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THE POLISH ATROCITIES AGAINST THE GERMAN MINORITY IN POLAND
EDITED AND PUBLISHED BY ORDER OF THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND BASED UPON DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
SECOND REVISED EDITION
B E R L I N 1 9 4 0
Compiled by Hans Schadewaldt
VOLK UND REICH VERLAG BERLIN
"Whereas reason requires, that those vices, to which any nation dote naturally inclyne, should be restrayned by seveare lawes, those are in Polonia barbarous cruelty and lubricity, thys last being as common as the first."
From: Sir George Carew, A Relation of the State of Polonia and the united Provinces of that Crown anno 1598.
Let our foe, the German, fall! I, your priest do promise you Plunder, rob, and set on fire! Bliss and joy in Heaven above . . . Let the enemy die in pain; But the curse will fall on him He that hangs those German dogs, Who doth plead the German cause. Reaps reward from God on High
Polish hymn of hate against Germany dating from the 1848 revolution.
". . . They (the Polish authorities) torture those that refuse to confess in so grim a manner, that the inquisition of the Middle-Ages dwindles into nothingness before the sufferings to which the Poles subject their prisoners in and near Vilna."
From: Pierre Valmigere, "And to-morrow . . . ? France, Germany and Poland".
The further you go into Poland, the more you find pillage and murder.
"One, however, of the Slav Peoples, the Poles, forms a sorry exception. Violence and intolerance have left their mark on its history."
From: Danilewsky, Russia and Europe.
". . . The oppression of the Ukrainian minority in Poland is growing worse every day. It would perhaps be wearisome to record the oppressive acts, . . . such a record would be of almost impossible length. But there are certain things that cannot be left unrecorded, that must be heard by the civilized world -- namely, the horrible and inhuman barbarities that are inflicted on Ukrainian political prisoners in Polish gaols, and which are part of the war waged by the Polish dictatorship against the Ukrainian minority."
From: "Manchester Guardian" of December 12, 1931: "Oppression of Ukrainians. Methods of Middle Ages revived by Poles." Special Report from Lemberg (East Galicia).
". . . As long as the Poles show some insight, and are outnumbered, they appear submissive and adaptable; but once they have found a weak spot and have gained the upper hand, they become headstrong, arrogant and cruel . . . The unfettered licence in which the Poles live, and their law, which allows all crimes with the exception of one or two to be expiated by money, is the real cause of the fact that, among other things, homicide is very common in Poland."
From the Diary of the Frisian Nobleman Ulrich von Werdum 1671/72.
"Fellow countrymen and brothers, who like myself have had the misfortune to become acquainted with the Poles, unite with me in order to eradicate, once and for all, the maliciousness and falsity of that people. Let all brothers hear, let every echo resound that the Pole knows no law and justice and that the word of a Tartar is a hundred times better than all the treaties signed in Poland."
From: Methee: Histoire de la Pretendue Revolution de Pologne. Paris 1792, p. 184.
"This nation of peasants inclines to drink, quarrel, abuse and murder; it would be hard to find so many murders in any other nation."
From: Richard Roepell: Geschichte Polens, Bd. I., Hamburg 1840.
"Poland is a mixture of sarmatian -- well-nigh aboriginal cruelty and French super-arrogance; an ignorant people with not a trace of taste, yet given to luxury, gambling and fashion."
From: Georg Forster: Forsters Briefe, I., p. 467.
Polish Pamphlet Inciting the Mob to Murder.
"Why cannot we act like the
Spaniards? Let every one who is fit take up arms and march on the
enemy. Let the women, the boys and the old men murder at home
whenever an enemy soldier is billeted with them. When their troops
march through the town throw boiling water and stones from the
windows. Destroy him where you find him! Hide all food from him. Out
in the lines our glorious Polish army will deal with them! -- We
shall see whether our foes, all three of them, will stand up to us,
even for a few months, on our holy Polish soil. No, not even that
long will they hold out. Those that will escape our weapons will run
for the frontier."
From the Polish pamphlet "Words of truth for the Polish People". Printed under the auspices of Our Lady, the Patron of Poland. 1848.
"But Poland's immediate neighbours have known those brilliant promises for a long time -- and hence mistrust them.
From their experience they are afraid that the Poles, in the administration of their new independence will show an utter disregard for order and will prove themselves unreliable and irresponsible anarchists.
Since their neighbours know the Poles to be vindictive, irate and quarrelsome, they fear that their regime will be brutal, clumsy, intolerant and tyrannical."
From: D'Etchegoyen, Olivier: Pologne, Pologne . . . Paris 1925.
"The minorities in Poland are to disappear, and it is Polish policy that they shall not disappear only on paper. This policy is being pushed forward ruthlessly and without the slightest regard for public opinion abroad, for international treaties, and for the League of Nations. The Ukraine under Polish rule is an inferno -- White Russia is an even more hellish inferno. The purpose of Polish policy is the disappearance of the national minorities, both on paper and in reality."
From: "Manchester Guardian", December 14, 1931 (special report from Warsaw).
French Protest against Polish Police Terrors.
"A wave of terror is sweeping Poland at this very moment. The Press can hardly breathe a word because it is gagged. A police regime with all its horrors and its wild measures of oppression strangles the country. The prisons of the Republic to-day hold more than 3000 political criminals who are maltreated by their jailers, humiliated and beaten up with belts and sticks. The life they have to stand is such that in many prisons the inmates prefer death to the slow torture inflicted upon them."
Paul Painleve, Edouard Herriot, Leon Blum, Paul Boncour, Severine,
Romain Rolland, Victor Basch, Georges Pioch, Pierre Caron, Charles
Richet, Aulard, Hadamard, Bougle, F. Herold, Mathias Mornardt, Jean-
Richard Bloch, Pierre Hamp, Charles Vildrac, Lucien Descaves, Henri
Beraud, Michel Corday, Leon Bazalgette, Paul Colin, Albert Cremieux,
Henri Marx, Paul Reboux, Noel Garnier.
From: Protest against the terrorisation of minorities in Poland submitted by French politicians and men of letters, 1924.
More than 58,000
Dead and Missing were lost by the German minority in Poland during the days of their liberation from the Polish yoke, as far as can be ascertained at present. The Polish nation must for all time be held responsible for this appalling massacre consequent upon that Polish reign of terror. Up to November 17, 1939, the closing day for the documentary evidence contained in the first edition of this book, 5,437 murders, committed by members of the Polish armed forces and by Polish civilians on men, women and children of the German minority had already been irrefutably proved. It was quite apparent even then that the actual number of murders far exceeded this figure, and by February 1, 1940, the total number of identified bodies of the German minority had increased to 12,857. Official investigations carried out since the outbreak of the German-Polish war have shown that to these 12,857 killed there must be added more than 45,000 missing, all of whom must be accounted dead since no trace of them can be found. Thus the victims belonging to the German minority in Poland already now total over 58,000. Even this appalling figure by no means covers the sum total of the losses sustained by the German minority. There can be no doubt at all that investigations which are still being conducted will disclose many more thousand dead and wounded. The following description of the Polish atrocities which is not only confined to murders and mutilations but includes other deeds of violence such as maltreatment, rape, robbery and arson applies to only a small section of the terrible events for which irrefutable and official evidence is here established.
I. More than 58,000 dead and missing
II. Sources of information and explanations
a) The German-Polish situation up to the outbreak of war
b) The Polish atrocity policy
a) Cases of typical atrocities
b) Personal accounts of survivors of concentration marches
V. Report of the medico-legal experts
b) Injuries, mutilations, mass graves
c) Arson, pillage and devastation
d) Announcements of dead and missing
e) Notices and other proofs
|VII. Illustrated reports by medico-legal experts||275|
VIII. Survey map of most important places of murder
SOURCES OF INFORMATION AND EXPLANATIONS
The statement of the acts of atrocity committed on minority Germans in Poland is based on the following documentary evidence, the penal records of the Special Courts of Justice in Bromberg and Posen, the investigation files of the Special Police Commissions, the testimony of the medico-legal experts of the Health Inspection Department of the Military High Command, and the original records of the Military Commission attached to the Military High Command for the investigation of breaches of International Law. The documentary evidence concerning the individual cases of atrocity has been taken from the aforementioned files.
The Special Courts of Justice set up at Bromberg and Posen are regular courts, their administration of justice being based on the Common Law of Germany and the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of the Reich, and which deal with all cases in complete accordance with the principles of the German Penal Code. The legally justified confirmation of verdicts and the sworn statements of German as well as Polish witnesses have been used. These were taken from the records of these Special Courts of Justice up to the Nov. 15, 1939. The various Criminal Investigation Departments' reports, documents, and photographs, have been employed and taken from the files of the Special Commissions. Reproductions of statements, photographs and preserved specimens, as well as the collective memoranda representing a report on the result of the autopsy on the victims, were taken from the records of the medico-legal experts. The statements of eye-witnesses sworn and taken down before the military legal officials, have been taken mainly from the investigation files of the Army Investigation Department. These in turn are based upon extracts from the High Command's (Legal Dept.) book on this subject, issued in two volumes, "Polish Atrocities on minority Germans and Prisoners of War in Bromberg, Pless, Stopanica" (vol. 1) and "Polish Atrocities on minority Germans and Prisoners of War in the District and Province of Posen" (vol. 2) and in which the various statements are compiled.
The records have been supplemented by accounts of personal experiences by individuals of the German minority arrested, ill-treated, and abducted, as well as by photographs of numerous atrocities on minority Germans, as perpetrated by soldiers of the Polish army and by Polish civilians (i. e. murders, mutilations, and arson). The photographs are genuine copies of snap shots taken of the actual victims, either beaten to death, shot dead, or mutilated, and taken on the spots where the victims were found and the crimes committed. Any pictures that could not be considered definitely authentic were rejected and not included in the collection. Attached are photographic reproductions of whole pages of "dead and missing" notices. These appeared daily for weeks, after those days of horror, in the Bromberg and Posen newspapers.
[p. 10] In the text, the findings of the Military Investigation Department are cited with the reference No. W. R. I and W. R. II, those of the Special Courts with the reference No. Sd. K. Ls. or Sd. Is. with consecutive file numbers. Those resulting from the investigation of the Special Police Commission of the Criminal Police Office of the Reich are marked RKPA., and those of autopsy and post mortem findings with OKW. HS. In. Br. or P.
The amount of material on atrocities was so great as to render it impossible to print the full text of the sworn statements in all cases. Some are printed in their original version. Others refer to the decisive position, as narrated by the eye-witnesses. For the same reason it was decided to omit the history of illness suffered by minority Germans, due to their serious injuries received during the marches they were forced to make through Poland. All this collection of facts is stored in the Protestant Deaconess Hospital of Posen and in the German Military Field Hospital and Municipal Hospital in Bromberg, and is open to any further investigation. Only a selection of the copious photographic material is used in this book. All the documents and proofs used in this collection of material are filed in the respective central offices in Berlin.
This book deals exclusively with acts of violence committed by Poles on minority Germans. Further evidence of the Polish breaches of International and Military Law, in so far as it concerns the treatment of German prisoners of war and Germans killed in action, has been placed in safety elsewhere and has not been included in this book, as well as that of numerous acts of atrocity committed on minority Germans before the outbreak of war.
THE GERMAN-POLISH SITUATION UP TO THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
Europe was relieved to hear of the German-Polish agreement on Jan. 26, 1934. The realistic peace determination of Adolf Hitler, together with the true sense of statesmanship of Marshal Pilsudski, had found common ground in the mutual desire to establish a new state of political relationship by direct contact between Germany and Poland, the basic idea being to ensure the maintenance and security of a lasting peace between the two countries. It was realised by all those who saw in the latent tension between Germany and Poland an immediate danger to the peace of Europe that such a constructive cooperation of the two statesmen must be of interest to the whole of Europe. It was the most earnest desire of Germany and Poland to follow up the first declaration of a 10-years pact by the development of sincere friendly relations. Such a friendship based on peaceful development would have left the door open for a friendly and acceptable settlement of all outstanding questions between the two neighbouring countries. There was no doubt that problems, as yet unsettled, did exist between the two countries. It was quite clear that the conditions and boundaries imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles were for any length of time impossible and unacceptable. It depended on the honesty of purpose of Poland as to how far an arrangement of a closer understanding between the two countries could fulfil the sincere hopes of Germany and all peace-loving friends. At that time already, certain definite forces abroad were actively trying to disturb the work of conciliation between Germany and Poland. The opponents of the Third Reich were not in the least interested in a relaxation of the tension between Germany and Poland; in fact they were secretly and openly fanning the ever-glowing fires of propaganda in Poland and directed against Germany and everything German. The change of course in policy both in Berlin and Warsaw in no way suited their plans. Apart from this, a reconciliation of Poland with her neighbour did not represent the aims of the supporters of the Treaty of Versailles, who intended that Poland should remain in a state of permanent opposition to Germany, and that she should remain as an active instrument in the encirclement policy against the Reich. As a result the enemies of friendly advances between Germany and Poland tried to stifle from the very beginning any reasonable political arrangement and any attempt at a reconciliation between Germany and Poland, by resuscitating the old differences and suspicions. With the help of extremist Polish societies and the Press, already controlled by Jewish elements, the saboteurs of conciliatory measures very soon gained the upper-hand. The intensified campaign of anti-German propaganda had an increasing influence on public opinion and incited it against Germany and the German minority in Poland. The anti-German activity found ready response amongst Polish officials and military circles. The continued efforts of the Government of the Reich, with a view to persuading those in Warsaw responsible for the creation of public opinion to act in accord with the German-Polish Press agreement of Feb. 24, 1934, and to arrive at an effective moral disarmament within the spirit and general lines of the agreement of understanding remained unsuccessful.
Since the days of Versailles, the political situation between Germany and Poland had never calmed down. On the contrary the systematic deprival of the right of the German element long established in former Prussian provinces remained such a dead weight on German-Polish relations that the greater part of the world's opinion was always sceptical of the success of the German-Polish agreement of understanding. In German opinion the strong personality of Pilsudski offered in itself guarantee enough that, in the development of the idea of an understanding, an alteration in sentiment would take place, together with a change in the hostile attitude of wide circles of influence in Poland against German minority groups. The Fuhrer held the firm opinion that, in spite of all obstructive circumstances, the German-Polish work of cooperation must be attempted and developed until the desired results had been attained. He held that despite the disappointment of the German Government caused by the unscrupulous Polish methods within the sphere of minority policy, as well as by the continuous anti-German press campaign, these must not be allowed to interfere with his hopes for the success of the final issue.
Even during Pilsudski's lifetime it had been clearly shown that the authority of the Marshal himself was not sufficient to make the subordinate Polish officials adhere to a just treatment of the German minority. The exaggerated Polish patriotic feeling still appeared in a more moderate way, but it had not been eliminated. For the time being suppressive measures were not so brutal, but more cunning. The political system based on the old watchword of sworn principle to exterminate everything of German origin, continued unhampered; full responsibility for this must be ascribed to the Polish Government. After the death of Marshal Pilsudski the mask was completely dropped. A campaign of aggressive activity, based on the desire for annexation and such aims was very soon developed in speech and in print.
The continuous efforts of Germany to bring about tolerable relations between the German minority and the Polish population were of no avail. Her efforts were completely frustrated by the sterile attitude of the Polish Government. Poland's absolutely negative attitude, marked by an unbroken chain of violations of the spirit of the German-Polish pact, and also by a continual breach of the fundamental principles governing the protection of minorities, agreed to and signed by Poland in the reciprocal minority agreement of Nov. 5, 1937 became manifestly clear when the respective representatives of the central administrative offices of both countries met in Berlin on Feb. 27, 1939, to discuss all outstanding questions, pertaining to minorities. These unsuccessful discussions showed that Poland had no intentions of carrying on Marshal Pilsudski's clearly defined policy of peace and harmony with his German neighbour. The specific desire of the Fuhrer for a definite settlement of the Danzig question, and that of a territorial link between East Prussia and the Reich were repeatedly placed before the Polish Government in the friendliest manner. The evasive attitude, however, of Colonel Beck, Minister for Foreign Affairs, made it clearer from month to month that the Polish authorities were methodically turning their backs on any intention of agreement [p. 15] with Germany. Poland's increased resistance to any kind of reparation or even alleviation of the injustice of Versailles as regards Germany's Eastern boundary, corresponded with the stiffening of the Polish policy towards the members of the German minority and with an intensified Chauvinistic activity of the Polish press, tantamount to a direct challenge to the Reich.
Even in the spring of 1939 it became quite clear that the change in Poland's foreign policy was being definitely advanced and guided by two forces. Polish public opinion, influenced by the Government's toleration of anti-German propaganda, was imbued with an unparalleled feeling of hatred against everything German. Any statement or expression pertaining to the daily life of the German minority was considered as an hostile act against the Polish State and in consequence the extermination of everything of German origin was put forward as a national duty. It was evident that the restraint of the German Government towards this degeneration of hatred towards minority Germans was regarded by the Polish authorities as an expression of weakness. This fateful error was the underlying motive for the vehement attacks on Germany which expressed themselves in impassioned demands for the annexation of German territory, and reached their climax in the ridiculous display of megalomania, as displayed in a demand for the River Elbe as a boundary necessary to Polish national requirements. The Polish Government gave a free hand to the perpetrators of such bellicose demonstration of annexation, as well as to the miscreants of acts of violence against the German minority in the Western provinces, who were in their turn aided and abetted by the provincial authorities. The responsibility for this feverish atmosphere was hereby placed on the shoulders of the Polish Government. This finally resulted in moral chaos in towns and in the country, accompanied by indiscriminate murders of thousands of defenceless and innocent minority Germans by Polish soldiers and armed civilians.
