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Thread: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

  1. #1
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    Default Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    I've just watched "The Last Heroes" on Channel 4 about the break-out from Normandy.
    One of British veterans told a story of a 15 year-old Hitler Youth soldier, who was caught by the Allies.
    The boy needed a medial attention as he was wounded and a stretcher was called along with two medics.
    When they arrived, they kneeled next to the boy so they could pick him up and put him on the strecher.
    Suddenly, German kid started to shout in panic. It turned out he noticed "POLAND" badges on medics' shoulders.
    It was obvious he didn't want to be taken away by polish troops, but of course it eventually happened.

    And here's is something that I find quite interesting.
    Why was 15 year old kid so afraid of Poles?
    An alleged polish brutality towards german POWs could be a reason. But in August 1944 Polish troops were in Normandy just for few days. It would be difficult to earn such terrible reputation in such a short time, so even 15 year-olds would afraid of them.
    He could also been told by some of his comrades about Polish hate towards Germans.
    Or maybe he was already aware why the Poles hate the Germans so much and why it was better to get no medical attention than to be taken away by the Polish medics.
    If yes, how does that knowledge coressponds with a general excuse of the ordinary Germans that they were not aware of any war crimes comitted by SS and Wehrmacht in Poland, Soviet Union and other countries.
    (I assume that boy was a fresh replacement and didn't spend a single day as a soldier in the Eastern Europe).

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    I could assume that the kid grew up with Nazi propaganda which laid the blame for the start of the war on the murdering evil Polish people killing all those around Danzig etc.
    You need to think what Goebbels had been spouting and where the kid could have come from in the Greater Reich.
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Well, you got the point, especially when it comes to Hitler Youth.
    I'm curious how many Germans did know what was going on.
    Propaganda could explain to the people why Nazis wanted to get rid of Jews, but German population had already seen in 30's what the Nazis were capable of.
    Right after invasion of Poland (during the campaign too) Germans comitted so many war crimes that it was impossible to hide it. Obviously, the local population witnessed those. But the number of Germans who were members of Einsatzgruppen, SS, Gestapo, Kripo and Wehrmacht and were involved in the war crimes was huge.
    They were witnesses too. I bet many of them couldn't keep their mouths shut and shared some stories with their families, friends etc. SS and Gestapo didn't have problem with keeping the secrecy, that's for sure. But what about Wehrmacht? I assume most of them were not cold-blooded killers and there was some remorse about it.
    So, the information about atrocities leaked to the German society. Of course the scale must have been minimal at the beginning of the war, but every year more and more Germans were becoming aware what Nazis were doing.
    After the 6th Army's disaster at Stalingrad, Goebbels was not able to conceal what really happend. Many Germans knew that it wasn't a "strategic withdrawal" but enormous defeat and doom of few hundred thousand soldiers.
    Many didn't want to believe the truth, but at the end of the day, they had to accept it.
    So, maybe similar mechanism worked when it came to war crimes and holocaust.
    Germans knew what was happening (or at least had some idea of it), but didn't want to hear about it and prefered to believe what Goebbels was saying. It was very comfortable especially after the war, when many Germans were confronted with the Allied occupation forces and war crimes survivors.

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Why was 15 year old kid so afraid of Poles?
    An alleged polish brutality towards german POWs could be a reason.
    I read after the cruel pacification of warsaw uprising the poles felt no more mercy for german pows , if to believe Beevour's "Berlin downfall".I post it already in other thread like once NKVD trusted to polish soldiers to guard the group of approximatelly 80 just taken german pows to camp for interrogations. They were pretty wondered when poles brought only two pows alive.Since that day , beevour wrote,the NKVD didn't not enlist poles to gurd the german pows any more.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by leccy View Post
    I could assume that the kid grew up with Nazi propaganda which laid the blame for the start of the war on the murdering evil Polish people killing all those around Danzig etc.
    You need to think what Goebbels had been spouting and where the kid could have come from in the Greater Reich.
    Sounds like the most reasonable explanation.

