Recommended reading on Poland 1919-1945

Discussions on all aspects of Poland during the Second Polish Republic and the Second World War. Hosted by Peter K
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Re: Recommended reading on Poland 1919-1945

Post by Hama » 21 Dec 2017 15:05

For those who can read Polish and are interested in Polish intelligence operations during the interwar and WW2 era I can recommend 'Między Warszawą a Tokio: Polsko-japońska współpraca wywiadowcza 1904-1944' by Hiroaki Kuromiya and Andrzej Pepłoński. It discusses Polish-Japanese intelligence relations during that time and the cooperation of their agents in WW2. It's a fascinating subject that doesn't have a lot of other detailed literature written on it, and gives an interesting look in to another aspect of Polish diplomatic and secret services history during that period.

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Re: Recommended reading on Poland 1919-1945

Post by gebhk » 01 May 2018 13:01

Thanks Hama. The relations between Poland and Japan (who like the Hungarians, despite being on different sides, seemed to retain a warm feeling towards Poland) remains a curiously off-beat aspect of the Second World War.

Since the 'secret war' has been raised, we should probably mention Stirling T, Nalecz D, Dubicki T. Intelligence co-operation between Poland and Great Britain during World War II. Vol 1: The report of the Anglo-Polish Historical Committee. Middlesex: Valentine Mitchell; 2005.

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Re: Recommended reading on Poland 1919-1945

Post by HenryD » 12 May 2019 23:08

Poles in the Wehrmacht. Would anyone know if this book is available anywhere or in anyother format than Polish. I would love to be able to read it. My google searches find that its no longer in wide circulation.
If anyone would know of any alternative reading of a similar nature that would be helpful.
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Re: Recommended reading on Poland 1919-1945

Post by henryk » 13 May 2019 21:43 ... -wehrmacht
Poles in Nazi German Wehrmacht

=Post by Bonobo on Jul 17, 2011 at 4:13pm

The knowledge about Poles in German Wehrmacht has been slowly surfacing over recent years. The peak of the discussion was in 2005, during presidential elections, when PiS, the nationalist party, accused a liberal candidate of having a Wehrmacht grandfather.
The truth is that most Poles who served in Wehrmacht were forced to do it. When circumstances allowed, they deserted and joined the Polish Armed Forces in the West during Italy 1943 or France 1944 campaigns.

Facts: (from this Polish article,po ... material_3)

-Nearly half Polish pre-war territory was directly annexed into Nazi Germany in 1939. Poles who lived there faced two options- become German citizens or remain Poles, with all horrible consequences.
-from 295.000 to 500.000 Poles served in Nazi Wehrmacht.
-the first wave of deportations and repressions against Poles in German occupied Poland took place in 1939-40. The Volskliste was introduced in 1941. Many Poles signed it, fearing the fate of those who had been repressed before.
- All Polish diaries by Wehrmacht soldiers mention the feeling of alienation and estrangement.
- However, when in combat conditions, Poles were good soldiers. Brotherhood of arms caused it. Also, German soldiers liked Poles.
- It happened many times that Poles shot at other Poles in hostile armies.
- Wearing a Wehrmacht uniform didn`t provoke contempt from other Poles. They understood the whole complexity of the matter. After the war, except for individual cases, the service in German army didn`t entail communist repressions.
-90.000 ex-Wehrmacht soldiers joined the Polish Forces in the West after desertion or capture.
-Poor knowledge of the German language was the cause of directing Poles mostly to infantry units.

