Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles
In addition to about 2.9 million Polish Jews (mostly killed in Operation Reinhard
Operation Reinhard
Operation Reinhard was the code name given to the Nazi plan to murder Polish Jews in the General Government, and marked the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, the use of extermination camps...

), about 2.8 million non-Jewish Polish
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...

 citizens perished during the course of the war. Two million were ethnic Poles, the remaining 500,000 were mainly ethnic minority 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 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...

 living in 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...


The majority of those killed by Nazi Germany were civilians (exceeding military deaths nearly 10:1).

From the start of the war against Poland, Germany intended to realize the plan laid-out by the Nazi
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 leader Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 in his 1926 book Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

. The aim of this plan was to turn 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"...

 into part of greater Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the so-called German Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

("living space"). Nazi ideology had viewed Slavs as a racially inferior group. On August 22, 1939, on the invasion of Poland, Hitler gave explicit permission to his commanders to kill "without pity or mercy, men, women, and children of Polish descent or language". Genocide was conducted systematically against Polish people: on September 7, 1939 Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

 stated that all Polish nobles, clergy and Jews are to be killed, on September 12 Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel was a German field marshal . As head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and de facto war minister, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during World War II...

 added 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...

 to the list, at the end of 1940 Hitler demanded liquidation of "all leading elements in Poland" and on March 15, 1940, Himmler stated All Polish specialists will be exploited in our military-industrial complex. Later, all Poles will disappear from this world. It is imperative that the great German nation considers the elimination of all Polish people as its chief task.

1939 September Campaign

About 150,000 to 200,000 Polish civilians were killed during the one-month September Campaign, characterized by the indiscriminate and often deliberate targeting of civilians by the invading forces of Nazi Germany and 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....

. Many of the them were killed in the 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....

's terror bombing operations (including the bombing of Frampol
Bombing of Frampol
The Bombing of Frampol happened during the German invasion of Poland in 1939. On 13 September, the town of Frampol , with a population of 4,000, was bombed by the German Luftwaffe as a practice run for future missions. Over 60% to 90% of town's infrastructure was destroyed; only two streets...

and Wieluń
Bombing of Wielun
The bombing of Wieluń refers to the bombing of the Polish town of Wieluń by the German Luftwaffe on 1 September 1939. The Luftwaffe started bombing Wielun at 4:40 am, five minutes before the shelling of Westerplatte, which has traditionally been considered the beginning of World War II. It is...

,). Massive air raids were conducted on these, and other towns which had no military infrastructure. Columns of fleeing refugees were systematically attacked by the German fighter and dive-bomber aircraft.

From the first day of the war, the round-ups and summary executions of Poles commenced by Wehrmacht, SS and Selbstschutz. Several thousand Polish POWs were also murdered.

Einsatzgruppen killings

During the 1939 German invasion of Poland, "special action squads" of the SS and police (the 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 deployed behind the front lines, arresting and killing civilians considered, by virtue of their social status, to be capable of abetting resistance efforts against the Germans.

Soon after the German invasion of Poland, lasting from fall of 1939 till spring of 1940 in first action of mass killings known as Intelligenzaktion
Intelligenzaktion was a genocidal action of Nazi Germany targeting Polish elites as part of elimination of potentially dangerous elements. It was an early measure of the Generalplan Ost. About 60,000 people were killed as the result of this operation...

, tens of thousands of former government officials, military officers in hiding, landowners, clergy, and members of the intelligentsia according to the "enemies lists" - Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen
Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen
Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen – was the proscription list prepared by Germans, before the war, that identified more than 61,000 members of Polish elites: activists, intelligentsia, scholars, actors, former officers, and others, who were to be interned or...

. Action was a part of 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...

 - early measure of the 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...

