The Overall Situation in the Country
A. The territories incorporated into the Third Reich
While describing the overall situation in the country, I have to refer to the report that I wrote with Mr.-, towards the end of December of 1939. […] It was entitled “The Overall Situation in the Country,” (or something similar) and sent to Minister Zaleski by Mr.- by diplomatic mail. The report's scope was the situation in 1) the [General] Government, 2)the territories incorporated into the Third Reich, 3) The territories taken over by the Soviet Union and 4) in Vilnius. It described the political, economic and social situation. And even though it was written in the span of one night, it contained a lot of information previously unknown by the government. It would be useful if this report could be read along with that one. In this report I will not use a plan our outline prepared beforehand, I will simply recount loose facts, events, moods which could contribute to an overall view of the situation. On the other hand, I will not repeat the details that I have found are already known to the emigrant community.
The cities' outside appearance
The territories incorporated into the Third Reich
These territories have been entirely “returned” to the Reich. The entire administration, economy, political and social spheres, the [cities'] outside appearance, the press, as well as city, street and village names, the general pervasiveness of the German language – everything has been adapted and incorporated into the rest of the Reich with astonishing speed, accuracy and regularity.
I know Germany – I spent a few years there in 1935. These [incorporated] territories, cities, villages are on the outside, technically and apparently, no different, absolutely no different, from the proper German territories.
I was in Lodz in November.
Typical and neat German town.
It's not only that all streets, shops, offices etc. have only German names; not only that Lodz is flooded with German flags, slogans, posters; not only that stupendous, massive portraits of Nazi dignitaries stare down from the windows and walls of homes; nor that hundreds of German newspapers, brochures, books are lying around nearly everywhere. What's most disturbing is that absolutely everywhere, you hear only and exclusively the German language.
He who does not speak German is silent.... If someone in line for bread, fuel or potatoes dares to speak Polish aloud, he runs the risk of being thrown to the end of the line, or not being served at all.
If someone dares to speak Polish out loud on the street he can be instantly slapped, bothered or beaten up. Same goes for not getting out of a German's way, for “not” showing appropriate courtesy, for not respecting a “German” soldier, for acting overly confident.
This results in Polish families where no one speaks German “borrowing” someone who does speak the language from the neighbors in order to “maintain contact” with the outside world – i.e. stores or authorities.
The German mentality
Germans, with all their brutality, unprecedented in history, have established the following rules on these territories:
a) These lands are ethnically German and were Polish only temporarily;
b) These lands have to become entirely German once again;
c) The Poles have to be punished for having this land for a certain time;
d) Making these lands German again has to be done with the methods of men i.e. with force, ruthlessness “with iron” [with arms], without mercy.
Everybody needs to be aware of this - that the Germans are not using these horrific methods out of necessity. It is a result of ideology - the cult of masculinity i.e. brutality, force, lack of compassion, a belief in their superiority in relation to other nations.
One of my friends is a translator into German for the local authorities. He became close with a 25 year-old German officer, with a higher education, privately an honest man with convictions. This friend of mine pointed out in one of their conversations that the German methods, due to their severity, are not necessarily effective, that they would give better results for the Germans if they were gentler, more humane.
The German's response was somewhat like this:
"You do not understand us, like anyone who is not a German and who doesn't have Him (Hitler) in their heart. We use our methods - German, virile methods…. Not just because they are effective, but also because they rejuvenate us, they make us men, they make us aware of our position as the nation of the superiors.... Conquering the Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ukrainians, the French and these... English (a long chain of the dirtiest curses) is not just a goal in the literal sense of the word. That wouldn't be manly, it would be too mercenary, materialistic. The Czechs, Slovaks, Poles etc. offer us a chance to be reborn, to become the grand, old, barbaric, forceful Germany-- free of the smallness and weakness of soft cultures and Jewish Christianity.
In order to know us and to understand us don't limit yourselves to looking for material purpose, notice the spiritual purpose – and then you will be closer to understanding His (Hitler's) superhuman and godly nature. It won't be long when the world will be divided into Him (Hitler), the Germans, and the rest of the world.
Then humanity will find its normal and natural boundaries of life and development. That's when it will find its natural and destined happiness, of which it is now scared, not realizing that it is equally inevitable and only natural."
That's how the majority of the German youth thinks, with minor exceptions dependent on their degree of education, experience or level of initiation. Thus it cannot be surprising that the thugs currently on Polish soil that are the most cruel, ruthless, merciless are Hitler's young followers.
The older generation, whose members recall the times of the Great War, as well as the Austrians, are relatively gentler and more understanding.
These German attitudes and moods are the reason for unbelievable persecution of the Polish population – I will give some examples.
In the majority of the incorporated territories, Poles can buy groceries and clothing only during very limited and most inconvenient hours, so that the local German population can run their errands without the unpleasantness of running into Poles.
Further, Poles are obliged to make way and pay their respects to anyone who can be German, judging by their attire or other signs. They have to take their hats off before German soldiers.
In one of the incorporated cities a statement was issued saying that if a German reports that he was accosted by a Polish woman she is to be immediately, without questioning, put in a brothel. The fact that this report can be one-sided is a basis for far-reaching abuse. In practice, any German whose advances are refused by a Polish woman can use this regulation against her.
Polish children without parents, without “appropriate” care, loitering around, are placed in schools and under German care to be raised as Germans. Any ties with their parents, relatives or other Poles are completely severed.