There were also thousands of Polish pre-war citizens who served in German forces during the war. Most of them were people who accepted so-called Volksliste ("German People's List"). In several areas, mainly Upper Silesia, Zaolzie, Pomerania, and Masuria, Poles were forced to sign these documents. Rejection of Volksliste often led to deportation to a concentration camp. Many people were compelled by force and many took Volksliste fearing the consequences. Some of those who took Volksliste were later drafted into the German forces. It was significant that the Polish government-in-exile knew about it, and Prime Minister general W³adys³aw Sikorski approved. [6]

It is not known what Hitler thought about Poles as soldiers, but one fact is certain - he distrusted them. His opinion of Polish soldiers was based on the notions of Erich Ludendorff, who reminded Hitler that during World War I the majority of Poles did not want to fight for Germany. On March 30 1943, SS Headquarters refused to create Polish units, citing the following reasons:
thousands of Poles fled both the German and Austrian armies in 1917–1918;
racial and biological differences;
propaganda reasons - the creation of Polish units would mean that Poles and Germans should be officially treated as equal;
the unsupportive stance of the SD; and
the fact that the Poles themselves were not willing to fight for Germany.

A typical story:
During WWII anyone signing volksliste could be conscripted into german army, especially after Stalingrad. If peoples adopting volksliste in Poland were poles or in fact germans is another story. I knew a man who was married to a german lady. He fought in the polish army. He became a POW in september 1939. Just to get out of the camp, with his wife help he signed in 1940 the volksliste. His story did not end there. After a few months he was taken to the german army. Lucky, he didn't go to the east front but was sent to Afrika Korps. At the first opportunity he changed the camp and fought the germans in Africa, Monte Cassino, ... He is both polish and german army veteran. His sons story is also very complicated and interesting.

Peoples living in Silesia were generally considered as germans and taken to the german army. Some of them fought to the end (1945), some of them were looking for an opportunity of changing their army. A lot of them took their chance in Italy. They were commonly called "the kesselrings". Some of this men, while hating germans remained in Wehrmant. They were a very valuable source of information. This is how the allies got before D-day complete plans of the atlantic wall.
(ed: see source for Photos. Original source for photos ... -4_600.jpg,1052/
In next posts, I will tell you about Polish volunteers in the German army. (Ed: did not find them)

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Re: Recommended reading on Poland 1919-1945

Post by AllenM » 09 Nov 2019 23:07

Case White: The Invasion of Poland 1939 ... 147283495X

First to Fight: The Polish War 1939 ... oks&sr=1-1

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Re: Recommended reading on Poland 1919-1945

Post by history1 » 04 Jan 2020 13:20

Holy mackerel! The half of this alleged quote isn´t even on the Polish propaganda forum post (claimed as source) and even less it´s part in the newspaper article, the claimed primary source.

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Re: Recommended reading on Poland 1919-1945

Post by henryk » 05 Jan 2020 20:46

history1 wrote:
04 Jan 2020 13:20
Holy mackerel! The half of this alleged quote isn´t even on the Polish propaganda forum post (claimed as source) and even less it´s part in the newspaper article, the claimed primary source.
I don't understand your message. Please elaborate'
My quote is 100% of the text ( less pictures and picture text). What missing half?
I post a google translation of the newspaper article. The forum post seems substantive to me.
Baltic Journal
Pomeranian and other Poles in Wehrmacht uniforms
Editorial office October 15, 2010

Poles photographed themselves in uniforms to commemorate the time of service.
Up to half a million Poles, mainly from Pomerania and Upper Silesia, could serve in the German armed forces in 1939-45. Did they have another choice and do they deserve to be called traitors - asks Jarosław Zalesiński in an interview with prof. Ryszard Kaczmarek, author of the book "Poles in the Wehrmacht"

According to the most cautious estimates, there were 295,000 Poles serving in the Wehrmacht. The Lord does not exclude that there could be even half a million of them.
- The lower number is certified in German sources. There simply could not be fewer of these people. But this figure is based on data from the autumn of 1943. We do not have data from the end of 1943 and from 1944, and this means that the upper number can only be estimated.
Even 300,000 is a lot. This number cannot be understood properly if you do not know German national policy, especially in the Po-Sea and Upper Silesia.
- This policy resulted from the recognition of German citizens as part of the population in the lands annexed to the Reich, although in reality on a mass scale it concerned Pomerania and Upper Silesia, because in Wielkopolska it looked different ...

