Zamosc-area Polish Expellees Overshadow German Expellees
Here are two reviews, recently appearing at Amazon, dealing with the brutal expulsion of Poles from the Zamosc area by the Germans during WWII.
Review of Losy dzieci z Zamojszczyzny wysiedlonych do powiatu siedelickiego w latach 1943-1945, by Beata Kozaczynska (2006).Siedlce, Poland. Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
Move Over, Erika Steinbach: The Horrors Faced by Zamosc-Area Polish Children Expelled by the Germans
THE FATE OF THE ZAMOSC-AREA CHILDREN EXPELLED AND RELOCATED AT SIEDLCE COUNTY IN 1943-1945. This poignant work centers on the human issues related to the Nazi Germans’ “Operation Zamosc.” The mass expulsions and partial genocide of Poles from the Zamosc area, and their replacement with German colonists, was part of the much larger GENERALPLAN OST. The latter envisioned the eastward relocation and partial genocide (including mass sterilization: p. 17) of tens of millions of Slavs.
The German expellees have gotten a lot of attention because of Erika Steinbach, her Center Against Expulsions, and the proposed museum of the German expellees. The author, Kozaczynska, believes that this attention has been misapplied. For one thing, most of the departing Germans did so voluntarily out of fear of the Red Army, or according to German orders, and not because of the direct actions of non-Germans.
The privations faced by the Polish expellees, especially from the Zamosc area, far exceeded those of the post-WWII German expellees from territories awarded toPoland. As the Germans entered the Polish villages, they often killed Poles outright—especially the children, the sick and the elderly. Polish peasants, especially during the winter of 1942/1943, were forced out of their homes in the bitter cold, and many of them died while being forced to stand around awaiting further orders. Mothers and children were forcibly separated. There were many instances of Germans fatally beating mothers and/or children who resisted these separations, turning police dogs on either or both, etc. The expelled Poles were initially housed in relocation camps, where many of them, especially children, died from overcrowding, disease, and starvation. (e. g., pp. 33-34).
Those Zamosc-area Poles in the hands of the Germans were evaluated for “racial worth”, and divided into 4 groups. (p. 20). Those of total or partial German descent (the first two groups) were subject to further screening for possible re-Germanization. A total of 4,454 Polish children of inferred German descent were kidnapped and sent toGermanyfor re-Germanization. (p. 6). The third group, the “better Poles”, consisting of adult able-bodied Poles (ages 14-60) deemed capable of labor, were deported to the Reich as slaves. The fourth group, consisting of children, elderly, invalids, etc., was dispatched to special villages.
Holocaust-uniqueness proponents have made much of the fact that, unlike Polish Jews, the Poles removed from the Zamosc area were not sent to the gas chambers. While it is true that the Germans did not go this far with these Poles, (probably out of fear of provoking intolerable guerrilla resistance, which they could less and less afford owing to increasing military reverses), they made the relocations so brutal that a significant fraction of the Poles died during the process. While those Zamosc-area Polish children sent toAuschwitzwere not dispatched to the gas chambers, they were killed by another method—cardiac injections (p. 6)(with false certificates of cause of death). Finally, the proximity of the villages that received the Polish expellees to extermination camps (Treblinka, Maidanek (Majdanek), and Belzec) strongly suggests that the Germans did indeed eventually plan to gas the Poles. (p. 21).
The Germans were not the only ones involved in the expulsions of the Zamosc area Poles, beginning in late 1942. So were Ukrainian collaborators. (pp. 24-25, 61).
Poles and Polish organizations worked tirelessly to assist the accessible Zamosc-area expellees, whose privations were frightful. For instance, many Polish children had no shoes. (p. 134).
This book concludes with a name-by-name listing of all the thousands of Poles found in just a few of the transports of expellees from the Zamosc area. It also has a German-language summary of this entire work.
