Propaganda und Widerstand

Page 729-752, from chapter VI: Polish Authors, Collectors and Distributors of Photographs between Adaptation, Self-Assertion and Resistance

Page 729-752 > access to source at the UDK > Teilband 2 > Link

Translation of contents with the friendly permission of Verlag Dr. Kovač Hamburg.

Author information: Miriam Y. Arani
ISBN: 978-3-8300-3005-8
Publisher: Verlag Dr. Kovač
Place of publishing: Hamburg
Document type: Book (Monograph)
Language: German
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

Band II. Aus Kapitel VI: Polnische Urheber, Sammler und Distributoren von Fotografien zwischen Anpassung, Selbstbehauptung und Widerstand

Volume II. From Chapter VI:  Polish Producers, Collectors and Distributors of Photographs between Adaptation, Self-Assertion and Resistance  (625)

  1. photography in the Polish resistance in the Reichsgau Wartheland (720)

[…] culture and education (729); Polish resistance to Nazi educational policy (735); the destruction of Polish books (743); documentation and foreign information (747)

[Excerpt: pp. 729-752]

Culture an Education

Other important areas in the resistance activities of the Szare Szeregi in the Warthegau were culture and education. In order to adequately assess the significance of the Szare Szeregi’s cultural activities in Poznan and their importance for Polish society, it is necessary to consider the occupation policy background against which these activities unfolded. National Socialist cultural policy in the Warthegau followed in its basic features a völkisch-racial ideology, which was expressed in the fact that the various “ethnic groups” were allowed cultural activity only in accordance with their classification in the National Socialist racial hierarchy. Adolf Hitler and the top officials of the NSDAP believed that foreign peoples, such as the Poles, should not be educated to “German” culture because otherwise they might acquire leadership knowledge [“Führungswissen”], which was to be prevented. To the Poles, the Nazi occupation forces conceded at most “low-level” culture; “highlevel” culture was to be reserved exclusively for “Germans” or “north-racial” [“nordrassischen”] peoples. This racially based cultural policy of the National Socialist occupiers was implemented more rigorously and radically in the “incorporated eastern territories” than in the General Government administration [“Generalgouvernement”] since the former Polish western territories were to be completely “Germanized.” Reichsstatthalter Greiser pursued the anti-Polish cultural policy most consistently in his “model gau” Wartheland: the cultural and educational offerings established here from 1939/40 onward were for the benefit of “Germans” only. Poles were completely excluded from the generously funded “German” cultural life. The German civil administration proceeded as if Polish culture had never existed. Poland’s material cultural assets were looted and destroyed, and the Poles themselves were forbidden any cultural activity in the Warthegau. The previously existing Polish education system was dismantled, and the Poles were excluded from acquiring education. The Nazi occupying power denied the “alien” [“fremdvölkischen“] Poles in the Reichsgau Wartheland any civic school and university education in order to prevent any future resistance against the German occupiers. The occupying power also denied the Poles participation in cultural life: by destroying Polish culture, by forbidding Poles to participate in the cultural life of the Germans, and by forbidding Poles to engage in self-determined cultural activity. The German occupying power enforced the underlying cultural hegemonic claim against the Poles by police means. Any memory of the Polish nation and history in the public sphere and in the consciousness of the population was to be annihilated. For this purpose, Polish monuments were demolished, Polish place and street names were exchanged for German ones, and so forth. The Poles in the Gau were to be educated into a mass of unresistant labor slaves, they were to be denationalized and de-culturalized. National Socialist cultural policy strove to turn them into a population group without intelligence and without national memory. Against the background of these goals, any cultural activity by Poles appeared to the National Socialist rulers in the Warthegau as acts of political resistance. [210]

Fig. VI.151: Unknown photographer (he can be seen on the left in the picture field at the level of the pianist’s neck in the mirror), concert and poetry recitation. Professor Janina Thomas is playing music by Chopin on the grand piano. Poznan, May 6, 1942. silver gelatin print 9 x 13,5 cm (SSW V/1)

The central and at the same time racist doctrine of all National Socialist statements about “Polish” culture was: Poland’s culture was created mainly by Germans; the Poles themselves did not create culture. In those cases where the creative ability of Polish artists was difficult to dispute, German racial experts tried to prove that the artist in question was of “German” descent. The best-known example of this is the Nazi regime’s treatment of the works and origins of the Polish composer Frederic Chopin: first, his music was banned, and from 1943 Chopin was claimed to be a composer of “German” descent and a representative of “German” musical culture. [211]

Under the pretext of preserving and researching “German” culture, the National Socialist regime carried out art theft on a considerable scale in occupied Poland. In the Warthegau, representatives of the German occupying power had Christian sacred art from the Gniezno Cathedral transported to the territory of the Reich (“Reichsgebiet”) and systematically searched museums, castles, farms, collections, libraries, and private residences for works of art and valuables. Responsible for the art theft and the further administration of the looted property were, among others, the “General Trustee for Securing German Cultural Property in the Incorporated Eastern Territories” [“Generaltreuhänder für die Sicherung deutschen Kulturgutes in den eingegliederten Ostgebieten“] appointed by the Main Trust Office East (“Haupttreuhandstelle Ost“) in December and the SS organization “Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft Ahnenerbe e.V.” in Berlin. The Nazi occupying power confiscated works of art and valuable objects in Polish-Christian and Polish-Jewish possession under the pretext of securing “German” culture.

The concept of “securing German cultural property” [“Sicherung deutschen Kulturguts”] was so broadly defined in the Reichsgau Wartheland from 1939 to 1945 that it actually resulted in the confiscation of all art and valuables from Polish and Jewish ownership. In 1941, Reichsstatthalter Greiser enforced a district-specific Gau claim to the on-site utilization of Polish art and valuables confiscated in the Wartheland; since then, the “General Trustee” [“Generaltreuhänder”] of the Haupttreuhandstelle Ost has limited himself to transporting only the more valuable confiscated objects into the Reich territory [“Reichsgebiet”]. [212]

Fig. VI.152: Zdzislaw Kolodziejczak, The academic circle of the Szare Szeregi at a meeting on the occasion of St. Andrew’s Day (Andrzejki). In the back row second from right: Edward Serwanski; in the front row second from left: Aleksandra Markwitz. Poznan, November 1942. Reproduction (SSW V/4)

The cultural activity of Poles under German occupation in the Warthegau was only partly made impossible by expressed prohibitions. Of decisive importance for the destruction and prevention of Polish cultural life was the dismantling of all Polish cultural institutions, the state-organized theft of their property, and the repressions against well-known Polish cultural workers. The basic decrees for this were issued by Arthur Greiser already as Chief of the Civil Administration at the Military Commander in September and October 1939. All Polish cultural institutions in the area of the later Warthegau were confiscated by the Treuhandstelle Ost in order to hand them over to “Germans”. [213] On the basis of the confiscated assets of Polish cultural institutions, the National Socialist occupying power pursued the “Aufbau” [“construction”] of a “German” cultural life in the Reichsgau Wartheland.

