls were arrested and also carried off "for work" in Germany. Nothing has been heard of them since.
Mass arrests affected the Suwalki region.
On April 7, 1940, there were arrested in Suwalki and the surrounding villages as many as 600 people, principally
persons of education, including many women. After being held in prison for a time, as is said, all were sent to camps.
The treatment accorded them was brutal.
On April 19 and 20, while Hitler's birthday was being celebrated. again more mass arrests ensued, which
embraced about 400 persons in Suwalki and nearly 1,000 in the district, this time only men. On April 21 the police and S.S.
surrounded the church and after the mass took all the men. From that time, nothing has been heard from any of these persons,
and it is not known where they were sent.
In this way the Germans stripped the region of Suwalki (united now to East Prussia) entirely of the educated
The Lithuanian population living in this area are being persecuted just as much as the Poles. Many of the
Lithuanian schools have been closed, and many leading members of the Lithuanina community have been sent to concentration
camps. So reported the Lithuanian daily newspaper, Amzius.
At Rogozno in Poznania, several persons died as the result of wounds inflicted during night roundups.
Polish Youth and Children Hunted by Germans
Special roundups of village youths are organized with the object of taking them for work in Germany. In
the fear of arrest the young men do not sleep in their houses but hide themselves in the corn stored in the barns. The Germans
have various ways of catching them, even so. In one case, the S.S. guards threw hand grenades among the corn; in another village
they burned down the granaries in their search.
In many localities of the "incorporated" territories, manhunts have been instituted for boys of school age,
in order to send them to Germany for forced labour.
Nor is this all. Thousands of children from 7 to 14 years of age have been sent to the Reich from Lodz,
Ozorkow, Sieradz, Kalisz and other places. The fate of these children is unknown.
Particularly infamous are the roundups of young Polish women and girls, who are sent to brothels for German
soldiers. Depositions covering this type of German activity will be found in the chapter discussing the Germans' treatment
of Polish women.
Families are separated, children carried away.
Personal liberty, family life, honour, all the rights guaranteed as inviolate, together with those of private
property, by the laws and usages of war, count for nothing in the war waged by Germany.
Numerous house searches have been carried out by the military authorities, and, still worse, by the civil
Schutzpolizei or the Gestapo. Many objects have a way of disappearing during these searches: jewels, watches, silver,
things of value or simply trifles that happen to please an agent, especially when the Gestapo agents are in charge.
It was common for Poles to be deprived of these articles of value, without being given any official receipt
in exchange, in other words, to have them stolen. This happened in innumerable instances all over that part of Poland occupied
by the Germans.
Frequently when it is a case of requisitioning supplies and commodities, the searches are conducted systematically,
section by section, street by street. One flat after another is robbed of counterpanes, linen, warm clothing and furs. On
such occasions valuable objects disappear in large quantities.
A report from Warsaw in the autumn of 1940 states that not a house search took place in which there was
not something precious lost - a watch or some table silver at least.
If anyone dared to complain to the higher authorities of a theft during a house search, he invariably received
the venomous reply: "Do you suggest that the German Army (or police) are guilty of stealing?" If the person dared to
say yes he was arrested and charged with "insulting" the German Army or the German authorities and was sentenced to a
long term of imprisonment.
It should be added that the behaviour of the Gestapo men and military police while conducting the house
searches is incredibly brutal. They take every opportunity of striking and cursing at the people whose homes and flats they
END OF CHAPTER SIX
Chapter Seven: Of What Else Are The Poles Accused Of
Poles are condemned to years of imprisonment on the slightest excuse.
Both in the "incorporated" area and in the "Government General," the Poles have no right to possess their
own wireless sets, or to listen to wireless broadcasts. The Germans and Ukrainians are allowed to own sets, but they are forbidden
to listen to any stations except those of Germany. Listening to a foreign broadcast - as everywhere in the German Reich -
involves a prison sentence (even death).
The severity of this punishment, however, is nothing compared with that imposed on the Poles.
Here are a few examples quoted from the German press:
The Ostdeutscher Boebachter of January 17, 1941, had the report that for listening to Polish wireless
broadcasts from London, the following Poles were sentenced in Poznan to penalties of from one to five years' penal servitude:
Jan Chlebowski, aged 56, his wife Weronika, aged 49, their son Zygmunt, aged 19, and Maria Bryza, aged 25, all from Nowy Tomysl.
