Polish soldiers in the Wehrmacht/Waffen-SS?

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PolAntek
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Polish Troops in German Army - ?

Post by PolAntek » 11 Jun 2003 06:13

The attached photos (please excuse the quality) are of a reproduction / translation booklet of the German government’s 1943 summary of findings based on their investigation of the Katyn Forest massacre of Polish Army officers by the Soviets in 1940.

I am seeking specific information relating to the statement:

“ During the summer of 1942, Polish troops were attached to the German Army in the vicinity of Smolensk. … The Polish troops investigating the rumors…”

Does anyone have any information about these alleged “Polish troops…attached to the German Army”, or is this a fabrication?

Many thanks in advance.
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Post by Davey Boy » 21 Jun 2003 04:56

That's fascinating.

I don't know of any Polish units as such in the Wehrmacht. But there were plenty of Poles in the German Army. They were consctripted after being granted second or third class German citizenship. Most of these people came from western and northern Poland. I think their number has been put as high as 300,000.

However, many, if not most, quickly changed sides and enlisted in the Polish army. They then fought the Germans all over the western front. Quite a few served with my grandfather in Holland.

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Post by David Thompson » 21 Jun 2003 19:41

PolAntek -- In addition to the Poles conscripted into the German armed forces which Davey Boy mentioned, there were a number of Polish police units -- Special Service (Sonderdienst) and Schutzmannschaft (Schuma) battalion-sized formations, which served with the German military. Also, western Galicia was annexed to the Generalgouvernement after the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, and that region supplied volunteers for military formations.

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Post by PolAntek » 22 Jun 2003 22:40

Thanks for the replies Davey Boy and David. My interest stems from the fact that the Poles were known to stubbornly resist cooperation with both the German and Soviet invaders to a much greater degree than the other overrun nations. Incidents of active Polish assistance to the invaders seem to be rare. No doubt, however, that both German's with Polish backgrounds and Poles with German ancestry found themselves in each others armed forces at the outbreak of WW2, and that some Polish POW's chose to join the enemy instead of incarceration.

I will do some further research on the Polish police units -- Special Service (Sonderdienst) and Schutzmannschaft (Schuma) that David mentioned. Do you have any more info or perhaps can suggest some sources?

Actually, just the other day I may have found my answer to the case of the alleged Polish troops "attached" to the German Army that discovered the Katyn murder site. It is contained in the fascinating book "In the Shadow of Katyn - Stalin's Terror" by Stanislaw Swianiewicz. Swianiewicz was the sole survivor of the transports of Polish officers to the Katyn forest for execution. He was removed from the transport because of his interest to the NKVD as he was an acclaimed economics professor who had penned a well known book in the 30's about the Hitlerite economic system. He writes:

"...the Poles under German occupation played, as far as I know, a considerable role in discovering the Katyn graves. Polish workers mobilized into the organiztion Todt were the first to find out from the local population about those graves. According to tehlocal population, they also placed a cross at the site of those graves."

I haven't yet found too much information on The Organization Todt, other than it was so named after Fritz Todt who was its leader until his death in 1942. Afterwards it was headed by Albert Speer. This organization apparently operated in the Third Reich and countries occupied by Germany. It was created as an organization of technical support for the army. Todt had its own work camps and also used prisoners.

So the account contained in the German government’s 1943 summary of findings may be not entirely accurate by suggesting that these were Polish army troops now actively fighting with the Wehrmacht. Does anyone have any more info on the Todt group?

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Post by David Thompson » 22 Jun 2003 23:22

PolAntek -- You asked: "I will do some further research on the Polish police units -- Special Service (Sonderdienst) and Schutzmannschaft (Schuma) that David mentioned. Do you have any more info or perhaps can suggest some sources?"

David A. Littlejohn wrote a 4-volume series called "Foreign Legions of the Third Reich," R. James Bender Publishing Co., San Jose (CA): 1979-1987. Vol. 4 covers Poland, the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Rumania, Free India, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Russia. In the section of the volume dealing with Poland (pp. 17-37), Littlejohn says that in May 1940 Hans Frank set up the Sonderdienst, which consisted of Volksdeutsche volunteers to carry out administrative and technical duties and perform police work when required. In Aug 1942 the Sonderdienst was put under the control of the Senior SS and Police Commander "East" (HSSPF "Ost"). There were also Volksdeutsche SA and NSKK formations, and a Volksdeutsche armed Forestry Protection Command (Forstschutzkommando).

All Poles, except Volksdeutsche and Jews, had to register for the General Government Construction Service (Baudienst im Generalgouvernement). This organization carried out the same tasks as the Reich Labor Service (Reichsarbeitdienst - RAD) did in Germany. There were indigenous Polish police formations as well. Littlejohn does not give the formal title for these units.

During WWII, the German field postal service was tasked with keeping track of military and police units, so that members of the German armed forces could send and receive mail. They did this by assigning different field post numbers to the different units. Georg Tessin and Norbert Kannapin were able to reconstruct the organization of German police units through an analysis of the field post numbers, and published their findings as "Waffen-SS und Ordnungspolizei im Kriegeinsatz 1939-1945: Ein Ueberblick anhand der Feldpostuebersicht," Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck: 2000.

At pp. 646-7 of this volume, the authors give a breakdown of Armed Association Battalions (Schutzmannschaft-Batallione) in the Generalgouvernement, which consisted of battalions numbered 201-212.