Fig. VI.153: Zygmunt Zuraszek, Szare Szeregi celebrate “Andrzejki” (St. Andrew’s Day) – wax casting. Poznan district of Krzyzowniki, 1942 (?). Reproduction (SSW V/6)

Already in the first months after the German occupation of Poland, “German” theaters began operating in Poznan and Lodz (Litzmannstadt). In mid-October 1939, the large theater near the castle in Poznan was opened as “Deutsches Theater” [“German Theater”]. In Lodz, a German theater began operating in January 1940. The “Deutsches Theater” in Posen was extensively rebuilt after a few performances and finally reopened in March 1941 as the “Reichsgautheater” with a “Führerloge”. During his speech on the occasion of the opening of the “Reichsgautheater” in Posen, Reich Propaganda Minister Goebbels referred to the German theaters “in the East” as “the firm castles of our will to colonize” [“die festen Burgen unseres Kolonisationswillens”]. [214] Reichsstatthalter Greiser aimed to turn the Gau capital of Posen into a “showcase of the Warthegau” [“Schaufenster des Warthegaus”] in which “German culture” was to be given prominence. German high culture was to be offered to the German occupying society in Posen and the cultural hegemony of “Germanness” was to be demonstrated to the Poles. To this end, the National Socialist occupation administration provided generous funding and held series of events lasting several days, such as the “Ostdeutschen Kulturtage” [“East German Culture Days”]. [215]

Financially, the German civil administration very generously supported, for example, the “German” musical life in Warthegau. During the occupation period 1939-1945, several German orchestras, NSV concerts and music weeks were organized. The Reichsstatthalter’s wife, the pianist Maria Greiser-Korfer, also performed at WHW and NSV concerts in Wartheland. Reichsstatthalter Greiser especially promoted the “German” music school system, so that by 1944 more than 20 music schools for about 3,000 “German” children and young people had been established in his territory. In addition, the Hitler Youth in the Wartheland developed numerous musical activities in the form of “HJ-Bannorchestern”, small “Spielscharen” and “Fanfarenzügen”. The musical activities of the German occupational society were intended to strengthen the sense of community among the “Germans” in the Gau and to promote the integration of Germans from the Reich, the people, and abroad [“Reichs-, Volks- und Auslandsdeutschen”]. [216]

Fig. VI.154: Zygmunt Zuraszek, Szare Szeregi celebrate “Andrzejki” (St. Andrew’s Day) –  fortune telling game with shoes. Poznan district of Krzyzowniki, 1942 (?). Reproduction (SSW V/7)

Against the background of the National Socialist cultural policy in the Warthegau, which denied Poles access to all cultural institutions – museums, exhibitions, concerts, theaters and cinemas – the high value that the Szare Szeregi attached to culture and education in their political underground work becomes clearer. The members of this Polish resistance group were very interested in cultural activities and in the transmission of Polish culture. Since, as Poles, they were forbidden to attend official cultural events and institutions in the Warthegau, they developed their cultural activities mainly in private rooms. While the young Poles who had joined the Szare Szeregi usually made excursions into the countryside in their free time in the spring and summer, they more commonly organized meetings and events in private homes in the fall and winter. [217] Mieczyslaw Knapski photographed, among other things, one of the private concerts they organized (Fig. VI.150). Another photograph shows a Polish musician playing music by Chopin on the piano during one of such clandestine meeting (fig. VI.151). Since Frederic Chopin’s compositions and some Polish songs had been banned by the National Socialist occupation forces, the Szare Szeregi made sure – before such music was played – that the German apartment neighbors were absent or otherwise (out of solidarity or ignorance) “tolerant.” [218] Moreover, the Szare Szeregi secretly organized small celebrations during the period of occupation in the Warthegau, especially on national and religious holidays. Music was also played and sung at these celebrations, but often only quietly because of the National Socialist bans on Polish music. [219]

The safest place to take photos after the ban was in private interiors. [220] The Szare Szeregi in Poznan often met in groups of five to seven people. For security reasons, these meetings took place in constantly changing apartments. Less frequently – about twice a year, they met in larger groups of about twenty people. Mieczyslaw Knapski also reported on the security measures they took for some of their group photos: when a group was photographed, everyone would quickly line up for the picture and then disperse as quickly as possible. If a very large group was being photographed in a private apartment, one person would leave immediately after the picture was taken with the camera and film so that nothing could be found by the German police during a search. [221]

Fig. VI.155: Mieczyslaw Knapski, Szare Szeregi at a secret joint Christmas party. Poznan, December 1942. The photo was taken with a self-timer; the then 19-year-old photographer can be seen at the far right of the picture. New print from old 35mm negative (private property Mieczyslaw Knapski)

Comparatively many of the identified photographic images show members of the Szare Szeregi in Poznan on religious holidays, namely St. Andrew’s Day (“Andrzejki”), Christmas, and Epiphany. A photograph by Zdzislaw Kolodziejczak [222] (fig. VI.152) shows a group of the academic circle of the Szare Szeregi on St. Andrew’s Day in 1942. If one looks more closely at the background of the group photograph, one can make out the light-proof windows of the room in which those depicted were staying.

St. Andrew’s Day is celebrated on November 30 and coincides with the end of the church year, which begins on Advent 1. Andrew is a martyr mentioned in passing in the Christian Acts of the Apostles. According to the Catholic faith, on St. Andrew’s Day it is supposed to be possible to see into the future; therefore, on this day oracle customs are traditionally practiced by Catholics. In the Wielkopolska region, which is the subject of this study, it was common among Polish Catholics in the first half of the 20th century to cast wax figures and perform some other fortune-telling games on St. Andrew’s Day. A photograph by Zygmunt Zuraszek [223] from the occupation period shows members of the Szare Szeregi in Poznan casting wax on St. Andrew’s Day: hot wax was poured into a pot of cold water and the resulting wax figures were interpreted as symbolic indications of the future (Fig. VI.153). Another photograph shows the young Poles engaged in another popular contemporary oracular custom: lining up shoes one after the other was supposed to predict who would be the next to marry (Fig. VI.154).

Fig. VI.156: unknown photographer, group 21 PDM of the Szare Szeregi during a musical performance in a private apartment during the Christmas holidays. Poznan, Christmas 1943 (?). Reproduction (SSW V/8)

The Szare Szeregi also held small clandestine celebrations on Christmas holidays. In December 1942, Mieczyslaw Knapski [224] photographed one such gathering with a self-timer. The photographer, then 19 years old, can be seen on the far right of the picture (Fig. VI.155). A photographic image of another group during the Christmas holidays shows them performing music in an apartment. Two young men visible in the foreground are playing the accordion, a loud and mobile keyboard instrument that was very popular at the time. The four young men in the background are all looking together into a book of lyrics and sheet music that the second from the left is holding in his hands (Fig. VI.156). A photograph has also survived from the day of the Three Kings in January 1943. It shows members of the Academic Circle of the Szare Szeregi in Poznan after the election of the “Almond King” (krol migdalowy): it is the first man from the right in the back row, who can be recognized by a shiny metallic crown on his head (Fig. VI.157).

