PARIS (Feb. 29)
The Polish Government-in-exile today issued its first comprehensive statement on anti-Jewish excesses in Nazi-occupied Poland, charging that 2,000,000 Jews had been subjected to treatment “of brutality unprecedented in human history” and asserting that the persecution had aroused the sympathy of the Polish population.
The 16-page document recounted details of mass executions, expulsions, destruction of Jewish property, confiscation, rape of Jewish women and the enforced wearing of yellow badges.
“The situation of the Jewish population there may be described in one phrase the Jews are outside the law,” the statement said. “The Jews in the Nazi-occupied area are in fact a body of 2,000,000 human beings without means of defense, completely subjugated by the forces of occupation. No matter how respectable a position a Jew may have held before, any Volksdeutsche–any simple German-is now his absolute master.”
Although the non-Jewish population is also maltreated, “the barbarism practiced against the Jewish population has no equal,” the document asserted.
“The Nazi administration in Poland seems to have no definite plan for a solution of the Jewish problem. Not even the Nazi doctrines are being applied to the Jews in Poland. The Nazi rulers are simply persecuting a people who have no means to defend themselves–persecutions which are carried out sadistically, without reason, stimulated by the narrow-minded policy of profiting from looting.”
The statement asserted that the persecutions, in addition to seeking the annihilation of the Jews, were intended to demonstrate to the Polish population that mistreatment of Jews was a “free-for-all” in which Poles might participate.
“The result of this Nazi policy, however, is exactly the opposite of what the Germans anticipated,” the Polish Government said. “The Polish population is manifesting a very clear tendency of Christian sympathy towards the even more maltreated Jewish population.”
Discussing expulsion of Jews to the Lublin “reservation” without being permitted to take their belongings, the statement declared: “The Germans, when expelling Polish peasants from their land to make place for the Jews, try to make the peasants believe the Jews are stealing their soil. Nevertheless, there have not been any anti-Jewish demonstrations by peasants, which proves that they are well aware of who is really responsible.”
Among the cases of anti-Jewish persecution cited by the report are the following:
In Cracow, headquarters of Nazi Governor-General Hans Frank, a three-day pogrom occurred during which 180 Jews were massacred “with abominable cruelty” and Jewish houses and stores were looted. Similar massacres took place in Bendin, Sosnowiec, Nowo-Miasto, Lodz, Czestochow, Kielce, Zyradow, Kattowice, Ostrow-Mazowie Zdunskawola and other localities. In certain cities, among them Siedlce, sale of bread and flour to Jews has been completely prohibited. Rape of Jewish women has occurred in Warsaw, Lodz and other cities.
In Bendin, all Jews were locked up in the Jewish quarter, which was then set afire. “Hundreds of Jews perished in the flames. Those who escaped fell under Nazi bullets.”
In Sosnowiec, Nazis set three synagogues afire and then arrested 250 Jews on charges of having caused the fires. Later 25 Jews and Poles were executed when four German soldiers were found dead. In Nowo-Miasto, Jews were executed without any reason being given, the majority of them picked up on the streets. In Grojec, Nazis ordered Jews to set a synagogue afire and then executed many Jews for the act. In Wloclawek, Nazis burned down two large synagogues and forced Jews to sign a statement assuming responsibility for their destruction. Jews were executed in the public square of Zdunske-Wola.
Enumerating anti-Jewish decrees and ordinances issued by the Nazi authorities the statement pointed out that they showed the lack of a unified policy. As regards the distinguishing mark which Jews are forced to wear, the badge varies from locality to locality in size and shape and the sanctions imposed for not wearing it. In Warsaw, Cracow and Czestochow the Jews must wear a white armlet with a blue six-pointed star, while in Lodz, Wloclawek and Lublin Jews must wear yellow armlets. In certain localities, Jews must wear yellow patches on their backs and sleeves.
Punishment for not wearing the badges varies from unspecified “severe punishment” in Warsaw to death in Lodz.