September 22, 2021
Book Reviews

Polnische Polizei: Poles Forced to Serve Germans. Minimal Collaboration

Granatowa w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie w Latach 1939-1945

The Blue Police in the General Government in the years 1939-1945

by Tomasz Domanski and Edyta Majcher-Ociosy (eds.)

Instytut Pamieci Narodowej (IPN)

Institute of National Remembrance.

THE BLUE POLICE IN THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT IN THE YEARS 1939-1945 is the title of this Polish-language study by the IPN. I first examine the experiences of this police in the trials sponsored by the postwar Soviet-imposed Communist puppet government, and then go back to describe this police under the earlier Nazi German rule over Poland.

COMMUNIST TRIALS A SHAM

The August Decree of 1944 emphasized the accusations of collaboration with the Nazis. (Dariusz Palacz, p. 198). Domanski (p. 163) points out that accused members of the Policja Granatowa were regularly tortured, by the Communist security forces (U. B., or Bezpieka) into confessing crimes, against Poles and Jews, which they did not commit. There are also many examples of witness tampering. This included the forcing of them to sign scripted reports that affirmed the guilt of the defendants. (Domanski, p. 163). For more on this, see:

https://www.jewsandpolesdatabase.org/2021/07/26/august-decree-postwar-trials-tortured-suspects-why-common-leniency-towards-those-accused-of-harming-jews-gieron/

NOT A COLLABORATIONIST POLICE

The Polish Blue Police is commonly but mistakenly equated with the collaborationist police in various German-occupied nations. This is far from the truth.

Service in the French collaborationist police, for example, was voluntary (Domanski and Majcher-Ociosy, p.11), as was that of the Ukrainians and Baltics in their respective collaborationist police forces. (Maciej Korkuc, p. 25, 29). By contrast, service in the Blue Police was compelled, and with severe penalties (concentration camp or death penalty) for non-compliance or desertion. (Korkuc, p. 39; Ewa Wojcicka and Piotr Rogowski, p. 107, 110).

In most German-conquered nations (as in Czechoslovakia and especially France), the local police got to retain its organization and hierarchy, and to function largely as a unit–basically a continuation of the prewar police. (Korkuc, pp. 26-29). The same held for the Danish and Norwegian Police. The Ukrainian and Baltic police were largely voluntary, and created as allies of Nazi Germany, which presumably would give the nations their freedom from the Soviet Union in exchange for willing service to the Nazis. (Korkuc, p. 29).

None of this was true of the Blue Police. All prewar Polish institutions had been destroyed, and there was no hope for any semblance of Poland under Nazi German rule. All ranks in the Blue Police, with the exception of the lowest, had been abolished. The Germans ruled directly over the Blue Police, and it was subordinate to the Orpo (Ordnungspolizei). (Korkuc, p. 32). Members of the Blue Police were strictly forbidden from wearing any Polish insignia. (Korkuc, p. 41).  For these reasons, the Policja Granatowa should be called the Polnische Polizei, as it was effectively a German police force. (Korkuc, p. 80).

The Germans had concluded, since the early days of their occupation of Poland, that the Blue Police was unsuited for executing either Poles or Jews. (Wojcicka and Rogowski, p. 113).

At first, the Polnische Polizei was limited to carrying billy clubs, and was forbidden to have firearms. (Wojcicka and Rogowski, p. 109). Then the Germans backtracked, allowing each individual to carry obsolete revolvers (Domanski, p. 127), and then eventually 5-20 and 10-60 rounds of ammunition, respectively, for pistols and rifles. (Palacz, p. 178).

Consider transport. With the exception of those units situated in Warsaw and Krakow, the Polnische Polizei was not allowed to use automobiles. (Palacz, p. 178).

NOT A COLLABORATIONIST POLICE IN THE DESTRUCTION OF JEWS

The Germans treated the Polnische Polizei differently from the genuinely-collaborationist police of other nations. For instance, consider the liquidation of the ghetto at Opoczno. The Ukrainian and Baltic collaborationist police were tasked by the Germans to round up and load the Jews for one-way trips to Treblinka. The Blue Police was relegated to guarding the emptied ghetto in order to forestall robberies. (Palacz, pp. 195-196).

This was not an isolated instance. In most places, the Policja Granatowa patrolled the outskirts of the ghettos (Tomasz Domanski and Edyta Majcher-Ociesa, p. 10), and otherwise played a peripheral role (if that) in sending the ghettoized Jews to the death camps. (Domanski, p. 142). For example, the Ukrainian collaborationist police was entrusted by the Germans to send the Jews of Losice to Treblinka, and the Blue Police was sent home! See:

https://www.jewsandpolesdatabase.org/2019/11/04/polish-blue-police-not-collaborationist-pinkus/

In the Warsaw Ghetto, it was the Ukrainian and Baltic collaborationist police, and not the Policja Granatowa, that enabled the Germans to suppress the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. See:

https://www.jewsandpolesdatabase.org/2019/11/04/polish-blue-police-not-collaborationist-friedman/

GERMANS BLAME POLES FOR THE GERMAN-MADE HOLOCAUST

When the German railroad security police (Bahnschutzpolizei) shot Jews that were frequenting the tracks, the German gendarmes ordered the Polnische Polizei to remove the bodies and bury them in a Jewish cemetery. (Palacz, p. 194). This created the false impression, among the Polish populace, that it was the Polnische Polizei that was killing these Jews.

Anti-Jewish acts must be contextualized. In June 1942, the Germans commanded the Blue Police to shoot fugitive Jews. (Domanski, p. 142). They took Polish hostages in the event that fugitive Jews were found in a village. (Domanski, p. 145). The Germans forced the Blue Police to sometimes locate and kill fugitive Jews, just as the Germans forced them to act against Poles engaged in illegal slaughter, illegal commerce, and to locate those Poles unwilling to go to Germany for forced labor. (Tomasz Paczek, p. 235).

A FEW COLLABORATING INDIVIDUALS: NOT A COLLABORATIONIST POLICE

Most members of the Blue Police passively fulfilled German orders, and performed a delicate balancing act between their German-obeying conduct and their cognizance of Polish interests. (Palacz, p. 189). The fact that the Polnische Polizei was not a collaborationist police force does not, of course, mean that individual members could not be collaborators.  Palacz (p. 203) defines collaboration as premeditated and voluntary service, to the enemy, for personal gain, and at the expense of one’s countrymen. On this basis, no more than perhaps 10% of the Polnische Polizei consisted of collaborators. (Palacz, p. 201). These individuals did harm to fugitive Jews just as [usually forgotten] they did harm to Poles. (Sebastian Piatkowski, p. 254).

Polnische Polizei (Polish Blue Police, Policja Granatowa) Framed in Later Communist Trials. August Decree Manipulations. Blue Police UNLIKE Collaborationist Police Forces. IPN. Domanski and Majcher-Ociosy

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