The Second World War - Poland
A Jewish family...
Bridge connecting two ...
Boys and girls sewing...
A street in the Warsaw ghetto...
Lunch in a Warsaw Jewish orphanage...
A child dying...
GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY is directed towards gaining territory in Eastern Europe and uniting ethnic German settlement areas with the "Fatherland." In March 1938, German-speaking Austria is incorporated into Germany. In October, a piece of Czechoslovakia inhabited by ethnic Germans is "peacefully" occupied, after the French and British governments give their consent at the Munich Conference. In March 1939, all of Czechoslovakia is invaded and the state dissolved. Bohemia and Moravia become part of Germany, Slovakia "independent" under a puppet regime. The German army also occupies the Lithuanian port city of Klaipeda.
The crisis leading up to the Second World War is dominated by another German territorial demand: the city of Danzig, or Gdansk, in Poland. With the outbreak of war between Germany and Poland imminent, the German and the Soviet governments sign a Non-Aggression Pact in Moscow on August 23, 1939. Only opposed by Poland's distant allies in the West, Germany has now a free hand.
On September 1, 1939, the Germany army invades Poland. Two weeks later, Soviet troops enter eastern Poland and occupy the provinces of western Belorussia and western Ukraine bordering on the Soviet Union - as agreed with Germany in a secret annex to the Hitler-Stalin Pact.
The western parts of Poland, with the cities of Danzig, Poznan, Lodz and Katowice, are incorporated into Germany. The central part, including Warsaw, Lublin, Krakow and Lvov, becomes the "Generalgouvernment." Of the 3.3 million Jews in Poland, 2 million are trapped in the areas occupied by Germany. At the end of September, a directive comes down from Berlin to the SS troops to move the 600,000 Jews from the incorporated areas into the "Generalgouvernment." There, the Jewish population is to be concentrated in "ghettos" in larger towns to await "a final solution."
Mobile units of the SS, the "Einsatzgruppen," move in behind the regular army to "once and for all clean Poland of Jews, intelligentsia, clergy and nobility." The first attempt at a "final solution" is aimed at decimating the Jews by ghettoization, forced labor and starvation.