The destruction of Polish national culture is one of the most graphic illustrations of the fixed-plan method applied by the Germans against Poland. If in the domain of economics the trend of German policies is twofold, one towards destruction and the other towards a thorough exploitation of the wealth of the occupied country to serve the Reich’s military needs, in the cultural domain the Germans have but one aim and one method: an absolute and ruthless destruction of Poland’s national culture.
In this respect one meets continuously with edicts, ordinances, and individual actions on the part of the Germans, which are not justified either by the prevailing conditions, the economic needs of the Reich, political, economic, or military, or by any advantage whatsoever for Germany. The only aim and sole result is the destruction of Poland and the Poles. In no other domain is the fight against organized Polish life as overtly manifest as it is in Polish culture. It is a war which is being waged according to a carefully planned scheme. Its slogan has been made public by Governor General Frank who officially announced that the Nazi regime was to take action against the Polish “intelligentsia” whom he called a “clique.”
Calling unskilled agricultural and industrial workers the only valuable class of the population, Frank expressed the conviction that all Polish cultural elements should be destroyed. The realization of that intention is finding its expression in the merciless crushing of all signs of secular Polish culture, that type of culture which serves any nation as a moral support to outlast days of crises and disasters; in closing schools and scientific institutions, and in persecuting the intellectual elite which must disappear with its savants and scholars, with its scientific laboratories and artistic ateliers.
Poland is to have but one social class—physical workers. Poles must look to Germany for “Kultur” and their only duty is to supply the Reich with manual workers and raw materials. In executing their gruesome plan, the Germans are fully aware of the fact that recovery from the destruction of the intellectual values of a nation requires a much longer period than recovery from material losses, and that a nation thus crushed remains at the mercy of its destructors.
Under the prevailing conditions, it has not been possible to collect all the material necessary to present a picture of the full destruction wrought by the Germans. It was especially difficult to obtain sufficient information from that part of the country which was incorporated into the Reich. Therefore, this report is limited to conditions in Warsaw and occasional supplementary information obtained from other parts of the country.
Destruction in Warsaw
As far as objects of culture, buildings of architectural value, monuments, and work of arts are concerned, the destruction began during the war. Even then the bombardments indicated a planned scheme in the military operations of the German army. During the bombardment of Warsaw, historical buildings situated, for the most part, in a district not belonging to the fighting area proper, were damaged far beyond what might have been expected. The Royal Castle, which at that time was no more the residence of the President of the Republic, and which was easily discernible from a distance because of its location, was repeatedly bombarded and later systematically devastated with premeditation. The same thing happened with the monumental buildings of the Treasury on the Plac Bankowy, with the buildings of Warsaw University, with those of St. Lazarus Hospital. Many other edifices and palaces were similarly destroyed by the Germans with a willful ferocity.
But much more hateful was the attitude of the Germans after their armies had occupied the country and their civil authorities began their administration in October 1939. Their method in robbing the Polish capital of its works of art, of scientific and cultural objects, was based upon two principles: on one hand it showed a well-planned and broadly designed action having its origin in Berlin; and on the other, a peculiar toleration of individual robberies, seemingly violating the aforementioned plan, and bearing the earmarks of thoughtless destruction, taking advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves.
Planned action was apparent in all domains of cultural life and found its expression in legal acts as well as in deeds having no distinct legal basis. All efforts of the Poles to maintain a system of schools, at least within a limited scope and even at the price of heavy sacrifices on the part of the teachers, met with obstacles and stubborn resistance from the occupying force, resulting in a mass closing of schools. This attitude towards all grades of schools found an especially drastic expression in the German treatment of colleges and universities. Here the basic premise was that such institutions of higher learning must be entirely abolished.
A special commission for this liquidation was formed, having among its powers the right to dispose of all properties and assets of those institutions as well as of other schools and scientific establishments. Not less in importance were the material losses of secondary and trade schools. The activities of the special commission lead to the inference that its labors have by no means been concluded and that further, not less grievous, losses will come to the school system of Poland.
