Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Discussions on the foreigners (volunteers as well as conscripts) fighting in the German Wehrmacht, those collaborating with the Axis and other period Far Right organizations. Hosted by George Lepre.
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Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by Timmy » 16 Jan 2015 21:35

Besides the Volksdeutsche in Poland, was there any collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

There seems to be quite a contradiction between the laws used by the Ariernachweis (Aryan Certificate) and the later decrees used against the Poles. The Ahnenpass gave the definition of "Aryan" as all the European peoples and explicitly mentioned Poles as Aryan ("wherever they might live in the world" Aryans were "e.g. an Englishman or a Swede, a Frenchman or a Czech, a Pole or an Italian") and so a Polish man or Polish woman could be a possible marriage partner for a German. The "non-Aryans" were the people regarded as alien to the German Volk and were said to be the non-Europeans: Jews, Gypsies, Negroes and mixed-race peoples.

Yet, after the invasion of Poland the Poles were regarded as "racial foes" in propaganda and any relations between Germans and Poles was explicitly forbidden, despite Poles being in principle regarded as Aryans. During the war, thousands of Polish men lost their lives for "forbidden relations" with German women, the death penalty was the result of such a relation, unless Himmler deemed the Polish man capable of Germanization. German women were marched through their local town with a card around their neck with signs such as "Pole lover" and had their head shaved. German men and Polish women were placed into concentration camps for their "forbidden relations". Even sending a letter to a Pole could land you into a concentration camp.

Surely any friendly attitude towards the Poles even by the Wehrmacht was punished heavily? If it was punishable for just ordinary Germans who were not affiliated with any organisation then I'm sure it would have been just the same for the Wehrmacht soldiers.

In 1941 the Wehrmacht was given a pamphlet which said:
The war against Russia is an important chapter in the German nation's struggle for existence. It is the old battle of the Germanic against the Slavic people, of the defence of European culture against Muscovite-Asiatic inundation and of the repulse of Jewish Bolshevism. The objective of this battle must be the demolition of present-day Russia and must therefore be conducted with unprecedented severity. Every military action must be guided in planning and execution by an iron resolution to exterminate the enemy remorselessly and totally. In particular, no adherents of the contemporary Russian Bolshevik system are to be spared.
And from Wikipedia:
In accordance to these new racial laws issued by the Nazis; in November 1941, the commander of the 18th Panzer Division warned his soldiers not to have sex with "sub-human" Russian women, and ordered that any Russian women found having sex with a German soldier was to be handed over to the SS to be executed at once. A decree ordered on 20 February 1942 declared that sexual intercourse between a German woman and a Russian worker or prisoner of war would result in the Russian man being punished by the death penalty.
Himmler's remark about Czechs and Russians as well as the collaborator Vlasov in his Posen speech sums it up really well:
For the SS Man, one principle must apply absolutely: we must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood, and to no one else. What happens to the Russians, the Czechs, is totally indifferent to me. Whatever is available to us in good blood of our type, we will take for ourselves, that is, we will steal their children and bring them up with us, if necessary. Whether other races live well or die of hunger is only of interest to me insofar as we need them as slaves for our culture; otherwise that doesn't interest me. Whether 10,000 Russian women fall down from exhaustion in building a tank ditch is of interest to me only insofar as the tank ditches are finished for Germany.

