History of Poland (1939–1945)

History of Poland (1939–1945)

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The history of Poland from 1939 to 1945 encompasses the German invasion of Poland as well as the Soviet invasion of Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland can refer to:* the second phase of the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 when Soviet armies marched on Warsaw, Poland* Soviet invasion of Poland of 1939 when Soviet Union allied with Nazi Germany attacked Second Polish Republic...

 through to the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. On 1 September 1939, without a formal declaration of war
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

, Germany invaded Poland. Germany's immediate pretext was the Gleiwitz incident
Gleiwitz incident
The Gleiwitz incident was a staged attack by Nazi forces posing as Poles on 31 August 1939, against the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, Germany on the eve of World War II in Europe....

, a provocation staged by the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 claiming that Polish troops had allegedly committed "provocations" along the German-Polish border including house torching, which were all staged by the Germans. Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 also used issues like the dispute between Germany and Poland over German rights to the Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

 and the freeing of a passage between East Prussia and the rest of Germany through the Polish Corridor
Polish Corridor
The Polish Corridor , also known as Danzig Corridor, Corridor to the Sea or Gdańsk Corridor, was a territory located in the region of Pomerelia , which provided the Second Republic of Poland with access to the Baltic Sea, thus dividing the bulk of Germany from the province of East...

 as excuses for the invasion. Pursuant to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

, Poland was attacked by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 on 17 September 1939. Before the end of the month most of Poland was divided between Germany and the Soviets.

German and Soviet invasions



The Nazi German invasion was anticipated already since the late thirties in the Polish army order of battle in 1939
Polish army order of battle in 1939
Polish OOB during the Invasion of Poland. In the late thirties Polish headquarters prepared "Plan Zachód" , a plan of mobilization of Polish Army in case of war with Germany...

, but the strategic position of the Polish armed forces
Polish Armed Forces
Siły Zbrojne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej are the national defense forces of Poland...

 to resist was nevertheless hopeless, because Poland was surrounded on three sides by the German territories: Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

, Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

, East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 (all parts of Germany), and German-controlled Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. The newly formed Slovak State assisted their German allies by attacking Poland from the south. The Soviet Union encroached from the east, and finally Polish forces were blockaded on the Baltic Coast by the German and Soviet navies. The German "concept of annihilation" (Vernichtungsgedanke
Vernichtungsgedanke
Vernichtungsgedanke, literally meaning "concept of annihilation" in German and generally taken to mean "the concept of fast annihilation of enemy forces" is a tactical doctrine dating back to Frederick the Great. It emphasizes rapid, fluid movement to unbalance an enemy, allowing the attacker to...

) that later evolved into the Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

 ("lightning war") provided for rapid advance of Panzer
Panzer
A Panzer is a German language word that, when used as a noun, means "tank". When it is used as an adjective, it means either tank or "armoured" .- Etymology :...

 (armoured) divisions, dive bombing (to break up troop concentrations), and aerial bombing of undefended cities to sap civilian morale. The Polish Army and Air Force had insufficient new equipment to match the onslaught.

German forces were numerically and technologically superior to Polish armed forces. The Germans threw 85% of their armed forces at Poland. They commanded 1.6 million men, 250,000 trucks and other motor vehicles, 11,000 artillery pieces, 2,500 tanks and a cavalry division. Some of the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 pilots were the veterans of the elite Condor Legion
Condor Legion
The Condor Legion was a unit composed of volunteers from the German Air Force and from the German Army which served with the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War of July 1936 to March 1939. The Condor Legion developed methods of terror bombing which were used widely in the Second World War...

, which had seen action during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 (1936–39). The Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 comprised 1,180 fighter aircraft (mainly Messerschmitt Bf 109
Messerschmitt Bf 109
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s...

s), 290 Ju 87 Stuka
Junkers Ju 87
The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka was a two-man German ground-attack aircraft...

 dive bombers, 290 conventional bombers (mainly He 111 type), and 240 assorted naval aircraft. The German navy positioned its old battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

  to shell Westerplatte
Westerplatte
Westerplatte is a peninsula in Gdańsk, Poland, located on the Baltic Sea coast mouth of the Dead Vistula , in the Gdańsk harbour channel...

, a section of Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

, an exclave separate from the main city and awarded to Poland by Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 in 1919.

The Polish forces found themselves severely outnumbered and outclassed. They consisted of 800,000 troops, including 11 cavalry brigades, two motorized brigades, 4,000 artillery pieces, and 880 tanks: 120 of them of the advanced 7-TP-type. The Polish airforce included 400 fighter aircraft: 160 PZL P.11
PZL P.11
The PZL P.11 was a Polish fighter aircraft, designed in the early 1930s by PZL in Warsaw. It was briefly considered to be the most advanced fighter aircraft design in the world...

c fighter aircraft, 31 PZL P.7
PZL P.7
-References:NotesBibliography* Cynk, Jerzy B. History of the Polish Air Force 1918-1968. Reading, Berkshire, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1972.* Cynk, Jerzy B. Polish Aircraft, 1893-1939. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1971. ISBN 0-370-00085-4....

a and 20 P.11a fighters, 120 PZL.23 Karaś
PZL.23 Karas
|-Specifications :-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Angelucci, Enzo and Paolo Matricardi. World War II Airplanes . Chicago: Rand McNally, 1978. ISBN 0-52888-170-1....

 reconnaissance-bombers, and 45 PZL.37 Łoś medium bombers. The navy that did not participate in the withdrawal to United Kingdom and the linking up with the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 (known as Peking Plan
Peking Plan
The Peking PlanThe "Peking" in the name is the traditional English spelling of the former name of the city that is now the capital of China, which is now spelled in the pinyin system 'Beijing'. At the time, the city was not the capital, and its name was Peiping. Before the Second World War in the...

), consisted of four destroyers, one torpedo boat, one minelayer, two gunboats, six minesweepers, and five submarines.

The Poles believed that the invasion was intended from the beginning as a war of extermination. Hitler allegedly said to his commanders: "I have issued the command — and I'll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish race and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" (There are some doubts about the authenticity of this quotation; see Armenian quote
Armenian quote
The Armenian quote is a paragraph understood to have been included in a speech by Adolf Hitler to Wehrmacht commanders at his Obersalzberg home on August 22, 1939, a week before the German invasion of Poland...

.)

Although the UK and France declared war on Germany, no direct military action was rendered. France was in direct violation of the Franco-Polish Military Alliance
Franco-Polish Military Alliance
The Franco-Polish alliance was the military alliance between Poland and France that was active between 1921 and 1940.-Background:Already during the France-Habsburg rivalry that started in the 16th century, France had tried to find allies to the east of Austria, namely hoping to ally with Poland...

 that was signed in 19 May 1939, where France promised to attack Germany if Poland was attacked. Great Britain also refused to attack Germany, even though they had sworn to do so in the case of a German invasion. The Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 was tied up in the attack on Poland, and the French Army enjoyed decisive numerical advantage on their border with Germany, but the Allies failed to contribute solid assistance. Nine divisions of the French army (out of 102 that were ready for action) entered the German area in Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

. They advanced only to a depth of eight kilometers and took over about 20 abandoned villages, without any resistance. The Saar Offensive
Saar Offensive
The Saar Offensive was a French operation into Saarland on the German 1st Army defence sector in the early stages of World War II. The purpose of the attack was to assist Poland, which was then under attack...

 caused no German soldiers to be brought from Poland to the west. At the same time, the British Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 limited itself to dropping pamphlet
Pamphlet
A pamphlet is an unbound booklet . It may consist of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths , or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and saddle stapled at the crease to make a simple book...

s on German cities. Shortly after their attack, the French General Staff ordered a retreat from German territory; and, on October 4 the French forces returned to their original positions. Many historians believe that, had the Great Britain and France honoured their pledge to Poland, the Nazis would have been contained and the war would not have had such a devastating impact on all European nations.

In the meanwhile, to the east of Poland, the Soviet Union was preparing its own military advance to occupy the eastern part of Poland in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

 concluded between the USSR and Germany in August 1939, just weeks before the German invasion.
With Britain and France unwilling to follow on their military commitment to Poland, the Soviet Union, having its own reasons to fear the German expansionism further East, made various offers to Poland of an anti-German alliance, similar to the earlier one made to Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. Regardless of Stalin's true intentions, such alliances backed by the Soviet military force would have been a likely deterrent to Hitler's plans. However, the Poles feared Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's Communism nearly as much as they feared Hitler's Nazism, and throughout 1939 they refused to agree to any arrangement which would allow Soviet troops to freely enter Poland. The Polish refusal to accept the Soviet offer is best illustrated by the famous quote of Marshall Edward Rydz-Śmigły, the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish armed forces, who is quoted to have said: "With the Germans we run the risk of losing our liberty. With the Russians we will lose our soul". The Soviets then turned to concluding the treaty with Germany (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

) which was signed in August 1939.

