Wannsee Tells on "Polish Death Camps"

Review of “Non-Germans” Under the Third Reich: The Nazi Judicial and Administrative System in Germany and Occupied Eastern Europe, with Special Regard to Occupied Poland, 1939-1945, by Deimut Majer. 1993, 2003. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
Exhaustive Detail on German Policies in German-Occupied Poland. Wannsee Irony
This scholarly work (1033 pages long) presents an immense amount of information, largely based on archival sources. I can only touch on a few issues.
Author Majer touches on the anti-Christian character of Nazism. He realized that long-term plans of the NSDAP leadership called for the abolition of Christianity. (p. 620).
The German contempt for Poles was long-standing. Interestingly, however, Heinrich Himmler thought that, “`Historically, the Poles were the toughest of nations.'” (p. 625).
German policies against Poles and Jews overlapped considerably. For instance, both peoples’ properties were legitimate targets of unilateral expropriation. (p. 165, 22). Even before WWII, in the Altreich (1937-era Nazi Germany), Jews, Gypsies, and Poles had been singled out for discrimination as members of these identified groups. (p. 174).
The Nazi policies of cultural genocide against Poles are well known. They included the confiscation of libraries, abolition of higher education, etc. Even elementary education, to the extent that it was allowed, was deliberately made inadequate. In the General Government, the Polish VOLKSSCHULEN existed only where there were at least 40 students, and elementary schools throughout German-occupied Poland commonly had classes of 70-80 children. (p. 788).
Biological genocide of the Poles overall, as practiced by the Nazis given the limitations imposed by the duration of the war, was largely passive. The Germans acted to limit the Polish birth rate through such policies as a high age of marriage (in both the Reich-annexed regions and the General Government), penalties for illegitimate children, withdrawal of social benefits, etc. (pp. 247-248, 310). The Germans also imposed near-starvation conditions upon the Poles. (e. g, p. 776). [This helps explain the reluctance of many Poles to share their meager possessions with fugitive Jews, and their occasional murderous reaction to Jewish thefts of Polish feedstuffs.]
Differences in the Nazi treatment of Jews and Poles commonly followed from practical considerations. For instance, the Nazis expelled Jews from all levels in the professions, but Poles only down to middle-level positions. This owed from a lack of sufficient German staff to replace all Poles. (p. 301). On another issue, neither Jews nor Poles had significant liberties in terms of either public or private transport. However, Poles were allowed somewhat greater freedom of movement than Jews were because more severe restrictions would have limited their work output. (p. 316; see also pp. 252-253).
Finally, the Nazis in no sense esteemed Poles above Jews. Majer comments, (quote) However, it was a self-evident principle that the treatment of the Poles was not based on any humanitarian grounds but exclusively determined by considerations of expediency…(unquote)(p. 272). For instance, Hans Frank thought of Poles being allowed to live only insofar as they can serve as forced laborers for the Reich. (p. 756).
Even though the Germans lost the war, and hence were unable to realize their ultimate genocidal plans for the Slavs, the reader can appreciate the gravity of those actions that they did have time to complete. Although Majer does not put it in those terms, he realizes that the Nazi industrial genocide of the Jews and Nazi acts against Slavs cannot be dichotomized. He comments, (quote) …at least in respect to their consequences, numerous plans and actions of the Nazi leadership aimed at DISCRIMINATING against “non-Germans” closely approximated their PHYSICAL ANNIHILATION as well, since they were based on the totalitarian idea of the worthlessness and the fundamental lack of legal rights of the individual. Forcing “non-German” persons or groups to live at or below subsistence level, inhumane expulsion and resettlement, the planned or intentional death by starvation (as long as enough other laborers were available) of countless persons and groups was JUST AS MUCH a fundamental component of the National Socialist idea as the plans and schemes for the methodical annihilation of particular groups (e. g, of the Jews or the leadership circles of the conquered nations of Eastern Europe) that have occupied most of the previously published literature. (unquote)(emphasis in original)(p. 535).
Let us now focus on the Holocaust. Majer implicitly supports a functionalist view of Holocaust origins. According to some unspecified documents found recently in Moscow, the Nazis did not decide to exterminate the Jews prior to the autumn of 1941. (p. 555).
Ironic to the common mendacity about “Polish death camps”, or at least the Nazis’ siting of the camps in Poland owing to a purportedly congenial atmosphere of Polish anti-Semitism, the Wannsee Protocol (translated in its entirety into English: pp. 555-563) provides the ACTUAL reasons for this choice. The Final Solution was recommended to begin in the General Government, where transport problems were minimal, where the drag on the economy caused by Jewish black marketeering was severe, and where most of the Jews were unfit for work. (p. 563). Poles had nothing to do with it.
The author provides a selection of German documents that allege a mixed Polish reaction to the Nazi policies enacted against Jews. (p. 778). Interestingly, the quoted positive Polish opinions all go back to 1940–long before the start (or even conception) of Nazi exterminatory actions against the Jews.
Jan T. Gross and other neo-Stalinists have alleged that Poles incurred the German-imposed death penalty all the time, as in the unauthorized slaughter of animals, and so it was not a valid deterrent for the hiding of Jews. The risks of killing an animal, and that of hiding a human being, are not remotely comparable. In addition, the Germans only imposed the death penalty when the selling of such meat was involved. Unauthorized slaughter of livestock for personal use, throughout the Eastern Territories, was generally punished by imprisonment, not death. (p. 892).

By piotrbein