The Vlasov ballyhoo

Then you hear the next prayer. This goes: "We were wrong about the Russians." This song is usually sung by men from some Eastern province, who were over there in their youth, some of whom have written very good books and had a Russian mother, too, and now they tell stories. It is also sung by the little political vagabonds whom we first came to know in the eastern struggle against Poland, whom we rejected at home, and who have now been drafted as soldiers, officers and majors, and are still peddling their intellectual poison under cover of the uniform of our decent German army. Goaded on by this propaganda tendency — I can't call it anything else — they tell you so many stories, or write them home by military post (and the stories then trickle down from top to bottom): "Yes, we were wrong about the Russians. The Russians are not at all the robot" (this is the expression used most frequently) "that we thought they were in 1941. Now that we're over here in the East, our eyes have been opened. The Russians are a noble people, and so on and so forth, a collection of all virtues. We just have to educate them as National Socialists, the best thing would be to create a NSRAP or something similar. Then they would" — this is the next bit — "form the army of liberation under General Vlasov". Then comes the following, which is a constant claim of General Vlasov: "Russia can only be freed by Russians. Germany has so far never been able to defeat the Russians". So give Vlasov 500,000 or 1,000,000 Russians, arm them well, train them insofar as possible according to German principles, and Vlasov is so noble, that he'll go off against the Russians and kill them for us.

People can blow off a great deal of stuff and nonsense; that wouldn't be so dangerous. But when a piece of nonsense like this has the end effect that a glorious army, looking back on hundreds of years of tradition like the German one, begins to doubt its own strength due to the gossip of politically untrained little officers of higher or lower service grades — the little bundle of proverbs who talks like this doesn't even notice how devastating it is when he says: "We cannot beat the Russians, they can only do that themselves" — then that is dangerous. Everybody you ask, "How's the Russian infantry?", will tell you, with pathetic thoughtlessness (since the two things don't go together logically, after all): "The Russian infantry is garbage. We are vastly superior to them." But: Russians can only be defeated by Russians.

I wouldn't have had any objections, if we had hired Mr. Vlasov and every other Slavic subject wearing a Russian general's uniform, to make propaganda against the Russians. I wouldn't have any objections at all. Wonderful.
Even the collaborators in the Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and there were many upon many were still regarded as Untermenschen and were basically nothing more than cannon fodders.

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by Halibutt » 02 Feb 2015 03:10

As to collaboration... well, the very term is pretty much ambiguous, so the reply depends on how broadly you understand it. In short:
  1. There was neither a "Polish Quisling" nor a Polish auxiliary military unit similar to RONA, SS Galizien or SS Wallonien. The Germans tried to establish a mountain division out of the "Goralenvolk", or Polish mountain folk, but they failed miserably. In short: despite huge efforts only 410 people volunteered and eventually some 300 were admitted. They were sent to Trawniki for training, but over half of them deserted on the way. Out of remaining 140 - 21 were soon dismissed due to health reasons while another 19 deserted, several dozens were dismissed soon afterwards when they declined to serve in any capacity. Finally, the remainder started a conflict with Ukrainians also being trained there and a large group was sent to Auschwitz as prisoners. The remaining twelve were then sent to Germany as slave labourers. (source)
  2. Having said that, there was at least one Polish formation that could be roughly called a Polish collaborationist force - the "Blue Police". The en wiki article is pretty comprehensive, so no need to repeat it here. Not that it took part in the fights alongside the Wehrmacht (quite the opposite, many policemen collaborated with the Home Army).
  3. There was also *some* cooperation between particular units of the Wehrmacht and particular units of the Polish underground in the later stages of WWII, but it was mostly tactical ("we won't attack you and in exchange you'll let us escape from the Soviets"). This was the case of, for instance, the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade of the National Armed Forces (a minority group when compared to the Home Army, but a sizeable unit nevertheless). Some Home Army units also collaborated with the Hungarians during the Operation Tempest, but the cooperation was mostly aimed against the Germans.
  4. One can also argue that there were Poles within the ranks of many German units. One reason was the infamous Volksliste: hundreds of thousands of people had the choice of either signing it and sending their sons to the Eastern Front, or not signing it and going with their families to concentration camps. That's how my friend's grandpa ended up in a mostly-Polish ("Silesian") company within Afrika Corps. They defected as soon as they had the chance. To put that in some perspective - out of some 250,000 soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, the largest group (almost 90,000) were people who had been forcibly conscripted into the Wehrmacht and either defected or were taken POW and recruited in the POW camps.
  5. Yet another group were people of Polish nationality, who however were Polish citizens rather than *ethnic Poles* (whatever that means). Ukrainians, Russians, Georgians and so on. Many of them joined the German war effort for this reason or another, yet they weren't treated as Poles or Polish citizens by the Germans.
Cheers
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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by 4thskorpion » 02 Feb 2015 14:55

