200.000 Polish kids captured by Germans Jun 22, 2011 19:39:44 GMT 1
Post by Bonobo on Jun 22, 2011 19:39:44 GMT 1
"Racially acceptable" children were taken from their families in order to be brought up as Germans.
Children were selected for "racially valuable traits" before being shipped to Germany. Many Nazis were astounded at the number of Polish children found to exhibit "Nordic" traits, but assumed that all such children were genuinely German children, who had been Polonised; Hans Frank summoned up such views when he declared, "When we see a blue-eyed child we are surprised that she is speaking Polish." The term used for them was wiedereindeutschungsfahig -- meaning capable of being re-Germanised. These might include the children of people executed for resisting Germanisation. If attempts to Germanise them failed, or they were determined to be unfit, they would be killed to eliminate their value to the opponents of the Reich.
In German-occupied Poland, it is estimated that a number ranging from 50,000 to 200,000 children were removed from their families to be Germanised. It is estimated that at least 10,000 of them were murdered in the process as they were determined unfit and sent to concentration camps and faced brutal treatment or perished in the harsh conditions during their transport in cattle wagons, and only 10-15% returned to their families after the war. Obligatory Hitlerjugend membership made dialogue between old and young next to impossible, as use of languages other than German was discouraged by officials. Members of minority organisations were either sent to concentration camps by German authorities or executed.
Many children, particularly Polish and Yugoslavian who were among the first taken, declared on being found by Allied forces that they were German. Russian and Ukrainian children, while not gotten to this stage, still had been taught to hate their native countries and did not want to return.
In a well-known speech to his military commanders at Obersalzberg on 22 August 1939, Adolf Hitler condoned the "kill[ing] without pity or mercy [of] all men, women, and children of Polish race or language."
On 7 November 1939, Hitler decreed that Heinrich Himmler, whose German title at that time was Reichskomissar für die Festigung deutschen Volkstums, would be responsible for policy regarding population on occupied territories. The plan to kidnap Polish children most likely was created in a document titled Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP.
On 25 November 1939, Himmler was sent a 40-page document titled (in English translation) "The issue of the treatment of population in former Polish territories from a racial-political view."
The last chapter of the document concerns "racially valuable" Polish children and plans to forcefully acquire them for German plans and purposes:
we should exclude from deportations racially valuable children and raise them in old Reich in proper educational facilities or in German family care. The children must not be older than eight or ten years, because only till this age we can truly change their national identification, that is "final germanization". A condition for this is complete separation from any Polish relatives. Children will be given German names, their ancestry will be led by special office.
On 15 May 1940, in a document titled (in German) Einige Gedanken ueber die Behandlung der Fremdenvoelker im Osten ("A Few Thoughts about the Treatment of Racial Aliens in the East"), and in another "top-secret memorandum with limited distribution, dated 25 May 1940", titled (in English translation) "The Treatment of Racial Aliens in the East", Himmler defined special directives for the kidnapping of Polish children. Himmler "also outlined the administration of incorporated Poland and the General Government, where Poles were to be assigned to compulsory labor, and racially selected children were to be abducted and Germanized."
Among Himmler's core points:
In the territory of Poland, only four grade schools would remain, in which counting would be taught only till 500, writing one's name, and teaching that God commanded Poles to serve Germans. Writing was determined to be unnecessary for the Polish population.
Parents who desired to educate their children better would have to apply for a special permit to the SS and police. On the basis of the document specialists would check if the children were deemed "racially valuable". If the children were so deemed, then they would be taken away to Germany to be Germanised. Even then, the fate of each child would be determined by loyalty and obedience to serve the German state by his or her parents. A child determined to be "of racially little value" would not receive any further education.
Annual selection would be made every year among children from six to ten years old according to German racial standards; those children that would pass it, would be taken away to Germany where they would be further Germanised after changing their names. The aim of the plan was to destroy "Polish" as a race, and leave within Poland a considerable slave population to be used within 10 years (eventually Poles would be removed completely within 15–20 years).
On 20 June 1940, Hitler approved Himmler's directives, ordering copies to be sent to chief organs of the SS, to Gauleiters in eastern German-occupied territories, and to the governor of General Government, and commanding that the operation of kidnapping Polish children in order to seek Aryan descendants for germanization be a priority in those territories.
Between 1940 and 1945, according to official Polish estimates, approximately 200,000 Polish children were abducted by the Nazis.
Large numbers of children were also abducted from places other than Poland: about 20,000 children were taken from the Soviet Union and about 10,000 children were taken from Western and South Eastern Europe.
