Hitler and Murders in Poland 1939-1940

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
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Post by David Thompson » 06 Jun 2003 03:21

Erik -- Having answered some of your questions, I'd like you to answer one of mine.

Assume the following facts:

In Jul-Aug 1939, under the direction of Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler and SS-Gruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Sipo and SD (the German Security Police and Security Service), the SS formed five Einsatzgruppen ("Action groups") in preparation for the upcoming German invasion of Poland. The Einsatzgruppen were commanded by Bruno Streckenbach, Dr. Emanuel Schaefer, Dr. Herbert Fischer, Lothar Beuthel and Ernst Damzog. Their task was "suppression of all anti-Reich and anti-German elements in the rear of the fighting troops, in particular counter-espionage, arrest of politically unreliable persons, confiscation of weapons, safeguarding of important counter-espionage material, etc." (Hoehne 337-8)

On 22 Aug 1939, according to General Fedor von Bock, Hitler said in a conference held with Germany's senior Generals in the Obersalzburg with regard to the coming war with Poland: "Things would be done of which the German generals would not approve. He did not therefore wish to burden the Army with the necessary liquidation but . . . would have them carried out by the SS." (Hoehne 336)

On 7 Sept 1939, Heydrich instructed Sipo and SD leaders on their duties in Nazi-occupied Poland: "The leadership class in Poland is to be rendered harmless as far as possible. The remaining inferior population will not be given any particular schools but will be suppressed in some way or other." (Nazism 2, #647)

On 8 Sept 1939, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the German Abwehr (military counter-intelligence service) reported to General Carl-Heinrich von Stuelpnagel, Deputy Chief of Staff I in Army headquarters, that SS commanders were boasting of shooting 200 Jews, Polish aristocrats, and priests a day in Nazi-occupied Poland, all without trial. (Hoehne 338)

On 11 Sept 1939, Admiral Canaris told General Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (OKW), that SS commanders were bragging about liquidating Polish Jews, aristocrats, and priests in the Nazi-occupied sectors of Poland. Admiral Canaris said to Keitel: "The world will one day hold the Wehrmacht (armed forces) responsible for these methods since these things are taking place under its nose." Keitel responded that if the Army did not want to do these things, it should not complain if the Sipo and SS undertook the liquidations. (Hoehne 338)

On 14 Sept 1939, two SS men herded 50 Jews into a synagogue in Poland and shot them. The SS men were arrested and held for trial by military authorities. (Genocide 61)

That same day Heydrich reported to the division chiefs of the Sipo and SD that Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler had submitted certain proposals regarding the Jews in Poland to Adolf Hitler, and that only the Fuehrer could decide the matter. (Holo Ency 1062)

In mid-Sept 1939 Himmler sent a "Special Duty" Einsatzgruppe (Action Group) commanded by Udo von Woyrsch to liquidate Polish intellectuals in the area of Katowice, Poland, and to deport the Jews of Danzig, West Prussia, Poznan, and Upper Silesia into the interior of Poland, (Hoehne 342)

On 20 Sept 1939, the head of operations of the German 14th Army in Poland, commanded by Generaloberst Wilhelm List, reported that his troops were becoming restive "because of the largely illegal measures taken in the Army area by Einsatzgruppe Woyrsch's mass shootings of Polish Jews, aristocrats, intellectuals and priests. The troops are especially incensed that, instead of fighting at the front, young men should be demonstrating their courage against defenseless civilians." Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt, the head of the German military government in Poland, then told Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler that SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Udo von Woyrsch's Einsatzgruppe would no longer be tolerated in the Operations Zone. (Hoehne 343)

On 4 Oct 1939, Adolf Hitler secretly declared an amnesty to protect the SS men who had served in Einsatzgruppen in Poland from military trials. These SS men had been accused of war crimes by Germany Army officers, in connection with mass shootings and other atrocities against Polish Jews and the intelligentsia of Poland. This amnesty included, among others, the two SS men who had shot the 50 Jews in a Polish synagogue on 14 Sept 1939. (Snyder Ency 7)

