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General Government

Generalgouvernement (de)Generalne Gubernatorstwo (pl)
General Government
Administratively autonomous component of Nazi Germany[1]
1939â1945 â
Flag Coat of arms
Administrative map of the General Government, August 1941
Capital Krakau / Kraków
Language(s) German (official), Polish, Ukrainian (local usage)
Government Civil administration
 - 1939â45 Hans Frank
Secretary of State
 - 1939â41 Arthur Seyss-Inquart
 - 1941â45 Josef Bühler
Historical era World War II
 - Invasion of Poland October 12, 1939
 - Vistula-Oder Offensive February 2, 1945
 - 1939 95,000 km2 (36,680 sq mi)
 - 1941 142,000 km2 (54,827 sq mi)
 - 1941 est. 12,000,000 
     Density 84.5 /km2  (218.9 /sq mi)
Currency ZÅoty

The General Government (German: Generalgouvernement, Polish: Generalne Gubernatorstwo) was a part of the territories of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II that were a separate region of the Greater German Reich (Großdeutsches Reich).[1] After Operation Barbarossa in August 1941, the former Polish voivodeships (districts) of Eastern Galicia (with a majority of Ukrainians) were added to the General Government by a decree issued by Adolf Hitler.[2]

According to section III of the Fourth Hague Convention (1907), accepted by Germany, all of these acts were illegal from their inception, in terms of international and civil law.[3] The area was not a puppet state and had no goal of collaborating with Poles throughout the war, regardless of their political orientation. The Nazi authorities made a determined effort to avoid even mentioning the name "Poland" in government correspondence. The only exception to this were the German-backed banknotes and coins (called 'zloty' and 'grosz') printed in 1940 where that word was used for propaganda purposes. The government and administration of the General Government was composed entirely of Germans, with the intent that the area was eventually to become a German province.[4] The only locals remaining were to be those of German descent.

The full title of the regime in German was the Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete, a name that is usually translated as the General Government for the Occupied Polish Territories. A more literal translation of Generalgouvernement would be General Governorate, however. Governorate is a term meaning an administrative division or territory. It was also known colloquially as the Restpolen ("Remainder of Poland").]


[edit] History

"Second Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact" of September 28, 1939. Map of Poland signed by Stalin and Ribbentrop adjusting definitive German-Soviet border in the aftermath of German and Soviet invasion of Poland

After the attack on Poland all areas (including the Free City of Danzig) that were occupied by the German army initially fell under military rule. This area extended from the 1939 eastern border of Germany proper and East Prussia up to the Bug river where the German armies had halted their advance and linked up with the Soviet Red Army. Under the initial Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty concluded in August the territory between the Vistula and Bug rivers was assigned to the Soviet sphere of influence in divided Poland, while Warsaw was to be jointly ruled city between the two powers. To settle this deviation from the original agreement the German and Soviet representatives met again on September 28 to deliminate the permanent border between the two countries. Under this revised version of the pact the territory concerned was exchanged for the inclusion of Lithuania into the Soviet sphere, which was similarly alloted originally to the other power, namely Germany. With the new agreement the entire central part of Poland, including the core ethnic area of the Poles came under sole German control.

Hitler decreed that large parts of the occupied Polish territory in the western half of the German zone should be annexed directly to the German Reich to increase its Lebensraum.[5] Most of these areas were organized as two new Reichsgaue, Danzig-West Prussia and Wartheland. The remaining three regions, the so-called areas of Zichenau, Eastern Upper Silesia and the Suwalki triangle were attached to adjacent Gaus of Germany. Draconian measures were introduced to facilitate their immediate Germanization, typically resulting in mass expulsions, especially in the Warthegau. The remaining parts were to become a German Nebenland (March, borderland) as a frontier post of German rule in the east. The Government General was established by the Führer's decree of October 12, 1939, which came into force on October 26, 1939. Hans Frank was appointed as the Governor-General of these occupied territories. A sharp contrast was therefore made between the new Reich territory and a supposedly occupied rump state that could serve both as a bargaining chip with the western powers as well as a pool reservoir of slave labor. A closed border was also established 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 this new administration was the Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete (General Government for the Occupied Polish Territories), then changed to the Generalgouvernement (General Government) by the Frank's decree of July 31, 1940. The designation General Government was specifically chosen in reference to the Government General of Warsaw, a civil entity created in the area by the German Empire during World War I. This 1914â1918 district existed together with an Austro-Hungarian-controlled Military Government of Lublin alongside the short-lived Kingdom of Poland, a similar rump state formed out of the then-Russian parts of Poland. [6]

