Nazi occupation of Poland -- the Warthegau Nov 1939

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Nazi occupation of Poland -- the Warthegau Nov 1939

Post by David Thompson » 13 Jul 2004 05:13

This letter, written 23 Nov 1939 by General der Artillerie Walter Petzel and describing the current condition of civil affairs in the Warthegau, was circulated among the senior officers of the German Army for their information and/or action. It gives an interesting insight into the divisive factions working to administer the newly-annexed territory conquered in the 1939 Polish campaign. It is Document D-419: [Internal Situation In The Warthegau (Western Poland Incorporated Into The Reich)], taken from the Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression volumes, Supplement A: Closing Address, Closing Arguments, Closing Statements; Documents Introduced in Evidence By British and American Prosecutors, US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia:1947, pp. 865-67.
Army General Staff Abt. 2. b.V. (o Qu IV) No. 6/12/39
secret [Stamped :]
C i C Army C in C Army 1457/39
secret 5/12

[green pencil note:] O.Qu IV. wanted to make a complete report on that. 5/12 12/2/1939.

[pencil note.] 7/12/39 sent to Major Grossmith as well as O Qu. IV.

Enclosed we send a copy of a report of the District Military Command XXI with the request that you note and observe it.

Signature [illegible]

1 enclosure (bound)

Adjutant of the Army High Command.
Adjutant of the Chief of Army General Staff.
O Qu.I. G.Z. Operational Department.
Organizational Department. Quartermaster General.

Berlin, 30 Nov. 39.


High Command of the Army Chief of Army armaments and Commander in Chief of the Reserve Army A h A/Group C in C Reserve Army (II) No. 66/39 secret.

Reference: District Military Command XXI. Intelligence officer 86/39 secret of the 23/11/39

Subject: Internal situation in Warthegau.

To the OKW for information Army General Staff (Abt .Z.bV. O Qu IV).

Enclosed please find a copy of a report of the District Military Command XXI. Clear administrative conditions and a treatment of the population which, while deliberately severe, should however be exercised in a way which is bearable for and within the comprehension of the German part of the population and the troops, are preliminary conditions for a genuine state authority. If that does not happen, there is a danger that, to guarantee order, military forces will be tied up to an extent which does not accord with our general situation.

By order 1 enclosure.

[signed] signature
Copy of Copy

Posen, 23.11.1939.

Army District Command XXI. Intelligence Officer 86/39 secret.

To the C in C of the Reserve Army.

The Warthegau can be regarded as pacified. Repeated rumors of rebellion have not been confined in any instance. The reason for this is not a change of heart of the Polish population but the realization of the hopelessness of a rebellion. That the large numbers of discharged prisoners and other returned Polish soldiers represent a danger which requires continuous supervision is not overlooked, particularly as numerous offices have not yet been seized. The keeping down of this danger is only possible through the military occupation of the country in its present form; the civil administration authorities with the available police forces are totally unable to do this.

The great work of construction in all spheres is not furthered by the intervention of SS formations who are given special racial political tasks and are not subordinate to Reich Governor in this. Here the tendency makes itself felt of interfering decisively in all spheres of administration beyond the framework of these tasks, and of forming a "state within the state." This phenomenon does not fail to have its effect on the troops, who are indignant about the ways the tasks are carried out and thereby generally get into opposition to administration and party. I shall exclude the danger of serious differences by strict orders. The fact that this makes a serious demand on the discipline of the troops cannot be dismissed without further ado.

In almost all large towns, public shootings have been carried out by the organizations mentioned in this, the selection varied enormously and was often incomprehensible, the way it was carried out, frequently unworthy.

In some districts all the Polish estate owners were arrested and interned with their families. Arrests were almost always accompanied by looting.

In the towns, evacuations were carried out, during which blocks of houses were cleared at random, the inhabitants loaded onto lorries at night, then taken to concentration camps. Here also looting was a constant accompanying phenomenon. The quartering and feeding in the camps was such that the Corps Chief Medical Officer feared the outbreak of epidemics and thus endangering of the troops. As a result of my protests, relief is being given.

In several towns actions against the Jews were carried out which turned into the most serious excesses. In Turok three SS cars under the leadership of a higher SS leader drove through the streets, on the 30.10.39 while the people in the streets were hit on the heads at random with horse whips and long whips. Amongst the victims were also people of German blood. Finally a number of Jews were driven into the synagogue, there had to crawl in between the benches whilst singing, during which time they were continuously whipped by the SS men. They were then forced to take down their trousers in order to be hit on the bare behind. A Jew who out of fright had dirtied his trousers was forced to smear the excrement into the faces of the other Jews.

In Lodz it has become known confidentially that SS Oberfuehrer Melhorn has issued the following orders:

(1) From the 9.11., no unemployment relief may any longer be paid to Poles and Jews, only forced labor is paid for. (This measure has already been confirmed.)

(2) From 9.11., Jews and Poles will be excluded from the distribution of ration foodstuffs and coal.

(3) Unrest and incidents are to be created by provocation in order to facilitate the carrying out of the racial political work.

(4) The fire service is to be reinforced immediately in order to prevent undesirable spreading to other objects in case of chance fires in Jewish and Polish residential quarters and factories.

(The measures under (2) and (4) have not been confirmed yet).

Whilst the achievements of the Armed Forces are always placed in the foreground by the Reichs governor in speeches and demonstrations, the above mentioned circles, on the other hand, are unmistakably showing a tendency to diminish and denigrate these achievements. A specially crass case in this direction reported to me from Ostrowo from a victory celebration on 11/5/1939 Reichs speaker Bachmann spoke there. He never mentioned the Wehrmacht at all, when speaking about the Polish campaign. He only mentioned the Wehrmacht in one sentence, which concerned the war against England.

When speaking about the number of deaths, only the murdered racial Germans were mentioned, but not one word was spoken in memory of the soldiers who fell.

Only the racial Germans were acknowledged, so that the listeners were bound to get the impression that the Wehrmacht had actually not been concerned at all in the liberation.

This impression was strengthened when the speaker said that it had not been a war against Poland, but the Fuehrer had only ordered that the Poles should have the weapons taken away from them which were delivered by England and France and which they would not know how to use anyhow.

One got the impression that it was the speaker's aim not to allow any respect for the army to arise the German population.

The impression that this speech, that the guard of honor which had been provided, listened to, made on the soldiers was of a corresponding nature.

As the military commander of Posen has already reported to the High Command of the army, the men feel very strongly about the disproportion between their pay and the many times higher daily rate of pay of other formations.

The above mentioned facts lie in fields which for the most part escape direct intervention of the Reich governor. The removal of this grievance can only be obtained through higher quarters. I believe I am not wrong in assuming that the very welcome support would thereby be given to the Reich governor in his task of reconstruction which he has embarked upon systematically, energetically and tactfully.

[signed] Petzel General of Artillery

Certified correct copy: [signature illegible] Lieutenant-Colonel in the
General Staff.

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