|Part of a series on|
|Violence against women|
|Sexual assault and rape|
The subject of rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland at the end of World War II in Europe was absent from the postwar historiography until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, although the documents of the era show that the problem was serious both during and after the advance of Soviet forces against Nazi Germany in 1944–1945.The lack of research for nearly half a century regarding the scope of sexual violence by Soviet males, wrote Katherine Jolluck, had been magnified by the traditional taboos among their victims, who were incapable of finding "a voice that would have enabled them to talk openly" about their wartime experiences "while preserving their dignity." Joanna Ostrowska and Marcin Zaremba of the Polish Academy of Sciences wrote that rapes of the Polish women reached a mass scale during the Red Army's Winter Offensive of 1945.
The final battles of the European Theatre of World War II as well as the German surrender to the Allies took place in late April and early May 1945.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union is the process of internal collapse of the Soviet Union which started in the second half of 1980s with a series of national unrests and ended on 26 December 1991, when the Soviet Union was voted out of existence, following the Belavezha Accords. This officially granted self-governing independence to the Republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It was a result of the declaration number 142-Н of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. The declaration acknowledged the independence of the former Soviet republics and created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), although five of the signatories ratified it much later or did not do so at all. On the previous day, 25 December, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and final leader of the USSR, resigned, declared his office extinct and handed over its powers—including control of the Soviet nuclear missile launching codes—to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. That evening at 7:32 p.m., the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time and replaced with the pre-revolutionary Russian flag.
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 where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. 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.
Among the factors contributing to the escalation of sexual violence against women, during the occupation of Poland, was a sense of impunity on the part of individual Soviet units left to fend for themselves by their military leaders. In search of food supplies and provisions – wrote Dr Janusz Wróbel of IPN – the marauding soldiers formed gangs ready to open fire (as in Jędrzejów). Livestock was being herded away, fields cleared of grain without recompense and Polish homes looted. In a letter to his Voivode, a Łódź county starosta warned that plunder of goods from stores and farms was often accompanied by the rape of farmhands as in Zalesie, Olechów, Feliksin and Huta Szklana, not to mention other crimes, including murder-rape in Łagiewniki. The heavily armed marauders robbed cars, horse-drawn carriages, even trains. In his next letter to Polish authorities, the same starosta wrote that rape and plunder is causing the population to fear and hate the Soviet regime.
Impunity means "exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines". In the international law of human rights, it refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and, as such, itself constitutes a denial of the victims' right to justice and redress. Impunity is especially common in countries that lack a tradition of the rule of law, suffer from corruption or that have entrenched systems of patronage, or where the judiciary is weak or members of the security forces are protected by special jurisdictions or immunities.
The Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives, as well as prosecution powers. It was created by legislation enacted by the Parliament of Poland. The Institute specialises in the legal and historical examination of the 20th century history of Poland in particular. IPN investigates both Nazi and Communist crimes committed in Poland between 1939 and the Revolutions of 1989, documents its findings and disseminates the results of its investigations to the public.
Jędrzejów is a town in Poland, located in the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, about 35 kilometres southwest of Kielce. It is the capital of Jędrzejów County. It has 16,139 inhabitants (2011). The origin of the name of the town is unknown. Probably it was named after a man named Andrzej (Jędrzej), a member of the noble Lis family, which resided in this area.
Cases of mass rape occurred in major Polish cities taken by the Red Army. In Kraków, Soviet entry into the city was accompanied by the wave of rapes of women and girls, and the widespread theft of personal property. According to Prof. Chwalba of Jagiellonian University, this behavior reached such a scale that the Polish communists installed in the city by the Soviet Union, composed a letter of protest to Joseph Stalin himself. At the Kraków Main station, Poles who tried to rescue the victims of gang rape were shot at. Meanwhile, church masses were held in expectation of the Soviet withdrawal.
Kraków, also spelled Cracow or Krakow in English, is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków was the official capital of Poland until 1596 and has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, economic, cultural and artistic life. Cited as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, its Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Andrzej Chwalba is a Polish historian. Professor of history at the Jagiellonian University, the university's prorector of didactics (1999-2002), head of the Institute of Social and Religious History of Europe in 19th and 20th century, and the deacon and prodeacon of Department of History.
The Jagiellonian University is a research university in Kraków, Poland.
Polish women in Silesia were the target of mass rape along with their German counterparts even after the Soviet front moved much further west.In the first six months of 1945, in Dębska Kuźnia 268 rapes were reported. In March 1945 near Racibórz, 30 women captured at a linen factory were locked in a house in Makowo and raped over a period of time under the threat of death. The woman who gave her testimony to the police, was raped by four men. German and Polish women were apprehended on the streets of Katowice, Zabrze and Chorzów and gang raped by drunken soldiers, usually outdoors. According to Naimark, the Red Army servicemen did not differentiate along the ethnic lines, or between victims and occupiers.