. Poles as well as Jews were either murdered in mass executions by death squads or sent to prisons and concentration camps. "Whatever we find in the shape of an upper class
Upper class
In social science, the "upper class" is the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. Members of an upper class may have great power over the allocation of resources and governmental policy in their area.- Historical meaning :...

 in Poland will be liquidated,
" Hitler had ordered. Only in Intelligenzaktion Pommern – regional action in Pomeranian Voivodeship
Pomeranian Voivodeship
Pomeranian Voivodeship, or Pomerania Province , is a voivodeship, or province, in north-central Poland. It comprises most of Pomerelia , as well as an area east of the Vistula River...

 was killed 23 000 of Poles, It was continued by the German AB-Aktion operation in Poland. In the mid-1940s, the AB-Aktion saw several thousand more killed or imprisoned (including the massacre of Lwów professors
Massacre of Lwów professors
In July 1941, 25 Polish academics from the city of Lwów, Poland ; now in Ukraine) were killed by Nazi German occupation forces along with their families and guests...

 and the executions in Palmiry
Palmiry During World War II, between 1939 and 1943, the village and the surrounding forest was one of the sites of German mass executions of Jews, Polish intelligentsia, politicians and athletes, killed during the AB Action. Most of the victims were first arrested and tortured in the Pawiak prison...

 forest). The Einsatzgruppen were also responsible for the murder of Jews and Poles during the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Terror and pacification operations

During the occupation, communities were held collectively responsible for Polish attacks against German troops and mass executions were conducted in reprisal. In the area in and around Bydgoszcz, about 10,000 non-Jewish Polish civilians were murdered in the first four months of the occupation (see Bloody Sunday). German army and paramilitary units composed of 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...

also participated in executions of civilians.

The Nazis took hostages by the thousands at the time of the invasion and all during their occupation of Poland. Hostages were selected from among the most prominent citizens of occupied cities and villages: priests, professors, doctors, lawyers, as well as leaders of economic and social organizations and the trade unions. Often, however, they were chosen at random from all segments of society and for every German killed a group of between 50 and 100 Polish civilians were executed. About 20,000 villagers, some of whom were burned alive, were killed in large-scale punitive operations
Pacification operations in German-occupied Poland
The pacification operations in German-occupied Poland was the use of military force and punitive measures conducted during World War II by Nazi Germany with the goal of suppressing any Polish resistance....

 targeting the rural settlements suspected of aiding the resistance or hiding Jews and other fugitives. Seventy-five villages were razed in these operations. Poland was the only country in occupied Europe where the penalty for hiding a Jew was death for everyone living in the house; other laws were similarly ruthless.

Cultural genocide

As part of the plan to destroy Poland, the Germans engaged in cultural genocide
Cultural genocide
Cultural genocide is a term that lawyer Raphael Lemkin proposed in 1933 as a component to genocide. The term was considered in the 1948 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples juxtaposed next to the term ethnocide, but it was removed in the final document, replaced with...

 in which they destroyed or closed universities and high schools, libraries, museums and national monuments as well as scientific institutes and laboratories. Millions of books were destroyed, including an estimated 80% of all school libraries, and three-quarters of all scientific libraries. Polish children were forbidden from acquiring education beyond the elementary level so that a new generation of Polish leaders could not arise in the future. According to a May, 1940, memo from Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

: "The sole goal of this schooling is to teach them simple arithmetic, nothing above the number 500; writing one's name; and the doctrine that it is divine law to obey the Germans. I do not think that reading is desirable." By 1941, the number of children attending elementary school in the General Government was half of the pre-war number.

The Poles responded with the "Secret Teaching
Education in Poland during World War II
This article covers the topic of underground education in Poland during World War II. Secret learning prepared new cadres for the post-war reconstruction of Poland and countered the German and Soviet threat to exterminate the Polish culture....

" (Tajne Nauczanie) a campaign of underground education.

Sexual slavery

While mass rapes were committed by German forces on Jewish women and girls, beginning with the Invasion of Poland in September 1939; they were also committed en masse against non-Jewish Polish women and girls, including during mass executions of ethnic Polish citizens, when rapes were carried-out before shooting the women.
Additionally, large numbers of Polish women were captured with the aim of forcing them into serving in German military brothels. Mass raids were reported, made by Nazi forces in Polish cities with the express aim of capturing young women, who later were forced to work in brothels attended by German soldiers and officers. Girls as young as 15 years old, who were ostensibly classified as "suitable for agricultural work in Germany", were forced to work as prostitutes for German soldiers at their place of destination.

Plans for the "final solution"

In the same document, Himmler promised to eventually deport all Slavic Poles to Russia. In other statements, he mentioned the future killing fields in the Pripet Marshes where all were intended to die during the cultivation of the swamps. Plans for the mass transportation and creation of slave labor camps for up to 20 million Poles were made. According to Himmler, "All Poles will disappear from the world. [...] It is essential that the great German people should consider it as its major task to destroy all Poles."