The question arose as to how the Polish Government could allow such a dangerous sentiment to develop in the country and to such an extent as to permit her own citizens of German origin to be surrendered to the lowest class of Polish degenerates, whose very lust for murder made them ignore constitution, law, morality and humaneness. Furthermore how could responsible Polish rulers allow themselves to be manoeuvred deeper and deeper into a condition of irreparable tension with Germany, without accounting to State or people for the inevitable consequences of an armed conflict with Germany? The answer to this leads to the second force which influenced Poland from outside and allowed Poland to believe that all further consideration towards the German minority or the Reich could be dropped. This force was England, was the guarantee of assistance given by the British Government to Poland, and the British active influence to use Poland as a pawn to stimulate the British encirclement policy so thoroughly as to kindle the fires of war -- a war which had been prepared long beforehand, and was intentional, and which actually broke out in connection with Danzig and the Corridor. As England was guaranteeing this diabolical scheme, Warsaw was of the opinion that no moderation or consideration of action as to avoiding overdoing anything was necessary. England had guaranteed the integrity of Poland! The British promise of assistance to Poland had provided the latter with the role of a political battering ram. Since then, and conscious of this, Poland had permitted herself to challenge the Reich in every conceivable way and, in her delusions, even dreamt of a "victorious battle before the gates of Berlin." Had the British war clique not continually urged Poland into an obstinate resistance towards the Reich, and had it not been for Britain's promises, of which she felt perfectly sure, it is very doubtful whether Poland would ever have allowed things to go so far, as to make the signal for the removal of Germans in the eyes of Polish military and civilians equivalent to a signal for the murder and bestial butchery of German people (1).
(1) The British Government must have known, having due regard to the temperamental national character and inclination to extremes of political megalomania, of the likewise anti-German propaganda carried on in the Press for years and worked up against Germany and the German minorities some months before the War to a definite state of aggressive bloodthirstiness. She must have known that her active interest in the warlike policy of Poland, backed up by the pact of assistance, would of necessity be the cause of national hatred, spreading like an epidemic and resulting in the most unbelievable and bloody outrages on German citizens. If the British Government had not realised the delirious effect on Poland of the pact of assistance which was responsible for the ghastly consequences, then it would appear that the extent of the bestiality of the Polish atrocities on Germans must prove England to be even more guilty of the bloodshed. Only he who moved amongst Poles during those decisive weeks could really measure the direct destructive effect of Chamberlain's guarantee of assistance on the Polish mentality and psychology.
Without the blank cheque given by Great Britain to Poland the latter would never have so frivolously rejected the unique offer for compromise made by the Fuhrer, as was made public in his speech in the Reichstag on April 28, 1939, or would Poland ever have started her war machinery or opened the doors to the Provincial governors' policy of extermination of the German minority. The German minority in Poland had long since been gagged and deprived of all rights (2).
(2) The terrific losses caused to German interests in Poland during the Polish domination can be given in figures under the heading of emigration, expropriation, closing of German schools, as follows: up to the middle of 1939, 1.4 million Germans under the pressure of Polish officials had emigrated from Posen-West Prussia and from Upper Silesia. German settlers had lost 1,263,288 acres of land and of these 265,288 acres due to the one-sided Agrarian Reforms unilaterally applied against Germans, 998,000 acres due to cancellation and liquidation. Of the 657 public German minority schools in existence in 1925 (in 1927 only 498), only 185 were left at the beginning of the school year 1938/1939 (of these 150 in Posen-West Prussia and 35 in Upper Silesia).
Thousands of German enterprises and independent German businesses had been systematically destroyed by cancellation of orders, boycott, by taxes rigorously calculated and even more vigorously applied, withdrawal of concessions, confiscation, and the refusal of permits for the purchase of land. Innumerable German workmen and employees, for the greater part old and trusted hands, were made victims of mass dismissals, based on political race discrimination, and were driven from their normal areas of work and reduced to a condition of absolute penury with no further means of existence. The one-sided application of the Agrarian Reform Laws and the regulations governing frontier zones forced old established German settlers to emigrate. German church services were disturbed, German newspapers were seized one after the other; and the use of the German language was made impossible either in the street, in shops or restaurants. Germans were attacked in the open country, in their homes and on their farms. From May 1939 onwards prohibition orders and punishments literally hailed down upon them. The closing down of schools, kindergartens, libraries and German clubs, the elimination of cooperatives, cultural and charitable societies, and the personal threat to each individual, increased to an unimaginable degree, quite contrary to the rights of the German minority as guaranteed by the Constitution.
THE POLISH POLICY OF ATROCITY
During the twenty years of Polish domination, Germans in Poland had become used to injury and want. Devoid of every right and protection they were also prepared for their position to become more threatening and subject to more intolerable pressure as the German-Polish relations aggravated. During the last weeks before the outbreak of war, they were under such pressure and their private life so continually watched by Polish spies, that they already scented the danger that was being brought about by the work of agitation, emanating from secret and public Polish sources. Not even the worst pessimist had ever visualized that the wide-spread menaces, attacks, and acts of violence would increase and reach the point of the massacre of men, women, and children, or that these murders would ever reach the gruesome total of over 58,000. One could feel the abysmal hatred that the Poles had for anything German; hatred that was being engendered by an anti-German press, radio and pulpit propaganda. The Warsaw rulers gave proofs daily of their hostile attitude towards any sincere understanding. This manifested itself even down to the subordinate official positions, where a white-hot fanaticism culminated in treating all Germans as spies and suspected enemies of the State. It was known that the Association of the West, rebels, and rifle corps were planning evil, and that Polish Youth organisations, above all the boy scouts, were being systematically trained under military supervision in the use of firearms. Outbursts of racial propaganda could be read in the Polish press; in just the same way the poisoned atmosphere emanating from the excessive provocation of public agitators could be felt more and more every week as it spread and penetrated deeper and deeper amongst the Polish population. The result was that even the more reasonable Polish elements were dragged into the vortex, which swept away any sensible thought or moral feeling towards minority Germans already pursued and tortured. It was apolitical psychosis which enabled every Pole to feel that he might commit any kind of deed, even the most terrible against minority Germans, and without the slightest restraint.
During the last days of August 1939, Germans were openly menaced in villages with the expressions: "Slaughter them off" (1).
(1) Murder of Sieg (Sd. Is. Bromberg 819/39).
In the towns Germans were the victims of insane incitement, leading to a state of boycott, terror, and direct danger to life, which the Warsaw Government tolerated and encouraged. This outbreak of concentrated fury and Polish national passion directed against everything German and invoked by the Polish officials, seemed to be the unavoidable solution for putting an end to the intolerable tension between Germany and Poland. When, therefore, on Sept. 1, 1939 the ever increasing avalanche of defence measures against the Polish provocations and attacks, which led to open raids by Polish soldiery into German territory, culminated in the entry of German troops into Poland, the last pillars of State discipline collapsed with the flight of the Polish authorities. A deluge of ghastly acts of bloodshed, like an unparalleled storm burst over the heads of German men and women. These, although conscious of their defenceless state (2)
(2) "A perpetual state of anxiety reigned as no one was any longer sure of his life . . . The whole night they slunk round the house, and this furtive slinking, the proximity of a permanent danger was very difficult to endure" -- this is how the Rector's wife, Frau Lassahn of Bromberg-Schwedenhoehe, characterizes the heavily laden atmosphere of ill-boding, just prior to the "Blood Sunday" in Bromberg. (Eye-witness report of Frau L.). The 32-year old minority German Gerhard Grieger expresses himself similarly, shortly before he was bestially murdered: -- "I have a terrible feeling, I feel as though I am being perpetually watched, and think it would be the best thing to clear out". Then again the witness Judge (retired) Klabun of Bromberg confirms that "everywhere they slunk around us and watched us". . . (Criminal proceedings against Nowitzki and others, Sd. K. Ls. Posen 28/39).
were by no means faint-hearted, for they were comforted in their firm belief in their impending liberation. A few had indeed been able to save themselves in time by flight to safety (3)
(3) How tragic is the case of Vicar Reder of Mogilno, who at the time of his order for internment was on holiday in Zoppot, so that he had ample opportunity for flight. In spite of this he obeyed the order, so as to be together with the members of his parish and his co-internees during the days of trouble. He was shot down with a pistol by the Commandant of the railway station of Glodno and after receiving several blows with the butt of a rifle he was given the "coup de grace" by Polish Military guard (OKW. HS. Ins. Br. 80).
over the frontiers of the Reich and to Danzig; in spite of repeated Polish statements to the effect that in case of war all Germans would be murdered and all German farms would be burnt down, most of the Germans stuck to their homes and possessions, part of which had been acquired or inherited from former settlements or by honest purchase, hundreds of years ago, because they themselves could not believe that the menaces of murder would ever be carried out. What was the reason for all classes of Poles participating in the excesses committed against Germans? Why did that portion of the Polish population which for years had lived in harmony with their German neighbours in town and country hardly lift a hand to protect Germans exposed to lawlessness? Why did Poles, without the slightest reason, attack the one or other German -- known or unknown to them --, why were they willing to take part in these indescribable atrocities? The answer to all this is that all action against Germans had been carefully planned beforehand; it had been definitely ordered. The question arises: could not Christian and religious principles in such a devoutly Catholic country have proved sufficient to ensure a moral and disciplinary bulwark against such wanton excesses? On the contrary, the massacre of Protestant clergy, the destruction of Protestant rectories, the burning and pillaging of Protestant churches (4)
(4) Protestant churches and parish halls were destroyed and burnt in Bromberg-Schwedenhoehe, in Hopfengarten near Bromberg, in Gr. Leistenau near Graudenz, in Kl. Katz near Gotenhafen. The number of vicarages robbed and pillaged has not been ascertained. A "house search" in the Protestant Consistory in Posen is further evidence of wanton destruction. In the Parish Church of Bromberg and in St. Peter's Church in Posen, altars were defiled and the altar lights destroyed, bibles and altar cloths were torn to rags. (Periodical "Junge Kirche", dated Nov. 4, 1939).
show clearly that the old adage of Protestant-German, Catholic-Pole, made the distinction of creed the instrument and tool of political murder.
In many cases it was enough to be German and Protestant to be arrested (1).
(1) The witness Kube, Bromberg, 13 Bergkolonie, deposed on oath that a soldier, who had forcibly entered her apartment, questioned her nephew Karl Braun, who was on a visit, as to his name and religion (!) On Braun's truthful declaration as to who he was and that he was a Protestant he was arrested and carried off. Since then no trace of him has been found and it would appear that he had been shot (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 32/39).
Sympathy for Germany or German connections were sufficient: even Catholic Germans were relentlessly pursued and killed, and Catholic priests themselves were ill-treated because of their sympathy towards the German element. Even the reproach to a German that he sent his child to a German school and that during the 20 years of Polish domination he had not learnt to master the Polish language, was sufficient to have him killed (2).
(2) Eye-witnesses' statements on the murder case Kala/Keller in Kardorf (Sd. Is. Posen 42/39) criminal proceedings against Jan Lewandowski (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 85/39).
He who was master of the Polish language and able to make himself understood in the Polish language or even he who stated he was a Pole, was spared (3).
(3) The minority German Ferdinand Reumann in Schulitz saved himself from being carried off and killed by maintaining that he was Polish and by speaking in Polish to the soldiers; he was the only survivor of 13 Germans (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 31/39).
This is proof that only German lives and property were envisaged. Further proof of this is shown by the fact that the hordes whether in company of Polish soldiers or alone, only searched homes, attics and cellars of Germans. They were brought out into the street and where no Germans were present, the locality was left without disturbing a single hair of any Pole (4).
(4) Statement by the Polish witnesses Maria Szczepaniak and Luzia Spirka of Bromberg, who were hidden in an air raid cellar together with Germans (Sd. K: Ls. Bromberg 12/39).
Germans were murdered indiscriminately and regardless of age, creed or sex, whether peasant, farmer, teacher, clergyman, doctor, merchant, workman or factory-owner, no class or rank was spared. The victims were shot without trial -- there was never any legal reason for the massacre of Germans. They were shot, tortured to death, beaten and stabbed without any reason at all (5),
(5) "Never before have I seen faces so distorted with fury or bestial expression -- they had certainly ceased to be human beings --" stated the eye-witness Paul Zembol of Pless (WR I).
and most of them, furthermore, were maimed in the most bestial way. These murders were intentional, and for the greater part, committed by Polish soldiers, police and gendarmes, but also by armed civilians, schoolboys and apprentices (P.W.O.N.) (6).
(6) P. W. = Przysposobienie Wojskowe, i. e. an organization for the pre-military training of youths under military supervision. O. N. = Obrona Narodowa, i. e. Reservists mobilized at a later date.
Rebels in uniform, members of the West Marches Society, rifle corps, railwaymen, and released convicts were in the motley crowd that took part in these murders (7).
(7) At a few places, convicts also took part in the atrocities against the Germans; but the statement coming from a Polish quarter that the escaped or liberated criminals were the main perpetrators, and that the atrocities against Germans, for example, in and near Bromberg are to be ascribed principally to the criminals who escaped in Crone-on-the-Brahe -- or that similar atrocities against Germans in the neighbourhood of Thorn were due to criminals who broke out in Fordon -- is refuted by the fact that in those places hardly any pillaging or thefts occurred, and further by the identification by name of the perpetrators and accomplices, verified in the investigations and criminal proceedings by statements of reliable witnesses, The erroneous and tendentious Polish statement that convicts and similar rabble had incited the soldiers and civilians to acts of violence is absolutely contradicted by the results of the juridical proceedings.
Everywhere a definite method governed the procedure, from it could be [p. 20] deduced that a centralized system of murder was being practised (1).
(1) The declaration of the 17 year-old Pole, Bernhard Kokoczynski, interrogated and condemned for serious breach of the peace by the special court of Bromberg, on September 27, 1939 (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg, 24/39), that he was ordered to hunt up minority Germans repeats itself several times in the attempts at justification made by the Poles convicted of murder or complicity. The murderers or accomplices relied therefore on instructions. This establishment of fact is parallel with the attitude of nearly all the murderers and the accomplices, who based their action firmly and decisively on the grounds that the Germans had started shooting, and that that was why measures had been taken against them. For this assertion no proof was brought forward in any single case. The unanimity of this assertion points conclusively to the fact that it must have been issued by a central office as a definite basis of action.
That these unheard-of cruel individual and mass-murders were carried on in such a way is explained by the mentality of the Pole, and his habit to incline to cruelty and torture. The proverbial courage of the Pole corresponds with his equally proverbial cunning and deceit. Innumerable Polish murderers present themselves to our eyes as crafty and bloodthirsty creatures. Denunciation and treachery are expressions of the Polish national character, from which elements the brutal mentality and lust for murder emanate. All that occured in and around Bromberg, Posen and Pless, in the days of September 1939, is nothing but a repetition of the bloodshed that occurred in Upper Silesia during the Polish riots in 1920/21, which, at the time, shocked public opinion throughout the civilized world.
The hunt for minority Germans in the towns and villages was carried out more or less according to the following system; following the command Nr. 59 (2)
(2) The broadcast of the Polish Government of Sept. 1, belongs to one of the most important pieces of evidence proving that acts of violence against Germans bore the character of a campaign, centrally organized and under official control: Frau Weise, the wife of the senior physician of the Posen Protestant Deaconess Hospital together with Dr Reimann of the same place, give the text of the broadcast heard by them on the morning of Sept. 1, as follows: - "Hullo! Hullo! Germans, Czechs and Bohemians! Carry out Command No . . . . . . . . at once." The two witnesses were no longer certain of the actual number. In a verbal statement, Konrad Kopiera, director of the Schicht Trust of Warsaw, definitely remembers the number as 59. Frau Klusseck of Posen, 24, Hohenzollern Strasse, heard the following on the afternoon of Sept. 1. "Hullo! Hullo! To all courts, prosecuting attorneys and other authorities. Circular No. . . . . . . concerning . . . . . ." after which followed an example of some kind of secret code message which Frau Klusseck could not remember, but it ran more or less like this: -- 824,358 X 5 + 9/4 -- "has to be carried out immediately!" Further investigation is being under taken as regards the number of the circular as well as the code text.
repeatedly broadcast by the Warsaw Government on Sept. 1, a modus operandi which must have been agreed upon beforehand with provincial authorities, the provincial governments instructed the local police immediately to enforce the orders of arrest already drawn up and provided with consecutive numbers, against the minority Germans. These warrants did not include the new arrivals within the last few weeks, proof in itself that the orders had been prepared long before (3).
(3) There were 3 kinds of warrants of arrest -- Red: for arrest and house search, Pink: Internment (supposed to have been applicable particularly to German nationals), Yellow: evacuation from a place of residence with travel permit to definite location in Central or East Poland, as prescribed by the Mayor. As a rule all these colours were treated with the same severity, i. e. those distinguished by the mild "yellow evacuation warrants" were treated in the same way as those abducted in batches under police control (Photographic copies of the warrants of arrest in the archives RKPA 1486/8. 39).
In accordance with these orders, the minority Germans were arrested without reason being given, and carried off to the police-station in the shortest possible time. Some were questioned (others were not) with the intention of trying to force a confession to the effect that they had been actively engaged as spies or enemies of the State. They were either thrown into prison or sent home under the impression that they were free mere. Often, all their papers of identification were taken away by the police; they were liberated without these papers being returned, with instructions to call for them later. This "later" was destined to become "never". Either they never got so far, or, if they did, they never came back; they were murdered in the meantime (1).
(1) The murder case of the brothers Lemke in Bromberg, Nakeler Strasse (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 33/39).
They were severely ill-treated on their way to or from the police station and in the prison cells. They were kicked, beaten with rifle butts, spat on, and subjected to the mast awful words of abuse. Those who had not been arrested, interned or abducted, were, in accordance with exact lists, fetched out of their homes and either beaten to death or shot down by soldiers, police, or armed civilians, chiefly led by men of unsavoury reputation, wholly anti-German (2).
