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Hollanders during the World War II and their post-war situation - social, political and economic issues. Mennonites in Mazovia 1939-1948
First Mennonites came to the Vistula flood plains near Gabin in the second half of the 18th century. They were settled in Olędry Czermińskie in 17811 (later this village changed its name to Wymysle Niemieckie). The Mennonites settled also in other villages of the Mazowian Powisle region. Generally, they lived on the territory of Poland until the end of the World War II. The last group left its small motherland, Wymysle, on the 9th of November 1948. Together with 52 Germans that renounced Polish citizenship they were transported in trucks to the railway station Warszawa Zachodnia.2 From there, they were to be deported to Germany, to the transition camp in Gronau. Members of the Mennonite families Schroeder and Prochnau were taken on these trucks away to Warsaw. It was the last act of the drama that had started in September 1939.
Act I: Second Republic
According to estimations, in the thirties of the 20th century the Gostynin poviat was inhabited by c.a. 6% of the ethnic Germans (the biggest number in Mazovia)3. Colonists, as the ethnic Germans were called in Mazovia, differed from other groups mostly by their religion. Among the colonists there were also religious differences. The largest group was constituted by the Evangelists. Among them lived the Baptists and the Mennonites. The Mennonites also were not a homogenous religious group and they were divided into two communities: Old-Mennonite, called Frisian4 and the Mennonite Brotherhood. In Mazovia, their congregations existed in Kazun Niemiecki and Wymysle Niemieckie. The Mennonites described themselves usually as a separate religious group, referring to their Dutch ancestors. Polish neighbours did not see those differences; even for the Mennonites they were not very important. The Mennonites' neighbours perceived them as colonists - Germans. It is difficult to state to what extent the Mennonites felt connected to other colonist groups: the Evangelists or the Baptists. It is certain that among the colonists they tried to underline their religious and, to a lesser extent, cultural differences.
The colonists were rich farmers. The majority of them employed Poles from neighbouring villages, full-time or seasonally. Farm workers employed permanently lived with their hosts under the same roof, in rooms designed specially for them.5 The Mennonites did not have the custom to eat with their workers6, who in turn passed their knowledge about them to their compatriots - Poles. Colonists-farmers specialised in fruit-growing and earlier, in the 19th century, in cheese-making. Afterwards they withdrew from the production of cheese and carried on dairying. The colonists' method of farming was traditional and subordinated to the natural environment conditions of lands where they lived.7 For example, the father of Edna Schroeder was a fruiter and before the war had its own plant nursery, where he succeeded in growing apricots8. Fruits served to make marmalades, jams or were dried. Fresh and dried fruits were sold on markets in Warsaw or bought by regular customers - Warsaw confectioners. The accounts of colonists from the Powisle region and the analysis of documents indicate that the Mennonites had very close commercial contacts with Warsaw. Fruits were transported in carts from Gdansk to Warsaw along Vistula on a road called Grosse Strasse9 or floated down the river on barges.
In those long-distance travels the Mennonites differed from their Polish neighbours, who rarely travelled outside their parish. In the inter-war period the first serious journey of a Polish peasant was his departure for the army. The colonists were richer than the Poles and had well-groomed farms with beautifully maintained gardens full of flowers. They also differed in their lifestyle - for example they drank tee and coffee.
Today, it is difficult to state to what extent the Mennonites in the pre-war Poland were loyal Polish citizens and to what extent they felt connected to Germany. In the Second Republic they were granted rights they had obtained in Russian Empire, especially the ones relieving them from the obligation to wear arms, therefore from the military service. In return, they served in medical services10. The Second Republic granted the Mennonites also the remaining rights resulting from their religion. It should be assumed that at the beginning of the Second Republic (similarly as during the partition) the issue of the national identity was not important for them.
The history of the Mennonites should be considered not as a phenomenon, but in a wider context as part of the Hollander colonisation in Poland. It should also be remembered that in the 20th century, the "Hollanders" were no longer settlers from Holland. Analysis of their past indicates with a large degree of certainty that as early as at the end of the 18th century there were no more settlers having Dutch ancestors among them. At the end of the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th century, the colonists settled under the Dutch law were dominated by colonists speaking plattdeutch and professing Evangelism. In the 20th century, the Hollander settlers started to search for their identity. They felt different, not connected to the Polish state created after the World War I. Among them were also the Mennonites, the most closely, it seems, related to the Dutch colonists from the 16th century who had settled in the vicinity of Gdansk. They also, as other colonists, inhabitants of the villages in the Vistula region, were searching for their identity (among c.a. 6 thousand ethnic Germans inhabiting the Gostynin poviat only 400 were Mennonites.)11.
The issues of national identification of the Mennonites should be considered in a wider perspective of the national minorities in the Second Republic. The Mennonites lived then in areas dominated by the German-speaking people, who in turn constituted an ethnic minority. The basic determinant was the language. In the years 1928-1934, on the territory of the Mazovian Powiśle, German organizations and Polish political parties were very active. Both tried to attract ethnic Germans. The Mennonites, similarly to other colonists from Powiśle, became the target of the Polish political parties - Non-Party Bloc for Cooperation with the Government (BBWR) and Camp of National Unity (OZON).
After 1936, the activity of German minority organisation visibly intensified. It was caused by changes that took place in the policy of Germany concerning Germans living outside its borders - the Volksdeutche. The policy of the Third Reich aimed at unification of all the Germans around the Nazi programme, including those that lived abroad.12 The ideas of Grossdeutschland (Great Germany), race purity and cultural domination professed by the NSDAP became popular among the colonists living in Poland. In October 1936, the Starost of the Gostynin poviat informs: National minorities are still showing vivid activity, especially the German minority, where certain agitation could be observed. There are the more and more gossips about the planned takeover of Gdansk by Germany. These tidings are disseminated by nationalists and peasant party activists.13
At the same time, the information on the Third Reich's policy towards Mennonites living in Prussia reached Poland. Asked why the Mennonites accepted the Nazi Germany's policy, Sigmunt Bartel said: In Prussia 80% of people were farmers. In the thirties, they started to lose their farms due to the bad economical situation. When Hitler came into power, the situation changed. No farmer left its farm. Commissioners asked peasants what were their debts. They replied that such and such. The commissioners analysed their situation and then decided how much of the debt will be repaid by the State.14
The Mennonite community in Eastern Prussia also exhibited strong assimilation tendencies with regard to the German society, together with the rejection of the "no violence" rule - the last remainder of the traditional faith. At the same time, in September 1939, Mennonite newspapers published articles glorifying German victory. One of them underlined it by a quotation from the Bible (Epistle to the Romans) reading as follows: in the name of God the last border that separated the nation (of the Volksdeutche) was broken.15
Among the Mennonites there were also those who contested or even criticised the policy of the Third Reich and the behaviour of their community. It is worth reminding that Christian Neff, who published the critique on the Mennonites supporting the policy of the Third Reich16 and the senior of congregation Herman Epp were sent to a concentration camp for voicing improper views on the Third Reich regime. However, these were exceptions. In the Third Reich - in Eastern Prussia, as well as in the Land of Warta - the Mennonites massively endorsed the Nazi Germany policy. Some of the Mennonite teachers saw the Barbarossa plan as a vision of the divine destiny being realised.17
In the thirties of the 20th century, the Mennonites in Eastern Prussia were the more and more strongly identifying themselves with the idea of racial purity professed by Hitler. It can be proved by the works of the Mennonite researchers on Mennonite names, where the notion of the racial purity appears. Mennonite elites (scientists, historians) clearly started to share the Nazi vision of the world, based on the concept of racial purity and German culture domination.18
Generally, it can be stated that in the Prussia of the 20th century thirties the national (German) and religious (Mennonite) mythology melted into one, difficult to understand, later represented by Mennonites taking part in the war. However, they still tried to serve without weapons, pleading their rights from the World War I, where they were assigned to medical, provisioning or auxiliary units.