Expulsion of Polish population

Germany planned to completely remove the indigenous population of Poland. According to the Lebensraum ideology, their place was to be taken by the German military and civilian settlers.
During the occupation, more than one million Poles were expelled
Expulsion of Poles by Germany
The Expulsion of Poles by Germany was a prolonged anti-Polish campaign of ethnic cleansing by violent and terror-inspiring means lasting nearly a century. It began with the concept of Pan-Germanism developed in early 19th century and continued in the racial policy of Nazi Germany asserting the...

 by German authorities, including 923,000 Poles ethnically cleansed from territories Germany annexed into the 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...


These expulsions were carried out so abruptly that ethnic Germans being resettled in the homes with half-eaten meals on tables and unmade beds where small children had been sleeping at the time of expulsion. Members of Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

 and the League of German Girls
League of German Girls
The League of German Girls or League of German Maidens , was the girl's wing of the overall Nazi party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany....

 were assigned the task of overseeing such evictions to ensure that the Poles left behind most of their belongings for the use of the settlers.

Concentration camps

Hundreds of thousands of Poles were prisoners in the extensive concentration camp system in German-occupied Poland and the Reich. An estimated 30,000 Poles died at Mauthausen-Gusen
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...

; 150 000 at 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...

, 20,000 each at Sachsenhausen
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

 and Gross-Rosen
Gross-Rosen concentration camp
KL Gross-Rosen was a German concentration camp, located in Gross-Rosen, Lower Silesia . It was located directly on the rail line between Jauer and Striegau .-The camp:...

; 17,000 at Neuengamme and 10,000 at Dachau. About 17,000 Polish women died at Ravensbrück
Ravensbrück concentration camp
Ravensbrück was a notorious women's concentration camp during World War II, located in northern Germany, 90 km north of Berlin at a site near the village of Ravensbrück ....

. A major concentration camp complex at Stutthof
Stutthof concentration camp
Stutthof was the first Nazi concentration camp built outside of 1937 German borders.Completed on September 2, 1939, it was located in a secluded, wet, and wooded area west of the small town of Sztutowo . The town is located in the former territory of the Free City of Danzig, 34 km east of...

, east of Gdańsk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

, existed from September 2, 1939, to the end of the war, where an estimated 20,000 Poles died. Many Poles died in 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...

 concentration camp in 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 addition, tens of thousands of Polish people were executed or found their deaths in the dozens of other camps, prisons and other places of detention inside and outside Poland. There were even special camps for children such as the Potulice concentration camp
Potulice concentration camp
The Potulice concentration camp was established during World War II by German state authorities in occupied Poland in Potulice near Nakło. It is notable as a detention centre for Polish children that underwent the Nazi experiment in forced Germanisation....

. According to some modern research, in the years 1943–1944, the Warsaw concentration camp
Warsaw concentration camp
The Warsaw concentration camp was an associated group of the German Nazi concentration camps, possibly including an extermination camp, located in German-occupied Warsaw, capital city of Poland...

 was used as a death camp in an attempt to depopulate the Polish capital 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...


Auschwitz became the main concentration camp for Poles on June 14, 1940. By March 1941, 10,900 prisoners were registered at the camp, most of them gentile Poles. In September 1941, 200 ailing prisoners, most of them Poles, along with 650 Soviet POWs, were killed in the first Zyklon-B gassing
Gas chamber
A gas chamber is an apparatus for killing humans or animals with gas, consisting of a sealed chamber into which a poisonous or asphyxiant gas is introduced. The most commonly used poisonous agent is hydrogen cyanide; carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide have also been used...

 experiments. Beginning in 1942, Auschwitz's prisoner population became much more diverse, as Jews and other "enemies of the state" from all over German-occupied Europe were deported to the expanding camp. Franciszek Piper
Franciszek Piper
Franciszek Piper is a Polish scholar, historian and author. Most of his work concerns the Jewish Holocaust, especially the history of the concentration camps at Auschwitz. Dr. Piper is credited as one of the historians who helped establish a more accurate number of victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau...