Fig. VI.157: Zdzislaw Kolodziejczak, Academic Circle of the Szare Szeregi on the Day of the Three Kings after the election of the “Almond King” (krol migdalowy). In the front row second from left: Aleksandra Markwitz. Poznan, January 1943. reproduction (SSW V/5)

Polish Resistance against the National Socialist Educational Policy

The complete restructuring of the educational system in the newly formed administrative unit can also be included in the National Socialist cultural policy in the Reichsgau Wartheland. In the military district of Posen, schooling for German children was resumed as early as the beginning of October 1939. At first, it was only a small number of schools with relatively few students, mainly children of members of the former German minority in Poland. Since the willingness of “Reich Germans” [“Reichsdeutschen“] to settle permanently in the new “eastern territories” [“Ostgebieten”] also depended on whether a fully developed educational system was available, the German civil administration pushed ahead with the establishment of a multilevel school system – corresponding to that in the Reich territory [“Reichsgebiet]. The number of school-age “German” children in the Gau rose steadily as a result of the foreign Germans [“Auslandsdeutschen”] resettled “home to the Reich” [“heim ins Reich”] and arriving in the Warthegau. Between 1939 and 1945, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, vocational schools, technical schools and the “Reichsuniversität Posen” were opened here for German children and youth. In the Gau area, 1,100 elementary schools with 90,000 students and 1,850 teachers, 22 middle schools with 18,000 students, and 25 high schools with 5,530 students and 542 teachers were established. In addition, several vocational schools were opened in Poznan and Lodz (Litzmannstadt). In Reisen (Rydzyna) near Lissa (Leszno), the first Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalt (Napola) in the Warthegau was opened in April 1940. All these educational institutions were open only to “Germans”; there were 40 to 48 students to one teacher. Throughout the occupational period, the German civil administration of the Warthegau complained about a shortage of German teachers. The teachers seconded from the territory of the Reich seemed unsuitable to the National Socialist rulers and local Germans, since the majority of them were German women. The “teacher shortage” caused by the German civil administration itself – due to the dismissal of all Polish teachers and the derogatory attitude towards women – was compensated by using German students and BDM girls as assistant teachers. [225]

The children of the foreign German resettlers in the Warthegau were often initially taught in the resettlement camps by teachers from the region of origin. The German occupation administration established boarding and residential schools [Heimschulen] in the newly formed Gau, in addition to the usual types of schools found in the Reich territory, in which selected children of expatriate German resettlers [“auslandsdeutschen Umsiedlern“], members of the German minority and Polish children judged to be “north-racial” [“nordrassich”] were to be “re-educated” into “German” children under constant control: they were to be deprived of “Polish influences” and prevented from using the Polish language. [226] In the second half of the occupational period, German language courses were also held for adult “ethnic Germans” [“Volksdeutsch”]. A part of the former German minority in Poland had been classified as “German” solely on the basis of family descent, but their colloquial language was Polish. These were usually the members of DVL [“Deutsche Volksliste”] groups 3 and 4 in the Warthegau. Language courses were set up for them from 1943 as part of the “Volkstumspolitische Erwachsenenbildung” [adult education in the line of “Volk”-policies] program. The NS-Frauenschaft played a central role in this ‘language promotion’, which was partly carried out by coercion: it taught the German language and the National Socialist worldview to “language-endangered” women in sewing, baking and cooking courses at the NSDAP Gauschulungshaus Posen. [227]

Before the German attack on Poland, a Polish university existed in Poznan (Posen); it had already been closed by the German occupation forces in September 1939. On September 11, 1939, the Faculty of Medicine was occupied by Germans; from the Faculty of Chemistry, larger and more expensive equipment was taken away to the territory of the Reich. On September 21, 1939, the main building (Collegium Minus) was sealed by the Gestapo; all Polish members of the University were dismissed. The Polish scientists were resettled in the Generalgouvernement, imprisoned, or executed as part of the “political purge” [“politische Flurbereinigung”]; as a result of the German occupation, about 70 scientists of the university lost their lives. [228]

Although there were limits to the establishment of new scientific institutions under wartime conditions, Reichsstatthalter Greiser was able to push through the opening of a new university in Posen and several non-university research institutions in the Reichsgau Wartheland. As early as October 1939, Greiser had approached Adolf Hitler for the purpose of founding a National Socialist university in Posen, who finally decreed its establishment. The ceremonial founding act of the “Reichsuniversität Posen” took place on April 20, 1941, Hitler’s birthday. It was the first purely National Socialist university to be founded. It was to be a “model example of National Socialist cultural policy” and, as a center of German “Ostforschung,” to provide scientific support for the eugenic “Volkstumspolitik” in the Eastern Occupied Territories. [229] Teaching and research at this university was dominated by the disciplines that served to secure and expand National Socialist power: Law, Economics, Technology, Medicine, and Agriculture. The philosophical subjects were reduced to “volkswissenschaftliche” aspects: “Volkskunde” and racial studies, history and language of the Jews. The historical science pursued here served the political goal of proving historically the superiority of “German” culture. [230]

After the official founding of the “Reichsuniversität” in Posen, 191 students were enrolled in the summer semester of 1941; by the summer of 1944, there were already 1,228 students. The majority of them came from the territory of the Reich, and over 60% of them were women. The majority of the men studying here were invalids of the Wehrmacht. Poles in the Gau were denied access to this new university. Applicants to the “Reichsuniversität Posen” had to present, in addition to a high school diploma, an “ancestral passport”, they were not allowed to have Jewish or Polish relatives, they had to have been members of a Nazi youth organization before 1939, etc. [231]

The cultural policy of the National Socialist occupying power in the Warthegau also included a complete dismantling of the Polish educational system. In order to fundamentally prevent the emergence of intelligentsia among the Poles in the Reichsgau Wartheland and to re-educate the Poles into a “working people” [“Arbeitsvolk”] devoid of history and culture, the Polish population was systematically denied access to the educational system. The German civil administration had all Polish schools and colleges in the area of the later Warthegau closed after the occupation of the area in 1939 and subsequently dissolved them completely. The Nazi occupiers did not publicly proclaim that they would destroy Polish educational system, but they enforced this low-key by closing Polish educational institutions under various pretexts and not reopening them. As late as September 1939, Greiser, as head of the Civil Administration, arranged with the military commander for the closure of all Polish schools and the dismissal of all Polish teachers. [232]

In place of the previously existing Polish educational institutions, the National Socialist occupying power created so-called “Pole schools” [“Polenschulen”] in the Reichsgau Wartheland. This was a curriculum radically mutilated on the basis of racial-ethnic ideology for the training of Polish labor slaves for the Germans, who were supposed to be as ignorant as possible. The “Pole schools” opened by the German civil administration in the Warthegau corresponded conceptually most exactly to the ideas of Reichsführer SS and Chief of the German Police, Heinrich Himmler, which he had formulated in 1940 in his “Thoughts on the Treatment of the Foreign Peoples in the East” [“Gedanken über die Behandlung der Fremdvölkischen im Osten”]: [233] “The aim of this elementary school must be merely: simple calculation to a maximum of 500, writing the name, a teaching that it is a divine command to be obedient to the Germans and to be honest, hardworking and well-behaved. Reading I do not consider necessary.” [234]

The schooling of Polish children and young people in the Warthegau was largely determined by a decree issued by Viktor Böttcher, the “Posener Regierungspräsident” [“president of the Posen government”], which outlined the basic principles of “German” schooling for Poles. According to it, Poles were to be prevented at all costs from obtaining an education that might enable them to pass themselves off as Germans. Polish children were to be taught only two to three hours a day in classes as large as possible. Contrary to Hitler’s ideas, they were to be educated in the Warthegau primarily in “order, cleanliness, discipline and decency.” They were to be taught the German language only to the extent that they understood oral and written work instructions. Under no circumstances were they to learn error-free German, so that their poor German would make them recognizable as Poles. [235]