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic and Germany. Its area is about 40,000 km2 (15,444 sq mi), and its population about 8,000,000. Silesia is located along the Oder River. It consists of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia.
Dębska Kuźnia, German: Dembiohammer is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Chrząstowice, within Opole County, Opole Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It lies approximately 4 kilometres (2 mi) east of Chrząstowice and 13 km (8 mi) east of the regional capital Opole.
Racibórz is a town in Silesian Voivodeship in southern Poland. It is the administrative seat of Racibórz County.
Polish and German women in Warmia and Masuria endured the same ordeal, wrote Ostrowska & Zaremba.One letter from the Recovered Territories claimed that in the city of Olsztyn in March 1945, practically no woman survived without being violated by the Soviet rapists "irrespective of their age". Their ages were estimated to range from 9 to 80. Sometimes, a grandmother, a mother and a granddaughter were among the victims. Women were gang raped by as many as several dozen soldiers. In a letter from Gdańsk dated 17 April 1945, a Polish woman who acquired work around the Soviet garrison reported: "because we spoke Polish, we were in demand. However, most victims there were raped up to 15 times. I was raped seven times. It was horrible." A letter from Gdynia, written a week later, said that the only resort for the women was to hide in the basements all day.
Warmia is a historical region in northern Poland.
Masuria is a region in northern Poland, famous for its 2,000 lakes. Before the end of World War II, it was mostly inhabited by Polish-speaking Lutheran Masurians and constituted a part of East Prussia. Masuria occupies much of the Masurian Lake District. Administratively, it is part of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. Its biggest city, often regarded as its capital, is Ełk. The region covers a territory of some 10,000 km2 and had a population in 2013 of 59,790.
Recovered Territories was an official term used by the Polish People’s Republic to describe the territory of the former Free City of Danzig and the parts of pre-war Germany that became part of Poland after World War II.
There is evidence that a loophole in the Soviet directives might have contributed to even greater number of rapes committed on Polish women by the Red Army soldiers, according to Jerzy Kochanowski from the University of Warsaw.German women were protected (at least partially) by strict instructions about their treatment during transfer, issued by the Soviet command. However, there were no such instructions, or any instructions whatsoever about the Poles. In the County of Leszno some "war commanders" began to openly claim that their soldiers needed to have sex. At the same time, the farms given to Poles arriving from Kresy were robbed of anything of value by the Red Army, especially agricultural equipment left behind by the Germans.
The University of Warsaw, established in 1816, is the largest university in Poland. It employs over 6,000 staff including over 3,100 academic educators. It provides graduate courses for 53,000 students. The University offers some 37 different fields of study, 18 faculties and over 100 specializations in Humanities, technical as well as Natural Sciences.
Kresy Wschodnie or Kresy was the Eastern part of the Second Polish Republic during the interwar period amounting to nearly half of the territory of the state. The Polish plural term Kresy corresponds to the Russian Okrainy (Oкраины), the "lands beyond". It is also largely co-terminous with the "Russian Pale", a scheme devised by Catherine the Great to limit where Jews might settle so as to be rid of them from the homogenously Orthodox core of the Russian Empire, barring a few exceptions. Application of the pale intensified after the Second Partition of Poland-Lithuania and lasted until the 1917 revolution. The population of Kresy anyway already contained a considerable proportion of minority religious and ethnic communities, which together probably equalled the number of ethnic Poles and even exceeded their numbers in some districts, e.g. Jews in small towns. Administratively, the Kresy territory took in the voivodeships of Lwów, Nowogródek, Polesie, Stanisławów, Tarnopol, Wilno, Wołyń, and Białystok. Today, all these regions are divided between Western Ukraine, Western Belarus, and south-eastern Lithuania, with the major cities of Lviv, Vilnius, and Grodno no longer in Poland. During the Second Polish Republic Kresy denoted the lands beyond the so-called, Curzon Line, proposed after World War I by the British Foreign Office in December 1919 as the eastern border of the re-emerging sovereign Polish Republic after over a century of partitions. In September 1939, after the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany simultaneously attacked Poland under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, all the territories were incorporated into Soviet Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania enforced by terror.
According to Ostrowska & Zaremba, the month of June 1945 was the worst. A 52-year-old victim of gang rape from Pińczów testified that two Soviet war veterans returning from Berlin told her that they fought for Poland for three years and thus had the right to have all Polish females. In Olkusz twelve rapes were recorded in two days. In Ostrów county, 33 rapes were recorded. The local Militia report stated that on June 25 near Kraków a husband and child were shot dead before a woman was raped in one village, while in another, a 4-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by two Soviet males.According to statistics of the Polish Ministry of Health, there was a pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases across the country, affecting around 10% of the general population. In Masuria up to 50% of women were infected.