On 24 Oct 1939, two battalions of the SS Death's Head Regiment (SS-Totenkopfstandarte) Brandenburg, commanded by SS-Standartenfuehrer Paul Nostitz and serving in Einsatzgruppe III, rounded up 800 Polish civilians and shot them at Bydgoszcz, Poland. The civilians were persons whose names were recorded on special "death lists" of intellectuals and potential resistance leaders. (Soldiers of Destruction 39-41). In late October 1939, a company of SS men from the 12th SS-Totenkopfstandarte (Death's Head Regiment) executed some 1,000 psychiatric patients from a mental hospital in Owinsk, Poland. (Soldiers of Destruction 42)

On 18 Nov 1939, Major Gerhard Engel, Hitler's Army adjutant, noted in his diary: "Sievert asks me to come and see him and hands over to me a memorandum from Generaloberst [Johannes] Blaskowitz concerning conditions in Poland: very great concern about illegal shootings, arrests, and confiscations, worries about the discipline of the troops who witness these things with their own eyes, local discussions with SD and Gestapo without success--they refer to instructions from the SS leadership. Request to reestablish conditions of legality, above all that executions should only be carried out after due process of law. Place the memorandum, which is very moderately phrased, before the Fuehrer that very afternoon. At first, he reads it calmly, but then once again starts making serious criticisms of the 'childish attitudes' among the Army leadership; one can't fight a war with Salvation Army methods. This also confirms his longheld aversion to General Bl. whom he had never trusted. He had also been opposed to his appointment to command an army and thinks Bl. [Blaskowitz] should be relieved of his command since he is unsuitable." (Naziism II, 940-1)

On 23 Nov 1939, General Walter Petzel, commander of the Warthegau military district, reported to Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz, the commander-in-chief of German military forces in the East: "In almost all major localities, the organizations referred to [the SS and police] carry out public shootings. Selection is entirely arbitrary and the conduct of the executions in many cases disgusting. Arrests are almost invariably accompanied by looting." (Hoehne 347)

On 2 Feb 1940, General Wilhelm Ulex, commander-in-chief of the German Army's Frontier Sector South in Nazi-occupied Poland, reported: "The recent increase in the use of violence by the police shows an almost incredible lack of human and moral qualities; the word 'brutish' is almost justified. The only solution I can see to this revolting situation which sullies the honor of the entire German people, is that all police formations together with all their senior Commanders . . . should be dismissed in a body and the units disbanded. (Hoehne 348)

On 6 Feb 1940, Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz, German Army commander-in-chief in the east, reported to Adolf Hitler some 33 incidents in which SS units had committed documented crimes of brutal mistreatment, rape, looting, and murder of Poles and Jews in the area under his command. According to Blaskowitz: "The attitude of the troops to the SS and Police alternates between abhorrence and hatred. Every soldier feels disgusted and repelled by these crimes committed in Poland by nationals of the Reich and representatives of our State." (Hoehne 348)

On 13 Feb 1940, Dr. Hans Frank, the Governor-General of Nazi-occupied Poland, asked Adolf Hitler to dismiss Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz, commander-in-chief of German armed forces in the east. (Hoehne 348)

On 14 May 1940, General Blaskowitz was transferred to command of the 9th Army.

On 16 May 1940, on orders from Dr. Hans Frank, the Governor-General of Nazi-occupied Poland, German authorities launched "AB-Aktion," an extermination campaign directed against any potential Polish resistance movement. The Nazis arrested 3,500 persons identified as belonging to the Polish leadership class and 3,000 more Poles suspected of criminal activity and murdered them in remote locations, such as the Palmiry forest. (Holo Ency pp. 1, 1763; Hoehne 346)

No written order from Hitler authorizing the murders of these Polish aristocrats, Jews, intellectuals and mental defectives was ever found.

Now for your question, Erik: On the basis of these assumed facts and without raising further questions, what can you tell us about the personality and character of Adolf Hitler?
Last edited by David Thompson on 06 Jun 2003 04:23, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by David Thompson » 07 Jun 2003 07:40

Erik -- Can you answer my question?