Commenting upon these sentences, the Ostdeutscher Beobachter went on to state that the Poles frequently commit
such "crimes" which must be severely punished.
The Ostdeutscher Beobachter of April 18, 1941, reports that the Special Court at Poznan has condemned
nine Poles to 9 years' penal servitute for listening to enemy broadcasts.
The Ostdeutscher Boebachter of July 3, 1941, states that a Special Court at Poznan sentenced Jan
Rybarczyk of Wolsztyn, aged 21, Izabella Simon of Mielec, aged 20, and Brunon Kernchen of Wolsztyn, aged 35, to hard labour
for possessing a wireless set, listening in to Polish broadcasts from Toulouse and London, and in particular to General Sikorski's
speech, which Rybarczyk wrote down and sent in a letter to his family in the "Government General." This letter was intercepted,
so bringing the affair to light. Rybarczyk was given 6 years nine months, Simon 6 years, and Kernchen one year.
Listening to the BBC broadcasts from London involves sometimes the death penalty.
The Danziger Vorposten of February 22, 1941, states that the Grudziadz Court delivered a death
sentence to Pelagia Bernatowicz for listening to a Polish broadcast from London and sentences of 10, 8 and 3 years of hard
labour in prison to Franciszek Obremski, Helena Melerska, and a married couple, Anna and Jan Mowinski, respectively, for the
The Litzmannstadter Zeitung of April 27, 1940, reports that the Special Court at Lodz sentenced
a Polish grocer to six years' penal servitude for spreading enemy news. Since February 1940 he had received multigraphed sheets
with news from England several times a week. He explained the contents to his customers, and passed the sheets round to his
neighbours and friends.
The Ostdeutscher Boebachter of July 4, 1941 states that the Special Court at Poznan has sentenced
3 Poles to 7 years' penal servitude each, for organized listening to enemy radio broadcasts and for distributing enemy news.
For 6 months they had listened to Polish broadcasts from France and London by a hidden radio receiver. They had taken down
the text and distributed copies.
At Kalisz, the German Court sentenced Antonina Ryng and her daughter, Jozefa Stuparek, to 9 months' imprisonment.
Mrs. Antonina Ryng had sent her daughter, who was working in Germany, letters containing news broadcasts from London.
Even the singing of the Polish National Anthem involves a sentence of penal servitude.
Jozef Gruchot, of Krotoszyn, was sentenced by a German Court to 8 months' imprisonment for singing the Polish
National Anthem on the Polish National Day, the 3rd of May, 1940.
The Litzmannstadter Zeitung of January 12, 1941, reported that a workman, Stanislaw Glapa, accused
of singing the Polish National Hymn in public, had been sentenced to two years' imprisonment at Kalisz.
An earlier issue of this newspaper - on January 9, 1941, reported that Zygmunt Gralewski, aged 18, had received
nine months of imprisonment at Lodz for singing the Polish National Anthem in September, 1940. For the same "offence" Czeslaw
Jasinski, a workman from Kutno, is also serving a prison term.
Cases are known when people were sentenced to death for the singing of the Polish Anthem. The Ostdeutscher
Beobachter informs on March 14, 1941, that 2 Poles: Edward Lembicz, aged 36, a saddler, and Jan Mikolajczyk, aged 25,
a carter, were sentenced to death. They were singing openly on January 12, 1941, the Polish Anthem in a restaurant in Poznan,
and had beaten the proprietor of the restaurant who tried to prevent them singing.
The Ostdeutscher Beobachter of April 22, 1941, reports that the Special Court at Poznan has sentenced
a Pole to death for singing the Polish National Anthem in February 1940.
A girl student, aged 17, is serving a prison term in Czestochowa. She was arrested when, during a housing
search, a card found among her things bearing the text of the Polish national hymn in which the line "March, march, Dabrowski"
referring to a Polish General in Napoleon's Army, was changed to read: "March, march, Sikorski."
In its issue of November 26, 1940, the Litzmannstadter Zeitung printed an announcement that the
Court at Kalisz had sent a shopkeeper, Jozef Lipka, to prison for 2 years for predicting a German defeat and stating that
in his opinion the Germans would leave Kalisz as quickly as they had occupied it. Jozef Tomczyk, another workman, had been
sentenced to 18 months for predicting a German defeat. In Grudziadz Wladyslaw Lewandowski was sentenced to 18 months for "manifesting
anti-German sentiment." The last two cases were both described in Litzmannstadter Zeitung of January 12, 1941.
A former Polish officer named Andrysiak was condemned in Poznan to serve a term of 5 years for expressing
doubts of a German victory. In the same city, Ignacy Weinert was apprehended and given a sentence of one year for predicting
in a restaurant a revolution in Germany and a victory for Great Britain.
The Ostdeutscher Beobachter of June 17, 1941 reports that the Special Court at Inowroclaw has sentenced
a Polish agricultural labourer Jozef Robik, to 4 years' imprisonment for having said that the English would drive the Germans
out of Poland.
According to information of the German press of May 1941 two Poznan Poles named Kunziel and Pikula have
been sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment for not stepping off the pavement to let Volksdeutsche pass.
We are indebted to the Thorner Freiheit, of August 26, 1940, for the information that the Special Court at
Bydgoszcz sentenced Wanda Golebiowska, a Polish woman, to 10 months' imprisonment on the charge of writing in her letters
about German atrocities.
Heavy penalties are also imposed for smuggling food into the Jewish ghettos in the cities. A number of sentences
on Poles and Jews have been passed for this "offense." To quote again the Litzmannstadter Zeitung, two Poles, Stefan
Parzykat and Stefan Kaczmarek, were sentenced to 12 and 7 months' hard labour respectively for supplying food to the
ghetto. The Ostdeutscher Beobachter mentioned that Lejb Konenberg, a Jew, had been condemned to 4 years' imprisonment
at Lodz for the same offence.
The Special Court at Wloclawek condemned two Poles to 3 years' imprisonment because they slaughtered a hog
and a calf in order to sell the meat to the Polish population of the district.
According to the Krakauer Zeitung, Tomasz Bejk, a Polish peasant at Chechla, was sentenced to death
because he stubbornly resisted a German policeman, who came to his cattleyard to requisition a cow.
The Litzmannstadter Zeitung of December 29, 1940 is responsible for stating that a farmer, Wladyslaw
Olewski from Janow had been condemned to death for setting fire to his farm, burning it down together with all its equipment,
in order that his property should not fall into the hands of the Germans. His son, Jan Olewski, was sentenced to 4 months'
imprisonment for not denouncing his father.
The Breslauer Neueste Nachrichten, of April 30, 1941, announces that the Special Court at Breslau
sentenced a Polish farm labourer to 12 years' imprisonment for setting fire to a barn belonging to his German employer.
On August 18, 1940, a 16 year-old Polish lad was arrested at Bydgoszcz for giving a British prisoner a cigarette.
On August 28 he was transferred to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg.
The Danziger Vorposten of June 13, 1941, reports that the People's Court condemned a Polish hospital
nurse, Valeria Marzejewska, from Chelmno, to 12 years' penal servitude for keeping in touch with British prisoners of war
from the Chelmno Arbeitskommando, discussing plans of escape with them, providing them with clothes, food, etc. and
helping one of them to escape. She was only spared the death penalty because the prisoner was recaptured.
Analytical Table of German Judicial Sentences
In the fore-going instances we have given only certain examples of German sentences. To supplement this
picture of German justice we give below a comparative table based on the court sentences announced in the German newspapers
from September 1st, 1940 to May 1st 1941).
