edited by Eryk Habowski
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
My analysis is limited to the work of Patrycja Grzebek (pp. 301-316) on the omission of the Wola Massacre in the Nuremberg and post-Nuremberg trials. Because this genocidal massacre, like all Polish suffering, has long been overshadowed by the Jews and their Holocaust, my analysis examines it from that angle.
THE MORAL GRAVITY AND HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WOLA MASSACRE
By way of introduction, Grzebek writes, “The Wola Massacre is described by historians as ‘the largest single battlefield massacre of the Second World War’ in connection with military action: in the space of a few days (mainly from 5 to 7 August 1944), some 30,000-65,000 civilians were murdered. The German troops did not engage in direct combat with members of the Home Army (and it should be noted here that they wore patches distinguishing them from civilians) – who, by the way, were not especially numerous in Wola – but instead proceeded to systematically murder the civilian population. Nobody was spared – men, women, children, doctors, nurses, nuns, and the sick lying in hospitals.” (p. 301. Emphasis added).
Obviously, this was no collateral damage. Nor was this a few “excesses” on civilians in the heat of battle. It was pre-meditated, cold-blooded, systematic mass murder.
So the Nazi Germans murdered 30,000-65,000 Polish civilians. Had they murdered 30,000-65,000 Jews instead and this was public knowledge, would such a crime have escaped justice, especially for so long? Laugh.
To this day, the German authorities, with great diligence and moral urgency, fish out the remaining 95-year-old Nazis suspected of being involved in the killing of Jews. Needless to say, they displayed no such diligence and moral urgency in the pursuit of justice regarding Nazi Heinz Reinefarth, even when repeatedly prompted by the Polish government. Exactly the opposite was the case. The much-glorified exemplary German repentance for Nazism is a sham.
GERMAN GENOCIDAL INTENT BEHIND THE WOLA MASSACRE
Grzebek makes it clear that German intentions went far beyond punishing the Poles for the Warsaw Uprising, and for terrorizing others against rising up against the Germans. She comments, “In an address given on 21 September 1944 in Jägerhöhe, Heinrich Himmler intimated that for him, the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising was a pretext to solve the so-called Polish problem once and for all, since it had finally become possible to liquidate Warsaw – the intellectual capital of a strong nation that blocked the Germans’ path to the East.” (p. 303).
So, Himmler once again admitted that Poles were a problem to be solved just like Jews were a problem to be solved. German plans had called for Warsaw to be razed anyway, but such large-scale genocidal projects against Poles had been de-prioritized as a result of all the German reverses on the battlefields. Now the Soviet-betrayed Warsaw Uprising made an excuse for the Germans to revive some of these earlier plans, even in the face of their own impending defeat. And they did.
DENYING THE GERMAN GENOCIDE OF POLES: DOUBLE STANDARDS
Grzebek writes, “According to the German prosecutors, there had been no order of Himmler’s to murder all the residents of Warsaw because, as they argued, not all the men had been killed…” (p. 314).
That is a thinly veiled Jewish-serving statement. It is as irresponsible as saying that there was no Holocaust because, after all, not all Jews within reach of the Third Reich had actually been killed. The Germans would never say such a thing regarding the murder of Jews. So why do the Germans feel free to say such exculpatory bilge when it comes to murdering Poles?
MORE DOUBLE STANDARDS: SITUATIONAL CONTEXT FOR JEWS BUT NOT FOR POLES
Author Grzebek provides the missing genocidal context, “Some historians note, however, that the Wola Massacre should be viewed in the context of the Third Reich’s general plans for the Slavs (and therefore Poles) – extermination in the longer term.” (p. 304).
Note the Jewish-serving double standard. All Nazi German massacres of Jews are automatically (and correctly) folded into the Holocaust, but Nazi German massacres of Poles (as at Wola) are not straightforwardly folded into the eventual Polokaust. They are falsely treated as separate and disconnected atrocities.
GERMAN EXCUSES THAT WOULD NEVER BE MADE ABOUT KILLING JEWS: “COMMANDER’S IGNORANCE”
Consider Heinz Reinefarth. The author addresses some German exculpations about him “having no knowledge” of the atrocities. This is a lame, passing-the-buck argument. She writes, “However, such statements do not sound convincing, as it is hard to believe that a person in command of an area where there were only occasional clashes with partisans did not notice mass executions and piles of burning corpses. How could a commander possibly fail to observe that a proportionally larger part of his troops was engaged not in fighting, but in murdering civilians?” (p. 306).
Can you imagine the Germans attempting to get away with such a silly argument in a trial of Nazis accused of killing Jews? Not in this universe.
The case of SS leader Paul Blobel is instructive. He murdered 50,000 defenseless civilians, but they were Jews and not Poles. For this reason, he was put on trial, and no alibis were accepted. He was promptly convicted and hanged in 1951.
GERMAN EXCUSES THAT WOULD NEVER BE SAID ABOUT KILLING JEWS: WASTING BULLETS
As another example of German exculpatory mendacity as per the Wola Massacre, Grzebek comments,
“The prosecutors explained the oft-quoted words uttered by Reinefarth in his conversation with Vormann – namely his complaint that he did not have enough ammunition to deal with all the residents–by the terseness of the communication, and also by his concern that the units ‘accompanying those escaping to the West’ should be sufficiently equipped.” (p. 314).
Reinefarth’s genocidal intentions at Wola are even clearer: He would have killed many more than 50,000 Poles if he had more ammunition. And if Reinefarth was so concerned about saving ammunition for combat purposes, he surely knew that the bullets he wasted on shooting 50,000 Polish civilians could have been more profitably spent by shooting at Red Army soldiers, especially in the light of the steadily deteriorating military situation facing the Germans.
GERMAN EXCUSES THAT WOULD NEVER BE MADE ABOUT KILLING JEWS: THE OLD SAW ABOUT UNSEEN COMBATANTS
Author Grzebek gives undue consideration to the old excuse about combatants and non-combatants–a bogus consideration that had been rejected long ago, “Finally, the prosecutors considered that since ‘the Polish women and children acted not only as munition carriers and liaisons, but also took part in the fighting’, then ‘under these circumstances it was difficult to make a decision as to which of the measures used to combat the enemy fell within the limits of international law’.” (p. 314). What nonsense!
Imagine Jurgen Stroop, at his trial, saying that he had the right to massacre Jewish civilians in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising just because he could not clearly distinguish Jewish combatants from Jewish civilians. How would that fly? No need to answer: Any such alibi was rejected out of hand, and Stroop was hanged.
At least the German murderers found some Jewish imitators. “Not being able to clearly tell civilians from combatants” became the bogus excuse used by the Israelis for the mass murder of the Arab civilians of Deir Yassin. See:
WOLA MASSACRE: NO JUSTICE FOR POLAND–THEN OR NOW
Grzebek concludes that, “As a result, one of the greatest crimes of the Second World War remains unjudged to the present day.” (p. 315). A sobering truth.
No justice, no peace!