The German New Order In Poland

We were in England during the school vacation and while there visited a second-hand bookshop in Somerset where I found and bought a copy of the book – ‘The German New Order In Poland’. It was published by the Polish Ministry of Information in London in 1942.

This week I’ve finally found the time to read it. It’s both fascinating and frightening. Basically an account of the early part of the German occupation of Poland (September 1939 through to the end of June 1941.

Here’s an excerpt taken from the introduction to the book:

In accordance with the German-Soviet Pact of September 28, 1939, the Republic of Poland was partitioned as follows:

Out of the entire territory of 152,226 square miles, with a population (all population figures given in this section are valid as of the outbreak of war) of 35,340,000, some 73,676 square miles, with a population of some 22,250,000 were taken over by the Germans,and some 78,550 square miles, with a population of some 13,090,000, came under Soviet occupation.

The territories occupied by the Germans are much more densely populated, which explains the fact that the total number of inhabitants is considerably greater in this area than in that under Soviet occupation.

From the beginning, the German-occupied territories were divided into two parts almost equal in extent.

1. The territories of Western and a considerable part of Central and Southern Poland, which, in accordance with the decree of October 8, 1939, published in the German Law Journal (Reichsgesetzblatt) but contrary to all principles of international law, were ‘incorporated’ within the German Reich on October 26, 1939. These territories amount to some 36,117 square miles, with a population of some 10,740,000 people.

2. The remainder of the German-occupied territory, including the cities of Warsaw, Krakow and Lublin, is called the ‘General Government’. This area is some 37,320 square miles in extent, and has a population of some 11,485,000 people. The area was originally intended by the Germans to form a kind of protectorate. Originally it was called the ‘General Government of the occupied Polish areas’ (General Gouvernement der besetzten polnischen Gebiete) so that the emphasis was laid on the “occupation” as distinct from the “incorporation” of the other area. On August 18, 1940, this terminology was changed; thenceforth this area is called only “General Gouvernement” or “General Gouvernement des Deutschen Reichs” in official acts, and the reference to ‘occupied Polish area’ is omitted.

The German press interprets this change to mean that the ‘General Government’ has also become a part of the ‘Greater German Reich’. In a word, here we have a further cynical violation of international law.

Despite this new ‘incorporation’, a distinction continues to be made in the treatment of the two sections of the Polish territory under German occupation. Therefore in this book, for the sake of simplification, we use the term ‘incorporated areas’ for that part of the German-occupied areas which was annexed to the Reich on October 26, 1939, and ‘General Government’ for the rest.

It has to be added that a scrap of territory in the south of Poland (in the neighbourhood of the Tatra mountains), some 239 square miles with a population of some 25,000, was given by the Germans to the ‘Slovak State’, which is under the “protection” of the Third Reich.

From the beginning the German terror was most intense in the areas incorporated within the Reich.

The regions involved are those which Prussia had forcibly seized at various times and which in the years 1918 to 1920 returned to the Polish Republic, namely Poznania, Pomerania and Silesia. The rest of the incorporated areas consists of the provinces of central and southern Poland, which before the 1914-18 war were part of Russia and Austria-Hungary, with the towns of Lodz (the second largest city in Poland), Suwalki, Ciechanow, Wloclawek, Plock, Kalisz, Sosnowiec, Dabrowa, Gornicza, Cieszyn, Bielsko, Biala, Zywiec and Wadowice. The frontiers of the “incorporated” area run barely twenty miles from the capital of Poland, Warsaw.

In extent the ‘incorporated’ area comprises 23.7 per cent of the total territory of the Polish State, and in regard to population 30.4 per cent. It is land which has been purely Polish for many centuries. At the outbreak of war the Germans comprised barely six per cent of the total population.

Of these provinces those of Poznania, Pomerania and Silesia were socially and economically the most developed areas in Poland. Historically, these provinces were the cradle of the Polish people and State. Estimates in 1939 gave the Polish section of the population as amounting to 92 per cent in Poznania, 91 per cent in Pomerania, and 93 per cent in Silesia. In Poznan, the capital of Western Poland, the Poles comprised 97 per cent of the inhabitants, and a similar percentage obtained in almost all the other towns. In Gdynia the Poles made up 99 per cent of the population, in Torun 96 per cent, and in Bydgoszcz 93 per cent.

All official and unofficial German statistics dating from both before and after the 1914-18 war revealed the existence of an overwhelming Polish majority in all the provinces in question.

