General Government (German: Generalgouvernement, Polish: Generalne
Gubernatorstwo, Ukrainian: Генеральна губернія),
also referred to as the General Governorate, was a German zone of
occupation established after the joint invasion of
Poland by Nazi
Germany and the
Soviet Union in 1939 at the onset of World
War II. The newly occupied
Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic was split into
three zones: the
General Government in its centre, Polish areas
Nazi Germany in the west, and Polish areas annexed by the
Soviet Union in the east. The territory was expanded substantially in
1941 to include the new District of Galicia.
The basis for the formation of
General Government was a German-Soviet
claim of the total collapse of the Polish state, announced by Adolf
Hitler on October 8, 1939 through the so-called Annexation Decree on
the Administration of the Occupied Polish Territories. This rationale
was utilized by the
German Supreme Court
German Supreme Court to reassign the identity of
all Polish nationals as stateless subjects, with exception of the
Germans of interwar Poland, named the only rightful citizens of
Third Reich in disregard of international law.
General Government was run by
Nazi Germany as a separate
administrative unit for logistical purposes. When the
attacked the Soviet positions in
Kresy in June 1941 during its
initially successful Operation Barbarossa, the area of the General
Government was enlarged by the inclusion of the regions of Poland
occupied by the
Red Army since 1939. Within days,
East Galicia was
overrun and renamed Distrikt Galizien. Until 1945 the General
Government comprised much of central, southern, and southeastern
Poland within its prewar borders (and of modern-day Western Ukraine),
including the major Polish cities of Warsaw, Kraków, Lwów (now Lviv,
Tarnopol Ghetto), Stanisławów (now Ivano-Frankivsk,
renamed Stanislau; see Stanisławów Ghetto), Drohobycz, and Sambor
Drohobycz and Sambor Ghettos) and others. Geographical locations
were renamed in German.
The administration of the
General Government was composed entirely of
the German officials with the intent that the area was to be colonized
by Germanic settlers who would reduce the local Polish population to
the level of serfs before their eventual biological extermination.
The Nazi German rulers of the Generalgouvernement had no intention of
sharing power with the locals throughout the war, regardless of their
ethnicity and political orientation. The authorities rarely mentioned
the name "Poland" in legal correspondence. The only exception to this
was the General Government's Bank of Issue in
Poland (Polish: Bank
Emisyjny w Polsce, German: Emissionbank in Polen).
3 German intentions regarding the region
3.1 Territorial dissection
4.1 Judicial system
Military occupation forces
5 Administrative districts
11 See also
The full title of the regime in Germany until July 1940 was the
Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete, a name that
is usually translated as "
General Government for the Occupied Polish
Territories". On 31 July 1940 governor Hans Frank, on Hitler's
authority, shortened the name to just Generalgouvernement. A more
literal translation of Generalgouvernement, which is a borrowing from
French, would be General Governorate. The correct translation of the
term "Gouvernement" is not government but actually governorate, which
is a type of administrative division or territory. The area was also
known colloquially as the Restpolen ("Remainder of Poland").
General Government was chosen in reference to the
Government General of Warsaw, a civil entity created in the area by
German Empire during World War I. This district existed from 1914
to 1918 together with an Austro-Hungarian-controlled Military
Lublin alongside the short-lived Kingdom of
1916-1918, a similar rump state formed out of the
then-Russian-controlled parts of Poland.
Gauleiter of occupied central Poland
After Germany's attack on Poland, all areas occupied by the German
army including the
Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig initially came under the
military rule. This area extended from the 1939 eastern border of
Germany proper and of
East Prussia up to the
Bug River where the
German armies had halted their advance and linked up with the Soviet
Red Army in accordance with their secret pact against Poland.
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed on 23 August 1939 had promised
the vast territory between the
Vistula and Bug rivers to the Soviet
"sphere of influence" in divided Poland, while the two powers would
have jointly ruled Warsaw. To settle the deviation from the original
agreement, the German and Soviet representatives met again on
September 28 to delineate a permanent border between the two
countries. Under this revised version of the pact the territory
concerned was exchanged for the inclusion in the Soviet sphere of
Lithuania, which had originally fallen within the ambit of Germany.
