Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, used for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD special camp until 1950; the camp ground with the remaining buildings is now open to the public as a museum. The camp was established in 1936, it was located 35 kilometres north of Berlin, which gave it a primary position among the German concentration camps: the administrative centre of all concentration camps was located in Oranienburg, Sachsenhausen became a training centre for Schutzstaffel officers. Executions took place at Sachsenhausen of Soviet prisoners of war. During the earlier stages of the camp's existence the executions were done in a trench, either by shooting or by hanging. A large task force of prisoners was used from the camp to work in nearby brickworks to meet Albert Speer's vision of rebuilding Berlin.
Sachsenhausen was not intended as an extermination camp—instead, the systematic murder was conducted in camps to the east. In 1942 large numbers of Jewish inmates were relocated to Auschwitz; however the construction of a gas chamber and ovens by camp-commandant Anton Kaindl in March 1943 in the so-called Industriehof facilitated the means to kill larger numbers of prisoners. Another option was the genickschussbaracke or neck-shooting barrack where unsuspecting victims being measured for their height and weight were shot in the back of the neck through a sliding door located behind the neck; the Main gate or Guard Tower "A", with its 8mm Maxim machine gun, the type used by the Germans in the trenches of World War I, housed the offices of the camp administration. On the front entrance gates to Sachsenhausen is the infamous slogan Arbeit Macht Frei. About 200,000 people passed through Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Anchoring the base of the triangular shaped thousand-acre site was the large Appellplatz, where tens of thousands of prisoners would line up for morning and evening roll call.
Creating a semi circular configuration, were the barracks of custody zone I which fanned out from the base of the Appellplatz. Sachsenhausen was intended to set a standard for other concentration camps, both in its design and the treatment of prisoners; the camp perimeter is an equilateral triangle with a semi circular roll call area centered on the main entrance gate in the boundary running northeast to southwest. Barrack huts lie beyond the roll call area; the layout was intended to allow the machine gun post in the entrance gate to dominate the camp but in practice it was necessary to add additional watchtowers to the perimeter. The standard barrack layout was to have a central washing area and a separate room with toilet bowls and a right and left wing for overcrowded sleeping rooms. There was an infirmary inside the southern angle of the perimeter and a camp prison within the eastern angle. There was a camp kitchen and a camp laundry; the camp's capacity became inadequate and the camp was extended in 1938 by a new rectangular area northeast of the entrance gate and the perimeter wall was altered to enclose it.
There was an additional area outside the main camp perimeter to the north. Template:KL by Nikolaus Wachsmann ISBN 978-1-4087-0774-6 The camp was secure and there were few successful escapes; the perimeter consisted of a 3-metre-high stone wall on the outside. Within that there was a space, patrolled by guards and dogs. Any prisoner venturing onto the "death strip" would be shot by the guards without warning. Officers would force prisoners to cross this strip at gun point and threaten to kill the prisoner if they did not cross, in the end the prisoner would cross the death strip and get killed anyway. Rewards such as extra leave were offered to guards who shot and killed any prisoner who entered onto the death zone. Sachsenhausen was the site of Operation Bernhard, one of the largest currency counterfeiting operations recorded; the Germans forced inmate artisans to produce forged American and British currency, as part of a plan to undermine the British and American economies, courtesy of Sicherheitsdienst chief Reinhard Heydrich.
Over one billion pounds in counterfeit banknotes were recovered. The Germans introduced fake British £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes into circulation in 1943: the Bank of England never found them. Plans had been made to drop British pounds over London by plane. Today, these notes are considered valuable by collectors. An industrial area, outside the western camp perimeter, contained SS workshops in which prisoners were forced to work. Heinkel, the aircraft manufacturer, was a major user of Sachsenhausen labour, using between 6,000 and 8,000 prisoners on their He 177 bomber. Although official German reports claimed the prisoners were "working without fault", some of these aircraft crashed unexpectedly around Stalingrad and it is suspected that prisoners had sabotaged them. Other firms included Siemens. Prisoners worked in a brick factory, which some say was supposed to supply the building blocks for Hitler's dream city, Welthauptstadt Germania, to be the capital of the world once the Nazis took over
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process; the official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire; the Nazi regime ended. Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, on 30 January 1933; the NSDAP began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934 and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the offices and powers of the Chancellery and Presidency. A national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer of Germany.
All power was centralised in Hitler's person and his word became the highest law. The government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitler's favour. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy. Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen; the return to economic stability boosted the regime's popularity. Racism antisemitism, was a central feature of the regime; the Germanic peoples were considered by the Nazis to be the master race, the purest branch of the Aryan race. Discrimination and persecution against Jews and Romani people began in earnest after the seizure of power; the first concentration camps were established in March 1933. Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned, liberals and communists were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. Christian churches and citizens that opposed Hitler's rule were oppressed, many leaders imprisoned.
Education focused on racial biology, population policy, fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed. Recreation and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased Germany on the international stage. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, Hitler's hypnotic oratory to influence public opinion; the government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others. The Nazi regime dominated neighbours through military threats in the years leading up to war. Nazi Germany made aggressive territorial demands, threatening war if these were not met, it seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR, invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, launching World War II in Europe. By early 1941, Germany controlled much of Europe. Reichskommissariats took control of conquered areas and a German administration was established in the remainder of Poland.
Germany exploited labour of both its occupied territories and its allies. In the Holocaust, millions of Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable by the state were imprisoned, murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps, or shot. While the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was successful, the Soviet resurgence and entry of the US into the war meant the Wehrmacht lost the initiative on the Eastern Front in 1943 and by late 1944 had been pushed back to the pre-1939 border. Large-scale aerial bombing of Germany escalated in 1944 and the Axis powers were driven back in Eastern and Southern Europe. After the Allied invasion of France, Germany was conquered by the Soviet Union from the east and the other Allies from the west, capitulated in May 1945. Hitler's refusal to admit defeat led to massive destruction of German infrastructure and additional war-related deaths in the closing months of the war; the victorious Allies initiated a policy of denazification and put many of the surviving Nazi leadership on trial for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials.
The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945, while common English terms are "Nazi Germany" and "Third Reich". The latter, adopted by Nazi propaganda as Drittes Reich, was first used in Das Dritte Reich, a 1923 book by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck; the book counted the Holy Roman Empire as the German Empire as the second. Germany was known as the Weimar Republic during the years 1919 to 1933, it was a republic with a semi-presidential system. The Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism, contentious relationships with the Allied victors of World War I, a series of failed attempts at coalition government by divided political parties. Severe setbacks to the German economy began after World War I ended because of reparations payments required under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles; the government printed money to make the payments and to repay the country's war debt, but the resulting hyperinflation led to inflated prices for consumer goods, economic chaos, food riots.
When the government defaulted on their reparations payments in January 1923, French troops occupied German industrial areas along the Ruhr and widespread civil unrest followed. The National Socialist German Workers' Party (National
Darmstadt is a city in the state of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine-Main-Area. Darmstadt had a population of around 157,437 at the end of 2016; the Darmstadt Larger Urban Zone has 430,993 inhabitants. Darmstadt holds the official title "City of Science" as it is a major centre of scientific institutions and high-technology companies; the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites and the European Space Operations Centre are located in Darmstadt, as well as GSI Centre for Heavy Ion Research, where several chemical elements such as bohrium, hassium, darmstadtium and copernicium were discovered. The existence of the following elements were confirmed at GSI Centre for Heavy Ion Research: nihonium, moscovium and tennessine; the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research is an international accelerator facility under construction. Darmstadt is the seat of the world's oldest pharmaceutical company, the city's largest employer. Darmstadt was the capital of a sovereign country, the Grand Duchy of Hesse and its successor, the People's State of Hesse, a federal state of Germany.
As the capital of an prosperous duchy, the city gained some international prominence and remains one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. In the 20th century, industry, as well as large science and electronics sectors became important, are still a major part of the city's economy, it is home to the football club SV Darmstadt 98. The name Darmstadt first appears towards the end of the 11th century as Darmundestat, its origins are unknown.'Dar-mund' in Middle Low German is translated as "Boggy Headlands", but it could be a misspelling in local dialect of another name. It is sometimes stated that the name derives from the'Darmbach'. In fact, the stream received its current name much after the city, not vice versa. Darmstadt was chartered as a city by the Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in 1330, at which time it belonged to the counts of Katzenelnbogen; the city called Darmstait, became a secondary residence for the counts, with a small castle established at the site of the current, much larger edifice.
When the house of Katzenelnbogen became extinct in 1479, the city was passed to the Landgraviate of Hesse, was seat of the ruling landgraves and thereafter of the grand dukes of Hesse. The city grew in population during the 19th century from little over 10,000 to 72,000 inhabitants. A polytechnical school, which became a Technical University now known as TU Darmstadt, was established in 1877. In the beginning of the 20th century, Darmstadt was an important centre for the art movement of Jugendstil, the German variant of Art Nouveau. Annual architectural competitions led to the building of many architectural treasures of this period. During this period, in 1912 the chemist Anton Kollisch, working for the pharmaceutical company Merck, first synthesised the chemical MDMA in Darmstadt. Darmstadt's municipal area was extended in 1937 to include the neighbouring localities of Arheilgen and Eberstadt, in 1938 the city was separated administratively from the surrounding district. Darmstadt was the first city in Germany to force Jewish shops to close in early 1933, shortly after the Nazis took power in Germany.
The shops were only closed for one day, for "endangering communal order and tranquility". In 1942, over 3,000 Jews from Darmstadt were first forced into a collection camp located in the Liebigschule, deported to concentration camps where most died. Several prominent members of the German resistance movement against the Nazis were citizens of Darmstadt, including Wilhelm Leuschner and Theodor Haubach, both executed for their opposition to Hitler's regime. Darmstadt was first bombed on 30 July 1940, 34 other air raids would follow before the war's end; the old city centre was destroyed in a British bombing raid on 11 September 1944. This attack was an example of the firestorm technique, subsequently used against the historic city of Dresden in February 1945. To create a firestorm, a number of incendiary bombs are dropped around the city before the explosive blast bombs are dropped, thus beginning a self-sustaining combustion process in which winds generated by the fire ensure it continues to burn until everything possible has been consumed.
Darmstadt was selected as the secondary target for the raid, but was promoted to the primary target after clouds were observed over the primary which would have hindered any reconnaissance of the after-effects. During this fire attack an estimated 11,000 to 12,500 of the inhabitants burned to death, 66,000 to 70,000 were left homeless. Over three-quarters of Darmstadt's inner city was destroyed. Post-war rebuilding was done in a plain architectural style, although a number of the historic buildings were rebuilt to their original appearance following the city's capture on 20 March 1945 by the American 4th Armored Division. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Darmstadt became home to many technology companies and research institutes, has been promoting itself as a "city of science" since 1997, it is well known as a high-tech centre in the vicinity of Frankfurt Airport, with important activities in spacecraft operations, pharmacy, in
Poland the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With a population of 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin. Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania to the north and Ukraine to the east and Czech Republic, to the south, Germany to the west; the establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to AD 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of the realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin; this union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.
More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million Polish citizens, including 90% of the country's Jews, perished in the war. In 1947, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland reestablished itself as a presidential democratic republic. Poland is regional power, it has the fifth largest economy by GDP in the European Union and one of the most dynamic economies in the world achieving a high rank on the Human Development Index. Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central Europe. Poland is a developed country, which maintains a high-income economy along with high standards of living, life quality, safety and economic freedom.
Having a developed school educational system, the country provides free university education, state-funded social security, a universal health care system for all citizens. Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group; the origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans that inhabited the Warta river basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century. The origin of the name "Polanie" itself derives from the early Slavic word "pole". In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian and Turkish, the exonym for Poland is Lechites, which derives from the name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I. Early Bronze Age in Poland begun around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became prominent; the most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement, dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.
Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes. Recent archeological findings in the Kujawy region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland; these were most expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented; the Slavic tribes who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was Slavic paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman Church.
However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s. Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects; the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave, continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of Gniezno and created the metropolis of Gniezno and the dioceses of Kraków, Kołobrzeg, Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer. In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the Ge
The Buchenwald Resistance was a resistance group of prisoners at Buchenwald concentration camp. It involved Communists, Social Democrats, people affiliated with other political parties, unaffiliated people, both Jews and Christians; because Buchenwald prisoners came from a number of countries, the Resistance was international. Members tried to sabotage Nazi efforts where they could, worked to save the lives of inmates who were children and in the last days of the camp, with many Nazis fleeing the approaching allied troops, they tried to gain control of the camp itself. After liberation, the prisoners created documents related to their experiences and formed an international committee to look after the welfare of survivors. Certain administrative duties in the concentration camps were given by the SS to "prisoner functionaries"; these tasks were assigned to criminal prisoners, but after 1939, political prisoners began to displace the criminal prisoners, though criminals were preferred by the SS.
Political prisoners took over important positions as "prisoner functionaries" until liberation. The criminal functionaries were known for their brutality, which they used in order to impress the SS guards and improve their own lot, they were hated by other prisoners, who were able to bring them down by uncovering evidence of theft from camp warehouses. After the German–Soviet non-aggression treaty of August 1939, the ideological antagonism between the Nazis and the Communists was temporarily mollified; the SS knew that Communists were able to organize people and that they had an international network, from the point of view of the concentration camp direction, was useful because after the start of the war, Buchenwald had a multilingual prisoner population. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Communist prisoners at first lost these positions, but managed to win them back. To strengthen camp cohesion, the Communist kapos made sure that prisoner functionaries were from every country.
They worked with Social Democrats and middle class politicians to set up the People's Front policy of the Comintern. The scope of the "red" kapos was narrow, they were always of being killed. Nonetheless, as prisoner functionaries, they had a certain mobility and freedom of action, which they used, in whatever means possible, to preserve the lives of other prisoners; the main area of the red kapos' work was in the "office of the labor statistics", the camp infirmary and as camp guard surrogates. In the office of labor statistics, the prisoner work details were planned and lists were made as to which prisoners were in which outside work detail, they could, for example, place specific Resistance fighters on work details to infiltrate the notorious Dora-Mittelbau camp. A prisoner could hardly survive longer than 6 weeks in the camp's tunnels. Nonetheless, prisoners like Albert Kuntz managed to build a resistance organization that committed sabotage of the V-2 rockets. In the camp infirmary, kapos were able to "hide" other prisoners from the SS.
On occasion, they were able to send a prisoner there whose life was under immediate threat and have the records show the person as having died secretly give that prisoner the identity of another prisoner who had, in fact died. One kapo, Robert Siewert, himself a bricklayer, was able to convince the SS to allow Polish children to be trained as bricklayers, of which the Nazis had need for their many construction projects, thus saving a number of boys from certain death; the Committee began as an underground conspiracy of prisoners from the concentration camp, but still exists today. With the arrival of political prisoners from the various countries under Nazi occupation, the German political prisoners found contacts with members of the respective national organizations; the International Camp Committee was organized under the leadership of the German Communist, Walter Bartel and it became the conspiratorial center of political anti-Nazi resistance at the camp in July 1943. The founding and meeting place of the ICC was a screened room in the infirmary.
Under its leadership, an International Military Organization of Buchenwald was formed. At the end of the war, as American troops were closing in on the camp, most of the guards and higher Nazi officers of the camp fled; the prisoners were able to mount a camp-wide rebellion and liberate the camp just prior to the Americans' arrival. Two American intelligence officers, Egon W. Fleck and First Lieutenant Edward A. Tenenbaum reported coming across a unit of thousands of armed prisoners, marching in formation outside the camp on April 11, 1945. Walter Bartel Ernst Busse Domenico Ciufoli Henri Glineur Jan Haken Otto Horn Kvetoslav Innemann Jan Izydorczyk Harry Kuhn Marcel Paul Otto Roth Nikolaj Simakov Heinrich Studer Rudi Supek Walter Vielhauer There were hundreds of children and teenagers at Buchenwald whose lives were saved; the film The Boys of Buchenwald examines their efforts to re-join society after their experience as Nazi prisoners. The French film La Maison de Nina examines the topic of children survivors.
A few of those saved were: Robert J. Büchler Imre Kertész Joseph Schleifstein Gert Schramm Elie Wiesel, Stefan Jerzy Zweig The Buchenwald Resistance is referred to in the last chapter of Elie Wiesel's memoir, with specific description of the moment in which Wiesel is saved:The resistance movement decided at that point to act. Armed men appeared from everywhere. Bursts of gunshots. Grenades exploding. We, the children, remained flat on the floor of the block; the battle did not last long. Around noon, everything was calm again; the SS had fled and the resistance had t
The Iron Cross is a former military decoration in the Kingdom of Prussia, in the German Empire and Nazi Germany. It was established by King Frederick William III of Prussia in March 1813 backdated to the birthday of his late wife Queen Louise on 10 March 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars. Louise was the first person to receive this decoration; the recommissioned Iron Cross was awarded during the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, World War II. The Iron Cross was a military decoration only, though there were instances of it being awarded to civilians for performing military functions. Two examples of this were civilian test pilots Hanna Reitsch, awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class and 1st Class and Melitta Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class, for their actions as pilots during World War II; the design of the cross symbol was black with a white or silver outline, was derived from the cross pattée of the Teutonic Order, used by knights on occasions from the 13th century. The Prussian Army black cross pattée was used as the symbol of the succeeding German Army from 1871 to March/April 1918, when it was replaced by the Balkenkreuz.
In 1956, it was re-introduced as the symbol of the modern German armed forces. The Black Cross is the emblem used by the Prussian Army, by the army of Germany from 1871 to present, it was designed on the occasion of the German Campaign of 1813, when Frederick William III commissioned the Iron Cross as the first military decoration open to all ranks, including enlisted men. From this time, the Black Cross featured on the Prussian war flag alongside the Black Eagle, it was designed by neoclassical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, based on a sketch by Frederick William. The design is derivative of the black cross used by the Teutonic Order; this heraldic cross took various forms throughout the order's history, including a simple Latin cross, a cross potent, cross fleury and also a cross pattée. When the Quadriga of the Goddess of Peace was retrieved from Paris at Napoleon's fall, it was re-established atop Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. An Iron Cross was inserted into Peace's laurel wreath. In 1821 Schinkel crowned the top of his design of the National Monument for the Liberation Wars with an Iron Cross, becoming name-giving as Kreuzberg for the hill it stands on and – 100 years – for the homonymous quarter adjacent to it.
The Black Cross was used on the naval and combat flags of the German Empire. The Black Cross was used as the symbol of the German Army until 1915, when it was replaced by a simpler Balkenkreuz; the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany and the Bundeswehr inherited use of the emblem in various forms. The traditional design in black is used on armored vehicles and aircraft, while after German reunification, a new design in blue and silver was introduced for use in other contexts; the ribbon for the 1813, 1870 and 1914 Iron Cross was black with two thin white bands, the colors of Prussia. The non-combatant version of this award had the same medal, but the black and white colors on the ribbon were reversed; the ribbon color for the 1939 EKII was black/white/red/white/black. Since the Iron Cross was issued over several different periods of German history, it was annotated with the year indicating the era in which it was issued. For example, an Iron Cross from World War I bears the year "1914", while the same decoration from World War II is annotated "1939".
The reverse of the 1870, 1914 and 1939 series of Iron Crosses have the year "1813" appearing on the lower arm, symbolizing the year the award was created. The 1813 decoration has the initials "FW" for King Frederick William III, while the next two have a "W" for the respective kaisers, Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II; the final version shows a swastika. There was the "1957" issue, a replacement medal for holders of the 1939 series which substituted an oak-leaf cluster for the banned swastika; when the Iron Cross was reauthorized for World War I in 1914, it was possible for individuals, awarded one in 1870 to be subsequently granted another. These recipients were recognized with the award of a clasp featuring a miniaturized 1914 Iron Cross on a metal bar; the award was quite rare. In World War II it was possible for a holder of the 1914 Iron Cross to be awarded a second or higher grade of the 1939 Iron Cross. In such cases, a "1939 Clasp" would be worn on the original 1914 Iron Cross. For the 1st Class award, the Spange appears as an eagle with the date "1939".