It is difficult to state why the Mennonites resigned from the fundamental principles of their faith, such as poverty, pacifism, no-offices and no-violence rule, only to replace them by full affirmation of the Third Reich. It seems that the reasons can be found in geopolitical situation on the terrains they inhabited, as well as in the activity of the Mennonite church - in Eastern Prussia, as well as in Poland before 1939 and in Russia.
The Nazi ideas from Eastern Prussia reached the Mennonites in Mazovia - in Kazun Niemiecki and Wymysle Niemieckie - through their coreligionists. At the same time, the entire area of Poland inhabited by the ethnic Germans at the end of the 20th century thirties was covered by the activity of different organisations supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The colonists, including the Mennonites, influenced by emissaries arriving from the Third Reich in 1938 started to establish local structures of the Deutscher Volksverband (DVV).19 The historians believe that members of this organisation were the source of German partisans acting as the so-called 5th column. The DVV's activity constituted part of the foreign policy of the Third Reich carried out for the Volksdeutche - in its programme it manifested open hostility towards the Polish state. Since 1938 the Deutscher Volksverband had the following Mennonites among its members: Albert Foth20, Beniamin Foth,21 Erich Raztlaff, Gotfryd Raztlaff. In 1939, on the territory of Powisle a widespread propaganda action was carried out. In spring, Aleks Nipie, arrived from the Third Reich, encouraged young people to escape to Germany and join its army. Nippe established its quarter on the farm of a colonist Brakop from Wionczemin Polski.22
The Mennonites were joining not only the DDV but also the NSDAP; some of them were even leaders of these organisations' units. Today it is difficult to say what their other reasons were23. We should also remember that, at the end of the thirties, anti-German acts were frequent. The Mennonites were then identified with the Germans and they were also touched by the repressions.24
Act II: Six-weeks war
The outbreak of the war in September 1939 contributed to escalation of repressions aimed at the Germans. Hostile moods were further fuelled by rumours of omnipresent spies and saboteurs. The area inhabited by the colonists was the place of fierce combats of the so-called Battle on Bzura. In these actions the Polish army suffered losses; people were also plagued by frequent attacks of the German air force. In this atmosphere, further nourished by the sense of helplessness and panic, acts of violence directed against the real but often also imagined enemy, represented by strangers - German colonists, were frequent. In many cases the colonists were lynched and robbed.
First and foremost, the repressions touched activists of the German minorities organisations. Already in the summer 1939, separateness was one of the reasons to be suspected of cooperation with the fascists. On 3 September 1939, in Gabin, a pastor of the Evangelical Augsburg Church, Bruno Gutknecht, was executed25. He was the leader of the local unit of the Deutscher Volksverband. He was suspected of organising sabotages on the territory of Powisle. Today it is difficult to say to what extent it was true, because there was no court investigation.26 Together with the commencement of the battle on Bzura, the repressions touched practically all the Germans. Spy hysteria set in. In the first days of the war, the Polish police arrested local Germans suspected of hostile activity against Poland. Here, it is also difficult to determine whether these accusations were founded or not, but they constituted an excuse to organise raids against the colonists. Those that were captured were beaten with clubs, insulted and taken to prisons and police stations27; then all the arrested were transported to Warsaw.28 Among them were also Mennonite men, inhabitants of Wymysle Niemieckie29. Further escalation of Poles' hostile actions against the German colonists was stopped by their neighbour, rector of the Czermno parish, father Wincenty Helenowski.30
The experiences of the Mennonites from the villages of Sady and Kazun were particularly dramatic. Those settlements were located in the area of the Modlin Fortress, and this was undoubtedly the reason why they were accused of acting as part of the 5th column. On 7 September 1939, after the Modlin Fortress was bombed, the senior of the Mennonite commune Rudolf Bartel was publicly shot in presence of his community members, probably by Polish soldiers or policemen. He was accused of guiding German aircrafts towards their target with a mirror. It is difficult to say whether those accusations were founded or not. The execution was carried out without judgment. 7 other Mennonites were arrested with their leader and transported to unknown location. They never returned to their homes. Besides the aforementioned persons, during the military actions in September 1939 in Kazun, 17 other members of the community were killed. All colonist men from Kazun and Kazun area, aged between 17 and 60, were arrested. They were transported and imprisoned in Brzesc Fortress and then send to help in constructing fortifications.31 (...)
Act III: Occupation
On 17 September 1939, the German army entered Kazun and, on the same day, seized Secymin, Wymysle and Gabin.32 German colonists viewed the arrival of the Hitler's army as liberation. Finished were robbery, famine, humiliations, attacks and executions. This is how Edna Schroeder remembers the entry of the German army:
For the Poles it signified the beginning of the German occupation. According to the plans of the Governor and Gauleiter Artur Geisler the created Land of Warta (including, among others, Powisle) was to be incorporated into the Third Reich. Geisler did not wish to germanise the Poles but wanted to eliminate and destroy them. He wanted to change the national structure of the Land of Warta by bringing there Germans from the East - Bessarabia, Wolyn, Ukraine, Romania and the Reich.33 From the beginning of the occupation, the extermination of the Poles started. Immediately after the seizure of Gabin, on 19 September, 6 railroads workers and one policeman returning to their homes from Pomerania were shot34. The repressions were aimed at people who participated in persecutions, arrests and executions of the German colonists in September 1939. At the end of the month, 10 persons accused of acting to the detriment of the Third Reich were shot. In November, 55 Poles accused of persecuting the German colonists were arrested. In June 1041, 86 Poles from Gabin and its area were arrested under similar charges. Nine of them were shot in an execution on 15 June and others were transported to the prison in Inowroclaw.
Occupation authorities started deportations of Poles (in the years 1939-1941 c.a. 8.000 people were removed from the Gostynin poviat).35 Their farms, according to the secret provisions of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, were handed over to colonists arriving from Galicia, Volyn or Bessarabia. A secret annex to this pact provided that people of German origins were to be deported from the zone of Soviet influence and from the Baltic states to the Third Reich. Already in October 1939, the action of settling Germans on the territories incorporated to the Reich commenced as part of the action "Heim ins Reich". Among those resettled to Silesia and the Land of Warta there were c.a. 500 Mennonites originating from the territory of Volyn.36. Afterwards, on the basis of a German-Soviet agreement, after the USSR annexed Bukovina and Dobrogea, the Germans from Bessarabia and those inhabiting the Volga river region were deported37. This action involved over half a million Germans38. Many of those settlers came to the Gostynin poviat.
