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NaziGerman Genocide of Poles and Jews in the German-Occupied, Reich-Annexed Poznan Area(Warthegau)

jan peczkis|Thursday, August 8, 2013

Arthur Greiser, in his younger years, was aMason. (p. 41). Later, the Nazis denounced Freemasonry as a tool of the Jews.(p. 42). Ironically, German Freemasonry (and as confirmed by Polish authors)was long pro-German, as pointed out by the author, "While Free Masonry wassupposedly apolitical, in Germany it tended toward conservatism. In the 1920's,most lodges espoused strong VOLKISCH and anti-democratic views." (p. 42).

 

The anti-Christian aspects of Nazi thinking areoften unappreciated. (p. 49, 102, 143, 156, 194, 221). In fact, Greiser'santi-church policy was very systematic, and not only directed at PolishCatholicism, but Christianity in general as a threatening alternative toNazism, and often framed in terms of "separation of church andstate". (pp. 221-230). (Sound familiar?)

It is obvious for what the Nazis are mostremembered. Epstein quips, "We live in an era obsessed with the Holocaustand other cases of ethnic cleansing and genocide." (p. 11). Analyzingseveral Holocaust scholars, she supports a functionalist approach to theHolocaust. The Nazi decision to murder most European Jews did not come until aslate as December 1941. (p. 389). She realizes that the methods for implementingthe Holocaust came BOTH from top-down and local policies. The latter explainswhy Jews were shot in some locations and gassed in others, placed in ghettos insome places but not others, and spared for forced labor in some places but notothers. (pp. 181-182).

As for Grieser's postwar trial, Epstein repeatsthe familiar complaint that the Holocaust was subsumed under "crimesagainst the Polish people", although it did not ignore Holocaust crimes.(p. 317). In doing so, she forgets that the treatment of Jewish deaths assomething special was not generally accepted until some twenty years afterWWII.

In the Warthegau itself, German policies againstPoles and Jews were interconnected, and often contradictory. This owed tounexpected consequences of their implementation, such as the disruption ofproductive wartime labor by the German social policies against both Poles andJews. (p. 266). Interestingly, the Germans saw Poles (and not only Jews) asfundamentally rude, shifty, and deceitful. (p. 195).

Unfortunately, author Catherine Epstein repeatsthe myth of BLUT SONNTAG (Bloody Sunday) at Bydgoszcz (Bromberg) in 1939. Forcorrection, please click on, and read the detailed Peczkis review, of Dywersja niemiecka i zbrodniehitlerowskie w Bydgoszczy na tle wydarzen w dniu 3 IX 1939 (Polish and GermanEdition). Meanwhile, theso-called Ethnic German Self-Defense Force murdered about 10,000 Poles, mostlyin the Warthegau. (p. 132).

Polish resistance to German rule enjoyed somesuccesses, but was repressed by the massive German presence. (pp. 206-207).More passive forms of Polish resistance included the torching of the barns ofthose farmsteads confiscated from the Poles and given to German settlers. (pp.172-173).

Some Holocaust-uniqueness proponents haveadvanced the fallacious argument that, whereas the Jews could do nothing tochange their standing in the eyes of the Nazis, the Poles could redeemthemselves by undergoing Germanization. In actually, when the Germans thoughtof Germanizing Polish lands, they were not thinking in terms of transformingPoles into Germans, but of replacing Poles with ethnic Germans. (p. 129, 161,195). During WWII, nearly 537,000 Germans were settled into the Warthegau. (p.174).

Any "Germanization" of Poles was anact of recovering German blood (that is, re-Germanization of PolonizedGermans), not a mercy to Poles. In addition, less than 0.5 percent of WarthegauPoles qualified--merely 17,234 out of 4.2 million Warthegau Polestotal--compared further with the 700,000 Warthegau Poles deported. (p. 178,192).

Epstein discusses the Warthegau DVL(VOLKSLISTE). Although beset with contradictions and practical difficulties, itgenerally followed this scheme: People of ethnic German ancestry were typifiedas: Pre-WWII strongly self-identified Germans (Type A), those weaklyself-identified as Germans (Type B), largely Polonized but still deemedracially valuable (Type C), completely Polonized but not known to be hostile toGermanism (Type D), completely Polonized and hostile to Germanism (Type E;designated in Lodz only). Of the five types, only (A)-(C) obtained Reichcitizenship. (pp. 195-197). In other areas of German-occupied Poland, asomewhat different system, using types I-IV, was used. (pp. 208-214). Amongother things, it facilitated the drafting of Poles into the Wehrmacht. (p.214).

Initial plans to expel all the Poles fromReich-annexed territories foundered in time. This owed to wartime difficultiesas well as the need for Polish forced laborers. (p. 195). Instead, the Germanauthorities imposed a strict segregation of Poles from Germans. For instance,both Poles and Germans were punished for sexual relations between them. (p.198, 207).

Unlike the Jews who were forced to wear theStar, the Poles were not forced to wear identification (such as the "P),because this would only highlight their numerical abundance. (p. 197).Ironically, it was the local Germans who had to provide identification of beingGerman--a procedure that they commonly resented. (p. 197).

Interestingly, some Poles were effectivelyplaced in ghettos. Over 194,000 were locked in large camps, where they livedunder very harsh conditions. (p. 177).

Some 10,000 Poles were murdered by the Germans,in the Warthegau area, in just the first several weeks of 1939 German rule. Infact, Greiser then told Goebbels that there is little left of the Polishintelligentsia. (p. 130). Later, Greiser had tens of thousands more Polesmurdered. (p. 206, 266).

The Germans imposed cultural genocide on thePoles. They systematically gave German names to everything in an effort toerase all visible traces of Polish-ness. (pp. 261-262). They confiscated ordestroyed Polish books, art, monuments, etc. (p. 235). The German authoritiesforbade Poles from attending museums, libraries, theaters, and concert halls.(p. 199). They virtually eliminated the use of the Polish language in publiclife. (pp. 200-201). The Germans closed schools to Poles, and then reopenedthem for Poles only at the elementary level, without any Polish academiccontent, and bereft of Polish teachers in favor of untrained German ones. (p.201).

Although, owing to wartime developments, theGermans were unable to conduct systematic extermination of the Poles, theyopted instead for passive forms of biological genocide. Author Epsteinrecognizes the fact that the Germans made policies deliberately designed tolower the Polish birth rate. (p. 215). This included the imposition of a highminimum age for marriage, discouraging marriages under various pretexts, taxingillegitimate births, refusing child subsidies or tax breaks for multiplechildbearing, allowing abortions freely, and confiscating children from Polishmothers engaged in forced labor in the Reich. (pp. 215-21). The Germansarranged for Poles to be able to buy only low-quality food--which recognizablyreduced Polish health and vigor. (pp. 199-200). To facilitate early "natural"deaths, the Germans generally deprived the Poles of pensions. (p. 201).

GENERALPLAN OST called for the eventualdeportation and/or extermination of tens of millions of Slavs over atwenty-year period. (p. 161). Epstein realizes that, notwithstanding thefantastic aspects of GENERALPLAN OST, German exterminatory plans for non-Jewswere very real. She comments, "Had the Nazis triumphed in World War II,the Third Reich would have seen a wholesale slaughter of many non-Germanpeoples." (p. 12).   Here is my review, recently appearing at Amazon. Those who want to place the Holocaust above the genocide of Poles argue that the Holocaust was special in several ways. Most if not all of these arguments turn out to be false. Review of JewishForced Labor Under the Nazis: Economic Needs and Racial Aims, 1938-1944, byWolf Gruner. 2008. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.
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