Number of Number of Aggregate
Death Prison Length of
Sentences Sentences Prison
108 18 88
126 8 38
Listening to British
passing on the news 1
58 184 yrs
17 31 yrs
Insulting remarks about
Hitler and the
- 16 37
Publicly singing the
Polish National Anthem 3 6
Supplying the Ghetto
with food and coal 1 31 81
Maintaining contacts with
sentenced to death -
2 7 yrs
Helping Polish officers to
escape from a
The above table is of course very incomplete, for it contains only a small number of cases reported in available
German newspapers. But it does give a certain picture of the nature of the crimes with which Poles were charged, and the sentences
END OF CHAPTER SEVEN
Chapter Eight: The Treatment of Women
The German fury affected Polish women in innumerable ways. In many cases, women were forced at the point
of a revolver to write to their husbands abroad, asking them to return at once to Poland, and on complying with the expressed
wishes of their wives, the men found themselves in German hands. Families were often separated, the mothers being sent to
forced labour in Germany, the children left to fend for themselves, or even worse, they, too, were sometimes sent to unknown
destinations in Germany. This new form of slavery, as the result of which nearly one million Poles, men and women, were placed
at the disposition of the Reich, will be dealt with in detail in another chapter. From Gdynia alone 1,800 women were sent
to Germany. In this case it was officers' wives who were selected.
Women were compelled to work in humiliating conditions. Again and again numbers of them were seized in restaurants,
cafes and especially outside the shops where they were waiting in line to buy food, or in the streets and in their own flats
and sent to clean the barracks, to scrub floors and clean out the toilets. We have the testimony of a Warsaw doctor of January,
1940, that German soldiers once arrested some High School girls in the streets and set them to work washing the stairs
of the barracks with their own underclothes, which they had to take off on the spot.
Because she rejected the objectionable advances of a certain German officer, the wife of a local Polish
barrister at Inowroclaw (Pomerania) was compelled to clean the latrines.
Another report of March, 1940, states:
"Some time ago a very beautiful woman, married a few months before the war, was executed in Krakow for the
'crime' of refusing to talk and dance with a German officer in a restaurant."
Violated by Germans
Yet the most monstrous crime committed by the Germans on Polish women is the wholesale arrest of young Polish
girls and women to be violated by Germans.
During the war operations and the early months of the occupation, there were numerous cases of women being
raped by German soldiers - cases which will remain forever unpunished. The German soldiers themselves have told witnesses,
known to us, of incidents in which women were imprisoned, violated, and finally assassinated with a sadism that horrified
even those who told of these crimes.
To quote another report:
"On October 1, 1939, two women and two children (boys aged 6 months and three and a half years) were returning
in a peasant cart from the Province of Lublin to Warsaw. Night had fallen. On the Ryki-Garwolin highway a German soldier emerged
from the bushes and held up the cart. Ordering the women to show their hands, he pulled their wedding rings off their fingers.
Then he went off, but after he had gone a little way, he came back and at the point of a revolver, compelled one of the women
to alight, dragged her into the wood and violated her, threatening her the while with his revolver. This done, he sent her
back to the cart. She was the wife of a well-known citizen of Warsaw."
Moreover there are other reliable reports which indicate an incredible bestiality among German troops. Towards
the beginning of November, 1939, some German soldiers searching a house in the village of Szymanow, near Warsaw, one after
another raped an aged woman of 80 living in the house. When she called for help, she was beaten bestially.
Gradually it was revealed that these filthy attacks on Polish women are not isolated incidents, but that
they are the result of the coldly methodical policy of the Reich authorities.
At first only very general information was received from Poland regarding the rape of young women, who had
been sent by the German authorities to brothels for the use of German soldiers, and especially to those on the Western front.
From the Spring of 1940, however, more detailed reports began to come in, and gradually a complete picture was built up of
this type of German crime. These wanton excesses were condemned in both the reports made to Pope Pius XII by the Polish Primate,
His Eminence, Cardinal Hlond, important excerpts from which are cited below:
(1) In the "Final Remarks" of his first report (January 1940), in the course of describing the barbarous
deportation of the Polish population from the city of Poznan by the German authorities, the Cardinal states:
"Young girls of attractive physique are forced to go to Berlin, to the despair of their families - despair
that is not difficult to understand."
(2) A deposition dated March 3, 1940, enclosed with Cardinal Hlond's second report:
Women aged from 18
to 24 are secretly taken away and sent to Germany. These unhappy girls are abducted without warning. I travelled with a gentleman
who is a doctor in ... He was unconsolable, in utter despair, for his 2 daughters had been abducted in this way. A car had
stopped one night before his villa; the police had entered the house and led away the 2 young girls. The poor father had never
seen them again!"
