The Second World War and How Russia and Germany divided Poland

The Second World War started in the fall of 1939 when Nazi Germany attacked Poland. The events that took place before World War Two came to an end resulted to a worldwide casualty of about 80 million people and about 6 million in Poland alone.

The German primary agenda was to demolish Poland. And the eve before Second World War started, Hitler told his men that it did not matter who was right or wrong, that in fighting war, coming out triumphant is the only thing that counted. He then urged them to show no sympathy to their opponent.

When Germany invaded Poland on the 1st of September 1939, shock was implanted in the citizens as the attack was targeted at defenceless civilians. Darkness took over the sky and it was impossible for those on ground to see what was above them. All they could see around them were countless dead bodies.

Germany’s invasion made it possible for the Soviet to also invade Poland and divide the country into east and west as arranged by the Molotov-Ribbentrop accord between the Soviet Union and Germany. The east fell under Russia while Germany took over the west.

According to a Polish document, there were hills of decaying corpses of women and children all over the place. And scared Polish took to the road seeking refuge. Shell-shocked and horrifiedby the attack, they were seized with hysteria while not knowing where to go or even have an understanding of when it would all end.

By the time the Red Army entered eastern Poland, it was apparent their less than 20 years independence was over. They were confronted with a combined Nazi-Soviet force of 2 .4 million, while they had less than 1 million under equipped army.

The bitter part of it all for Poland was that their supposed allies, who consisted of Britain and France, watched without responding as their Second Republic was brought down by the Germans. Even though the allies had a military personnel of about 5 million men positioned on the Third Reich’s western border and therefore outnumbered the German army by an average of four to one, they did nothing.

The final blow originated from the east through the Soviets united force on October 8. And the traumatized Poles were tossed into confusion. Poland’s poor and damaged communication channels also meant that there was confusion among refugees who find it difficult to locate where new divisions were.

The next group of people to be targeted by the Nazis were the Jews. Their establishments were commanded to showcase the Star of David. Their bank accounts were also shut. They were then mandated to dress in blue armbands with the insignia of their belief. At the end of the Second World War, about 1 .3 million Jews were executed in Nazi execution camps in Poland. Another 1 million Jews were thrown away to their death. It resulted to the death of about 90 per cent of Poland’s Jews.

When Poland was divided into two, the Poles were still hopeful the attack would end soon as they never imagined the Nazi’s ideology of being the untermensch (inferior race).

While about 450,000 Poles and 300,000 Jews were deported from the northern and western parts of Poland that was already taken possession of by Germany, several hundreds of thousands of German settlers were shipped in to replace them. All Polish institutions were destroyed and the Poles who remained were decreased to virtual subjugation.

Warsaw became the centre of Nazi terror as actually doing nothing was unsafe. The Germans took over the streets and shot people on sight for no reason.

While the Germans pressed on with a savage battle of slave work, occupation and killing in the west, the Russians “Sovietized” eastern Poland. The Russians killed and banished people they assumed to be enemies or elites whom they assumed would be a source of opposition (the judiciary, police, mayors and finally teachers).Everyone was made to spy on somebody, who spies on another person, and children were to spy on their mothers and fathers, the reports.

The Germans on the other hand, sought after the killing of Jews and anyone that disobeyed them. A huge number of Poles were involved in subversive exercises on the German side. But those on the Russian side dared not.

At the time of the division, staying alive was a daily battle. There had been a ton of plundering, and cash became useless. Food was the most vital commodity item and the Poles received only very little.

As a result, those that stayed alive were able to do so by paying exorbitant prices for their supplies, while the poor depended on farmers who secretly supplied themfood. To make sure banned private transactions were shot completely, the Soviets took the Polish money out of circulation, annihilating the last leftovers of commercial activities for them.

Household goods, shops and factories were seized and directed to Russia, while all buildings were declared as “the property of the citizens.”

The Second World War continued until 1945 when Germans surrendered to western allies. But Poland had to struggle for more than four decades to regain freedom from the Soviet Union and their suppression. As such, many people believed World War Two did not end until 1989.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE