The year 1989 will have called forth the memory of various events which took place two centuries ago, a century ago or a half century ago. On 30 April 1789 George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States. On 14 July 1789 the Bastille was stormed in Paris. On 20 April 1889 Hitler was born. On 1 September 1939 German armed forces invaded parts of Germany that had been annexed to the newly formed Polish state after 1918. On 3 September 1939 England and France, with their mighty armed forces and their vast empires, declared war on Germany, using the German armed action as a pretext. Two weeks later the armed forces of the USSR also invaded Poland, but no war against the USSR was declared by the western allies. The relatively backward economy of the USSR was no threat to England.
It is appropriate that we reëxamine the background of the German invasion of western Poland during the time when there will be widespread notice of the half century that has passed since these events, which eventually brought about untold suffering to the major European nations and still cast their shadows on Europeans and even their descendants across the seas. (See Bulletin 19.)
Bromberg, now designated on maps by its Polish name, Bydgoszcz, was a Prussian city that was annexed by Poland in 1919 as part of the wide “corridor” to the Baltic Sea. This wide “corridor” was awarded to Poland by the western Allies and it cut Germany in two. On 3 September 1939 a genocidal slaughter of many of the German inhabitants of Bromberg took place which is designated by historians as the Bromberg Bloody Sunday. This genocidal action by the overconfident Poles no doubt contributed from the very outset to the grim, desperate nature of the Second World War, especially in eastern Europe We would probably be justified in saying that German attitudes toward Poles, even before 1918, were somewhat analogous to American attitudes toward Mexicans. There is even an old, pejorative German idiom, polnische Wirtschaft (“Polish Economy”), which designates a disorderly state of affairs. The massacres of the German population in and around Bromberg were given wide publicity in Germany and a large book with many gruesome pictures was published by the German Foreign Office under the title, Die polnischen Greueltaten an den Volksdeutschen in Polen (The Polish Atrocities Against the Ethnic Germans in Poland). We have a copy of this scarce book on our library. (See also our Bulletins Nos. 18 and 23.)
Unabhängige Nachrichten (Postfach 45 02 15, D-4630 Bochum 4, West Germany) is a small but notable journal of political and historical commentary with a patriotic intent. From time to time it has included short supplementary sheets for school textbooks pertaining to what its editors consider gaps in, or falsifications of, recent history. These have borne the title, Auf dem Stundenplan / Ersatzblatt für fehlende oder verfälschte Schulbücher (On the Lesson Plan / Supplementary Sheets for Insufficient or Falsified Schoolbooks). These sheets have covered a rather wide range of topics, including the lost eastern territories of Germany, the war guilt question, a comparison of the treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Versailles, the ethnic history of Czechoslovakia, the lessons of the Weimar Republic, German colonization in Africa, and the Reichskristallnacht.
I have long wanted to see a study of American school textbooks from a revisionistic point of view with regard to events of the Second World War. Such a study might become the basis for a series of correctional leaflets similar to Auf dem Stundenplan.
Now, in keeping with the notice that will be taken of the events of September 1939, I have made the following translation of the eleventh Ersatzblatt in the series, which deals with the outbreak of the German-Polish War in September 1939. The sheet is dated March 1987.
Charles E. Weber
THE BROMBERG BLOODY SUNDAY
“As one of the first soldiers who entered Bromberg after these murders of ethnic Germans, it is my duty to make the following statement: Everything that has been written and told about this Bloody Sunday can only be a shadow of the reality. The actual insanity cannot be described and is incredible for those who were not eyewitnesses. Almost fifty years later, in many a dream, my mind wanders back to the corpses of the German population that had been hacked up beyond recognition. The German nation, and especially its young people, are being frightfully deceived. Indeed, the truth would probably be dangerous for the reëducators.”
So goes the statement of the eyewitness J. Wichmann of Weissenborn in the Deutsche National Zeitung of 8 November 1985.
What Was This Bromberg Bloody Sunday?
In all of the school history books available to us we do not find the phrase “Bromberg Bloody Sunday” or “Bromberg.” It is only one of the many mass crimes against Germans before and after the outbreak of the war which are not mentioned in the schoolbooks.
In all of the schoolbooks which were checked through only the outbreak of the war is described, and to be specific, in the following manner:
In the morning hours of 1 September 1939 the German armies crossed Polish border without a declaration of war….. The formerly German territories of Poland, as well as those with a purely Polish population, were incorporated into the German Reich. The rest of western Poland was transformed into a “Generalgouvernement of Poland” and subordinated to the German government. There thus began a long period of suffering for the Polish population. It was oppressed from both the German and Russian sides and kept down by hunger. Polish property was destroyed or expropriated. The population was drafted for compulsory labor projects or went into German or Russian concentration camps….” (Rückert and Lachner, Grundriss der Geschichte [Outline of History], Paderborn, 1971.)
The Preliminary History
The unconditional guarantee given by England and France in March 1939 to go to war on the side of Poland in case of an armed conflict was a specific encouragement for the Poles to commit every conceivable provocation against the Germans in their territory and against the German Reich and to intensify without limit the bloody terror against the ethnic Germans. The Polish Marshal Rydz-Smigly declared in the summer of 1939:
“Poland wants war with Germany and Germany will not be able to avoid it even if it wishes to do so.”
