viriato wrote:To Roberto:
The Kaminsiki brigade stems from Bronislaw Kaminski. As it is apparent from the name, although a Soviet citizen and living in Russia, Kaminski was Polish. Poles seem to have been chosen in many instances (more so than their numerical importance in the total population) by the Germans in the occupied USSR (including the annexed territories of 1939) for important roles in the local administration. What was the reason?
Antagonism between Poles on the hand and Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians on the other, coupled with the notion that Poles were more suited to administrative tasks, most probably.
What follows is my translation from pages 1060 and following of the Kalkulierte Morde
, by German historian Christian Gerlach.
10.2 The Persecution of the Polish Intelligentsia
Within the scope of its so-called Volkstumspolitik (ethnic policy) the NS state was hostile to the Polish population, especially the Polish leading class. In the western parts of Belorussia, which until September 1939 had belonged to the Polish state, there was a strong Polish minority. The Poles concentrated in the cities, where they mostly made up the majority and held many administrative posts. The question how the occupying power was to behave towards them, especially if they were to be treated worse than the Belorussians or fought against, was basically not decided during the whole period of German occupation, despite repeated actions of persecution and murder. The dispute was about the question what was considered more important: the political goal of repressing and harming the allegedly especially anti-German Poles or the consideration of using them to the advantage of the country’s stability and its economic exploitation, especially as leaders in community administration and factories. Also here the fronts did not run clearly in accordance with the institutions – SS on one side, civilian administration and Wehrmacht on the other – but across the institutions, often depending on the momentary tactical situation. All this happened before the background of a constant power struggle, partially even a small war between Belorussian and Polish national groups for supremacy in administration and police on a local level, which had recently been revealed by Bernhard Chiari.
Heydrich had on 1 July 1941 ordered the Einsatzgruppen that extermination actions were “to be extended primarily to the Bolsheviks and the Jews”, while “in regard to the Polish intelligentsia […] word will follow later”. It was said that the Poles were anti-Semitic and anti-Communist and that this must be taken advantage of. In a similar direction went an order by General v. Schenkendorff (he even called for “most sparing treatment”), which also Bach-Zelewski transmitted to the SS – and police units without protesting. Against this there was the attitude of other commanders, who in part seemed dissatisfied with the actions of their troops and wanted to incite them to anti-Polish actions. The Einsatzgruppen reported on alleged danger from Polish nationalists, called for actions against them and carried out such actions on some occasions still in 1941. But an overall instruction for persecution measures from Berlin the police forces don’t seem to have had. The civilian administration, responsible for the whole of western Belorussia since 1 September 1941, was of two minds. General Commissar Kube, who – an important political aspect – wanted to keep his Belorussian clientele satisfied, in the absence of other possibilities, with political paroles and posts in the auxiliary administration at the expense of the Poles, favored a tougher approach than the Reich Commissariat in Riga, which ordered merely a “sharper political supervision” but otherwise the same treatment as was given to the Belorussians.
In 1942 the anti-Polish proceeding became noticeably tougher. At the requirement of a coalition of the General Commissariat White Ruthenia, Wehrmacht, SS, police and most regional commissars, the Poles were systematically removed from leadership positions in administration and economy, which was often not possible, however, due to the difficulty of finding replacements. The region of Lida constituted an exception to the removal policy. Poles were preferentially sent to Germany for forced labor. Furthermore members of the Baranovichi delegation of the Commander of Security Police and SD in the summer arrested numerous members of the Polish leadership and murdered about 1,000. The number in the whole General Commissariat White Ruthenia cannot have been higher. A part of the leadership in the Regional Commissariat White Ruthenia considered this “Polish action” as “devastating” and sharply criticized the Commander of Security Police and SD Minsk, Strauch. Strauch, on the other hand, felt himself vindicated by a later decree of the Eastern Ministry ordering further sharp measures against Poles. They were defined as an enemy people, even though “the Polish problem […]” could “for obvious reasons not be given a definitive solution during the war”. In 1943 and 1944 the arrests and shootings by security police and SD continued locally, but the balance tender towards valuing the stronger loyalty of the Polish population segment towards the Germans and its allegedly better work performance higher than political reservations. While Kube had to be reminded by agriculture functionary Küper as late as the summer of 1943 that the work of 400,000 Polish laborers in the Regional Commissariat White Ruthenia could not be done without, his successor v. Gottberg soon thereafter recognized this himself. While the respective forces in the civilian administration could not always impose themselves, this eventually happened to a great extent, as the example of the constitution of armed villages in the areas of Lida and Slonim [where, as described on pages 1052 and following of the same book, Caucasian collaborators were settled at the expense of the Belorussian rather than the Polish peasantry, translator’s note] and the supporting of Polish partisans [related to the fact that they fought mostly against Soviet partisans rather than the Germans, as mentioned on page 1054 of the book, translator’s note] has shown.
The procedure of fighting the Polish intelligentsia corresponded to the general economic and social German occupation concept in Belorussia of not allowing the constitution of a new leading class, as is especially shown by the German agrarian reform (chapter 4.5). The primary target of persecution was the Polish urban intelligentsia; the number thereof murdered in Belorussia is likely to have been between 2,000 and 3,000. The Polish farm owners mostly remained in their positions as administrators in the service of the Landbewirtschaftungsgesellschaft Ostland [(griculture Company Eastern Territories), see chapter 4.4d. Thus the German policy regarding Poles in Belorussia was not in all respects – and insofar as it was, to a diminishing degree – in contradiction with the economic interests of the NS state.