According to historian Wiesław Niesiobędzki, in East Prussia (Prusy Wschodnie) many ethnic German women, alarmed by the Nazis, fled ahead of the Soviet offensive, leaving the Polish women to endure rapes (mostly by the Kalmyks) and witness the systematic burning of ransacked houses, for example in the town of Iława in late January 1945 under the Soviet Major Konstantinov. Eye witness Gertruda Buczkowska spoke of a labor camp near Wielka Żuława employing two hundred ethnic Belarusian women. In late January 1945 Buczkowska saw their bodies in the snow while fleeing with her mother and five German women of Hamburg who had joined them. The five Germans were found naked and dead in a basement of a house on Rybaków street in Iława a few days later.
According to Ostrowska and Zaremba, Polish women taken to Germany for slave labour were raped on a large scale by Soviet soldiers as well as former prisoners of war. In May 1945, at the conference of delegates of various repatriation offices, the final resolution stated: "through Stargard and Szczecin, there is a mass movement of Polish people returning from forced labour in the Third Reich. They are the subject of constant attacks by individual soldiers as well as organized groups. Along the journey, Poles are frequently robbed, and Polish women raped. In our response to the question posed to the Polish delegation of whether the rapes of Polish women could be regarded as exceptional, management of the local repatriation office declared, on the basis of permanent contact with the returning Poles, that women are the target of violent aggression as a matter of course, not the opposite".Russian historian Ia. S. Drabkin suggested in a 1989 interview that it was "not the soldiers who caused most of the problems with rape in the occupation administration, but former Soviet POWs and Soviet citizens working for SVAG, who often wore uniforms" which looked the same.
Sometimes, even the presence of militia could not provide adequate protection, since the militiamen were frequently disarmed. For the women, moving trains and the train stations were especially dangerous, as in Bydgoszcz or around Radom and Legnica. The grave situation in Pomerania was described in a report by one agent of the Delegatura Rządu na Kraj, quoted by Ostrowska & Zaremba. In some counties there were virtual "orgies of rape". The commandant of Polish militia headquarters in Trzebiatów issued a warning to all Polish women not to walk outside without escort.
"With nearly two million Russian deserters and former POWs at large in Soviet-occupied Europe, it is no wonder that banditry on their part became a serious problem for the occupation," wrote Naimark.The number of Polish victims of rape in 1944–1947 would be hard to estimate accurately. The biggest difficulty in estimating their number comes from the fact that the ethnic makeup of the victims was not always stated in Polish official reports. Generally speaking, the attitude of Soviet servicemen toward women of Slavic background was better than toward those who spoke German. According to Ostrowska & Zaremba, whether the number of purely Polish victims could have reached or even exceeded 100,000 remains a matter of guesswork.
An interview with Andrzej Chwalba, Professor of history at the Jagiellonian University (and its prorector), conducted in Kraków by Rita Pagacz-Moczarska, and published by an online version of the Jagiellonian University's Bulletin Alma Mater. The article concerning World War II history of the city ("Occupied Krakow"), makes references to the fifth volume of History of Krakow entitled "Kraków in the years 1939-1945," see bibliogroup:"Dzieje Krakowa: Kraków w latach 1945-1989" in Google Books ( ISBN 83-08-03289-3) written by Chwalba from a historical perspective, also cited in Google scholar.
The rapes had begun as soon as the Red Army entered East Prussia and Silesia in 1944.
Stefan Banach was a Polish mathematician who is generally considered one of the world's most important and influential 20th-century mathematicians. He was the founder of modern functional analysis, and an original member of the Lwów School of Mathematics. His major work was the 1932 book, Théorie des opérations linéaires, the first monograph on the general theory of functional analysis.
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.
Nazism and the acts of the Nazi German state profoundly affected many countries, communities, and people before, during and after World War II. The regime's attempt to exterminate several groups viewed as subhuman by Nazi ideology was eventually stopped by the combined efforts of the wartime Allies headed by Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over 1,000 years. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was a principal center of Jewish culture, thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy. This ended with the Partitions of Poland which began in 1772, in particular, with the discrimination and persecution of Jews in the Russian Empire. During World War II there was a nearly complete genocidal destruction of the Polish Jewish community by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, during the 1939–1945 German occupation of Poland and the ensuing Holocaust. Since the fall of communism in Poland, there has been a Jewish revival, featuring an annual Jewish Culture Festival, new study programs at Polish secondary schools and universities, the work of synagogues such as the Nożyk Synagogue, and Warsaw's Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
Around six million Polish citizens, are estimated to have perished during World War II. Most were civilians killed by the actions of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. At the International Military Tribunal held in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945–46, three categories of wartime criminality were juridically established: waging a war of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. These three crimes in international law were for the first time, from the end of the war, categorized as violations of fundamental human values and norms. These crimes were committed in occupied Poland on a tremendous scale.