The activities of Organisation Todt (OT) are much better documented than those of the Sonderdienst and Schutzmannschaft-Batallione. There are some threads on the Nazi slave labor system, of which the OT was one of the main beneficiaries, at:

http://www.thirdreichforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=16879

http://www.thirdreichforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=15224 and

http://www.thirdreichforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=14625


If you have trouble finding the information you need there, please let me know.

I hope this helps.

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Post by PolAntek » 23 Jun 2003 21:43

David,

Sincere thanks for the information. I will seek out a copy of the Littlejohn book. Of particular interest is the “indigenous Polish police formations” you mentioned. As noted earlier, the subject of my study is the extent of willing cooperation of indigenous / ethnic Poles with the Germans. The Volksdeutsche, of course, are not in this category. Not surprisingly though is their active volunteering for administrative and technical duties for Frank’s organizations after their effective ‘fifth column’ activities were completed for the invading German forces.

Also interesting is your note: “All Poles, except Volksdeutsche and Jews, had to register for the General Government Construction Service…”. I’ll need to look into why the Poles would be singled out in this instance.

Many thanks again for your help.

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Post by MAXIS » 24 Jun 2003 13:36

Hi David

We have to specify that Schuma-Bataillon 201-212 formed in GG were based mainly on Ukrainian fm Galizia, not Polish, except Schuma-Bataillon 202: this one was the ONLY ONE bataillon OFFICIALLY defined as "polish" within German Police.
More bataillons-level units (and lowest) were formed, but with ukrainian, volksdeutesche and polish considering themselves as germans. Those polish-germans served on individual base and were not officially considered polish at all.

About this topic, on 23 April 2003 was opened an interesting discussion on thirdreichforum following the post "Polish in the Waffen-SS", by Roderic.

Best
Max

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Post by David Thompson » 24 Jun 2003 16:53

Thanks for the clarification, Maxis.

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Post by PolAntek » 25 Jun 2003 05:22

Good information - Thank you MAXIS !!

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Post by VeleV » 30 Jun 2003 20:39

I know from many of my Polish friends as well as my relatives that many Poles fought individualy on the German side (even when they knew it could end in death and betrayal) but they saw fighting alongside Germans better then fighting on the Soviet side.

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Post by aftershock2222 » 01 Jul 2003 02:22

I'm sure most everyone has heard of the late movie director and actor Klause Kinski.He was the father of actress Natasha Kinski.He was born in Poland,and early on in the war he was drafted into the Wehrmacht.He was wounded in action and discharged.Does anyone know where he served.Was he of German or Polish descent?

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Post by Jerzy » 02 Jul 2003 14:22

MAXIS wrote:Hi David

We have to specify that Schuma-Bataillon 201-212 formed in GG were based mainly on Ukrainian fm Galizia, not Polish, except Schuma-Bataillon 202: this one was the ONLY ONE bataillon OFFICIALLY defined as "polish" within German Police.
More bataillons-level units (and lowest) were formed, but with ukrainian, volksdeutesche and polish considering themselves as germans. Those polish-germans served on individual base and were not officially considered polish at all.

About this topic, on 23 April 2003 was opened an interesting discussion on thirdreichforum following the post "Polish in the Waffen-SS", by Roderic.

Best
Max


I have read about the 202 unit in Madajczyk (censored, 2 volumes).
I don't remeber how the unit was formed.
I don't think there were many volunteers to die fighting
partisans.
According to Madajczyk (if I remember correctly) the morale
was very low and the unit was dissolved. Some of the soldiers
deserted.

How the Polish police in GG was formed.
The policemen had to register in 1939 and almost all
had to serve. Later volunteers were accepted.
More than 25% of Polish policemen worked for the underground,
mostly for the Home Army. Many became criminals -
robbed and murdered Jews and ethic Poles.

The Germans used Poles against Ukrainians but also
Ukrainians against Poles. Ukrainians were preferred
in Warsaw where they obtained higher food rations.
There existed Polish and Ukrainian polices in Ukraine
so both groups quote examples they were victims
and the others collaborated. Summarising much more
Poles died under Germans and Poles took revange
under Soviets.

Jerzy
Last edited by Jerzy on 03 Jul 2003 14:08, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by MAXIS » 02 Jul 2003 20:38

As for my infos POLNISCHE-SCHUMA-BATAILLON 202 was formed in Cracovia on March 1942 with selected polish personnel transferred fm Blau Polizei: it was formed to fight communist partisans in east Poland and west Byelorussia. Assigned to SS-Kampfgruppe Schimana in Borisov, was put under control of SS-Sturm-Bataillon "Dirlewanger" until January 1944.
Badly mauled around Brody on February 1944 was retired to Tarnow and disbanded on June 1944.

Best
Max

PS I'm looking for infos about BLAU POLIZEI. Do you have??

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Post by Reigo » 02 Jul 2003 21:04

Hello,

do you know if the POLNISCHE-SCHUMA-BATAILLON 202 operated in the area of Novogrudok in August 1942?

Thanks,

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Post by MAXIS » 02 Jul 2003 22:13

Schuma 202 remained under training in Debiça till July 1942; then was transferred to sud-east Polsand, near Kolbuszowa. In this area operated against jewish. Was transferred to Byelorussia probably till the end of 1942/1943 and fm March 1943 operated against partisan west of Minsk - Operation Lenz Sud- (and not far fm Novogrudok, but in 1943).

best
Max

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