Destruction of Libraries
As a matter of fact, these doings of the Nazis of are but partially connected with the interests of German science. Scientific institutes and laboratories are being transported as a whole or in parts to the Reich to be integrated into analogous institutions in Germany. This happened to the forestry department of the Warsaw Agricultural Academy, and to the library of the Institute of Indo-European language studies. In such cases, the Nazis proceed with utter ruthlessness. Out of scientific sets forming a unit they select special objects for removal and thus render the collections incomplete and without value. In these piratical searches and robberies there is a thorough acquaintance with what may be found in Polish institutions. Nazis called at Polish universities to ask for expensive instruments which had been purchased in Germany. As proof that the required objects could be found in one department or another, they presented copies of bills from German factories.
Simultaneously there were unaccountable facts, robberies amazingly aimless, as the carrying away of scientific instruments which are being produced in mass in Germany. This shows that the main purpose of the Germans is to paralyze scientific work in Poland. What is to be done with the objects taken away from Poland’s institutions of learning is of secondary importance to the Germans. This is further demonstrated by the fact that searches and requisitions are being made with utter disregard for the value of the objects confiscated, by the blocking of the bank accounts of the scientific institutions, which renders impossible any repairs to the devastated buildings and laboratories, and finally by the occupation of these buildings by the Germans. Their civil, as well as military, authorities take away whatever they please. It is a continuous spoliation and pillage which, though methodically planned, is being executed at random.
The confiscation of libraries, works of art, and objects of historical value is being carried out with German methodism. It began very early, almost immediately after the installation of the Nazi civil authorities, first without any precise legal basis, later on the basis of edicts. For that purpose a special commission was formed in the General Government, composed of German scholars who knew conditions in Poland and mapped out the program of confiscations. From time to time other German savants and experts are coming to Poland to assist in the work. It is a most characteristic fact that, in the majority of cases, these visitors are scholars who, in the years before the outbreak of the war, had made friendly connections with Polish professors. While visiting Poland they had ample opportunity to get acquainted with Polish libraries and art collections. The fact that the making of those new friendly connections between scholars of both nations coincided with Germany putting the finishing touches to her military and aggressive preparedness is not less interesting and is characteristic of German psychology.
Thanks to such methods, the Germans could immediately lay their hands on the most valuable library objects and works of art belonging to public institutions, which had a value not only for Poland but also for the world’s culture. However, the authorities of occupation did not limit themselves to the pillage of the most valuable objects. They also went after less valuable objects strictly connected with Polish culture. They ravaged public, state, and municipal collections but also those of churches and private individuals. The latter previously were protected solely by lack of evidence but recent edicts have greatly endangered them. Private collections are being confiscated in their entirety, regard- less of their objective value.
A special item in the program of devastation is the systematic destruction of Polish scientific achievements. Thus, for instance, the whole property of the Central Bureau for Cataloging, which for years had been making an inventory of all Polish objects of artistic and historical value, has been confiscated and carried away to Germany. Concurrent with the official pillage conducted by the Nazi authorities there are individual robberies perpetrated by government representatives for their own account.
Edicts on Works of Art
The November 15, 1939 edict regarding the confiscation of the property of the Polish State served as a legal basis for the pillage of public art collections. The edict of Governor General Frank of December 16, 1939, concerning the confiscation of works of art in the General Government, and the supplementary executive order of January 15, 1940, were an important step in the Nazi policies aimed at depriving Poland of all art collections. Dr. Frank’s order also sanctioned the pillage of private collections in so far as it compelled private owners, by terroristic means, to declare what they possessed in their collections. It was an ordinance of drastic ruthlessness not softened by the cynical official explanation that the ‘‘confiscation had been ordered for public utility’s sake.’’ It is worthwhile mentioning here that the edict of December 16, 1939 embraces not only collections of works of arts but also objects of personal keepsake value like signet rings, autographs, heraldic documents, period furniture, and other things only possessing value for individual families.
Military operations, the bombardments of September 1939 and, last but not least, the pillage by the Germans have caused tremendous cultural losses in Warsaw as well as in the whole country. The reader will find them listed, but only partially, in the concluding phases of this article.