The Polish government feared that Germany would launch only a limited war, to seize the territories which it claimed, and then ask France and Britain for a ceasefire. To defend these territories, the Polish military command compounded their strategic weakness by massing their forces along their western border, in defence of Poland's main industrial areas around Poznań
Poznan
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

 and Łódź, where they could be easily surrounded and cut off. By the time the Polish command decided to withdraw to the line of the Vistula
Vistula
The Vistula is the longest and the most important river in Poland, at 1,047 km in length. The watershed area of the Vistula is , of which lies within Poland ....

, it was too late. By 28 September, Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 was surrounded.
In accordance with a secret protocol annex to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

, Germany asked the Soviet Union on 3 September to engage its troops against the Polish state. The Soviet Union assured Germany that the Red Army advance into Poland would soon follow under the pretext of aiding the Ukrainians and the Belarusians threatened by Germany.

On 17 September, the Red Army marched its troops into Poland, which the Soviet Union now claimed to be non-existent. Also, concerns about the Soviets' own security were used to justify the invasion. The Red Army advance was coordinated with the movement of the German forces and met little resistance from the Polish forces (such as Battle of Szack
Battle of Szack
Battle of Szack was one of the major battles between the Polish Army and the Red Army fought in 1939 in the beginning the Second World War.- Eve of the Battle :...

 fought by the Border Defence Corps or Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza), who were ordered to avoid engagement into the armed fights with the Soviets although some fighting between Soviet and Polish units took place.

The Polish government and high command retreated to the southeast Romanian bridgehead
Romanian Bridgehead
The Romanian Bridgehead was an area in southeastern Poland, now located in Ukraine. During the Polish Defensive War of 1939 , on September 14 the Polish Commander in Chief Marshal of Poland Edward Rydz-Śmigły ordered all Polish troops fighting east of the Vistula to withdraw towards Lwów, and...

 and eventually crossed into neutral Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. There was no formal surrender, and resistance continued in many places. Warsaw was bombed into submission, (the event that served as a trigger for the surrender was an accidental damage caused by one of the German bombs to the water supply system and subsequent lack of water) on 27 September, and some Army units fought until well into October (Battle of Kock
Battle of Kock (1939)
The Battle of Kock, was the final battle in the Invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II. It took place between 2–5 October 1939, near the town of Kock, in Poland....

). In the more mountainous parts of the country, Army units began underground resistance almost at once. The Polish army lost 65,000 troops, 400 air crew, and 110 navy crew. The German losses were 16,000 troops, 365 air crew, and 126 navy crew. 285 German aircraft were destroyed, with 126 claimed by Polish fighter pilots. Ninety were shot down by anti-aircraft fire, and, due to the modesty of Polish pilots, there is a deficit of 70 unclaimed kills. Three hundred more German aircraft were so badly damaged they were written off. The Polish Air Force lost 327 aircraft, 260 of which were lost due to direct or indirect enemy action, with around 70 in air-to-air fighting. Anti-aircraft fire claimed the other 67.

Occupation and dismemberment of Poland


About of Polish citizens lost their lives in the war, most of the civilians targeted by various deliberate actions. The German plan involved not only the annexation of Polish territory, but also the total destruction of Polish culture and the Polish nation (Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

).

Treatment of Polish citizens under German occupation




Under the terms of two decrees by Hitler (8 October and 12 October 1939), large areas of western Poland were annexed to Germany. These included all the territories which Germany had lost under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, such as the Polish Corridor
Polish Corridor
The Polish Corridor , also known as Danzig Corridor, Corridor to the Sea or Gdańsk Corridor, was a territory located in the region of Pomerelia , which provided the Second Republic of Poland with access to the Baltic Sea, thus dividing the bulk of Germany from the province of East...

, West Prussia
West Prussia
West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

 and Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia. Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of...

, but also a large area of indisputably Polish territory east of these territories, including the city of Łódź.

The Germans provided for the division of the annexed areas of Poland into the following administrative units:
  • Reichsgau Wartheland
    Reichsgau Wartheland
    Reichsgau Wartheland was a Nazi German Reichsgau formed from Polish territory annexed in 1939. It comprised the Greater Poland and adjacent areas, and only in part matched the area of the similarly named pre-Versailles Prussian province of Posen...

     (initially Reichsgau Posen
    Poznan
    Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

    ), which included the entire Poznań voivodship, most of the Łódź voivodship, five counties of the Pomerania
    Pomerania
    Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

    n voivodship, and one county of the Warsaw
    Warsaw
    Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

     voivodship;
  • the remaining area of Pomeranian voivodship, which was incorporated into the Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen (initially Reichsgau Westpreussen);
  • Ciechanów
    Ciechanów
    Ciechanów is a town in north-central Poland with 45,900 inhabitants . It is situated in Masovian Voivodeship . It was previously the capital of Ciechanów Voivodeship.-History:The grad numbered approximately 3,000 armed men....

     District (Regierungsbezirk Zichenau) consisting of the five northern counties of Warsaw voivodship (Płock, Płońsk, Sierpc
    Sierpc
    Sierpc is a town in Poland, in the north-west part of the Masovian Voivodeship, about 125 km northwest of Warsaw. It is the capital of Sierpc County. Its population is 18,777 . It is located near the national road No 10, which connects Warsaw and Toruń...

    , Ciechanów and Mława), which became a part of East Prussia
    East Prussia
    East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

    ;
  • Katowice District (Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz) or, unofficially, East Upper Silesia
    Upper Silesia
    Upper Silesia is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia. Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of...

     (Ost-Oberschlesien), which included Silesian Voivodeship, Sosnowiec
    Sosnowiec
    Sosnowiec is a city in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie in southern Poland, near Katowice. It is one of the central districts of the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Union - a metropolis with a combined population of over two million people located in the Silesian Highlands, on the Brynica river .It is situated in...

    , Będzin
    Bedzin
    Będzin is a city in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie in southern Poland. Located in the Silesian Highlands, on the Czarna Przemsza river , the city borders the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Union - a metro area with a population of about 2 million.It has been situated in the Silesian Voivodeship since its...

    , Chrzanów
    Chrzanów
    Chrzanów is a town in south Poland with 39,704 inhabitants . It is situated in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship and is the capital of Chrzanów County.- To 1809:...

    , Oświęcim
    Oswiecim
    Oświęcim is a town in the Lesser Poland province of southern Poland, situated west of Kraków, near the confluence of the rivers Vistula and Soła.- History :...

    , and Zawiercie
    Zawiercie
    Zawiercie is a city in the Silesian Voivodeship of southern Poland with 55,800 inhabitants . It is situated in the Kraków-Częstochowa highland near the source of the Warta River...

     Counties, and parts of Olkusz
    Olkusz
    Olkusz is a town in south Poland with 37,696 inhabitants . Situated in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship , previously in Katowice Voivodeship , it is the capital of Olkusz County...

     and Żywiec
    Zywiec
    Żywiec is a town in south-central Poland with 32,242 inhabitants . Between 1975 and 1998, it was located within the Bielsko-Biała Voivodeship, but has since become part of the Silesian Voivodeship....

     Counties, which became a part of Province of Upper Silesia
    Province of Upper Silesia
    The Province of Upper Silesia was a province of the Free State of Prussia created in the aftermath of World War I. It comprised much of the region of Upper Silesia and was eventually divided into two administrative regions , Kattowitz and Oppeln...

    .


The area of these annexed territories was 94,000 square kilometres and the population was about 10 million, the great majority of whom were Poles.

Under the terms of the Nazi-Soviet pact, adjusted by agreement on 28 September 1939, the Soviet Union, annexed all Polish territory east of the line of the rivers Pisa, Narew
Narew
The Narew River , in western Belarus and north-eastern Poland, is a left tributary of the Vistula river...

, Bug
Bug River
The Bug River is a left tributary of the Narew river flows from central Ukraine to the west, passing along the Ukraine-Polish and Polish-Belarusian border and into Poland, where it empties into the Narew river near Serock. The part between the lake and the Vistula River is sometimes referred to as...

 and San
San River
The San is a river in southeastern Poland and western Ukraine, a tributary of the Vistula River, with a length of 433 km and a basin area of 16,861 km2...

, except for the area around Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 (known in Polish as Wilno), which was given to Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, and the Suwałki region, which was annexed by Germany. These territories were largely inhabited by Ukrainians
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

ians, with minorities of Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 and Jews (see exact numbers in Curzon line
Curzon Line
The Curzon Line was put forward by the Allied Supreme Council after World War I as a demarcation line between the Second Polish Republic and Bolshevik Russia and was supposed to serve as the basis for a future border. In the wake of World War I, which catalysed the Russian Revolution of 1917, the...

). The total area, including the area given to Lithuania, was 201,000 square kilometres, with a population of 13.5 million. A small strip of land that was part of Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 before 1914, was also given to Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

.

After the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Polish territories previously occupied by the Soviet were organized as follows:
  • Bezirk Białystok' (district of Białystok), which included the Białystok, Bielsk Podlaski
    Bielsk Podlaski
    -Roads and Highways:Bielsk Podlaski is at the intersection of two National Road and a Voivodeship Road:* National Road 19 - Kuźnica Białystoka Border Crossing - Kuźnica - Białystok - Bielsk Podlaski - Siemiatycze - Międzyrzec Podlaski - Kock - Lubartów - Lublin - Kraśnik - Janów Lubelski - Nisko...

    , Grajewo
    Grajewo
    Grajewo , is a town in north-eastern Poland with 23,302 inhabitants .It is situated in the Podlaskie Voivodeship ; previously, it was in Łomża Voivodeship...

    , Łomża, Sokółka, Volkovysk, and Grodno counties, was "attached" to (but not incorporated into) East Prussia;
  • Bezirke Litauen und Weißrussland — the Polish part of White Russia (today western Belarus
    Belarus
    Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

    ), including the Vilna province (Vilnius
    Vilnius
    Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

     was incorporated into the Reichskommissariat Ostland
    Reichskommissariat Ostland
    Reichskommissariat Ostland, literally "Reich Commissariat Eastland", was the civilian occupation regime established by Nazi Germany in the Baltic states and much of Belarus during World War II. It was also known as Reichskommissariat Baltenland initially...

    );
  • Bezirk Wolhynien-Podolien — the Polish province of Volhynia
    Volhynia
    Volhynia, Volynia, or Volyn is a historic region in western Ukraine located between the rivers Prypiat and Southern Bug River, to the north of Galicia and Podolia; the region is named for the former city of Volyn or Velyn, said to have been located on the Southern Bug River, whose name may come...

    , which was incorporated into the Reichskommissariat Ukraine
    Ukraine
    Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

    ; and
  • East Galicia, which was incorporated into the General-Government and became its fifth district.



The future fate of Poland and Poles was decided in Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

, a Nazi plan to ethnically cleanse
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

 the territories occupied by Germany in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

. The remaining block of territory was placed under a German administration called the General Government
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

 (in German Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete), with its capital at Kraków
Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

. The General Government was subdivided into four districts, Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

, Lublin
Lublin
Lublin is the ninth largest city in Poland. It is the capital of Lublin Voivodeship with a population of 350,392 . Lublin is also the largest Polish city east of the Vistula river...

, Radom
Radom
Radom is a city in central Poland with 223,397 inhabitants . It is located on the Mleczna River in the Masovian Voivodeship , having previously been the capital of Radom Voivodeship ; 100 km south of Poland's capital, Warsaw.It is home to the biennial Radom Air Show, the largest and...

, and Kraków. (For more detail on the territorial division of this area see General Government
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

.)

A German lawyer and prominent Nazi, Hans Frank
Hans Frank
Hans Michael Frank was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi party during the 1920s and 1930s and later became a high-ranking official in Nazi Germany...

, was appointed Governor-General of the occupied territories on 26 October. Frank oversaw the segregation of the Jews into ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

s in the larger cities, particularly Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

, and the use of Polish civilians as forced and compulsory labour in German war industries.

The population in the General Government's territory was initially about 12 million in an area of 94,000 km², but this increased as about 860,000 Poles and Jews were expelled from the German-annexed areas and "resettled" in the General Government. Offsetting this was the German campaign of extermination of the Polish intelligentsia
Intelligentsia
The intelligentsia is a social class of people engaged in complex, mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them...

 and other elements thought likely to resist (e.g. Operation Tannenberg
Operation Tannenberg
Operation Tannenberg was the codename for one of the extermination actions directed at the Polish people during World War II, part of the Generalplan Ost...

 and Action AB). From 1941, disease and hunger also began to reduce the population. Poles were also deported in large numbers to work as forced labour in Germany: eventually about a million were deported, and many died in Germany.

According to recent (2009) estimates by IPN
Institute of National Remembrance
Institute of National Remembrance — Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives and prosecution powers founded by specific legislation. It specialises in the legal and historical sciences and...

, between 5.62 million and 5.82 million Polish citizens (including Polish Jews) died as a result of the German occupation.

Treatment of Polish citizens under Soviet occupation


By the end of Polish Defensive War, the Soviet Union took over 52,1% of the territory of Poland (circa 200,000 km²), with over 13,700,000 people. Although estimates vary, the most thorough analysis gives the following numbers in regards to the ethnic composition of these areas: 38% Poles (ca. 5,1 million people), 37% Ukrainians, 14,5% Belarusians, 8,4% Jews, 0,9% Russians and 0,6% Germans. There were also 336,000 refugees from areas occupied by Germany, most of them Jews (198,000). Areas occupied by USSR were annexed to Soviet territory
Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union
Immediately after the German invasion of Poland in 1939, which marked the beginning of World War II, the Soviet Union invaded the eastern regions of the Second Polish Republic, which Poles referred to as the "Kresy," and annexed territories totaling 201,015 km² with a population of 13,299,000...

, with the exception of area of Vilnius
Vilnius region
Vilnius Region , refers to the territory in the present day Lithuania, that was originally inhabited by ethnic Baltic tribes and was a part of Lithuania proper, but came under East Slavic and Polish cultural influences over time,...

, which was transferred to Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, although soon attached to USSR, when Lithuania
Lithuanian SSR
The Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic , also known as the Lithuanian SSR, was one of the republics that made up the former Soviet Union...

 became a Soviet republic
Republics of the Soviet Union
The Republics of the Soviet Union or the Union Republics of the Soviet Union were ethnically-based administrative units that were subordinated directly to the Government of the Soviet Union...

.

While Germans enforced their policies based on racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

, the Soviet administration used slogans about class struggle
Class struggle
Class struggle is the active expression of a class conflict looked at from any kind of socialist perspective. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle"....

, and dictatorship of the proletariat
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

, which in Soviet reality were equal to Stalinism
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 and Sovietization
Sovietization
Sovietization is term that may be used with two distinct meanings:*the adoption of a political system based on the model of soviets .*the adoption of a way of life and mentality modelled after the Soviet Union....

. Immediately after their conquest of eastern Poland, the Soviet authorities started a campaign of sovietization
Sovietization
Sovietization is term that may be used with two distinct meanings:*the adoption of a political system based on the model of soviets .*the adoption of a way of life and mentality modelled after the Soviet Union....

 of the newly-acquired areas. No later than several weeks after the last Polish units surrendered, on October 22, the Soviets organized staged elections
Elections to the People's Assemblies of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus
Elections to the People's Assemblies of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus, which took place on October 22, 1939, were an attempt to legitimate territorial gains of the Soviet Union, at the expense of the Second Polish Republic...

 to the Moscow-controlled Supreme Soviet
Supreme Soviet
The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union was the Supreme Soviet in the Soviet Union and the only one with the power to pass constitutional amendments...

s (legislative body) of Western Belarus and Western Ukraine. The result of the staged voting was to become a legitimization of Soviet partition of Poland.

Subsequently, all institutions of the dismantled Polish state were being closed down and reopened with new mostly Russian directors and in rare cases Ukrainian or Polish ones. Lviv University
Lviv University
The Lviv University or officially the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv is the oldest continuously operating university in Ukraine...

 and other schools restarted anew as Soviet institutions. Studies were simply devoted to Soviet propaganda. Polish literature and language studies were dissolved by Soviet authorities.

Simultaneously, Soviet authorities attempted to remove all signs of Polish existence in the area by eliminating much of what had any connection to the Polish state or even Polish culture in general, as well as removing the Polish population On 21 December, the Polish currency was withdrawn from circulation without any exchange to the newly-introduced rouble, which meant that the entire population of the area lost all of their life-time savings overnight. In schools, Polish language books were burned down.