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Post by Erik » 07 Jun 2003 18:44

Mr. Thompson wrote:
(http://www.thirdreichforum.com/viewtopi ... 194#210194)
Assume the following facts:


And then Mr. Thompson posted evidence to Hitler’s complicity and compliance to policies of murder in the occupied East.

Hitler didn’t trust the Army in such matters.
On 22 Aug 1939, according to General Fedor von Bock, Hitler said in a conference held with Germany's senior Generals in the Obersalzburg with regard to the coming war with Poland: "Things would be done of which the German generals would not approve. He did not therefore wish to burden the Army with the necessary liquidation but . . . would have them carried out by the SS." (Hoehne 336)


The Army generals disliked the SS, and subjected its members to military trials.

So:
On 4 Oct 1939, Adolf Hitler secretly declared an amnesty to protect the SS men who had served in Einsatzgruppen in Poland from military trials.
A diarist ( Major Gerhard Engel, Hitler's Army adjutant )wrote concerning a memorandum from Generaloberst [Johannes] Blaskowitz :
Place the memorandum, which is very moderately phrased, before the Fuehrer that very afternoon. At first, he reads it calmly, but then once again starts making serious criticisms of the 'childish attitudes' among the Army leadership; one can't fight a war with Salvation Army methods.
Mr. Thompson wrote:
No written order from Hitler authorizing the murders of these Polish aristocrats, Jews, intellectuals and mental defectives was ever found.

Now for your question, Erik: On the basis of these assumed facts and without raising further questions, what can you tell us about the personality and character of Adolf Hitler?
The question is of course meant for anybody reading “these assumed facts” and what they tell us “about the personality and character of Adolf Hitler”.

Several contributors to this Forum are immensely more qualified to make a historical assessment of the said personality and character, including Mr. Thompson himself, as every reader here knows.

Hitler had the leading characters of Röhm’s SA murdered before the war, in order to please the Army.

This says enough on his own “personality and character”, I guess.

But perhaps he was just (in the case of the SA) emulating the “personality and character” of Stalin, which he is alleged to have admired?

Stalin’s successful elimination of competing forces within his own cadre must have been a source of inspiration to a Fascist leader, having brutality as part of his Leadership Ideology.

But eliminating the SS in the same manner would inevitably have “castrated” the said Leadership(?).

Maybe the documented conflicts on the implementation of warfare in the East are more a mirror of such “castration anxiety” on the part of Hitler, rather than documenting a cowardice to be explicit on the Final Solution?

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Post by David Thompson » 07 Jun 2003 18:51

Erik --

(1) Why would Hitler make his amnesty of the SS men involved in the murders secret?

(2) What is the significance of the fact that no written order from Hitler on this subject was ever found?

(3) Do you think, on the basis of those assumed facts, that Hitler ordered or ratified the killings of those Polish people in 1939-1940?
Last edited by David Thompson on 07 Jun 2003 18:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Erik » 07 Jun 2003 20:13

Erik --

(1) Why would Hilter make his amnesty of the SS men involved in the murders secret?

(2) What is the significance of the fact that no written order from Hitler on this subject was ever found?

(3) Do you think, on the basis of those assumed facts, that Hitler ordered or ratified the killings of those Polish people in 1939-1940?

(1) This amnesty obviously parallells the order for the Final Solution, the murder of the European Jews --- and of course, that’s why you bring up “the assumed fact” of its existence.

The(or "an") answer is obvious: If Hitler tried to keep it secret, then he must have wanted to keep it secret in order not to implicate himself.

How did he do it (i.e., keep it secret?) “Oral” amnesty?

An SS general(?) told an Army general(?) about the Führer’s blessings to any murder committed by the SS?

(2) Perhaps that it never has existed? “Subterfuge” of an Army general(?) under duress of a post-war trial? (When he was asked why he didn’t bring those SS men to trial).

(As you can gather, I do not know anything about the legal procedures in such cases. Generals perhaps had neither authority nor inclination to deal with such matters, for all I know.)

(3) Did he HAVE to order of ratify such killings? Were they consequences of war? Of ANY war?

Hitler ordered and ratified a war.

A genocide must be different.