In Warsaw, because of the mass destruction of monumental buildings, several periods of the capital’s artistic and cultural evolution have been entirely and irretrievably wiped out. Large collections of priceless works, intimately connected with Poland’s history, have been carried away to Germany. To the losses enumerated in the appendixes one should add, although it is not possible under the prevailing conditions, those suffered by public and high schools, colleges, and trade schools. The Germans took away from the school children all manuals of Polish history, Polish geography, and Polish grammars. The Museum of Theatrical Art, special museums like the Railroad Museum, the Post Museum, the Museum of Industries, the Museum of Technical Science, and numerous press and publicity institutions have lost everything they possessed. As a result of the financial policies of the occupants the scholarships of thousands of students and the scientific and artistic foundations are no more. The losses are immense. It is impossible to state them for their value was not one of money only, but must be estimated primarily according to their tremendous importance in the spiritual life of the nation.
Effect on Students
The destruction of scientific institutes involves more than the loss of material property. Their work has been destroyed and reorganization will be very difficult if not impossible. The Nazis forbid teaching in institutions which have not been destroyed, thus sentencing almost forty thousand young people studying in Polish universities and several hundred thousand high school pupils to compulsory idleness. There remains but one thing for them to do—to look for physical work. The Germans have cunningly foreseen that eventuality and make the students register as unemployed and then deport them to Germany to do manual work. It should be added that the Germans are closing not only public and private schools of all grades but also all cultural organizations like the Macierz Szkolna, the Association of Public Schools, the Association of Public Libraries, and others. They go still farther. They have gagged the Polish press, closed daily as well as periodical professional and trade publications. This has been done, not for the sake of the safety of the Nazi regime for it could be done by censorship, but to undermine any cultural work and progress in Poland.
Effect on Professional Groups
Characteristic of the German aims and methods was the order to destroy the entire issue of the scientific periodical “Archeological News” because it contained an article on the world-famous excavations in Biskupin, which in an impartial way demonstrated that Slavonic people inhabited that part of Western Poland in prehistoric times.
The same ruthless Nazi procedure has been applied to art schools, to theaters, to musical institutes and enterprises. Artists, actors, and musicians must earn their living by doing manual work.
The members of the Polish intelligentsia are compelled, by active or passive persecution, to leave their professions and to turn to occupations which deprive them of their influence upon their compatriots. This persecution has taken a most savage form as in the case of professors of Cracow University who were deported to Germany and cruelly treated in an internment camp. Twenty-eight of them are now in the Dachau concentration camp, four at Oranienburg, and one at Matthausen. Professors of Poznan University were evicted post-haste from their apartments. A large number of the professors of Lublin University were imprisoned. There were mass arrests of public and high school teachers. Arrests and deportations are also the lot of the clergy because of its great social influence. A special report on the treatment of the Church in Poland will be published shortly.
Damage Suffered by Institutes of Higher Learning in Poland
The destruction was, and is being considered a fundamental step in the German program of limiting Poland’s role to that of a producer of raw materials and food articles by means of an extensively developed agricultural program on peasant farms chiefly, and under the ideological guidance of German technical knowledge and national interest. This is the negative side of the problem. Its positive side, unsolved thus far, revolves around the question of what is to be done with the institutions’ teaching staffs and considerable properties. Hence a lack of resolution and a mode of procedure by fits and starts has developed. Orders are issued by various authorities without notifying the Liquidation Commission, the organization responsible for the assets of the universities. The occupation authorities, in spite of their repeatedly expressed solicitude for the preservation of the scientific riches and scientific instruments of the schools, did nothing to preserve or save the expensive equipment, which is gradually deteriorating. This divergence between words and acts is by no means accidental. The words are sheer propaganda, the chief purpose of which is to hide the real nature of German policies in Poland. All the assets of the universities, mostly in the form of deposits with the Treasury, the Bank of Poland, and the Postal Savings Bank, were immediately frozen. In spite of several appeals to the highest Nazi authorities the accounts have remained blocked. They were released for the exclusive benefit of the occupants, who used the funds thus obtained for the adaptation of the University buildings to their own purposes. The fact is that repairs could not be made because building materials were not available and fuel was confiscated.
The Nazis occupied the buildings, scientific laboratories, and library rooms without any regard for scientific and human values, and without any necessity. A whim of a German official seems to justify anything. Even the demands of the university authorities, that they be permitted to have their representatives and expert assistants attend the evacuation of laboratories, were ignored. German soldiers, instead, appeared to enjoy the widest license on such occasions.