, the chief historian of Auschwitz, estimates that 140,000 to 150,000 Poles were brought to that camp between 1940 and 1945, and that 70,000 to 75,000 died there as victims of executions, human experimentation
Nazi human experimentation
Nazi human experimentation was a series of medical experiments on large numbers of prisoners by the Nazi German regime in its concentration camps mainly in the early 1940s, during World War II and the Holocaust. Prisoners were coerced into participating: they did not willingly volunteer and there...

, starvation and disease.

Indiscriminate executions

Non-Jewish ethnic Poles in Poland were targeted by the łapanka policy which German forces utilized to indiscriminately round up civilians off the street. In Warsaw, between 1942 and 1944, there were approximately 400 daily victims of łapanka. It is estimated that tens of thousands of these victims were killed in mass executions, including an estimated 37,000 people at the Pawiak
Pawiak was a prison built in 1835 in Warsaw, Poland.During the January 1863 Uprising, it served as a transfer camp for Poles sentenced by Imperial Russia to deportation to Siberia....

 prison complex run by the 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...

, and thousands of others killed in the ruins of 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...


Extermination of hospital patients

In July 1939, a Nazi secret program called Action T4
Action T4
Action T4 was the name used after World War II for Nazi Germany's eugenics-based "euthanasia" program during which physicians killed thousands of people who were "judged incurably sick, by critical medical examination"...

 was implemented whose purpose was to effect the extermination of psychiatric
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders. These mental disorders include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities...

 patients. During the German invasion of Poland, the program was put into practice on a massive scale in the occupied Polish territories. Typically, all patients, accompanied by soldiers from special SS detachments, were transported by trucks to the extermination sites. The first action of this type took place on September 22, 1939, at a large psychiatric hospital in Kocborowo (Gdańsk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

 region). The total number of psychiatric patients murdered by the Nazis in occupied Poland between 1939–1945 is estimated to be more than 16,000. An additional 10,000 patients died of malnutrition. Approximately 100 of the 243 members of the Polish Psychiatric Association met the same fate as their patients.

Beyond execution by firing squad, more heinous methods of mass murder were also employed. In October 1939, 1,000 patients of a psychiatric hospital in Owińska
Owińska is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Czerwonak, within Poznań County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, in west-central Poland. It lies approximately north of Czerwonak and north of the regional capital Poznań. The village has a population of 2,500.Owińska lies close to the...

 were transported to a military fortress in Poznań
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...

; there, in the bunkers of Fort VII, children as well as adults were gassed with carbon monoxide. Other Owińska hospital patients were gassed in sealed trucks using carbon monoxide from the exhaust fumes of vehicles. The same method was utilized in the Kochanówek hospital near Łódź, where 2,200 persons were killed in 1940. This was the first "successful" test of the mass murder of prisoners using poison gas. This technique was later perfected on many other psychiatric patients in Poland and Germany; starting in 1941, the technique was widely employed in the extermination camps. Nazi gas van
Gas van
The gas van or gas wagon was an extermination method devised by Nazi Germany to kill victims of the regime. It was also rumored that analog of such device was used by the Soviet Union on an experimental basis during the Great Purge-Nazi Germany:...

s were also first used in 1940 to kill Polish mentally ill children.

In 1943, the SS and Police Leader
SS and Police Leader
SS and Police Leader was a title for senior Nazi officials that commanded large units of the SS, of Gestapo and of the regular German police during and prior to World War II.Three levels of subordination were established for bearers of this title:...

 in Poland, Wilhelm Koppe
Wilhelm Koppe
Wilhelm Koppe was a German Nazi commander who was responsible for numerous atrocities against Poles and Jews in Reichsgau Wartheland and the General Government during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.-Biography:Born in Hildesheim, he fought in the First World War...

, ordered more than 30,000 Polish patients suffering from tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 to be executed. They were killed mostly in Chelmno extermination camp
Chelmno extermination camp
Chełmno extermination camp, also known as the Kulmhof concentration camp, was a Nazi German extermination camp that was situated 50 kilometres from Łódź, near a small village called Chełmno nad Nerem . After annexation by Germany Kulmhof was included into Reichsgau Wartheland in 1939...