Halibutt wrote: [*]There was also *some* cooperation between particular units of the Wehrmacht and particular units of the Polish underground in the later stages of WWII, but it was mostly tactical ("we won't attack you and in exchange you'll let us escape from the Soviets"). This was the case of, for instance, the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade of the National Armed Forces (a minority group when compared to the Home Army, but a sizeable unit nevertheless). Some Home Army units also collaborated with the Hungarians during the Operation Tempest, but the cooperation was mostly aimed against the Germans.
There is some evidence that the cooperation of the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade was more than simply wanting to escape the advancing Red Army:

From an unpublished memoir of an intelligence officer of 204 pp Holy Cross Brigade under the operational command of Captain "Wilk" (Waclaw Janikowsk.

"...Approximately twelve months before the end of the war Wermacht Intelligence and certain parts of the German Security Service (i.e. SS Capt. Paul Fuchs with his outfit etc) already had contacts with Polish Resistance and had started limited anti-Soviet operations co-operating with some elements of Polish resistance among them with Capt."Tom" and his organisation."

This same NSZ officer from the Holy Cross Brigade was also sent to Berlin to meet with Vlassov's ROA carrying Guderian signed documents from the Abwehr FAKS 202 with one would suppose the full cooperation of Gehlen/Guderian on some level.

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by Halibutt » 02 Feb 2015 15:28

Yeah, also the Holy cross Mountains Brigade was by far not the only unit to play with the Germans this way or another. However, even when cooperation was considered to some extent it never reached similar levels to SS Wallonien, Chetniks, Ustasha or RONA. I guess the primary reason for lack of interest in such cooperation was the reality of German occupation of Poland and the extent of German war crimes, from the very start of the war in September 1939 til the last days. Nobody really considered Hitler as an ally after 1939 - at best the Germans were "enemies of another enemy" for some fringe organisations like National Armed Forces.

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by henryk » 02 Feb 2015 19:35

Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944 Richard C. Lukas
Chapter Four: Civilian resistance and Collaboration
Thus the severity of German occupation policies in Poland, unquestionably the worst in Europe, prevented any pPole of political stature to collaborate.
No precise data exist concerning the number of Polish collaborators during the war, but the number does not appear to have loomed large in relations to the total poulation........One report suggested that in the period January 1943 to June 1944, underground authorities pronounced 2 015 death sentences on informers and collaborators. Postwar statistics of the Israeli War Crimes Commission indicated that only 7 000 Poles out of a population of over twenty million ethnic Poles collaborated with the Nazis.

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by 4thskorpion » 03 Feb 2015 16:12

henryk wrote:Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944 Richard C. Lukas
Chapter Four: Civilian resistance and Collaboration
Thus the severity of German occupation policies in Poland, unquestionably the worst in Europe, prevented any Pole of political stature to collaborate.
Below from page 12. The New Order in Poland by Simon Segal. Published February 1942. A. Knopf. Research Institute on Peace and Post War Problems of the American Jewish Committee, New York.

"…This does not mean that the Germans could not have found any Poles to collaborate with them. It is true that they have found it very difficult to induce prominent men with prestige and influence in the country to try such collaboration. But some elements of the pre-war fascist and anti-semitic groups in Poland were willing and quite eager to gain positions under the Nazis. A group of the pro-fascist National Radical Party (Naras) are cooperating with the Nazis. Even a Polish section of the Nazi Party composed mostly of the Naras element, was at first established. However after two months of existence this Polish section of the Nazi Party was dissolved and some of its leaders arrested by the Gestapo."