Conditions of transfer
Many children were kidnapped during expulsions of Poles made by Germans. For example in Zamo¶æ County, Germans expelled 30,000 children, out of which 4,445 were chosen for Germanisation and sent to the German Reich. Over 10,000 children died in camps at Zwierzyniec, Zamo¶æ, Auschwitz, Majdanek or during transport in cattle wagons used normally to move livestock. Thousands of them were sent by railway to Garwolin, Mrozów, Sobolew[disambiguation needed], £osic, Che³m and other cities. As one witness reported: "I saw children being taken from their mothers, some were even torn from the breast. It was a terrible sight: the agony of the mothers and fathers, the beating by the Germans, and the crying of the children."
The conditions of transfer were very harsh, as the children did not receive food or water for many days. Many children died as a result of suffocation in the summer and cold in the winter. Polish railway workers, often risking their lives, tried to feed the imprisoned children or to give them warm clothes. Sometimes the German guards could be bribed by jewelry or gold to allow the supplies to go through, in other cases they sold some of the children to Poles. In Bydgoszcz and Gdynia, Poles bought children for 40 Reichsmarks. In some places the German price for a Polish child was 25 zlotys
The children were kidnapped by force, often after their parents had been murdered in concentration camps or shot as "partisans", including a handful of the children of Lidice. These children would not be permitted to remain even with other living relatives. Some were purportedly from German soldiers and foreign mothers, and others were declared "German orphans" who had been raised by non-German families. Indeed, orphanages and children's homes, along with children living with foster parents, were among the first groups targeted, in the belief that Poles deliberately and systemically Polonized ethnically German children. German foster parents were later told that children had been received false Polish birth certificates to rob them of their German heritage.
Later the children were sent to special centers and institutions or to, as Germans called them, "children education camps" (Kindererziehungslager), which, in reality, were selection camps where their "racial values" were tested, their original metrics of birth destroyed, and their Polish names changed to German names, as part of Germanisation. Those children who were classified as "of little value" were sent to Auschwitz or to Treblinka
The children were placed in special temporary camps of the health department, or Lebensborn E.V., called in German Kindererziehungslager ("child camps"). Afterwards they went through special "quality selection" or "racial selection" — a detailed racial examination, combined with psychological tests and medical exams made by experts from RuSHA or doctors from Gesundheitsamt. A child's "racial value" would determine to which of 11 racial types it was assigned, including 62 points assessing body proportions, eye colour, hair colour, and the shape of the skull.
During this testing process, children were divided into three groups (in English translation):
"desired population growth" (erwünschter Bevölkerungszuwachs);
"acceptable population growth" (tragbarer Bevölkerungszuwachs); and
"undesired population growth" (unerwünschter Bevölkerungszuwachs).
The failures that could result in a child, otherwise fitting all racial criteria, into the second group included such traits as "round-headed" referring the skull shape. Children could be declared the third group for tuberculosis, "degenerate" skull shape, or "Gypsy characteristics". A girl who was later identified by a small birthmark would have been rejected had the birthmark been much larger.
These racial exams determined the fate of children: whether they would be killed, or sent to concentration camps, or experience other consequences. For example, after forcibly taking a child away from his or her parents, "medical exams" could be performed in secret and in disguise.
Many Nazis were astounded at the number of Polish children found to exhibit "Nordic" traits, but assumed that all such children were genuinely German children, who had been Polonized; Hans Frank summoned up such views when he declared, "When we see a blue-eyed child we are surprised that she is speaking Polish." Among those children thought to be genuinely German were children whose parents had been executed for resisting Germanization.
Once selected, the children between six and twelve were sent to special homes. Their names were altered to similar sounding German ones. They were compelled to learn German and beaten if they persisted in speaking Polish. They were informed their parents were dead even if they were not. Children who would not learn German or remembered their Polish origin were sent back to youth camps in Poland. In some cases, the efforts were so successful that the children lived and died believing themselves to be Germans. Very young children, between two and six, were sent to Lebensborn homes, which had originally been instituted to provide shelter for unwed mothers and illegitimate children deemed racially valuable. There, they would be observed for a period.
In either case, if they were not disqualified at the respective institution, they were placed for adoption. The Nazis would devise German names and new birth certificates to hide their pasts. In the process, they were referred to as "Polonized German children" or "Children of German descent" or even "German orphans." Orders forbade making the term "Germanizable Polish children" known to the public. This was to prevent their being viewed as Poles by the people they met, and so stigmatized. Some parents were informed that the children's birth certificates had been falsified, to show them as Poles and rob them of their German heritage. The authorities were reluctant to let the children be officially adopted, as the proceedings might reveal their Polish origin. Indeed, some children were maltreated when their adoptive parents learned that they were Polish.