All the media became controlled by Moscow. Soviet occupation implemented a political regime similar to police state
Police state
A police state is one in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population...

, based on terror. All Polish parties and organisations were disbanded. Only the Communist Party
Communist Party of Ukraine
The Communist Party of Ukraine is a political party in Ukraine, currently led by Petro Symonenko.The party fights the Ukrainian national self-determination by identifying any Ukrainian national parties as the National-Fascist ones The Communist Party of Ukraine is a political party in Ukraine,...

 was allowed to exist with organisations subordinated to it. Soviet teachers in schools encouraged children to spy on their parents proposing money as bribes.

All organized religions were persecuted. Most churches were closed; priests and ministers were discriminated against by authorities regardless of their faith, with forms of discrimination including high taxes, forced drafts into military service, arrests and deportations. Children were told that they should pray to paintings of Stalin instead of the cross, and were rewarded with sweets and candy for this.
All enterprises were taken over by the state, while agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 was made collective
Collective farming
Collective farming and communal farming are types of agricultural production in which the holdings of several farmers are run as a joint enterprise...

. The results of Soviet economic policy were quickly seen, in winter locals faced new problems, as shops lacked goods, there was scarce food and they had to face famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

.

According to the Soviet law, all residents of the annexed area, dubbed by the Soviets as citizens of former Poland, automatically acquired Soviet citizenship. However, since actual conferral of citizenship still required the consent of the individual, residents were strongly pressured for such consent and the refugees who opted out were threatened with repatriation to Nazi controlled territories of Poland.

In addition, the Soviets exploited past ethnic tensions between Poles and other ethnic groups, inciting and encouraging violence against Poles by calling upon the minorities to "rectify the wrongs they had suffered during twenty years of Polish rule". Pre-war Poland was portrayed as a capitalist state based on exploitation of the working people and ethnic minorities. Soviet officials openly incited mobs to perform killings and robberies against the Polish population, going as far as stating that the Red Army would help to kill and pillage. A brutal bloodbath ensued. Such events made an everlasting influence on the Polish attitude towards Soviet occupation.

Some parts of the Ukrainian population initially welcomed the end of Polish rule. This was even strengthened by a land reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

 in which the owners of large lots of land were labeled "kulak
Kulak
Kulaks were a category of relatively affluent peasants in the later Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and early Soviet Union...

s" and dispossessed of their land which was then divided among poorer peasants.
However, soon afterwards the Soviet authorities started a campaign of forced collectivisation, which largely nullified the earlier gains from the land reform as the peasants generally did not want to join the Kolkhoz
Kolkhoz
A kolkhoz , plural kolkhozy, was a form of collective farming in the Soviet Union that existed along with state farms . The word is a contraction of коллекти́вное хозя́йство, or "collective farm", while sovkhoz is a contraction of советское хозяйство...

 farms, nor to give away their crops for free to fulfill the state imposed quotas. At the same time, there were large groups of pre-war Polish citizens, notably Jewish youth and, to a lesser extent, the Ukrainian peasants, who saw the Soviet power as an opportunity to start political or social activity outside of their traditional ethnic or cultural groups. Their enthusiasm however faded with time as it became clear that the Soviet repressions were aimed at all groups equally, regardless of their political stance. The organisation of Ukrainians desiring independent Ukraine (the OUN) was persecuted as "anti-soviet".

An inherent part of the Sovietization was a rule of terror started by the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 and other Soviet agencies. The first victims of the new order were approximately 250,000 Polish prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 captured by the USSR during and after the Polish Defensive War. As the Soviet Union did not sign any international convention on rules of war, they were denied the status of prisoners of war and instead almost all of the captured officers and a large number of ordinary soldiers were then murdered (see Katyn massacre
Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

) or sent to Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

. Of the 10,000-12,000 Poles sent to Kolyma
Kolyma
The Kolyma region is located in the far north-eastern area of Russia in what is commonly known as Siberia but is actually part of the Russian Far East. It is bounded by the East Siberian Sea and the Arctic Ocean in the north and the Sea of Okhotsk to the south...

 in 1940–41, most POWs, only 583 men survived, released in 1942 to join the Polish Armed Forces in the East
Polish Armed Forces in the East
Polish Armed Forces in the East refers to military units composed of Poles created in the Soviet Union at the time when the territory of Poland was occupied by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the Second World War....

. Out of Anders's 80,000 evacuees from Soviet Union gathered in Great Britain only 310 volunteered to return to Poland in 1947.

Similar policies were applied to the civilian population as well. The Soviet authorities regarded service for the pre-war Polish state as a "crime against revolution" and "counter-revolutionary activity", and subsequently started arresting large numbers of Polish intelligentsia
Intelligentsia
The intelligentsia is a social class of people engaged in complex, mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them...

, politicians, civil servants and scientists, but also ordinary people suspected of posing a threat to the Soviet rule. Schoolchildren as young as 10 or 12 years old that laughed at Soviet propaganda presented in schools were sent into prisons, sometimes for as long as 10 years.

The prisons soon got severely overcrowded with detainees suspected of anti-Soviet activities and the NKVD had to open dozens of ad-hoc prison sites in almost all towns of the region. The wave of arrests led to forced resettlement of large categories of people (kulak
Kulak
Kulaks were a category of relatively affluent peasants in the later Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and early Soviet Union...

s, Polish civil servants, forest workers, university professors or osadnik
Osadnik
Osadniks was the Polish loanword used in Soviet Union for veterans of the Polish Army that were given land in the Kresy territory ceded to Poland by Polish-Soviet Riga Peace Treaty of 1921 .-Colonization process:Shortly before the battle of Warsaw on August 7, 1920, the Premier of Poland,...

s, for instance) to the Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

 labour camps. Altogether, roughly a half a million people were sent to the east in four major waves of deportations. Many of them were dead by the time the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement
Sikorski-Mayski Agreement
The Sikorski–Mayski Agreement was a treaty between the Soviet Union and Poland signed in London on 30 July 1941. Its name was coined after the two most notable signatories: Polish Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski and Soviet Ambassador to the United Kingdom Ivan Mayski.- Details :After signing...

 had been signed in 1941.

According to recent (2009) estimates by IPN
Institute of National Remembrance
Institute of National Remembrance — Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives and prosecution powers founded by specific legislation. It specialises in the legal and historical sciences and...

, around 150,000 thousand Polish citizens died as a result of the Soviet occupation. Those estimates also suggest a much smaller number of deportees (around 320,000)..

Resistance in Poland



Resistance to the German occupation began almost at once, although there is little terrain in Poland suitable for guerrilla operations. The Home Army
Armia Krajowa
The Armia Krajowa , or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej . Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces...

 (in Polish Armia Krajowa or AK), loyal to the Polish government in exile
Polish government in Exile
The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile , was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

 in London and a military arm of the Polish Secret State
Polish Secret State
The Polish Underground State is a collective term for the World War II underground resistance organizations in Poland, both military and civilian, that remained loyal to the Polish Government in Exile in London. The first elements of the Underground State were put in place in the final days of the...

, was formed from a number of smaller groups in 1942. From 1943, the AK was in competition with the People's Army
People's Army
People's Army was a title of several communist armed forces:* Czechoslovak People's Army* People's Army of Poland* Vietnam People's Army* National People's Army, of East Germany* Yugoslav People's Army* Korean People's Army...

 (Polish Armia Ludowa or AL), backed by the Soviet Union and controlled by the Polish Workers' Party
Polish Workers' Party
The Polish Workers' Party was a communist party in Poland from 1942 to 1948. It was founded as a reconstitution of the Communist Party of Poland, and merged with the Polish Socialist Party in 1948 to form the Polish United Workers' Party.-History:...

 (Polish Polska Partia Robotnicza or PPR). By 1944, the AK had some 380,000 men, although few arms: the AL was much smaller.
In August 1943 and March 1944, the Polish Secret State announced their long-term plan, partially designed to counter attractivness of some of the Communists' proposals. Their plan promised land reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

, nationalisation of the industrial base, demands for territorial compensation from Germany, as well as re-establishment of the pre-1939 eastern border. Thus, the main difference between the Secret State and the Communists, in terms of politics, amounted not to radical economic and social reforms, which were advocated by both sides, but to their attitudes towards national sovereignty, borders, and Polish-Soviet relations.

In April 1943, the Germans began deporting the remaining Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

, provoking the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp....

 from 19 April-16 May one of the first armed uprisings against the Germans in Poland. The Polish-Jewish leaders knew that the rising would be crushed but they preferred to die fighting than wait to be deported to their deaths in the camps.