(2) The lists played a very important part in the preparation of Polish atrocities. According to Gertrud Becker, servant, of Bromberg-Jagerhof and witness in the murder case of Schroeder and Koehke (WR I) "the names of all persons who were in the cellar were called out from a list." The commanders of local rebel organizations had drawn up "Death lists" which served as preliminaries for the massacre of Germans. The sworn statement of the innkeeper Litwa at Landsberg, district of Rybnik, shows that the rebel Kwiotek had drawn up a list of 150 minority Germans "who were to be killed at a convenient moment" (SG. in Kattowitz 19/39). The witness Frau Emvira Diesner in Ciechocinek (WR II) deposed that "the whole Town Council took part in drawing up the black list." Witness Paul Rakette, Pastor of Schokken (WR II) declared that the preparation of the lists was in the hands of all the local administrative authorities. A Polish police sergeant of Rogasen told the witness, Innkeeper Ewald Thou, that the "black-list" had been drawn up "by someone in a high position (WR II). The witness Erwin Boy, a master-tailor of Ostburg is of the opinion that the Polish village elder was responsible for the drawing up of the lists: without such lists "it would have been impossible for the soldiers to use a piece of paper for calling out our names."
The entries of "Suspicious" in the military passports of minority Germans liable to military service, or in the discharge certificates were similar in importance. In all these cases the holders of such papers, with one exception (Eugen Hoffmann), were murdered in Bromberg on Sept. 4. It has been established that all entries of "Suspicious," as well as the discharge papers, constituted an order to the Polish authorities to have the holders of such papers shot (for details see documents RKPA 1488/22. 39 and 1486/24. 39).
The facts which established that the Polish action against minority Germans was prepared by the officials, according to plan, completely contradict the statement of Polish emigrants who maintain that all these acts of atrocity were a form of "reprisal," and that in their flight before the German troops the Poles had carried off minority Germans and, as the position in general became worse and worse "they killed them out of sheer exasperation." In reality all minority Germans were interned, abducted, ill-treated and murdered in accordance with well-thought-out plans. It was not a spontaneous action resulting from the shock of the entry of German troops into Poland.
Anyone asking what was the reason for such persecution, or why his arrest had been made, was answered with a shot in the neck, blows from the butt of a rifle, or stabs with a bayonet. As a rule, when people were fetched by force and ill-treated, these acts were accompanied by house searches for weapons, secret wireless transmitters, wireless receiving sets and suspicious documents. No Germans had any weapons because for years conditions had rendered this impossible. It was sufficient to find a child's percussion-cap pistol to justify a murder (1).
(1) Verbal statement by the witness Charlotte Korth (WR I).
It actually happened that an accusation was made that a weapon had been found; actually this weapon had been concealed by the Poles on the spot beforehand, or during the interrogation. As regards the search for hidden ammunition, a cartridge was secretly laid on a cupboard during the search; the discovery of this cartridge was then brought forward as proof of guilt (2).
(2) Statements of the witnesses Herbert Schlicht in Bromberg and Anna Kruger in Jagerhof (WR I).
Again a minority German's notebook was taken away, drawings of an incriminating nature were secretly made inside; this was then used as a corpus delicti. We have evidence of a case in which Polish infantry asserted that a hand-grenade had been found in a house. Finally however, a Polish soldier intervened and honestly declared that he had seen another Polish soldier put it there. This saved the minority German's life (3).
(3) Statements of witness Friedrich Weiss, butcher in Wonorce, and Willi Bombicki in Gratz (WR II).
In towns, a systematic signal for concerted action against Germans was usually the sudden explosion of a shot in the midst of the seething crowds (4),
(4) In many cases no shot had ever been fired, some Pole simply made a false statement, trying to indicate that from the house of some German a slot had been fired.
instantaneously cries echoed from the streets: "The Germans have started shooting! Catch them! Kill the Germans, the Huns, the Swine, the Spies!" In spite of knowledge to the contrary and without the slightest justification, Germans were accused of shooting. This gave the Polish soldiers sufficient excuse for shooting Germans in pursuance of the object aimed at by the bandits and indicated by the agitators, namely, the complete extermination of all Germans (5).
(5) This signal for action was spread by the press, wireless and chauvinistic associations. It was even proclaimed from the pulpit on that "Blood Sunday" itself in Bromberg (statement of Wladyslaw Dejewski [Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 16/39] accused and convicted of three murders of minority Germans.) Dejewski's statement about the devastating work of anti-German propaganda by the Polish intelligentsia and the clergy, including various other credible statements of his, brings up and touches on a most serious subject: The abuse of the Pulpit and its connection with the political campaign for the extermination of everything German (cf. Document No. 23) Dejewski declares: "had the clergy exhorted us to calm and circumspection, it would never have come to such bloodshed." Here he referred to definite sermons inciting the population made by Canon Sch. in Bromberg shortly before the German troops occupied that town. In these sermons the canon incites the inhabitants "to resist the Germans to the last drop of blood and to destroy everything German." In his statement before the Special Court at Posen, the Pole Henryk Pawlowski declared: "the population was incited by the clergy" (Murder case Grieger-John, Sd. Ls. Posen 28/39, cf. document No. 50).
Thereupon the howling and enraged mob blindly attacked and overwhelmed civilians of both sexes. Often women in a frenzy of fanaticism indicated to soldiers, who were strangers to the locality, where Germans lived. The soldiers forced their way in and stabbed or shot the Germans. For the most part, male Germans of every age, including children, down to infants of 2-1/2 months, were murdered (1).
(1) According to definite proof, the oldest man murdered was the 86-year-old Peter Rieriast of Ciechocinek and the youngest victim the two and a half month old infant Gisela Rosenau of Lochowo, who died of hunger on the breast of her murdered mother. The greatest number by far of the Minority Germans who were beaten to death or shot is represented by the members of the German Association (which was approved according to statute by the Polish Government) as well as by members of the Young German Party. In the case of the inclusion of victims in the "lists" it was principally the most esteemed citizens of German descent who were subject to acts of violence, but smallholders who were absolutely harmless politically, and unemployed German workmen and invalids were also murdered without exception.
Although mainly men of military age, especially between the ages of 16 and 25, were killed, later on even German women and girls were not spared, and for weeks after those sordid events, death notices in the Deutsche Rundschau in Bromberg as well as in the Posener Tageblatt give an appalling survey of how German men, women, old men, cripples, invalids and children were done to death at the murderous hands of the Poles, and how most of them were mutilated in a ghastly way and robbed. The type of injury (shots in the neck, stabs in the eye-sockets, crushing of skulls with rifle butts, and exposing the brain, shots in the head fired straight down, etc.) is singularly uniform in all the different localities where murder took place. A definite conclusion could be formed from the uniformity of time and method in which these outrages were committed against the German minority, that the organization of bloodshed among Germans was carried out in a uniform manner. In any case; the conclusion arrived at by the medico-legal experts, resulting from the examination of hundreds of murder cases, is that there is a remarkable similarity in the type of injury. Presence of mind saved the lives of some who either feigned death or were fortunate enough not to have suffered fatal wounds (2).
(2) For information as to injuries, etc., refer to the memoranda of the medico-legal expert Surgeon Major Dr. Panning and University Lecturer Dr. Hallermann, based on conclusions arrived at from 250 post-mortems (Appendix to the document section). The result of, the post-mortems confirm the statements of witnesses made before the special courts and military investigation offices, from which a clear picture is formed showing that the major part of the murders of minority Germans were committed by Polish soldiers. These post-mortems clearly show that the injuries were caused by high-velocity weapons (Army rifles) and also by Army pistols, hand grenades and machine guns. There is also some evidence which indicates the use of dum-dum bullets (OKW. Hs. Ins. Br. 18).
Mass arrests, abductions, ill-treatment and murders of minority Germans have been proved to have taken place in all parts of Poland, wherever Germans had settled or become domiciled, among other places, besides Warsaw, in the district of Chelm, in Volhynia and in Vilna. They attained an exceptional degree of intensity where Germans were massed in comparatively large numbers and where, in consequence, arrangements for evacuation could not be carried out in an organised and methodical way, owing to the rapid advance of the German troops. The murderous outrages of both soldiers and civilians were at their worst in those districts where years of agitation had completely poisoned the soul of the Pole, and where an analysis of the population showed a high percentage of minority Germans, and where the political frenzy of the Pole reached its climax. This explains the fact that those who were made to suffer more severely under the Polish lust for blood were in particular the German settlements in the Posen region, the preponderantly German villages, and those with a preponderance of German blood in the lowlands of the Vistula, as well as Bromberg, town and district, with its high percentage of German population. Here whole villages and families were completely exterminated (1).
(1) Official investigations carried out since the publication of the first edition of this collection of documents concerning atrocities against the German minority in Poland have disclosed a far more terrible situation than was revealed by the graves discovered before November 17, 1939. The numbers of killed and missing as ascertained by the Central Office for the Discovery and Interment of Minority Germans instituted by the Head of the Civil Administration in Posen, have already had to be vastly increased since that date. Not only were far more Germans killed in the surroundings of Posen and within the radius of Bromberg on Blood Sunday, but even Silesia and Central Poland have disclosed such hecatombs of victims that, according to the latest figures available on February 1, 1940, the number of dead and missing in the German minority now amounts with certainty to 58,000, of whom 12,857 have so far been discovered and identified. Heavy frost during the winter months has almost completely interrupted the systematic exhumations and the possibility of identification. The list of missing, compiled from information given by their relatives, leaves no room for doubt that the enormous grave-yard of minority Germans in Poland contains far more than 58,000 victims, all of whom perished in the Polish reign of terror.
