Logo - Germans and Poles - 1.9.39 - Despair and Hope
DHM Logo - Duration of the exhibition
Poster - Germans and Poles - 1.9.39 - Despair and Hope

Exhibition | Oppression and Self-assertion | War and Occupation | Conflicts and Rapprochements


The Invasion | Forced Labor | Colonization, Deportation, Extermination

Genocide | Resistance and Self-assertion

The End of the War | Expulsion of the Germans | Expulsion of the Poles


2. War and Occupation
2.1 The Invasion

The well-equipped German army conquered Poland in less than five weeks, despite bitter resistance from the Polish forces. On 17 September 1939, the Red Army marched into Poland as well, in accordance with the secret terms of the "Hitler-Stalin Pact". This act placed the seal on yet another division, the Republic of Poland was crushed.


The Germans fought with savage cruelty and many Poles, prisoners of war and civilians alike, were murdered by the German army, the police and SS. Einsatzgruppen and "Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz" battalions sought to bring about the "destruction of the Polish intelligentsia", one of the Nazi war aims. By the end of 1939, about 60,000 members of the Polish intelligentsia had been murdered.


While German officers criticized the murderous acts committed by the Einsatzgruppen in Poland, the German military leadership concluded that a policy of brutal repression was needed in order to accomplish the war aims defined by the Nazi leadership.

"Feldzug in Polen"
Sonderdruck der Zeitschrift "Deutsche Infanterie"
Berlin: Deutscher Verlag, Oktober 1939
Berlin, Stiftung Deutsches Historisches Museum
Doppelseitig beklebtes Albumblatt mit Fotografien aus dem besetzten Polen
Fotopapier, Karton, 22,6 × 31 cm
Berlin, Stiftung Deutsches Historisches Museum
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Siege - Film short 9:48 minutes
Julien Bryan (1899-1974)
Warschau, 1939
New York, Privatsammlung Sam Bryan
DHM - Exhibition - Bottom