Pages 436-438 and 440-441 > access to source at the UDK > Teilband 1 > Link
Translation of contents with the friendly permission of Verlag Dr. Kovač Hamburg.
Author information: Miriam Y. Arani
Publisher: Verlag Dr. Kovač
Place of publishing: Hamburg
Document type: Book (Monograph)
Year of completion: 2008
Publishing Institution: Universität der Künste Berlin
Date of release: 23.02.2022
GND keyword: Wartheland; Poland – people; Germans; photography; self-image; foreign image; Wartheland; Polen – Volk; Deutsche; Fotografie; Selbstbild; Fremdbild
Page number: 1014
License (German): No license – copyright protection
From Chapter IV The Changes in the Conditions of Production of Photographs for Poles by the Occupation Policy in the Reichsgau Wartheland 1939-1945
2. Changes in the photographic industry of the newly formed Reichsgau Wartheland: the expropriation of Polish business owners since autumn 1939
[Excerpt: pp. 436-438]
Within the general framework of Poland policies, which had been presented comprehensively for the first time in the November 1939 memorandum of the NSDAP’s Office of Racial Policy, Poles were successively excluded from photographic production in the Reichsgau Wartheland by the National Socialist occupying power in the following years. The German occupation administration increasingly denied them access to the means of photographic production. After all Poles in the Reichsgau Wartheland were initially excluded from the press and publishing professions, something similar happened some time later in the photographic crafts and trades. Finally, Poles were eventually forbidden, under threat of punishment, to privately own and use cameras. This gradual process of excluding Poles from photographic production in the Reichsgau Wartheland finds its parallels in other measures taken by the National Socialist occupying power, all of which aimed to exclude the Polish population from participation in cultural life and modern means of communication. In specialist literature, this was also referred to as an attempt of a “de-culturalization” of the Poles.
The entire economic order in the newly formed Reichsgau Wartheland was “restructured” under National Socialist occupation rule from the end of 1939 to the effect that not only Polish state assets but also the private assets of Poles (including Jewish Poles) were confiscated by the Haupttreuhandstelle Ost (HTO), which was created for this purpose, and then transferred to the National Socialist “Volksgemeinschaft”.  The HTO had been established by Hermann Göring in mid-October to November 1, 1939, and was headed by Max Winkler. A regional branch of the trusteeship office was established in Posen in December 1939, followed in 1940 by another branch in Lodz. These offices recorded the commercial and industrial assets of Polish citizens in the Warthegau and carried out their confiscation and directed it’s further utilization. For the forced confiscation of Polish assets, the HTO had at its disposal the police and the SS. The HTO confiscated businesses, valued them, and then sold them to Germans or handed them over to German trustees for provisional administration. In this way, it regulated the competition for the most economically interesting objects among the Germans and gave the appearance to the outside world that the state-organized looting of Polish property, which was not permissible under international law, was a legitimate act of state. 
In order to regulate the confiscation of Polish state and private property in a pseudo-legal manner, the National Socialist occupying power in the Reichsgau Wartheland issued a whole series of fundamental decrees in 1940.  The “Polish Property Ordinance” [“Polenvermögensordnung”] of 17.9.1940 generally confiscated all commercial and private property of Polish citizens in favor of the German Reich; the HTO was to dispose about commercial assets and municipal land from Polish ownership. 
Fig. IV.01: NSDAP-Gaupresseamt Posen, „Q – Wirtschaft. Sitzung der Haupttreuhandstelle-Ost, Abteilung Handel, Handwerk“ Posen, ca. 1940/41 (IZ NSDAP-Gaupresseamt Arch. Nr. Q 6, 4th film strip, negative 11).
The Polish businesses that were gradually confiscated were assigned to the economic groups of the newly formed Gauwirtschaftskammer Wartheland. When the HTO auditors judged a property to be productive, it was transferred to German companies or individual entrepreneurs in provisional administration, in trusteeship, or by sale. Since within the HTO economic objectives were linked to population policy and military objectives, not only the newly founded Chamber of Crafts and Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Wartheland, but also RKF and Wehrmacht services participated in the selection of applicants. By 1942, the registration and transfer of ownership of Polish business enterprises was almost complete. 