The Volksdeutsche mentality
The following facts, confirmed and indubitable, illustrate the mood in the incorporated lands.
One of my friends got married four years ago in Lodz to a girl of whom it was known that she had some sort of distant German lineage. She saw herself as a Pole, she was a teacher in a Polish school. […]
They lived in Lodz and in 1937 they had a child. After the Germans took over Lodz, one day my friend came back home and to his horror he found that all the windows were plastered with swastikas and Hitler's portrait was in the salon. He told his wife that even though the situation was difficult, they shouldn't be taking such extreme precautions, because they were embarrassing themselves in front of the neighbors, relatives and other Poles. He emphasized that the current situation would not last forever, and that you can't cut yourself off from everything Polish so decisively.
He got an answer that astounded him, and the stupor hadn't left him when I was leaving the country.
The reply was the following:
“When I married you I was not aware of who I was. I was as if in a coma. Now when the Germans have come, when I saw them, I have awoken. I am German. Everything in me is German. I am finally myself.
I don't love you anymore and I will never be able to be with you. I will never forgive myself and I won't stop repenting for falling so low - marrying a Pole while I was part of the German nation. I will never forgive myself that my child will have Polish blood.
I wrote a letter to the Fuhrer, (!) I described my life in the letter and I begged for forgiveness, for mercy. I said that I will do anything to erase my shame. Until I get a reply my heart will be dead. If he condemns me, I will die.
Now leave me forever, leave me and forget. If you try to convince me, or if you decide to stay I will call the German police for help.”
I emphasize that this fact is true.
The local Germans
The local Germans, almost without exception, betray the Polish state and nation. They are betraying all the [Polish] secrets, incriminating Poles, creating local militias. They are usually merciless toward the Poles, former acquaintances, friends, neighbors. They put them in danger with their testimonies. They are certain that these territories will never go back to Poland. This part of firmly German society is convinced that the Germans will win the war (although this isn't the case with the German youth). They are actively participating in creating a list of Polish families to be resettled to the General Government.
Resettlement of the Polish population
Conditions of resettlement: horrible, inhuman. I have a feeling the Government is aware of this.
Members of my family were forced to move out of Lodz, Zdunska Wola and Cieszyn. It is forbidden to take along more than 20 kilograms (sometimes less) of food and clothing. A time limit is set for moving out of the apartment or house: two hours. So systematic are the Germans, that a Gestapo officer instructed my aunt in Zdunska Wola that "the two hours are measured not from the time I arrive but from the time I receive my orders." Almost all the Poles living in the incorporated territories have bundles with the appropriate weight prepared, because they are ready for the resettlement decision to come at any moment. In Lodz, the Gestapo advised my uncle to leave a vase full of flowers "or something of the kind" on the table as a sign that he was leaving peacefully.
In such a cases, every member of the household gets 10 Reich Marks for “getting settled.”After two hours a truck comes by the house, takes the family to the train station [where they get on] cars meant for cattle, with no heating. Throughout the entire transport the trains are usually closed, and sometimes they do not have a roof.
The transports, often containing several thousand people, take three to five days and nights in horrible conditions. The transported are thrown out in the General Government, in a small town or in the middle of nowhere.
They have organized special motorized divisions of the Gestapo, exclusively for resettlement purposes. By the seaside, in Pomerania, Baltic Germans from Estonia, Latvia come to take the place of the resettled Poles.
Usually these Germans are unhappy, resentful, even miserable. They are usually resettled by force. They are often hostile toward the resettled Poles. There are occasional incidents of humane treatment, however.
That was the case of one of my friends who was resettled from his home near Gdynia. He left his address to the new owners. A few days later he got a letter from them. In this letter, they wrote up the entire inventory of the place, complete with sheets, kitchen utensils, paintings, furniture. Every item had a number. The new owners asked whether they had included everything in the inventory, and assured him that none of the items on that list would be lost, and that the old owners would get everything back if the “conditions changed and they did come back.” In return they asked for 1) discretion, 2) an understanding that they had been coerced, 3) humane treatment in the future.
It seems that the Germans want to destroy the Polish spirit […] In all the shops, factories, stores, schools, learning German is mandatory. Polish schools have been closed. Polish teachers have been arrested or deported. Subjects such as history and geography received new textbooks astonishingly fast. […] In Polish schools (those that haven't been closed) new mandatory subjects have been introduced, such as nationalist-socialist ideology, the history and mission of Germanhood, the future of Germanhood, the future of the world, etc. During these lessons everything that does not concern the greatness of Germany is falsified in an astonishing way, breaching the rules of truth, common sense and logic:
All of the Piasts [the first Polish royal dynasty] were of German descent, they were German culturally. Bolesław the Great [Chrobry, the first Polish king] was German, which is proved sufficiently by the fact that he was brave, wise, manly, thus he couldn't have been a Pole. [...]
[eighth page, third paragraph from end]As a result of these pressures, anxieties and humiliations, Poles are unbelievably depressed, fearful and despairing. There is an incredible degree of hatred toward the Germans. The common people believe that the Antichrist has descended on earth.... Everybody believes that to give in to this fate would mean inevitable death.
Everyone believes that the stakes are the life or death of the entire Nation. Most believe in the inevitable German failure. The desire for revenge is so widespread that it exceeds common sense.
ITALICS – COURTESY OF TOM WOOD