Deportations from the territory of Powisle were carried out by a specially created occupation apparatus charged with preparation of lists, files, transitory camps or rendezvous. People were directed to transitory camps, where they were staying several days, and then taken away to new settlements in the General Government. They were allowed to take only their hand luggage and were forced to leave entire houses with all the livestock and tools serving their profession, works of arts, jewellery, books and fur coats. All this was confiscated by the treasury of the Reich. However, the movable properties were in fact robbed. They were sent to SS stations on the territory of the Reich, from where a lot of these objects were taken to private houses.39
Deserted farms, belonging to people deported or taken away to Germany for labour, were given to the German colonists40. Former owners of those farms were sometimes assigned to work for the new ones. Some of the colonists, in the name of past good neighbour relations, tried to employ their Polish neighbours in their farms. They applied to the occupation authorities for assignment of such person's labour.41
Another move of the occupant in the described area was to enter Germans on the Volksliste. A census of all the ethnic Germans inhabiting the territory of the Gostynin poviat was carried out already in 1939. In the spring 1940, this document served to enrol the ethnic Germans on the Volksliste42. The idea of the Great Germany, the German blood line, the conception of the German nation's vocation to rule the world was focused not only on conquering new lands but also on attracting new people, having German national awareness and belonging to the chosen race43. The race conception, professed by the Nazi, was accepted by the ethnic Germans, who saw that they are different from other people inhabiting the occupied areas and underlined it. Many of them did not protest against recording them on the Volskliste and therefore the action proceeded without major problems. The majority of people were registered without additional justifications - a declaration, confirmed by trustworthy witnesses, sufficed. The witnesses were usually a commune leader and one of widely known activists of the NSDAP or the DVV. Such declaration was made by everybody applying to be registered. On this basis, the authorities awarded one of categories of the national list. The majority of the Mennonites obtained the 1st category. The survived declarations indicate that the Mennonites were included in the group A, involving active Germans who actively supported Germany before the war and were able to prove it by their affiliation to different German minority organisations44. The documents clearly indicate that this action ended in the middle of 1941, before the regulation of 4 March 1941 introducing group I, II, III and IV.45 Edna Schroeder recalls that her identity card was blue and bore the inscription Volksdeutch:
For those colonists that were simple peasants, being registered on the Volksliste was something natural - they spoke German, they attended masses in the Evangelical or the Mennonite church, where German was the language of the liturgy. Educated people had different attitude to the Volksliste; despite of being perceived as ethnic Germans by the occupation authorities, they did not want to declare their affiliation to the Third Reich.
Gostynin and Gabin were inhabited by ethnic Germans who did not apply for registering them on the Volksliste. Many of them were afterwards repressed - sent to prison, to forced labour, to concentration camp.46 But many of the persecuted were eventually forced to accept such registration.
At the beginning of the occupation, German authorities were appointing local Germans to administration posts. Many of them had belonged to the NSDAP and performed management functions. The situation was similar for the Mennonites - they not only entered the structures of the NSDAP but also accepted posts of mayors and officials in the Nazi apparatus. Before the war, Erich Ratzlaff was a group leader in the NSDAP (Ortsgruppenletier der NSDAP)47. After the Germans invasion in 1939, he was appointed mayor (frühere Amtskommissar) of Gabin. City authorities were composed also of ethnic Germans - Evangelicals Ferdynand Schneider and the miller Rode.
People belonging to the 1st and 2nd group of the Volksliste were awarded some privileges. They could obtain higher functions in administration, belong to the NSDAP and other organisations. Those who worked obtained additional remuneration and additional food-ration coupons. Their children were allowed to go to schools. Besides privileges, these persons were charged with some obligations. The basic one was the military service, as well as participation in activities of different organisations.
The largest number of ethnic Germans from the territory of Powisle was recruited in the years 1941-1942. They fought mainly on the eastern front line. In the first period of the occupation, the army called up men aged between 18 and 25. Then, together with the growing military involvement on the East, the army recruited also older men - aged up to 50. In the autumn 1944 the army and Volkssturm formations called up boys below 16 and men above 50.48 An inhabitant of Lwowko, who slipped through the front line and got to the Russians, recalls that 50% of soldiers in the artillery formations were Volksdeutsche.49
Another obligation of the Volksdeutche was to participate in activity of different organisations. Young people were obliged to enter Hitlerjurgend50 or Bund Deutscher Madel (BDM). The main goal of these organisations was to physically and morally educate children and youth in the spirit of nationalism and socialism. Each year they were sent to six-week re-education camps (Erholungslager) organised on the territory of the Reich or lands incorporated to the Reich after 1939.
One of the tasks of the Third Reich policy was to unite all the Germans remaining outside the country around the Nazi programme, thus creating one German state51. Organisations such as Bund Deutscher Madel (BDM)52 and Hitlerjugend were supposed to re-educate ethnic Germans and their children. Girls participated in physical exercises, sport competitions, trips and were prepared to the role of housewives (cooking, sewing etc.). Edna Schroeder went for her first camp to Plock. It was organised in farm buildings taken over by the Germans.
In the years 1940-1942, Edna Schroeder participated also in several other BDM camps organised in Potsdam, Modlin, Lodz and Sochaczew. In the years 1940-1944, girls from the BDM worked as nurses in field hospitals and served in different type of auxiliary services. During the BDM camp Edna took care of wounded soldiers brought from the front line53. Similarly to the Hitlerjugend, members of the BDM were ordered to wear uniforms after they returned to their homes.
Edna recalls how difficult it was for her and her parents to accept the occupation laws. They could not come to terms with the law concerning Polish workers. They were not allowed to eat at one table with the farmers (as they used to). They could eat but in a different place or on a different time of the day. Edna's parents did not observe this regulation and ate meals together with the maid Zosia and two Polish workers.54
Attitudes of the Mennonites and other ethnic Germans towards the Poles were varied. Among the inhabitants of Powisle in the area of Gabin were also Volksdeutche who secretly helped the Poles and even supported the activity of the resistance. Rainhold Wegert, an Evangelist from Wymysle Nowe, was one of the Volksdeutche who supported the activity of the Polish underground - the Home Army (AK): During the occupation (R. Wegert) was the head of mill in Sanniki. Having access to representatives of the German authorities and Gestapo, often coming to buy flour, he warned many inhabitants of the Gostynin poviat against the arrests. Risking his life, he led many Poles through the border of the General Government and delivered flour to the prison camp in Krubin. Rainhold Weger also helped father W. Helenowski in organising food packages. Also other inhabitants of Wymysle: miller Erich Ratzlaff and teacher of the Evangelical school, Khun, cooperated with the Catholic rector of the Czermno parish.55 On the territory of the Gabin poviat there were no armed partisan groups. It was caused by the lack of support from civilians. This terrain was inhabited mainly by the colonists - ethnic Germans, and the Poles who had lived here before 1939 were deported or taken for forced labour to Germany. Therefore the activity of the Polish underground was limited to radio monitoring, secret teaching and distribution of the underground press.
Situation in Secymin and Kazun, villages that bordered on the Kampinos Forest, was different. They were staging points for many partisan divisions harassing the German forces. Partisans treated villages, inhabited by the colonists, as the source of food provisions:
Czosnow and Secymin were the arena of partisan fights but also the location of mass executions. The most widely known is the forest in Palmiry, where 2 000 corpses of murdered Poles were disinterred after the war. In Czosnow 35 hostages - inhabitants of the commune - were shot. The reason for the execution was that a "professional thief", as he was called, shot a German gendarme in self-defence.56
It seems that the occupation authorities did not fully trust local Germans and their loyalty towards the Third Reich. In 1941, the mayor of Gabin, Erich Ratzlaff, was replaced by Richard Hacke, who arrived from Germany. This move was not without foundation. Erich Ratzlaff was suspected of organising meeting of a local unit of OZON57 - Camp of National Unity, and contributed to the choice of a Pole, not a German, for the president of the school board in Borki.58
When the German army entered Poland in 1939, leadership of the local Hitlerjugend division was entrusted to a Mennonite, Albet Foth from Wymysle. It seems that he also was not trusted by the occupant. In 1941 he was sent to the front line and his post was overtaken by the mayor of Gabin, Richard Hacke. 59
It should be stated that the Mennonites often helped their Polish neighbours. According to witnesses, due to the mediation of Erich Ratzlaff, the rector of the Czermno parish Wincenty Helenowski was the only Catholic priest in the Gostynin poviat to be allowed to perform his pastoral duties. The reason was the attitude of the priest in September 1939, when he cooperated with the Polish underground and Germans helping Poles.60
Accounts of the behaviour of the Mennonites from Gabin and Gabin area are not univocal. As Jan Borysiak claims in his article published in the newspaper Echo Gabina in 2000: In the mid-October the landrat, i.e. staroste, summoned to Gostynin a long-term official Irena Borysiakowa and Marian Rojewski, an activist known in Gabin. In the starosty they were interrogated on social, political and cultural activists. The landrat and the German Volksdeutche who spoke Polish claimed that they wanted to contact those people and start social and cultural cooperation. Both interrogated sensed deceit and listed people who were deceased and who left for war or moved out long ago. Those fears turned out to be founded, because the court officer Wiktor Lewandowski, knowing well the dialect of Germans from Powisle, the so-called Plattdeutsch, overhead the discussion of Erich and Gustaw Ratzlaff indicating that they wanted to fish out Polish intelligentsia and send them to concentration camp.61 We do not know whether Erich Ratzlaff and his brother Gustaw did actually make such a list or wanted to warn the Poles. The participants of these events are deceased. Others, claiming to have participated in them, usually did not do it. Archives often do not confirm facts published in press articles.