Review of Chlopi w Obronie Zamojszczyzny, edited by Janusz Gmitruk and Zygmunt Mankowski. (1985).Warsaw
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
Polish-Guerrilla Peasant Battalions (BCh) Against the German-Nazi and OUN-UPA Genocides in the Zamosc Area
PEASANTS IN DEFENSE OF THE ZAMOSC REGION is the title of this Polish-language anthology. It combines valuable information on the Polish Underground along with the obvious taint of still Communist-ruledPoland. The latter includes such things as bad-mouthing of the prewar Polish government, questioning of the merger of the BCh (Bataliony Clopskie) with the AK (A.K.–Armia Krajowa), glorification of the Soviet partisans and the Communist GL-AL bands, etc.
This work overlaps that of Bataliony Chlopskie (Polish Edition) (see Peczkis review), and this current review emphasizes the non-overlapping information. Note that 90% of not only the BCh but also the AK consisted of peasants. (Markiewicz, p. 44). By July 1944, the BCh had 40,000 guerrillas. (Marszalek, p. 92).
At first, Polish peasant resistance to the Germans was passive. Poles avoided deportation by living in the fields and forests. In spite of draconian German terror, the peasants refrained from delivering the quotas of confiscated rural goods–so much so that the Germans were forced to lower the quotas. (Przybysz, pp. 33-on; Rajca, p. 170). Polish peasants built elaborate hiding places for their produce, and farmers harvested crops superficially, so that most of it would remain. The German livestock-identification system was circumvented through the use of forged identification. Whenever possible, the worst produce was actually turned over to the Germans.
BCh guerrilla combat targeted not only Volksdeutsche and German settlers, but also the German gendarmes. (Krzeszowiec, p. 166). Tens of thousands acts of sabotage against the German administration occurred in 1942-1943. For instance, out of 600 dairy-confiscation centers in the GG (German-occupied central Poland), 150 were destroyed and 300 were seriously damaged. (Rajca, p. 173).
The German de-Polonization effort (“Operation Zamosc”), especially during February-June 1943), was massive and brutal. 117 villages were de-populated, many Poles were murdered on the spot, countless others were locked up in transit camps under horrible living conditions, etc. (Markiewicz, p. 47-on). The BCh came out in open combat against the Germans, inflicting major casualties on them. (Krzeszowiec, pp. 165-on).
This work includes the BCh combat against the Ukrainian fascist-separatist OUN-UPA (or UIA) genocide of Poles. Already in mid-1942, one BCh unit, that of “Rysia”, had been inflicting major casualties on Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, including the Ukrainische Hilfspolizei (Hiwis) (Przybysz, pp. 37-38). Some 15,000 Volhynian (Wolyn) Poles fled the 1943 UPA terror and took refuge in the Zamosc area. (Markiewicz, p. 52). The UPA genocide spread to the Zamosc area in fall 1943 (Przybysz, p. 37), and the out-gunned BCh engaged in heavy combat against the UPA throughout 1944. A total of 35,000 Zamosc-area Poles were successfully evacuated westward, out of reach of the murderous UPA. (Markiewicz, pp. 52-53).
We see once again that, contrary to the claims of OUN-UPA apologists, notably Ukrainians in present-day Poland who condemn Operation Wisla, there was no dichotomy between the OUN-UPA genocidal acts against Poles occurring east of the Bug and San Rivers, and that occurring west of those rivers.
Zamosc Area: Heroism of Polish BCh Guerrillas
Here are my two most recent reviews, linked successively to two older ones, on the combat operations of the Polish guerrillas in thwarting Globocnik’s “Operation Zamosc” during WWII.
Review of Powstanie Zamojskie, by Janusz Gmitruk. (2003). Warszawa. Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
The “Zamosc Uprising” by Polish BCh (Peasant Battalion) Guerrillas Thwarts German Resettlement/Genocide Plans
THE ZAMOSC UPRISING, a Polish-language book, is the most recent in a series of BCh (Bataliony Chlopskie) studies by Janusz Gmitruk, all reviewed by me. (Click on BATALIONY CHLOPSKIE [link] and follow the links from my review there).
Even before the restoration ofPoland’s independence (1918), the Zamosc-area peasants had displayed considerable national consciousness and organizational sophistication. During the 1939 war, these peasants took care of wounded Polish soldiers, and, during the surrender process, enabled Polish officers to hide in order to avoid falling into German captivity, and to later resurface as guerrilla leaders.