Operation Tempest was a series of anti-Nazi uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army, the dominant force in the Polish resistance.
Kazimierz Żorawski was a Polish mathematician. His work earned him an honored place in mathematics alongside such Polish mathematicians as Wojciech Brudzewski, Jan Brożek (Broscius), Nicolas Copernicus, Samuel Dickstein, Stefan Banach, Stefan Bergman, Marian Rejewski, Wacław Sierpiński, Stanisław Zaremba and Witold Hurewicz.
War crimes perpetrated by the Soviet Union and its armed forces from 1919 to 1991 include acts committed by the Red Army as well as the NKVD, including the NKVD's Internal Troops. In some cases, these acts were committed upon the orders of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in pursuance of the early Soviet Government's policy of Red Terror, in other instances they were committed without orders by Soviet troops against prisoners of war or civilians of countries that had been in armed conflict with the USSR, or they were committed during partisan warfare.
The flight and expulsion of Germans from Poland was the largest of a series of flights and expulsions of Germans in Europe during and after World War II. The German population fled or was expelled from all regions which are currently within the territorial boundaries of Poland, including the former eastern territories of Germany and parts of pre-war Poland.
The Kraków pogrom refers to the violent events that occurred on 11 August 1945, in the Soviet-occupied city of Kraków, Poland, which resulted in the shooting death of Róża Berger while standing behind closed doors by security forces, and the wounding of five others.
The Northern Group of Forces was the military formation of the Soviet Army stationed in Poland from the end of Second World War in 1945 until 1993 when they were withdrawn in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. Although officially considered Polish allies under the Warsaw Pact treaty, they were seen by most Poles as a Soviet occupation force.
The Przyszowice massacre was a massacre perpetrated by the Red Army against civilian inhabitants of the Polish village of Przyszowice in Upper Silesia during the period January 26 to January 28, 1945. Sources vary on the number of victims, which range from 54 to over 60 – and possibly as many as 69. The Institute of National Remembrance, a Polish organization that carried out research into these events, has declared that the Przyszowice massacre was a crime against humanity.
Kraków (Krakow) is one of the largest and oldest cities in Poland, with the urban population of 756,441 (2008). Situated on the Vistula river in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918, and the capital of Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1999. It is now the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.
The Kraków Uprising was a planned but never realized uprising of the Polish Resistance against the German occupation in the city of Kraków during World War II.
Katyń is a 2007 Polish film about the 1940 Katyn massacre, directed by Academy Honorary Award winner Andrzej Wajda. It is based on the book Post Mortem: The Story of Katyn by Andrzej Mularczyk. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for the 80th Academy Awards.
Marian Kamil Dziewanowski was a historian of Poland, Russia and modern Europe.
In the aftermath of the German and Soviet invasion of Poland, which took place in September 1939, the territory of Poland was divided in half between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviets had ceased to recognise the Polish state at the start of the invasion. Both regimes were hostile to the Second Polish Republic as much as to the Polish people and their culture, thus aiming at their destruction. Since 1939 German and Soviet officials coordinated their Poland-related policies and repressive actions. For nearly two years following the invasion, the two occupiers continued to discuss bilateral plans for dealing with the Polish resistance during Gestapo-NKVD Conferences until Germany's Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union, in June 1941.
As Allied troops entered and occupied German territory during the later stages of World War II, mass rapes of women took place both in connection with combat operations and during the subsequent occupation. Most Western scholars agree that the majority of the rapes were committed by Soviet servicemen, while some Russian historians maintain that these crimes were not widespread. The wartime rapes had been surrounded by decades of silence. According to Antony Beevor, whose books were banned in 2015 from some Russian schools and colleges, NKVD files have revealed that the leadership knew what was happening, but did little to stop it. Some Russian historians disagree, claiming that the Soviet leadership took some action.
German military brothels were set up by Nazi Germany during World War II throughout much of occupied Europe for the use of Wehrmacht and SS soldiers. These brothels were generally new creations, but in the West, they were sometimes set up using existing brothels as well as many other buildings. Until 1942, there were around 500 military brothels of this kind in German-occupied Europe. Often operating in confiscated hotels and guarded by the Wehrmacht, these facilities served travelling soldiers and those withdrawn from the front. According to records, at least 34,140 European women were forced to serve as prostitutes during the German occupation of their own countries along with female prisoners of concentration camp brothels. In many cases in Eastern Europe, the women involved were kidnapped on the streets of occupied cities during German military and police round ups called łapanka or rafle.
Second lieutenant Jerzy Zakulski was an attorney in interwar Poland, and World War II member of the National Armed Forces in German-occupied Poland. He was sentenced to death and executed by Stalinist officials in Soviet-controlled postwar Poland, on trumped-up charges of being an enemy spy.