In 1943, the Home Army built up its forces in preparation for a national uprising. The plan was code-named Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest was a series of uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army , the dominant force in the Polish resistance....

 and began in late 1943. Its most widely known elements were Operation Ostra Brama and the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

. In August 1944, as the Soviet armed forces approached Warsaw, the government in exile called for an uprising in the city, so that they could return to a liberated Warsaw and try to prevent a Communist takeover. The AK, led by Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski
Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski
General Count Tadeusz Komorowski , better known by the name Bór-Komorowski was a Polish military leader....

, launched the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

. Soviet forces were less than 20 km (12.4 mi) away, but on the orders of Soviet High Command, they gave little assistance. Stalin described the rising as a "criminal adventure." The Poles appealed for the western Allies for help. The Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

, and the Polish Air Force based in Italy, dropped some arms but, as in 1939, it was almost impossible for the Allies to help the Poles without Soviet assistance.

The fighting in Warsaw was desperate, with selfless valour being displayed in street-to-street fighting. The AK had between 12,000 and 20,000 armed soldiers, most with only small arms, against a well-equipped German Army of 20,000 SS and regular Army units. Bór-Komorowski's hope that the AK could take and hold Warsaw for the return of the London government was never likely to be achieved. After 63 days of savage fighting, the city was reduced to rubble, and German reprisals were savage. The SS and auxiliary units recruited from Soviet Army deserters were particularly brutal.

After Bór-Komorowski's surrender, the AK fighters were treated as prisoners-of-war by the Germans, much to the outrage of Stalin, but the civilian population were ruthlessly punished. Overall, Polish casualties are estimated to be between 150,000 and 300,000 killed, with 90,000 civilians being sent to labour camps in the Reich
Reich
Reich is a German word cognate with the English rich, but also used to designate an empire, realm, or nation. The qualitative connotation from the German is " sovereign state." It is the word traditionally used for a variety of sovereign entities, including Germany in many periods of its history...

, while 60,000 were shipped to death and concentration camps such as Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, Mauthausen
Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
Mauthausen Concentration Camp grew to become a large group of Nazi concentration camps that was built around the villages of Mauthausen and Gusen in Upper Austria, roughly east of the city of Linz.Initially a single camp at Mauthausen, it expanded over time and by the summer of 1940, the...

, and others. The city was almost totally destroyed after German bombers systematically demolished the city. The Warsaw Rising allowed the Germans to destroy the AK as a fighting force, but the main beneficiary was Stalin, who was able to impose a Communist government on postwar Poland with little fear of armed resistance.

Rare instances of collaboration with the occupiers



In occupied Poland, there was no official collaboration neither at the political nor at the economic level. Poland also never officially surrendered to the Germans nor to the Soviets (though a state of war on the Soviet Union had never been formally declared, as opposed to the one on Germany). In the German occupation zone, the Polish resistance movement in World War II
Polish resistance movement in World War II
The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish defence against the Nazi occupation was an important part of the European...

 was the largest in all of occupied Europe. As a result, Polish citizens were unlikely to be given positions of any significant authority. The vast majority of the pre-war citizenry collaborating with the Nazis was the German minority in Poland
German minority in Poland
The registered German minority in Poland consists of 152,900 people, according to a 2002 census.The German language is used in certain areas in Opole Voivodeship , where most of the minority resides...

 which was offered one of several possible grades of the German citizenship (Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

). During the war there were about 3 million former Polish citizens of German origin who signed the official list of the Volksdeutsche. People who became Volksdeutsche were treated by Poles with special contempt, and the fact of them having signed the Volksliste
Volksliste
The Deutsche Volksliste was a Nazi institution whose purpose was the classification of inhabitants of German occupied territories into categories of desirability according to criteria systematized by Heinrich Himmler. The institution was first established in occupied western Poland...

 constituted high treason according to the Polish underground law.

Depending on a definition of collaboration (and of a Polish citizen, based on ethnicity and minority status), scholars estimate number of "Polish collaborators" at around several thousand in a population of about 35 million (that number is supported by the Israeli War Crimes Commission). The estimate is based primarily on the number of death sentences for treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

 by the Special Courts
Special Courts
Special Courts were the underground courts organized by the Polish Government in Exile during World War II in occupied Poland. The courts determined punishments for the citizens of Poland who were subject to the Polish law before the war.-History:After the Polish Defense War of 1939...

 of the Polish Underground State. John Connelly quoted a Polish historian (Leszek Gondek) calling the phenomenon of Polish collaboration "marginal" and wrote that "only relatively small percentage of Polish population engaged in activities that may be described as collaboration when seen against the backdrop of European and world history".

In October 1939, the Nazis ordered the mobilization
Mobilization
Mobilization is the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war. The word mobilization was first used, in a military context, in order to describe the preparation of the Prussian army during the 1850s and 1860s. Mobilization theories and techniques have continuously changed...

 of the pre-war Polish police to the service of the occupational authorities. The policemen were to report for duty or face death penalty. Blue Police
Blue Police
The Blue Police, more correctly translated as The Navy-Blue Police was the popular name of the collaborationist police in the German occupied area of the Second Polish Republic, known as General Government during the Second World War...

 was formed. At its peak in 1943, it numbered around 16,000. Its primary task was to act as a regular police
Police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

 force and to deal with criminal activities, but were also used by the Germans in combating smuggling, and patrolling the ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

s. Nonetheless many individuals in the Blue Police followed German orders reluctantly, often disobeyed German orders or even risked death acting against them. Many members of the Blue Police were in fact double agent
Double agent
A double agent, commonly abbreviated referral of double secret agent, is a counterintelligence term used to designate an employee of a secret service or organization, whose primary aim is to spy on the target organization, but who in fact is a member of that same target organization oneself. They...

s for the Polish resistance. Some of its officers were ultimately awarded the Righteous among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous among the Nations of the world's nations"), also translated as Righteous Gentiles is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis....

 awards for saving Jews.

Following Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 in June 1941, German forces quickly overran the territory of Poland controlled by the Soviets since their joint invasion. However, there are no known joint Polish-German actions, and the Germans were unsuccessful in their attempt to turn the Poles toward fighting exclusively against Soviet partisans.Tadeusz Piotrowski
Tadeusz Piotrowski (sociologist)
Tadeusz Piotrowski or Thaddeus Piotrowski is a Polish-American sociologist. He is a Professor of Sociology in the Social Science Division of the University of New Hampshire at Manchester in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he lives....

 quotes Joseph Rothschild
Joseph Rothschild
Joseph Rothschild was an American Jewish professor of history and political science at Columbia University, specializing in Central European and Eastern European history....

 saying "The Polish Home Army was by and large untainted by collaboration" and adds that "the honor of AK as a whole is beyond reproach". In 1944, Germans clandestinely armed a few regional Armia Krajowa
Armia Krajowa
The Armia Krajowa , or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej . Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces...

 (AK) units operating in the area of Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 in order to encourage them to act against the Soviet partisans
Soviet partisans in Poland
Poland was annexed and partitioned by Germany and the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the invasion of Poland in 1939. In the pre-war Polish territories annexed by the Soviets the first Soviet partisan groups were formed in 1941, soon after Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet...

 in the region; in Nowogrodek district and to a lesser degree in Vilnius district (AK turned these weapons against the Nazis during Operation Ostra Brama). Such arrangements were purely tactical and did not evidence the type of ideological collaboration as shown by Vichy regime in France or Quisling regime
Quisling regime
The Quisling regime, or the Quisling government are common names used to refer to the collaborationist government led by Vidkun Quisling in occupied Norway during the Second World War. The official name of the regime from 1 February 1942 until its dissolution in May 1945 was Nasjonale regjering...

 in Norway. The Poles main motivation was to gain intelligence on German morale and preparedness and to acquire much needed equipment.

Gunnar S. Paulsson
Gunnar S. Paulsson
Gunnar Svante Paulsson is a Swedish-born Canadian historian who has taught in Britain and Canada.Paulsson graduated Oxford University with a D.Phil. in 1998...

 estimates that in Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 the number of Polish citizens collaborating with the Nazis during occupation might have been around "1 or 2 percent" (p. 113). However, the damage that these criminals did was substantial. Most were interested in money. Blackmailers significantly increased the danger facing Jews and their chances of getting caught and killed. They harassed rescuers, stripped Jews of assets needed for food and bribes, raised the overall level of insecurity, and forced hidden Jews to seek out safer accommodations. Some individuals took advantage of a hiding person's desperation by collecting money, then reneging on their promise of aid—or worse, turning them over to the Germans for an additional reward. Individuals who turned in Jews in hiding to the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 received a standard payment consisting of some cash, liquor, sugar and cigarettes. Many Jews were robbed and handed over to the Germans by "szmalcownik
Szmalcownik
Szmalcownik is a pejorative Polish slang word used during World War II that denoted a person blackmailing Jews who were hiding, or blackmailing Poles who protected Jews during the Nazi occupation...