Forced labor in Germany

Between 1939 and 1945, at least 1.5 million Polish citizens were transported to the Reich into forced labor, many of them teenage boys and girls. Although Germany also used forced laborers from Western Europe, Poles and other Eastern Europeans who were viewed as racially inferior were subjected to intensified discriminatory measures. They were forced to wear identifying purple tags with "P"s sewn to their clothing, subjected to a curfew, and banned from public transportation. While the treatment of factory workers or farm hands often varied depending on the individual employer, most Polish laborers were compelled to work longer hours for lower wages than Western Europeans. In many cities, they were forced to live in segregated barracks behind barbed wire. Social relations with Germans outside work were forbidden, and sexual relations ("racial defilement
Rassenschande or Blutschande was the Nazi term for sexual relations between Aryans and non-Aryans, which was punishable by law...

") were considered a capital crime punishable by death.


In 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...

, the annexed territories of Greater Poland, the Nazis' goal was complete Germanization: assimilation politically, culturally, socially, and economically into the German 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...

. This did not mean old style of Germanization—Germanizing the inhabitants by teaching them the language and culture—but settling them with Germans, which would include only a small fraction of those living there, as most were not ethnical German.

Germans closed elementary schools where Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 was the language of instruction. Streets and cities were renamed (Łódź became Litzmannstadt, etc). Tens of thousands of Polish enterprises, from large industrial firms to small shops, were seized from their owners. Signs posted in front of those establishments warned: "Entrance forbidden for Poles, Jews, and dogs." The Nazi regime was less stringent in their treatment of the Kashubians
Kashubians/Kaszubians , also called Kashubs, Kashubes, Kaszubians, Kassubians or Cassubians, are a West Slavic ethnic group in Pomerelia, north-central Poland. Their settlement area is referred to as Kashubia ....

 in the Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
The Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia was a Nazi German province created on 8 October 1939 from the territory of the annexed Free City of Danzig, the annexed Polish province Greater Pomeranian Voivodship , and the Nazi German Regierungsbezirk West Prussia of Gau East Prussia. Before 2 November 1939,...

. Everywhere, however, many thousands of people were forced to sign the Deutsche Volksliste a racial documentation which the Nazis used to identify and give priority to people of German heritage in occupied countries.

Crimes against children

At least 20,000 children in occupied Poland were also kidnapped by the Nazis to be subjected to German indoctrination. These children were screened for "racially valuable traits" and sent to special homes to be Germanized. They were then placed for adoption if the Germanization was effective. Many of them, found by Allied forces after the war, had been utterly convinced that they were German.

Children of forced workers were mistreated in Ausländerkinder-Pflegestätte
Ausländerkinder-Pflegestätte , also Säuglingsheim, Entbindungsheim, were Third Reich institutions where babies and children, abducted from Eastern European forced laborers from 1943 to 1945, were kept.-Nazi policy:...

, where thousands of them died. A camp for children and teenagers Polen-Jugendverwahrlager der Sicherheitspolizei in Litzmannstadt worked 1943-1944 in Łódź.

Persecution of Catholic clergy

The Roman Catholic Church was suppressed in the annexed territory of Reichsgau Wartheland more harshly than elsewhere. Churches were systematically closed, and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported to 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...

. The Germans also closed seminaries and convents persecuting monks and nuns throughout Poland. In 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...

, all but 20 of the 650 priests were shot or sent to concentration camps. Between 1939 and 1945, 2,935 members of the Polish clergy (18%) were killed in concentration camps. In the city of Wrocław (Breslau), 49% of its Catholic priests were killed; in Chełmno, 48%. One hundred and eight of them are regarded as blessed martyrs. Among them, Maximilian Kolbe
Maximilian Kolbe
Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe OFM Conv was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar, who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi German concentration camp of Auschwitz, located in German-occupied Poland during World War II.He was canonized on 10 October 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and...

 was canonized as a saint.

1944 destruction of Warsaw

During the suppression of the 1944 Uprising in Warsaw, German forces committed many atrocities against Polish civilians, following the order by Hitler to level the city. The most notorious occurrence took place in Wola district
Wola massacre
The Wola massacre was the scene of the largest single massacre in the history of Poland. According to different sources, some 40,000 to 100,000 Polish civilians and POWs were killed by the German forces during their suppression of the Warsaw Uprising...

 where, at the beginning of August 1944, at least 40,000 civilians (men, women, and children) were methodically rounded-up and executed by the Einsatzkommando of the Sicherheitspolizei
The Sicherheitspolizei , often abbreviated as SiPo, was a term used in Nazi Germany to describe the state political and criminal investigation security agencies. It was made up by the combined forces of the Gestapo and the Kripo between 1936 and 1939...

under Heinz Reinefarth
Heinz Reinefarth
Heinrich Reinefarth was a German military officer during and government official after World War II. During the Warsaw Uprising his troops committed numerous war atrocities. After the war Reinefarth became the mayor of the town of Westerland and member of the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag...

