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Liveblogging World War II: June 19, 1943

World War II Today:

On the 19th June 1943 the Governor of what remained of Poland, Hans Frank, met with Hitler to discuss the situation in the country. He brought with him a briefing document which was to prove important at the post war War Crimes trials. There was ample evidence of the suffering that the Nazis had brought to the whole of the Polish population. Quite apart from the murderous actions directed against the Jewish population, non Jewish Poles had suffered from an extraordinarily repressive regime. Frank himself had openly acknowledged as much in a 1940 interview:

In Prague, big red posters were put up on which one could read that seven Czechs had been shot today. I said to myself, ‘If I had to put up a poster for every seven Poles shot, the forests of Poland would not be sufficient to manufacture the paper.

Hans Frank was concerned that he would no longer be able to maintain control in the country. Now there was a document, produced by the Nazis themselves, detailing the extent of the repression:

In the course of time, a series of measures or of consequences of the German rule have led to a substantial deterioration of the attitude of the entire Polish people in the German Government. These measures have affected either individual professions or the entire population and frequently also-often with crushing severity-the fate of individuals. Among these are in particular:

  1. The entirely insufficient nourishment of the population, mainly of the working classes in the cities, whose majority is working for German interests. Until the war of 1939, its food supplies, though not varied, were sufficient and generally secure, due to the agrarian surplus of the former Polish state and in spite of the negligence on the part of their former political leadership.

  2. The confiscation of a great part of the Polish estates and the expropriation without compensation and resettlement of Polish peasants from manoeuvre areas and from German settlements.

  3. Encroachments and confiscations in the industries, in commerce and trade and in the field of private property.

  4. Mass arrests and mass shootings by the German police who applied the system of collective responsibility.

  5. The rigorous methods of recruiting workers.

  6. The extensive paralyzation of cultural life.

  7. The closing of high schools, junior colleges, and universities.

  8. The limitation, indeed the complete elimination of Polish influence from all spheres of State administration.

  9. Curtailment of the influence of the Catholic Church, limiting its extensive influence – an undoubtedly necessary move – and, in addition, until quite recently, the closing and confiscation of monasteries, schools and charitable institutions.

See 437-PS evidence to the Nuremburg trial of Hans Frank

Hitler was quite ready to dismiss Frank’s concerns. There were different Nazi authorities operating within Poland. Most notably the SS were engaged in the final liquidation of the Jewish ghettoes. These were stirring up the Polish resistance, even though they been able to offer limited assistance to the uprising in the Polish ghetto. At a meeting with Himmler, also on the 19th June, Hitler apparently agreed to an acceleration of the ghetto clearance policy – and was prepared to deal with any consequent increase in Polish resistance equally ruthlessly.