The General Government in 1942.
|Status||Administratively autonomous component|
|Capital|| Litzmannstadt (12 Oct – 4 Nov 1939)|
Krakau (4 Nov 1939 – 1945)
|Common languages|| German (official)|
|Secretary for State|
|Historical era||Occupation of Poland in World War II|
|1st September 1939|
|February 2 1945|
|1939||95,000 km2 (37,000 sq mi)|
|1941||142,000 km2 (55,000 sq mi)|
|Currency|| złoty |
|Today part of|
The General Government (German : Generalgouvernement, Polish : Generalne Gubernatorstwo, Ukrainian : Генеральна губернія), also referred to as the General Governorate, was a German zone of occupation established after the joint invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 at the onset of World War II. The newly occupied Second Polish Republic was split into three zones: the General Government in its centre, Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany in the west, and Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union in the east. The territory was expanded substantially in 1941 to include the new District of Galicia.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.
Ukrainian is an East Slavic language. It is the official state language of Ukraine and first of two principal languages of Ukrainians; it is one of the three official languages in the unrecognized state of Transnistria, the other two being Romanian and Russian. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic script.
The basis for the formation of General Government was a German-Soviet claim of the total collapse of the Polish state, announced by Adolf Hitler on October 8, 1939 through the so-called Annexation Decree on the Administration of the Occupied Polish Territories. This rationale was utilized by the German Supreme Court to reassign the identity of all Polish nationals as stateless subjects, with exception of the ethnic Germans of interwar Poland, named the only rightful citizens of the Third Reich in disregard of international law.
In international law, a stateless person is someone who is "not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law". Some stateless persons are also refugees. However, not all refugees are stateless, and many persons who are stateless have never crossed an international border. On 13 November, 2018, Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said there are about 12 million stateless people in the world.
German diaspora are ethnic Germans and their descendants living outside Germany. It also refers to the aspects of migration of German speakers from central Europe to different countries around the world. This definition describes the "German" term as a sociolinguistic group as opposed to the national one since the emigrant groups came from different regions with diverse cultural practices and different varieties of German. For instance, the Alsatians and Hessians were simply called Germans once they set foot in their new homelands.
The General Government was run by Nazi Germany as a separate administrative unit for logistical purposes. When the Wehrmacht forces attacked the Soviet positions in Kresy in June 1941 during its initially successful Operation Barbarossa, the area of the General Government was enlarged by the inclusion of the regions of Poland occupied by the Red Army since 1939.Within days, East Galicia was overrun and renamed Distrikt Galizien . Until 1945 the General Government comprised much of central, southern, and southeastern Poland within its prewar borders (and of modern-day Western Ukraine), including the major Polish cities of Warsaw, Kraków, Lwów (now Lviv, renamed Lemberg), Lublin (see Lublin Reservation), Tarnopol (see history of Tarnopol Ghetto), Stanisławów (now Ivano-Frankivsk, renamed Stanislau; see Stanisławów Ghetto), Drohobycz, and Sambor (see Drohobycz and Sambor Ghettos) and others. Geographical locations were renamed in German.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe. The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.
Kresy Wschodnie or Kresy was the Eastern part of the Second Polish Republic during the interwar period constituting nearly half of the territory of the state. As a concept the Polish notion of Kresy corresponds with the Russian one of Okrainy (Oкраины).. The population in Kresy had a considerable proportion of national minorities, which in total were roughly equal in their number to ethnic Poles and even exceeded the numbers of Poles in some areas. Administratively, the territory of Kresy was composed of voivodeships of Lwów, Nowogródek, Polesie, Stanisławów, Tarnopol, Wilno, Wołyń, and the Białystok. Today, these territories are divided between Western Ukraine, Western Belarus, and south-eastern Lithuania, with such major cities as Lviv, Vilnius, and Grodno no longer in Poland. In the Second Polish Republic the term Kresy roughly equated with the lands beyond the so-called Curzon Line, which was suggested after World War I in December 1919 by the British Foreign Office as the eastern border of the re-emerging sovereign Republic following the century of partitions. In September 1939, after the Soviet Union joined Nazi Germany in their attack on Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the territories were incorporated into Soviet Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania in the atmosphere of terror.
The administration of the General Government was composed entirely of the German officials with the intent that the area was to be colonized by Germanic settlers who would reduce the local Polish population to the level of serfs before their eventual biological extermination.The Nazi German rulers of the Generalgouvernement had no intention of sharing power with the locals throughout the war, regardless of their ethnicity and political orientation. The authorities rarely mentioned the name "Poland" in legal correspondence. The only exception to this was the General Government's Bank of Issue in Poland (Polish: Bank Emisyjny w Polsce, German: Emissionbank in Polen).
Bank of Issue in Poland was a bank created by the Germans in the General Government in 1940.
The full title of the regime in Germany until July 1940 was the Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete, a name that is usually translated as "General Government for the Occupied Polish Territories". On 31 July 1940 governor Hans Frank, on Hitler's authority, shortened the name to just Generalgouvernement.
Hans Michael Frank was a German war criminal and lawyer who worked for the Nazi Party during the 1920s and 1930s, and later became Adolf Hitler's personal lawyer. After the invasion of Poland, Frank became Nazi Germany's chief jurist in the occupied Poland "General Government" territory. During his tenure throughout World War II (1939–45), he instituted a reign of terror against the civilian population and became directly involved in the mass murder of Jews. At the Nuremberg trials, he was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and was executed.
An accurate English translation of Generalgouvernement, which is a borrowing from French, is "General Governorate", as the correct translation of the term gouvernement is not "government", but "governorate", which is a type of administrative division or territory.