Before the Germans entered the described territory, Mennonite congregations were visited by representatives of the Association of German Mennonite Congregations from Gdansk - Emil Handiges and Heinrich Paulus. Their goal was to see how the Mennonite communities functioned on the territory incorporated to the Third Reich and in the General Government and to grant them financial support62. In July 1940, the senior of the Mennonite congregation in Wymysle Nowe, Leonard Ratzlaff, accepted baptizing ritual practiced in the Association of the German Mennonite Congregation. It was a clear signal that congregations in Kazun Niemiecki and Wymysle Nowe (Niemieckie) were taken care of by the Mennonite congregations from Prussia, ideologically subordinated to the Third Reich, in spite of the fact that before the war the Mennonites in Kazun and Wymysle had only sporadic contacts with this Association.63 In 1940, the aforementioned congregations were also visited, upon approval of the occupation authorities, by representatives of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). At this moment, the report concerning losses in the Mennonite community was drawn up and the Mennonite congregation from Nowy Kazun was granted a financial aid in the amount of 1000 dollars. In 1941, it counted 375 members and the congregation in Wymysle Nowe in 1943 - 345 members.64
Act IV: Evacuation
The majority of colonists and Germans from the territory of the Mazovian Powiśle was evacuated by the German authorities before the arrival of the Russian army. This action was well prepared and it commenced at the beginning of January 1945. All was to take place according to the plans elaborated in advance. A network of intermediate stations, where Germans were to take refuge during their escape to the West, was organised.65 People from the territory of Gostynin and Gabin were prepared for evacuation in December 194466. Among the Volksdeutche were also people who decided to stay in Poland. There were also several ones who escaped evacuation convoys and returned to their homes67.
First were evacuated mothers with children, and then the remaining German population. The inhabitants of Kazun Nowy and neighbouring villages, as well as the inhabitants of Wymysle, were allowed to leave only a few days before the January offensive of the soviet army. At that time only disabled, women, children and old people dwelled in the villages near Vistula. Men were called up to the local divisions of Volkssturm68 or to military units stationing nearby. Those who were leaving took what they had most precious with them. They left their houses leaving everything they were not able to take behind, usually under the care of farm workers. They loaded carts with their belongings and, led by the head of the group, followed the set route of evacuation. The colonists often took with them also workers employed as forced labour in their farms. Some were not able to reach the intermediate stations because they were stopped on the way by the Russian forces.
The fugitives took roads that were occupied by the withdrawing columns of the German army. The army and the fugitives were often attacked by the Russian divisions (including air force). It was similar to the horror of 1939. Roads were crowded and often blocked with military vehicles. When parents of Edna and several Mennonite families from Secymin, a village belonging to the congregation in Kazun Niemiecki (Nowy), decided to evacuate, it was too late. They tried to leave but were not able to, as Germans blew up the only possible road for evacuation - the bridge on Vistula connecting Secymin and Czerwińsk. At the last moment they tried to take the road to the west in the direction of Wloclawek. However, it was completely blocked by the withdrawing military columns. David Schroeder decided to stay in Secymin with his family. Leon Ratzlaff, the senior of the Mennonite congregation, stayed in Wymysle to serve his coreligionists.
Some of the inhabitants of Wymysle Nowe (Niemieckie), escaping in the direction of Plonsk, were stopped by the Russian forces. The Russians robbed them of everything they had, but allowed them to return to their houses on foot. After 70 km of walking in freezing conditions (over -30 degrees), in blizzard, they arrived to their village. At the last moment the Germans organised defence against the attacking Russian army and evacuated the remaining compatriots, among others those from Gostynin. On 18 January 1945 left the last train evacuating equipment and wounded Germans and those remaining in the city. The escape was not successful - the train was bombarded by Russian tanks.
Finally, the German evacuation action ended successfully. In September 1945, 8.600 Mennonites evacuated from Prussia, Gdansk, Poland and those evacuated in the years 1939-1943 from the territory of the USRR (or lands incorporated to it before 1941) found themselves on the territory of the Third Reich (Gdansk Pomerania, Land of Warta).69 It is believed that in 1945 only 200 Mennonites were left out of c.a. 6.000 of those that before the World War lived on the territory of Prussia, Gdansk and Poland.70
Act V: Liberation of Poland by the soviet army
The January offensive commenced between 12 and 15 January 1945. In the area of Kazun, Germans fortified the terrain adjacent to the Modlin fortress. These fortifications did not play a major role in the German defence system. The soviet army pressed on towards the west, and soldiers did not stop longer in the conquered villages and towns.
The Russian army entered Kazun, Wymysle and Secymin on 17 January. Temporary commune authorities started to be organised in the liberated lands.71 In Czosnow, commune authorities were appointed already on 21 January 1945 and in the Czermno commune, where Wymysle Nowe was located, on 19 January 1945. In the Czosnow commune the majority of inhabitants - German colonists - escaped. Some were sent to forced labour camps to Germany and some deported. Over half of the commune, in particular the villages situated on the margin of the Kampinos Forest, was completely destroyed as a result of pacification (90% of buildings). In the entire commune only 12 cows and 3 "faltering" horses survived.72 The situation was better in Wymysle - all the houses remained intact and animals were cared for by Polish workers employed on farms.
Act VI: New Poland
Liberated villages were deserted. The majority of the German colonists left during the evacuation. Only the old and decrepit were left, as well as those who did not manage to evacuate and those thinking that their behaviour during the war will save them from repressions. Houses deserted by the colonists were inhabited by the Poles - workers deported from their farms by the occupation authorities. Immediately after the front line passed, new authorities were appointed and started implementing provisions of a new edict on measures to be taken with regard to the traitors of the nation. According to the edict, all the people who signed the German national list were interned - each Polish citizen who declared their German nationality, independently of their penal liability, was isolated (in a camp) and sent to forced labour.
All the Germans were to be arrested and placed in a camp. However, in the first hours after the liberation, local officers of the Civic Militia (MO) and Office of Public Security (UBP) did not dispose of organised isolation camps. In the first days after the liberation, local officers arrested mainly agents of the occupation authorities. For them, village leaders, and such was the function of Edna's father, Dawid Schroeder, were people that had to be imprisoned. To the Poles living in the nearby villages, Edna's father was the symbol of the Nazi repression system. It was him who informed people of deportations, sent them to forced labour. He was probably shot, like many other occupation authorities' officers.
Immediately after the liberation, the villages inhabited by the colonists were invaded by looters, recruited mainly from the village poverty and smallholders. They undoubtedly wanted to compensate losses that they incurred during the war.
