Wawer massacre

Last updated
Antoni Bartoszek hanged by the Germans near the entrance to his restaurant at Wawer 27 December 1939 Antoni Bartoszek zbrodnia w Wawrze 1939.jpg
Antoni Bartoszek hanged by the Germans near the entrance to his restaurant at Wawer 27 December 1939
Massacre in Wawer 1939 Egzekucja w Wawrze.jpg
Massacre in Wawer 1939
The War Cemetery commemorating 107 victims of the Wawer massacre, committed by German police in German-occupied Poland on 27 December 1939 in Warsaw The Wawer massacre Warsaw 1939 1.jpg
The War Cemetery commemorating 107 victims of the Wawer massacre, committed by German police in German-occupied Poland on 27 December 1939 in Warsaw

The Wawer massacre refers to the execution of 107 Polish civilians on the night of 26 to 27 December 1939 by the Nazi German occupiers of Wawer (near Warsaw), Poland. The execution was a response to the deaths of two German NCOs. 120 people were arrested and 114 shot, of whom 7 survived.

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

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.

Wawer Warsaw District in Masovian, Poland

Wawer is one of the districts of Warsaw, located in the south-eastern part of the city. The Vistula river runs along its western border. Wawer became a district of Warsaw on October 27, 2002.


It is considered to be one of the first large scale massacres of Polish civilians by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland.


Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Poland in September 1939. From the start, the war against Poland was intended to be the fulfilment of a plan described by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf . The main gist of the plan was for all of Eastern Europe to become part of a Greater Germany, the German Lebensraum ("living space").

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

<i>Mein Kampf</i> Autobiographical manifesto by Adolf Hitler

Mein Kampf is a 1925 autobiographical book by Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler. The work describes the process by which Hitler became antisemitic and outlines his political ideology and future plans for Germany. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926. The book was edited firstly by Emil Maurice, then by Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess.

Eastern Europe eastern part of the European continent

Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent. There is no consensus on the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic connotations. There are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region". A related United Nations paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and cultural construct". One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural entity: the region lying in Europe with the main characteristics consisting of Greek, Byzantine, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, and some Ottoman culture influences. Another definition was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. The majority of historians and social scientists view such definitions as outdated or relegated, but they are still sometimes used for statistical purposes.

On the evening of 26 December, two known Polish criminals, Marian Prasuła and Stanisław Dąbek, killed two German non-commissioned officers from Baubataillon 538. [1] [2] After learning of it, the acting commander of the Ordnungspolizei in Warsaw, colonel Max Daume [3] ordered an immediate reprisal, consisting of a series of arrests of random Polish males, aged 16 to 70, found in the region where the killings occurred (in Wawer and the neighboring Anin villages). [1] [4]

<i>Ordnungspolizei</i> 1936-1945 uniformed police force of Germany

The Ordnungspolizei, abbreviated Orpo, were the uniformed police force in Nazi Germany between 1936 and 1945. The Orpo organisation was absorbed into the Nazi monopoly on power after regional police jurisdiction was removed in favour of the central Nazi government. The Orpo was under the administration of the Interior Ministry, but led by members of the Schutzstaffel (SS) until the end of World War II. Owing to their green uniforms, Orpo were also referred to as Grüne Polizei. The force was first established as a centralised organisation uniting the municipal, city, and rural uniformed police that had been organised on a state-by-state basis.


After a kangaroo court presided over by Major General Friedrich Wilhelm Wenzl, 114 of the 120 people arrested - who had no knowledge of the recent killings, many of whom were roused from their beds - were sentenced to death. [1] They were not given the opportunity to plead their case. [1] Of the 114, one managed to escape, 7 were shot but not killed and managed to escape later, and 107 were shot dead. [1] [2] [4] The dead included one professional military officer, one journalist, two Polish-American citizens and a 12-year-old boy. [1] [5] Some of the executed were not locals, but merely visiting their families for Christmas. [1]

Kangaroo court

A kangaroo court is a court that ignores recognized standards of law or justice, and often carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides. The term may also apply to a court held by a legitimate judicial authority who intentionally disregards the court's legal or ethical obligations. The defendants in such courts are often denied access to legal representation and in some cases, proper defence.

Christmas holiday originating in Christianity, usually celebrated on December 25 (in the Gregorian or Julian calendars)

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ observed on December 25. as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.


It was one of the earliest massacres (probably the second, after the Bochnia massacre of 52 civilians on December 18) to occur in occupied Poland. It was also one of the first instances of the large scale implementation by Germany of the doctrine of collective responsibility in the General Government in Poland since the end of the invasion in September. [4] [6] [7]

Massacre incident where some group is killed by another

A massacre is a killing, typically of multiple victims, considered morally unacceptable, especially when perpetrated by a group of political actors against defenseless victims. The word is a loan of a French term for "butchery" or "carnage".