With the new agreement the entire central part of Poland, including
the core ethnic area of the Poles, came under exclusively German
German-Soviet border drawn-out in the aftermath of the Nazi-Soviet
invasion of Poland, signed in Moscow by Stalin and Ribbentrop during
Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact known as the Frontier Treaty of
September 28, 1939
Hitler decreed the direct annexation to the
German Reich of large
parts of the occupied Polish territory in the western half of the
German zone, in order to increase the Reich's Lebensraum. Germany
organized most of these areas as two new Reichsgaue: Danzig-West
Prussia and Wartheland. The remaining three regions, the so-called
areas of Zichenau, Eastern
Upper Silesia and the
became attached to adjacent Gaue of Germany. Draconian measures were
introduced by both RKF and HTO,[a] to facilitate the immediate
Germanization of the annexed territory, typically resulting in mass
expulsions, especially in the Warthegau. The remaining parts of the
Poland were to become a German Nebenland (March, borderland) as
a frontier post of German rule in the east. A Führer's decree of
October 12, 1939 established the General Government; the decree came
into force on October 26, 1939.
Hans Frank was appointed as the
Governor-General of the General
Government. German authorities made a sharp contrast between the new
Reich territory and a supposedly occupied rump state that could serve
as a bargaining chip with the Western powers. The
a closed border between the two German zones to heighten the
difficulty of cross-frontier communication between the different
segments of the Polish population.
The official name chosen for the new entity was the
Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete (General
Government for the Occupied Polish Territories), then changed to the
Generalgouvernement (General Government) by Frank's decree of July 31,
1940. However, this name did not imply anything about the actual
nature of the administration. The German authorities never regarded
these Polish lands (apart from the short period of military
administration during the actual invasion of Poland) as an occupied
territory. The Nazis considered the Polish state to have
effectively ceased to exist with its defeat in the September campaign.
Overall, 4 million of the 1939 population of the General
Government area had lost their lives by the time the Soviet armed
forces entered the area in late 1944. If the Polish underground killed
a German, 50–100
Poles were executed by German police as a
punishment and as a warning to other Poles. As the Soviets
Poland in late 1944 the
General Government collapsed.
American troops captured Hans Frank, who had governed the region, in
May 1945; he became one of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials.
During his trial he resumed his childhood practice of Catholicism and
expressed repentance. Frank surrendered forty volumes of his diaries
to the Tribunal and much evidence against him and others was gathered
from them. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against
humanity. On October 1, 1946 he was sentenced to death by hanging. The
sentence was carried out on October 16.
German intentions regarding the region
Further information: Generalplan Ost, Lebensraum, and Wehrbauer
In March 1941
Hans Frank informed his subordinates that Hitler had
made the decision to "turn this region into a purely German area
within 15–20 years". He explained: "Where 12 million
live, is to be populated by 4 to 5 million Germans. The
Generalgouvernement must become as German as the Rhineland." By
1942 Hitler and Frank had agreed that the
Kraków ("with its purely
German capital") and
Lublin districts would be the first areas for
German colonists to re-populate. Hitler stated: "When these two
weak points have been strengthened, it should be possible to slowly
drive back the Poles." Subsequently, German policy envisaged
Poles to the status of serfs, while deporting or
otherwise eliminating the middle and upper classes and eventually
replacing them with German colonists of the "master race".
The General Gouvernment is our work force reservoir for lowgrade work
(brick plants, road building, etc.) ... Unconditionally, attention
should be paid to the fact that there can be no "Polish masters";
where there are Polish masters, and I do not care how hard this
sounds, they must be killed. (...) The Führer must emphasize once
again that for
Poles there is only one master and he is a German,
there can be no two masters beside each other and there is no consent
to such, hence all representatives of the Polish intelligentsia are to
be killed ... The General Gouvernment is a Polish reservation, a great
Polish labor camp. — Note of
Martin Bormann from the meeting of Dr.
Hans Frank with Adolf Hitler, Berlin, 2 October 1940.
German bureaucrats drew up various plans regarding the future of the
original population. One called for the deportation of about
Poles to Western Siberia, and the Germanisation of 4
to 5 million; although deportation in reality meant many Poles
were to be put to death, a small number would be "Germanized", and
Poles of desirable qualities would be kidnapped and raised in
Germany. In the General Government, all secondary education was
abolished and all Polish cultural institutions closed.
In 1943 the government selected the
Zamojskie area for further
Germanization on account of its fertile black soil, and German
colonial settlements were planned.
Zamość was initially renamed by
the government to Himmlerstadt (Himmler City), which was later changed
to Pflugstadt (
Plough City). Most of the Polish population was
expelled by the Nazi occupation authorities with documented brutality.
Himmler intended the city of
Lublin to have a German population of 20%
to 25% by the beginning of 1944, and of 30% to 40% by the following
year, at which time
Lublin was to be declared a German city and given
a German mayor.