Segal also writes that Dr. Frank, Governor-General of the General Government, was himself actually not interested in forming a puppet regime despite contrary orders from Berlin. Segal writes on page 14; "...Some prominent Nazis therefore thought that the Polish territory not directly annexed to the Reich should be entirely administered by the Germans themselves, so that complete freedom of experimentation would be left to them. They felt that a puppet regime might impair, to some extent at least, their freedom."

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by henryk » 03 Feb 2015 20:25

4thskorpion wrote:
henryk wrote:Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944 Richard C. Lukas
Chapter Four: Civilian resistance and Collaboration
Thus the severity of German occupation policies in Poland, unquestionably the worst in Europe, prevented any Pole of political stature to collaborate.
Below from page 12. The New Order in Poland by Simon Segal. Published February 1942. A. Knopf. Research Institute on Peace and Post War Problems of the American Jewish Committee, New York.

"…This does not mean that the Germans could not have found any Poles to collaborate with them. It is true that they have found it very difficult to induce prominent men with prestige and influence in the country to try such collaboration. But some elements of the pre-war fascist and anti-semitic groups in Poland were willing and quite eager to gain positions under the Nazis. A group of the pro-fascist National Radical Party (Naras) are cooperating with the Nazis. Even a Polish section of the Nazi Party composed mostly of the Naras element, was at first established. However after two months of existence this Polish section of the Nazi Party was dissolved and some of its leaders arrested by the Gestapo."

Segal also writes that Dr. Frank, Governor-General of the General Government, was himself actually not interested in forming a puppet regime despite contrary orders from Berlin. Segal writes on page 14; "...Some prominent Nazis therefore thought that the Polish territory not directly annexed to the Reich should be entirely administered by the Germans themselves, so that complete freedom of experimentation would be left to them. They felt that a puppet regime might impair, to some extent at least, their freedom."
According to Forgotten Holocaust, a number of minor politicians attempted collaboration, but the efforts did not proceed far.
Post Katyn, and with the increasing Soviet successes, Frank changed his policy, supported by others in Berlin, but not by Hitler.

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by 4thskorpion » 04 Feb 2015 18:48

The Miecz I Plug – MiP (Sword and Plow) a populist, radical Polish nationalist movement wrote to Hitler with offers of cooperation which all came to naught as the MiP was not considered having the political gravitas or influence.

The original leaders of Miecz I Plug were arrested by the Germans, and the organisation's leadership was subsequently taken over by Gestapo collaborators - it was also infiltrated by NKWD agents. The chief Gestapo infiltrator, Artur Ritter (“Jastrzebski”), a Reichsdeutsche, was also a secret Communist and NKWD agent. So he was a triple agent, pretending to be a “Polish fascist” and a “Nazi collaborator”. Ritter had previously joined the ranks of the SA, all the while working for Russian military intelligence.

After the "liberation" of Poland by the USSR Ritter spent time in a Soviet jail having been denounced and arrested as a German officer, however he was released after a year and became director of the Department of Counterintelligence (Department I) MBP, whose tasks included the 'fight against reactionary underground " in communist Poland. Ritter died on May 7, 1981, and is buried at the Powazki Military Cemetery.
Artur_Jastrzebski.JPG
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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by michael mills » 12 Feb 2015 22:19

There was de facto collaboration between the Wehrmacht and AK units fighting Soviet partisan groups in the present Belarus.

The Wehrmacht provided various sorts of logistical support to those AK units, eg wounded AK men were treated in Wehrmacht hospitals, and the AK units received supplies from the Wehrmacht.

The de facto collaboration arose because the Wehrmacht and the local AK units were both fighting a common enemy, the Soviet partisans. However, they fought that common enemy separately rather than in combination, and the collaboration was not openly proclaimed.

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by wm » 15 Feb 2015 00:06

Although those people weren't enemies of Soviet partisans, they themselves were declared Soviet enemies by the Soviet partisans and their leadership in Moscow.