The rule of collective responsibility was applied towards the Volksdeutche and the Germans. The issue of penal responsibility of persons appearing on national lists was regulated by a decree of the Polish Committee of National Liberation (PKWN) of 31 August 1944. This document was the first to introduce penal responsibility of the traitors of the nation - Polish citizens who enrolled themselves on the German National List - the Volksliste. According to legal solutions adopted in 1944, the fact of appearing on this list was treated as a criminal offence.73
In the decree of 4 November 1944, the Volksdeutche were also considered as traitors of the nation. Independently of the national group they were awarded, they were arrested and sent to labour camps. The instruction allowed capturing all the citizens that were deemed traitors. They could be expulsed from their houses, robbed of all their belongings, even personal items. The instruction was one of the elements of a new legal order in Poland. Despite some signs of legalism, it granted large competences to the repression apparatus of the NKWD, the Office of Public Security and the Civic Militia.74
The problem of determining and meting out punishments was left for the future75. Security organs organised places of isolation, where the Volksdeutche were to be detained for unlimited period of time. According to the law, separation was construed as a measure of legal prevention, not a punishment. Those were initiatives of the local Civic Militia officers and former Home Army soldiers. The existence of such camps indicated out by Leszek Olejnik: "... also, on initiative of the local authorities, their own "camps" were organised, where local Germans were isolated and forced to perform different works."76
Usually the camps were organised in the same places that used to serve occupation authorities to detain Poles. The prison in Gostynin was the isolation camp closest to Wymysle Nowe. Immediately after the liberation, the NKWD also created its own camps for members of the Polish military underground, Germans and Volksdeutche. It is suspected that one of such camps was organised by the NKWD in Studzieniec, in the Slubice commune. Lack of the appropriate documentation makes it impossible to determine where, on the territory of Powisle, the isolation camps were created and who managed them.
Having a name of German origins was sufficient to be placed in such camps. For officers of the public security apparatus the name became the indicator of whether a given person was a traitor or not. Originally, the camps were intended to be a place of redemption, a penalty and a source of gratuitous labour force. In reality, they were full of persons that were the most helpless or those that during the war were loyal towards their Polish neighbours. People were directed to camps without prosecutor's order, without notifying it to the justice organs, and therefore illegally.77
Some of the Volksdeutche were not sent to camps but registered78 and sent for labour in farms, overtaken by the Poles. It is difficult to say how many Volksdeutche were detained in camps and how many walked free. The criteria used by the Civic Militia and the Office of Public Security in sending them to the camps are also unknown. This issue requires detailed research. People were aware that those who applied for rehabilitation and did not obtain it through a decision of the court of first instance were sent for "separation". This term was understood as detention in a labour camp, as well as assignment for work in a concrete farm.
Edna had the feeling of injustice - why innocent citizens, who also suffered losses during the war, had to be responsible for the Nazi crimes?79
In camps the law was often violated. The imprisoned Volksdeutche were put to elaborate tortures. Here it should be stressed that the Home Army soldiers and other prisoners of the NKWD or the Office of Public Security were treated similarly. In the camp in Leoncin the prisoners were interrogated. According to Edna Schreder, such interrogations usually ended with the death of the prisoner.80
The situations she describes took place also in other camps. It is difficult to state whether they were frequent or not, as the full documentation of all the camps established in January 1945 on the territory of the former Nowy Dwor, Gostynin and Sochaczew poviats has not been preserved. Central authorities were aware of the existence of such camps. However, they did not undertake any steps to liquidate them. Closing of such "savage" camps was prevented by lower rank officers, who draw substantial benefits from renting the prisoners for work. Each local or poviat head of the security apparatus tried to establish a labour camp as it was bringing them important income. Prisoners did not have the possibility to apply for rehabilitation or to leave Poland.
"Savage" camps functioned till the beginning of 1946. Afterwards, they were systematically liquidated and the detained Volksdeutche deported to Germany or transferred to other camps subordinated to the Department of Prisons and Camps of the Ministry of Public Security. In those camps conditions were similar to those in the "savage" ones. The prisoners were also detained without the prosecutor's order. For example, on the territory covered by the activity of the Voivodeship Office of Public Security in Lodz, 70% of prisoners were detained without any court order. Among them were often people who had the right to rehabilitation.81 In the years 1946-1947 the number of the Volksdeutche imprisoned in Poland was still at the level of 30 thousand people and it was reduced only after 1947, when their deportations do Germany began.
Spring of 1946 brought better treatment of prisoners, also in the camp in Leoncin. This change was forced upon by the beginning of farm works and increased demand for the labour force. Camp authorities rented the imprisoned Germans for field works and general help in farms. As Edna claims, a worker could be bought for a bottle of vodka. They were not allowed to stay in farms overnight; they had to return to the camp. The attitude of the Poles towards them was varied. Some were friendly, helped in obtaining rehabilitation or permission to leave Poland.82 Other bullied and humiliated them.
After the camp in Leoncin was closed in the spring of 1946, Edna Schroeder was transferred to Sochaczew, to a camp organised probably on the territory of a military unit.83
The camp in Sochaczew had c.a. 100 prisoners and was larger than the one in Leoncin. Among the detained were young women, boys, mothers with children and several war prisoners, captured in the Eastern Prussia. The accounts of Edna Schroeder indicate that this camp could have been an NKWD prison for the soldiers of the Polish patriotic underground, and the Volksdeutche that were kept there serviced the military unit and prison. In 1947 Edna was transferred to a camp in Warsaw, situated on the so-called Gesiowka, where, as the majority of the Volksdeutche, she worked at the reconstruction of Warsaw.84
The obligation of labour was forced upon those Volksdeutche who were kept in separation camps, as well as those that were free and registered in local Labour Offices. In the first period after the end of the war, the camps and the work of the Volksdeutche were organised ad hoc. First and foremost, it was intended as a penalty. For example, the prisoners of the camp in Leoncin were ordered to clean a square where the German army had stationed. They had to load horse manure and dross on carts with their bare hands and then take it outside the village. They also had to back fill trenches and other fortifications in Leoncin and neighbouring areas without any tools.85 Such treatment of the Volksdeutche in the first weeks after the war resulted mainly from the need of vengeance for the humiliations experienced during the occupation. This hostility was further fuelled by the press. "The entire hate towards the occupant and its helpers, accumulated during the occupation, has found its vent in quick and severe repressions."86 Afterwards the work was much better organised. Those who remained free worked in factories and, on the territory of the Gostynin and Sochaczew poviats, on farms.
In some areas the commune board fixed a table of tariffs for farmers renting Germans for work. Unfortunately, there are no documents containing such a table, only the documents in which Polish farmers were summoned to pay for the work of Germans on their farms.
Commune boards had the right to dispose of the Volksdeutche appearing in the register. The right to apply for a German to work was granted to individuals and to village council offices. The rehabilitation documents of the Gostynin poviat starosty indicate that in 1946 and 1947 the majority of Germans were assigned to work on farms. Those persons, applying for rehabilitation, gave the address of the farm where they worked as their domicile. Some more enterprising Poles organised farms where only Germans worked and they themselves undertook other work.87
Many ethnic Germans felt they were not responsible for occupation authorities' repressions towards the Poles. They considered themselves victims of the Nazi repression apparatus. The Volksdeutche felt degraded, as their humiliation took place before the eyes of their closest neighbours - people they knew.
According to the Polish authorities, Germans-colonists tried to avoid the "responsibility" for being inscribed on the Volksliste. Usually they hid in houses of their friends and neighbours, whom they helped during the war.88 At the same time, they tried to rehabilitate themselves by searching for witnesses that would confirm their loyalty towards the Poles during the war.89 Only those having Polish names succeeded. Local authorities, in order to increase control over the Volksdeutche and prevent their escapes, decided to "mark" Germans. The authorities of the Gostynin poviat starosty decreed that "All Germans above the age of 5 were to wear a mark on their chests on the left, in shape of a slantwise white square with sides of 6 cm and a black letter N' in the middle, 4cm high and wide and 1 cm thick""90
The authorities of the Wloclawek poviat were even more "creative" and wanted to mark Germans by painting a large swastika on their clothes. This idea was not accepted however. There were cases of escapes. Some of the Germans wanted to find better living conditions, others wanted to flee to the West.