Official proclamation of the General-Government in
Poland by Germany,
Nazi planners never definitively resolved the question of the exact
territorial reorganization of the Polish provinces in the event of
German victory in the east. Germany had already annexed large parts of
Poland (8 October 1939) before the establishment of
General Government (26 October 1939), and the remaining region was
also intended[by whom?] to be directly incorporated into the German
Reich at some future date. The Nazi leadership discussed numerous
initiatives with this aim.
The earliest such proposal (October/November 1939) called for the
establishment of a separate
Reichsgau Beskidenland which would
encompass several southern sections of the Polish territories
conquered in 1939 (around 18,000 km2), stretching from the area
to the west of
Kraków to the San river in the east. At this
time Germany had not yet been directly annexed the
Łódź area, and
Łódź (rather than Kraków) served as the capital of the General
In November 1940
Arthur Greiser of
argued that the counties of Tomaschow Mazowiecki and Petrikau should
be transferred from the General Government's
Radom district to his
Gau. Hitler agreed, but since Frank refused to surrender the counties,
the resolution of the border question was postponed until after the
Upon hearing of the German plans to create a "Gau of the Goths"
(Gotengau) in the
Crimea and the Southern
Ukraine after the start
(June 1941) of Operation Barbarossa, Frank himself expressed his
intention to turn the district under his control into a German
province called the Vandalengau (Gau of the Vandals) in a speech he
gave on 16 December 1941.
When Frank unsuccessfully attempted to resign his position on 24
August 1942, Nazi Party Secretary
Martin Bormann tried to advance a
project to dissolve the
General Government altogether and to partition
its territory into a number of Reichsgaue, arguing that only this
method could guarantee the territory's Germanization, while also
claiming that Germany could economically exploit the area more
effectively, particularly as a source of food. He suggested
separating the "more restful" population of the formerly Austrian
territories (because this part of
Poland had been under
German-Austrian rule for a long period of time it was deemed more
racially acceptable) from the rest of the
Poles and cordoning off the
city of Warsaw, as the center of "criminality" and underground
Hans Frank with district administrators in 1942 - from left: Ernst
Kundt, Ludwig Fischer, Hans Frank, Otto Wächter, Ernst Zörner,
Ludwig Fischer (governor of
Warsaw from 1939 to 1945) opposed the
proposed administrative streamlining resulting from these discussions.
Fischer prepared his own project in his Main Office for Spatial
Ordering (Hauptamt für Raumordnung) located in Warsaw. He
suggested[when?] the establishment of the three provinces Beskiden,
Vistula Land"), and Galizien (Galicia and Chełm) by
Lublin districts between them. Weichselland was
to have a "Polish character", Galizien a "Ukrainian" one, and the
Beskiden-province to provide a German "admixture" (i.e. colonial
settlement). Further territorial planning carried out by this
Warsaw-based organization under Major Dr. Ernst Zvanetti in a May 1943
study to demarcate the eastern border of "Central Europe" (i.e. the
Greater German Reich) with the "Eastern European landmass" proposed an
eastern German border along the "line Memel-Odessa".
In this context Zvanetti's study proposed a re-ordering of the
"Eastern Gaue" into three geopolitical blocks:
a western group comprising the Gaue Danzig-Westpreußen, Wartheland,
and Schlesien (Silesia)
a central group with the Gaue Ostpreußen (East Prussia), Südpreußen
(South Prussia), Litzmannstadt (Łódź), and Beskidenland
the eastern group with the Gau Südostpreußen (South-East Prussia)
and including Wolhynien (
Volhynia and the
Lublin district), Galizien,
and Podolien (Podolia).
General Government administration
General Government was administered by a General-Governor (German:
Generalgouverneur) aided by the Office of the General-Governor (Amt
des Generalgouverneurs), changed on December 9, 1940 to the Government
General Government (Regierung des Generalgouvernements). For
the entire period of its wartime history, there was only one
General-Governor: Dr. Hans Frank. The Office was headed by Chief of
the Government (Regierung, title translated also as the State
Secretary or Deputy Governor) Josef Bühler. Several other individuals
had powers to issue legislative decrees in addition to the General
Governor, most notably the Higher
SS and Police Leader
SS and Police Leader of General
Government (Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, later Wilhelm Koppe).
Announcement of the execution of 60 Polish hostages and a list of 40
new hostages taken by Nazi authorities in Poland, 1943
General Government issued ID card for an administration worker.