's command and the amnestied German criminals from Dirlewanger
SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger
The 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, better known as the SS-Sturmbrigade "Dirlewanger" , was an infamous military unit of the Waffen-SS during World War II. Originally formed for anti-partisan duties against the Polish resistance, it eventually saw action against the Soviet Red Army near...

. Other similar massacres took place in the areas of Śródmieście
Śródmieście is a Polish word for "city centre". In particular it may refer to the following designated districts:* Śródmieście, Warsaw* Śródmieście, Gdańsk* Śródmieście, Gdynia* Śródmieście, Katowice* Śródmieście, Szczecin* Śródmieście, Wrocław...

 (City Centre), Stare Miasto
Stare Miasto
- City districts :* Stare Miasto, Kraków * Stare Miasto, Police* Stare Miasto, Poznań * Stare Miasto, Szczecin* Stare Miasto, Warsaw* Stare Miasto, Wrocław...

 (Old Town) and Marymont
Marymont is one of the northern neighbourhoods of Warsaw, Poland, administratively a part of the boroughs of Żoliborz and Bielany . Named after the queen of Poland Maria Kazimiera , wife of king John III Sobieski, it initially housed a small summer manor...

 districts. In Ochota
Ochota is a district of Warsaw, Poland, located in the central part of the Polish capital city's urban agglomeration.The biggest housing estates of Ochota are:* Kolonia Lubeckiego* Kolonia Staszica* Filtry* Rakowiec* Szosa Krakowska* Szczęśliwice...

 district, an orgy of civilian killings, rape and looting
Ochota massacre
Ochota Massacre - a wave of mass murders, robbery, looting, arson, and rape, which swept across the Warsaw district Ochota during August 4–25, 1944. The gravest crimes were committed in Ochota hospitals, in the Radium Institute, Kolonia Staszica and the concentration camp called "Zieleniak"...

 was carried out by Russian collaborators
Collaboration during World War II
Within nations occupied by the Axis Powers, some citizens, driven by nationalism, ethnic hatred, anti-communism, anti-Semitism or opportunism, knowingly engaged in collaboration with the Axis Powers during World War II...

 of RONA. After the fall of Stare Miasto, during the beginning of September, 7,000 seriously wounded hospital patients were executed or burnt alive, often with the medical staff caring for them. Similar atrocities took place later in the Czerniaków
Czerniaków is a neighbourhood of the city of Warsaw, located within the borough of Mokotów, between the escarpment of the Vistula river and the river itself....

 district and after the fall of Powiśle
Powiśle is a neighbourhood in Warsaw's borough of Śródmieście . It is located between the Vistula river and its escarpment...

 and Mokotów
Mokotów is a dzielnica of Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Mokotów is densely populated. It is a seat to many foreign embassies and companies...


Between 150,000 and 180,000 civilians, and thousands of captured insurgents, were killed in the suppression of the uprising. Until the end of September 1944, Polish resistance
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...

 fighters were not considered by Germans as combatants; thus, when captured, they were summarily executed. One hundred sixty-five thousand surviving civilians were sent to labour camps, and 50,000 were shipped to concentration camps, while the ruined city was systematically demolished
Planned destruction of Warsaw
The planned destruction of Warsaw refers to the largely realised plans by Nazi Germany to completely raze the city. The plan was put into full motion after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944...

. Neither Reinefarth nor Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski were ever tried for their crimes committed during the suppression of the uprising. (The Polish request for extradition
Extradition is the official process whereby one nation or state surrenders a suspected or convicted criminal to another nation or state. Between nation states, extradition is regulated by treaties...

 of amnestied Wilhelm Koppe from Germany was also refused.)

