German Reprisal in the Eastern Borderlands (Kresy Wschodnie) of the Second Republic of Poland, 1941–1944 Cover Image

Represje niemieckie na Kresach Wschodnich II Rzeczypospolitej 1941–1944
German Reprisal in the Eastern Borderlands (Kresy Wschodnie) of the Second Republic of Poland, 1941–1944

Author(s): Grzegorz Hryciuk
Subject(s): History
Published by: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej

Summary/Abstract: The territories of eastern Poland annexed in 1939–1940 by the Soviet Union, in the summer of 1941 were under the German occupation and they were incorporated into the new Reichskommissariat Ukraine and Reichskommissariat Ostland, the General Gouvernement or – as in the case of two eastern poviats of Białystok Province and a small part of Polesie Province – incorporated into Białystok District, subordinated to the Reichsverteidigungskommissar for East Prussia. The basic principles of the occupation policy of the Third Reich were formulated before the outbreak of the Soviet-German war. It seems that what affected their implementation, especially resorting to terror, were the attitudes of local communities including their willingness to co-operate, the exhibited level of adaptation and resistance as well as the course of events at the fronts and the evolution of general principles of the occupation policy inspired by those trends. To some extent, the character of the policy also depended on the personal features of the top offi cials of German administration who implemented it. That is why the reprisal measures directed against different ethnic groups in particular territories differed – the regime was relatively mild as far as Lithuanians in the General Reichskommissariat Lithuania or Ukrainians in Galicia district were concerned and more severe in the case of Ukrainians in Volhynia and Belorussians in the General Reichskommissariat Belorussia. The most ruthless terror was directed against Jews. The extermination of Jews started as early as the summer of 1941 when German operational groups (Einsatzgruppen)entered into the Polish eastern territories. The most intense genocide operations were carried out in 1942. The losses of other nations were lower, and the occupier’s reprisals intensifi ed at the turn of 1942 and 1943 and in 1943– –1944, when the North-Eastern Borderlands of the Second Republic of Poland, Polesie and Volhynia became the theater of the great anti-partisan operations and pacifi cation actions organized by the German security forces. The demographic losses seem to be much higher among Poles, Ukrainians and Belorussians caused by the forced deportations to slave labour into the interior of the Third Reich. The inhabitants of the eastern Borderlands of the Second Republic of Poland incurred heavy losses during the German occupation in 1941–1944, amounting to 1.6–1.7 million casualties that is nearly 15 per cent of the total number of inhabitants. The heaviest losses were infl icted to Jews: 1 100 000 – 1 150 000 persons; nearly all Jewish Borderland inhabitants were murdered.

  • Issue Year: 12/2008
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 79-112
  • Page Count: 34
  • Language: Polish