No government protectorate is anticipated for Poland, but a complete
German administration. (...) Leadership layer of the population in
Poland should be as far as possible, disposed of. The other lower
layers of the population will receive no special schools, but are to
be oppressed in some form. — Excerpt from the minutes of the first
conference of Heads of the main police officers and commanders of
operational groups led by Heydrich's deputy, SS-Brigadefuhrer Dr.
Werner Best, Berlin 7 September 1939 
General Government had no international recognition. The
territories it administered were never either in whole or part
intended as any future Polish state within a German-dominated Europe.
According to the Nazi government the Polish state had effectively
ceased to exist, in spite of the existence of a Polish
government-in-exile. Its character was a type of colonial state.
It was not a Polish puppet government, as there were no Polish
representatives above the local administration.
The government seat of the
General Government was located in Kraków
(German: Krakau) rather than
Warsaw for security reasons. The official
state language was German, although Polish continued to be used by
local government. Useful institutions of the old Polish state were
retained for ease of administration. The Polish police, with no
high-ranking Polish officers (who were arrested or demoted), was
reorganised as the
Blue Police and became subordinated to the
Ordnungspolizei. The Polish educational system was similarly kept, but
most higher institutions were closed. The Polish local administration
was kept, subordinated to new German bosses. The Polish fiscal system,
including the złoty currency, was kept, but with revenues now going
to the German state. A new bank was created and issued new banknotes.
Germans sought to play Ukrainians and
Poles off against each
other. Within ethnic Ukrainian areas annexed by Germany, beginning in
October 1939, Ukrainian Committees were established with the purpose
of representing the Ukrainian community to the German authorities and
assisting the approximately 30,000 Ukrainian refugees who fled from
Soviet-controlled territories. These committees also undertook
cultural and economic activities that had been banned by the previous
Polish government. Schools, choirs, reading societies and theaters
were opened, and twenty Ukrainian churches that had been closed by the
Polish government were reopened. A Ukrainian publishing house was
created in Cracow, which despite having to struggle with German
censors and paper shortages was able to publish school textbooks,
classics of Ukrainian literature, and the works of dissident Ukrainian
writers from the Soviet Union. By March 1941 there were 808 Ukrainian
educational societies with 46,000 members. Ukrainian organizations
General Government were able to negotiate the release of
85,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war from the German-Polish conflict
(although they were unable to help Soviet POWs of Ukrainian
After the war, the Polish
Supreme National Tribunal
Supreme National Tribunal declared that the
government of the
General Government was a criminal institution.
Part of Hans Frank’s ordinance from 31 October 1939 on
"counteracting the acts of violence in General Government"
Other than summary German military tribunals, no courts operated in
Poland between the German invasion and early 1940. At that time, the
Polish court system was reinstated and made decisions in cases not
concerning German interests, for which a parallel German court system
was created. The German system was given priority in cases of
New laws were passed, discriminating against ethnic
Poles and, in
particular, the Jews. In 1941 a new criminal law was introduced,
introducing many new crimes, and making the death penalty very common.
A death penalty was introduced for, among other things:
on October 31, 1939, for any acts against the German government;
on January 21, 1940, for economic speculation;
on February 20, 1940, for spreading sexually transmitted diseases;
on July 31, 1940, for any Polish officers who did not register
immediately with the German administration (to be taken to prisoner of
on November 10, 1941, for giving any assistance to the Jews;
on July 11, 1942, for farmers who failed to provide requested
contingents of crops;
on July 24, 1943, for not joining the forced labor battalions
(Baudienst) when requested;
on October 2, 1943, for impeding the German Reconstruction Plan.
The police in the
General Government was divided into: Ordnungspolizei
(OrPo) (native German), the
Blue Police (Polish under German control),
Sicherheitspolizei (native German) composed of Kriminalpolizei
Gestapo (German). The most numerous OrPo battalions were
focused on traditional security roles as an occupying force. Some of
them were directly involved in the pacification operations. In the
immediate aftermath of World War II, this latter role was obscured
both by the lack of court evidence and by deliberate obfuscation,
while most of the focus was on the better-known Einsatzgruppen
("Operational groups") who reported to RSHA led by Reinhard
Heydrich. On 6 May 1940
Hans Frank who stationed in
Kraków created Sonderdienst, based on similar SS formations
Selbstschutz operating in the Warthegau district of
German-annexed western part of
Poland since 1939. Sonderdienst
were made up of ethnic German
Volksdeutsche who lived in
the attack and joined the invading force thereafter. However, after
Operation Barbarossa they included also the Soviet prisoners
of war who volunteered for special training, such as the "Trawniki
men" (German: Trawnikimänner) deployed at all major killing sites of
the "Final Solution". A lot of those men did not know German and
required translation by their native commanders.:366 Ukrainian
Auxiliary Police was formed in Distrikt Galizien in 1941, many
policemen deserted in 1943 joining UPA.
