Polish POWs - 1939

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sylvieK4
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Polish POWs - 1939

Post by sylvieK4 » 14 Mar 2003 15:31

Does anyone know what happened to most Polish soldiers taken prisoner by the Germans in 1939?

I understand that some were held for the duration of the war, but imagine most were probably released and allowed to return home. Each man was likely screened prior to his either being released or retained by their German captors. Does anyone have any information about this screening process for Polish prisoners of war? Those who were released: how long were they held before being let go? A few months? A year, or longer?

Any information about the fate of most Polish military men captured by the Germans during the 1939 campaign is welcome.

Thanks.

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Starinov
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Post by Starinov » 14 Mar 2003 16:58

As far as I know, the majority of prisonners was released few months after the end of the campaign. I cannot provide any sources for that, for the moment at least, but remembering what both my grandfathers told me, I can say that they were released pretty fast. Some even join the Wehrmacht after changing their citizenship status from "Pole" to Volksdeutsche"...

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Post by sylvieK4 » 14 Mar 2003 20:01

Thanks, Starinov. :) How about regular Poles and Polish-Jews serving in the Polish Army. When they were captured and held by the Germans in 1939, were these men released as quickly as Volksdeutsch soldiers, or were they held for a longer period?

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Post by Somosierra » 14 Mar 2003 20:59

Starinov wrote:As far as I know, the majority of prisonners was released few months after the end of the campaign. I cannot provide any sources for that, for the moment at least, but remembering what both my grandfathers told me, I can say that they were released pretty fast. Some even join the Wehrmacht after changing their citizenship status from "Pole" to Volksdeutsche"...


“Some even join the Wehrmacht…”

- half of them, 40%, or 30%, or 15%...???

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Post by Somosierra » 14 Mar 2003 21:06

There were so-called: OFLAGS and STALAGS (From German – Offizierslager and Stammlager). Poles were being held in every such camp.

The biggest oflags: II C Woldenberg, II D Grossborn, VI B Dössel, VII A Murnau.

http://free.polbox.pl/l/luftstal/english.htm

http://www.uni.opole.pl/cmjw/eindex.html

http://www.um.zagan.pl/luft3/


Image

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PolAntek
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Post by PolAntek » 15 Mar 2003 07:00

Very interesting topic on which there is seemingly very little available information.

The following is from:

http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.ns ... 66005B2444

Polish prisoners of war in Germany
The ICRC and the Second World War

In September 1939, Poland was invaded by German and Soviet troops.

A large proportion of the Polish army was captured: around 400,000 men by the German forces and over 200,000 by Soviet troops. Until February 1940, the German authorities gave the ICRC lists of the Polish prisoners of war they held, but after that date they stopped. In 1943, they again began to send these lists, but now only officers were mentioned. What had happened was that most of the Polish soldiers who became prisoners of war were turned into "civilian workers" by the German authorities. They were thus -- in defiance of the 1929 Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war -- deprived of their prisoner-of-war status and of the protection this should have afforded them. The Polish prisoners of war who refused to become "civilian workers" were mostly sent to concentration camps. In this way, the ICRC lost track of a large number of them.

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Musashi
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Post by Musashi » 15 Mar 2003 16:54

The Germans released a small group of Polish POW even during the campaign in September 1939 to break Polish morale. However most of POWs have not been released.

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PolAntek
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Post by PolAntek » 15 Mar 2003 21:33

Musashi wrote:The Germans released a small group of Polish POW even during the campaign in September 1939 to break Polish morale. However most of POWs have not been released.


Can you provide any more information about this 'catch and release'?

Thank you

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Musashi
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Post by Musashi » 16 Mar 2003 11:17

PolAntek wrote:
Musashi wrote:The Germans released a small group of Polish POW even during the campaign in September 1939 to break Polish morale. However most of POWs have not been released.


Can you provide any more information about this 'catch and release'?

Thank you

I very sorry, I have not enough time to search it again in my books. I have to study :( ..... I remember it happened when Army "Prusy" was marching through Kieleckie to build defence on the eastern bank of Wistula river. However from the other side few hundreds of Polish POWs have been executed in that region at the same time.
Best regards,
Musashi

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PolAntek
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Post by PolAntek » 28 Mar 2003 19:38

The tragic end of great Polish General Franciszek Kleeberg. Captured by the Germans after the valiant defense of his homeland and sentenced to a slow painful death (excerpted from 2ndww.tripod.com/document/index):

After capture at the bitter end of the September Campaign, General Franciszek Kleeberg spent the rest of his days in the hitlerite prison alone, isolated from other inmates, and put on starvation food rations. Despite progressing ailments, he was refused medical help; his appeals to the International Red Cross for medical help and better food were left unnoticed. Ironically, he was allowed to keep a dog, but only when he lost his sight. He was also allowed to make short walks, and even issued crutches, but only when he already lost the ability to walk.