The policy of Greiser, the Gauleiter of the Warta Country, was different.
- Greiser applied the policy of Germanizing the land, i.e. mass displacements and not accepting the local population into the German national community. In Pomerania and Silesia it was accepted that it is possible to Germanise the so-called intermediate population.
To get into the German national group you had to complete and submit a special survey. This was not done voluntarily.
- This is probably the key to understanding the problem, not always understood outside these areas. In these two areas, there was no obligation to enter on the nationality list, but to fill out this questionnaire. After completing it without the knowledge or participation of the interested party, the official gave him a specific group of volkslist, and with it was associated the granting of German citizenship. Failure to complete the survey meant punishments, from protective detention to a concentration camp.
The system also relied on incentives. Inclusion in the third group of Volkslist gave some privileges and protected against repression.
- Pomerania survived the drama of displacements carried out in mass at the turn of 1939 and 1940 more than Upper Silesia. The Volkslist was not introduced until '41. People were truly afraid of repeating these actions. Anyway, these fears were not unfounded, because Gauleiter Forster did not hide that this would be the fate of Poles living in Pomerania.
So those who were included in the fourth group.
- And also those who remained outside the Volksliste. The fate of such people was a foregone conclusion, if Germany won the war, they would be displaced. The fear of displacement was also used in Upper Silesia, despite the fact that such actions as in Pomerania were not carried out for economic reasons.
By autumn '43, almost two million people were enrolled in the third group. Many of them, when they realized that it meant a conscription to the Wehrmacht, tried to get out of it later.
- In my book I try to describe the spectrum of possible attitudes of these people, without any statistics, however, because it is not possible. The attitude you're talking about is called matching. This is a typical attitude for borderlands, not only in these years. It was always about adapting to the conditions, sometimes with greater, sometimes with smaller benefits. Poles with the third group were not threatened with confiscation of property as soon as they received German citizenship. They were given practically the same food stamps as the Germans. And they were not threatened with displacement. For these reasons, a fit attitude, which could also be described as opportunism, was adopted by many people.
Especially at the beginning of the war.
- How long did the successes of the Germans seem to create the prospect of long-lasting German rule.
If we talked about this adaptation as a collaboration, we would probably transfer thinking from a different occupation reality, from the General Government, to these areas.
- I would definitely not describe this attitude as collaborationism. Attitude spectrum would range from patriotic attitudes through matching to collaboration, but only at the opposite end of this scale. Collaborationism also implies ideological cooperation, adopting the principles of the Nazi state and its ideology. The group of collaborators includes only those who have accepted the Nazi state together with its goals.
Someone like Alfons Białecki, who served in the German army officer rank?
- E.g. Or those who went to the Waffen SS, but as volunteers. Collaborators were also those who aspired to join the NSDAP.
At the other extreme, would we have someone like Józef Tusk, today a figure-symbol of Poles conscripted into the Wehrmacht?
- Yes, these are opposing attitudes. People similar to Józef Tusk were sent to the Wehrmacht, but remained patriotic. Some decided to desert, although it was important to remember that in order not to endanger their families, they usually deserted only when they were taken to the front or to prison, not from barracks.
On one side Józef Tusk, on the other Alfons Białecki, and in the middle ...
- Those who want to survive the war, not taking sides, just adapt to the current situation. At the beginning of the war, they adapted to what the Germans dictated. This changed after the defeat at Stalingrad. Often, however, their attitude changed at the moment when they received a call to the army, which they did not foresee.
You mentioned that there was also a group that was reporting to the Waffen SS. How numerous?
- I could not determine this number, although I tried very hard, because it would give the opportunity to more accurately determine this collaborative part. It must be remembered, however, that the Germans strictly adhered to the principle of only voluntary recruitment to the Waffen SS, at least until 1942. From 1943, however, a large proportion went to these units on the basis of normal conscription, only that they were still subjected to specialist racial tests. From 1944, they certainly were no longer volunteer decisions. Officer Waffen simply took over the part of the group that reported to the commission. Recruitment to the Waffen SS was carried out in both Pomerania and Upper Silesia.
Your book shows the dramas and paradoxes of this complicated story. For example, recruits going to German units and singing on the train "Rota" or "Mazurek Dąbrowski". But thanks to the skilful policy of the Wehrmacht, Poles often merged with the German army.
- When these soldiers came to the front, but such a real one, and not like the Atlantic Wall until 1944, or somewhere in Norway, where they served as an occupation army, then the military community began to play a huge role. Without accepting the Wehrmacht rules, the chances of surviving the war were reduced to a minimum. The front epic of Poles in the Wehrmacht is the second stage of this story, characterized by integration in German troops.
It really looked different on the Atlantic Wall. German soldiers and Polish soldiers were even forbidden to approach each other at maneuvers, because maneuvers sometimes turned into a fight.
- There were also fights, but I would not overstate these episodic events. On the other hand, the feeling of strangeness of Poles serving in the Wehrmacht appears in all memories.
But on the real front, Germans, Poles, Austrians and anyone else had another goal: to survive together.
- The front situation meant that the whole system of values ​​on which the world of these young people was based changed. Even if they were patriotic, everyone emphasizes that the survival needed a community with other soldiers of the same unit. Then what appears under the word Kameradschaft appears. It appears in memories and letters of soldiers commonly.
Regardless of nationality.
- Cameradschaft was not based on nationality, but on mutual trust that a soldier from the trench next to it, whether it be a German, a Pole, or someone else, will be ready to help in an extreme situation, pull him from the field of fire, wait until it will be possible to retreat the entire subdivision, help the wounded. This is not about heroism, but about a sense of community in the unit, which soldiers can only survive on the front in this way.
It had to be a truly harmonious community, since Poles from the third nationality group were statistically gaining the same amount of battle decorations as others.
- Do not ideologize too much badges obtained on the front. It seems to us that they testify to the fact that they were received by heroes who fought for ideological reasons. It wasn't like that.
Continued on part 2