Some 3,000 men served with the
Sonderdienst in the General Government,
formally assigned to the head of the civil administration. The
Sonderdienst constituted a grave danger for the
Poles who attempted to help ghettoised Jews in the cities,
as in the
Mińsk Mazowiecki Ghetto
Mińsk Mazowiecki Ghetto among numerous others, because
Poles were executed under the charge of aiding Jews.
Forestry Protection Service also existed, responsible for policing
wooded areas in the General Government.
Military occupation forces
Through the occupation Germany diverted a significant number of its
military forces to keep control over Polish territories.
Wehrmacht and police formations stationed in General
Police and SS
(includes German forces only)
2,000,000 (high number due to imminent attack on Soviet positions)
See also: Administrative division of Polish territories during World
For administrative purposes the
General Government was subdivided into
four districts (Distrikte). These were the Distrikt Warschau, the
Distrikt Lublin, the Distrikt Radom, and the Distrikt Krakau. After
Operation Barbarossa against the Soviets in June 1941, East
Galicia (part of Poland, annected by
Ukrainian SSR on the basis of the
Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact), was incorporated into the General Government
and became its fifth district: Distrikt Galizien. The new German
administrative units were much larger than those organized by the
Polish government, reflecting the German lack of sufficient
administrative personnel to staff smaller units.
The five districts were further sub-divided into urban counties
(Stadtkreise) and rural counties (Kreishauptmannschaften). Following a
decree on September 15, 1941, the names of most of the major cities
(and their respective counties) were renamed based on historical
German data or given germanified versions of their Polish and Soviet
names if none existed. At times the previous names remained the same
as well (i.e. Radom). The districts and counties were as follows:
Administrative map of the General Government, July 1940 (before
Administrative map of the General Government, July 1941 – January
1944 following Barbarossa
Garwolin, Grojec (Grójec), Lowitsch (Lowicz), Minsk (Mińsk
Mazowiecki), Ostrau (Ostrów Mazowiecka), Siedlce, Skierniewice2,
Sochaczew, Sokolow-Wengrow (Sokołów Podlaski-Węgrów),
kreisfreie Stadt (since 1940)
Dembitz (Dębica), Jaroslau (Jarosław), Jassel (Jaslo), Krakau-Land,
Krosno1, Meekow (Miechow), Neumarkt (Nowy Targ), Neu-Sandez (Nowy
Sącz), Przemyśl1, Reichshof (Rzeszow), Sanok, Tarnau (Tarnów)
Biala-Podlaska (Biała Podlaska), Bilgoraj, Cholm (Chelm), Grubeschow
(Hrubieszow), Janow Lubelski, Krasnystaw, Lublin-Land, Pulawy, Rehden
(Radzyn), Zamosch/Himmlerstadt/Pflugstadt (Zamość)
Kielce, Radom, Tschenstochau (Częstochowa)
Busko (Busko-Zdrój), Jedrzejow, Kielce-Land, Konskie (Końskie),
Opatau (Opatów), Petrikau (Piotrków Trybunalski), Radom-Land,
Radomsko, Starachowitz (Starachowice), Tomaschow Mazowiecki (Tomaszów
Breschan (Brzeżany), Tschortkau (Czortków), Drohobycz,
Kamionka-Strumilowa (Kamianka-Buzka), Kolomea (Kolomyia),
Lemberg-Land, Rawa-Ruska (Rava-Ruska), Stanislau (Ivano-Frankivsk),
Sambor (Sambir) Stryj, Tarnopol, Solotschiw (Zolochiv), Kallusch
1, added after 1941. 2), removed after 1941.
A change in the administrative structure was desired by Finance
Minister Lutz von Krosigk, who for financial reasons wanted to see the
five existing districts (Warsaw, Kraków, Radom, Lublin, and Galicia)
reduced to three. In March 1943 he announced the merger of the
Kraków and Galicia districts, and the split of the
Radom district and the
Lublin district. (The latter
acquired a special status of "Germandom district",
Deutschtumsdistrikt, as a "test run" of the
Germanization according to
the Generalplan Ost.) The restructuring further involved the
Kraków into separate city-districts
Warsaw under the direct control of the General
Government. This decree was to go into effect on 1 April 1943 and was
nominally accepted by Heinrich Himmler, but
Martin Bormann opposed the
move, as he simply wanted to see the region turned into Reichsgaue
Wilhelm Frick and
Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger were
also skeptic about the usefulness of this reorganization, resulting in
its abolition after subsequent discussions between Himmler and
General Government was inhabited by 11.4 million people in
December 1939. A year later the population increased to 12.1 million.