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions administered by governors either states or provinces, the term governorate is often used in translation from non-English-speaking administrations.
The German designation of Generalgouvernement was chosen in reference to Generalgouvernement Warschau , a civil entity created in the area by the German Empire during World War I. This district existed from 1914 to 1918 together with an Austro-Hungarian-controlled Military Government of Lublin alongside the short-lived Kingdom of Poland of 1916–1918, a similar rump state formed out of the then-Russian-controlled parts of Poland.
The area was also known colloquially as the Restpolen ("Remainder of Poland").
After Germany's attack on Poland, all areas occupied by the German army including the Free City of Danzig initially came under the military rule. This area extended from the 1939 eastern border of Germany proper and of East Prussia up to the Bug River where the German armies had halted their advance and linked up with the Soviet Red Army in accordance with their secret pact against Poland.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed on 23 August 1939 had promised the vast territory between the Vistula and Bug rivers to the Soviet "sphere of influence" in divided Poland, while the two powers would have jointly ruled Warsaw. To settle the deviation from the original agreement, the German and Soviet representatives met again on September 28 to delineate a permanent border between the two countries. Under this revised version of the pact the territory concerned was exchanged for the inclusion in the Soviet sphere of Lithuania, which had originally fallen within the ambit of Germany. With the new agreement the entire central part of Poland, including the core ethnic area of the Poles, came under exclusively German control.
Hitler decreed the direct annexation to the German Reich of large parts of the occupied Polish territory in the western half of the German zone, in order to increase the Reich's Lebensraum.Germany organized most of these areas as two new Reichsgaue: Danzig-West Prussia and Wartheland. The remaining three regions, the so-called areas of Zichenau, Eastern Upper Silesia and the Suwałki triangle, became attached to adjacent Gaue of Germany. Draconian measures were introduced by both RKF and HTO, [a] to facilitate the immediate Germanization of the annexed territory, typically resulting in mass expulsions, especially in the Warthegau. The remaining parts of the former Poland were to become a German Nebenland (March, borderland) as a frontier post of German rule in the east. A Führer's decree of October 12, 1939 established the General Government; the decree came into force on October 26, 1939.
Hans Frank was appointed as the Governor-General of the General Government. German authorities made a sharp contrast between the new Reich territory and a supposedly occupied rump state that could serve as a bargaining chip with the Western powers. The Germans established a closed border between the two German zones to heighten the difficulty of cross-frontier communication between the different segments of the Polish population.
The official name chosen for the new entity was the Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete (General Government for the Occupied Polish Territories), then changed to the Generalgouvernement (General Government) by Frank's decree of July 31, 1940. However, this name did not imply anything about the actual nature of the administration. The German authorities never regarded these Polish lands (apart from the short period of military administration during the actual invasion of Poland) as an occupied territory.The Nazis considered the Polish state to have effectively ceased to exist with its defeat in the September campaign.
Overall, 4 million of the 1939 population of the General Government area had lost their lives by the time the Soviet armed forces entered the area in late 1944. If the Polish underground killed a German, 50–100 Poles were executed by German police as a punishment and as a warning to other Poles. As the Soviets advanced through Poland in late 1944 the General Government collapsed. American troops captured Hans Frank, who had governed the region, in May 1945; he became one of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials. During his trial he resumed his childhood practice of Catholicism and expressed repentance. Frank surrendered forty volumes of his diaries to the Tribunal and much evidence against him and others was gathered from them. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. On October 1, 1946 he was sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out on October 16.
The destruction of Warsaw and construction of a new German town was planned before the war and during the occupation. Later the plans were included into the Generalplan Ost. In March 1941 Hans Frank informed his subordinates that Hitler had made the decision to "turn this region into a purely German area within 15–20 years". He explained: "Where 12 million Poles now live, is to be populated by 4 to 5 million Germans. The Generalgouvernement must become as German as the Rhineland." By 1942 Hitler and Frank had agreed that the Kraków ("with its purely German capital") and Lublin districts would be the first areas for German colonists to re-populate. Hitler stated: "When these two weak points have been strengthened, it should be possible to slowly drive back the Poles." Subsequently, German policy envisaged reducing lower-class Poles to the status of serfs, while deporting or otherwise eliminating the middle and upper classes and eventually replacing them with German colonists of the "master race".
The General Gouvernment is our work force reservoir for lowgrade work (brick plants, road building, etc.) ... Unconditionally, attention should be paid to the fact that there can be no "Polish masters"; where there are Polish masters, and I do not care how hard this sounds, they must be killed. (...) The Führer must emphasize once again that for Poles there is only one master and he is a German, there can be no two masters beside each other and there is no consent to such, hence all representatives of the Polish intelligentsia are to be killed ... The General Gouvernment is a Polish reservation, a great Polish labor camp. — Note of Martin Bormann from the meeting of Dr. Hans Frank with Adolf Hitler, Berlin, 2 October 1940.
German bureaucrats drew up various plans regarding the future of the original population. One called for the deportation of about 20 million Poles to Western Siberia, and the Germanisation of 4 to 5 million; although deportation in reality meant many Poles were to be put to death, a small number would be "Germanized", and young Poles of desirable qualities would be kidnapped and raised in Germany. In the General Government, all secondary education was abolished and all Polish cultural institutions closed.
In 1943 the government selected the Zamojskie area for further Germanization on account of its fertile black soil, and German colonial settlements were planned. Zamość was initially renamed by the government to Himmlerstadt (Himmler City), which was later changed to Pflugstadt (Plough City), both names were not implemeted. Most of the Polish population was expelled by the Nazi occupation authorities with documented brutality. Himmler intended the city of Lublin to have a German population of 20% to 25% by the beginning of 1944, and of 30% to 40% by the following year, at which time Lublin was to be declared a German city and given a German mayor.