"s many of whom practiced blackmail as an "occupation". Those criminals were condemned by the Polish Underground State and a fight against these informers was organized by Armia Krajowa
Armia Krajowa
The Armia Krajowa , or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej . Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces...

 (Underground State's military arm), with the death sentence being meted out on a scale unknown in the occupied countries of Western Europe.

A number of people collaborating with the Soviet NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 before Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 were killed following the German attack. The atmosphere of revenge for the Soviet crimes against ethnic Poles led to the Jedwabne pogrom
Jedwabne pogrom
The Jedwabne pogrom of July 1941 during German occupation of Poland, was a massacre of at least 340 Polish Jews of all ages. These are the official findings of the Institute of National Remembrance, "confirmed by the number of victims in the two graves, according to the estimate of the...

 of July 1941, where a mob of Polish gentiles murdered around 300 local Jews in a burning barn-house. The village was previously occupied by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, (see Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) and some members of the Jewish community were subsequently accused of collaboration with the Soviet occupiers. Poles also beat the Enigma
Enigma
An enigma is a type of riddle generally expressed in radical or allegorical language that requires ingenuity and careful thought for its solution.Enigma, aenigma, or enigmatic may also refer to:-Music:...

 cypher.

The Holocaust in Poland



Persecution of the Jews by the Nazi occupation government, particularly in the urban areas, began immediately after the occupation. In the first year and a half, however, the Germans confined themselves to stripping the Jews of their property and herding them into ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

es and putting them into forced labor in war-related industries. During this period the Jewish community leadership, the Judenrat
Judenrat
Judenräte were administrative bodies during the Second World War that the Germans required Jews to form in the German occupied territory of Poland, and later in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union It is the overall term for the enforcement bodies established by the Nazi occupiers to...

, which, unlike Polish authorities, had an official recognition by the Germans, was able to some extent to bargain with the Germans. After the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, special extermination squads (the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

) were organised to kill Jews in the areas of eastern Poland which had been annexed by the Soviets in 1939.

In 1942, the Germans began the systematic killing of the Jews, beginning with the Jewish population of the General Government. Six extermination camps (Auschwitz
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

, Belzec
Belzec extermination camp
Belzec, Polish spelling Bełżec , was the first of the Nazi German extermination camps created for implementing Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust...

, Chełmno, Majdanek
Majdanek
Majdanek was a German Nazi concentration camp on the outskirts of Lublin, Poland, established during the German Nazi occupation of Poland. The camp operated from October 1, 1941 until July 22, 1944, when it was captured nearly intact by the advancing Soviet Red Army...

, Sobibór
Sobibór extermination camp
Sobibor was a Nazi German extermination camp located on the outskirts of the town of Sobibór, Lublin Voivodeship of occupied Poland as part of Operation Reinhard; the official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor...

 and Treblinka
Treblinka extermination camp
Treblinka was a Nazi extermination camp in occupied Poland during World War II near the village of Treblinka in the modern-day Masovian Voivodeship of Poland. The camp, which was constructed as part of Operation Reinhard, operated between and ,. During this time, approximately 850,000 men, women...

) were established in which the most extreme measure of the Holocaust, the mass murder of millions of Jews from Poland and other countries, was carried out between 1942 and 1944. Of Poland's prewar Jewish population of 3 million, only about 369,000 survived the war.

In general, during the German occupation, most Poles were engaged in a desperate struggle for survival. They were in no position to oppose or impede the German extermination of the Jews even if they had wanted to. There were however many cases of Poles risking death to hide Jewish families and in other ways assist the Jews. Only in Poland was death a standard punishment for a person and his whole family, and sometimes also neighbours, for any help given to Jews.
In September 1942, the Provisional Committee for Aid to Jews (Tymczasowy Komitet Pomocy Żydom) was founded on the initiative of Zofia Kossak-Szczucka
Zofia Kossak-Szczucka
Zofia Kossak-Szczucka was a Polish writer and World War II resistance fighter. She co-founded the wartime Polish organization Żegota, set up to assist Poland's Jews in escaping the Holocaust...

. This body later became the Council for Aid to Jews (Rada Pomocy Żydom), known by the code-name Żegota
Zegota
"Żegota" , also known as the "Konrad Żegota Committee", was a codename for the Polish Council to Aid Jews , an underground organization of Polish resistance in German-occupied Poland from 1942 to 1945....

. It is not known how many Jews were helped by Żegota, but at one point in 1943 it had 2,500 Jewish children under its care in Warsaw alone. (See also an example of the village that helped Jews: Markowa
Markowa
Markowa is a village in Łańcut County, Subcarpathian Voivodeship, in south-eastern Poland. It is the seat of the gmina called Gmina Markowa. It lies approximately south-east of Łańcut and east of the regional capital Rzeszów...

). Because of these sorts of actions, Polish citizens have the highest amount of Righteous Among The Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous among the Nations of the world's nations"), also translated as Righteous Gentiles is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis....

 awards at the Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament....

 Museum.

Polish-Ukrainian conflict


The Polish-Ukrainian conflict, also referred to as a civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

, occurred with the onset of the massacres of Poles in Volhynia
Massacres of Poles in Volhynia
The Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia were part of an ethnic cleansing operation carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army West in the Nazi occupied regions of the Eastern Galicia , and UPA North in Volhynia , beginning in March 1943 and lasting until the end of...

 , an ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

 operation in the eastern part of Poland
Kresy
The Polish term Kresy refers to a land considered by Poles as historical eastern provinces of their country. Today, it makes western Ukraine, western Belarus, as well as eastern Lithuania, with such major cities, as Lviv, Vilnius, and Hrodna. This territory belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian...

 that took place mainly between late March 1943 and August 1947, thus, extending beyond World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The actions, orchestrated and conducted in most part by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) together with other Ukrainian groups and local Ukrainian peasants in three voivodeships, resulted in between 35,000 and 60,000 Polish civilians
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 being murdered in the former Wołyń Voivodeship alone. Along with Galicia and eastern Lublin, total Polish civilian losses are estimated to exceed 60,000. The peak of the massacres took place in July and August 1943 when a senior UPA commander, Dmytro Klyachkivsky, ordered the extermination of the entire Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 population between 16 and 60 years of age. The massacres committed by UPA led to ethnic cleansing and retaliatory killings in kind by Poles against local Ukrainians in both Poland itself and the regions to the east of the Curzon Line. Estimates of the number of Ukrainians killed in Polish reprisals vary from 10,000 to 20,000, in all areas affected by conflict. The ethnic cleansing reached its full scale with Soviet implementation of Operation Vistula, aimed at securing ethnic homogeneity in both nations. Due to multiple occupations of the region, both sides were effectively and brutally pushed to be pitted against each other, first under German occupation, and later under Soviet occupation. Hundreds of thousands on both sides lost their lives over the course of this conflict.

Government in exile



The Polish government re-assembled in Paris and formed a government in exile. Władysław Raczkiewicz was sworn in as President and chose General Władysław Sikorski as Prime Minister. Most of the Polish Navy escaped to the United Kingdom, and thousands of other Poles escaped through Hungary or across the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 to continue the fight. Many Poles took part in the defence of France, in the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

, and in other operations beside British forces (see Polish contribution to World War II
Polish contribution to World War II
The European theater of World War II opened with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. The Polish Army was defeated after over a month of fighting. After Poland had been overrun, a government-in-exile , armed forces, and an intelligence service were established outside of Poland....

).

This government in exile, based first in Paris and then in London, was recognised by all the Allied governments. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, the Polish government in exile established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, despite Stalin's role in the destruction of Poland. Hundreds of thousands of Polish soldiers who had been taken prisoner by the Soviet Union in eastern Poland in 1939, and many other Polish prisoners and deportees, were released and were allowed to leave the country via Persia. (Among them was the future Prime Minister of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

.) They formed the basis for the Polish Army led by General Władysław Anders that fought alongside the Allies at Cassino, Arnhem
Battle of Arnhem
The Battle of Arnhem was a famous Second World War military engagement fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and the surrounding countryside from 17–26 September 1944....

 and other battles.

