Political and Social History of Central East Europe
in the 20th Century Meeting 7.
The Second World War – Poland. Part I – domestic problems 6 (18 March).
The September Campaign
Nazis – total military campaign; Nazi armies did not make any differentiation between the military and civilians. Air attacks were directed both at army groups, but also fugitives fleeing towards the east. Hospitals, schools, factories were bombed. Civilians were arrested and shot on spot. Nazi planes bombed over 160 towns and town districts. 476 villages were burnt to ground. In some centres 50-70% of all buildings were destroyed.
In the defence of Warsaw 6 thousand soldiers and 10 thousand civilians were killed.
Soviets – it is extremely hard to determine the real size of destruction. Soviet army did not apply total warfare. On the other hand they opened the possibility of revenge and plunder on behalf of the local Byelorussian and Ukrainian peasants. Thousands of people were interned and arrested.
Army losses: on the west front – 67,000 dead, 134,000 wounded, 420-580,000 taken prisoner (40,000 in Hungary; 30,000 in Romania; 14,000 in Lithuania; 1,500 in Latvia).
It is estimated that 250,000 soldiers were taken prisoner by the Red Army (18,000 officers).
28/29 September – division of Polish territories in Nazi-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Borders (Germany 187 Th. Sq. Km.; Soviet Union 192 Th. Sq. Km.; Lithuania 8 Th. Sq. Km.; Slovakia 752 Sq. Km.)
8 Oct. 1939 part of Polish territory incorporated into III Reich; General Government formed (12 Oct.)
Germanisation; elimination of “Polish Leading Elements”
Extermination of Jews and Roma in the first stage
Expelling from III Reich to General Government (close to 1 mln.)
“Sonderaction Krakau” – 6 November 1939 (arrest of 183 Polish Professors)
Attempts to get rid of Polish culture and educated elite; elimination of ALL POLISH SOCIAL and CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS. Confiscation (i.e. robbery) of objects of art.
1940 Sept. – opening of ghetto in Warsaw (360-450 thousand)
1941 – opening of ghetto in Krakow
Terror against educated and wealthy Poles
Favouring local peasants/poor population
Imprisonment of Polish soldiers, civic population – mass transports Eastwards
“Elections” to new local authorities in October
Execution of Polish officers in Katyn, Charkow, Miednoye – about 15 thousand (April 1940) Polish officers murdered in cold blood – shot at the back of their heads
Nationalisation of industry (all companies employing over 40 people)
1939/1940 at least 150 underground organizations formed (mostly in GG, much more difficult in Germany and Soviet Union)
September/October – forming of Służba Zwycięstwu Polski (SZP)
December/January 1940 – SZP changed into Związek Walki Zbrojnej (ZWZ) under the command of Polish government in France
June – ZWZ headquarters transferred to occupied Poland
24 February – Political representation Polityczny Komitet Porozumiewawczy called to life (changes into Krajowa Rada Polityczna in March 1943 and next to Rada Jedności Narodowej in 1944.
Civic underground administration
Following Hitler’s attack on Soviet Union, all pre-war Poland comes under Nazi rule. Groups of Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian population welcome/back Nazis against Soviet occupation (question of Jedwabne).
August – pro-Soviet Kościuszko radio formed in Soviet Union broadcasting to occupied Poland
December – Grupa Inicjatywna (the Initiative Group) of Polish Communists lands in occupied Poland – Nowotko, Mołojec, Finder
5 January – forming of Polska Partia Robotnicza (PPR) – Polish Workers’ Party – changes the political situation in occupied Poland – so far Communists had no representation
January – “Final solution “ announced (Endlosung der Judenfrage)
15 August – Armia Krajowa (200,000 soldiers)
August-September – beginning of the liquidation of Jewish ghettos
27 September – forming of Żegota – Committee for Helping Jews
January-June – forming of Związek Patriotów Polskich in Moscow (1 March)
February – talks in occupied Poland between PPR and London underground