Nazi planners never definitively resolved the question of the exact territorial reorganization of the Polish provinces in the event of German victory in the east. Germany had already annexed large parts of western pre-war Poland (8 October 1939) before the establishment of the General Government (26 October 1939), and the remaining region was also intended[ by whom? ] to be directly incorporated into the German Reich at some future date. The Nazi leadership discussed numerous initiatives with this aim.
The earliest such proposal (October/November 1939) called for the establishment of a separate Reichsgau Beskidenland which would encompass several southern sections of the Polish territories conquered in 1939 (around 18,000 km2), stretching from the area to the west of Kraków to the San river in the east. At this time Germany had not yet been directly annexed the Łódź area, and Łódź (rather than Kraków) served as the capital of the General Government.
In November 1940 Gauleiter Arthur Greiser of Reichsgau Wartheland argued that the counties of Tomaschow Mazowiecki and Petrikau should be transferred from the General Government's Radom district to his Gau. Hitler agreed, but since Frank refused to surrender the counties, the resolution of the border question was postponed until after the final victory.
Upon hearing of the German plans to create a "Gau of the Goths" (Gotengau) in the Crimea and the Southern Ukraine after the start (June 1941) of Operation Barbarossa, Frank himself expressed his intention to turn the district under his control into a German province called the Vandalengau (Gau of the Vandals) in a speech he gave on 16 December 1941.
When Frank unsuccessfully attempted to resign his position on 24 August 1942, Nazi Party Secretary Martin Bormann tried to advance a project to dissolve the General Government altogether and to partition its territory into a number of Reichsgaue, arguing that only this method could guarantee the territory's Germanization, while also claiming that Germany could economically exploit the area more effectively, particularly as a source of food.He suggested separating the "more restful" population of the formerly Austrian territories (because this part of Poland had been under German-Austrian rule for a long period of time it was deemed more racially acceptable) from the rest of the Poles and cordoning off the city of Warsaw, as the center of "criminality" and underground activity.
Ludwig Fischer (governor of Warsaw from 1939 to 1945) opposed the proposed administrative streamlining resulting from these discussions. Fischer prepared his own project in his Main Office for Spatial Ordering (Hauptamt für Raumordnung) located in Warsaw. [ when? ] the establishment of the three provinces Beskiden, Weichselland ("Vistula Land"), and Galizien (Galicia and Chełm) by dividing the Radom and Lublin districts between them. Weichselland was to have a "Polish character", Galizien a "Ukrainian" one, and the Beskiden-province to provide a German "admixture" (i.e. colonial settlement). Further territorial planning carried out by this Warsaw-based organization under Major Dr. Ernst Zvanetti in a May 1943 study to demarcate the eastern border of "Central Europe" (i.e. the Greater German Reich) with the "Eastern European landmass" proposed an eastern German border along the "line Memel-Odessa".He suggested
In this context Zvanetti's study proposed a re-ordering of the "Eastern Gaue" into three geopolitical blocks:
The General Government was administered by a General-Governor (German: Generalgouverneur) aided by the Office of the General-Governor (Amt des Generalgouverneurs), changed on December 9, 1940 to the Government of the General Government (Regierung des Generalgouvernements). For the entire period of its wartime history, there was only one General-Governor: Dr. Hans Frank. The Office was headed by Chief of the Government (Regierung, title translated also as the State Secretary or Deputy Governor) Josef Bühler. Several other individuals had powers to issue legislative decrees in addition to the General Governor, most notably the Higher SS and Police Leader of General Government (Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger, later Wilhelm Koppe).
No government protectorate is anticipated for Poland, but a complete German administration. (...) Leadership layer of the population in Poland should be as far as possible, disposed of. The other lower layers of the population will receive no special schools, but are to be oppressed in some form. — Excerpt from the minutes of the first conference of Heads of the main police officers and commanders of operational groups led by Heydrich's deputy, SS-Brigadefuhrer Dr. Werner Best, Berlin 7 September 1939
The General Government had no international recognition. The territories it administered were never either in whole or part intended as any future Polish state within a German-dominated Europe. According to the Nazi government the Polish state had effectively ceased to exist, in spite of the existence of a Polish government-in-exile.Its character was a type of colonial state. It was not a Polish puppet government, as there were no Polish representatives above the local administration.
The government seat of the General Government was located in Kraków (German: Krakau) rather than Warsaw for security reasons. The official state language was German, although Polish continued to be used by local government. Useful institutions of the old Polish state were retained for ease of administration. The Polish police, with no high-ranking Polish officers (who were arrested or demoted), was reorganised as the Blue Police and became subordinated to the Ordnungspolizei. The Polish educational system was similarly kept, but most higher institutions were closed. The Polish local administration was kept, subordinated to new German bosses. The Polish fiscal system, including the złoty currency, was kept, but with revenues now going to the German state. A new bank was created and issued new banknotes.
The Germans sought to play Ukrainians and Poles off against each other. Within ethnic Ukrainian areas annexed by Germany, beginning in October 1939, Ukrainian Committees were established with the purpose of representing the Ukrainian community to the German authorities and assisting the approximately 30,000 Ukrainian refugees who fled from Soviet-controlled territories. These committees also undertook cultural and economic activities that had been banned by the previous Polish government. Schools, choirs, reading societies and theaters were opened, and twenty Ukrainian churches that had been closed by the Polish government were reopened. A Ukrainian publishing house was created in Cracow, which despite having to struggle with German censors and paper shortages was able to publish school textbooks, classics of Ukrainian literature, and the works of dissident Ukrainian writers from the Soviet Union. By March 1941 there were 808 Ukrainian educational societies with 46,000 members. Ukrainian organizations within the General Government were able to negotiate the release of 85,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war from the German-Polish conflict (although they were unable to help Soviet POWs of Ukrainian ethnicity).