See also

  • Anti-Polish sentiment
  • Białystok Ghetto Uprising
  • Consequences of German Nazism
    Consequences of German Nazism
    Nazism and the acts of the Nazi German state profoundly affected many countries, communities and peoples before, during and after World War II. While the attempt of Germany to exterminate several nations viewed as subhuman by Nazi ideology was eventually stopped by the Allies, Nazi aggression...

  • Częstochowa Ghetto Uprising
    Częstochowa Ghetto Uprising
    The Częstochowa Ghetto Uprising was an insurrection in Poland's Częstochowa Ghetto against German occupation forces during World War II.The first Jewish Ghetto of Częstochowa was established by the German Nazis in April 1941....

  • Genocide
    Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

  • German military brothels in World War II
    German military brothels in World War II
    In World War II, the German military brothels were set up by the Third Reich throughout most of occupied Europe, for the use by their soldiers in the Wehrmacht and for the SS officers. These establishments were sometimes set up via existing brothels which they took over in the West, but generally...

  • Gestapo-NKVD Conferences
    Gestapo-NKVD Conferences
    The Gestapo–NKVD conferences were a series of meetings organized in late 1939 and early 1940, whose purpose was the mutual cooperation between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union...

  • Ghetto Litzmannstadt
  • 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...

  • Holocaust in Poland
    Holocaust in Poland
    The Holocaust, also known as haShoah , was a genocide officially sanctioned and executed by the Third Reich during World War II. It took the lives of three million Polish Jews, destroying an entire civilization. Only a small percentage survived or managed to escape beyond the reach of the Nazis...

  • Holocaust victims
    Holocaust victims
    While the term Holocaust victims generally refers to Jews, the Nazis also persecuted and often killed millions of members of other groups they considered inferior , undesirable or dangerous....

  • Friedrich Krüger
  • Kraków Ghetto
    Kraków Ghetto
    The Kraków Ghetto was one of five major, metropolitan Jewish ghettos created by Nazi Germany in the General Government territory for the purpose of persecution, terror, and exploitation of Polish Jews during the German occupation of Poland in World War II...

  • Kielce pogrom
    Kielce pogrom
    The Kielce pogrom was an outbreak of violence against the Jewish community in the city of Kielce, Poland on July 4, 1946, perpetrated by a mob of local townsfolk and members of the official government forces of the People's Republic of Poland...

  • Łapanka
  • Medallions
    Medallions (book)
    Medallions is a book consisting of eight short stories by the Polish author Zofia Nałkowska.The book was originally published in 1946, soon after the end of the World War II. In it, Nałkowska calmly related selected stories of Nazi atrocities in Poland and the fates of their victims...

     by Zofia Nałkowska
  • Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany
    Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany
    At the beginning of World War II, nearly a quarter of the pre-war Polish areas were annexed by Nazi Germany and placed directly under German civil administration, while the rest of Nazi occupied Poland was named as General Government...

  • Polish decrees
    Polish decrees
    Polish decrees, Polish directives or decrees on Poles refer to the decrees of the Nazi Germany government announced on 8 March 1940 during World War II. They concerned the Polish laborers used during WWII as forced laborers in Germany, regulating their working and living conditions...

  • 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...

  • Polish Underground State
  • Racial policy of Nazi Germany
  • Sexual Slavery by Germany during World War II
  • Soviet repressions of Polish citizens (1939-1946)
    Soviet repressions of Polish citizens (1939-1946)
    In the aftermath of the German and Soviet invasion of Poland, which took place in September 1939, the territory of Poland was divided between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union . Both powers were hostile to Poland's sovereignty, the Polish culture and the Polish people, aiming at their destruction...

  • Special Prosecution Book-Poland (German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

    : Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen)
  • Territorial changes of Poland
    Territorial changes of Poland
    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...

  • Valley of Death (Bydgoszcz)
    Valley of Death (Bydgoszcz)
    Valley of Death in Fordon, Bydgoszcz, northern Poland, is a site of Nazi German mass murder and a mass grave of 5,000 – 6,600 Poles and Jews murdered in October and November 1939 by the local Germans and the Gestapo...

  • War rape by German forces during World War II
  • Zhetel Ghetto
    Zhetel ghetto
    The Zdzięcioł Ghetto, Dzyatlava Ghetto or Zhetel Ghetto was a Jewish ghetto established by Nazi Germany in the town of Zdzięcioł in the occupied eastern part of the Republic of Poland during Holocaust in World War II...

External links

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