It must be noted however that this name did not imply anything about the actual nature of the administration. These Polish territories, apart from the short period of military administration during the actual Invasion of Poland, was never at any point considered to be an occupied territory by the German authorities.[7] The Nazis considered the Polish state to have effectively ceased to exist with its defeat in the September campaign, and that the demise of the Polish nation would follow as the logical next step. This area was therefore neither in whole nor part intended as any future Polish state, whether independent or as a pro-Nazi puppet state. Poland was to be a perpetual component of the German Grossraum (Greater Domain), as the first step toward the creation of the "German World Reich".[7]

In March 1941 Hans Frank informed his subordinates that Hitler had made the decision to "turn this region into a purely German area within 15â20 years." He explained that "Where 12 million Poles now live, is to be populated by 4 to 5 million Germans. The Generalgouvernement must become as German as the Rhineland."[4]

In 1943, the government selected the Zamojskie area for further Germanization on account of its fertile black soil. Zamosjkie was renamed first to Himmlerstadt (Himmler City) and then Pflugstadt (Plough City), and German colonial settlements were planned. The Polish population was expelled amid great brutality in a pacification operation, but few Germans were settled in the area before 1944. See Generalplan Ost for more information about this.

Overall, 4 million of the 1939 population of the General Government area had lost their lives by the time the Soviet armed forces had entered the area in late 1944. If the Polish underground killed a German, 50â100 Poles were executed as a punishment and warning.[8]

[edit] Final solution

During the Wannsee conference on January 20, 1942, The State Secretary of the General Government, Dr. Josef Bühler pushed Heydrich to implement the "final solution" in the General Government. As far as he was concerned, the main problem of General Government was an overdeveloped black market that disorganised the work of the authorities. He saw a remedy in solving the "Jewish question" in the country as fast as possible. An additional point in favor was that there were no transportation problems here.[9]

In 1942, the Germans began the systematic extermination of the Jewish population. The General Government was the location of four of the six extermination camps in which the most extreme measures of the Holocaust, the genocide by gassing of undesired "races", chiefly millions of Jews from Poland and other countries, was carried out between 1942 and 1944.

[edit] Resistance

Resistance to the German occupation began almost at once, although there is little terrain in Poland suitable for guerrilla operations. The main resistance force was the Home Army (in Polish: Armia Krajowa or AK), loyal to the 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), backed by the Soviet Union and controlled by the Polish Communist Party. By 1944 the AK had some 380,000 men, although few arms. During the occupation, the various Polish resistance organizations killed about 150,000 Axis soldiers.[citation needed] The AL was about 15% of the size of the AK.

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. After 63 days of fighting the leaders of the rising agreed a conditional surrender with the Wehrmacht. The 15,000 remaining Home Army soldiers were granted POW status (prior to the agreement, captured rebels were shot), and the remaining civilian population of 180,000 expelled.

[edit] End

As the Soviets advanced through Poland in late 1944 the General Government collapsed. Frank was captured by American troops in May 1945 and was one of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials. During his trial he converted to Catholicism. 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 and on October 1, 1946, he was sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out on October 16.

[edit] Government

Official proclamation of General-Gouvernement in Poland by Germany, October 1939
Announcement of the execution of 60 Polish hostages and a list of 40 new hostages taken by Nazi authorities in Poland, 1941

The 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 of the General Government (Regierung des Generalgouvernements). For the entire period of its history, there was only one General-Governor (Dr. Hans Frank) and the Office (later, the Government) 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 of General Government (Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, later Wilhelm Koppe).

The 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.[7] Its character could be compared to a type of colonial state, combined with many characteristics of a police state. It cannot be seen as a Polish puppet government, as there were no Polish representatives on anything but the local levels.