After the war, the Polish Supreme National Tribunal declared that the government of the General Government was a criminal institution.
Other than summary German military tribunals, no courts operated in Poland between the German invasion and early 1940. At that time, the Polish court system was reinstated and made decisions in cases not concerning German interests, for which a parallel German court system was created. The German system was given priority in cases of overlapping jurisdiction.
New laws were passed, discriminating against ethnic Poles and, in particular, the Jews. In 1941 a new criminal law was introduced, introducing many new crimes, and making the death penalty very common. A death penalty was introduced for, among other things:
The police in the General Government was divided into: Ordnungspolizei (OrPo) (native German), the Blue Police (Polish under German control), and Sicherheitspolizei (native German) composed of Kriminalpolizei (German) and Gestapo (German). The most numerous OrPo battalions were focused on traditional security roles as an occupying force. Some of them were directly involved in the pacification operations. May 1940 Gauleiter Hans Frank who stationed in occupied Kraków created Sonderdienst , based on similar SS formations called Selbstschutz operating in the Warthegau district of German-annexed western part of Poland since 1939. Sonderdienst were made up of ethnic German Volksdeutsche who lived in Poland before the attack and joined the invading force thereafter. However, after the 1941 Operation Barbarossa they included also the Soviet prisoners of war who volunteered for special training, such as the "Trawniki men" (German: Trawnikimänner) deployed at all major killing sites of the "Final Solution". A lot of those men did not know German and required translation by their native commanders. :366 Ukrainian Auxiliary Police was formed in Distrikt Galizien in 1941, many policemen deserted in 1943 joining UPA.In the immediate aftermath of World War II, this latter role was obscured both by the lack of court evidence and by deliberate obfuscation, while most of the focus was on the better-known Einsatzgruppen ("Operational groups") who reported to RSHA led by Reinhard Heydrich. On 6
The former Polish police, with no high-ranking Polish officers (who were arrested or demoted), was reorganised as the Blue Police and became subordinated to the Ordnungspolizei.
Some 3,000 men served with the Sonderdienst in the General Government, formally assigned to the head of the civil administration.The existence of Sonderdienst constituted a grave danger for the non-Jewish Poles who attempted to help ghettoised Jews in the cities, as in the Mińsk Mazowiecki Ghetto among numerous others, because Christian Poles were executed under the charge of aiding Jews.
A Forest Protection Service also existed, responsible for policing wooded areas in the General Government.
A Bahnpolizei policed railroads.
Through the occupation Germany diverted a significant number of its military forces to keep control over Polish territories.
|Timeperiod||Wehrmacht army||Police and SS |
(includes German forces only)
|June 1941||2,000,000 (high number due to imminent attack on Soviet positions)||50,000||2,050,000|
|September 1944||1,000,000 (Small percentage took part in the put down of the Warsaw Uprising)||80,000||1,080,000|
The propaganda was directed by the Fachabteilung für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (FAVuP), since Spring 1941 Hauptabteilung Propaganda (HAP). Prasą kierował Dienststelle der Pressechef der Regierung des Generalgouvernements, a w Berlinie Der Bevollmächtige des Generalgouverneurs in Berlin.
Thousands of anti-Semitic posters were distributed in Warsaw.
Germans wanted Poles to obey orders.
Propaganda newsreels of Die Deutsche Wochenschau (The German Weekly Review) preceded feature-film showings. Some feature films likewise contained Nazi propaganda. The Polish underground discouraged Poles from attending movies, advising them, in the words of the rhymed couplet, "Tylko świnie / siedzą w kinie" ("Only swine go to the movies").
In occupied Poland, there was no Polish film industry. However, a few Poles collaborated with the Germans in making films such as the 1941 anti-Polish propaganda film Heimkehr (Homecoming). In that film, casting for minor parts played by Jewish and Polish actors was done by Igo Sym, who during the filming was shot in his Warsaw apartment by the Polish Union of Armed Struggle resistance movement; after the war, the Polish performers were sentenced for collaboration in an anti-Polish propaganda undertaking, with punishments ranging from official reprimand to imprisonment.
All Polish theaters were disbanded. A German theater Theater der Stadt Warschau was formed in Warsaw together with a German controlled Polish one Teatr Miasta Warszawy. There existed also one comedy theater Teatr Komedia and 14 small ones. The Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Cracow was used by Germans.
Poles were not allowed to use radio sets. Any set should have been handed over to local administration till January the 25, 1940. Ethnic Germans were obliged to register their sets.
German authorities installed megaphones for propaganda purposes, called by Poles szczekaczki (from pol. szczekać - to bark).
Germans killed thousands of Poles, many of them civilian hostages, in Warsaw streets and locations around Warsaw, to terrorize the population, they shot or hanged them.The executions were ordered mainly by an Austrian Nazi Franz Kutschera, SS and Police Leader.
For administrative purposes the General Government was subdivided into four districts (Distrikte). These were the Distrikt Warschau , the Distrikt Lublin , the Distrikt Radom , and the Distrikt Krakau . After the Operation Barbarossa against the Soviets in June 1941, East Galicia (part of Poland, annected by Ukrainian SSR on the basis of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact), was incorporated into the General Government and became its fifth district: Distrikt Galizien. The new German administrative units were much larger than those organized by the Polish government, reflecting the German lack of sufficient administrative personnel to staff smaller units.