The Polish people of Poznania, Pomerania and Silesia were always distinguished by their high sense of civic responsibility. They were admirably organized in the economic sphere, and were fully aware of the danger threatening Poland from Germany. Fate had charged this people with the duty of guarding two essential elements of the political and economic independence of the Polish State, namely, access to the sea and the mineral wealth of Silesia.

And this was the people against whom the German occupants applied the most brutal system of extermination. The main feature of this system was the mass expulsion of the Poles from their age-old homes, with complete confiscation of their real and movable property. The leaders of the Third Reich foretell that in a few years the Polish character of these areas will be completely destroyed.

For administration purposes two new provinces of the Reich (Reichsgau) were created from the ‘incorporated’ areas.

The Reichsgau Wartheland (abbreviated to Warthegau) comprises Poznania and the adjacent territory of central Poland as far as the Vistula on the north-east, with the towns of Poznan, Lodz, Inowroclaw, Leszno, Ostrow, Kalisz and Wloclawek. The Gauleiter, Herr Greiser, the former President of the Senate of the Free City of Danzig, has his residence at Poznan.

The Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen consists of Polish Pomerania, the Free City of Danzig and adjacent German counties; in addition to Danzig it includes the towns of Gdynia, Bydgoszcz, Grudziadz, Torun, Lipno and Rypin. The Gauleiter is the former Gauleiter of the Free City of Danzig, Forster.

The northern part of central Poland with the towns of Ciechanow, Plock and others was incorporated with Eastern Prussia (Gau Ostpreussen) as a separate administrative area (Regierungsbezirk) with its administrative centre at the town of Ciechanow (renamed Zichenau by the Germans).

The northern scrap of Polish territory with the towns of Suwalki and Augustow, which was cut off from the rest of the German-occupied area by a strip of territory under Soviet occupation, was also incorporated with Eastern Prussia.

The Polish Upper Silesia, the district of Cieszyn (called Cieszyn Silesia) and the adjoining part of the province of Cracow have been incorporated to the Gau Oberschlesien and form now the Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz. This Bezirk covers the whole of the Polish coal-field.

In area the ‘General Government’ comprises barely 23.7 per cent of the Polish State, and in population 32.5 per cent.

It is divided into four districts: Cracow, Warsaw, Lublin and Radom, each possessing their own governors. The head of the administration is the Governor-General, Dr. Frank, former Minister of Justice in the Third Reich, who now resides in the ancient castle of the Polish Kings, the Wawel, at Krakow.

The territory of the ‘General Government’, an area smaller than Bulgaria (which has six million inhabitants) has been destined by Hitler to become the home (Heimstatte) of 15-16 million Poles and two million Jews; here all the great masses of population deported from the “incorporated” territories are to find accommodation. To realise all the barbaric absurdity of this conception it need be only stated that the area greatly overpopulated before 1939, was deliberately ravaged by the Germans during war operations and the occupation, and is an economic monstrosity; it is not only cut off from access to the sea on the west, but also from the coal fields of Silesia, Dabrowa, Gornicza and Cracow, as well as the Lodz district, with its highly developed textile and metallurgical industry.

According to Hitler’s plan the ‘General Government’ is to become a reservoir of labour power for the needs of the Reich.

From the moment the terrible truth of the German terror in Poland began to spread through the world, arousing anger and indignation, Goebbel’s propaganda resorted to various villainous tricks to prevent the further spread of the truth.

To this end the German press, wireless and officials in their speeches attempt to convey the impression to the outside world that the only Polish area under German rule is the “Government General.”

Another cynical trick is publicising of the alleged ‘benefits’ of the German occupation, such as compulsory anti-typhoid inoculation and struggle against epidemics (which during the times of Polish rule never achieved any greater dimensions than those in the German Reich). Naturally there is no mention of the fact that tens and hundreds of thousands of people are perishing as the result of their being beaten and ill-treated by the German authorities, and that a greater part of the Polish population is living in misery and hunger as a result of the German policy.

In regard to its statements about Poland, German propaganda has beaten all its previous records of infamy.

In conclusion it has to be stated that this book concerns only the conditions existing under the German occupation, and covers the period from September 1, 1939, the day of the German invasion of Poland, till June 22, 1941, when the war with Soviet Russia extended the German occupation of Polish territories further towards the East.

general government poland

Pre-war Polish postage stamps overprinted with the ‘General Government’ Nazi swastika eagle.

Although ‘The German New Order in Poland’ is certainly written from a solely Polish point of view, and not all the information presented as fact is accurate, I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of Poland and German / Polish relations during the early part of the Second World War. Now long out-of-print as it is, I’m sure used copies can be found online.

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