Collective responsibility refers to responsibilities of organizations, groups and societies. Part of it is the concept known as collective guilt by which individuals who are part of such collectives to be responsible for other people's actions and occurrences by tolerating, ignoring, or harboring them, without actively engaging.

General Government German-occupied zone in Poland in World War II

The General Government, also referred to as the General Governorate for the occupied Polish Region, 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.

Kotwica. Kotwica symbol.svg

Soon after the massacre, a Polish youth resistance organization, "Wawer", was created. [1] It was part of the Szare Szeregi (the underground Polish Scouting Association), and its first act was to create a series of graffiti in Warsaw around the Christmas of 1940, commemorating the massacre. [1] [2] [6] Members of the AK Wawer "Small Sabotage" unit painted "Pomścimy Wawer" ("We'll avenge Wawer") on Warsaw walls. At first they painted the whole text, then to save time they shortened it to two letters, P and W. Later they invented Kotwica -"Anchor" - the symbol, a combination of these 2 letters, was easy and fast to paint. Next kotwica gained more meanings - Polska Walcząca ("Fighting Poland") . It also stands for Wojsko Polskie ("Polish Army") and Powstanie Warszawskie ("Warsaw Uprising"). Finally "Kotwica" became a patriotic symbol of defiance against the occupiers and was painted on building walls everywhere.

On 3 March 1947, the Polish Supreme National Tribunal for the Trial of War Criminals (Najwyższy Trybunał Narodowy) sentenced Max Daume to death. [1] Wilhelm Wenzel was extradited to Poland by the Soviets in 1950 and executed in November 1951. [1]

There is now a monument in Wawer commemorating the massacre.

See also

Related Research Articles

War crimes in occupied Poland during World War II Nazi and Soviet war crimes in Poland

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.

Roundup (history) Nazi German tactic of selectively capturing civilians in occupied territory

A roundup was a widespread German World War II security and economic exploitation tactic used in occupied countries, especially in German-occupied Poland, whereby the SS, Wehrmacht and German police took captive at random thousands of civilians on the streets of subjugated cities. The civilians were captured in groups of unsuspecting passers-by, or kidnapped from selected city quarters that had been surrounded in advance by German forces.


The Kotwica was a World War II emblem of the Polish Underground State and Armia Krajowa. It was created in 1942 by members of the AK Wawer Minor sabotage unit, as an easily usable emblem for the Polish struggle to regain independence. The initial meaning of the initials PW was Pomścimy Wawer. This was a reference to the Wawer massacre, which was considered to be one of the first large scale massacres of Polish civilians by German troops in occupied Poland.

Gray Ranks codename for the underground paramilitary Polish Scouting Association during World War II.

"Gray Ranks" was a codename for the underground paramilitary Polish Scouting Association during World War II.

German <i>AB-Aktion</i> in Poland

The AB-Aktion, was a second stage of the Nazi German campaign of violence during World War II aimed to eliminate the intellectuals and the upper classes of Polish society across the territories slated for eventual annexation. Most of the killings were arranged in a form of mass disappearances from multiple cities and towns upon the German arrival. In the spring and summer of 1940, more than 30,000 Poles were arrested by the Nazi authorities in German-occupied central Poland. About 7,000 of them including community leaders, professors, teachers and priests were subsequently massacred secretly at various locations including at the Palmiry forest complex near Palmiry. The others were sent to German concentration camps.

Jan Bytnar Polish anti-Nazi resistance fighter

Jan Roman Bytnar, nom de guerre "Rudy" (ginger) was a Polish scoutmaster, a member of Polish scouting anti-Nazi resistance, and a lieutenant in the Home Army during the Second World War.

Franz Kutschera austrian policeman and war criminal

Franz Kutschera was an Austrian Nazi politician and government official. He held numerous political and security positions with the Nazi Party and the Schutzstaffel (SS) both before and after the German Anschluss of Austria in 1938. During World War II he served with the SS in France, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.

Polish resistance movement in World War II Combatant organizations opposed to Nazi Germany

The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Polish Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance movement in all of occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish resistance is most notable for disrupting German supply lines to the Eastern Front, providing military intelligence to the British, and for saving more Jewish lives in the Holocaust than any other Western Allied organization or government. It was a part of the Polish Underground State.

Nazi crimes against the Polish nation

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 extermination through labor, as well as the 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.