The worst persecutions of Germans took place between Aug. 31 and Sept. 6, 1939. They reached their climax on the "Blood Sunday", Sept. 3, in Bromberg and terminated about Sept. 17/18 with the liberation of the abducted victims by the arrival of German troops near Lowitsch. The Germans were usually herded together, driven off and massacred in isolated spots, in numbers ranging from 39, 48, 53 to 104 at a time (2).
(2) Among others, 36 murders took place in the Eichdorf settlement, 39 murders at Jesuitersee, 53 murders at Klein-Bartelsee. In the suburb of Jagerhof, near Bromberg, 63 Germans were murdered in one single day. In a mass grave at Slonsk, south-east of Thorn, 58 bodies of minority Germans were discovered. The largest mass grave found close to Tarnowa, north of Turek, on October 14, 1939, contained 104 bodies of Germans, who had been led away in columns from Schroda and were afterwards killed by blows, or shot and mutilated. A mass grave of 40 minority Germans from Thorn and its neighbourhood, discovered close to Alexandrowo, contained such terribly mutilated bodies that only three could be identified (see illustrations). Ghastly discoveries were further made in the Cracow district, in the province of Posen, and east of Klodawa.
Between Klodawa and Krosniewice three mass graves were found in the first week of December 1939: each containing between 18 and 20 appallingly mutilated victims of the Polish lust for murder, mainly German farmers from Schrimm and Santomischel. Near the village of Tenczynek, between Kattowitz and Cracow, 20 minority Germans, who had been shot dead, were discovered with their hands bound in a common grave, live hand grenades having been strung between their bodies. Along the Kutno-Lowitsch road 26 bodies of murdered and mutilated members of the German minority were found buried in a number of places, the body of one man having been thrown into an air-raid trench and a latrine for Polish soldiers erected above it. (Communication from the Posen Central Office for Investigating the Graves of murdered Minority Germans).
Wherever Germans were found shot or beaten to death, they were discovered on the thresholds of their houses, in the courtyard or garden, along the road, unburied, sometimes merely covered with leaves and branches, often only hurriedly covered with a thin layer of earth. In nearly every case there were ghastly mutilations such as eyes gouged out, teeth smashed, brains oozing out of the skulls; tongues torn out, abdomens slit open, broken arms and legs, fingers hacked off, feet and lower portions of the legs chopped off. Those who were massacred in this way lay bound together with ropes in twos or threes, or were placed in rows, hands tied to their backs with ropes and straps. [p. 25] They lay in the ditch of a field, on the edge of a wood, or on the shore of a lake (1)
(1) Group of murdered civilians at Jesuitersee R.K.P.A. 1486/9/39.
whither they had been driven, often only to be slaughtered by a shot in the neck. Many victims were only found six, seven or even eight weeks later, and at some distant spot. Many bodies were completely smeared with dirt and blood. In a number of cases the mutilations had taken place whilst the murdered person was still alive. Wherever Germans had succeeded in fleeing from their homes and property in time, to hide in cellars, attics, plough furrows, hedges, woods, ditches or in fields of potatoes, beetroot and sunflowers, they were often betrayed by Polish neighbours and hunted out by hordes of politically fanatical residents, Polish adolescents of from 17 to 20 years of age (2),
(2) In many places Polish schoolboys were often accomplices, volunteers and even ringleaders. As early as the end of July, 16-year-old boys had already been armed with army rifles. (Witness's statement . . . Hertel in Pless WR I.)
ill-treated and then beaten to death. These hordes were armed with weapons of every possible description--fence stakes, cudgels, knives, iron bars, axes, choppers, daggers, spades, whips, hay forks, pickaxes, stanchions, lead-tipped sticks, and then again with sabres, pistols and rifles. Where did the civilians, especially these adolescents, get these weapons from? How did all these incited, and immoral elements come into possession of such instruments of murder? It was no mere chance that they were in possession of these weapons. They had either been distributed by the local Police offices or served out by the magistrates shortly before the administrative officials left, i. e. the Polish officials aided and abetted these acts of violence and murders of Germans (3).
(3) In Upper Silesia the Rebels and members of the West Marches Society were the chief perpetrators of acts of violence against the German minority. They had always threatened the Germans "that one day they would be done in," and as early as the beginning of July were equipped by the "Polish military authorities with automatic pistols, light machine-guns and army rifles." (Statement of witness Hertel in Pless WR I.)
Sometimes it was one or more of the ringleaders who with their wild behaviour goaded the masses into the desire to kill their German-born fellow citizens. Working in close cooperation with the Polish soldiers, air-raid wardens were also outstanding in their cruelty. Though the greater part of these murders were committed by soldiers belonging to scattered units, or by the rear-guard in flight and by parties of sappers, the participation of regulars and even Polish officers in these murders has been definitely established. It was not only the remarks of the Polish military: "We shall stamp out the Germans root and branch" (4),
(4) Sworn statement of the Polish N.C.O. Friedrich Lorenz of Lischkowo. (WR I and Sd. Bromberg. Dated Sept. 28/29, 1939.) . . . General Bortnowski's remark that "All Germans must be exterminated," is testified to by witness Otto Leischner, teacher of Slonsk (WR II). The sworn statement of witness Heinz Friedrich, baker, in Wonorze (Ostburg) reveals that on Aug. 28, 1939, Capt. Czaynert, of the Polish Res. Inf. Regt. 59 in Hohensalza, on the barrack square, prophesied amongst other things, that the Poles would be in Berlin in 3 days, and he continued: . . . "Boys, when we march into Berlin, we shall kill all the German swine, leaving just enough alive as will have room under a pear tree, and we will have breakfast with these." Finally he said: "Well boys! if you see any Germans on the way you will know what to do." (WR II).
or the orders to shoot Germans, which prove the part taken by commissioned and non-commissioned officers in these acts of murder, but also the systematic use made of whips in rounding up Germans forcibly carried off, and the use of the pistol by Polish officers to kill them. These Polish officers have stated that they had orders to shoot Germans.
The civilian assassins and their accomplices belonged to every class of the Polish population. They were mainly composed of members of the West Marches Society and of the Association of Reserves as well as of the Rebel Association, officially supported by the Kattowitz Provincial Governor Grazynski. They were labourers, workmen, parish employees, clerks, locksmiths, mechanics, electricians, chauffeurs, hairdressers, foresters, dental-mechanics, book-keepers, railway guards, gardeners, weavers, roof layers, slaters, butchers, cattle dealers, rarely peasants, but very often railwaymen (1).
(1) The fact that in this list, which could be supplemented by the addition of other professions, no mention is made of members of the academical profession, is explained by the fact that the greater portion of the intelligentsia, the leading classes of Poland, had fled from Poland before the outbreak, of hostilities.
Wherever hordes of armed civilians struck down or shot minority Germans in the open street, Polish soldiers and police present on the spot made no attempt to interfere (2).
(2) A few exceptional cases are on record where soldiers arriving on the scene took preventive action against the bloodthirsty Polish civilians (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 88/39); or where a Polish officer liberated a German woman from the assassins' hands (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 91/39).
Searches effected in houses, gardens, courts or cellars were generally carried out by these bands of assassins, on their own initiative or accompanied by Polish soldiers. Both soldiers and civilians took an equal part in the destruction of furniture and household articles, in the theft of money, jewels, linen, documents, watches, fountain-pens etc. Accompanied by the curses of the incited mob and exposed to blows, cuffs, kicks and stabs, and missiles such as bottles and stones, the Germans, completely defenceless, were driven to the police or more often to soldiers who were complete strangers to the locality, who in their turn, no less than the police and gendarmes, ill-treated and killed them without rhyme or reason. The derisive attitude of the Polish soldiers towards any idea of morality or right sprang from politico-psychological roots; every kind of influence having been employed in the barracks to create a general atmosphere against everything German especially by the repeated orders of the Polish Government, clergy, subordinate officials, as well as certain quarters financed by the authorities, to eliminate all trace of the established German element. Thus so many murders took place against "persons unknown," just because the persecuted, abducted and ill-treated people happened to be Germans, and as such had to disappear to comply with the Government's watchword which, in the meantime, had become popular opinion.
A sordid chapter dealing with the atrocities committed on minority Germans is the active part taken by fanatical Polish women, married women, widows, and unemployed, acting as informers to the soldiers as to the whereabouts of minority Germans and demanding their murder (1).