In effect, the German civil administration in the Reichsgau Wartheland was very slow to set up a few such “Pole schools”. In general, priority was given to the establishment of schools for German children and adolescents.  Only in a few districts of the Warthegau “Polish schools” were established. Four such schools were located on the outskirts of the city of Posen and reached about 10,000 children between the ages of 9 and 13. In them, Polish children were ‘taught’ for two to three hours on weekdays by German assistants, for example by daughters or wives of local Germans; there were about 100 to 150 pupils to one teacher. According to the ideas of the German civil administration, the school attendance of Polish children was to be limited to three to five years. Sports, music, history and geography were completely excluded from the curriculum. The children were to be taught only elementary knowledge of the four basic arithmetic concepts, weights and measures, agricultural plants and farm animals. The focus of the lessons was on “practical work exercises,” i.e., the Polish children were assigned to collect plants or old materials, to clean green areas, and to work in fields, forests, and gardens. [236]

The National Socialist occupation forces pursued a racist language policy towards Polish children and young people in the Warthegau, refusing them lessons both their native language and the new official language. Viktor Böttcher, the district president of Posen, told the Reich Ministry of Education in 1940 that the aim in Warthegau was to “eradicate Polish culture and language”. In November 1940, Reich Governor Greiser considered a general ban on the Polish language unfeasible, but at the same time he was opposed to teaching the German language to Polish children and young people to the same extent as to Germans. On Greiser’s instructions, only German vocabulary, but no German grammar, was to be taught in the “Polenschulen.” [237]

The National Socialist occupation administration in the Warthegau did not continue the previously existing Polish school system with the “Polenschulen”, but sacked, displaced and murdered the Polish teachers. They created a new type of school specifically for the “Fremdvölkischen” [“foreign peoples”] in the Gau, who were now to be taught separately from the “Germans.” School education for Polish children and youth was mutilated beyond recognition by lowering the level of instruction to pre-bourgeois conditions. Young Poles were to be taught their inferior status at an early age in order to consolidate the hegemony of the German occupying society. The “Polenschulen” served the political goal of counteracting the formation of gangs among the native children and youths who often roamed the streets and teaching them to become underintelligent workers. It should be noted that the illiteracy rate in the Poznan region in the early 1930s was not quite 3%, and 85% of all school-age Polish children in the region attended school before the war began. [238]

The Szare Szeregi in the Wielkopolska region gave great importance to the education of Polish children and youth. The secret education system was one of the most important and characteristic areas of the Polish resistance. Throughout German-occupied Poland, the Polish underground endeavored to build a clandestine education system that included Polish underground universities in Warsaw and Krakow. The secret education system of the Poles was highly developed, especially in the Generalgouvernement, but extended into the Warthegau and, along with illegally celebrated Polish cultural events and holidays, formed the basis of the Poles’ cultural self-assertion.

Since there was no possibility of organizing secret Polish university events in the Warthegau, the teachers and students resettled from Poznan founded the secret Uniwersytet Ziem Zachodnich (University of the Western Territories) in Warsaw in 1940 in agreement with the Polish underground authorities. The secret education system was intended to minimize the de-culturalization of Poles growing up and their deliberate stupidization, which the National Socialists were striving for. The secret education system was intended to minimize the de-culturalization of Poles growing up and their deliberate stultification, which the National Socialists were striving for. The organization of secret education in the Reichsgau Wartheland was more restricted than in the other annexed and occupied territories of Poland. The Polish population in the Warthegau was subject to the comparatively strongest control by the German occupying society. Due to the preceding “politischen Flurbereinigung” [“political cleansing”] and the expulsions of Poles, there was a shortage of Polish teachers for the secret classes. In the Warthegau, therefore, the secret education of Poles did not reach such a large scale as in other areas. The greatest development of secret education was in the Poznan area, where it encompassed several thousand children and young people. [239]

Fig. VI.158: Zdzislaw Kolodziejczak, youth group “Biedronki” of the Academic Circle of Szare Szeregi. In the front row, far right, Aleksandra Markwitz. Poznan, 1943 (?). New print from old negative (?) (SSW VII/2)

The Szare Szeregi organized secret lessons, auto-didactic learning groups, cultural and sporting events for Polish children and youth in Poznan and the Wielkopolska region in order to educate them in a patriotic and religious spirit and to prevent them from becoming illiterate. The Polish children were mostly taught by Polish youths; the older youths formed autodidactic learning groups to continue learning by themselves, since suitable teachers were rarely found. In Poznan, the Szare Szeregi had difficulty finding Polish teachers for a secret Polish high-school graduation committee. [240]

During the occupation, for example, Aleksandra Markwitz taught two groups of ten children and teenagers each in Poznan. The Polish pupils were supposed to learn, among other things, about the history and culture of the individual regions of Poland in the secret lessons of the Szare Szeregi. And they were not allowed to tell anyone that they were taking part in the secret lessons. [241] Markwitz founded a coeducational secret instruction group in Poznan in 1941 under the name “Biedronki” (fig. VI.158). The group consisted of a total of ten Polish boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18. A second group, consisting exclusively of girls aged 12 to 14, was founded by Markwitz in 1942. [242] Mieczyslaw Knapski possessed photographs of a secret autodidactic learning group of the Szare Szeregi, whose meetings he himself attended; Knapski is the third from the left in the picture (Fig. VI.159). It is the same group of people that was already seen at a small Christmas party in 1942 (Fig. VI.155). Mieczyslaw Knapski reported that at that time they were studying Polish literature, mathematics and English in their study group. [243] For those who, like Mieczyslaw Knapski, had attended a grammar school before the war, the occupation policy destroyed all opportunities to complete their schooling in an appropriate manner. The sixteen-year-old at the outbreak of the war was already twenty years old at the time when the photograph shown here was taken. One by one, each participant in this group prepared a topic for a meeting and lectured to the others about it.

Fig. VI.159: Mieczyslaw Knapski, Secret autodidactic study group of the Szare Szeregi (samokszaltcenie). Poznan 1943. third from left: Mieczyslaw Knapski. New print after old Kleinbildnegativ (private property Mieczyslaw Knapski)

At first glance, the photo appears to be a shot of a gathering of neatly dressed urban middle-class youths waiting for the shutter to finally be pressed so they can continue with their conversation or other activities. Somewhat baffling is the tension between the emphatically well-groomed appearance of the persons and the extraordinarily sparse ambience, for example, the modest tablecloth that one would expect to find in a kitchen. The absence of any Nazi insignia, as well as any objects that could conceivably be considered attributes of the “German,” is a vague indication that there are no Germans in this photograph. The entire group is facing the camera and visibly concerned with assuming an advantageous posture for the photograph: The girl in the center of the picture and a second one in the left half of the picture are smiling, the three young gentlemen are looking into the camera as if frozen. The presence of a camera changes the situation recognizably: the girls strive for a favorable ‘photo face’. In view of the camera, the two women with white collars and more rigid hairstyles on the left edge of the picture and in the right half of the picture seem to behave ignorantly. The girl on the left is looking at the pages of an open thin notebook and the one sitting on the right is studying a book with utmost concentration. Both of them, unlike the others, avert their gaze from the camera and turn it to a reading. With this behavior, they initially seem to deviate the most from the visibly intended positive self-portrayal of the group for the photographic shot. Yet they are the ones who, through their self-presentation, point a foreign observer to the purpose of the meeting: learning from books and written records.

Fig. VI.160: unknown photographer, Szare Szeregi during a joint discussion of class reading. The second from the right is Hieronim Lawniczak, the director of the local museum after 1945. Krotoschin (Krotoszyn) 1942. silver gelatin paper 6 x 9 cm (SSW VI/1)

Many of the photographs show the secret teaching groups in rooms darkened with curtains (see Fig. VI.158-161). On the one hand, others were not to be given an insight into the conspiratorial activities of the young Poles; on the other hand, blackout was mandatory during the war years. Secret study groups such as the one shown here met under the necessary security precautions in changing private apartments in Posen and in some other small towns of the Warthegau, such as Krotoschin (Fig. VI.160-161). The Polish children and their parents, as well as the juveniles, took great risks for the illegal education in the underground, since detection of their violation of the German regulations was punished with the utmost severity by the occupying National Socialist regime. [244]

In the photographs of the secret cultural events and of the secret classes of the Szare Szeregi, one always sees young Polish women and Poles in Sunday clothes, smiling in a friendly manner – for a nice photo, which should make them forget the sufferings of the time and remember the positive. In discussions with those people who showed the author such photographs, the fear was often expressed that ignorant viewers might think that “the Poles” were doing well during that time after all. In fact, the clothing of the young Poles can lead to a misunderstanding if Sunday clothes are mistaken for everyday wear. An example of this is a photograph showing Ryszard Nieborak, a trained lawyer and Boy Scout instructor, in his everyday work clothes in Posen in 1942 (fig. VI.162). He was born in 1915 in Rawich County, had graduated from law school in Poznan in 1937, and was licensed as a judge. He had already joined the Polish Scouts in 1924. Under the German occupation, Ryszard Nieborak was employed as a laborer and as an apprentice in construction companies. In the resistance, from 1941 he led a special sabotage group at the Szare Szeregi in Poznan; from 1942 he also led the sabotage group of the Poznan Armia Krajowa. On February 5, 1944, the Gestapo arrested Nieborak. He was held in the Gestapo House Prison (Dom Zolnierza) and Fort VII, and on June 29, 1944, he was shot in a mass execution at the Zabikowo camp. [245]

Fig. VI.161: unknown photographer, Szare Szeregi studying secretly – Polish lessons. Krotoschin (Krotoszyn) 1944. silver gelatin paper 6 x 9 cm (SSW VI/2)

The group portraits or photographic self-images of the Szare Szeregi fulfilled their personal needs for a – also visually – dignified existence. The photos shown here probably did not primarily fulfill a documentary function, but rather formed a visible trace of their self-assertion against the National Socialist occupying power in the private imagery of the Polish scouts. The Szare Szeregi staged themselves – contrary to the National Socialist Polish policy – as members of the bourgeois middle classes. Moreover, the history of private photography shows that people do not usually include images of their personal suffering or the suffering of their neighbors in their private imagery. [246] Insofar, also for the Szare Szeregi, all representations of their personal suffering constituted a violation of boundaries.

The Destruction of Polish Books and Libraries

The possibilities of secret Polish education in the Warthegau were extremely limited, partly because no suitable books were available to those seeking to learn. Sometimes a group had only one book (Fig. VI.159), so that only one person from the group could work with the book at a time. Obtaining the books needed for the secret Polish study groups was a major problem. They made a special effort to save Polish books from confiscation and destruction in the shredder. [247] If photographic sources may be trusted in this regard, the secret autodidactic learning groups in Krotoschin were better equipped with books than those in Poznan (cf. Figs. VI.160-161). The Szare Szeregi built up a small, secret library in Poznan during the occupation.

Fig. VI.162: unknown photographer, a group of young Polish scouts during a break in their forced labor as construction workers. Second from left: Ryszard Nieborak. Poznan 1942. new print from old 6 x 6 cm negative (SSW X/6)

Since the German occupation forces confiscated and threatened to destroy all Polish books and libraries, they gathered as many books as possible from the libraries that still existed. Poles who worked in the waste paper collection centers at the paper mill notified others when they found books that might be suitable for clandestine education. Under conditions made more difficult by the high level of German control, an inconspicuous transfer of books required a great deal of organization; for example, a person would come to the waste paper collection point at an arranged time to have books thrown to him. At a book collection point from which the Polish books were to go to a paper mill to end up in the shredder, a teenage Polish scout “stole” several hundred books at once. From this stock, which was arranged thematically and expanded as far as possible, a small secret library of the Szare Szeregi in Poznan was created. [248]

The National Socialist cultural policy in the Warthegau also included the confiscation and destruction of all books and archival materials [249] in Polish possession. The confiscation of books did not take place with the same intensity as the theft of art, but it began already during the period of military administration and took place largely in secret during the years of occupational rule. On December 13, 1939, the Ostdeutscher Beobachter published a decree issued by the new Reich Governor Greiser, according to which all book collections and libraries in public and private ownership were to be reported and “secured”. In the course of the following months, more than 1,500 book collections in the Gau area were reported and brought to a book collection center set up especially for this purpose. Some other books went directly to the paper mills or were otherwise destroyed. In particular, book stocks outside Posen were not even transported to the Posen collection point, but were destroyed on site. The “Ostdeutsche Landbewirtschaftungsstelle” (East German Land Management Office), newly founded by the occupying power, dealt with the books it found on confiscated Polish estates in this way, for example. Of the library of the Poznan Society of Friends of Science (Poznanskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Nauk), only 10% of the pre-war stock remained. The fact that Polish books of the interwar period were preserved in the Poznan University Library was due to the conservation goals of the then German library director, Dr. Alfred Lattermann (Fig. III.47). [250]

Responsible for the implementation of Greiser’s decree of December 1939 was the provisional curator of the “Reichsuniversität Posen,” Dr. Hans Streit. In 1940, he set up a book collection center in Posen’s St. Michael’s Church (Sw. Michala) (fig. VI.163-164) and appointed Dr. Jürgen von Hehn, a former employee of the Herder Institute in Riga, as its director. In the profaned church, a total of about 3 million books were delivered without pre-selection, which were piled up in the main room in a stack about 50 m long, 6 m wide and up to 4 m high. There was also a similar pile of books in the basement of the church, which had been built on the foundations of a former brewery. Hehn, assisted by nine unqualified assistants, sorted out all the Polish books; they were processed into waste paper in a Poznan paper factory (Poznan-Czerwonak). The staff of the book collection center consisted – except for one Pole – exclusively of Germans and non-Polish foreigners. The books left behind after the sorting process were placed on the shelves without any system. In addition to St. Michael’s Church, the book collection center used three other churches in Posen for storage. By the fall of 1940 alone, the Posen book collection center delivered 77,000 kg of Polish books to the paper mill. The books that were not destroyed were assigned to the various institutes of the Poznan “Reichsuniversität” that was currently being founded. In 1941, Jürgen von Hehn was replaced as head of the office by Heinz Müller, who aimed for a somewhat more careful handling of the books from Polish possession. Nevertheless, in the end, the majority of all Polish books collected were destroyed or ruined by improper storage. During one of the rare Allied air raids on Poznan on May 28 and 29, 1944 (Pentecost), St. Michael’s Church was destroyed by bombing, along with the books stored in it. [251]

A large coeval paper print (Fig. VI.163) shows the Posen book collection center that had been established in St. Michael’s Church. From an elevated vantage point, one overlooks a large, very high room filled with narrow rows of bookshelves. In the upper right of the picture, one can see a wall with window inlets that can be identified as stained glass windows because of their shape. In the center of the room and on the right side of the wall are large piles of books heaped up. On the back of the large-format paper print is a handwritten note in pencil in German: “Buchsammelstelle Posen, Hauptraum, 1942.” The photographic image was probably taken using the pre-existing room lighting with a long exposure time. The light sensitivity of photographic film at the time did not permit snapshots to be taken indoors; indoor photographs required long exposure times and/or artificial lighting. The photographic images allow us to assume that the photographer was able to select a suitable shooting location in the church and take pictures at his leisure. The photographer’s location and the unusually large size of the contemporary paper print suggest that the surviving image was made by a professional or semi-professional photographer for an official presentation purpose – perhaps for an internal administrative documentation or exhibition. The contemporary inscription on the reverse as “Main Room” indicates that there were other rooms. Another photograph without a caption in the same inventory shows another room with a low and barrel-vaulted ceiling, also containing shelves filled with books (Fig. VI.164). The photograph shows that the underground cellar vaults of the church also served as book storage.