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Post by David Thompson » 08 Jun 2003 04:10

Erik -- You asked these questions:

(1) "How did he do it (i.e., keep it secret?) “Oral” amnesty? An SS general(?) told an Army general(?) about the Führer’s blessings to any murder committed by the SS?"

How would the answers to these questions change what you wrote?

(2) I asked: "What is the significance of the fact that no written order from Hitler on this subject was ever found?"

You replied with more questions: "Perhaps that it never has existed? “Subterfuge” of an Army general(?) under duress of a post-war trial? (When he was asked why he didn’t bring those SS men to trial)"

Given the facts, what would the "subterfuge" be? Given the fact that there was at least one attempt to bring the SS men to trial, and given the strong contemporarary protests of the German Army generals, why would they resort to a "subterfuge?"

(3) You had more questions on the question of whether Hitler ordered or ratified the murders. You asked "Did he HAVE to order of ratify such killings? Were they consequences of war? Of ANY war?"

From the facts, do you think that those Polish priests, Jews, aristocrats, intellectuals and mentally defective persons were all Polish soldiers, killed in combat?

Since the last resistance of the Polish armed forces to the Germans ended 2 Oct 1939, how would the execution of 800 Polish civilians, whose names were recorded on special "death lists" of intellectuals and potential resistance leaders (note the use of the word "potential" here), at Bydgoszcz, Poland on 24 Oct 1939 be one of the consequences of war?" How would the execution of a thousand mental patients at Owinsk in late Oct 1939 be a "consequence of war?" How about the 3500 Poles belonging to the ruling class who were murdered on and just after 16 May 1940?

If the killings were an ordinary or normal "consequence of war," why do you think the German Army commanders complained so bitterly about the SS actions?

(4) You concluded: "Hitler ordered and ratified a war. A genocide must be different."

How does this observation apply to the events in Poland? Please be specific in your answers.

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Post by David Thompson » 15 Mar 2004 03:03

I never got an answer from Erik on this one, so I thought I'd kick the thread to the top of the board and see if anyone else feels like giving an answer.

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Post by michael mills » 15 Mar 2004 04:27

I personally do not think that the personality and character of Hitler are really all that important. In any case, it is a question that could only be answered by a trained personality analyst; any other attempts are simply amateur psychology.

Of far more importance is an analysis of the context in which the actions directed against specific parts of the Polish population were perpetrated. That context was the secret appendix to the "Borders and Friendship Treaty" of 28 September 1939.

One of the paragraphs of the secret appendix provided that Germany would undertake all action necessary to suppress any subversive activities in its zone of occupation of Poland that could affect the interests of the Soviet Union. That provision had been made at the insistence of Stalin.

The AB-Aktion, which targeted primarily intellectuals of the anti-Soviet wing of Polish nationalism, was most likely carried out under that provision.

On the other hand, some of the German actions were directed against intellectuals who were part of the anti-German wing of Polish nationalism, ie the National Democratic Party of Roman Dmowski (who had died shortly before the war). This wing was concentrated in Western Poland, the former German areas which were re-annexed by Germany.

This area of Western Poland had been the scene of ethnic cleansing after the First World War, and Polish chauvinists had committed many acts of violence against the ethnic German civilian population in the period 1918-1921. The events of late 1939 can therefore be seen as a form of revenge by the ethnic German population with the assistance of German police forces.

The shooting of 800 civilians in Bydgoszcz/Bromberg on 24 October was in that context. The persons selected were generally members of anti-German nationalist organisations, and many of them had participated in the "ethnic cleansing" of 1918-1921. They had been picked by the local ethnic German population, who had borne the brunt of their activities.

As for the killing of inmates of mental hospitals, the German historian Goetz Aly has shown that that was done to make the space available for the incoming ethnic Germans who were being repatriated from the Baltic States under agreements between Germany and those countries and the Soviet Union. I personally regard that killing as more criminal than the shooting of Polish nationalist intellectuals, since they were truly innocent, harmless people, whereas the intellectuals killed were political activists, some of whom had committed anti-German crimes 20 years earlier.