(3) Excerpt from "Final Observations" in Cardinal Hlond's second report:
"Polish families are brutally destroyed. Poles are not permitted to contract marriages. The bastard children,
fruits of the violence practised by the corrupt Nazis upon unhappy Polish girls, will suffice for slaves. All this is
done with utter cynicism, as if it were the natural right of the conqueror."
(4) Quotation from a report dated March, 1940:
The persecutions inflicted upon the Polish people are growing increasingly cruel. For example, at Poznan
several girls between the ages of 16 and 25 were arrested and sent to the brothels on the Western front of Germany."
(5) Report received on March 28, 1940:
"On March 10 the Germans organized in Warsaw a wholesale and official abduction of young girls from the
Solec district and the streets of the suburb of Czerniakow. Eighty of them were arrested in and outside their houses, and
sent to the Hospital of Saint Lazare, where they were examined by German military doctors. The father of one of these
victims, belonging to an intellectual circle, succeeded in finding his daughter and rescuing her from the hands of German
authorities. All the others disappeared.
"The official abductions led to other abuses. In Warsaw, military patrols began to kidnap girls on their
own account. We have been notified of 3 acts of this kind, executed by the 228th Infantry (once) and by the 7th Anti-Aircraft
Artillery (twice). The first took place near the banks of the Vistula (Powisle), the second in the district of Mokotow.
The girls were taken to the quarters occupied by the troops in question, where each of them was violated several times.
The victims had been chosen from girls of the working class, in the hope, no doubt, that their families would not dare to
protest to the higher military authorities.
"The recruiting of these girls and young women for brothels went on also on the pretext of sending them
to Germany for forced labour. On arrival at the points of assembly for forced labour in Germany, the young women of agreeable
physique were segregated from the others, examined by medical specialists and sent to Germany under separate escort. According
to the depositions of 2 Krakow medical men, there are now 8 young girls under treatment in the dermatological department of
the Municipal Hospital there. After passing a month in one of the houses mentioned, established in Germany for the troops,
these poor creatures were returned to Poland to be cared for.
"The Germans announced at the beginning of March, 1940, through the press and by means of posters, that
all women between the ages of 18 and 45 would be liable for compulsory service. The female population is registered for such
a purpose. Panic exists among the younger women in Poland in consequence of the news confirming the removal to the places
mentioned of girls who were said to be intended for forced agricultural labour in the Reich. They no longer venture to
leave their homes except in cases of absolute necessity, and then only in broad daylight."
(6) Report of M.C., who arrived in Paris on April 14, 1940:
"A young girl belonging to a secret organization, of which M.C. was also a member, was arrested in
a Warsaw street and conducted to a house in ... Street. There, after a hairdresser and a manicurist had attended her, she
was made to walk, completely undressed, out into the corridor, where she was shown the door of a room she was expected to
enter. Noticing a soldier's cape hanging in the hall, she threw it around herself and succeeded in escaping."
(7) Extract from a periodical report on the situation in Poland, dated April 16, 1940:
"Our informant advises us of an incident, for which she can vouch, as it took place in the family of friends
of hers. On March 22 the Germans arrested a young girl in Mokotowska Street and took her to a house where she found 50 other
young women being bathed and dressed in new gowns. This party was to be sent that same evening to Germany to become inmates
of a brothel. The girl in question was able to escape by jumping from a first floor balcony."
(8) Quotation from a report received on April 18, 1940:
"The abduction of young women and girls continues.
"A young girl was attacked in Zorawia Street at 2 o'clock in the afternoon by a German soldier, who was passing in
a lorry. The young woman broke away and ran at top speed, beseeching a stranger she met to come to her rescue. Looking back,
she saw that the soldier had seized another girl, whom he was forcing into the lorry.
"At Praga, near the spirits warehouse in Markowska Street, drunken German soldiers shoot at and attack the passers-by,
and drag them into disreputable places."
(9) The following is an extract from an appeal addressed by Polish women to the women of all other countries, written
about the end of March, 1940. Point 2 reads:
"Our daughters are being apprehended on the streets or abducted from their homes and deporterd to Germany...
More than one mother is praying to God that her daughter may die rather than be preserved for such a fate."