The behavior of the persons participating in such visits and requisitions was by no means uniform, varying from correctness to brutality, but always characterized by an intentionally accentuated consciousness of superiority and the attitude of victors. Cases of aimless destruction of instruments and collections, of microscopic preparations and laboriously collected memoranda by trampling upon them or carelessly throwing them away, were very frequent.
The confiscation of university property had a varied character, indicating the lack of an established purpose and a fixed mode of procedure. It took, as we were able to verify, the following forms:
(1) Carrying off larger and more valuable collections. Instances: The Institute of Experimental Physics of Warsaw University; the Forestry Department of the Institute of Agriculture; the engraving collection of Warsaw University Library; the Library of European Linguistics.
(2) Carrying off separate groups of objects to satisfy some defined demands. Instances: the equipment of the Bacteriological Laboratory; collection of geodetic instruments; library of the Seminary of the Polish Language.
(3) Taking away individual objects by representatives of one authority or another. Instances: microscopes, scales, platinum, and special books from some library.
(4) Ordinary thefts committed by individuals whenever an opportunity arose. When individual objects were being taken away it was sometimes possible to obtain a receipt specifying what had been taken. In cases of larger confiscations of complete collections of some institute, no receipts were obtainable.
It would be difficult to state with certainty what has happened to the confiscated objects and collections. One may, however, venture upon classifying their fate as follows:
(1) Some are being forwarded to the Reich to enrich the collections of German universities and special scientific institutes.
(2) Others are used to satisfy local demands for medical purposes, for chemical analyses in shops and factories.
(3) Some, at least, of the confiscated objects are being offered for sale.
(4) Many objects disappear without further profit for anybody. This happens mostly in cases of individual requisitions and during packing and transporting by incompetent people.
The Warsaw University possessed the following organization units for the furtherance of scientific work:
(a) University Chairs having at their disposal special libraries of smaller size.
(b) Seminaries composed of larger libraries for teaching purposes as well as for scientific research.
(c) Special institutes possessing their own collections as well as experimental laboratories. Medical clinics belong into this class.
Warsaw University had 145 such units belonging to eight faculties and the main University Library as an extra unit not attached to any Faculty.
The Department of Humanities had thirty-nine seminaries of a theoretical character, of which seventeen were located at the University proper; five in the Staszic palace, and seventeen in rented premises. Of these nine were totally destroyed during the bombardment of Warsaw, among them the Orientalist Institute possessing an invaluable collection of works pertaining to Sinology, Egyptology, Indology, and other studies. Thirteen of the seminaries situated on the University campus have been damaged too, but the extent of that damage cannot be precisely determined because both buildings housing them are now occupied by the Nazi Field Police who do not admit anybody. The seventeen seminaries located at the University proper were the oldest and best equipped. The premises of the five seminaries located in the Staszic Palace have been sealed up by the Nazis. They have all been partly damaged and their collections, or whatever remains of them, transferred to other places, especially those of prehistoric archeology and the history of Polish literature. Two seminary libraries, Indo-European Linguistics and the Polish language, have been transported to Germany under the supervision of Dr. Auksburg from Berlin. The nine remaining seminaries have suffered lesser damages.
In the Department of Mathematics and Natural Science twenty-three institutes and six seminaries have been entirely destroyed by fire; namely, those of inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, mineralogy, geology, and paleontology. Three mineralogical museums possessing the most valuable specimens in Poland, the geological and paleontological museums, have been totally destroyed. Four institutions: the institute of animal physiology, of comparative anatomy, cytology, and the Botanical Garden were heavily damaged during the bombardment of Warsaw.
The Institutes of Botany, Zoology, Plant Physiology, and Experimental Physics were damaged during the bombardment and then robbed by the Nazis of all remaining useful objects. The collections and scientific instruments have been either destroyed, dispersed, or stolen. Foreign language books found in the libraries of these institutes were carried off. Only books written in Polish and Russian are left.
Special attention must be called to the fate of the Institute of Experimental Physics, one of the best organized and best equipped of its kind in Europe.
