The Class System In 1939 1945 Essay

814 words - 3 pages

The Class System in 1939-1945

During World War II Poland suffered greatly under five years of German
occupation. Nazi ideology viewed "Poles"--the predominantly Roman
Catholic ethnic majority--as "subhumans" occupying lands vital to
Germany. As part of the policy to destroy the Polish resistance, the
Germans killed many of the nation's political, religious, and
intellectual leaders. They also kidnapped children judged racially
suitable for adoption by Germans and confined Poles in dozens of
prisons and concentration and forced labour camps, where many
perished.

German forces invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Polish troops
fought valiantly in the face of vastly better-equipped forces, with
fierce engagements around Warsaw. Exhausted of food and water, the
besieged capital surrendered on September 27, and fighting by regular
Polish army units ended in early October.

Hitler's pretext for military expansion eastward was the "need" for
more Lebensraum," living space," for the German nation. On the eve of
the invasion he reportedly stated in a meeting of high officials:

I have issued the command--and I'll have anybody who utters but one
word of criticism executed by firing squad--that our war aim does not
consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of
the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in
readiness--for the present only in the East--with orders to send to
death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of
Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living
space that we need.

In 1939 Germany directly annexed bordering western and northern
Poland, disputed lands where many ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche)
resided. In contrast, the more extensive central and southern areas
were formed into a separate "General Government," which was ruled by
German civil administrator Hans Frank. Cracow became the capital of
the General Government, as the Germans planned to turn the Polish
capital of Warsaw into a backwater town. After Germany invaded the
Soviet Union in 1941, Germany also seized eastern Poland. (This
territory had been invaded and occupied by the Soviets in September
1939, in accordance with...

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