Half of These Holocaust Victims Were Non-Jewish.
On August 22, 1939, a few days before the official start of World War II, Hitler authorized his commanders, with these infamous words, to kill "without pity or mercy, all men, women, and children of Polish descent or language. Only in this way can we obtain the living space [lebensraum] we need". Heinrich Himmler echoed Hitler's decree:
"All Poles will disappear from the world.... It is essential that the great German people should consider it as its major task to destroy all Poles."
On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland from three directions. Hitler's invincible troops attacked from the west, the north and the south. Poland never had a chance. By October 8, 1939, Polish Jews and non-Jews were stripped of all rights and, were subject to special legislation. Rationing, which allowed for only bare sustenance of food and medicine was quickly set up.
Young Polish men were forcibly drafted into the German army.
The Polish language was forbidden. Only the German language was allowed.
All secondary schools and colleges were closed.
The Polish press was liquidated. Libraries and bookshops were burned.
Polish art and culture were destroyed.
Polish churches and snyagogues were burned.
Most of the priests were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
Street signs were either destroyed or changed to new German names. Polish cities and towns were renamed in German.
Ruthless obliteration of all traces of Polish history and culture.
Hitler's Goal: Terrorize Polish People Into Subservience.
Hundreds of Polish community leaders, mayors, local officials, priests, teachers, lawyers, judges, senators, doctors were executed in public.
Much of the rest of the so-called Intelligentsia, the Polish leading class, was sent to concentration camps where they later died.The first mass execution of World War II took place in Wawer, a town near Warsaw, Poland on December 27, 1939 when 107 Polish non-Jewish men were taken from their homes in the middle of the night and shot.
This was just the beginning of the street roundups and mass executions that continued throughout the war.
At the same time, on the eastern border of Poland, the Soviet Union invaded and quickly conquered. Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland in half. The western half, occupied by the Nazis, became a new German territory: "General Gouvernment". The eastern half was incorporated within the adjoining Russian border by Soviet "elections". This new border "realignment" conferred Soviet citizenship on its new Polish inhabitants. And all young Polish men were subject to being drafted into the Soviet army.Just like the Nazis the Soviets also reigned terror in Poland. The Soviets took over Polish businesses, Polish factories and destroyed churches and religious buildings. The Polish currency (zloty) was removed from circulation. All Polish banks were closed and savings accounts were blocked. During the period of the Holocaust of World War II, Poland lost:
45% of her doctors,
57% of her attorneys
40% of her professors,
30% of her technicians,
more than 18% of her clergy
most of her journalists.
Poland's educated class was purposely targeted because the Nazis knew that this would make it easier to control the country. Non-Jews of Polish descent suffered over 100,000 deaths at Auschwitz. The Germans forcibly deported approximately 2,000,000 Polish Gentiles into slave labor for the Third Reich. The Russians deported almost 1,700,000 Polish non-Jews to Siberia. Men, women and children were forced from their homes with no warning. Transferred in cattle cars in freezing weather, many died on the way. Polish children who possessed Aryan-looking characteristics were wrenched from their mother's arms and placed in German homes to be raised as Germans. The Polish people were classified by the Nazis according to their racial characteristics. The ones who appeared Aryan were deported to Lodz for further racial examination. Most of the others were sent to the Reich to work in slave labor camps. The rest were sent to Auschwitz to die. Polish Christians and Catholics were actually the first victims of the notorious German death camp. For the first 21 months after it began in 1940, Auschwitz was inhabited almost exclusively by Polish non-Jews. The first ethnic Pole died in June 1940 and the first Jew died in October 1942. Because of the obliteration of the Polish press by the Nazis, most of the world was not aware, including many parts of Nazi-occupied Poland, of the atrocities going on. Even to this day, much documentation of the Holocaust is not available. The entire records of Auschwitz were stolen by the Soviets and not returned. It was Hitler's goal to rewrite history.
The Nazis destroyed books, monuments, historical inscriptions. They began a forceful campaign of propaganda to convince the world of the inferiority and weakness of the Polish people and likewise, their invincible superiority and power.