Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

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wm
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Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by wm » 21 Apr 2017 23:36

[Split from viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1960]
michael mills wrote:The myth of an ethnic German uprising has been perpetuated by Polish nationalist historians for the purpose of explaining the rapid collapse of the Polish forces in the west of the country, and also for justifying the massacres of ethnic Germans by Polish troops and civilian vigilantes.
Unfortunately I don't know any Polish historian who claims or claimed the collapse was a direct or even indirect result of actions of a German fifth columnists.

Some examples of such actions are here, including the well known Freikorps Ebbinghaus.

Freikorps Ebbinghaus:
Image Image
source: 1, 2.

That there was spy scare or rather fifth columnists scare is well known (as in other countries, for example in the USSR during Barbarossa), nobody denies it, actually the best known communist era war drama film starts with a scene of a mob trying to lynch an entire innocent egyptologist (because of his hieroglyphs). It's a fact that many innocent people were killed as result of that scare. And it's quite possible more Poles than Polish Germans.
But that behaviour wasn't encouraged by Polish authorities, the spy scare wasn't result of their propaganda, it wasn't pre-planned, it happened naturally, in war these things happens. For this reason saying it was "Polish atrocities" is correct only from the grammatical point of view.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by michael mills » 22 Apr 2017 03:25

Some examples of such actions are here, including the well known Freikorps Ebbinghaus.
There were sabotage actions by units of German Special Forces/Commandos who penetrated behind the Polish lines or were dropped by parachute on the first day of the German invasion.

Those units often consisted of Germans who had lived in Western Poland and had emigrated to Germany in the inter-war period, some as late as the summer of 1939. They were recruited into the Special Forces because of their knowledge of the areas where they were to operate when the German invasion began.

But the crucial point is that those Special Forces were a legitimate part of the German Armed Forces, and consisted of German citizens, even if some of them had previously been Polish citizens and had been given German citizenship only recently. There was no uprising of the ethnic German population as claimed by the Polish authorities in order to justify the massacres perpetrated by Polish soldiers and civilian militias immediately after the beginning of the German invasion. Those massacres were simply the result of the war psychosis that had gripped the Polish population.

After the retreat of the Polish forces, some members of the ethnic German population did form militia units for self-defence, and those units did join up with the German forces when they arrived. But that occurred only after the Polish military and civilian authorities had withdrawn, and was essentially a reaction to the violence inflicted on the ethnic German population in the first week of the German invasion.

During the summer of 1939, when the situation had become critical, there had been proposals made by the Abwehr to organise a Fifth Column inside Poland, but those proposals were rejected by the German Government because such action would place the ethnic German population in danger of severe repression, and also was not really necessary since any required disruption of the Polish forces could be carried out by German commandos infiltrated at the time of the invasion. It is the records of such proposals that have been used by Polish sources to back the claim that there was widespread sabotage by ethnic Germans living in Poland.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by wm » 06 May 2017 13:33

Many, most likely a majority, of the members of Freikorps Ebbinghaus (and other groups) were Polish citizens, so according to Polish law they were traitors.
Additionally they fought in civilian clothes - this was a serious violation of Laws of War.
So basically they could have been summarily executed on two counts - treason and war crimes. It didn't really matter they were a legitimate part of the German Armed Forces, they themselves, individually were very illegitimate.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by michael mills » 07 May 2017 00:02

The ethnic Germans who were killed by Polish troops and civilian militias in a number of places, particularly in Bydgoszcz, in the days immediately after the German invasion, were not members of any Freikorps or any sort of German military formation. They were simply civilians who were dragged out of their homes and summarily shot.

Some of the ethnic Germans killed were actually conscripts into the Polish army whose units had been scattered on the first days of the invasion and who were left wandering around the countryside in their uniforms, along with their ethnic Polish fellow soldiers. When they were picked up by Polish patrols, they were assumed to be German agents disguised as Polish soldiers and were summarily executed.

There were also cases where ethnic German members of the Polish armed forces were lynched by their Polish comrades who suspected them of being fifth columnists who had secretly helped the German enemy to defeat them.

It was cases such as the above that most probably formed the basis of the Polish claim, still made today, that large numbers of German spies disguised in Polish uniforms had been infiltrated behind the Polish lines. Any ethnic German found wearing a Polish army uniform was assumed to be such a spy.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by history1 » 07 May 2017 12:55

wm wrote:[...]
Additionally they fought in civilian clothes - this was a serious violation of Laws of War.
So basically they could have been summarily executed on two counts - treason and war crimes. It didn't really matter they were a legitimate part of the German Armed Forces, they themselves, individually were very illegitimate.
Sorry for the OT question but is the same not valid for Polish resistance fighters of the AK and others?
They too fought in civil clothes or even in German uniforms and with German weapons.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by wm » 07 May 2017 14:21

If they wanted to be soldiers, as the defined by the Hague Conventions, those fighting in (but not merely wearing) in German uniforms committed a war crime.
If they didn't want to be "Hague" soldiers, they could have been regarded by the Germans as criminals in any case.