Furthermore, the scale of the killings needs to be kept in perspective. For example, the AB-Aktion, directed against enemies of Stalin (who regarded Poles as one of his main enemies), claimed the lives of 3,500 nationalist intellectuals and 3000 criminals. That should be compared with the 700,000 "enemies of the people" (many of them ethnic Poles) shot by the NKVD between mid-1937 and the end of 1938. The number of Poles shot by the German occupiers between September 1939 and June 1941 pales into insignificance against that mountain of corpses.

Furthermore, the number of ethnic Poles killed in or deported from the parts of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union between September 1939 and June 1941 dwarfs anything done by the German occupiers in their zone. The Polish-Jewish historian, Jan Tomas Gross, in his book "Revolution from Abroad", concludes that the Soviet occupation of East Poland in that period was worse than the German occupation of West Poland.

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Post by David Thompson » 15 Mar 2004 05:01

Michael -- You said:
I personally do not think that the personality and character of Hitler are really all that important. In any case, it is a question that could only be answered by a trained personality analyst; any other attempts are simply amateur psychology.

All right. I don't think an answer to that question ("On the basis of these assumed facts and without raising further questions, what can you tell us about the personality and character of Adolf Hitler?") requires a trained personality analyst -- we've all seen people who wanted to do something malignantly vicious or criminal to others without having to take the blame, or risk the well-deserved punishment. Let's set that question aside and move on to what you see as the main point:
Of far more importance is an analysis of the context in which the actions directed against specific parts of the Polish population were perpetrated.

I agree. However, my point involved personal responsibility rather than some generalized speculations about ethnic or policy motives, or comparisons with Stalinist crimes. That's why I asked these three questions, which Erik could not or would not answer in a straightforward manner:
(1) Why would Hitler make his amnesty of the SS men involved in the murders secret?

(2) What is the significance of the fact that no written order from Hitler on this subject was ever found?

(3) Do you think, on the basis of those assumed facts, that Hitler ordered or ratified the killings of those Polish people in 1939-1940?


Can you improve on Erik's answers?

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Post by xcalibur » 15 Mar 2004 06:01

michael mills wrote:I personally do not think that the personality and character of Hitler are really all that important. In any case, it is a question that could only be answered by a trained personality analyst; any other attempts are simply amateur psychology.
Really? I find that quite surprising.

I'll have to find some people to look more acutely at Hitler's personality and character. Professionals only, I assure you. And no Jews.

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Post by Penn44 » 15 Mar 2004 07:56

michael mills wrote: One of the paragraphs of the secret appendix provided that Germany would undertake all action necessary to suppress any subversive activities in its zone of occupation of Poland that could affect the interests of the Soviet Union. That provision had been made at the insistence of Stalin.

The AB-Aktion, which targeted primarily intellectuals of the anti-Soviet wing of Polish nationalism, was most likely carried out under that provision.
Amazing isn't it, that the Nazi Government would expend the resources necessary to commit a crime against humanity for the sake of the Bolshevik Government, the arch-racial/ideological enemy of National Socialism.

In other threads, Mills contends that the Germans committed political [and racial] executions in the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 after they were brutalized from observing evidence of alleged Soviet political murders of Ukrainian nationalists. When did the Germans commit the political murders of these Poles? It is apparent that the Germans were fully engaged in committing political and racial murders a year and a half before they invaded the Soviet Union.
michael mills wrote: On the other hand, some of the German actions were directed against intellectuals who were part of the anti-German wing of Polish nationalism, ie the National Democratic Party of Roman Dmowski (who had died shortly before the war). This wing was concentrated in Western Poland, the former German areas which were re-annexed by Germany.

This area of Western Poland had been the scene of ethnic cleansing after the First World War, and Polish chauvinists had committed many acts of violence against the ethnic German civilian population in the period 1918-1921. The events of late 1939 can therefore be seen as a form of revenge by the ethnic German population with the assistance of German police forces.

The shooting of 800 civilians in Bydgoszcz/Bromberg on 24 October was in that context. The persons selected were generally members of anti-German nationalist organisations, and many of them had participated in the "ethnic cleansing" of 1918-1921. They had been picked by the local ethnic German population, who had borne the brunt of their activities.