This declaration was also naturally the result of the Anglo-French guarantee as well as the rejection of the very modest offer by the Reich of 28 August 1939. This rejection was tragic for all of Europe. This offer provided that Danzig [Gdansk, in Polish], in keeping with the desire of its purely German population, was to be returned to the Reich, a plebiscite was to take place in West Prussia (“the Corridor”) and that an extraterritorial highway and rail connection through this territory was to be granted to the side which obtained the lesser number of votes in the plebiscite. Further, a complete protection of the minorities was to be guaranteed by both sides.
A more peaceful and juster solution is simply not conceivable!
With an awareness of the guarantee, during the months of April to September 1939 the Polish press published veritable orgies of hate against the German population that had settled there long, long ago and against the German Reich. At times stones flew against the windowpanes of German houses, while at other times peaceful German citizens were attacked by Poles and German women and children were struck down on the open street. Ethnic Germans by the thousands were put into prisons and Polish concentration camps. The property of the ethnic Germans was destroyed, confiscated and expropriated, and the closer the outbreak of the war provoked by the Poles came, the worse the Polish terror became. Finally, the number of Germans who were interned and deported to the reached 50,000. Thousands of them succumbed to hardships or were deprived of their lives by violence. Only by the rapid advance of the German troops were the surviving ethnic Germans spared the same fate.
The Climax of the Orgies of Murder
Beginning with 31 August 1939, every ethnic German in Poland, whether man, woman or child, had to fear for his life every minute. In all the cities and villages, the horrible hunt for the Germans began. The authorities of the Polish police and army not only looked at this action of the incited Polish mob without doing anything about it, but in many cases even took part in it themselves.
The Bromberg Bloody Sunday of 3 September 1939 was the frightful climax of this orgy of murder, the climax of the twenty-year Polish war of annihilation against the German ethnic group.
In and around Bromberg thousands of ethnic Germans who could not escape the murderous gangs of Poles in time were murdered. The fact that raiding squads consisted for the most part of persons not resident in the area and had lists in their hands proves that these crimes were not only tolerated, but were directed. Using these lists, the murderous gangs searched through the houses of the ethnic Germans, abducted them or shot them on the spot. The meanness of the Polish clergy in this process is beyond belief! After Catholic church services in the German language were forbidden by order of the Polish church authorities on 3 July 1939, the priests incited the Poles during church services to “exterminate” [ausrotten] the Germans (the actual word used according to an interrogation record). Now, on this Bloody Sunday the clergymen of the Jesuit Church on Markt Platz [Market Plaza] issued weapons to the mob. There were instances in which Poles greeted their German neighbors before going to church and shot them after leaving church. Horrible events took place of which the human brain cannot conceive except for the perverse brains in which the deeds were thought up. Whoever was not shot in his dwelling or in the cellar of his house was shackled or tied to others and taken from the city and abused, mutilated and murdered in any number of ways. Even military units participated in the killing of the shackled, abducted ethnic Germans. For days the dead continued to lie on the fields, in the yards or gardens or in front of their houses, in many cases covered over only with branches and foliage or buried in shallow graves. Many lay in groups of two or three bound together along the the of the roads. Many of the victims were found only later at distant places. Many were missing forever. The corpses which were found were mutilated in manners which can scarcely be described.
More than 900 Germans found their last resting places on the honor section of the Protestant New Cemetery in Bromberg, on which high-rise buildings are standing today.
In and around Bromberg alone at least 5,347 Germans were murdered under horrible circumstances, a number which was examined by international witnesses. Even today there are ho exact figures on the total number of the dead from the Polish massacres of 1939. In 1954 the East-German historian Theodor Bierschenk mentioned the number of 12,857 identified dead, which are supposed to have increased to 15,000 according to information obtained by the Central Graves Registry Office [Gräberzentrale] of Posen. The Social-Democratic publisher, Otto Heike from Lodz, mentioned the same number of victims in 1955.
All of that which we have reported here with revulsion took place before the war or during the first days of the war.
If, until the present time, all of the crimes against Germans before, during and especially after the war are passed over, minimized or excused in schoolbooks as an understandable revenge (something which is, naturally, false, unjust and immoral) there is not the slightest justification for these crimes before the invasion in 1939.
All of these crimes were the manifestation of a Polish megalomania, which was described on 3 August 1939 by the Flemish observer Ward Hermanns as follows:
The Poles have lost the last feeling of moderation and proportion. Every foreigner who looks at the new maps in Poland, on which a large part of Germany as far as the proximity of Berlin, as well as Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia and a gigantic part of Russia are already annexed in the quite fertile imagination of Poles, must think that Poland has become a gigantic lunatic asylum.
In addition, there was an unlimited hatred of Germans with the objective of slowly but certainly destroying our nation.
Within the framework of this goal, the “Bromberg Bloody Sunday,” like innumerable other crimes against Germans during peacetime and before the invasion of German troops, was only a fraction of and a prelude to the mass murder of millions of Germans during and especially after the Second World War.
Since, according to everything we are taught, a constant reminder and continued awareness of the crimes which took place are a requisite for the reconciliation of the nations, this leaf should be entered as a substitute for insufficient or falsified schoolbooks, as instructional material in all of the schools of the German Federal Republic.
SOURCE: Liberty Bell, October 1989