Adoption was also problematic because surveillance or more information might reveal problems with the child. When it was learned that Rosalie K's mother was epileptic, for instance, it was immediately concluded, despite the wishes of her German foster parents, that Germanization, education and adoption were therefore not justifiable.
When adoptive parents demanded adoption certificates, such records were forged for them.
Murder of Zamo¶æ children in Auschwitz
Czes³awa Kwoka-one of many Polish children murdered in Auschwitz by Germans
At Auschwitz concentration camp 200 to 300 Jewish Polish children from the Zamo¶æ area were murdered by Germans by phenol injections. The child was placed on a stool, occasionally blindfolded with a piece of a towel. The person performing the execution then placed one of his hands on the back of the child's neck and another behind the shoulder blade. As the child's chest was thrust out a long needle was used to inject a toxic dose of phenol into the chest. The children usually died in minutes. A witness described the process as deadly efficient: "As a rule not even a moan would be heard. And they did not wait until the doomed person really died. During his agony, he was taken from both sides under the armpits and thrown into a pile of corpses in another room… And the next victim took his place on the stool."
To trick the soon-to-be murdered children into obedience Germans promised them that they would work at a brickyard. However another group of children, young boys by the age of 8 to 12, managed to warn their fellow child inmates by calling for help when they were being killed by Germans: "'Mamo! Mamo!' ('Mother! Mother!'), the dying screams of the youngsters, were heard by several inmates and made an indelible haunting impression on them.'"
Some of the children were also murdered in Auschwitz gas chambers; others died as a result of the camp conditions.
German medical experiments on kidnapped children
Those children who did not pass harsh Nazi exams and criteria and who were therefore selected during the operation, were sent as test subjects for experiments in special centers. Children sent there ranged from eight months to 18 years. Two such centres were located in German-occupied Poland. One of them, Medizinische Kinderheilanstalt, was in Lubliniec in Upper Silesia – in this centre children were also subject to forced euthanasia; while the second was located in Cieszyn. Children were given psychoactive drugs, chemicals and other substances for medical tests, although it was generally known that the true purpose of those procedures was their mass extermination.
Weaker children subject to experiments usually died in a relatively short time from doses of drugs, and those that survived brought great curiosity; all side effects were recorded as well as their behavior. As most died, the documentation was forged to conceal traces of experiments, for example, giving the cause of death as from a lung infection or a weak heart. Based on statistics of deaths in the special camp in Lublin, it was estimated that from the 235 children between ages 10 to 14 who received shots of the barbiturate Luminal, 221 died. From August 1942 until November 1944, 94 percent of children who had been subjected to German medical experiments died.
The extent of the program became clear to Allied forces over the course of months, as they found groups of "Germanized" children and became aware that many more were in the German population. Locating these children turned up their stories of forcible instruction in the German language and how the failures were killed. Teams were constituted to search for the children, a particularly important point when dealing with institutions, where a single investigator could only interview a few children before all the rest were coached to provide false information. Many children had to be lured into speaking the truth; as for instance complimenting their German and asking how long they had spoken it, and only when told that a nine-year-old had spoken German for four years, pointing out that they must have spoken before then, whereupon the child could be brought to admit to having spoken Polish. Some children suffered emotional trauma when they were removed from their adoptive German parents, often the only parents they remembered, and returned to their biological parents, when they no longer remembered Polish, only German. The older children generally remembered Poland; ones as young as ten had forgotten much, but could often be reminded by such things as Polish nursery rhymes; the youngest had no memories that could be recalled and suffered the most.
Allied forces made efforts to repatriate them. However, many children, particularly Polish and Yugoslavian who were among the first taken, declared on being found that they were German. Russian and Ukranian children, while not gotten to this stage, still had been taught to hate their native countries and did not want to return. While many foster parents voluntarily brought forth well-cared-for children, other children proved to be abused or used for labor, and still others went to great efforts to hide the children.
After the war, The United States of America v. Ulrich Greifelt, et al., or the RuSHA Trial, the eighth of the twelve Nuremberg Trials, dealt with the kidnapping of children by the Nazis. Many children testified, although many of their parents were afraid to let them return to Germany. From 1947 to 1948, the Nuremberg Trials ruled that the abductions, exterminations, and Germanization constituted genocide.
Only 10 to 15 percent of those abducted returned to their homes. When Allied effort to identify such children ceased, 13,517 inquiries were still open, and it was clear that German authorities would not be returning them.
Also after the war, a memorial plate was made in Lublin dedicated to railway workers who tried to save Polish children from German captivity.
Polish children kidnapped by Germans
The Polish family of Witaszek - Franciszek was murdered, Helena Witaszek was sent to concentration camp, their children were sent to Germany.