Repercussions on Poland


The Second World War, organised by multinational cartels and financed by the corporate and banking elites of the City of London and Washington D.C., was the most destructive war in history of mankind and its greatest victim was the Republic of Poland. The war resulted in mass extermination of the Polish nation especially its educated class. The Soviet genocide on the Poles began in 1937, with the murder of around 100,000 Polish citizens in the eastern territories of Poland, carried out in preparation of annexation of these territories.360 In spring 1940, around 22,000 elite Polish citizens: generals, doctors, lawyers, Olympic athletes, and landowners, including 11,000 Polish military officers of various ranks and services were murdered by Beria's NKVD. By 1942, around 1,700,000 Polish citizen would deported to the Siberia and Kazakhstan. The Soviets, from the day of the Soviet aggression on September 17, 1939 until June 1941, murdered either directly or through deportation to the Soviet labour camps (Gulags) in Siberia and Kazakhstan at least 1 million of Polish citizens (including Jews, Belarussians, Lithuanians, and Czechs).361 362

As a result of concurrent German merciless extermination campaign and occupation of Poland that lasted until 1945, Poland had lost, through the combination of slave labour, executions, raids, starvation, torture, gassing and annihilation of ghettos, about 6,028,000 of its citizens which makes 22 percent of its total population, the highest ratio of losses to population of any country in Europe.363 By comparison, the Soviet Union, a conglomerate of many states, lost between 7,000,000 and 20,000,000 people, albeit the exact losses are unknown as the Soviets did not run proper accounts, and many of the deaths occurred after the war, when Russian expatriates and political opponents were murdered by NKVD or SMERSH. China lost between 15,000,000 and 20,000,000, which was less than 4% of the population of China. The United States lost about 416,000 people, Britain 368,000, France 653,000, Greece 558,000. In Poland, the Germans targetted intelligencia and leadership class. And thus the following professions were affected: 39% of medical doctors, 33% of elementary, secondary and vocational school teachers, 30% of scholars and University professors, 28% of priests, and 26% of lawyers.364 Out of 6 million about half were Polish Jews, mostly Orthodox Jews who spoke Yiddish, who were entirely annihilated by the Germans. With them evaporated the entire unique culture they represented. By the end of the 1950s fewer than 30,000 remained in Poland. The third group of Polish citizens affected were Roma people. It is estimated that out of 50,000 Roma people who lived in Poland prior to the war, at least 35,000 have been murdered by the Nazi-German. In 1946, the number of Polish citizens who survived and suffered physical or psychological damage or both resulting from German crimes, equalled 10 million 84 thousand 585 people. Also, it is estimated that as part of the Lebensborn programme, Germans kidnapped between 50-200,000 Polish children for adoption. Only between 15-20% returned to Poland after 1945. Many children ended up in German homes, forgetting their true identity, whilst those who were not considered “Aryan” were sent to the concentration camps.365 After the defeat of Germans at the battles at Stalingrad and Kursk, when the Germans began to withdraw westward and the Soviet Army crossed Poland's pre-war border in January 1944, Soviet NKVD and SMERSH started to arrest and often murder members of AK and other Polish underground formations. Between 1944 and 1948, in the course of installation of communism in Poland, an estimated 150,000 people would be arrested and imprisoned by the communist regime and between 1945 and 1956, perhaps as many as million people would pass through the dungeons of Soviet organs of oppression.366