The resale of the confiscated Polish farms to German buyers was mediated according to certain distribution keys, according to which certain groups of Germans were to be preferred as buyers. For this reason, the HTO’s documents also recorded whether the prospective buyer was a “Reichdeutscher”, a “Volksdeutscher” (i.e., a Polish-German), a “Baltic German”, or the like. A “General Referent for the Consolidation of German Nationality” [Generalreferent für die Festigung deutschen Volkstums] (GVSS) determined which groups were to be given preferential treatment in economic life in order to “consolidate German nationality” [einer “Festigung deutschen Volkstums”] and demanded, for example, of the Posen Trust Office that “ethnic Germans and resettlers, insofar as they come into question as applicants for purchase, should be admitted as quickly as possible” to the companies – “subject to verification of their political harmlessness”. 
All this also applied to the Polish photographic businesses located in Poznan, Lodz and the small towns of the Warthegau. At that time, drugstores often already carried out photographic work, which was now, of course, also taken away from the Polish owners and transferred to new German administrators or owners in the form described above. As a rule, when businesses were transferred from Polish to German owners, the largest and most lucrative businesses were first confiscated and handed over to Germans. Especially in the center of the city of Poznan, the transfer of photographic businesses took place quite quickly, which was also related to the fact that numerous Baltic Germans had already settled here at the end of 1939, to whom the formerly Polish businesses were now handed over. It is very likely that many of the Polish owners of photo studios and photo shops in the center of Poznan were among those who were first resettled in the General Government by the German occupying power, since the city center in particular was to be populated with Germans as quickly as possible. The lives of the numerous Polish and German photographers can hardly be reconstructed, but the systematic transfer of Polish photographic businesses to Germans in the city of Poznan can be traced on the basis of contemporary telephone directories, advertisements, photographic sources with proof of authorship, and preserved administrative files.
 With the exception of agricultural property, which was confiscated by the RKF services.
 See especially Rosenkötter 2002; also Aly/Heim 1991, p. 155 Röhr 1989, pp. 41f., 47f. and Doc. 24, p. 132f.; Serwanski 1970, pp. 156f., 159; Luczak 1969a; Luczak 1966, pp. 197-204; Deresiewicz 1950.
 Serwanski 1970, pp. 157f.; Pospieszalski 1952, pp. 215, 221f., 226f.; Deresiewicz 1950, pp. 29f., 33f. 65f. It concerns the decree of 15.1.1940 (Polish state property), the decree of 12.2.1940 (state management of agricultural land by the Ostland Company [Gesellschaft Ostland]), and the decree of 17.9.1940 (private property of Polish citizens).
 Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 1270; see also Broszat 1965, p. 127. Agricultural property was confiscated for the disposal by the RKF.
 Röhr 1989, pp. 41f.; Aly/Heim 1991, pp. 155, 165.
 See APP-Haupttreuhandstelle Ost, Sign. 8798, Bl. 15.
From Chapter IV: The Change of the Conditions of Production of Photographs for Poles by the Occupation Policy in the Reichsgau Wartheland 1939-1945
3. The ban on the possession and use of photographic equipment for Poles, enemy aliens and Jews in the Reichsgau Wartheland as of 1941
[Excerpt pp. 440-441]
The process of successive expropriation of all Polish photographic businesses, which had been going on in the newly formed Gau in the East since the end of 1939, reached a new climax in the summer of 1941 in the form of a police order prohibiting all Poles in the Gau from owning and using cameras.  A few fragments of documents concerning the police order for the Poznan administrative district in 1941 have been preserved, which provide some insight into the implementation of this ban on photography for Poles: On June 26, 1941, the president of the Poznan administrative district, Viktor Böttcher, apparently issued the first order that Poles in the administrative district must hand over their cameras and binoculars to the German occupation authorities.  On June 28, 1941, he sent a quick letter to the police chief in Posen, to the district councils of the administrative district, the gendarmerie, and the district commissioners concerning the “submission of Polish-owned cameras and binoculars.” He informed them that a “police order on the possession of cameras and binoculars” would soon appear in the Ostdeutscher Beobachter, according to which “Poles, enemy aliens and stateless persons” were prohibited from possessing these objects. The police order was to be publicly announced to the population immediately “by public notice”. The cameras had to be delivered by the Poles to the district commissars or gendarmerie posts and in Posen to the police stations by July 7.  On the following Sunday, June 29, 1941, the German police in Seewörth (Strzeszynek) in the Posen district conducted a search of all the Poles gathered at the lake there, taking away their cameras. 
