The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41

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Although constitutionally enjoying the same rights — in , Poland ratified the Treaty on Minorities appended to the Versailles Treaty — the minority populations Germans, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Jews, etc.

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The treaty commitments were not complied with. Moreover, having broken with the Treaty on Minorities adopted under the auspices of the LN in , the government ended up having openly anti-semitic laws voted in restriction of ritual slaughter and ordered the army to destroy orthodox churches in Ukrainian areas during summer Korzec, ff. However, the violent repression of strikes and peasant movements , and the restriction of political liberties, blocked this outcome.

The rulers used the tensions as a reason for restricting civil liberties and arresting opposition leaders. Notwithstanding an economic recovery, this helped to fuel nationalist recklessness ultimatum to Lithuania and annexation of Tesin, and led the country to disaster. Looting was often at the heart of the massacres. This anti-semitic frenzy was not restricted to the Confines.

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In Kielce, the looting of the Jewish quarter in November caused 4 deaths and hundreds of injuries Maciagowski, 38 and in Cracow there were two deaths in the market in June Cohn et al. The incorporation of western Ukraine Galicia and Volhynia into the newly independent Poland, agreed by the Conference of the ambassadors to the LN 15 March , was to be accompanied by measures of autonomy for Ruthenians Uniate and Ukrainians Orthodox Christians , who formed the majority in the countryside.

However, the Polish authorities did not comply with the commitments of the Treaty of Minorities. This forced assimilation inevitably provoked the opposite reaction from the one intended. Nationalist groups became more radical, multiplied terrorist attacks that caused dozens of victims including, in June , the Interior Minister Bronislaw Pieracki , and demanded an independent state, with real resonance in the Ukrainian population. The Polish authorities responded with vast campaigns of police repression and closed schools and universities.

Polish "Neighbors" and German Invaders

This repression extended over the whole period up to , which saw the closure by the army of Orthodox churches. The number of civilian victims of these ten years of conflict is unknown, but it generated hatred between Polish and Ukrainian populations whose consequences were to prove tragic in the s. In response to the appeal of anti-semitic groups ONR, radical nationalists linked to the government, attacks on Jewish shops, on individuals and even bomb attacks multiplied in the mids. Assessment of the scale of this violence is still uncertain. The German attack on Poland on September 1, was followed on the 17 by an invasion of the eastern zones by Soviet troops.

The Polish army, badly prepared and less well-equipped than its enemies, found resistance difficult, while the civilian population attempted to flee — more than , succeeded, including , Jews Sienkiewicz and Hryciuk, 34, The Polish government took refuge in Romania during the night of September; the population of Warsaw resisted until the The two occupiers partitioned Poland along a border fixed on 28 September by a new German-Soviet agreement.

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In the west , the German zone contained Throughout the zone, the occupier immediately set up a gigantic repressive apparatus directed against the inhabitants: thousands of labor and transit camps, 18 concentration camps Stutthof, September ; Auschwitz, May ; etc. The terror against civilians began in September. From the outset, it was racial and exterminatory.

Browning, 16, The populations of German nationality or German origin in the occupied territories were classified according to four categories defined by Himmler: 2 million of them, including half in Silesia, signed — sometimes under duress — a Deutsche Volksliste DVL , which signified rallying to the occupier Paczkowski, Depending on their category, they enjoyed benefits in kind housing, food. Every Polish citizen was obliged to work from the age of 14 12 in the case of Jews.

The Nazi administration conscripted them and sent them to Germany — 2. From the first days of the occupation, Jews were subject to multiple proscriptions. They were counted, branded wearing of a white armband with a blue Star of David , and isolated from the other populations. Hilberg, In these ghettos — around of them — where for two years more than 90 per cent of Polish Jews subsisted, the mortality rate hunger, typhus, etc. In the east , the Soviet repression followed a different logic.

Roszkowski, The occupied zone contained They were integrated from November into the Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belorussia and, in August , Lithuania. The local elites, Polish in the main, were broken up; numbers of civilian or religious leaders were arrested; small-scale property owners and shopkeepers were expropriated. The Stalinist terror called on a populist rhetoric that dressed up imperial objectives in a blend of class oppositions and national hatreds.

The elites of the administration of the Polish Second Republic, landowners and some industrialists, generally Polish and Catholic, were singled out for persecution by workers and poor peasants, who were mainly Ukrainian, Belorussian or Lithuanian. In total, around , civilians were arrested in the territory occupied by the Soviet Union and at least , Polish civilians 18 per cent of them Jews were deported in four waves to the east of the USSR Glowny Urzad Statystyczny, To these must be added 45, prisoners of war interned in several re-education camps.

As soon as the Wehrmacht entered Polish territory, the Einsatzgruppen 3, men proceeded to the arrest and execution of civilians.

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They immediately carried out more than 10, arrests and executed around 17, people up to the end of October. Volunteers from the German minority formed auxiliary units, the Selbstschutz , which distinguished themselves by their savagery especially in Bydgoszcz on September. At the beginning of October, they numbered 17, men in eastern Prussia and had already executed 2, Poles. Begun in eastern Prussia and Warthegau in autumn , and continued in south-east Prussia in the winter, it reached the Generalgouvernement in spring The number of victims of these summary executions is estimated at 60, for this period.

