German Occupation of Poland

German occupation of Poland

A photograph taken in Krakow in 1941 showing German soldiers writing postcards in the main market square.

The occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during the Second World War (1939–1945) began with the invasion of Poland in September 1939, and formally concluded with Germany’s defeat by the Allies in May 1945. During this foreign occupation of Poland the country was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union (USSR) with the Nazis Germany acquiring 48% of former Polish territory. In 1941 the land annexed by Russia was taken by German forces in the course of what was initially a successful German attack on the Soviet Union.

About 6 million Polish citizens or around 21% of Poland’s population died between 1939 and 1945 as a result of the occupation, half of whom were Polish Jews. Over 90% of the death toll came through non-military losses. Overall, during German occupation of pre-war Polish territory, most historians agree that the Germans more than 5,000,000 Poles, including nearly 3,000,000 Jews, lost their lives.

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