As for the killing of inmates of mental hospitals, the German historian Goetz Aly has shown that that was done to make the space available for the incoming ethnic Germans who were being repatriated from the Baltic States under agreements between Germany and those countries and the Soviet Union. I personally regard that killing as more criminal than the shooting of Polish nationalist intellectuals, since they were truly innocent, harmless people, whereas the intellectuals killed were political activists, some of whom had committed anti-German crimes 20 years earlier.
Would these Polish government officials, intelligentsia, or nationalist activists had posed a threat to Germany had not Germany attacked and occupied Poland? The answer is no. To minimize the criminality of the German government's murder of these Poles is kind of like the burglar who enters a man's house, and then shoots and kills the man, rationalizing his criminal act by saying that if he hadn't killed the man, he may have shot the burglar. Well, Mr. Burglar, had you not entered the man's home, you never would have had the need to shoot him. It is a case of "blaming the victim."

The German attack on Poland was part of an imperialistic plan to gain Lebensraum pure and simple. Germany's concerns for protecting ethnic Germans and regaining lost territories was there, but these were mostly as propaganda justifications for the primary German objective - the conquest of Poland. These German government sponsored executions were for the purpose of facilitating German occupation, not justice (revenge).
michael mills wrote: Furthermore, the scale of the killings needs to be kept in perspective. For example, the AB-Aktion, directed against enemies of Stalin (who regarded Poles as one of his main enemies), claimed the lives of 3,500 nationalist intellectuals and 3000 criminals. That should be compared with the 700,000 "enemies of the people" (many of them ethnic Poles) shot by the NKVD between mid-1937 and the end of 1938. The number of Poles shot by the German occupiers between September 1939 and June 1941 pales into insignificance against that mountain of corpses.

Furthermore, the number of ethnic Poles killed in or deported from the parts of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union between September 1939 and June 1941 dwarfs anything done by the German occupiers in their zone. The Polish-Jewish historian, Jan Tomas Gross, in his book "Revolution from Abroad", concludes that the Soviet occupation of East Poland in that period was worse than the German occupation of West Poland.
Any parent with young children can quickly recognize this rationalization.

Parent: "Tommy, why didn't you clean your room?"
Tommy: "Well, Billy didn't clean his room, and his room is messier than mine!"


Penn44


.

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Post by David Thompson » 15 Mar 2004 08:10

A David Low cartoon of 2 Nov 1939 -- I could never understand how anyone could think Adolf and Joe weren't acting in good faith. But that begs the question of Hitler's personal responsibility for those crimes in Nazi-occupied Poland. That's what interests me. What about it -- is there anyone out there who thinks that Hitler had nothing to do with all those Polish murders?
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Post by michael mills » 15 Mar 2004 12:43

I will try to answer David's three questions.

1. Why would Hitler make his amnesty of the SS men involved in the murders secret?

I must confess that I do not know the historically correct answer to that question. All I can do is offer some surmises, which are to be taken as such.

One possibility is that Hitler feared a negative reaction from the German population to the pardoning of persons who had committed crimes of violence.

I personally doubt that. By comparison, one might look at the reaction of the majority of the public in the United States to President Nixon's pardoning of Lt Calley. As I pointed out a while ago on another thread, public opinion polls showed that the great majority of respondents felt that Calley should not be convicted for what he had done, and there was certainly no great outcry against his pardoing from the majority.

I do not think that the population of National Socialist Germany had a greater moral consciousness than the people of the United States in the 1970s, so I think it unlikely that Hitler had any cause to fear a negative public reaction to an amnesty for German personnel who had killed Poles.

Another possibility is that the officer corps of the Reichswehr felt a strong moral objection to pardoning men who had carried out executions without the sanction of a properly constituted court. However, as I think Erik pointed out, the Reichswehr had raised no objection to the extra-judicial killings of the leaders of its rival, the SA, which shows that they were not opposed to arbitrary killing on principle.