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Re: Recommended reading on Poland 1919-1945

Post by henryk » 05 Jan 2020 20:49

part 2
There were a lot of press and memoirs, especially since the 1990s. In fact, the problem has never been examined in its entirety. And it is not an exception in the history of Europe, because we have entire national groups that found themselves in a similar situation. Well, it undoubtedly conflicted with the heroic picture of war. In which there is the German occupier on one side and Polish society heroically resisting him on the other.
- It was at odds with something else, often repeated thesis that in Poland there was no problem of collaborationism. And every time we started talking about Poles in the Wehrmacht, somewhere in the background appeared a word for Poles not for the party, which also appeared in our conversation, i.e. collaboration. It stuck together. In my book, I tried to show that service in the Wehrmacht was not a manifestation of collaborationism. Collaborationism only appeared on the outskirts of this group.
Maybe we actually have a picture of the attitudes of Polish society during the Second World War shaped by the history of the General Government?
- We have forgotten that half of the areas occupied by Germany were incorporated into the Reich. Meanwhile, our picture of this period of Polish history is just a picture of Warsaw and its surroundings. Few people know what the occupation looked like in other areas of Poland. In Poznań, Katowice, not in Gdańsk maybe, but for example in Gdynia.
Professor Ryszard Kaczmarek (born in 1959) - historian, researcher of the history of Upper Silesia in the 19th and 20th centuries, lecturer at the University of Silesia, director of the Institute of History of the University of Silesia.
He published, among others:
"Under the rule of the gauleiter. Elite and power instances in the Katowice region in 1939-1945", "Upper Silesia during World War II. Between the utopia of the German national community and the reality of occupation in the territories incorporated into the Third Reich" and the book just published by Wydawnictwo Literackie Poles in the Wehrmacht ".
He lives in Tychy.

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