Błonie Place in Masovian, Poland

Błonie is a town in Warsaw West County, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland, with 12,191 inhabitants (2004).

Polish culture during World War II

Polish culture during World War II was suppressed by the occupying powers of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, both of whom were hostile to Poland's people and cultural heritage. Policies aimed at cultural genocide resulted in the deaths of thousands of scholars and artists, and the theft and destruction of innumerable cultural artifacts. The "maltreatment of the Poles was one of many ways in which the Nazi and Soviet regimes had grown to resemble one another", wrote British historian Niall Ferguson.

Destruction of Warsaw plans by Nazi Germany

The destruction of Warsaw was Nazi Germany's substantially-effected razing of the city after the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. The uprising had infuriated German leaders, who decided to make an example of the city, which they had long since selected for major reconstruction as part of their planned Germanization of Central Europe.

Ochota massacre

The Ochota Massacre was a wave of German-orchestrated mass murder, looting, arson, torture and rape, which swept through the Warsaw district of Ochota from 4–25 August 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising. The principal perpetrators of these war crimes were the Nazi collaborationist S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A., the so-called "Russian National Liberation Army", commanded by Bronislav Kaminski.

Zamość uprising

The Zamość uprising comprised World War II partisan operations, 1942–1944, by the Polish resistance against Germany's Generalplan-Ost forced expulsion of Poles from the Zamość region (Zamojszczyzna) and the region's colonization by German settlers.

Minor sabotage

A minor sabotage during World War II in Nazi-occupied Poland (1939–45) was any underground resistance operation that involved a disruptive but relatively minor and non-violent form of defiance, such as the painting of graffiti, the manufacture of fake documents, the disrupting of German propaganda campaigns, and the like. Minor-sabotage operations often involved elements of humor.

The Supreme National Tribunal was a war crime tribunal active in Poland from 1946 to 1948. The Tribunal aims and purpose were defined by the State National Council in the Decrees of 22 January and 17 October 1946 and 11 April 1947. The new law was based on the earlier Decree of 31 August 1944 issued by the new Polish pro-Soviet government, with jurisdiction over fascist-hitlerite criminals and traitors to the Polish nation. The tribunal presided over seven high-profile cases.


Intelligenzaktion was a secret mass murder conducted by Nazi Germany against the Polish intelligentsia early in the Second World War (1939–45). The operations were conducted to realise the Germanization of the western regions of occupied Poland, before territorial annexation to the German Reich.

Operation Heads was the code name for a series of assassinations of Nazi officials by the World War II Polish Resistance. Those targeted for assassination had been sentenced to death by Polish Underground Special Courts for crimes against Polish citizens during the World War II German occupation of Poland. The operation's code name, literally "Operation Little Heads", was a sardonic reference to the Totenkopf insignia on Nazi German SS uniforms and headgear.

World War II casualties of Poland

Approximately six million Polish citizens perished during World War II: about one fifth of the pre-war population. Most were civilian victims of the war crimes and crimes against humanity during the occupation by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Statistics for Polish World War II casualties are divergent and contradictory. This article provides a summarization of these estimates of Poland's human losses in the war and their causes.

Palmiry massacre a series of mass executions carried out by Nazi German forces, during the Second World War, near the village of Palmiry in the Kampinos Forest, located northwest of Warsaw.

The Palmiry massacre was a series of mass executions carried out by Nazi German forces, during World War II, near the village of Palmiry in the Kampinos Forest northwest of Warsaw.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 (in Polish) Zbrodnia w Wawrze
  2. 1 2 3 (in English) Tadeusz Piotrowski (1997). Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide... McFarland & Company. pp.  p. 25. ISBN   0-7864-0371-3.
  3. see pl:Max Daume
  4. 1 2 3 Jerzy Jan Lerski, Piotr Wróbel, Richard J. Kozicki, Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996, ISBN   0-313-26007-9, Google Print, p.645
  5. Martin Gilbert, The Second World War: A Complete History, Macmillan, 2004, ISBN   0-8050-7623-9, Google Print, p.36
  6. 1 2 (in Polish) Czesław Michalski, Wojna warszawsko-niemiecka, Czytelnik, Warszawa 1974, as cited by Barbara Szpinda, 1999 - 60. ROCZNICA ... , 1999
  7. Bernd Wegner, From Peace to War: Germany, Soviet Russia, and the World, 1939-1941, Berghahn Books, 1997, ISBN   1-57181-882-0, Google Print, p.54

Further reading

Coordinates: 52°14′02″N21°09′33″E / 52.23389°N 21.15917°E / 52.23389; 21.15917