(1) One of the most fanatical examples of hate was shown by the laundrywoman Maria Goralska, of a Bromberg: She openly boasted that she had "betrayed many Germans": her mania for murder literally made her foam at the mouth" (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 88/39). Another Polish woman, Sophie Bednarczyk shouted to the crowd, "All Germans must be slaughtered! The accursed Hitler pigs must be castrated!" (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 73/39). Also the Polish woman Salewski demanded that "Germans should have their throats cut" . . . (Sd. Is. Bromberg 151/39). The Polish woman Franziska Wolska had a military patrol fetched by a boy and led them into a house belonging to the minority German Rohrbeck: father and son were shot (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 44/39). How Polish women inflicted serious injuries on Germans with various weapons is shown in the testimony of Steinborn in the case of the massacre of Iwno (Sd. Is. Posen 643/39).
The attitude of these Polish women had an intensifying effect on the general lust for murder and roused the baser instincts of the marauding hordes. Whatever fanatical women did to defenceless abducted victims is no less reprehensible than the acts of the armed women who joined the francs-tireurs.
The method and degree of cruelty gives the Polish atrocities a special place in the history of political murders in the 20th century. The number of German-born children, of school or under-school age, who were killed or shot (2)
(2) The medico-legal experts have compiled a list of a number of murdered German-Polish children, whose deaths had doubtless been caused by firearms (OKW. Hs. In. Br 60; Br. 74, Br. 76, Br. 100; Br. 118, Br. 129, P. 29).
is just as indicative of the unscrupulous pursuit of the official murder policy against anything of German origin as is the fact that the victims of fanatical hatred were tortured in a most bestial manner, many of them being forced to dig their own graves (3)
(3) Sd. Is. Posen 529/39.
and that the fatally wounded were exposed to a more or less lengthy period of mortal agony (4).
(4) In this way the married woman Gollnik of Bromberg was obliged to witness the murder of her husband which was extended over a period of 9 hours (OKW. Hs. In. Br. 110) and Frau Radler in Kleinbartelsee was prevented from giving assistance to her severely injured husband who lay dying for seven hours. (The same Br. 46.)
Again, the ill-treated were bound with cow ropes and were left to die of hunger and thirst; war invalids, wearers of artificial limbs and sick people were forced to march for impossible distances; dead horses or dogs were thrown on the mutilated bodies of Germans as an expression of contempt (5).
(5) Sd. Is. Bromberg 516/39.
Even a pregnant woman was murdered shortly before parturition (6).
(6) OKW. Hs. In. post-mortem No. Br. 127.
No pity was shown to a child begging for its life (7),
(7) Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 85/39.
or to the sobs of the small boy clinging moaning and terrified to the arms of his mother (8).
(8) RKPA 1486/7. 39.
The plea for grace was answered with blows (9)
(9) Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 14/39.
with the fist. German-born men were killed before the eyes of their wives and children, boys torn from their mothers' sides; relations were prevented from giving relief to the groaning victims. German-Polish men and women brought forward to be shot were lined up with their faces to the wall and made to bend their knees, while rifles were aimed at them without being actually fired; this form of martyrdom was repeated time after time, so that these tortured people were completely demoralised and in a state of mental despair before they were killed. Hearts were torn from the corpses (1),
(1) Testimony of N. C. O. Fremke: "A male body was found with its heart torn out; it lay alongside the body" (WR I).
those who lay dying on the ground were trampled upon (2),
(2) The physical and mental torture to which victims of Polish bloodthirstiness were submitted in their mortal agony is typically shown in the sworn statement re the murders of Steinke and Thom (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 68/39), and Ernst Kruger (S d. Is. Bromberg 151/39): The witness Pelagia Wieczorek (Polish) of Michelin states under oath that an old man lay dying on the ground and that "the murderers trampled all over him" (Sd. Is. Bromberg 814/39). The witnesses Heinrich Krampitz, electrician, and Anton Hinz, organist, both of Kulm, deposed on oath that the chauffeur Wladislaus Rybicki of Kulm "kicked and stamped on an old man who lay dying from stabs and knife injuries inflicted on him by Polish civilians so violently and so often that the blood squirted up from under his boots" (Sd. Is. Bromberg 117/39). Bruno Bender of Schokken, dairyman, deposed on oath that Polish soldiers beat a minority German to a state of unconsciousness and then "stamped on his head until it was a mere mass of bloody matter" (W R II).
and those already beaten to a state of unconsciousness were kicked in the face, or dragged to death with horse-reins; others had their noses cut off, their eyes gouged out, or were castrated. All this demonstrates so clearly the bestial attitude of the Polish murderers and assassins, that no surprise can be felt at the fact that in certain cases the corpses were even put on view for money, amid the applause of the ghoulish mob. All this was the outcome of the political complex of a complete moral and spiritual degeneration that had taken this country of Poland in its grip (3).
(3) Murder case Barnicke (RKPA 1 486/5. 39) and statement of the witness Maria Hauser (WR II). The pregnant were not spared (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 79139). Found with the genital organs cut off (Sd. Is. Bromberg 151/39). Further statements of the witnesses Siebert and Matthies in Schwersenz (WR II) as well as the murder case Dr. Kirchhoff in Ciolkowo (WR II). "The Germans were to be run over by lorries" (Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 117/39) -- Whenever a body was found bound hand and foot, but with no visible injury, it must be assumed that the victim was buried alive. (Witness Otto Hofmann, merchant of Hohensalza. WR II). In Nessau (district of Thorn), 14 minority Germans were shot on Sept. 4, 1939, and made to dig their own graves beforehand. Amongst these was the farmer Kurt Poschadel, who had been only slightly wounded. When Poschadel pleaded with the Polish soldiers to shoot him, their answer was derisive laughter; "one bullet was quite enough for a German". Poschadel was then buried alive. Several eye-witnesses of this case were afterwards able to establish the fact that the earth which had been shovelled on to Poschadel moved repeatedly. The following statement, showing the strongest sentiment of hatred towards Germans, was made by a high Polish military doctor of Ciechocinek, a representative of the Polish intelligentsia, who stated to the victims abducted from Bromberg: "If you can't stand the fellows before the machine-guns, then send them to me for my operating table" (This statement was taken from the written complementary declaration of Chief Editor G. Starke in Bromberg and is from a book on his personal experiences; see documentary section). Ludwig Arrandt in Hohensalza (WR II) testifies that those abducted were refused medical attention and admission to Polish hospitals.
An exact picture showing to what extent rape took place is not available. Rape on German women and girls can be proved to have taken place and for no other reason than that "they were Germans." (4)
(4) The statements of the witnesses Hedwig Daase in Slonsk (WR II) and Vera Gannott in Bromberg (WR I and Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 86/39).
But a great many women from a sense of shame concealed the fact that they had been raped and numerous women hanged themselves for the same reason. (1)
(1) The widow of the farmer Hammermeister, Minna Hammermeister, 40 years old, was raped by a Polish First-Lieutenant. The unhappy woman was forced to march to Lowitsch, but was eventually rescued there. Observing the results of the rape after her return home, she hanged herself. Hammerstein himself had been murdered by Polish bandits.
The sufferings of the German farmer were certainly even greater than those of the Germans in the towns, because each one was left entirely to his own resources on his own farm, and they were not able to assist one another to the same extent.
The farmers were exterminated to such an extent that some villages had only a single survivor as eye-witness of the Polish atrocities. 20 victims lay in a meadow not far from the shooting-range at Hohensalza -- "all big strong men" (2),
(2) Statement of the witness Josef Pirschel, gardener, of Hohensalza (WR II)
"lying singly and each having been killed by numerous shots; many of the bodies were still warm. The execution was carried out by a lieutenant and ten men of the Polish army (3)."
(3) Eye-witness report of Felix Stefanski, mechanic's apprentice Hohensalza (WR II).
Another twenty-nine horribly mutilated farmers belonged to the purely German village of Slonsk, founded by German settlers. All of the male population of this 300-year-old purely German village on whom the Poles could lay their hands, whole families were cold-bloodedly shot and terribly mutilated by soldiers of the 63rd Infantry Regiment from Thorn (4).
(4) A farmer, Artur Daase, of Slonsk stated "I and another farmer who had the good fortune to escape after being carried off, are the only German farmers who remained alive in the whole northern part of Slonsk," (WR II).
The property of the German farmers of Langenau and Otteraue are in blackened ruins, having been burnt down by Polish soldiers, and their inhabitants are almost all murdered. A somewhat different picture presents itself in the Posen district. Here village elders and agricultural labourers, in league with soldiers, set the barns on fire, drove away the cattle, robbed and blackmailed the Germans (5).
(5) Rings were stolen from the hands of the dead (The murder of Rurkat, Sd. Is. Posen 38/39). In Schwersenz Polish women land-workers mishandled arrested German women in the most brutal manner, tearing off their clothes, stockings and shoes, and robbing them under the eyes of Polish soldiers (Trial of Luczak, Sd. Is. Posen 55/39).
And in all the towns the Germans were herded together into columns and marched away into the interior of Poland. A "class-war" spirit directed against the German estate owners combined here with the general anti-German agitation among the Polish masses.