In terms of material and cultural losses, it can be said that no Tartar or Mongol invasion of the Middle Ages had resulted in such devastation.367 The historic oldest quarters of many Polish towns and cities including historical Churches, cathedrals, monasteries, synagogues, church treasuries, shrines, palaces, city halls, castles, universities, research institutes and public premises were utterly destroyed, as the war front moved over Poland several times. Capital city Warsaw was destroyed in 85%: 25% as a result of the Warsaw Uprising, 35% as a result of systematic German demolition actions after the uprising, and the rest as a result of the earlier Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the September 1939 campaign. Poznań city was destroyed in 55% including over 90% of the Old Town. Gdańsk was destroyed in 66% including 90% of the old town. In terms of losses to Polish infrastructure and natural resources, the War Reparations Office provided the following figures: “The railways lost 84% of its property, power industry 65%, post office and telecommunications 65%, school system 60% and mining 42%. From among 30 thousand factories only 10 thousand were preserved, and even among these half of the building were destroyed and the machinery partly moved into Germany. 30% of the forests were destroyed, and the following was taken away from occupied Poland: 200 million tonnes of coal, 1 million tonnes of potassium salt, 0.5 million tonnes of iron ores, 0.1 million tonnes of phosphorites”.368 The plunder of Poland's cultural assets had been meticulously prepared in advance of German aggression. Austrian art historian and member of Osteuropa-Institut, Dagobert Frey, travelled to Poland prior to the war under cover of research study with the aim to compose a meticulous list of the most valuable collections across the country. In October 1939, after Germany's invasion of Poland, he showed up at the National Museum in Warsaw, and, with the escort of Gestapo, began to put all the paintings and treasures collected by the Polish Nation for many centuries, putting into crates, sending them to Germany. From Warsaw, Frey proceeded to Kraków looting all sorts of treasures from Wawel castle complex. He was assisted by one of the most notorious Nazi thieves, Austrian art historian and officer in SS, Kajetan Mühlmann, who worked with pro-Nazi Austrian government headed by Seyss-Inquart and who was previously responsible for the confiscation of the property of Viennese Jews.369 A significant number of valuable artefacts were stolen from Poland by the governor of the district of Kraków, a high-ranking member of SS, Otto von Wächter.370 371 372 In various periods all major exhibits of unique value have been taken away to Germany from Polish collections including: Altar by Wit Stwosz from Marian Cathedral in Kraków; The Lady with a Weasel by Leonardo da Vinci and Portrait of a Young Man by Raphael, both of which were stolen from the Czartoryski museum in Kraków, as well as Vischer tombstones from Poznań Cathedral, and the famous collection of antique vases from Głochów. Neither the Vischer tombstones nor Raphael's masterpiece nor uncountable other works of art which were looted from less known collections by Hitler's officers and civil servants ever returned to Poland. Records were destroyed, the existence of receipts denied, and traces wiped off.

The looting of art treasures continued throughout the war. In Warsaw, nearly 33,000 railway wagons filled with furniture, personal belongings, artwork and factory equipment left Warsaw before the Germans gave the order to the Brandkommandos to proceed with final demolition after the uprising in Warsaw in 1944.373 Apart from the works of art, Nazi-Germans looted or destroyed Polish municipal archives, libraries and research institutes. During the war Polish universities were often occupied by military and civil authorities, and their libraries and laboratories were pillaged. Before the war, Poland had an impressive collection of state, municipal, and ecclesiastical and private archives, mostly in Warsaw. Following Germans' invasion, the German authorities seized, dispersed, confiscated and destroyed surviving collections. It is estimated that approx. 105 out of 175 public museums survived the war, but only 33 of these were in shape to open doors to the public. The Germans confiscated some of the most treasured historical records, including seventy-four parchments of the former Polish Crown Archives. All the Archives combined lost a total of 92.8 percent of their archive store.374

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360 See Nikołaj Iwanow, Zginęli bo byli Polakami/Killed for Being Poles (Rebis, 2017) »

361 Cezary Gmyz, “IPN policzył ofiary agresji ZSSR”, Rzeczpospolita, 18 September 2009 »

362 Franciszek Proch, Poland's Way of the Cross, 1939-1945 (New York: Polish Association of Former Political Prisoners of Nazi and Soviet Concentration Camps, 1987), p. 146 »

363 Mularczyk, Polish Parliamentary Report on War Losses, September 2017, p. 28 »

364 Zbigniew Kazimierz Witek, Cultural Losses of Poland during German occupation 1939-1944. Documents from the Archives of Karol Estreicher (Cracow, 2003), p. 29 »

365 See: Anna Malinowska, Brunatna kołysanka. Historie uprowadzonych dzieci (Agora, 2017), Ewelina Karpińska-Morek i in., Teraz jesteście Niemcami. Wstrząsające zrabowanych Polskich dzieci (Wydawnictwo M , 2018) »

366 Piotrowski, Poland's Holocaust. Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947, p.61 »

367 Richard. C. Lukas, Forgotten Holocaust, p. 11 »

368 Witek, op.cit. p. 29 »

369 See: Jonathan Petropoulos, The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany (New York: Oxford University, 2000) »

370 Philippe Sands, “My father the good Nazi”, Financial Times, 3 May 2013; “Soldier spy”, Financial Times, 30 September 2018; Uki Goni, “Son of Nazi governor returns art stolen from Poland during second world war”, 26 February 2017 »

371 Roberto Almeida, “My father thought he could convince Hitler against the extermination of Jews, says Wächter's son”, Opera Mundi, 19 September 2013 »

372 Further reading (in Polish): Magdalena Ogórek: Lista Wächtera. Generał SS, który ograbił Kraków (Zona Zero 2017) »

373 Norman Davies, Europe at war, No simple victory 1939-1945 (Great Britain, 2006), p. 342 »

374 Richard. C. Lukas; Forgotten Holocaust, p. 11 »