Article 2 of the Annex to the Hague IV Convention says that people who "spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading troops without having had time to organize themselves [into a proper army]" "shall be regarded as belligerents" "if they carry arms openly and and if they respect the laws and customs of war".
But they don't have to have "a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance", or even "to be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates".

Some [later most of them] AK units carried arms openly, hit and run tactics of the others were justified by the fact the Germans had broken most of the relevant rules of war first.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by history1 » 08 May 2017 09:13

wm wrote:If they wanted to be soldiers, as the defined by the Hague Conventions, those fighting in (but not merely wearing) in German uniforms committed a war crime.
If they didn't want to be "Hague" soldiers, they could have been regarded by the Germans as criminals in any case.

Article 2 of the Annex to the Hague IV Convention says that people who "spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading troops without having had time to organize themselves [into a proper army]" "shall be regarded as belligerents" "if they carry arms openly and and if they respect the laws and customs of war".
But they don't have to have "a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance", or even "to be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates".

Some [later most of them] AK units carried arms openly, hit and run tactics of the others were justified by the fact the Germans had broken most of the relevant rules of war first.
You missed to mention that this is only valid for inhabitants of NOT ALLREADY OCCUPIED COUNTRIES.
And, AFAIK, there´s no excuse to violate the Laws of War because the enemy did maybe the same earlier. Can you explain about which most relevant rules of the war the Germans violated first?
I also wonder about the use of terms like army or soldier when dealing with Polish partisan units. Did everyone of them have a rank as it´s requested for soldiers of regular troops?
Thanks for any information.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by wm » 08 May 2017 23:17

Not quite, I knew about the "not already occupied"
The initial intention was to provide military commanders with a simple rule to distinguish between civilians and soldiers.
But small countries protested, that the requirement their armies was fully uniformed was an unfair financial burden on them. They frequently didn't have standing armies worth speaking of, nor uniforms for them.
So the compromise was reached, if you don't have an army, the time, or the money its ok to fight without uniforms. If it's dictated by necessity not by choice.
This is why AK fighters were considered soldiers during the Warsaw Uprising, although many of them wore real German uniforms.
The AK was a part of the pre-war Polish Army anyway, the continuity was maintained.
It's not only the Laws of War, but huge commentaries to them written by people who took part in the Hague Peace Conferences themselves.
For this see: page 530, The Hague Peace Conferences by James Scott (1909)

The AK was absolutely a real professional army, with units, ranks, commanders, specializations, training, even drills and exercises. They even had trained tank units and air units ( weapons to be captured from the enemy - God willing ).

The early German war crimes (1939 and 1940) were: an attack without any declaration of war, numerous mass executions of civilians, mass deportations, large scale confiscations of property.
Despite the name Laws and Customs of War on Land, many articles actually concerned themselves with occupation.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by michael mills » 08 May 2017 23:38

The early German war crimes (1939 and 1940) were: an attack without any declaration of war, numerous mass executions of civilians, mass deportations, large scale confiscations of property.
The mass executions of civilians began after the massacres of ethnic German civilians by Polish military personnel and civilian militias.

For example, the executions carried out by the German military in Bydgoszcz after the occupation of that city were of members of Polish militias that had perpetrated the previous massacres of ethnic German inhabitants.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by history1 » 09 May 2017 13:53

wm wrote:[...]
This is why AK fighters were considered soldiers during the Warsaw Uprising, although many of them wore real German uniforms.
The AK was a part of the pre-war Polish Army anyway, the continuity was maintained.
[...]
Considered soldiers by whom? Obviosly only by themself.
Poland was since many years occupied by Nazi Germany @ spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading troops [...] shall be regarded as belligerents"
So they can´t be considered soldiers nor belligerents! Those partisans didn´t fight invading troops but occupants which were since Sept. 1939 in your country.
Also it´s weird that you claim that the AK did exist already in pre-war Poland when Polish websites state that it was founded on Feb. 14th, 1942 (!!!) and active until Jan. 19th, 1945.
There was the AK precursor with the name "Związek Walki Zbrojne" but even this organisation was founded only in Nov. 1939.
Sources:
https://dzieje.pl/aktualnosci/75-lat-te ... ia-krajowa
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Army
http://wmeritum.pl/zarys-historii-armii-krajowej/31475
http://www.sww.w.szu.pl/index.php?id=po ... ia_krajowa

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by wm » 09 May 2017 21:26

They were considered soldiers by the Germans, who sent them to POW camps after the Warsaw Uprising.
Poland didn't' surrender and didn't sign a peace treaty.
It would be absurd to forbid fighting on some territory (or forbid creation of new units there) just because it's occupied.
Polish partisan units generally carried their weapons openly, and wore a fixed distinctive emblems although Article 2 didn't require them. Many wore real uniforms.

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Re: Ethnic German fith columnists in Poland 1939

Post by wm » 09 May 2017 21:27

michael mills wrote:For example, the executions carried out by the German military in Bydgoszcz after the occupation of that city were of members of Polish militias that had perpetrated the previous massacres of ethnic German inhabitants.
So another war crime:

No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.

Einsatzgruppen, proscription lists were all created/prepared before the war. In the massacres (Piaśnica, Valley of Death, Palmiry) mostly Polish elites were killed.

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