Owing to the fact that the peasants also collected and hid 1939 Polish Army weaponry, the weapons shortage faced by the later Polish guerrillas were not as acutely felt in the Zamosc area as elsewhere. For instance, in the immediate Zamosc area (June 1943), BCh guerrillas had 702 rifles, 18 light machine guns, 7 heavy machine guns, 73 pistols, 215 grenades, and 94,840 rounds of ammunition. (p. 27). The Underground gunsmiths, working under primitive conditions, did outstanding work in restoring concealed weaponry that had become unusable. (p. 147).
A Polish Underground document by “Jez” (Jan Wojtal) stated that, if nothing else, Polish resistance would teach the Germans that the Poles, unlike the Jews, would not submit. (p. 89). In November 1943, there were 3,615 active BCh guerrillas in the entire region. By July 1944, the number had swelled to 11,853. Broken down by sub-regions (number of guerrillas), the 11,853 were at: Zamosc proper (4,000), Bilgoraj (3,503), Tomaszow Lubelski (2,350), and Hrubieszow (2,000). (p. 28).
Early (mid-1942) BCh guerrilla actions included attacks on German police outposts, and the freeing of 20 captive Poles from the prison at Krynice. (p. 39). During the subsequent Odilo Globocnik-directed massive removal of Polish peasants and replacement by German colonists in the Zamosc region, the BCh guerrillas helped peasants flee their homes to evade deportation, and engaged in mostly hit-and-run arson attacks on German-settled properties. (p. 43). However, the BCh guerrillas also burned entire German-held villages, and assassinated several German colonists each at places such as Nawoz, Huta Komarowska, Janowka, Lipsko, and Wierzba. (pp. 41-42). Probably the largest such action took place at Cieszyn. (January 1943). It was burned, and 160 German colonists were killed. (p. 47).
The AK guerrillas (A. K., or Armia Krajowa) were also active in the Zamosc region. By late 1942, they had torched several German-settled villages, destroyed four bridges, derailed two trains, tore up railroad tracks at several locations, etc. (p. 46).
The Germans used Ukrainian collaborators to help “pacify” (destroy) Polish villages (p. 83), and replaced evicted Poles not only with Volksdeutsche but also with Ukrainian colonists, as proved by a German document (p. 93; see also p. 55). The Ukrainian fascist-separatist OUN-UPA (or UIU), working with local Ukrainian Nazi-collaborating police, extended its genocidal campaign from Wolyn (Volhynia) westward into the Zamosc region. Several tens of Polish villages were destroyed and about 8,000 Poles were murdered. (p. 58). Nevertheless, despite being out-gunned, the BCh succeeded in preventing the OUN-UPA from expanding its genocidal campaign further westward. (pp. 55-58).
German expeditions intended to repress and destroy the BCh and AK guerrillas failed to do so, and led to battles at such places as Wojda, Zaboreczno (see link above), Roza, Dlugi Kat, Dominikanowka, etc. (pp. 43-53). German and Polish casualties were comparable. The later massive German Operation Wehrwolf (see link above), caused the loss of 50% of all local Polish guerrilla forces (p. 54; which were later rebuilt: p. 55). However, combined with the decisive German defeat atKursk, the Polish resistance had finally forced the Germans to discontinue Globocnik’s project.
The BCh and AK came out in open warfare against the Germans as part of Operation Tempest (Burza), and in opposition to their Operation Sturmwind. Polish guerrilla losses were grievous (500 dead), but so were the German ones (700 dead). (pp. 61-62).
Unlike the Communist GL-AL, the BCh and AK never advocated a “scorch earth” policy that would have Poles destroy all their properties to prevent them from falling into German hands. (p. 35). [The Communists wanted maximum suffering and need so that the populace would be in no position to challenge the coming Soviet-imposed Communist government.]
This work includes a detailed map of the entire Zamosc region. (pp 226-227). It shows hundreds of villages, identifying the ones that had been destroyed, Pole-evicted, and/or the sites of major BCh guerrilla combat.