Fig. VI.163: unknown photographer, „Buchsammelstelle Posen, Haupsraum, Zustand 1942“. Silver gelatin paper 21,5 x 29,8 cm (IZ Dok. IV-135/1)

Fig. VI.164: unknown photographer, „Buchsammelstelle Posen – basement vault, Posen 1942“. Silver gelatin paper 21,6 x 29,5 cm (IZ Dok. IV-135/2)

Documentation and Foreign Information

As described in the chapter on press photography, the National Socialist occupational regime in the Reichsgau Wartheland only permitted a German press that had to comply with the specifications of the Reich Ministry of Propaganda [“Reichspropagandaministerium”] and the Gauleiter. All Polish publishers and printers had been closed and confiscated by the German occupation forces; Polish journalists could no longer legally work in their profession in the Reichsgau Wartheland. Since the Polish population had been banned from owning radios by the new rulers soon after the occupation of the area, the Szare Szeregi in Warthegau attempted to secretly listen to foreign broadcasts banned by the National Socialists (figs. VI.165-166). They then relayed the international news received over the radio in the form of simple underground journals (for example, sheets duplicated with matrices). [252] In addition, the Szare Szeregi in Poznan also organized the distribution of illegal periodicals, including Polska Narodowa; in connection with this, many links developed between the Polish Scouts and the Narodowa Organizacja Bojowa, i.e., the military wing of the nationalist-authoritarian underground organization Stronnictwo Narodowe. A large number of the Szare Szeregi in Poznan, however, apparently did not identify with this political group, but from the turn of 1939/40 participated in the underground organization Ojczyzna, which gathered the broadest possible national camp based on Catholic ethics and had its center in the Wielkopolska region. [253]

Another very important field of work of the Szare Szeregi, apart from providing information about the events abroad and on the war fronts, was documentation, of which not much has survived. One of the first orders issued by the Commandant’s Office of the Polish Scouts was to document the destruction of the Polish nation in the occupied territory. The Szare Szeregi in Poznan sent regular reports to the Commandant’s Office of the Polish Scouts in Warsaw. Their reports on the crimes of the occupying forces were also sent to the representation of the Polish government-in-exile in occupied Poland. Some of the Szare Szeregi also engaged in military and economic espionage, i.e., they observed and documented army movements, transports, and weapon production as far as they could. In small towns, the Szare Szeregi specifically observed certain Germans or disseminated information among Poles about resettlements that were imminent in the near future. [254]

The Szare Szeregi in Poznan aimed at photographically documenting the destruction of Polish cultural assets and crimes against the Polish people. Their documentation project referred to a future use abroad: the documents of German crimes collected in occupied Poland were to be forwarded to the Polish government-in-exile in London via the Scouts’ headquarters in Warsaw. In the Wielkopolska region, the Szare Szeregi pursued two strategies in photographic documentation: on the one hand, to take photographs themselves, and on the other hand, to reproduce the photographs taken by Germans. Since many Germans had their photographs developed in Poznan laboratories, where Polish lab technicians made the prints, this was the main source of photographs for the Szare Szeregi to document the crimes committed in Poland. The second source was photographs taken by themselves of the cultural destruction and crimes committed by the occupying forces. [255]

Fig. VI.165: unknown photographer, Szare Szeregi secretly listening to Polish-language broadcasts of Radio Toulouse and taking notes on the content. Obornik (Oborniki), April 1940. paper print in postcard format (SSW IV/1)

Of the more than 100 photographs shown in the exhibition “Szare Szeregi Wielkopolskie w zachowanych dokumentach 1939-1945”, 42 photographs were recorded for the present study. Of the recorded photographs, 24 had survived anonymously and 18 photographs could be assigned to identifiable authors from the Szare Szeregi circle [256]:

Karol Grzeskowiak [257],

Zdzislaw Kolodziejczak [258],

Zygmunt Zuraszek [259],

Mieczyslaw Knapski [260].

What security precautions the young Poles who had joined the Szare Szeregi took when photographing in the Reichsgau Wartheland emerged in part from the author’s conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski. Knapski took photographs only under great security precautions during the occupation, and he did so even before Poles in the Reichsgau Wartheland were officially prohibited from taking photographs. Knapski heard from his family that the possession and use of cameras was forbidden to Poles in 1941. It was reported that on Sundays in the Poznan Zoological Garden, the German police had taken away the cameras of all Polish visitors. Afterwards, notices were posted in the city asking Poles to turn in their cameras to the German police. Mieczyslaw Knapski did not hand in his cameras. In his estimation, most Poles in Poznan also did not turn in their cameras to the police. [261]

Fig. VI.166: unknown photographer, Szare Szeregi secretly listening to Polish-language broadcasts of Radio London and taking notes on their contents. Obornik (Oborniki), December 1940. paper print in postcard format (SSW IV/2)

Mieczyslaw Knapski usually took photos only when there were very few people on the street. It was safer for Poles to take photos in the places where there were no Germans. For example, Knapski photographed his friends often at a Catholic cemetery because it was visited only by Poles and not by Germans. In the summer, on Sundays, they made trips on foot to the river bank of the Wartha, about six to ten kilometers from the city; there were no Germans there either. [262]

When Mieczyslaw Knapski took photographs on the street in Poznan, he had two friends help him by covering him from both sides so that no one could see when he operated a camera. In this way he photographed the large Jewish labor camp Stadion in Posen (Fig. V.21), the conversion of a synagogue into a swimming pool (Fig. VI.63), and a prisoner-of-war camp for Frenchmen (Fig. VI.167). Based on the photographs alone, it cannot be reconstructed that the photographer brought in two other people for protection. [263] He was three to four meters away from the persons visible in the photograph of the Prisoner of War camp, and perhaps ten meters away from the camp entrance. The camp existed from about the end of 1940; it was disbanded in 1941. It was one of the provisional Prisoner of War camps set up by the German Wehrmacht at the beginning and was located – near the present Warta Stadium – on ul. Bielnika, which no longer exists today. The French prisoners of war were used for earthworks on the bank of the Wartha river. [264]

Fig. VI.167: Mieczyslaw Knapski, POW camp for French prisoners of war at ul. Poznan, ca. 1940/41. New print from old negative (private property Mieczyslaw Knapski)