Because of its splendid development within the first years of its existence, the Institute was awarded a substantial subsidy by the Rockefeller Foundation, and soon gained world-fame for its researches in the field of molecular optics and, recently, atomic physics. Scholars from foreign countries often visited it to do special research work. From that Institute of Experimental Physics, so splendidly developed by the efforts of Polish scholars, ninety-five percent of its equipment, consisting of the most delicate instruments manufactured in the high precision ateliers of the United States, France, England, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany, and serving the most highly specialized scientific research, have been carried away by the Nazis. Only a few instruments of secondary importance and value, and forming no laboratory unit, are left. The carefully selected library of the institute, its large collection of scientific periodicals, its catalogues, files, and special prints, were carried away. Not one book is left.
The Institute of Experimental Physics which, at the international congress of luminescence, had been called “one of the main world centers of luminescence research” has been destroyed. Only a few scientific apparatus of pedagogical character and demonstration value are left.
Summing up, one obtains the following figures: Of the twenty-three institutes of the Department of Mathematics and Natural Science, ten have been entirely destroyed, six have suffered very heavily, and seven are slightly damaged.
In the Medical Faculty there were thirteen institutes of theoretical and experimental character (including the Seminary of History of Medicine) and fourteen clinics. All of them were more or less damaged by the bombardment.
The Department of Pharmacology possessed eight subdivisions of an experimental and research character. Three of them, namely, the divisions of pharmaceutical chemistry and toxicology, pharmacology, and medical botany, were totally destroyed by fire. The pharmacognostical garden was ruined by bombardment.
The Department of Veterinary Science had eleven subdivisions and its central library. Its surgical division and one dwelling house were razed by fire. The other divisions and the library suffered comparatively little.
The Faculty of Law consisted of thirteen Seminaries of which seven were wholly destroyed with their libraries. The other six suffered damages but the amount cannot be estimated because their building is occupied by the Nazi Field Police.
Warsaw Polytechnical Institute
The Warsaw Polytechnical Institute consists of nine buildings: the main building Institute and eight smaller ones. It also possesses five dwelling houses. All of them suffered heavily from fire, airplane bombs, artillery projectiles, including bombs, as well as from later pillaging by the German soldiers, who carried away the whole inner equipment of the main building, even the electric fixtures.
The office equipment, typewriters, and counting machines of the offices of the President and the Deans were stolen. Almost all files and documents were saved.
The Library of the Institute suffered slightly during the military operations from artillery fire and robberies. After the occupation, by order of the German authorities, several hundred of the most valuable books on chemistry, enumerated in the order, were carried away. Later, admission to the main building was forbidden and the keys were deposited with the commander of the troops bar-racked in the building.
The Polytechnical Institute had about forty professorial chairs. Each of them had its own office and scientific equipment, its special library. Most of the chairs were located in the main building and their possessions were pillaged. A part of the collections was transferred to other buildings.
There were also about twenty departments in which scientific and research work in laboratories was the main task of the students, laboratories of Practical Astronomy, Metallurgy, Physics, Radiotechnics, Inorganic Chemistry, Mineralogy, Ballistics, and others. Four of them were totally destroyed, three partially. The remaining suffered slight damages.
From the two Institutes of Physics all the most valuable apparatus was taken away by order of the German military commander. The same thing happened to the equipment of the Institute of Geodesy. The Institute of Ballistics and the laboratories connected with it were completely pillaged.
Warsaw Institute of Agriculture
The, buildings have been but slightly damaged by war operations. All of them, except one on Hoza Street have been occupied by the German authorities who do not admit any one of the Institute’s administration staff.
The Institute’s country estates (farms) are under the supervision of Nazi trustees.
The Institute consisted of forty departments. Seven of them had all their belongings confiscated, the furniture included. From its main Library only specially selected books were taken. In the remaining departments the equipment was undisturbed, but the Institute is suffering from lack of proper care, and because of the fact that ever-changing occupation crews steal everything they can.
The Warsaw Institute of Commerce was very slightly damaged by military operations. The whole building is occupied by German soldiery. Hence, the losses cannot be estimated.
The Warsaw Society of Science in the Staszic Palace has been partially damaged by war operations. The library, the collections, and working rooms have suffered slightly. The German authorities have ordered all activities of the Society stopped and have blocked its bank accounts. The property of the Danish and Hungarian Institutes, located on the Society’s premises, has been confiscated.
In the Academy of Technical Science the Germans confiscated only the library of the Technical Dictionary Committee and were satisfied with blocking the Academy’s bank account.
The Marie Curie Sklodowska Institute’s medical department continues its work. The building containing the biological and physical laboratories is one-fourth destroyed. The safe containing radium was destroyed by artillery fire. The Institute now has no radium.
The Mianowski Scientific Foundation, which awarded financial help to scholars and scientific enterprises, has not been annoyed by the Nazi authorities, who only made inquiries about Polish Government funds available to the Institute.
Damage to Works of Art, Historical Buildings, Monuments, and Library Archives
According to the edict of the Governor General of December 16, 1939, and the supplementary executive order of January 15, 1940, all movable property of artistic, cultural, or historical character, dating from the period preceding 1850, is subject to confiscation whether it be State, Church, or private property. Upon the basis of these orders, the Germans also confiscate property belonging to autonomous institutions, although the latter have not been mentioned in the edicts. The confiscation of State-owned works of art is based upon the edict dated November 15, 1939.
Confiscations continue throughout the whole territory of the General Government, and are being performed at such a rapid pace that one may assume that all the more important private and public collections in occupied Poland have been either partially depleted or completely pillaged. The confiscation orders are being executed by German scholars, by official scientific experts recruited from among German university professors, and custodians of museums. Besides, numerous Germans in military uniforms or in civilian garb are visiting private dwellings and stealing whatever they consider worth while. Many such cases are known, but it is not easy to make a complete list of them.
Royal Castle in Warsaw
During the September 1939 bombardment of Warsaw, the Germans paid special attention to the Royal Castle, and for a long time dropped incendiary bombs on it which destroyed the barocco spires of the Clock Tower and the Ladislas Tower, A bomb crashed through the ceiling of the Grand Ballroom.
Other interiors, and especially the royal apartments, escaped destruction. But immediately after the occupation the Germans pillaged the castle thoroughly. They carried away all works of art, the whole picture gallery, embracing among others a series of pictures of Canaletto representing ancient Warsaw; all marble and bronze sculptures; Flemish tapestries of the XVII, and French of the XVIII century. They also pillaged the storage rooms of the State Art Collections which were housed in the Library Wing of the Castle.
Having systematically stripped the Castle’s interior the Germans tore down the inner walls, burying the magnificent pictorial and sculptural decorations under the ruins. The devastation achieved by the Nazis was much worse than that done by the Swedes in the XVII century. But even this did not satisfy the Germans. Dynamite charges in the foundations blasted away the outer walls. Simultaneously, notices were published in the Nazi press to the effect that the Castle’s walls were not safe and could not be saved. The Royal Castle, pride of Warsaw and Poland, is doomed.
The Royal Summer Palace Lazienki in Warsaw.
The Germans confiscated the picture gallery of foreign painters, mainly Dutch and Italian, which had been preserved intact since the reign of King Stanislas Augustus Poniatowski; the finest bronze and marble sculptures and the XVIII Century furniture.
The Warsaw National Museum.
The majority of the more valuable collections in all departments of the Museum was confiscated. In some sections, everything was carried away: all objects of mediaeval art (especially foreign), a splendid collection of ceramic art and textiles, ancient Polish sashes and costumes. Altogether there were several hundred cases of goods.
The Army Museum in Warsaw.
All objects belonging to the XV and tip to XVIII Century, among others the tomb of Vareg of immense historical value, were confiscated.
National Numismatic Collection.
Confiscated in its entirety (thousands of coins and medals, ancient, mediaeval, and modern, of great artistic, scientific, and material value).
National Archaeological Museum in Warsaw.
Over twenty percent of the exhibits, embracing the most valuable objects, were confiscated, as well as a priceless library and the entire equipment of the Museum. The remaining objects were packed in cases to await further orders.
The National Central Bureau of Inventories, embracing most valuable scientific material, scores of thousands of plates and photographs as well as of descriptions of artistic and historical objects throughout Poland, is confiscated in its entirety.
Museum of the Warsaw Archdiocese, containing objects of religious art of all periods, is confiscated.
Museum and Library of the Krasinski Majorat in Warsaw had its most valuable prints and manuscripts, works of art, and other collections (especially “militaria”) confiscated.
Collection of Prints and Engravings of the Warsaw University Library. Confiscated in its entirety. The university possessed, among others, a collection of etchings and drawings belonging to King Stanislas Augustus Poniatowski, etchings by Duerer, Rembrandt, and other great artists, altogether over 100,000 pieces.
Collection of the Zamoyski Majorat in Warsaw. its oldest parchment manuscripts, some of the XI Century, are confiscated.
Branicki Collection in Willanow near Warsaw. The Germans confiscated all of its most valuable objects, including pictures of foreign painters, a portrait gallery, priceless textiles, ceramics, and works of Oriental Art.
The Tarnowski Collection in Sucha, collection of foreign paintings and graphical arts, is completely confiscated.
Prince Czartoryski Museum in Cracow. All the most valuable exhibits, mostly paintings and among them works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt, have been confiscated.
Potocki Collection in Jablonna near Warsaw. Several valuable paintings and other works of art, chiefly bronzes, were confiscated.
The Germans confiscated many other private collections, pillaging churches, provincial museums, residences. The pillaging is going on.
The National Library. The German authorities carried away all parchments, incunabula, and several thousand priceless illuminated manuscripts. Further confiscations and a total liquidation of the National Library appear imminent.
The Library of the Diet. The whole collection of books dealing with public law and economics has been shipped to Germany.
The University Library. The entire collection of graphical arts, nearly 100,000 pieces, was confiscated. According to rumors it has been offered for sale abroad.
Special Libraries of the Departments of Warsaw University. The books were partly destroyed during the bombardment of the capital, partly pillaged by the German soldiery, partly carried away to Germany, and partly placed in the main University Library.
The Library of the Warsaw Polytechnical Institute. A part was destroyed by fire, a part confiscated. The largest part remains intact.
The Library of the Warsaw Agricultural Institute. Specially selected books was confiscated, including the entire library of the Institute’s Forestry Division.
The Central Military Library and the Rapperswyl Library were totally destroyed by fire.
The Krasinski and the Zamoyski Libraries were partially destroyed during military operations. Of the saved books the most valuable were confiscated.
The National Archives in Warsaw were partly destroyed by bombardment and partly by fire. What was saved of them was taken to the Reich.
To the first group belong the Archives of the Ministry of Education and a part of the Treasury. To the other belongs the Military Archives, as well as documents pertaining to the German and Austrian occupations of 1914-19 18.
The Archives of the Ministry of Education contained 100,000 volumes of documents pertaining to the history and organization of all grades of schools in the former Kingdom of Poland in the XIX Century and up to 1918.
The Treasury Archives lost one-third of their collection of nearly 120,000 volumes of official documents, as well as most valuable collection of plans pertaining to agricultural acreage in the former Kingdom of Poland. Passing over the great scientific value of documents which is incalculable, and other archive sources destroyed by fire, it seems worth while mentioning that, according to estimates made by experts, the cost of charting even this acreage would be almost $2,400,000.
Among the Archives carried away to Germany, those of the Military Museum, embracing several hundred thousand volumes, have the greatest historic and scientific value. They contain all documents pertaining to Polish military formations during the First World War, the Polish-Soviet War, and other actions. The German military authorities have also transferred to Germany the Archives of the occupation authorities of the Warsaw and Lublin Gouvernement during the First World War.
The National Archives in the provinces, especially the larger parts in the cities of Poznan, Lublin, Cracow, Lwow, Grodno, and Wilno, have not suffered from military operations. According to rumors, however, a part of the Wilno Archives have been carried away by the Soviets and the same fate appears to menace the National Archives in Lwow.
These losses, resulting from systematically planned confiscations or ordinary pillage, represent but a small part of the grand total. These are losses of which the author has definite knowledge. It should be added that these are the losses suffered by only a very small part of Poland. There is no doubt that, in the Polish provinces which were “incorporated” into the Reich, the Germans robbed Poland and the Poles more ruthlessly and more methodically of all their property, especially anything of cultural value.