In December 1940, 83.3% of the population were Poles, 11.2% - Jews,
4.4% - Ukrainians and Belarusians, 0.9% - Germans, 0.2% - others.
Poles and Jews were resettled into the General
Government after they have been expelled from the territories
'annexed' by Nazi Germany. Offsetting this was the German genocidal
campaign of liquidation of the Polish intelligentsia and other
elements considered likely to resist. From 1941 disease and hunger
also began to reduce the population.
Poles were also deported in large numbers to work as forced labor in
Germany: eventually about a million were deported, of whom many died
in Germany. In 1940 the population was segregated into different
groups. Each group had different rights, food rations, allowed strips
in the cities, public transportation and restricted restaurants. They
were divided from the most privileged, to the least.
Distribution of food in
General Government as of December,
Daily food energy intake
2,310 calories (9,700 kJ)
1,790 calories (7,500 kJ)
930 calories (3,900 kJ)
654 calories (2,740 kJ)
184 calories (770 kJ)
Germans from Germany (Reichdeutsche),
Germans from outside, active ethnic Germans, Volksliste category 1 and
2 (see Volksdeutsche).
Germans from outside, passive
Germans and members of families (this
group also included some ethnic Poles), Volksliste category 3 and 4,
Highlanders (Goralenvolk) – an attempt to split the Polish nation by
using local collaborators
Poles (partially exterminated),
Gypsies (eventually largely exterminated as a category),
Jews (eventually largely exterminated as a category).
Young Polish girl wearing Letter Zivilarbeiter "P" patch.
Baudienst and Forced labor in Germany during
World War II
After the invasion of
Poland in 1939, Jews over the age of 12 and
Poles over the age of 14 living in the
General Government were subject
to forced labor.
Poles from other regions of
Poland conquered by
Germany were expelled to the
General Government and the area was used
as a slave labour pool from which men and women taken by force to work
as laborers in factories and farms in Germany. In 1942, all
Germans living in the
General Government were subject to forced
Warsaw and several towns (Sulejów, Frampol) were destroyed
during the Polish-German war in September 1939.
Poles weren't able to
buy any construction materials to reconstruct their houses or
businesses. They lost their savings and GG currency, nicknamed
“Młynarki”, was managed by German-controlled Bank Emisyjny w
So-called “Góral”- 500 złoty banknote used in the territories of
Former Polish state property was confiscated by the General Government
Third Reich on the annexed territories). Notable property of
Polish individuals (ex. factories and large land estates) was often
confiscated as well and managed by German Treuhänder. Jewish
population was deported to the Ghettos, their dwelling and small
businesses were confiscated by the
Germans or passed to the Poles
expelled from other areas. Farmers were required to provide large
food contingents for the Germans, and there were plans for
nationalization of all but the smallest estates.
Main article: Polish resistance movement in World War II
Resistance to the German occupation began almost at once, although
there is little terrain in
Poland suitable for guerrilla operations.
Several small army troops supported by volunteers fought till Spring
1940, e.g. under major Henryk Dobrzański, after which they ceased due
to German executions of civilians as reprisals.
Flag of the Armia Krajowa
The main resistance force was the
Home Army (in Polish: Armia Krajowa
or AK), loyal to the
Polish government in exile
Polish government in exile in London. It was
formed mainly of the surviving remnants of the pre-War Polish Army,
together with many volunteers. Other forces existed side-by-side, such
as the communist People's Army (
Armia Ludowa or AL) parallel to the
PPR, organised and controlled by the Soviet Union. The AK was
estimated between 200,000 and 600,000 men, while the AL was estimated
between 14,000 and 60,000.
During the occupation, the various Polish resistance organizations
killed about 150,000 Axis soldiers.
German announcement of the execution of 9 Polish peasants for
unfurnished contingents (quotas). Signed by governor of Lublin
district 25 November 1941
In April 1943 the
Germans began deporting the remaining Jews from the
Warsaw Ghetto, provoking the
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 19 to May.