The government seat of the General Government was located in Cracow rather than the traditional Polish capital Warsaw for security reasons. The official state language was German, although Polish continued to be used to a large degree as well, especially on the local levels. Several institutions of the old Polish state were retained in some form for the ease of administration. The Polish police, with no high-ranking Polish officers (who were arrested or demoted), was renamed 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 zÅoty currency, was kept, but with revenues now going to the German state. A new bank was created, and was issuing new banknotes.

After the war, the Polish Supreme National Tribunal declared that the government of the General Government was a criminal institution.

[edit] Judicial system

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 was allowed to continue decision making in cases not concerning German interests or citizens, for which a parallel German court system was created. The German system was given priority in cases of overlapping jurisdiction.

New laws were passed, discriminating against the 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 war camps);
  • on November 10, 1941, for aiding the Jews (including providing food);
  • 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 required;
  • on October 2, 1943, for impeding the "German Reconstruction Plan";

[edit] Police system

The police in the General Government was divided into:

[edit] Military occupation forces

Through the occupation Germany diverted a significant number of its military forces to keep control over Polish territories.

Number of Wehrmacht and police formations stationed in General Gouvernment[10]
Timeperiod Wehrmacht Police and SS

(includes German forces only)

October 1939 550,000 80,000 630,000
April 1940 400,000 70,000 470,000
June 1941 2,000,000

(high number due to imminent invasion of Soviet Union)

50,000 2,050,000
February 1942 300,000 50,000 350,000
April 1943 450,000 60,000 510,000
November 1943 550,000 70,000 620,000
April 1944 500,000 70,000 570,000
September 1944 1,000,000 80,000 1,080,000

[edit] Administrative divisions

Two decrees by Hitler (October 8 and October 12, 1939) provided for the annexation of western and northern areas of Poland into the Third Reich. The remaining block of territory occupied by Germany was placed under an administration called Das Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete (The General Government for the occupied Polish territories). Its capital was at Krakau (Cracow) and it was subdivided into four Distrikten (districts). These were the Distrikt Warschau, the Distrikt Lublin, the Distrikt Radom, and the Distrikt Krakau. After the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, East Galicia, at that point part of the Ukrainian SSR, was incorporated into the General Government and became its fifth district, the Distrikt Galizien.

These five districts were further sub-divided into Stadtkreise (urban counties) and Kreishauptmannschaften (rural counties). Following a decree on September 15, 1941, the names of most of the major cities (and so respective counties) reverted to their historical German names, or were given germanified versions of their Polish or Ukrainian names if none existed. At the same time the previous names remained valid as well. As of October 1, 1941, the districts and counties were as follows:

Distrikt Galizien
Stadtkreise Lemberg
Kreishauptmannschaften Breschan, Tschortkau, Drohobycz, Kamionka-Strumilowa, Kolomea, Lemberg-Land, Rawa-Ruska, Stanislau, Sambor Stryj, Tarnopol, Solotschiw, Kallusch
Distrikt Krakau
Stadtkreise Krakau
Kreishauptmannschaften Dembitz, Jaroslau, Jassel, Krakau-Land, Krosno, Meekow, Neumarkt, Neu-Sandez, Prömsel, Reichshof, Saanig, Tarnau
Distrikt Lublin
Stadtkreise Lublin
Kreishauptmannschaften Biala-Podlaska, Bilgoraj, Cholm, Grubeschow, Janow Lubelski, Krasnystaw, Lublin-Land, Pulawy,

Rehden, Pflugstadt (briefly called Himmlerstadt i.e. "Himmler city")

Distrikt Radom
Stadtkreise Kielce, Radom, Tschenstochau
Kreishauptmannschaften Busko, Jedrzejow, Kielce-Land, Konskie, Opatau, Petrikau, Radom-Land, Radomsko, Starachowitz, Tomaschow Mazowiecki
Distrikt Warschau
Stadtkreise Warschau
Kreishauptmannschaften Garwolin, Grojec, Lowitsch, Minsk, Ostrau, Siedlce, Sochaczew, Sokolow-Wengrow, Warschau-Land

[edit] Population

The population in the General Government's territory was initially about 12 million, but this increased as about 860,000 Poles and Jews were expelled from the Germany-annexed areas and "resettled" in the General Government. Offsetting this was the German campaign of extermination of the Polish intelligentsia and other elements thought likely to resist. From 1941 disease and hunger also began to reduce the population.

