Germany prepares for war in the east

Men in a forced labour gang from the ghetto working outside Warsaw, May 1941.

In Nazi occupied eastern Poland it was an open secret that preparations were being made for war. Hitler was to personally re-assure Stalin that he was moving troops there to keep them away from British bombers. But airfields were also being built, ready to receive the air fleets that would soon be diverted away from the attack on Britain. Zygmunt Klukowski was a Polish doctor whose diary records life under the occupation:

May 6

In the city since early morning there has been a general panic. Germans are stopping all men, Aryans and Jews, and are sending them for labor at the airfields. During all of this beatings are a normal part of German conduct. From the window I observed them. With special satisfaction the Germans beat people who were well dressed and looked like white collar workers.

All workers are under constant surveillance. One soldier with a rifle looks after ten workers. The work now starts at 6 a.m. and ends at dusk. The hardest work is in the flooded areas where the workers stand knee-deep in water. Some people who signed in as sick were examined by a young German physician. Only a few were dismissed.

Now the Germans have organized a civil defense. Dr. Likowski was put in charge. Today the commandant of gendarmerie stopped by to inspect the hospital cellars. He told me that he is requesting the installation of electrical power and telephones in the cellars, for use in case of air raids. Everyone talks openly about the upcoming war.

See Klukowski: Diary from the Years of Occupation

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