General Kleeberg’s last order to his troops of Operation Group “Polesie” – October 5, 1939 1900hr:
Soldiers!
From the distant Polesie, from Narew, from the units, which did not succumb to demoralization at Kowel - I gathered you to fight to the bitter end.
I wanted first to go southward, and when it became impossible - to hasten with aid to Warsaw.
Warsaw fell before we reached it. Yet we did not lose hope and we fought on. You have demonstrated courage and bravery in the time of despair, and you remained faithful to the Motherland till the end. Today we are surrounded, and ammunition and food are about to exhaust. Further fights do not promise any hope, only further spill of the soldiers' blood, which can still be needed.
It is a commander's privilege to assume responsibility. Today I assume the responsibility at this most difficult moment - I order to cease further pointless fight to spill not soldiers' blood in vain. Thank you for your courage and your discipline; I know you will stand when you are needed.
Poland has not yet succumbed!

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Steve
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Post by Steve » 29 Mar 2003 15:57

I talked to a Polish prisoner of war from 1939 a few years ago and his story was that after being wounded and recieving medical attention he worked in Germany and when the Allied bombing started was part of a work group that would go into the bomb damaged areas salvaging and clearing up.

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Polish POW

Post by alsaco » 01 Apr 2003 23:38

So far I know from french POW having been in camps with polish officers

The germans did first offer freedom to all poles who did claim they were Volksdeutsche. This with the idea that if they were, they could help germanize the parts of Poland annexed to the Reich, if they were not they would remain on german occupied territories and would still be useful as manpower in german farms.

Jews were also liberated and sent to ghettos in the General Government.

The same was then done for the ukrainians, white-russians, lithuanians when the territories occupied by USSR troops did fall in german hands in 1941. In this case also it was more efficient to have these men as workers in their towns and villages then as POW in camps.

The rest of the polish POW, mainly officers, remained in camps. This was considered necessary to avoid rhe creation of a polish middle class around these qualified and specialized educated people, which would have to be relocated in the General Government.

The non officers were "transformed" in workers and transfered to workers brigade, but not allowed to return to the General Government; These workers brigade remained often in the Stalag, but were no more considered POW, but Ost-Arbeiter.

There were probably projects toward eliminating them, similar to the planning operated in the General Government, but legal considerations, control of POW by the Wehrmacht and existence of the Red Cross registration obliged to defer any realisation further until victory, and german absolute control of east Europe.

Details on POW can, if they concern soldiers protected by the Geneva Convention, be found in the Red Cross Archives. And also in Sweden, the swedish diplomats in Europe having been very active and efficient in the protection of minorities and displaced persons.

Once liberated, and back home, Volksdeutsche, Ukrainians, White Russians and Poles did depend from the local laws, that is the nazi order established in their home towns. Which means that Volksdeutsche were called to the army, Locals transfered as Ost-Arbeiter and Jews killed. If they did not join the Partizans.

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Post by Net_Skater » 09 Jul 2004 02:13

My father was taken prisoner of war after Battle of Bzura. Before the war started, his unit was stationed in City of Gniezno. In September 39, it was a part of Army Group POZNAN.
For the next five years he was imprisoned in following Oflags (he had a rank of First Leutenant) : Neubrandenburg, Grossborn and and at the end, in Woldenberg. Liberated by Red Army in February (?) 1945, he witnessed events, later used by the writer Leon Kruczkowski in his drama Pierwszy Dzien Wolnosci/The First Day of Freedom.
My mother still has a sizable box full of Kriegsgefangenenpost from her Leutenant ...
Regards
N_S

ww2ww3ww4
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Re: Polish POWs - 1939

Post by ww2ww3ww4 » 23 Jun 2010 22:04

List of polish POW's transfered from the Putivl camp (USSR) to Reich. November 1939.

http://depositfiles.com/files/xhh1dvjx7

65 pages

92.61 MB

Petterson
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Re: Polish POWs - 1939

Post by Petterson » 16 Apr 2012 12:03

Newspaper article from January 1940 mention that Germany needs Polish POWs as workers as long as the war continues. The same article also mention that Polish POWs can be seen clearing a snow in Berlin.

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