The five districts were further sub-divided into urban counties (Stadtkreise) and rural counties (Kreishauptmannschaften). Following a decree on September 15, 1941, the names of most of the major cities (and their respective counties) were renamed based on historical German data or given germanified versions of their Polish and Soviet names if none existed. At times the previous names remained the same as well (i.e. Radom). The districts and counties were as follows:
|Kreishauptmannschaften||Garwolin, Grojec (Grójec), Lowitsch (Lowicz), Minsk (Mińsk Mazowiecki), Ostrau (Ostrów Mazowiecka), Siedlce, Skierniewice 2, Sochaczew, Sokolow-Wengrow (Sokołów Podlaski-Węgrów), Warschau-Land|
kreisfreie Stadt(since 1940)
|Kreishauptmannschaften||Dembitz (Dębica), Jaroslau (Jarosław), Jassel (Jaslo), Krakau-Land, Krosno 1, Meekow (Miechow), Neumarkt (Nowy Targ), Neu-Sandez (Nowy Sącz), Przemyśl 1, Reichshof (Rzeszow), Sanok, Tarnau (Tarnów)|
|Kreishauptmannschaften||Biala-Podlaska (Biała Podlaska), Bilgoraj, Cholm (Chelm), Grubeschow (Hrubieszow), Janow Lubelski, Krasnystaw, Lublin-Land, Pulawy, Rehden (Radzyn), Zamosch/Himmlerstadt/Pflugstadt (Zamość)|
|Stadtkreise||Kielce, Radom, Tschenstochau (Częstochowa)|
|Kreishauptmannschaften||Busko (Busko-Zdrój), Jedrzejow, Kielce-Land, Konskie (Końskie), Opatau (Opatów), Petrikau (Piotrków Trybunalski), Radom-Land, Radomsko, Starachowitz (Starachowice), Tomaschow Mazowiecki (Tomaszów Mazowiecki)|
|Kreishauptmannschaften||Breschan (Brzeżany), Tschortkau (Czortków), Drohobycz, Kamionka-Strumilowa (Kamianka-Buzka), Kolomea (Kolomyia), Lemberg-Land, Rawa-Ruska (Rava-Ruska), Stanislau (Ivano-Frankivsk), Sambor (Sambir) Stryj, Tarnopol, Solotschiw (Zolochiv), Kallusch (Kalush)|
|1, added after 1941. 2, removed after 1941.|
A change in the administrative structure was desired by Finance Minister Lutz von Krosigk, who for financial reasons wanted to see the five existing districts (Warsaw, Kraków, Radom, Lublin, and Galicia) reduced to three.In March 1943 he announced the merger of the Kraków and Galicia districts, and the split of the Warsaw district between the Radom district and the Lublin district. (The latter acquired a special status of "Germandom district", Deutschtumsdistrikt, as a "test run" of the Germanization according to the Generalplan Ost . ) The restructuring further involved the changing of Warsaw and Kraków into separate city-districts (Stadtdistrikte), with Warsaw under the direct control of the General Government. This decree was to go into effect on 1 April 1943 and was nominally accepted by Heinrich Himmler, but Martin Bormann opposed the move, as he simply wanted to see the region turned into Reichsgaue (Germany proper). Wilhelm Frick and Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger were also skeptic about the usefulness of this reorganization, resulting in its abolition after subsequent discussions between Himmler and Frank.
The General Government was inhabited by 11.4 million people in December 1939. A year later the population increased to 12.1 million. In December 1940, 83.3% of the population were Poles, 11.2% - Jews, 4.4% - Ukrainians and Belarusians, 0.9% - Germans, 0.2% - others.About 860,000 Poles and Jews were resettled into the General Government after they have been expelled from the territories 'annexed' by Nazi Germany. Offsetting this was the German genocidal campaign of liquidation of the Polish intelligentsia and other elements considered likely to resist. From 1941 disease and hunger also began to reduce the population.
Poles were also deported in large numbers to work as forced labor in Germany: eventually about a million were deported, of whom many died in Germany. In 1940 the population was segregated into different groups. Each group had different rights, food rations, allowed strips in the cities, public transportation and restricted restaurants. They were divided from the most privileged, to the least.
|Nationality||Daily food energy intake|
|Germans||2,310 calories (9,700 kJ)|
|Foreigners||1,790 calories (7,500 kJ)|
|Ukrainians||930 calories (3,900 kJ)|
|Poles||654 calories (2,740 kJ)|
|Jews||184 calories (770 kJ)|
After the invasion of Poland in 1939, Jews over the age of 12 and Poles over the age of 14 living in the General Government were subject to forced labor.Many Poles from other regions of Poland conquered by Germany were expelled to the General Government and the area was used as a slave labour pool from which men and women taken by force to work as laborers in factories and farms in Germany. In 1942, all non-Germans living in the General Government were subject to forced labor.
Parts of Warsaw and several towns (Wieluń, Sulejów, Frampol) were destroyed during the Polish-German war in September 1939. Poles weren't able to buy any construction materials to reconstruct their houses or businesses. They lost their savings and GG currency, nicknamed "Młynarki", was managed by German-controlled Bank Emisyjny w Polsce.
Former Polish state property was confiscated by the General Government (or the Third Reich on the annexed territories). Notable property of Polish individuals (ex. factories and large land estates) was often confiscated as well and managed by German Treuhänder. Jewish population was deported to the Ghettos, their dwelling and businesses were confiscated by the Germans, small businesses were sometimes passed to the Poles.Farmers were required to provide large food contingents for the Germans, and there were plans for nationalization of all but the smallest estates.