On July 1, 1941, Viktor Böttcher, the District President of Poznan, again sent a quick letter to the Chief of Police in Poznan, the District Administrators, the Gendarmerie and the District Commissioners. He informed them that the issuance of the police decree would be postponed for a week and that a report on the execution of the decree was to be made by August 1, 1941. He also urged the addressees to “take care that the cameras as well as the binoculars are delivered in perfect condition. If there is any suspicion that the Polish owner has deliberately rendered them unusable, the Gestapo is to be asked for further measures”.  Finally, on July 7, 1941, the police order issued on July 4, 1941, appeared in the Ostdeutscher Beobachter.  It stated:
“Police Order – on the possession of photo cameras and binoculars. On the basis of § 6 of the Second Regulation for the Implementation of the Decree of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor on the Division and Administration of the Incorporated Eastern Territories of November 2, 1939 (RGBl. I, p. 2133), the following is ordered for the administrative district of Posen:
§ 1. The possession of photographic equipment and binoculars is forbidden to Poles and enemy aliens.
§ 2. The persons mentioned in § 1 shall deliver the photographic apparatus and binoculars in their possession to the local police station (gendarmerie post, district commissars), in the city of Poznan to the police stations, not later than 5 p.m. on July 12, 1941.
§ 3. The sale of films, photographic equipment and binoculars to the persons mentioned in § 1 is prohibited. In case of violation, the buyer and the seller shall be liable to prosecution.
§ 4. violations of the police regulation shall be punished by RM 150 or imprisonment, unless higher penalties or other measures are applied.
§ 5. The Police Regulations shall come into force immediately.
Posen, July 4, 1941, the District President.”
As early as July 8, 1941, the district commissioner from Schrimm (Srem) wrote to the district president in Posen to describe the problem that would arise if all Poles had to hand over their cameras: There was no German professional photographer in Schrimm, but only the Polish professional photographer Piasecki, who had a studio and film apparatus. If the Polish photographer had to hand over his studio equipment, the German “Volksgenossen” would be forced to travel all the way to Posen to take photographs, which would take a lot of time.  In Moschin (Mosina) the same conditions would prevail: “In the whole Schrimm district there is not one German professional photographer. If the apparatus of the Polish photographers were confiscated, not one photograph could be produced in the whole district.”  Thus, the responsible district commissioner in the Tiefenbach (Ksiaz) district of Schrimm County also left the Polish professional photographers their cameras, since no German professional photographers were resident. 
Different conditions prevailed in the district of Grätz (Grodzisk). On August 13, 1941, the district administrator there reported to the district president in Posen on the enforcement of the police order: “Polish professional photographers and photo stores have not been allowed to keep their equipment. The apparatuses already delivered have been taken into custody here under lock and key.” 
As a result of the public requests, Poles in both counties delivered cameras to the German authorities concerned.
 Cf. Luczak 1990, pp. 284f., Majer 1981, pp. 415f., 452f.; DO XIII, Doc. VIII-3, pp. 284f. (police order banning photographic equipment for Poles, Regierungspräsident Litzmannstadt 28.6.1941).
 Luczak 1989, p. 247.
 APP-Landrat Schrimm, Sign. 73, Bl. 234.
 Luczak 1989, p. 249.
 APP-Landrat Grätz, Sign. 22, Bl. 31.
 „Ostdeutscher Beobachter,“ 7/7/1941, p. 4, section „Amtliche Bekanntmachungen.“ Cf. APP-Landrat Grätz, Sign. 22, Bl. 33 (quick letter from the Regierungspräsident of Posen, Viktor Böttcher, to the Polizeipräsident of Posen, the Landräte of the Regierungsbezirk, the Gendarmerie, and the Amtskommissare of 5.7.1941: the Regierungspräsident informs that the police order cited in the circulars of 26.6. and 1.7.1941 will appear in the Ostdeutscher Beobachter on 7.7.1941).
 APP-Landrat Schrimm, Sign. 73, Bl. 262.
 APP-Landrat Schrimm, Sign. 73, Bl. 263.
 APP-Landrat Schrimm, Sign. 73, Bl. 251 (letter from the Amtskommissar vom Bezirk Tiefenbach (Ksiaz) to the Landrat in Schrimm dated 28.7.1941).
 APP-Landrat Grätz, Sign. 40.