Distribution of food in General Gouvernment as of XII 1941[11]
Nationality Daily calorie intake
Germans 2310
Foreigners 1790
Ukrainians 930
Poles 654
Jews 184

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 divided into different groups. Each group had different rights, food rations, allowed strips in the cities, public transportation and restricted restaurants. Listed from the most privileged to the least:

  • 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 included also some ethnic Poles), Volksliste category 3 and 4,
  • Ukrainians,
  • Highlanders (Goralenvolk) â an attempt to split the Polish nation by using local collaborators
  • Poles,
  • Gypsies,
  • Jews (eventually sentenced to extermination as a category).

[edit] Economics

Since the autumn of 1939, Poles from other regions of Poland conquered by Germany were expelled to the General Government and the area was used as a slave labour camp from which men and women taken by force to work as slave laborers in factories and farms in Germany.[4]

Former Polish state property was confiscated by the General Government (or the Third Reich on the annexed territories). Notable property of Polish individuals (ex. factories and large land estates) was often confiscated as well. Farmers were required to provide large food contingents for the Germans, and there were plans for nationalization of all but the smallest estates. Currency was managed by the newly created Bank Emisyjny w Polsce.

[edit] German plans for the future

It was German policy that a small number of (non-Jewish) Poles, like other Slavic peoples, were to be reduced to the status of serfs, while the rest would be deported or otherwise eliminated and eventually replaced by German colonists of the "master race." The annexation of large parts of western Poland already provided for the incorporation into the Greater German Reich of these parts of pre-war Poland. The remainder of central Poland located within the borders of the General Government was to be newly organized into a Vandalengau (Gau of the Vandals) as a new eastern march of the Reich.[12] Another proposal called for the creation of a Reichsgau Beskidenland which was to encompass the southern region of the General Government, stretching from the area to the west of Cracow to the San river in the east.[13]

Various plans regarding the future of the original population were drawn, with one calling for deportation of about 20 million Poles to Western Siberia, and Germanisation of 4 to 5 million; although deportation in reality meant that the population wouldn't be removed but all of its members put to death as happened to other groups in execution of similar plans.[14] In the General Government, all secondary education was abolished and all Polish cultural institutions closed.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Majer, Diemut (1981). Non-Germans under the Third Reich: The Nazi Judicial and Administrative System in Germany and Occupied Eastern Europe with Special Regard to Occupied Poland. Harold Bold Verlag, p. 343. [1]
  2. ^ Magocsi, Paul Robert (1996). A History of Ukraine. University of Toronto Press, p. 627. [2]
  3. ^ Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); October 18, 1907, The Avalon Project, Yale University. [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm#art42
  4. ^ a b c "Germany and Eastern Europe: Cultural Identities and Cultural Differences" by Keith Bullivant, Geoffrey J. Giles, Walter Pape, Rodopi 1999 page 32
  5. ^ "Erlaß des Führers und Reichskanzlers über die Gliederung und Verwaltung der Ostgebiete"
  6. ^ Liulevicius, Vejas G. (2000). War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, Identity, and German Occupation in World War I. Cambridge University Press, p. 54. [3]
  7. ^ a b c Majer (1981), p. 265.
  8. ^ http://www1.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/microsoft%20word%20-%206246.pdf
  9. ^ Adolf Eichmann â Translator Dan Rogers. "The Wannsee Conference Protocol". University of Pennsylvania. http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/Holocaust/wansee-transcript.html. Retrieved 2009 1 5. 
  10. ^ CzesÅaw Madajczyk. Polityka III Rzeszy w okupowanej Polsce p.242 volume 1 , PaÅ„stwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa, 1970
  11. ^ Madajczyk 1970, p.226 volume 2
  12. ^ Levine, Alan J. (1996). Race Relations Within Western Expansion. Preager Publishers, p. 106. [4]
  13. ^ Burleigh, Michael (1988). Germany Turns Eastwards: A Study of Ostforschung in the Third Reich. Cambridge University Press, p. 142.[5]
  14. ^ Hitler's plans for Eastern Europe

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