German administration implemented a system of exploitation of Jewish and Polish people, which included high taxes.
While scholars debate whether from September 1939 to June 1941 the mass starvation of the Jewish people of Europe was an attempt to conduct mass murder, it is agreed upon that this starvation did kill a large amount of this population.There was a shift in the amount of resources that were being used by the Generalgouvernement from 1939-1940. For example, in 1939, seven million tons of coal were used but in 1940 this was reduced to four million tons of coal used by the Generalgouvernement. This shift was emblematic of the shortages in supplies, depriving the Jews and Poles of their only heating source. Although before the war, Poland exported mass quantities of food, in 1940 the Generalgouvernement was unable to supply enough food for the country, nonetheless export food supplies. In December 1939, the Polish and Jewish reception committees, as well as the native local officials, all within the Generalgouvernement, were responsible for providing food and shelter to the Poles and Jews that evacuated. In the expulsion process, the help provided to the evacuated Poles and Jews by the Generalgouvernement was considered a weak branch of the overall process. Throughout 1939, the Reichsbahn was responsible for many of the other important tasks including the deportations of Poles and Jews to concentration camps as well as the delivery of food and raw materials to different places. In December 1940, 87,833 Poles and Jews were deported which added stress to different administrations which were now responsible for these deportees. During the deportations, people were forced to reside on the trains for days until a place was found for them to stay. Between the cold and lack of food, masses of deportees died due to transport deaths caused by malnutrition, cold, and moreover unlivable transportation conditions.
The prices for food outside of ghettos and concentration camps had to be set at a reasonable price in order for them to align with the black market; setting prices at a reasonable rate would ensure that farmers did not sell their crops illegally. If the prices were set too high in cities there was a concern that workers would not be able to afford the food and protest the prices. Due to the price inflation which was occurring in the Generalgouvernement, many places relied on the barter system (exchanging goods for other goods instead of money). “Introducing rationing in September 1940, Marshal Petain insisted that ‘everyone must assume their share of common hardship.’”There was clearly food instability not only in the ghettos, but also in cities, which caused everyone to be conscious about food rationing, and caused conditions for Jewish people to worsen. While workers in Norway and France protested the new rationing of food, Germany and the UK, where the citizens supported war efforts were more supportive of the rationing therefore it was more effective. Cases, where a country was being occupied, caused the citizens to be more hesitant about the rationing of food and it was overall not as effective. In December, 1941 it was recognized by the Generalgouvernement that starving the Jewish people to death was an inexpensive and expedient solution. In August 1942, the Reich decided to decrease the food supply from the Generalgouvernement, deciding that 1.2 million Jews that were not completing jobs that were “important to Germany” would no longer be given food. The Nazis knew the effects of depriving the Jewish people of food, yet it continued; the ultimate revolt against the Jewish race was mass murder due to starvation. The Food and Agriculture Ministry administered the rations of food in concentration camps. Each camp's administration got food from the open market and depots of the Waffen-SS (Standartenführer Tschentscher). Once the food arrived at a camp, it was up to the administration how to distribute it. The diet for the Jews in these camps was “watery turnip soup drunk from pots; it was supplemented by an evening meal of sawdust bread with some margarine, ‘smelly marmalade,’ or ‘putrid sausage.’ Between the two meals inmates attempted to lap a few drops of polluted water from the faucet in a wash barracks.”
During this environment of food scarcity Jews turned to the black market for any source of sustenance.The black market was important both in and outside of the ghettos from 1940-1944. Outside of the ghettos, the black market existed because rations were not high enough for the citizens to remain healthy. In the ghettos of eastern Europe in August 1941 the Jewish population recognized that if they were forced to remain in these ghettos they would eventually die of hunger. Many people that were in ghettos made trades with the outside world in order to stay alive.Jewish people were forced to reside in ghettos, where the economy was isolated and there were large food shortages, which caused them to be seen as a source for cheap labor; many were given food that was purchased on the Aryan side of the wall in exchange for their labor. The isolation of the people forced into ghettos caused there to be a disconnect between the buyer and seller, which added in another player: the black market middleman. The black market middleman would make a profit by creating connections between sellers and buyers. While supply and demand was inelastic in these ghettos, the selling of this food on the blackmarket was extremely competitive, and beyond the reach of most Jews in ghettos.
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Resistance to the German occupation began almost at once, although there is little terrain in Poland suitable for guerrilla operations. Several small army troops supported by volunteers fought till Spring 1940, e.g. under major Henryk Dobrzański, after which they ceased due to German executions of civilians as reprisals.
The main resistance force was the Home Army (in Polish: Armia Krajowa or AK), loyal to the Polish government in exile in London. It was formed mainly of the surviving remnants of the pre-War Polish Army, together with many volunteers. Other forces existed side-by-side, such as the communist People's Army (Armia Ludowa or AL) parallel to the PPR, organised and controlled by the Soviet Union. The AK was estimated between 200,000 and 600,000 men, while the AL was estimated between 14,000 and 60,000.
1942-1943 German repressions caused Zamość uprising.
In April 1943 the Germans began deporting the remaining Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, provoking the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 19 to May. 16 That was the first armed uprising against the Germans in Poland, and prefigured the larger and longer Warsaw Uprising of 1944.[ citation needed ]
In July 1944, as the Soviet armed forces approached Warsaw, the government in exile called for an uprising in the city, so that they could return to a liberated Warsaw and try to prevent a Communist take-over. The AK, led by Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, launched the Warsaw Rising on August 1 in response both to their government and to Soviet and Allied promises of help. However Soviet help was never forthcoming, despite the Soviet army being only 18 miles (30 km) away, and Soviet denial of their airbases to British and American planes prevented any effective resupply or air support of the insurgents by the Western allies. They used distant Italian bases in their Warsaw airlift instead. After 63 days of fighting the leaders of the rising agreed a conditional surrender with the Wehrmacht. The 15,000 remaining Home Army soldiers were granted POW status (prior to the agreement, captured rebels were shot), and the remaining civilian population of 180,000 expelled.