(10) Report received April 4, 1940, on the raping of young girls and other incidents:
"In Warsaw the Germans have
organized a veritable woman hunt, carrying off their pray in lorries from the streets. These seizures take place preferably
in the evening in the less frequented thoroughfares, such as Polna and Lwowska Streets, in the neighbourhood of the University.
Women are taken up like dogs without their masters. No one knows precisely what becomes of them. They are abducted not only
from the streets but from their own homes. It appears that they are exploited for blood transfusions in the military hospitals,
in order to supply these institutions with reserves of fresh blood in the event of future battles. They return home in a debilitated
condition. Madame B.S., who was one of those seized, managed to escape before the operation, but only after she had undergone
a highly objectionable medical examination. Another woman of my acquaintance jumped from the lorry in which she was being
abducted, while her guard was occupied in overcoming the violent resistance offered by a second victim. These kidnappings
are causing the greatest alarm among the people of Warsaw."
(11) An excerpt from a sworn statement filed in the Polish Embassy in Rome (March, 1940) and published in the Embassy
Press bulletin for the information of the Italian press:
"Mrs. L.K. determined to leave Katowice because her daughter, a girl of 15, was assigned by the German authorities to
be sent to 'agricultural labour' in Germany. She knew what this order meant. A Polish woman of her acquaintance had 2 daughters
who were sent to do agricultural work in the province of Brandenburg. They were accommodated in the barracks of a labour camp.
On several occasions detachments of soldiers entered the barracks of an evening and violated the young Polish girls.
"After some time one of the Polish woman's two daughters was sent back to her mother. A letter from the camp commandant
explained that she was pregnant and that she would be under the protection of the State as a 'war mother' (Kriegsmutter).
The State would also take charge of the child when born."
(12) Excerpt from a Warsaw report made in May, 1940:
"Examples of the abduction of college girls in the streets and their deportation by the Germans to an unkown destination
are multiplying. All efforts at intervention between the wronged Polish families and the German authorities have proved useless.
The only echoes of these crimes are the numerous notices inserted in the Nowy Kurier Warszawski ('New Warsaw Courier') in
which despairing parents announce the disappearance of their daughters and ask for news of their fate. Needless to say, no
replies to these announcements are forthcoming."
(13) Excerpt from a report from Poznan:
"From various towns and rural areas in Poznania the Germans have deported hundreds of boys and girls between the ages
of 15 and 22. Some of them have been sent into Germany to labour on public works, while the prettiest girls have been forced
into brothels for German soldiers which the Germans have established in Poznan, at Rybaki Street."
(14) Excerpt from a Warsaw report dated the middle of September, 1940, after a year of German occupation:
"Throughout the whole of the German occupied territories the news is spreading with increasing persistence of the seizure
of young girls for German soldiers' brothels. The torture which all parents of young women are experiencing may be imagined,
particularly in view of the fact that this news is true.
"One need only read the letters from country girls, copies of which are published in the illegal Polish Press, to find
confirmation again and again of the fact that the agricultural work, for which they have been taken, too often consists of
being shut away in such houses of ill-fame. Wild woman-hunts have been instituted by the Gestapo who hunt in groups and
spot their prey as they drive through the city streets in their cars. One need only study the "missing" columns in the newspapers
printed by the Germans - for example the Nowy Kurier Warszawski. Every day there are several announcements which
give the woman's name, her age: 16, 18, 20 years, etc., with the note: left home on such and such a day and has not returned
"I myself have talked with a 19 year-old girl who ran away from her village, which came within the territory annexed
to the Reich. In March this year there was a compulsory registration in that village of all women from 15 to 25 years of age,
who were ordered to appear on a given day with their bundles at the railway station, whence they were sent to work in East
Prussia. No consideration was shown even to only daughters or girls with mothers dependent upon them for support. If exemption
was claimed on the grounds of illness, the patient was visited by a German medical commission, who recognized only serious
disorders. Daughters were told that their parents would be imprisoned if they failed to report. In view of the terrible
reports in circulation concerning this and what has happened in the case of other deported girls, many parents risked
prison and allowed their daughters to escape illegally across the border into the territory of the 'Government General.'
"One hears of country girls returning home infected with venereal diseases or in a pregnant condition. On the other hand,
even the German press carries stories of German women being sentenced to penal servitude for having relations with Poles,
thereby bringing shame on the race (the term hitherto used to describe relations with Jews). A Pole is condemned to death
without appeal for having relations with a German woman. Poles deported for labour in Germany write of this in their letters.