On the territory of the Gostynin poviat the rehabilitation started already in February 1945. It was carried out on the basis of a decree, issued by the Temporary Government on 28 February 1945, on excluding hostile elements from the Polish society. This decree formally regulated the situation of the Volksdeutche on the territory of Poland. It provided that "the owners of the 2nd category national list cards and included in one of the national groups privileged by the occupant had the right to apply to court for rehabilitation and prove that they were entered to the list against their will and that they preserved their Polish national identity"91 For the inhabitants of the Gostynin and Sochaczew poviats applications for rehabilitation were related to obtaining identity cards. In the majority of cases, the rehabilitation was applied for by the Poles inscribed in 1944 to the "Leistungs Pole" list by the occupation authorities.92
However, the rehabilitation was not an easy process. Many people detained in labour camps did not know that they had the right to apply for it, as this fact was held back from the prisoners. In many camps, especially the "savage" ones in 1945, controlled by local officers of the security apparatus, no one was interested in losing profits from renting the labour force. There was yet another reason substantially limiting the access of the Volksdeutche to the rehabilitation - costs. They had to be borne by people filing the application.93 People remaining in camps did not dispose of means necessary to pay for the process and reimburse witnesses for the costs of trial in the court of first instance. They could not count on family or friends, who were detained in other camps or managed to leave Poland.
The available documents indicate that among the inhabitants of Wymysle, only Mennonite Rainhold Wegert, who filed his application on 17 March 1945, was rehabilitated94. It was easier for him, as during the war he cooperated with the Polish resistance. In the first months after the liberation, the majority of the Civic Militia stations on the territory of the Gostynin poviat, were staffed by the partisan soldiers, often related to the Home Army.95 Other inhabitants of Wymysle, like Marta and Henryk Bartel, who applied for rehabilitation, did not obtain it. Their application was rejected because "they did not fulfil the requirements of the decree". Henryk Bartel, as it was put out in the court's sentential, being a non-rehabilitated person, lost all his civic rights and was sent for one year to a labour camp. The ownership of land and farm was transferred to the state treasury and was destined for the agricultural reform.96
Already during the first meeting of the Poviat National Board in Gostynin on 8 March 1945 there were propositions to distribute the land left after the landowners and Germans among the village poverty as soon as possible. 97 On the territory of the Gostynin poviat there were 1.190 German farms having the joint surface of 11.308 ha.98 The authorities of the poviat starosty intended to settle there 1.350 smallholders and peasants without land; the remaining area was to be divided into additional 158 parcels for others. Already in January 1945 part of the farms were overtaken spontaneously. It took place in the name of the "social justice". For example, when Jozef Lenarcik applied for attribution of such farm, he justified his demand by the fact that his brother had been killed having been taken away for the forced labour in Germany, that he had lost his mother and father during the war and had nothing, not even his own land.99 As a result, on the territory of the Gostynin poviat 960 families of smallholders, farm workers and tenants, 14 families of soldiers, 58 families of repatriates and 380 families rehoused from other territories of Poland were settled in the former farms of the ethnic German colonists.100
Settlement of smallholders in former German farms seemed to be a better solution than division of the property of landowners. Smallholders and peasants without land were not eager to participate in allotment of land property, but they were much more interested in overtaking former German farms. It resulted from the instable political situation. On the territory of the Gostynin poviat strong divisions of the Citizens' Movement for Democratic Action (ROAD), who fought against the forces of the Security Office and the Civic Militia reserves, recruiting mainly from among the former farm workers - members of the Polish Workers' Party, were very active.101 Even among the poor there was no consent for overtaking lands from the allotted properties. The situation was similar in the Czosnow and Leoncin communes, where former German farms were overtaken most eagerly.
As properties of the Volksdeutche were overtaken, the authorities had no intention to restore them the Polish citizenship. There were cases where Polish citizens applied for assignment of the property of the rehabilitated Volksdeutche. "Application of the citizen Jan Pawlowski for allocation of one apartment in Wymysle Nowe, in a building formerly belonging to a German, Rainhold Wegert, for a grocery store. Commune National Board decided to reject the application as the owner of the apartment Wegert was rehabilitated and inhabits his house."102
Intentions of the local authorities concerning the rehabilitation were clearly visible in 1946. Many people were refused rehabilitation and penal proceedings were automatically initiated against them for the reason of "secession from the Polish nation".103
Decisions on rehabilitation were motivated by the reason of state, what means that only such solutions were adopted that were profitable from the point of view of the Polish state. The majority of farms left by the Volksdeutche were taken over by the Poles as part of the action of repatriation from the East or agricultural reform. Rehabilitation of the former Volksdeutche had to be motivated by reasons of moral nature, what signified that people who renounced Polish nationality could not be treated equally to those who "preserved their national face". It was also recommended to take into consideration "emotional moods of the society and its sense of national dignity".104
Former Volksdeutche, not seeing any chance for rehabilitation, fled to Germany through the "green border". In 1946, those escapes were a widespread phenomenon. The most often they were undertaken by those who worked on fields. Escapes from camps were practically impossible. The staroste of the Gostynin poviat wrote that "according to the reports from the territory of my poviat, several Germans were able to flee outside the borders of the Republic of Poland without identity cards and certificates for departure, issued by starostes." 105
In 1947, on the territory of the Warsaw voivodeship, in communes that before the war were inhabited by the German colonists and the Mennonites, the policy towards former Volksdeutche changed. They were not rehabilitated and, if it was possible, forced to renounce Polish citizenship what was synonymous with resigning from the entire movable and immovable property to the benefit of the Treasury. Renouncement of the Polish citizenship became the passport to leave Poland. In order to make the rehabilitation process more difficult, many formal obstacles were created in form of additional fees and procedures. People were also suggested that negative decision will cause penal consequences in form of separation in a labour camp. From the official point of view the possibility to apply for rehabilitation was reduced. At the same time, in spite of the declared appurtenance to the Polish nation obtaining rehabilitation was becoming more and more difficult.
In 1947, the lot of the former Volksdeutche was sealed together with the entry into force of a decree of 28 June 1946 on the penal responsibility for secession from the nationality during the war 1939-1945. It was addressed to German colonists - descendants of Hollanders inhabiting Powisle.106 It entered into force on 8 November 1946 and executive provisions were published on 10 April 1947. By force of the act, people aged above 18 were deprived of the Polish citizenship. The basic criterion while taking the decision was preserving of the German national separateness i.e. language, habits and participation in German organisations. People deprived of the citizenship (as stateless) were deported from Poland and their property was confiscated by the treasury.
Some ethnic Germans accused themselves to be sure that they will be deprived of the Polish citizenship and deported to Germany. On 15 September 1947 one of the German women confessed: "before 1 September 1939 I had the Polish citizenship, I belonged to the German nation and was inscribed on the German national list voluntarily in 1944. I got the 2nd group. During the occupation my attitude towards the Polish people was hostile, I deported a Polish landowner, I spoke German and Polish. During the occupation I considered myself as a German, now I also feel as a German and want to leave to Germany. 107
In the same time, the President of the Commune National Board in his letter dating from 16 June 1947 wrote: The citizen's (...) attitude towards the Polish State is loyal and she wants to take the Polish citizenship. According to the Presidium of the Commune National Board it would be advisable that she, as the favourable element, stays on the territory of the Polish State.108
At this time, Edna Schroeder tried to collect rehabilitation documents. She decided to ask her Polish teacher from the elementary school in Secemin for advice. The woman dissuaded her from applying for the Polish citizenship (rehabilitation). She said: "Maybe it is a good plan to apply for the Polish citizenship, but I think you shouldn't do it. If you obtain it, the borders will be closed for you, especially for you, as you are German. I think that it would be better if you find another solution and leave Poland. I know that your parents had cousins in the United States or Canada. They will certainly help you to leave Poland. She signed my application for rehabilitation, but her words made me think about it."109
The post-war situation of the Volksdeutche, deprived of their possessions and imprisoned in the labour camps, did not create perspectives for a better life. Mass departures of people devoid of the Polish citizenship took place between June and November 1947. The Volksdeutche of the 1st and 2nd category, who could not count on rehabilitation on the basis of the local authorities' decision, left. On 5 November 1947 a deportation transport was organised for 1.200 Germans, mainly mothers with children and old people. After this action, 2.000 Germans still remained on the territory of the Gostynin poviat.110 The last ones left in 1948. That year the history of colonists, not only on the territory of Mazovia so tangled and tragic, ended.