Hans Frank was an avid chess player, so he organized General Government chess tournaments. Only Germans were allowed to perform in sporting events. About 80 football clubs played in four district divisions.
During the Wannsee conference on January 20, 1942, the State Secretary of the General Government, SS-Brigadeführer Josef Bühler encouraged Heydrich to implement the "Final Solution". From his own point of view, as an administrative official, the problems in his district included an overdeveloped black market. He endorsed a remedy in solving the "Jewish question" as fast as possible. An additional point in favor of setting up the extermination facilities in his governorate was that there were no transportation problems there,with all assets of the disbanded Polish National Railways (PKP) managed by Ostbahn, Deutsche Reichsbahn branch of GEDOB in Kraków, making a network of death trains readily available to the SS-Totenkopfverbände .
The newly drafted Operation Reinhard would be a major step in the systematic liquidation of the Jews in occupied Europe, beginning with those in the General Government. Within months, three top-secret camps were built and equipped with stationary gas chambers disguised as shower rooms, based on Action T4, solely to efficiently kill thousands of people each day. The Germans began the elimination of the Jewish population under the guise of "resettlement" in spring of 1942. The three Reinhard camps including Treblinka (the deadliest of them all) had transferable SS staff and almost identical design. The General Government was the location of four of the seven extermination camps of World War II in which the most extreme measures of the Holocaust were carried out, including closely located Majdanek concentration camp, Sobibor extermination camp and Belzec extermination camp. The genocide of undesired "races", chiefly millions of Jews from Poland and other countries, was carried out by gassing between 1942 and 1944.
The Final Solution or the Final Solution to the Jewish Question was a Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II. The "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" was the official code name for the murder of all Jews within reach, which was not restricted to the European continent. This policy of deliberate and systematic genocide starting across German-occupied Europe was formulated in procedural and geo-political terms by Nazi leadership in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference held near Berlin, and culminated in the Holocaust, which saw the killing of 90% of Polish Jews, and two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.
The history of Poland from 1939 to 1945 encompasses primarily the period from the Invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to the end of World War II. Following the German-Soviet non-aggression pact, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany on 1 September 1939 and by the Soviet Union on 17 September. The campaigns ended in early October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland. After the Axis attack on the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, all of Poland was occupied by Germany. Under the two occupations, Polish citizens suffered enormous human and material losses. According to the Institute of National Remembrance estimates, about 5.6 million Polish citizens died as a result of the German occupation and about 150,000 died as a result of the Soviet occupation. The Jews were singled out by the Germans for a quick and total annihilation and about 90% of Polish Jews were murdered as part of the Holocaust. Jews, Poles, Romani people and prisoners of many other ethnicities were killed en masse at Nazi extermination camps, such as Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibór. Ethnic Poles were subjected to both Nazi German and Soviet persecution. The Germans killed an estimated two million ethnic Poles. They had future plans to turn the remaining majority of Poles into slave labor and annihilate those perceived as “undesirable” as part of the wider Generalplan Ost. Ethnic cleansing and massacres of Poles and to a lesser extent Ukrainians were perpetrated in western Ukraine from 1943. The Poles were murdered by Ukrainian nationalists.
It's estimated that over six million Polish citizens, divided nearly equally between ethnic Poles and Polish Jews, perished during World War II. Most were civilians killed by the actions of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and their respective allies. At the Nuremberg Tribunal, three categories of wartime criminality were established: waging a war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. These three core crimes of international law were set apart from other crimes, and for the first time since the end of the war categorised as violations of fundamental human values and norms. They were committed in occupied Poland on a tremendous scale.
Following the re-emergence of sovereign Poland after World War I and during the interwar period the number of Jews in the country grew rapidly. According to the Polish national census of 1921, there were 2,845,364 Jews living in the Second Polish Republic; by late 1938 that number had grown by over 16 percent, to approximately 3,310,000, mainly through migration from Ukraine and the Soviet Russia. The average rate of permanent settlement was about 30,000 per annum. At the same time, every year around 100,000 Jews were passing through Poland in unofficial emigration overseas. Between the end of the Polish–Soviet War of 1919 and late 1938, the Jewish population of the Republic grew by nearly half a million, or over 464,000 persons. Jews preferred to live in relatively tolerant Poland rather than in the USSR, and continued to integrate, to marry into Polish Gentile families, to bring them into their community through marriage, to feel Polish and to form an important part of Polish society. Between 1933 and 1938, around 25,000 German Jews fled Nazi Germany to sanctuary in Poland.
Beginning with the invasion of Poland during World War II, the regime of Nazi Germany set up ghettos across occupied Europe in order to segregate and confine Jews, and sometimes Romani people, into small sections of towns and cities furthering their exploitation. In German documents, and signage at ghetto entrances, the Nazis usually referred to them as Jüdischer Wohnbezirk or Wohngebiet der Juden, both of which translate as the Jewish Quarter. There were several distinct types including open ghettos, closed ghettos, work, transit, and destruction ghettos, as defined by the Holocaust historians. In a number of cases, they were the place of Jewish underground resistance against the German occupation, known collectively as the ghetto uprisings.