Mieczyslaw Knapski forwarded his photographs of the German Prisoner of War camp for Frenchmen to Warsaw. The Szare Szeregi regularly forwarded information about German activities in Poznan, including photographs, to their main command in the Generalgouvernement with the help of underground couriers. But communication between the Warthegau and the commandant’s office in Warsaw was considerably hampered by the heavy police control of the Poles in the Wartheland; news from that area reached the headquarters of the Polish Scouts in the Generalgouvernement only sporadically. [265] An example of the documentation activities of the Scouts in the Warthegau and a successful flow of communication to London is a book publication entitled “Z pierwszej linii frontu,” edited in Warsaw in 1943 and published in Glasgow in the same year. The publication contains reports from Wielkopolska, including executions and expulsions; photographs were not published in this book. [266]

At least two photographs of a member of the Szare Szeregi in Posen were published in the second black book of the Polish government in exile in London. These are two photographs by Karol Grzeskowiak [267] of new signs in German-occupied Posen forbidding Poles to enter certain spaces. Largely reproduced in full in the publication of the Government in Exile is a photograph by Grzeskowiak showing, very close up, a sign with the text “Playground for German Children Only” behind a barbed wire fence (Fig. VI.168). [268] The kindergartens and the playgrounds in the public areas of the city of Poznan were now to be reserved for German children alone, in accordance with the will of the German civil administration. [269] There were few designated children’s playgrounds at that time anyway, but now there were such signs at every playground in Posen. [270] German women with children came to the playgrounds and immediately chased away Polish children if they played there; German children also participated in chasing away Polish children. Mieczyslaw Knapski said that all Germans were so attuned that – as soon as they heard the Polish language – they asked, “What do you want here?” [271]

Fig. VI.168: Karol Grzeskowiak, Playground for Germans Only. Poznan, August 25, 1940. silver gelatin paper 6 x 9 cm (SSW III/1)

In particular, the further transmission route of the photographs forwarded by the Szare Szeregi from Poznan to the Generalgouvernement is unclear. The contemporary witnesses Aleksandra Markwitz-Bielerzewska and Mieczyslaw Knapski were not aware that at least two of Grzeskowiak’s photographs from Poznan had been printed in the 1942 Black Book of the Polish government-in-exile, although they continued to research on the Szare Szeregi during the war years in their spare time in the early 1990s. Intermediates of the reproduction process of one of these photographs in the General Government were found in the archives of the Main Commission at the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw. [272]

Fig. VII.01: Oskar Fissel or Florian Maciejak (Atelier Fissel, formerly Maciejak): Two men of the NSDAP-SA with dog, Kosten (Koscian) 1939-1945. glass negative 10 x 15 cm (APP zespol 1424, sign. B 40-9)


[210] Cf. Pospieszalski 1946, p. 152; Serwanski 1970, p. 202; Madajczyk 1988, p. 33; Harten 1996, pp. 71-73, 86, 89, 97f., 170-172, 177.

[211] Cf. Serwanski 1970, p. 214; Harten 1996.

[212] Cf. Brenner 1963; Luczak 1966, p. 191; Serwanski 1970, pp. 211-213; Kater 1971; Röhr 1989, p. 46; Biuletyn GKBZHwP IV, 1948, pp. 175f.; DO XIII, Doc.VI-3 and VI-4, p. 187. On 21. September 1942, Gauhauptmann Robert Schulz reported to the Reichsstatthalter on the distribution of confiscated art and valuables within the Warthegau: he had formed a commission of German officials from the cultural administration, which had held meetings in accordance with this. Confiscated paintings and sacral art were stored in the Poznan Cathedral (Katedra Poznanska); ecclesiastical equipment made of metal was to be handed over to the non-ferrous metal collection for further use after an inspection by the Gau Conservator. Since the processing of the art and valuables seized and stored in Poznan from Polish ownership was now complete, Schulz and the commission he had formed could now set about reviewing the seized cultural property in other places in the Gau; see Doc. XIII, Doc. VI-43, p. 216; cf. Serwanski 1970, p. 212.

[213] Cf. Serwanski 1970, p. 202f.; Luczak 1966, p. 189f.

[214] Cf. Harten 1996, p. 171; Schwendemann 2003, p. 102.

[215] See Schwendemann 2003, p. 102; Harten 1996, p. 172.

[216] Cf. Zimniak 1983, pp. 244, 251-253, 257; Harten 1996, p. 172f.

[217] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7 Dec. 1994, 12 Feb. 1995, 2 July 1996; conversation with Aleksandra Bielerzewska in February 1995 and 24 June 1996; EKW, pp. 543-555.

[218] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996; conversation with Aleksandra Bielerzewska in February 1995 and 24 June 1996.

[219] Conversation with Aleksandra Bielerzewska in February 1995 and June 24, 1996.

[220] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996.

[221] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996. When taking outdoor pictures in smaller groups, part of the group positioned themselves in such a way as to obscure the view on the photographer and the camera (Cf. Fig. VI.52).

[222] See list of photographers in the appendix.

[223] See list of photographers in the appendix.

[224] See list of photographers in the appendix.

[225] See Madajczyk 1988, p. 345; Klattenhoff 1992, p. 37; Hansen 1994, pp. 130, 142, 434; Harten 1996, pp. 189-191, 200, 202, 205-208 and notes 47, 211.

[226] See Hansen 1994, pp. 187ff, 193ff; Harten 1996, pp. 203f.

[227] Cf. DO IV, p. 144; Harten 1996, pp. 215-218.

[228] Cf. Bossowski 1955; Serwanski 1970, pp. 46, 205-207; Majer 1981, p. 392; Madajczyk 1988, p. 343; Harten 1996, p. 201; Matelski 1994, p. 117; Luczak 1996, pp. 291f., 294, 296.

[229] Cf. Majer 1981, p. 392; Madajczyk 1988, p. 343; Matelski 1994, p. 117; Harten 1996, pp. 157f., 201; Luczak 1996, p. 296; Schwendemann 2003, p. 102f. The authors listed here do not establish the connection, evident in the author’s opinion, in the history of ideas between the eugenic conceptual worlds at the beginning of the 20th century and the “Volkstumspolitik” towards the Eastern European peoples, but mainly describe the subjects taught at the university.

[230] Cf. Kalisch/Voigt 1961, p. 205; Matelski 1994, p. 117f.; Harten 1996, p. 157f.; Schwendemann 2003, p. 103.

[231] Cf. Kalisch/Voigt 1961, p. 205; Majer 1981, p. 392; Burleigh 1988, p. 292; Matelski 1994, pp. 114f. (proportion of women); Harten 1996, pp. 160, 169, 201; Luczak 1996, p. 297.

[232] Cf. DO V, pp. 62f.; Serwanski 1970, pp. 46, 203, 205; Majer 1981, p. 392; Madajczyk 1988, p. 333; Klessmann 1989, p. 119f.; Harten 1996, pp. 188-193. The details of the dismantling of the Polish school system in a small town in the Warthegau region after the Nazi occupation in 1939 can be reconstructed, for example, for the town of Rawitsch (Rawicz) from contemporary German sources; see Serwanski 1970, p. 204; Harten 1996, pp. 199f.

[233] Cf. DO XIII, p. 329; Klessmann 1989, p. 120f; Luczak 1990, pp. 239, 252, 322f, 329-333; Matelski 1994, p. 119.

[234] Himmler according to Klessmann 1989, p. 120.

[235] Cf. DO V, pp. 312ff; DO XIII, pp. 252, 329, 332; Boberach 1984, vol. 14, pp. 5470f; Harten 1996, pp. 192, 194f.