But in April 1943, the Germans announced that they had discovered the graves of 4,300 Polish officers who had been taken prisoner in 1939 and murdered by the Soviets, in a mass grave in Katyń Wood
Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

 near Smolensk
Smolensk
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River. Situated west-southwest of Moscow, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk...

. The Germans invited the International Red Cross to visit the site, which confirmed both that the graves contained Polish officers and that they had been killed with Soviet weapons. The Soviet government said that the Germans had fabricated the discovery. The Allied governments, for diplomatic reasons, formally accepted this, but the Polish government in exile refused to do so. Stalin then severed relations with the London-based Poles.

Stalin immediately set up the nucleus of a Soviet-controlled Communist Polish government
Union of Polish Patriots
Union of Polish Patriots was a political body created by Polish communists and Joseph Stalin in Soviet Union in 1943...

, and began recruiting for a Communist Polish Army. By July 1943, this army — led by General Zygmunt Berling
Zygmunt Berling
Zygmunt Henryk Berling was a Polish general and politician. He fought for the independence of Poland in the early 20th century. During Second World War he was sentenced to death in absentia for desertion from the Polish Army of General Władysław Anders...

 — had 40,000 members. Since it was clear that it would be the Soviet Union, not the western Allies, who would enter Poland and drive off from Nazi Germans, this breach had fateful consequences for Poland. In a seemingly unfortunate coincidence, Sikorski, the most talented of the Polish exile leaders, was killed in an aircrash near Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 in July. Sikorski was succeeded as head of the government in exile by Stanisław Mikołajczyk.
In 1943-1944, the Allied leaders — particularly Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 — tried to bring about a resumption of talks between Stalin and the London Poles. But these efforts broke down over several issues. One was the massacre at Katyń and the fate of many other Poles who had disappeared into Soviet prisons and labour camps since 1939. Another was Poland's postwar borders. Stalin insisted that the territories annexed in 1939, should remain in Soviet hands, and that Poland should be compensated with lands to be annexed from Germany. The London Poles, led by Mikołajczyk, refused to this proposition, even when Churchill threatened to cut off relations with them. A third issue was Mikołajczyk's insistence that Stalin not set up a Communist government in postwar Poland. Fundamentally, the issue was that the Poles wanted to preserve their independence, while Stalin was determined that he would be in control of Poland. Eventually, the Poles believed, the UK and US firmly supported Stalin on all three issues.

In 1944, the Polish government in exile considered its position boosted, as the Polish forces in the West were making a substantial contribution to the war
Polish contribution to World War II
The European theater of World War II opened with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. The Polish Army was defeated after over a month of fighting. After Poland had been overrun, a government-in-exile , armed forces, and an intelligence service were established outside of Poland....

: in May, the Second Corps under general Władysław Anders stormed the fortress
Battle of Monte Cassino
The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...

 of Monte Cassino
Monte Cassino
Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about southeast of Rome, Italy, c. to the west of the town of Cassino and altitude. St. Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, here around 529. It was the site of Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944...

 and opened a road to Rome, in August general Stanisław Maczek's 1st Armored Division
Polish 1st Armoured Division
The Polish 1st Armoured Division was an Allied military unit during World War II, created in February 1942 at Duns in Scotland. At its peak it numbered approximately 16,000 soldiers...

 distinguished itself at the battle of Falaise, in September general Stanisław Sosabowski's Parachute Brigade
Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade
The 1st Independent Parachute Brigade was a parachute brigade under command of Maj.Gen. Stanisław Sosabowski, created in Scotland in September 1941, with the exclusive mission to drop into occupied Poland in order to help liberate the country. The British government, however, pressured the Polish...

 fought hard at the battle of Arnhem
Battle of Arnhem
The Battle of Arnhem was a famous Second World War military engagement fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and the surrounding countryside from 17–26 September 1944....

. At the same time, however, the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 was marching into Poland defeating the Nazis and Stalin toughened his stance against the Polish exiled government in London, now demanding not only the recognition of the Curzon Line
Curzon Line
The Curzon Line was put forward by the Allied Supreme Council after World War I as a demarcation line between the Second Polish Republic and Bolshevik Russia and was supposed to serve as the basis for a future border. In the wake of World War I, which catalysed the Russian Revolution of 1917, the...

 as the border, but the resignation from the government of all 'elements hostile to the Soviet Union', which meant in practice president Władysław Raczkiewicz and most of the Polish ministers.

Yalta and the Soviets



As the Soviets advanced through Poland in late 1944, the German administration collapsed. Over 600,000 Soviet soldiers died fighting German troops in Poland. The Communist-controlled Committee of National Liberation (PKWN, Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego), headed by Bolesław Bierut, was installed by the Soviet Union in July in Lublin
Lublin
Lublin is the ninth largest city in Poland. It is the capital of Lublin Voivodeship with a population of 350,392 . Lublin is also the largest Polish city east of the Vistula river...

, the first major Polish city to be seized by Soviets from the Nazis, and began to take over the administration of the country as the Germans retreated. The government in exile in London had only one card to play, the forces of the AK. This was why the government in exile was determined that the AK would cooperate with the advancing Red Army on a tactical level, while Polish civil authorities from underground took power in Allied-controlled Polish territory (see Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest was a series of uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army , the dominant force in the Polish resistance....

) to ensure that Poland would remain an independent country after the war. The failure of the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

 marked the end of any real chance that Poland would escape postwar Communist rule, especially given the unwillingness of the Western Allies to risk conflict with Soviets over Poland. Soviets performed executions, deportations and arrests of Home Army members that assisted them in fights against the Germans. Until 1946 Soviet forces fought against the Polish independence movement, and some former AK and NSZ continued to fight as Cursed soldiers
Cursed soldiers
The cursed soldiers is a name applied to a variety of Polish resistance movements formed in the later stages of World War II and afterwards. Created by some members of the Polish Secret State, these clandestine organizations continued their armed struggle against the Stalinist government of Poland...

 well into 1956.
At the Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

 in February 1945, Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 was able to present his Western Allies
Western Allies
The Western Allies were a political and geographic grouping among the Allied Powers of the Second World War. It generally includes the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, the United States, France and various other European and Latin American countries, but excludes China, the Soviet Union,...

, Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 and Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, with a fait accompli
Fait Accompli
Fait accompli is a French phrase which means literally "an accomplished deed". It is commonly used to describe an action which is completed before those affected by it are in a position to query or reverse it...

 in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

. His armed forces were in control of the country, and his agents, the Polish Communists, were in control of its administration. The USSR was in the process of incorporating the lands in eastern Poland (Kresy
Kresy
The Polish term Kresy refers to a land considered by Poles as historical eastern provinces of their country. Today, it makes western Ukraine, western Belarus, as well as eastern Lithuania, with such major cities, as Lviv, Vilnius, and Hrodna. This territory belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian...

), which it had occupied and annexed in 1939 (see Polish areas annexed by Soviet Union), with some minor border adjustments in Poland's favour (the most important of which allowed Poland to retain Białystok). In compensation, the USSR awarded Poland all the German territories in Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

, Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

 and Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 east of the Oder-Neisse Line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

, plus the southern half of East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 (those would be known as the Recovered Territories
Recovered Territories
Recovered or Regained Territories was an official term used by the People's Republic of Poland to describe those parts of pre-war Germany that became part of Poland after World War II...

). The entire country had shifted to the west, and now resembled the territory of Medieval Poland. This entailed the expulsion of 8 million Germans
Expulsion of Germans after World War II
The later stages of World War II, and the period after the end of that war, saw the forced migration of millions of German nationals and ethnic Germans from various European states and territories, mostly into the areas which would become post-war Germany and post-war Austria...

 who were forced to relocate their families to the new Germany. Approximately 1000 Germans were certified as "Poles" and were given Polish citizenship. These territories were repopulated with Poles expelled from the eastern regions by the Soviet Union and other territories. The new Poland emerged 20% smaller by 77,500 km² (29,900 mi²).
Most of the ethnic Polish population was expelled from the territories incorporated into Soviet Ukraine and Belarus (Repatriation of Poles (1944–1946)
Repatriation of Poles (1944–1946)
The Polish population transfers from the former eastern territories of Poland also known as the flight and expulsion of Poles towards the end – and in the aftermath – of World War II refer to the forced migration of Poles between 1944–1946...