Were no consciences stirred when the minority Germans were herded together in hundreds in every street, and marched away in thousands into the interior of the country? Pregnant women, children, war-invalids, cripples, old men and women -- names like Professor Bonin, 83 years old, of Lissa; Bohrmann, an 82 year old market gardener of Schoensee; Fraulein Schnee, 76 years old; Rector Assmann of Bromberg, 70 years old; all of them Germans of high repute among Poles as well as Germans. Tied together in twos, handcuffed, many of them bare-footed, some dressed only in shirts and trousers, some in slippers, underclothes or dressing gowns, some dragged directly from their beds -- in this manner they came from Bromberg and Posen, from Lissa and Gratz, from Schroda and Schrimm, Obornik and Wollstein, leaving their [p. 30] homes behind them, carried away by brutal guards, who cursed them, beat them and stabbed them with their bayonets. They held together through thick and thin, supported and carried one another forward, suffered hunger and thirst and the brutal contempt of their guards in dogged silence. Their feet bleeding and festering, many burning with fever, some of them half-mad from suffering; 20, 25 or 30 miles a day in forced marches, on and on, almost without a pause, eastwards and still further eastwards -- their destination Bereza-Kartuska, ill-famed Polish internment camp; "there they would find their end soon enough." (1).
(l) Remarks made by members of the Polish guard accompanying the column of abducted Germans to Lowitsch, corroborated by the statement in court of the witness Wawrezin Dmagala, a Polish groom (WR II).
Passing Polish soldiers, made furious by having been forced into rapid retreat by the advancing German troops, struck savagely at the physically and mentally exhausted Germans. Polish officers also shot some of them down, and mishandled women and the sick with whips and crops (2).
(2) Description of Herr Wiesner, estate-manager of Wollstein (WR II).
Children of 3 to 5 years, tied to their parents, were driven along with the rest. Polish spies, scoundrels and convicts mixed with the Germans and tried to take advantage of their dazed misery. All of a sudden, someone shouted; "All clear, run for it!" and when the wretched prisoners attempted to make for the open country they were shot down by police and soldiers. There were strict orders to shoot anyone who lagged behind (3),
(3) Told by a Polish N. C. O. to the farmer Hermann Netz of Crome a. B. (WR II).
and one officer ordered that those who did not keep up with the column should be struck down with rifle butts (4).
(4) Report of Pastor Bickerich of Lissa (WR II).
The order was carried out so thoroughly that many hundreds of minority Germans remained behind, shot or struck down dead, filling the roads and ditches, pitiful evidence of Polish lust for Murder. The prisoners fed themselves with Swedes and were compelled to sleep in the open even in rainy weather. They got water from dirty puddles and duck-ponds, or had it poured out for them, filthy and undrinkable, from petrol cans. Painfully seldom were they allowed a ration of even this foul water with which to moisten their lips. The extent of the cruelty shown to the minority Germans in these columns of prisoners is shown by the fact that, whilst being driven through the little town of Schrimm, 25 Germans were beaten to death and the rest of the column mishandled in such a way that even resident Poles, amongst them a Prior, protested, without however being able to stop the atrocities (5).
(5) Report about the march of abducted Germans from Schrimm (Sd. Is. Posen 243/39).
When a halt was made, the Germans were often "drilled" -- forced, for instance, to kneel for an hour, those who fell over being struck dead, others, weak from exhaustion, "shot down like dogs" (6).
(6) Report of his experience by Pastor Rakette, of Schokken (WR II); others were "shot like hares running before the beaters" (see elsewhere).
Women and old people were not spared these "drills". In the Posen column, a war-invalid, Herr Schmolke, who had two artificial limbs, was shot, together with his wife, his 15-year-old daughter and his son, aged 18 months, when their strength gave way (7).
(7) Eye-witness account of Father Breitinger and Otto Kaliske (WR II).
Two other disabled men, one called Jentsch of Rakwitz, and the other, the 65-year-old Kiok of Wongrowitz (both had wooden legs) suffered the same fate -- no wonder that many soon became so utterly hopeless that they committed suicide (1).
(1) Report, of Wilhelm Romano, of Wongrowitz (WR II). Starke (Bromberg) reports how a young German, in despair, severed the artery of his neck (eye-witness report WR II). A farmer, Drescher (Czempin) stated that one of his comrades "jumped into a water-hole in order to drown himself." (WR II).
Some began to have the wildest hallucinations. One imagined that he saw splendid castles, another "saw a firework display." A terrified cry from one of the prisoners, who was dreaming, brought a hail of bullets into the middle of the German group. The lives of human beings were naturally of no importance, when those human beings were Germans. It was worst of all when shots were fired wildly into the ranks of the marching prisoners from behind, by their rear guard, or when men saw their fathers or friends die by their side simply because they could not continue marching for mile after mile with their arms raised aloft. Torn from their homes, driven forward like cattle and threatened every minute with death, these Germans were marched on towards Kolo-Klodowa, towards Kutno, Lowitsch and Turek-Tulischkow. The column of unfortunates from Warsaw reached the hell of Bereza-Kartuska (2).
(2) Eye-witness report of Father Odilo Gerhard (Document section).
Even weeks after being liberated many were still suffering terribly as a result of the mental and physical torture they had gone through, and many finally succumbed to the after-effects of their terrible experiences in these groups, completely broken in health by the superhuman exertions they had been subjected to by the brutality of their Polish oppressors (3).
(3) So far it has not been possible to come to a final conclusion as to the extraordinary number of minority Germans killed in these marching columns or the number of the columns themselves. It is probable that at least one column was put together in every district town of Posen and West Prussia.
The atrocious cruelty of the Poles to the minority Germany in these marches of prisoners is one of the greatest blots on the already so sordid history of minorities in our time (4).
(4) Cf. the eye-witness reports of Starke (Bromberg), Father Breitinger (Posen), Military Surgeon Dr. Weise (Posen), Pastor Lesczynski (Kosten), Veterinary Surgeon Schulz (Lissa), estate-owner Dr. Schubert (Grune near Lissa), Pastor Rauhut (Gnesen), Father Odilo Gerhard (Cracow), baker Kaliske (Rakwitz, Wollstein district), Manager Romann (Wongrowitz), Pastor Rakette (Schokken), farmer Glaesemann (Schwersenz), and others. (Cf. Document section.)
Everything in the nature of atrocity which was inflicted by the Poles on the minority Germans, was done not out of an individual desire for revenge, nor for personal reasons; it was not the product of class-hatred or envy of the wealthier man, but simply of political mass-antagonism; it was nothing more nor less than organised massacre, not due to any sudden excess of fury amongst masses which had got out of hand, but to a systematic agitation which, playing upon that lust of murder and robbery which is an essential part of Polish mentality, resulted in cruelties of all kinds. The motive for these atrocities lies deep in the soul of the Pole, it is politico-pathological. The hate-imbued will to exterminate everything German was the driving power behind the atrocity campaign, which was nurtured by press, wireless and Government (5),
(5) It is significant of the attitude of the Polish Government that they instantly rejected the suggestion made by the German Foreign Office after the outbreak of war, through the Swedish Legation, to exchange for Polish nationals the minority Germans abducted by the Poles from the areas in the meantime occupied by German troops. (D. N. B. report of 14. 9. 39.) Why the Polish Government rejected this offer made to them purely on the grounds of humanity is quite incomprehensible.
as well as from pulpits and barracks.
It was probably only in the case of the robberies committed by Polish farm-hands in the Posen countryside that personal gain was the motive; all the rest was done merely to satisfy the feeling of revenge against the Germans with their higher standard of culture. The Pole has never lost his inferiority complex in regard to the Germans.
The Germans in Poland have always during the 20 years of Polish domination been regarded and treated by the Polish authorities and a large part of the Polish public (1),
(1) Whenever a Pole intervened in earnest on behalf of a minority German, he was intimidated by threats and violence to such an extent that he had to put conscientious objections out of his mind. In spite of this various Poles behaved decently and courageously. Polish landlords and servants are reported to have tried to protect Germans at the risk of their own lives.
as "disloyal citizens". Suspected unjustly of being spies, and accused of being actively engaged in espionage for the Reich, the minority Germans were ever under the shadow of Polish suspicion. Poland never found a way of establishing a loyal and peaceful relationship between herself and the German minority. Daily intercourse between minority Germans and Poles was a permanent danger to the lives of the former, due to Polish chauvinistic anti-German propaganda on the one side and the lack of protection from the Polish authorities on the other. This unbearable state of affairs, which had existed for years, reached its climax during the weeks prior to the outbreak of war, once the Poles had become convinced that by reason of the guarantee of assistance by the British Government, there was no further need for them to place any restraint on their provocative attitude or their shameful behaviour. The blank cheque given to Poland by Britain not only stiffened Poland's political backbone, but encouraged, or even directly incited her to commit these ghastly acts of atrocity. The determination of the British war-mongers to destroy Germany was unmasked and laid bare to the whole world in all its mercilessness by the Polish atrocities. The full guilt of the British clique, whose despotism all the world over is founded on lies, oppression, cruelty and murder, has been irrefutably proved for all time by the documentary evidence on some of the most horrible crimes in the history of mankind, contained in this volume.