16 That was the first armed uprising against the
Germans in Poland,
and prefigured the larger and longer
Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
In July 1944, as the Soviet armed forces approached Warsaw, the
government in exile called for an uprising in the city, so that they
could return to a liberated
Warsaw and try to prevent a Communist
take-over. The AK, led by Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, launched the Warsaw
Rising on August 1 in response both to their government and to Soviet
and Allied promises of help. However Soviet help was never
forthcoming, despite the Soviet army being only 18 miles (30 km)
away, and Soviet denial of their airbases to British and American
planes prevented any effective resupply or air support of the
insurgents by the Western allies. They used distant Italian bases in
Warsaw airlift instead. After 63 days of fighting the leaders of
the rising agreed a conditional surrender with the Wehrmacht. The
Home Army soldiers were granted POW status (prior to
the agreement, captured rebels were shot), and the remaining civilian
population of 180,000 expelled.
Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland, marked with black and
General Government in beige. Death camp at Auschwitz
(lower left) in the neighbouring new Nazi Provinz Oberschlesien
Main article: The
Holocaust in Poland
Wannsee conference on January 20, 1942, the State Secretary
of the General Government,
Josef Bühler encouraged
Heydrich to implement the "Final Solution". From his own point of
view, as an administrative official, the problems in his district
included an overdeveloped black market. He endorsed a remedy in
solving the "Jewish question" as fast as possible. An additional point
in favor of setting up the extermination facilities in his governorate
was that there were no transportation problems there, with all
assets of the disbanded Polish National Railways (PKP) managed by
Deutsche Reichsbahn branch of GEDOB in Kraków, making a network of
death trains readily available to the SS-Totenkopfverbände.
Main article: Operation Reinhard
The newly drafted
Operation Reinhard would be a major step in the
systematic liquidation of the Jews in occupied Europe, beginning with
those in the General Government. Within months, three top-secret camps
were built and equipped with stationary gas chambers disguised as
shower rooms, based on Action T4, solely to efficiently kill thousands
of people each day. The
Germans began the elimination of the Jewish
population under the guise of "resettlement" in spring of 1942. The
three Reinhard camps including
Treblinka (the deadliest of them all)
had transferable SS staff and almost identical design. The General
Government was the location of four of the seven extermination camps
World War II
World War II in which the most extreme measures of the Holocaust
were carried out, including closely located Majdanek concentration
Sobibor extermination camp
Sobibor extermination camp and Belzec extermination camp. The
genocide of undesired "races", chiefly millions of Jews from Poland
and other countries, was carried out by gassing between 1942 and
The wall of the
Warsaw Ghetto being built under the orders of Dr.
Ludwig Fischer, Nazi governor of the
Warsaw district, August 1940
Announcement by the Chief of SS and Police 5.09.1942—Death penalty
Poles for any help to Jews
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 1943:
Warsaw Jews being held at gunpoint
by SS troops (from a report written by
Jürgen Stroop for Heinrich
Polish inmates of
Pawiak prison hanged by
Germans in Leszno Street,
Warsaw, February 11, 1944 (photo taken secretly from tram by a member
of the Polish Home Army)
Warsaw Uprising: Polish soldiers in action, August 1, 1944
Polish civilians murdered by SS troops in
Warsaw Uprising, August 1944
Aerial view of city of Warsaw, January 1945
Portrait of a Young Man by Raphael, stolen at the behest of Hans Frank
in 1939 and never returned; one of over 40,000 works of art robbed
from Polish collections
Polish hostages being blindfolded during preparations for their mass
execution in Palmiry, 1940
The mass execution of
Poles in Bochnia, December 18, 1939
Areas annexed by Nazi Germany
German camps in occupied
Poland during World War II
Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany
Poland annexed by the Soviet Union
World War II
World War II evacuation and expulsion
Chronicles of Terror
a. ^ The RKF (also RKFDV) stands for the Reichskommissar für die
Festigung des deutschen Volkstums, or the Reich Commissioner for the
Consolidation of German Nationhood, an office in
Nazi Germany held by
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Meanwhile, the HTO stands for
Haupttreuhandstelle Ost, or the Main Trustee Office for the East, a
Nazi German predatory institution responsible for liquidating Polish
and Jewish businesses across occupied Poland; and selling them off for
profit mainly to the SS, or the German
war-profiteers if interested. The HTO was created and headed by Nazi
Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring.
^ Diemut 2003, page 268.
^ a b c d Diemut Majer (2003). "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.
With contribution from the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum.
JHU Press. pp. 236–246. ISBN 0801864933.
^ Piotr Eberhardt, Jan Owsinski (2003). Ethnic Groups and Population
Changes in Twentieth-century Central-Eastern Europe: History, Data,
Analysis. M.E. Sharpe. p. 216. ISBN 9780765606655.
