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General Government

The General Government (in full General government for the occupied Polish areas, in German Generalgouvernement fr die besetzten polnischen Gebiete) was the name given by Nazi Germany to the governing authority in Poland after its occupation by the Wehrmacht in September and October 1939. The term is also applied, though not strictly correctly, to the territory administered by the General Government.

Table of contents
1 Creation of the General Government
2 Territorial development
3 Population
4 Genocide policies
5 Resistance
6 The end
7 External links

Creation of the General Government


Hans Frank

Hans Frank was appointed Governor-General of the occupied territories on 26 October 1939. Two decrees by Hitler (8 October and 12 October 1939) provided for the division of the annexed areas of Poland into the following administrative units:

The area of these territories was 94,000 square kilometres and the population was about 10 million.

The remaining block of territory was placed under an administration called the General Government (in German Generalgouvernement fr die besetzten polnischen Gebiete), with its capital at Cracow was subdivided into four districts, Warsaw, Lublin, Radom, and Cracow. The General Government was a purely German administration - no Polish puppet government was permitted to exist.

Territorial development

After the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Polish territories previously occupied by the Russians were organized as follows:

Population

The population in the General Government's territory was initially about 12 million, but this increased as about 860,000 Poles and Jews were expelled from the Germany-annexed areas and "resettled" in the Government General. Offsetting this was the German campaign of extermination of the Polish intelligentsia and other elements thought likely to resist. From 1941 disease and hunger also began to reduce the population. Poles were also deported in large numbers to work as forced labour in Germany: eventually about a million were deported, of whom many died in Germany.

The apartheid policies of Nazis in GG included following categories of people:

Genocide policies

During Wannsee conference on January 20, 1942, Dr. Josef Buhler pushed Heydrich to take off the final solution in the General Government. As far as he was concerned, the main problem of General Government was overdeveloped black market that desorganise the work of the authorities. He saw a remedy in solving the Jewish question in the country as fast as possible. An additional point in favour was, that there were no transportation problems here.

In 1942 the Germans began the systematic extermination of the Jewish population. The Government General was the location of four of the six extermination camps in which the most extreme measures of the Holocaust, the genocide by gassing of undesired "races," chiefly millions of Jews from Poland and other countries, was carried out between 1942 and 1944.

Overall 4 million of the 1939 population of the Government General area had lost their lives by the time the Soviet armed forces liberated the area in late 1944.

It was German policy that the (non-Jewish) Poles, like other Slavic peoples, were to be reduced to the status of serfs, and eventually replaced by German colonists of the "master race." In the Government General, all secondary education was abolished and all Polish cultural institutions closed. In 1943, the government selected the Zamojskie area for further German colonisation. German settlements were plannned, and the Polish population expelled amid great brutality, but few Germans were settled in the area before 1944.

Resistance

Resistance to the German occupation began almost at once, although there is little terrain in Poland suitable for guerilla operations. The main resistance force was the Home Army (in Polish: Armia Krajowa or AK), loyal to the Polish government in exile in London. It was formed mainly of the surviving remnants of the pre-War Polish army together with many volunteers. Other forces existed side-by-side, such as the communist People's Army (Armia Ludowa or AL), backed by the Soviet Union and controlled by the Polish Communist Party. By 1944 the AK had some 200,000 men, although few arms. During the occupation, the AK killed about 150,000 German troops. The AL was about 5% of the size of the AK.

In April 1943 the Germans began deporting the remaining Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, provoking the Warsaw Ghetto Rising, April 19 to May 16. That was the first armed uprising against the Germans in Poland, and prefigured the larger Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

In July 1944, as the Soviet armed forces approached Warsaw, the government in exile called for an uprising in the city, so that they could return to a liberated Warsaw and try to prevent a Communist take-over. The AK, led by Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, launched the Warsaw Rising on 1st August in response both to their government and to Soviet and Allied promises of help. However Soviet help was never forthcoming, despite the Soviet army being only 18 miles (30 km) away, and Soviet denial of their airbases to British and American planes prevented any effective resupply or air support of the insurgents by the Western allies. After 63 days of fighting the leaders of the rising agreed a conditional surrender with the Wehrmacht. The 15,000 remaining Home Army soldiers were granted POW status (prior to the agreement, captured rebels were shot), and the remaining civilian population of 180,000 expelled.

The end

As the Soviets advanced through Poland in late 1944 the Government General collapsed. Frank was captured by American troops in May 1945 and was one of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials. During his trial he converted to Catholicism. Frank surrendered forty volumes of his diaries to the Tribunal and much evidence against him and others was gathered from them. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and on October 1, 1946, he was sentenced to death by hanging.

External links