1 W. Marchlewski, Mennoniten Qurtely Revive, April 1990; Janusz Szczepański, Dzieje Gabina do 1945 roku. Warszawa 1984 s.56.
2 Archiwum Państwowe w Płocku (dalej: APP), Powiatowy Urząd Likwidacyjny w Gostyninie, 1948.
3 J. Matuszewski, Okres II wojny światowej i okupacji hitlerowskiej (1939 - 1945) w ; Dzieje Gostynina i ziemi gostynińskiej, red. M. Chudzyński, Warszawa 1990, s.527.
4 W. Marchlewski, Mennonici w Polsce. O powstaniu społeczności menonitów Wymysla Nowego, Etnografia Polska 1986 , z.2, s.141.
6 E. Schroeder Thiessen, A. Showalter, A life dispaced. A Mennonite Womens Flight form War- Torn Poland, Ontario. 2000, s. 34.
7 W. Marchlewski, Przyczynek do dziejów osadnictwa olęderskiego w środkowym biegu Wisły w XIX - XX w. (do 1945 r.), Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej, t. XXXVI, 1988, nr. 3.
8 Edna Schroeder Thiessen, angela Showalter, A life dispaced. A Mennonite Womens Flight form War- Torn Poland, Ontario. 2000r, s.42.s 31
9 Erich Ratzlaff, Im Weischelbogen, Mennonitensiedlungen in Zentralpolen, Winnipeg 1971.
10 W. Marchlewski Menonici ..., s.144
11 W. Marchlewski, Masovian Mennonites as an Etno- Religious Local Society, The Ethbic Identities of European Minorities, red. B. Synak, Gdańsk 1995.
12 L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy narodu,? Los Volksdeutschów w Polsce po II wojnie światowej, Warszawa 2006, s.21.
13 APP, Starostwo Powiatowe w Gostyninie 1918 - 1939, syg. 1 s. 28.
14 Fragment wywiad z Sigrfidem Bartlem w: S. M. Schroeder, Prussian Mennonites In the Third Reich and beyond: The Uneasy synthesis of National and religious myths. University of Britisch Columbia . 2001, s.21.
15 E. Haendiges, Zur Heimkher der bestreiten Volksgenossen ins Reich. Mennonitishe Blatter, październik listopad 1939.p.65 (Nasza niemiecka społeczność ponosiła nie wypowiedziane cierpienia pod panowaniem Polaków ciemiężycieli, przez ostatnie dwadzieścia lat zagranicznej dominacji. Ale co najgorsze już za nami. Dzięki Bogu naszemu Panu, przez pomocną rękę (ramieniem) naszego Furera przywrócił nam wolność. Jesteśmy wdzięczni Furerowi za wyzwolenie (w tłumaczeniu W.M).
16 : S. M. Schroeder. Prussian ..., s.31
17 : J.w., s.34
18 J. Frisen, Mennonites In Poland: An Expanded Historical View Jurnal of Mennoite Studies 4 z 1986 s.98.
19 VVD - the activity of the Deutscher Volksverband organisation covered mainly the area of the Lodz voivodeship. Together with other organisations: Jungdeutsche Partei, Deutsche Vereinigung, Deutscher Volksverband formed the fifth column in Poland, carrying out diversion activity (spying, sabotage, provocations, political and destructive activity). They were controlled and managed by the party and state organisations of the Third Reich: NSDAP, Auslandsorganisation, Gestapo, SD, Abwehra. It is assumed that the diversion and sabotage organisations of this type united 25% of the German minority. German activists (mainly from Deutscher Volksverband and Jungdeutsche Partei) fought against the assimilation of Germans with the Polish people. Speaking Polish and contacts with the Polish culture were stigmatized. Polish national holidays were boycotted, like German minority members who did not respect those rules.
20 APP Starosta Gostyniński 1940 - 1944 akta
21 J.w., akta
22 J. Szczepański, Dzieje Gabina. Warszawa 1984, s. 270.
23 J. P. Regier, Mennonitische Vergangenheitsbewältigung: Prussian Mennonites, the Third Reich, and Coming to Terms with a Difficult Past, March 2004, vol. 59 no. 1.
24 APP.Starostwo Powiatowe 1919 - 1939 roku, syg.1.
25 J. Szczepański Dzieje ..., s.270.
26 M. Cygański Mniejszość niemiecka w centralnej Polsce w latach 1919 - 1939, Łódź 1961.
27 Relacja H Bartel.
28 J. Matuszewski, Okres II wojny światowej i okupacji hitlerowskiej (1939 - 1945) w ; Dzieje ...,s.528.
29 APP Starosta Gostyniński 1940 - 1944.
30 E. Ratzlaff, Im Wieschelbogen...
31 Edna Schroeder Thiessen, Angela Showalter, A life ..., s. 171
32 J. Szczepański, Dzieje Gabina ..., s.56.
33 L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy ..., s. 34.
34 J. Szczepański Dzieje Gabina ..., s. 274.
35 J. Matuszewski Okres II wojny ..., s. 543
36 H. Gerlach, Prussian Mennonites, 1943 - 45, Mennonite Quarterly Review. April 1992, s 243.
38 L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy ..., s.23.
39 M. Wardzyńska, Wydział Ekspertyz i Opracowań Głównej Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu Polacy - wysiedleni, wypędzeni i wyrugowani przez III Rzeszę. IPN.
40 APP Starostwo Powiatowe w Gostyninie 1945 - 1950, syg. 20, Rehabilitacja.
41 E. Schroeder Thiessen, A. Showalter, A life ..., s. 51
42 Za L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy narodu...: Volksdeutsch is an ethnic German living outside the borders of the empire; opposite to Raichsdeutch, i.e. German inhabiting in Reich.
43 L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy narodu ..., s..21.
44 J.w., s..25.
45 Z. Izdebski, Niemiecka lista narodowa
J. Matuszewski. Okres II wojny światowej ..., s.551.
47 E. L. Ratzlaff was born in Wymysle on 8 August 1911 as the sixth son of Leonard Piotr Ratzlaff and Anna of Wolhemnuth. He was a member of the Mennonite Brotherhood Church congregation. On 1 June 1935 he married Luiza Ratzlaff. On 23 July 1928 he was baptized and joined the Mennonite Brotherhood Community congregation. In 1932 he graduated from the teacher training college in Ostrzeszow. In the years 1937-1938 he taught in the school in Borki. He was dismissed because of alleged sabotage and activity to the detriment of Poland. On 7 April 1941 he was registered in the Volksliste. On 27 October 1942 he was called up to the army, on 13 May 1945 was captured on the territory of Czechoslovakia. In June 1946, through his contact with the family in Canada, he was deported to Germany. Between 1947 and 1948 he was interned in a camp managed by the Mennonite Central Committee. He died in 1988 in Canada.
48 E. Schroeder Thiessen, A. Showalter, A life ..., s.51.
49 CAW - Niemcy w Polsce 1945 - 1950
50 Hitlerjugend (HJ) - a paramilitary NSDAP's youth organisation founded in 1922 as a extension of Sturm Divisions (SA). HJ was divided into age groups: Deutsches Jungvolk (DJ) 10-14 years Hitlerjugen (HJ)14-18 years. On 1936 an act on obligations of the youth was proclaimed, further sharpened in 1938. According to this act, each boy and each girl aged 10 was admitted to DJ and in the age of 14 entered HJ or BDM.