The massacres were accompanied by arrests and deportations affecting all categories of the population. Thus, towns and villages were burnt in one month; on 6 November, professors at Cracow University were sent to camps from which most of them would never return. In October , the mentally ill and handicapped of Pomerania were transported to occupied Poland to be eliminated Friedlander, They were to be concentrated in towns and transferred to the east, obeying a special set of regulations.

By decrees of the governor-general, Hans Frank, forced labour was introduced. Ritual slaughter was proscribed; bank accounts belonging to Jews were frozen; the sum of freely available cash was restricted 26 October. On 23 November, the wearing of an armband with the Star of David was generalized for Jews over the age of 12 from 1 December onwards and all Jewish businesses were marked out.

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On the 28th, Jewish councils were appointed throughout the territory of the General-Gouvernement Trunk, In January , Jews were forbidden to change residence without a special permit 11th , to conduct business in the street 15th , to travel by train without special permit 26th. The Germans inventoried and registered goods owned by Jews 24th and closed all synagogues and prayer houses.

The Nazi project of racial purification of a living space had only been conceived in broad outline when the offensive against Poland began. Thus, a certain improvisation characterized the transfer in autumn of masses of civilians, in what were often inhuman conditions that resulted in numerous casualties. However, if the Nazis made numerous evacuation plans, it is difficult to know exactly how many Jews and Gypsies from Warthegau were actually expelled. The organization was defective and, above all, Hans Frank expressed his reservations because of a lack of space.

Hundreds of trains transported the expellees, who were stripped of their belongings and could only take 20 kg of luggage per person 10 kg per child. In total, according to German data, from September to March around , Poles including at least 40, Jews were transferred by train to the General-Gouvernement Sienkiewicz and Hryciuk, Conversely, from to , around , ethnic Germans were settled in Warthegau, mainly from Volhynia, the Baltic countries, Bukovina and the General-Gouvernement Sienkiewicz and Hryciuk, In the district of Radom, in , villages were emptied of their Polish populations Chmielarz, Baranowski, a; Dobroszycki, ; Podolska, In Cracow, the ghetto was sealed on 3 March , with 60, Jews cf.

The idea was initiated at the end of by local Nazi leaders, concerned about overcrowding in the existing prisons. After several appraisals, the site was chosen because it was outside the town and at the heart of a rail network. Following a visit from Himmler, it was decided to expand the functions and capacity of the camp, which was to anticipate the reception of tens of thousands of prisoners. The opening of a rubber factory IB Farben and a farm was also decided. In June and then March , the Germans expelled and expropriated most of the Polish families living near the camp and in surrounding villages.

In its early years, the camp predominantly received Polish and German political prisoners 26, and Soviet prisoners of war 9, Many of them died during the extension work and as a result of the harsh living conditions. Before March , 1, prisoners had been shot or otherwise killed; 2, died as a result of malnutrition or brutality by the Schutzstaffel SS.

Then, up to the end of January , nearly 18, inmates died of hunger, wounds or on account of work in inhuman conditions — notably during the expansion of the camp and the construction of the factories.

The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41

During his second visit, on July , Himmler witnessed the first gassing of Jews. They were stripped of their belongings and abandoned, without adequate hygiene or nourishment, in a dilapidated building surrounded by barbed wire and ditches. The Jewish doctors of the ghetto found it extremely difficult to treat them when a typhus epidemic broke out, causing deaths. A set of decrees and regulations made work mandatory for all Polish citizens from the age of 14 12 if they were Jewish. They were routinely conscripted and sent to Germany. The round-ups were constant from the early days of the occupation.

In January , , Polish workers had already been deported to Germany and the figure reached 1 million by 15 September Glowny Urzad Statystycny, Many of them were never to return: of the , Poles from Warthegau deported up to , around 60, died there Sienkiewicz and Hryciuk, The Jews concentrated in the ghettos were exploited like slaves on hundreds of construction sites or on the spot, in workshops.

Thus, in the Warsaw area alone, which contained 75 ghettos, there were 76 labor camps; in that of Lublin, ; in that of Radom, 71; and in that of Cracow, Estimates of the number of victims remain uncertain. Around 40, people seem to have died in prison. However, these figures are not precise. They were deported to the east in four phases: 10 February , people , 13 April 61, , June 79, and June 40, Winter — Studies in Intelligence. Instytut Lwowski. Encyklopedia Interia in Polish. Vecherniy Brest in Russian.

Churchill, Blood, Sweat and Tears. Tygodnik Zamojski. Archived from the original pdf on 7 March Archived from the original on 9 September Retrieved 19 December Arrested on the Eastern Borderlands. Archived from the original on 21 October Retrieved 15 November Retrieved 4 November Archived from the original on 23 June Archived from the original on 9 December Yahoo News. Retrieved 3 September Sky News. Biskupski, Mieczyslaw B. Carley, Michael Jabara Europe-Asia Studies. Dallas, Gregor Yale University Press. Davies, Norman New York: St. Martin's Press. Europe: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

God's Playground revised ed. Columbia University Press. Dean, Martin Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Degras, Jane Tabrisky Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy.

The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41 The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41
The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41 The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41
The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41 The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41
The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41 The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41
The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41 The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41
The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41 The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41
The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41 The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41

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