"The anguish experienced by Polish fathers and mothers, who have children in the dangerous ages - between 15 and 30 -
is easily understood. They are continually afraid that their sons will be arrested and their daughters seized for brothels;
they see the impossibility of educating their children openly, and the terrible difficulties involved in finding work for
them, which would to some extent ensure them against deportation, and they are suffering a very real martyrdom. Mothers do
not allow their daughters to go out alone, and keep them in the house or accompany them in the streets; they are afraid to go
out to the parks, where hunts occur, and where there is no chance of hiding. They live in continual terror for their husbands
and their children, and it is not surprising that there is an alarming increase in mortality from heart attacks and a growing
number of suicides and of mental cases."
(15) The German police organised a roundup in the streets of Lublin and held a number of young Polish girls and women.
After a medical examination the unfortunates were led to a barracks, where they were violated one after another by young German
pilots who had arrived at Lublin after completing their training at Swidnik camp.
(16) In March, 1941, there was a roundup in Warsaw, a number of people being brought to the higher school in Skaryszewska
Street. After they had been sorted out according to their physical abilities, the men were sent to work, the women to brothels.
The healthiest were sent to hospitals as blood-donors for transfusions. The former high school has halls and dormitories in
which the arrested women live, and are given a kind of elementary course in debauchery. Only German officers and soldiers
have the entree to the place. They make their victims drunk. Any women who become pregnant while in such places are sent home.
The rare communications received from Germany serve only to confirm these reports.
It has been learned that the young girls, many of them at High School, taken from Inowroclaw and from Srem (Poznania
Province) first performed hard labour in the Prussian villages and then were sent to Germany's Western front.
From Bydgoszcz (Province of Pomerania), Wawer and Anin (Province of Warsaw) dozens of young women were sent to Western
Germany after being given injections which, there is every reason to believe, constituted a form of sterilization. In truth,
German science and the German medical skill are being mobilized in the service of the criminal policies of the National-Socialist
Besides these injections, German doctors perform operations such as a young Polish servant girl has naively described
in a letter which was brought to our attention and which was addressed to her former mistress, living abroad (March, 1940).
"Last Tuesday I received the order to report at the Labour Bureau (Arbeitsamt). There were about 500 girls in
all. We were compelled to strip and remain naked as the Lord created us. A doctor first examined our lungs; then he inserted
from below a long tube. Through that tube he thrust a long pin, and some long, narrow scissors, white hot. He cut several
times; the blood flowed and I fainted. He performed that operation on all the young girls there. It was a crime. I was ill
for 3 days. On Friday they sent word that I was to get ready to go away; and next Tuesday a whole transport is to be sent
to Germany, but no one knows exactly where."
The letter finished by reporting the shooting or death of several men she knew.
A woman's life in the occupied Poland of to-day is a hideous nightmare. Not only can she not obtain food to nourish her
family, not only has she to fight for each piece of bread, for each pot of hot soup, for each drop of milk for her children.
She must also be constantly tormented with a terrible fear for the fate of her husband, her brothers and sons, perhaps shot,
imprisoned or tortured.
Nothing could be worse than such terrible scenes as those witnessed on the night of December 26-27, 1939, at Wawer, near
Warsaw, when the Germans, engaged in a massacre of the local population, ordered more than one woman to choose which should
be shot, her father, her brother or her son?
As has already been stated, women also constitute a considerable proportion of those shot: or murdered without the slightest
pretext by German executioners. The terrible death of the Warsaw University student, Miss Zahorska, murdered by the Germans
for tearing down an anti-English placard, and the massacre of 40 Polish girls in Inowroclaw, without the least charge being
made against them, are examples of the barbarous terrorism practised by the Germans upon Polish women. This terrorism is vengeance
for the dauntless patriotic and heroic stand which the Polish women have taken against the German invaders. This has been
declared quite openly by the German press - for example by the Krakauer Zeitung - which has repeatedly and furiously
stated that Polish women are well known for their inimical attitude towards the German occupants.
END OF CHAPTER EIGHT
END OF PART ONE