The so called Polish collaboration in Belarus was in fact survival tactics of of a few local commanders facing destruction at the hands of overwhelming Soviet partisan forces (and anyway they did it against strict orders of the Polish Government and the AK). It wasn't a Quislingian type cooperation.
Much more important was the pursued by the Soviets and quite beneficial for them adversarial collaboration between the Nazi Germany and the USSR (as formulated by Ponomarenko's memorandum) against the Polish Underground.
Thus the severity of German occupation policies in Poland, unquestionably the worst in Europe, prevented any Pole of political stature to collaborate.
I don't think it is true. In 1939/1940 the anti-Polish actions (like Intelligenzaktion) were just starting and usually kept secret, there were no wide scale repressions against entire classes of the population - those would happen later, and still there were no collaborators in sight.
In fact it was the other way, the severity of the occupation was delivering forced, survival collaboration (of which extreme examples were the Ghettos), much more useful than collaboration of some obscure Polish politicians.
So the Poles "collaborated" because of the repressions, and wouldn't collaborate in their absence.

Next, In this context it would be useful to define a collaborator as someone who has a valuable political support of at least a small part the population to offer. Because really who cares that a nobody offered nothing for his own reasons.

So really those people don't count:
But some elements of the pre-war fascist and anti-semitic groups in Poland were willing and quite eager to gain positions under the Nazis. A group of the pro-fascist National Radical Party (Naras) are cooperating with the Nazis. Even a Polish section of the Nazi Party composed mostly of the Naras element, was at first established.
The Naras, properly NOR, were a few young nobodies (even their leader was only 25 years old) employing local gangbangers to do their bidding.
Considering the period of their activities, at that time the Polish government-in-exile had been firmly established, the Polish Armed Forces including the Polish Air Force and the Polish Navy had been rebuilt, and France wasn't defeated yet - their proclamations can't be seen as anything but delusional.

The Blue Police, as the name implies was a police force, created according to the Hague Conventions requirements. In fact, not creating/retaining a native police force could be regarded as a war crime.

Miecz i Pług, again a few unknown people, its leadership infiltrated by Gestapo, later executed on the orders of the Underground.

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by michael mills » 15 Feb 2015 05:15

Much more important was the pursued by the Soviets and quite beneficial for them adversarial collaboration between the Nazi Germany and the USSR (as formulated by Ponomarenko's memorandum) against the Polish Underground.
What was that "adversarial collaboration"?

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by wm » 15 Feb 2015 12:23

I suppose it's a scheme delivering benefits to two mutual adversaries, despite their rivalry.
The memorandum postulated launching an open partisan warfare in the central Poland, with the aim of embroiling the AK into an unwinnable and destructive total war with the Germans. This would be beneficial to the Germans in the short term, and to the Soviets in the long term.

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by michael mills » 16 Feb 2015 00:41

So you are saying that was a Soviet plan alone, not something done in consultation with the Germans?

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by Marcus » 17 Feb 2015 08:27

Several posts discussing the treatment of ethnic Poles in Germany rather than collaboration were moved to the thread at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=1363

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Re: Collaboration between the Wehrmacht German soldiers and ethnic Poles?

Post by Polaka » 25 May 2015 05:03

I want to find out about my German grandfather who married my Polish grandmother before WWII. The story is he survived a plane crash during the war only to be killed when he took refuge in a bombed building but the wall fell on him. German soldiers later came to the family farm in Eastern Poland (now Ukraine) to tell grandma this and they took her and the kids to a DP camp in Germany (Fallingbostel).
Reading all these posts and trying to get a picture in my head but I still have questions: Would he have joined the German air force or Polish? Can a German join the polish air force? Why would German soldiers care enough to save the wife and kids from Partisans and Russians? Is it because they would have known him? Which German Regiment/Infantry was that far out into eastern Poland while the Russians were there? Was he considered a traitor for marrying a Pole? Was he forced to join the German army or air force when Hitler called for the Volksdeutsche. I probably have missed the answers given but I'm still getting negative results. Any type of hint you have will help me get further in my understanding.

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