Germans step up persecution of Polish civilians

‘Let’s do agricultural work in Germany. Report immediately to your Vogt’. A German propaganda poster aimed at the Polish population – very few went voluntarily to Germany.

Quite apart from the Nazi organised mass murder of the Jews in Poland, the ordinary Polish citizen was subjected to widespread casual persecution which often proved fatal. Poland was erased from the map, the western part absorbed in ‘Greater Germany’, the easternmost part forming part of the ‘Eastern territories’. What remained was simply known as the ‘General Government area’. As many as 3 million Poles would die at the hands of the Nazis.

In eastern Poland Zygmunt Klukowski, a doctor at the local hospital, was keeping a diary recording the various measures taken against the local population. He had already seen the Jews hunted down and either shot locally or deported on trains.

Now increasingly restrictive measure were being taken against the local population. The shortage of manpower in Germany meant that thousands of Poles were being rounded up to be sent to work in armaments and construction. To make way for ‘German settlers’ – ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union – whole villages were being ‘evacuated’ so that they could have new homes closer to Germany.

Bands of people were wandering around the countryside trying to avoid the Germans. More and more Poles were moving to the forests to join the Partisans. There was little room for women and children who sooner or later were rounded up and sent off to Germany. Klukowski knew that families who moved into the forests lived in desperate conditions and that many children would not survive the harsh winter.

The more active the partisans became the more brutal the the retaliatory action from the German occupying powers.

December 5

For the last two days the Germans were attempting to catch young people here. Firemen are being used for this dirty work. The firemen go from house to house checking everyone’s ID, looking for people with labor bureau cards. So far about 50 people have been detained, but the quota is 250, so they still have far to go to fulfill it.

Today there was a raid against Pawlowski and Dawid in Brody. At the same time the German teacher was attacked. Increased Gestapo action is a direct result of these incidents.

Today soldiers began evacuating the villages of Ploski and Zawada, and they finished Wielacz.

People here are in a panic. They move from place to place, sleep completely clothed, and wait for the gendarmes to come. In Szczebrzeszyn the only topic of discussion is future evacuation.

A new announcement was posted in town regarding the sabotage of railroads. The railroad lines were divided into sectors. Each sector was given to a nearby village for security. If any sabotage takes place, the villages in charge of guarding that sector will be punished. In other words, several hostages will be executed.

Anyone who comes to our region must report to the police station no longer than twelve hours after arriving.

See Klukowski: Diary from the Years of Occupation

Hans Frank, the Nazi governor of occupied Poland. Poles were seen as a source of labour for the Germans, not needing any more than an elementary education. In 1940 he had claimed: “In Prague, big red posters were put up on which one could read that seven Czechs had been shot today. I said to myself, ‘If I had to put up a poster for every seven Poles shot, the forests of Poland would not be sufficient to manufacture the paper’”

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