^ Ewelina Żebrowaka-Żolinas Polityka eksterminacyjna okupanta
hitlerowskiego na Zamojszczyźnie Studia Iuridica Lublinensia 17,
^ a b c Keith Bullivant, Geoffrey J. Giles, Walter Pape (1999).
Germany and Eastern Europe: Cultural Identities and Cultural
Differences. Rodopi. p. 32. CS1 maint: Uses authors
^ Adam D. Rotfeld, Anatolij W. Torkunow (2010). White spots–black
spots: difficult issues in Polish–Russian relations 1918–2008
[Białe plamy–czarne plamy: sprawy trudne w polsko-rosyjskich
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^ Hans Frank's Diary
^ Liulevicius, Vejas G. (2000). War Land on the Eastern Front:
Culture, Identity, and German Occupation in World War I. Cambridge
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^ "Erlaß des Führers und Reichskanzlers über die Gliederung und
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^ Majer (2003), p. 265.
^ Generalgouvernement Shoah Resource Center
^ a b Hitler, Adolf (2000). Bormann, Martin. ed. Hitler's Table Talk
1941-1944, 5 April 1942. trans. Cameron, Norman; Stevens, R.H. (3rd
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^ "Man to man...", Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa, Warsaw
2011, p. 11. English version.
^ Hitler's plans for Eastern Europe
^ Rich, Norman (1974). Hitler's War Aims: the Establishment of the New
Order, p. 99. W. W. Norton & Company Inc., New York.
^ Burleigh, Michael (1988). Germany Turns Eastwards: A Study of
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^ Catherine Epstein (2012), Model Nazi:
Arthur Greiser and the
Occupation of Western Poland, Oxford University Press,
ISBN 0199646538, p. 139
^ Rich, p. 89.
^ NS-Archiv: Dokumente zum Nationalsozialismus. Diensttagebuch Hans
Frank: 16.12.1941 - Regierungssitzung (in German). Retrieved 12 May
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^ a b Wasser, Bruno (1993). Himmler's Raumplanung im Osten, pp. 82-83.
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^ "Man to man...", Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa, Warsaw
2011, english version
^ a b Majer (2003), p.302
^ Myroslav Yurkevich. (1986). Galician Ukrainians in German Military
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^ Hillberg, Raul, The Destruction of the European Jews, Holmes &
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^ a b The Erwin and Riva Baker Memorial Collection (2001). Yad Vashem
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^ a b Browning, Christopher R. (1998) . "Arrival in Poland" (PDF
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Final Solution in Poland. Penguin Books.
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^ Benz, Wolfgang (1997). Enzyklopädie des Nationalsozialismus.
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^ Czesław Madajczyk. Polityka III Rzeszy w okupowanej Polsce p.242
volume 1 , Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa, 1970
^ Rich (1974), p. 86.
^ Frank Uekötter, "The Green and the Brown: A History of Conservation
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^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-06. Retrieved
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to General Government.
Kochanski, Halik. The Eagle Unbowed:
Poland and the
Poles in the
Second World War (2012)
Generalgouvernement on the
Yad Vashem website
Testimony of Frank at Nuremberg, examined by his defense attorney, Dr.
Alfred Seidl, 4/18/1946.
General Government NAZI occupied Poland, the CIH
World War II
World War II Pages.
Retrieved 24 August 2015.
Collections of civilian testimonies from Nazi-occupied
testimony database "Chronicles of Terror"
Administrative divisions of
Nazi Germany (1933–1945)
March of Brandenburg
Brüssel (de jure)
Bohemia and Moravia
Related articles: List of Gauleiters
Administrative territories of Nazi Germany, 1939–1945
Areas annexed by Nazi Germany
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Adriatic Littoral (1943–1945)
Alpine Foothills (1943–1945)
Belgium and Northern France (1940–1944)
Soviet Union (1941–1944)
Administrations within or including Soviet territory shown in italics.
Holocaust in Poland
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Operation Reinhard death camps
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Human medical experimentation
Perpetrators, participants, organizations, and collaborators
Gas chamber executioners
Ordnungspolizei (Orpo battalions)
Belarusian Auxiliary Police
Jewish Ghetto Police
Żagiew ("Torch Guard")
Ostlegionen, Bataillone (Cossack Division, Russian "ROA")
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Aftermath, trials and commemoration
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Coordinates: 50°03′N 19°56′E / 50.050°N 19.933°E /