This was pinned to the uniform above the original medal. Although they were two separate awards in some cases the holders soldered them together. A cross has been the symbol of Germany's armed forces since 1871. On 17 March 1813 King Frederick William III of Prussia – who had fled to non-occupied Breslau – established the military decoration of the Iron Cross, backdated to 10 March; the Iron Cross was awarded to soldiers during the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon. Before a soldier could be awarded with the Iron Cross 1st Class, he needed to have been decorated with the Iron Cross 2nd Class, it was first awarded to Karl August Ferdinand von Borcke on 21 April 1813. The first form of the Iron Crosses 1st Class were stitched in ribbon to the left uniform breast. By order of 1 June 1813, the 2nd form was created i
Occupation of Poland (1939–1945)
The occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II began with the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, it was formally concluded with the defeat of Germany by the Allies in May 1945. Throughout the entire course of the foreign occupation, the territory of Poland was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union with the intention of eradicating Polish culture and subjugating its people by occupying German and Soviet powers. In summer-autumn of 1941 the lands annexed by the Soviets were overrun by Germany in the course of the successful German attack on the USSR. After a few years of fighting, the Red Army drove the German forces out of the USSR and across Poland from the rest of Central and Eastern Europe. Both occupying powers were hostile to the existence of sovereign Poland, Polish people, the Polish culture aiming at their destruction. Before Operation Barbarossa and the Soviet Union coordinated their Poland-related policies, most visibly in the four Gestapo–NKVD conferences, where the occupants discussed plans for dealing with the Polish resistance movement and future destruction of Poland.
About 6 million Polish citizens—nearly 21.4% of Poland's population—died between 1939 and 1945 as a result of the occupation, half of whom were Polish Jews. Over 90% of the death toll came through non-military losses, as most of the civilians were targeted by various deliberate actions by Germans and the Soviets. Overall, during German occupation of pre-war Polish territory, 1939–1945, the Germans murdered 5,470,000–5,670,000 Poles, including nearly 3,000,000 Jews. In September 1939 Poland was invaded and occupied by two powers: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, acting in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Germany acquired 48.4% of the former Polish territory. Under the terms of two decrees by Hitler, with Stalin's agreement, large areas of western Poland were annexed by Germany; the size of these annexed territories was 92,500 square kilometres with 10.5 million inhabitants. The remaining block of territory was placed under a German administration, of about the same size and inhabited by about 11.5 millions, were called the General Government, with its capital at Kraków.
A German lawyer and prominent Nazi, Hans Frank, was appointed Governor-General of this occupied area on 12 October 1939. Most of the administration outside local level was replaced by German officials. Non-German population on the occupied lands were subject to forced resettlement, economic exploitation, slow but progressive extermination. A small strip of land, about 700 square kilometres with 200,000 inhabitants, part of Czechoslovakia before 1938 was returned by Germany to its ally, Slovakia. After Germany and the Soviet Union had partitioned Poland in 1939, most of the ethnically Polish territory ended up under the control of Germany, while the areas annexed by the Soviet Union contained ethnically diverse peoples, with the territory split into bilingual provinces, some of which had large ethnic Ukrainian and Belarusian minorities. Many of them welcomed the Soviets due in part to communist agitation by Soviet emissaries. Nonetheless Poles comprised the largest single ethnic group in all territories annexed by the Soviet Union.
By the end of the invasion the Soviet Union had taken over 51.6% of the territory of Poland, with over 13,200,000 people. The ethnic composition of these areas were as follows: 38% Poles, 37% Ukrainians, 14.5% Belarusians, 8.4% Jews, 0.9% Russians and 0.6% Germans. There were 336,000 refugees who fled from areas occupied by Germany, most of them Jews. All territory invaded by the Red Army was annexed to the Soviet Union, split between the Belarusian SSR and the Ukrainian SSR, with the exception of the Wilno area taken from Poland, transferred to sovereign Lithuania for several months and subsequently annexed by the Soviet Union in the form of the Lithuanian SSR on August 3, 1940. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, most of the Polish territories annexed by the Soviets were attached to the enlarged General Government. Following the end of the war, the borders of Poland were shifted westwards. For months prior to the beginning of World War II in 1939, German newspapers and leaders had carried out a national and international propaganda campaign accusing Polish authorities of organizing or tolerating violent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans living in Poland.
British ambassador Sir H. Kennard sent four statements in August 1939 to Viscount Halifax regarding Hitler's claims about the treatment Germans were receiving in Poland. From the beginning, the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany was intended as fulfilment of the future plan of the German Reich described by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf as Lebensraum for the Germans in Central and Eastern Europe; the occupation goal was to turn former Poland into ethnically German "living space", by deporting and exterminating the non-German populace, or relegating it to the position of slave labour. The goal of the German state under Nazi leadership during the war was to destroy the Polish peoples and nation and their fate, as well as many other Slavs, was outlined in genocidal Generalplan Ost and a related Generalsiedlungsplan. Over 30 years 12.5 million Germans were to be resettled into the Slavic are