[236] Cf. Serwanski 1970, pp. 203-205; Klessmann 1971, p. 44; Majer 1981, p. 393; Madajczyk 1988, pp. 344f.; Klattenhoff 1992, pp. 36f.; Matelski 1994, p. 119; Nawrocki 1995, pp. 8, 13; Harten 1996, pp. 191-193, 195-197, 200f. Viktor Böttcher expressly ordered the use of unqualified personnel in the “Polish schools” on 17.9.1940, since the trained German teachers were to be reserved for the “German” pupils.

[237] See DO XIII, p. 329; Harten 1996, pp. 211-214. A December 1941 report by the Higher SS and Police Leader Warthe asserted that Poles could “camouflage” themselves better if they were fluent in German; language was the only “external difference between the two ethnic groups.”

[238] See Harten 1996, pp. 189-191.

[239] See Klessmann 1989, pp. 12, 123, 128f., 134; Madajczyk 1988, pp. 352, 347, 349; Nawrocki 1995, p. 18.

[240] Conversation with Aleksandra Bielerzewska in February 1995 and June 24, 1996; conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on Dec. 7, 1994, Feb. 12, 1995, July 2, 1996; see EKW, pp. 543-555; Nawrocki 1995, p. 17; Klessmann 1989, pp. 124f. The West German historian Christof Klessmann wrote that the quality of the secret lessons and of the examinations taken could not be judged by today’s usual criteria because of the threat to the teachers of arrests and concentration camps, especially since the general living conditions of the Polish population did not exactly strengthen the will to study. However, in his estimation, those who took the risk of illegal teaching were consistently highly motivated, and in this sector of the Polish resistance, cases of denunciation were extraordinarily low; see Klessmann 1989, pp. 126ff.

[241] Interview with Aleksandra Bielerzewska in February 1995 and June 24, 1996; EKW, pp. 543-555.

[242] EKW pp. 343f.

[243] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7 Dec. 1994, 12 Feb. 1995, 2 July 1996.

[244] Nawrocki 1995, p. 15.

[245] Aleksandra Bielerzewska, Szare Szeregi Wielkopolskie w zachowanych dokumentach 1939-1945, exhibition concept Poznan 1994. Cf. EKW p. 377 (on Nieborak).

[246] Cf. Starl 1995.

[247] Conversation with Aleksandra Bielerzewska in February 1995 and June 24, 1996; conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on Dec. 7, 1994, Feb. 12, 1995, July 2, 1996.

[248] Conversation with Aleksandra Bielerzewska in February 1995 and June 24, 1996; conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996; EKW, pp. 543-555.

[249] For example, the German occupation forces confiscated the archives of all Polish occupational organizations and Catholic institutions. The Poznan State Archives suffered numerous losses. The “Reichsarchiv” newly established by the occupying power in Poznan, moved numerous archival records out of fear of Allied bombing raids in 1943/44: to Poznan churches, elsewhere in the Warthegau, and also to the Reichsgebiet. Cf. Luczak 1966, pp. 215-219; Serwanski 1970, pp. 208-210, 212; Rutowska 1984.

[250] Cf. DO XIII, pp. 187, 202f., 206, 216f., 323, 344f.; Machmann 1963, p. 78; Serwanski 1970, pp. 45, 208-210, 215-217; Rutowska 1984, pp. 56-64; Madajczyk 1988, p. 336; Röhr 1989, p. 47; Madajczyk 1970, vol. II, p. 123; Luczak 1990, pp. 187, 202, 206, 216f, 323, 334; Matelski 1994, pp. 116, 119; Nawrocki 1995, p. 8. In general, on library policy in Nazi-occupied Poland: Rapmund 1993.

[251] Cf. Kalisch/Voigt 1961, p. 192; Serwanski 1970, pp. 208, 215f.; Rutowska 1984, pp. 58, 61f., 69; Nawrocki 1995, p. 14f. Apart from St. Michael’s Church, the following were used as warehouses of the book collection center in Poznan: a chapel at ul. Koscielna, the Sw. Stanislaw Church in Poznan-Winiary, and the Sw. Malgorzata Church in Poznan-Srodka.

[252] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996.

[253] EKW, pp. 543-555; pp. 399-402 (on the “Ojczyzna” organization).

[254] EKW, PP. 543-555.

[255] Conversation with Aleksandra Bielerzewska in February 1995 and 24 June 1996. Not all Polish scouts who took photos were able to develop them themselves. In such cases, recourse was made to a liaison woman whom the Szare Szeregi had at Foto-Stewner, the largest photo house in Poznan.

[256] Aleksandra Bielerzewska, Szare Szeregi Wielkopolskie w zachowanych dokumentach 1939-1945, exhibition concept Poznan 1994.

[257] See list of photographers in the appendix.

[258] See list of photographers in the appendix.

[259] See list of photographers in the appendix.

[260] See list of photographers in the appendix.

[261] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996. Since Knapski took outdoor photographs after the ban on photography for Poland, he also got into a relatively dangerous situation once. In the spring of 1943, he was walking with friends through a forest to a nearby pond to take photographs. He had hung a camera with a long lens around his neck and the lens was peeking out the front of his coat. At a crossroads in the woods, they encountered a German Schupo. Knapski zipped up his coat in high anxiety, but the policeman took no offense at all with the group.

[262] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996. The movement radius of the Poles was very limited by the fact that they had to show an official permission to pass [“Passierschein”] in order to ride the trains. They were also forbidden to own bicycles and cars. This was another reason for their oftentimes long hikes.

[263] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996.

[264] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996. Later, larger, longer-term camps were established, which were not so close to the city.

[265] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996. Contact with Warsaw was maintained by Zygfryd Linda, after his arrest in 1943 by Edward Zürn; cf. EKW, pp. 543-555.

[266] Conversations with Aleksandra Bielerzewska in February 1995 and June 24, 1996; also EKW, pp. 543-555.

[267] Cf. list of photographers in the appendix.

[268] See Polish Ministry of Information 1942, pp. 410f. Fig. 109. The second picture by Grzeskowiak, in the present work Fig. IV.53, is also printed in the Black Book of the Polish Government in Exile – as a cropped enlargement – under the number Fig. 108.

[269] Cf. DO XIII, p. 335 (kindergartens); DO XIII, Doc. XIII-34, P. 374.

[270] See also IZ Doc.IV-24/3 (1 photo by Marian Olszewski: meadow with sign “Playground for German children only,” Poznan, ca. 1940).

[271] Conversations with Mieczyslaw Knapski on 7.12.1994, 12.2.1995, 2.7.1996.

[272] See IPN-AGK 4066A (positive) and 4066B (negative). Possibly these are enlargements of microfilm on paper. On the dispatch of photographs from Warsaw in the form of microfilm 1939-1945, see Arani 1997 with further references.

About the author

Miriam Yegane Arani did her doctorate at the UDK in Berlin under the supervision of the photo historian Prof. Diethart Kerbs. Her work focuses on the survey and analysis of photo-historical materials from the NS period. Her dissertation dealt with the Reichsgau Wartheland, where the Nazis implemented “exemplary” oppressive measures against the native Polish population. Similar methods were soon to be used in the old Reich territories in an increased dimension against the antagonized parts of the German, especially the German Jewish population. In the “Reichsgau Wartheland”, a German administrative unit newly formed from previously Polish territories after the military occupation, the Nazi regime realized its population and settlement policy plans for Eastern Europe in an exemplary manner.

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