51 L. Olejnik Zdrajcy..., s. 21.
52 Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) for girls aged 14 - 18; youth organisation of the NSDAP for girls. Younger girls aged 10 - 14 were obliged to participate in Jungmädel (JM) and older, between 17-21 years old - in Glaube und Schönheit.
53 J.w., s.60.
54 J.w., s. 51.
55 Declaration on merits of R. Wegert signed by the post-war authorities of Gabin, inhabitants of Laziska, Sanniki and Slubice; probably the author found the Rainhold Wegert rehabilitation document, taken back after he obtained the rehabilitation.
56 APP, Warsaw poviat starosty: 13 August 1946 the Czosnow Commune received a letter on mass tombs in the neighbourhood. Inquiry on the course of military operations and German occupation no. 93 p. 3.
57 APP, Gostynin starosty 1940 - 1944, ref.1804. At the end of 1937 or the beginning of 1938 in the school in Borki there was a meeting summoned by the Voit of the Dobrzykow village. According to the report of a policeman from Dobrzykow, Ratzlaff came uninvited. Almost all the participants were ethnic Germans. The Voit presented the goal of the OZON organisation and then demanded that all the Germans present become its members. According to the policeman Eichman, in spite of Ratzlaff's efforts, he did not manage to recruit anyone to OZON. The participants were the most perturbed when he said "don't worry, nothing will happen to you, I will inscribe myself as the first" what he did. Then the membership lists were laid out for signature.
58 APP. Gostynin starosty 1940 - 1944 ref.1804, 50 ethnic Germans and 3 Poles participated in the meeting, the goal of which was to choose members of the school board. Erich Ratzlaff managed to manipulate the meeting so that a Pole, Jan Suchodolski from the village of Ruminki situated 3 km away, was chosen as the president of the school board. He was also accused of responding "Dzien dobre" ("Good morning" in Polish) to the German "Guten Tag"
59 J.w., 275.
60 J. Szczepański, Dzieje ...,. s 278.
61 J. Borsiak, Echo Gabina - www.echo-gabina.zcentrum.pl/historia03.html.
62 H. Gerlach, The final years of mennonites in East and West Prusia 1943 - 1945, Mennonite Quarterly Review April 1992, s 242.
63 E. Schroeder Thiessen, A. Showalter, A life ..., s.38.
64 H. Gerlach, The final years of ..., s. 242.
65 W. Stankowski, Obozy i inne miejsca odosobnienia niemieckiej ludności cywilnej w Polsce w latach 1945 - 1950 Bydgoszcz 2002 oraz W. Stanowski, Niemcy na Pomorzu Gdańskim i Kujawach w latach 1944/45- 1950 .Ucieczka, życie codzienne, wysiedlenia. Bydgoszcz 2000.
66 J. Matuszewski. Okres II wojny światowej ..., s.551.
67 J.w., s. 552.
68 Volkssturm was established on 20 October 1944. In order to balance losses, in autumn 1944 young people aged above 16 and older men between 50 and 60 years old were called up. In this group were all the people covered with the obligation to work who, due to their employment in economy, were outside the army. The officers were to be chosen from among the leaders of different party organisations: SA, SS, NSKK and HJ. Organisation of the division was entrusted to the NSDAP.
69 T.R Regehr, Polish and Prussian, mennonite displaced person. 1944 - 1950 Mennoniten Qurtely Revive April 1992, s.247
71 Archwum Państwowe m.st. Warszawy. Oddział Grodzisk. Mazowiecki (dalej APW.OG), Sprawozdanie wójta gminy i Przewodniczącego GRN za okres 1945 - 1950, nr akt 179.
73 B. Kopka, Obozy pracy w Polsce. Przewodnik encyklopedyczny. Warszawa 2002, s.34 - na podstawie AAN,MBP.10/6 s.78.
74 B. Kopka, Obozy pracy ..., s.33
75 L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy ..., s. 153.
77 B. Kopka, Obozy pracy ..., s.39 - na podstawie za AAN, MPB 1/20. s.46 .
78 APP, Starostwo Powiatowe w Gostyninie 1945 - 1950, syg. 13.
79 E. Schroeder Thiessen, A. Showalter, A life ...,s. 72.
80 J.w., 73.
81 L. Olejnik, ..., s.158
82 Preventively, both women were directed to a separation camp, to work on farms. Mother of Anna Bartel in March 1947 worked on Kepin's farm and sister - of Tomasik's farm. Those farmers were to be witnesses in the process of rehabilitation of both women.
83 B. Kopka. Obozy pracy ..., s.263.
84 B. Kopka. Obozy pracy ..., s 262 za AAN, MBP, 4/331s.38
85 E Schroeder Thiessen, A. Showalter, A life ..., s 72.
86 Muszkat, Wymiar sprawiedliwości w stosunku do przestępców wojennych a walka o utrwalenie pokoju, "Demokratyczny Przegląd Prawniczy 1946 nr. 11/ 12 s. 15.
87 APP, Starostwo Powiatowe w Gostyninie 1945 -1950 syg. 527.
88 J. Matuszewski Okres II wojny ..., s.522.
89 J. Szczepański Dzieje Gabina. ...
90 CA MSWiA, MAP 302 okólnik nr 7/45 Powiatowego Urzędu Pracy dla Niemców w Gostyninie z 23 VI 1945 roku w: L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy ..., s. 160.
91 J.w., s.93
92 APP. Starostwo Powiatowe w Gostyninie 1945 1950. Rehabilitacja.
93 L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy ..., s.105.
94 APP. Starostwo Powiatowe w Gostyninie 1945 - 1950. Rehabilitacja, syg 20. Documents were not preserved because, as it was noted in the register of persons applying for rehabilitation, the applicant took them back.
95 J. Pawłowicz, Ruch oporu Armii Krajowej w powiecie gostynińskim 1945-1947, Warszawa 2009.
96 I did not succeed in finding these documents as it is written that the applicant took them back.
97 J. Maciejewski, Okres II wojny światowej i okupacji hitlerowskiej (1939 - 1945), Dzieje Gostynina i ziemi gostynińskiej, red. M. Chudzyński, Warszawa 1990, s.557.
98 J.w., s.588.
99 APP Starostwo Powiatowe 1945 - 1950 Sprawozdanie z obrad z Gromadzkiej Rady Narodowej w Czermnie z 8.10.1946.
100 J. Maciejewski, Okres II wojny światowej ..., s.589. Dla przykładu :gospodarstwo Albert a Foth z Wymysla Nowego w roku 1946 przejął bezrolny wywieziony na roboty do Niemiec Józef Zieliński a gospodarstwo Erich Raztllaf w listopadzie 1945 roku przydzielono Zygmuntowi Tyznehaus rannemu w 1939 zawodowemu majorowi wojska polskiego którego żonę z dziećmi i teściową wywiezieni na Syberię.
101 J. w., s.579.
102 Sprawozdanie z obrad z Gromadzkiej Rady Narodowej w Czermnie z 8.10.1946 r.
103 J. Maciejewski, Okres II wojny światowej ..., s.552.
104 L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy ..., s.118.
105 Borodziej, tom II, s. 249 oraz APm.stW UWW z dnia 30 września 1946 r.
106 L. Olejnik, Zdrajcy ..., s 187.
107 APP. Starostwo Powiatowe Płockie 1945 - 1950, syg.221 s 96.
108 APP. Starostwo Powiatowe Płockie 1945 - 1950, syg.221 s 95.
109 E. Schroeder Thiessen, A. Showalter, A life ..., s. 97.
110 Borodziej s. 308
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