Review of Bataliony Chlopskie 1940-1945, by Janusz Gmitruk. (2000). Warszawa. Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
The Polish-Guerrilla Peasant Battalions (Bch) in Action Near Zamosc
THE PEASANT BATTALIONS 1940-1945–a Polish language book. It overlaps surprisingly little with either the Gmitruk-editedChlopi w obronie Zamojszczyzny: Sesja popularnonaukowa w 40 rocznice walk Batalionow Chlopskich, Zamosc, 2-3 II 1983 r (Polish Edition)) or Gmitruk’s 1987 book (linked successively from my review of the item linked above).
The present work begins with Hubal and his 1939-1940 guerrilla resistance. Attention is then shifted to the Zamosc area.
Before the genocide of the Jews came the genocide of Soviet POWs. The Germans captured 5,700,000 Soviets during WWII. Of these, 3,000,000 were murdered by 1942 and an additional 300,000 met the same fate after that year–by which time Soviet POWs were generally diverted into forced labor or collaborationist formations. (pp. 46-47). Approximately 67,000 Soviet POWs–the majority of them in German-occupiedPoland–escaped from German captivity. (p. 49). Poles aided the fugitive Soviet POWs. (pp. 52-on).
Poles also aided fugitive Jews during the Holocaust. In the Sokol area alone, several hundred Poles were murdered by the Germans for rendering such aid. (pp. 50-on). Over 200 Polish peasants were murdered in theKielcearea for the same reason. (p. 59).
BCh guerrilla actions per year (number of actions) were: 1940 (36), 1941 (57), 1942 (226), 1943 (1,100), 1944 (1,535), 1945 (80). (p. 72). Although Gmitruk does not consider the implications, it is obvious that the Polish guerrillas were not deployed to an appreciable extent until after most Polish Jews had already been murdered (late 1942). Complaints about the Polish Underground not doing more to interfere with the Holocaust are clearly misplaced.
During their “Operation Zamosc”, the Germans endeavored to remove Poles from a wide swath of Polish territory just west of theBugRiver, and replace them with German colonists. The BCh fiercely resisted. In theBattle at Wojda (December 30, 1942), a combined BCh and Soviet-guerrilla unit beat off a force of 350 German gendarmes. 20 Germans were killed along with 6 Bch and 2 Soviets. (p. 42).
At the subsequent Battle of Zaboreczno (February 1, 1943), a force of several hundred Germans, arriving in motorized vehicles, attacked a force of 400 BCh guerrillas. This battle marked the start of the “Zamosc Uprising”. Losses were heavy on both sides, but the German drive was stopped. (pp. 44-45). The Germans realized that they were facing serious guerrilla resistance, and some 15,000 Volksdeutsche from all over Europe sat vainly in Lodzfor five months, awaiting the order to move-in as replacements for the Poles whose deportation was now stalled. (pp. 43-44).
Finally, the Germans brought-in an overwhelming force of 30,000 combat-seasoned SS as part of their Operation Wehrwolf (June 15–July 15, 1943). 171 Polish villages, comprising 75,000 Poles, were emptied, and 938 other Poles were murdered on the spot. (p. 44). (This is in addition to the many thousands of Zamosc-area “resettled” Poles who later died or were murdered in German transit and concentration camps.) Although BCh combat losses were considerable, the spirit of resistance remained unbroken. Thanks to BCh guerrilla resistance, the German colonists began to flee, and, by March 1944, this flight took on massive proportions. (p. 45).
In summary, the BCh engaged in 400 skirmishes and battles, with Germans, in defense of the Zamosc-area Poles. A total of 3,294 BCh guerrillas fell in combat in defense of the Zamosc area. The 297 Polish villages depopulated and 110,000 Poles removed by the Germans represented about 31% of that envisioned by German objectives. (p. 45).
Massive arrests of BCh members, by Communists, occurred after the Red Army “liberated”Poland. (pp. 73-on). Some BCh units continued resistance, even as late as 1956. (p. 76).
The book features an extensive album of photos of the BCh in action. One of the photos shows a home-made gun-making shop.