Furthermore, the Reichswehr officer corps was one of the most anti-Polish elements in the German elite, far more anti-Polish than Hitler himself, for example. It had been spoiling for a fight with Poland ever since 1918, and had been frustrated by Hitler's policy of seeking detente with that country. It is therefore unlikely that it was overly concerned about the elimination of groups it regarded as its traditional enemies.

I think the most likely explanation is to be sought in the Reichswehr opposition to, and resentment at, the increasing power of the SS and police, which was still very marked at that time. It is possible that the officer corps saw in the extra-legal actions of the SS and police a weapon that could be used against them, in the form of legal proceedings; one thing that speaks in favour of such an interpretation is the fact that General Ulex called for the disbanding of the police formations.

Under the above scenario, Hitler would have wanted to hose down any flare up of the rivalry between the Reichswehr and the SS and police, and tried to keep both sides happy. Accordingly, he granted an amnesty to the SS men accused of committing crimes of violence to placate the SS and police, but kept it quiet so as not to antagonise the Reichswehr.

2. What is the significance of the fact that no written order from Hitler on this subject was ever found?


It is absolutely certain that Hitler issued no written orders relating to security operations in the conquered areas of Poland?

As far as the killings of inmates of Polish mental hospitals was concerned, that was authorised under Hitler's written "euthanasia" order issued to Brandt and Bouhler at the beginning of the war; the order was not limited in time or space.

3. Do you think, on the basis of those assumed facts, that Hitler ordered or ratified the killings of those Polish people in 1939-1940?

I think it certain that Hitler ratified the killings, at least in a general sense.

In the first place, Germany had entered into an undertaking with the Soviet Union that it would suppress all manifestations of Polish opposition to the joint German-Soviet occupation of Poland. Hitler obviously knew about that undertaking, and must have endorsed all actions taken under it, including the killings.

Furthermore, we can be certain that Hitler, in advance of the attack on Poland, authorised all security measures necessary to secure German control. It is less likely that he specifically said "kill" than that he said "you are authorised to take any measures that you consider necessary based on your reading of the situation on the ground".

Hitler had no personal animus against Poles, and would ahve preferred to work in alliance with them. However, given the defiance of the Polish ruling elite, he was willing to use any means to crush it.

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Post by David Thompson » 15 Mar 2004 17:11

Thanks, Michael. I appreciate your direct answer.

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Post by Steve » 16 Mar 2004 02:32

Afew days later Hitler spoke to Goebbels in similar vein "The Fuhrer`s judjement on the Poles is annihilatory (vernichend)," Goebbels recorded "More animals than human beings .... The filth of the Poles is unimaginable." Hitler wanted no assimilation. "They should be pushed into their reduced state".... meaning the General Government - "and left entirely among themselves."......... Hitler went on. "its all the better as it is. Now at least we know the laws of race and can act accordingly."

Heydrich pointed out that the work of the Einsatzgruppen in Poland was "in accordance with the special order of the Fuhrer." The "political activity" caried out in Poland by the Reichsfuhrer-SS which had caused conflict with some of the army leadership had followed "the directives of the Fuhrer as well as the General Field Marshal." He added "that the directives according to which the police deployment took place was extraordinarily radical."

Governor General Frank on the 30th May 1940 justified the liquidation of a Polish ruling stratum in the notorious "Extraordinary Pacification Action", camouflage for the liquidation of mainly political opponents and criminals in the General Government between May and July 1940 - by recourse to a directive from Hitler.

Taken from Hitler - Ian Kershaw - 1936-1945 Nemesis. Pages 245, 246, 910 (80)

Unless you believe that Kershaw has misinterpreted his sources or is lying then Hitler clearly was not neutral in his feelings towards Poles he had a very strong dislike of them. The orders for the killings came from Hitler and whether writen or verbal is of no great importance for as long as the giving of the order can be proved and the giver realised the consequences of his order then he would be convicted in a court of law. But you may believe that as in the manner of the King and Thomas A Becket Hitler only said words along the lines of who will rid me of these troublesome Poles and his minions took this to mean kill them rather then just pacify them and it was all a terrible mistake, anything is possible but not likely.

The theory that the killings took place because of the agreement with Stalin is certainly a radical new interpretation of these events and I look forward eagerly to further elaboration of this.

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