The Lwów Ghetto was a World War II Jewish ghetto established and operated by Nazi Germany in the city of Lwów in the territory of Nazi-administered General Government in German-occupied Poland.
The Holocaust in German-occupied Poland was marked by the construction of death camps by Nazi Germany in Poland. The Third Reich's World War II genocide, known as the Holocaust, took the lives of three million Polish Jews, half of all Jews killed during the Holocaust. Scholars disagree on whether to also classify up to three million ethnic-Polish victims of German genocide as Holocaust victims. The extermination camps played a central role in Germany's systematic murder of over 90% of Poland's Jewish population.
The Blue Police was the Polish police during the Second World War in German-occupied Poland. The entity's official German name was Polnische Polizei im Generalgouvernement.
Crimes against the Polish nation committed by Nazi Germany and collaborationist forces during the invasion of Poland, along with auxiliary battalions during the subsequent occupation of Poland in World War II, consisted of the systematic extermination of Jewish Poles and the murder of millions of (non-Jewish) ethnic Poles. The Germans justified these genocides on the basis of Nazi racial theory, which depicted Jews as a constant threat and regarded Poles and other Slavs as racially inferior Untermenschen. By 1942 the Nazis were implementing their plan to kill every Jew in German-occupied Europe, and had also developed plans to eliminate the Polish people, through mass murder, ethnic cleansing, enslavement, and assimilation into German identity of a small minority of Poles regarded as racially valuable. During World War II the Germans not only murdered millions of Jewish and non-Jewish Poles, but ethnically cleansed millions more ethnic Poles through forced deportation, supposedly to make room for racially superior German settlers.
Administrative division of Polish territories during World War II can be divided into several phases, when territories of the Second Polish Republic were administered first by Nazi Germany and Soviet Union, then in their entirety by Nazi Germany and finally by the Soviet Union again. Starting with the reform of 1946, the administrative division was returned to Poland.
The District of Galicia was a World War II administrative unit of the General Government created by Nazi Germany on 1 August 1941 after the opening of Operation Barbarossa. Initially, during the invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, the territory temporarily fell under the Soviet occupation in 1939 as part of Soviet Ukraine.
The Lublin Reservation was a concentration camp complex developed by Nazi German Schutzstaffel (SS) in the early stages of World War II, as the so-called "territorial solution to the Jewish Question". The idea for the expulsion and resettlement of the Jews of Europe, into the remote corner of the Generalgouvernement territory bordering the cities of Lublin and Nisko, was devised by Adolf Hitler and formulated by his SS henchmen as the so-called Nisko und Lublin Plan named alternatively after both locations. The plan was developed in September 1939 after the invasion of Poland and implemented between October 1939 and April 1940, in contrast to similar Nazi "Madagascar" and other Jewish relocation plans drawn up before the attack on Poland at the onset of World War II.
General Government chess championships were Nazi tournaments held during World War II in occupied central Poland. Hans Frank, the Governor-General of General Government, was the patron of those tournaments because he was an avid chess player. The competition began when he organized a chess congress in Krakow on 3 November 1940. Six months later Frank announced the establishment of a chess school under Chess grandmasters, Efim Bogoljubov and Alexander Alekhine.
Baudienst, full name in German Polnischer Baudienst im Generalgouvernement, was a forced labour organization created by Nazi Germany in the General Government territory of occupied Poland during World War II. Baudienst was subordinate to the Reichsarbeitsdienst.
The Lublin Ghetto was a World War II ghetto created by Nazi Germany in the city of Lublin on the territory of General Government in occupied Poland. The ghetto inmates were mostly Polish Jews, although a number of Roma were also brought in. Set up in March 1941, the Lublin Ghetto was one of the first Nazi-era ghettos slated for liquidation during the most deadly phase of the Holocaust in occupied Poland. Between mid-March and mid-April 1942 over 30,000 Jews were delivered to their deaths in cattle trucks at the Bełżec extermination camp and additional 4,000 at Majdanek.
Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland were established during World War II in hundreds of locations across occupied Poland. Most Jewish ghettos had been created by Nazi Germany between October 1939 and July 1942 in order to confine and segregate Poland's Jewish population of about 3.5 million for the purpose of persecution, terror, and exploitation. In smaller towns, ghettos often served as staging points for Jewish slave-labor and mass deportation actions, while in the urban centers they resembled walled-off prison-islands described by some historians as little more than instruments of "slow, passive murder", with dead bodies littering the streets.
General Government administration - government and administration of General Government created on part of area of the Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during the duration of World War II between 1939 and early 1945.
The occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during the Second World War (1939–1945) began with the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, and it was formally concluded with the defeat of Germany by the Allies in May 1945. Throughout the entire course of the foreign occupation, the territory of Poland was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union (USSR) with the intention of eradicating Polish culture and subjugating its people by occupying German and Soviet powers. In summer-autumn of 1941 the lands annexed by the Soviets were overrun by Germany in the course of the initially successful German attack on the USSR. After a few years of fighting, the Red Army drove the German forces out of the USSR and across Poland from the rest of Central and Eastern Europe.
Throughout World War II, Poland was a member of the Allied coalition that fought Nazi Germany. During the German occupation of Poland, some Polish citizens of diverse ethnicities collaborated with the Germans. Estimates of the number of collaborators vary. During and after the war, the Polish State and the Resistance movement punished collaborators, with thousands sentenced to death.
The Generalgouvernement was the German zone of occupation in Poland after the invasion by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, at the start of World War 2. The Generalgouvernement represented the middle portion of occupied Poland, with originally the West being under German control and the East under Soviet control. The basis for this split was to eliminate the Polish state and to turn all Polish nationals as stateless subjects, disregarding international law.
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