) in the population exchange that included the transfer of the Ukrainian
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 and Belarusian
Belarusians
Belarusians ; are an East Slavic ethnic group who populate the majority of the Republic of Belarus. Introduced to the world as a new state in the early 1990s, the Republic of Belarus brought with it the notion of a re-emerging Belarusian ethnicity, drawn upon the lines of the Old Belarusian...

 population from Poland into these republics. The Soviet-controlled Polish government not wishing to entertain the recreation of Belarusian and Ukrainian minorities within the postwar boundaries of Poland, withdrew the citizenship of those displaced person
Displaced person
A displaced person is a person who has been forced to leave his or her native place, a phenomenon known as forced migration.- Origin of term :...

s (DPs) and political refugees who found themselves in western Europe, leaving them stateless, and collaborated actively in 1947 in the expulsion of remaining Belarusians and especially Ukrainians from the southwestern region of postwar Poland, expelling thousands of Ukrainians into Soviet Ukraine (Operation Vistula), thereby undercutting the ongoing Ukrainian nationalist resistance to Soviet rule (Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)) and ensuring that postwar Poland would not have any significant minorities to contend with.
Stalin was determined that Poland's new government should be Communist, and therefore ultimately under his control. He had severed relations with the Polish government-in-exile in London in 1943 in the aftermath of the Katyn Massacre
Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

, but to appease Roosevelt and Churchill he agreed at Yalta that a coalition government would be formed. The Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile
Polish government in Exile
The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile , was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

, Stanisław Mikołajczyk, resigned his post and, with several other Polish exile leaders, went to Lublin
Lublin
Lublin is the ninth largest city in Poland. It is the capital of Lublin Voivodeship with a population of 350,392 . Lublin is also the largest Polish city east of the Vistula river...

 in eastern Poland, where the Communist-controlled provisional government had been established. This government was headed by a Socialist, Edward Osóbka-Morawski
Edward Osóbka-Morawski
Edward Osóbka-Morawski was a Polish activist in PPS before World War II, and after the Soviet takover of Poland, Chairman of the Communist interim government called the Polish Committee of National Liberation formed in Lublin with Stalin's approval and backing.In October 1944, Osóbka-Morawski...

, but the Communists held a majority of key posts. It was recognized by the Western Allies in July 1945. Stalin also agreed that Poland would receive a US$10 billion reparation payment from Germany.

The attitude of the Polish population towards Soviet entry was generally hostile, while some cases existed of welcoming them, they soon turned into hatred and despise as Red Army soldiers engaged in plunder, rape, banditry, while NKVD implemented a reign of political terror. In the eyes of Polish society which wasn't yet under the Soviet occupation in 1939-1941 the Soviets became a new occupiers, and soon protests and demands of their withdrawal have spread among the country. A popular belief was that Western Allies will soon defeat Soviets using atomic weapons and free Poland from the Soviets.

In April 1945, that provisional government
Provisional government
A provisional government is an emergency or interim government set up when a political void has been created by the collapse of a very large government. The early provisional governments were created to prepare for the return of royal rule...

 signed a mutual pact with the Soviet Union. The new Polish Government of National Unity was finally constituted on 28 June with Mikołajczyk as Deputy Prime Minister. The Communists' principal rivals were Mikołajczyk's Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe PSL), veterans of both the World War II resistance group Home Army (AK), and the Polish armies which had fought in the west. But at the same time, Soviet-oriented parties, especially the PPR, under Władysław Gomułka and Bolesław Bierut, held the balance of power, controlling Polish army and police, and being supported by the Red Army. Potential political opponents of Communists were subject to Soviet terror campaigns, with many of them arrested, executed or tortured. At least 25,000 people lost their lives in labour camps created by Soviets as early as 1944. Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 and Winston Churchill were aware of the predominance of Soviet controlled parties and decided on a policy of strong resistance to Stalin.

The Western Allies in the persons of Roosevelt and Churchill have been criticised, both by Polish writers and some western historians, for what most Poles see as the abandonment of Poland to Stalin
Western betrayal
Western betrayal, also called Yalta betrayal, refers to a range of critical views concerning the foreign policies of several Western countries between approximately 1919 and 1968 regarding Eastern Europe and Central Europe...

. Well before Yalta, they secretly consigned Eastern Europe and the Baltics to the Soviet Union. At the Teheran Conference in 1943, Roosevelt committed that Stalin could have Romania, Bulgaria, Bukovina, eastern Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Finland, in addition to making changes to the Polish frontier. Meeting with Stalin in Moscow on 9 October 1944, Churchill penciled a list of which power was to have what degree of "dominance" in each country lying between the Soviet Union and western Europe. This bifurcation of secret versus public diplomacy (viz. Stimson Doctrine
Stimson Doctrine
The Stimson Doctrine is a policy of the United States federal government, enunciated in a note of January 7, 1932, to Japan and China, of non-recognition of international territorial changes that were executed by force. The doctrine was an application of the principle of ex injuria jus non oritur...

, Atlantic Charter
Atlantic Charter
The Atlantic Charter was a pivotal policy statement first issued in August 1941 that early in World War II defined the Allied goals for the post-war world. It was drafted by Britain and the United States, and later agreed to by all the Allies...

) sealed the post-war fate of Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. Yalta merely confirmed prior Western commitments.
Mikołajczyk and his colleagues in the Polish Government-in-Exile insisted on making a stand in defence of Poland's pre-1939 eastern border (Curzon line
Curzon Line
The Curzon Line was put forward by the Allied Supreme Council after World War I as a demarcation line between the Second Polish Republic and Bolshevik Russia and was supposed to serve as the basis for a future border. In the wake of World War I, which catalysed the Russian Revolution of 1917, the...

) as a basis for the future Polish-Soviet border, a position which could not be defended in practice because Stalin was in control of the territory in question, and he had already been promised those areas by Churchill and Roosevelt back in 1943. The Government-in-Exile's refusal to accept the proposed new Polish borders irritated the Allies, particularly Churchill, making them less inclined to oppose Stalin on the question of the composition of the postwar government. In the end the exiles lost on both issues: Stalin annexed the eastern territories, and gained control over the new Polish government. Whilst Poland avoided the fate of becoming the 17th republic of the Soviet Union
Republics of the Soviet Union
The Republics of the Soviet Union or the Union Republics of the Soviet Union were ethnically-based administrative units that were subordinated directly to the Government of the Soviet Union...

 as proposed by some influential Polish communists around Wanda Wasilewska
Wanda Wasilewska
Wanda Wasilewska was a Polish and Soviet novelist and communist political activist who played an important role in the creation of a Polish division of the Soviet Red Army during World War II and the formation of the Polish People's Republic....

, it was to remain under heavy Soviet control until the mid-1950s.

Hans Frank was captured by American troops in May 1945 and was one of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

. During his trial he converted to Catholicism. Frank surrendered forty volumes of his diaries to the Tribunal and much evidence against him and others was gathered from them. He was found guilty of war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s and crimes against humanity and on 1 October 1946 he was sentenced to death
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

.

Of all the countries involved in the war, Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens: over six million perished, over three million of them Polish Catholics and the remaining three million were Polish Jews.

Further reading

  • Davies, Norman
    Norman Davies
    Professor Ivor Norman Richard Davies FBA, FRHistS is a leading English historian of Welsh descent, noted for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland, and the United Kingdom.- Academic career :...

     (1982). God's Playground. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-05353-3 and ISBN 0-231-05351-7.
  • Jan Tomasz Gross, Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia, Princeton University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-691-09603-1, Google Print
  • John Hiden (ed.), .), The Baltic and the Outbreak of the Second World War, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-53120-9
  • Richard C. Lukas, Forgotten Holocaust:The Poles under German Occupation, 1939-1944 (2d rev. ed.; N.Y.:Hippocrene, 1997). ISBN0-7818-0528-7
  • Olgierd Terlecki (1972). Poles in the Italian Campaign, 1943-1945, Interpress Publishers.
  • Timothy Snyder
    Timothy Snyder
    Timothy D. Snyder is an American professor of history at Yale University, specializing in the history of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Holocaust...

    , Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist's Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine, Yale University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-300-10670-X
  • Marek Jan Chodakiewicz. Between Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland, 1939-1947. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2004 ISBN 0-7391-0484-5.

External links


See also

  • List of Polish cities damaged in World War II
  • Polish culture during World War II
    Polish culture during World War II
    Polish culture during World War II was suppressed by the occupying powers of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, both of whom were hostile to Poland's people and cultural heritage. Policies aimed at cultural genocide resulted in the deaths of thousands of scholars and artists, and the theft and...

  • History of Poland (1945–1989)
    History of Poland (1945–1989)
    The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 spans the period of Soviet Communist dominance imposed after the end of World War II over the People's Republic of Poland...