    The Nazi propaganda machine cranked up fear of Poles / Polish mistreatment of ethnic Germans before the war to justify the attack on Poland, and then reinforced it with extravagant claims about Polish brutality towards Germans in the Bromberg incident soon after the invasion of Poland. That sort of thing enters the national mind and is fed to children with their mother's milk (as was Japanese hatred and contempt for the Chinese in the years preceding the Pacific War). The 15 year old boy on the Western Front quite probably had no personal experience of Poles but had absorbed fearful views about them from others and from Nazi propaganda such as film http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heimkehr

    The Poles also acquired a well-deserved reputation among the Allies as hating the Germans and being willing to go to any lengths to kill them, such as 303 Squadron RAF, so maybe some of this became known to the Germans and became part of general opinion.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 10-30-2011 at 06:21 AM.
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    You're right, there was a lot of pre-war anti-polish propaganda and no doubt it was very influential on people.
    The image of blood-thirsty Poles must have been widely spread among the German population.
    It just seems unbelievable how easily such a primitive propaganda could be accepted without any skepticism.

    Anyway, back to the topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    I read after the cruel pacification of warsaw uprising the poles felt no more mercy for german pows , if to believe Beevour's "Berlin downfall".I post it already in other thread like once NKVD trusted to polish soldiers to guard the group of approximatelly 80 just taken german pows to camp for interrogations. They were pretty wondered when poles brought only two pows alive.Since that day , beevour wrote,the NKVD didn't not enlist poles to gurd the german pows any more.
    During Warsaw Uprising Home Army took a little bit less than 2000 German (+ collaborators like ROA, RONA) prisoners. After the capitulation around 330 came back. What happened to the rest?
    Well, some died during 2 months of heavy fighting, presumably a friendly fire should be blamed (artillery, bombers, etc.). There is absolutely no doubt that those from SS, Police, Gestapo and Military Police got a bullet right after being captured. There were reports of Germans captured and executed by the Home Army, because they had been already senteced to death by Polish Underground War Tribunal for atrocities against civilians comitted before the Uprising. Some number of German POWs was wounded and treated in polish hospitals around the city. In few cases, when the hospitals were overrun by RONA or similar units, those POWs shared the same fate as polish wounded and the medical personnel. Also the RONA and ROA soldiers were executed on the spot.
    We need to remeber, that many of those POWs were captured and executed almost red-handed, for example a group of 46 volksdeutsch who few hours earlier set on fire houses at Wola district together with their inhabitants. Also SS-men and members of Dirlewanger's and Kaminski's Brigades were treated accordingly, as their active role in slaughter of Wola district was widely known.

    At the last Home Army HQ meeting before the uprising on August the 1st 1944, gen. "Monter" issued an order regarding the captured enemy:
    I. Treating the Germans:
    a) spare the soldiers who give up their weapons [to be treated as POWs];
    b) those who resist - to be eliminated;
    c) killed - to be removed;
    d) to be executed - police, SS, military police, gestapo;
    e) armed civilians: giving up the weapons - to be treated as POWs, those who resist - to be eliminated;
    f) polish police - to be treated like Wehrmacht".

    But of course like in every battle, these limitations were flexible.

    Sources:
    http://www.dws.org.pl/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=5876
    Janusz Marszałek „Ochrona porządku i bezpieczeństwa publicznego w Powstaniu Warszawskim"

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    I doubt that there were 15 year-old HJ soldiers in Normandy in the first place...
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    These were the vet's exact words. I don't think his age really matters.

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Kovalski View Post
    The image of blood-thirsty Poles must have been widely spread among the German population.
    It just seems unbelievable how easily such a primitive propaganda could be accepted without any skepticism.
    I think the any propogand is primitive. Even our propogand depicted the germans in primitive light.And it was accepted without critic.The critic of domestic propogand might be considered like treason in wartime
    During Warsaw Uprising Home Army took a little bit less than 2000 German (+ collaborators like ROA, RONA) prisoners. After the capitulation around 330 came back. What happened to the rest?
    The 330 survived this is even much for condition of uprising. At least it proves the poles didn't execute all the germans like those poor 15 kid was probably teached.
    BTW the ROA, or the army of Vlasov, didn't take the participation in supression of the Warsaw uprising. It was formed only in september 1944 as a separate army.The bloody butchers from RONA is a entire other thread.
    Last edited by Chevan; 10-31-2011 at 01:43 AM.

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    My mistake Chevan, you're absolutely right about ROA.

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Kovalski View Post
    These were the vet's exact words. I don't think his age really matters.
    Well, we have to disagree on that then...
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by flamethrowerguy View Post
    Well, we have to disagree on that then...
    do you think to meet the 15 years HJ is too early for 1944?

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    do you think to meet the 15 years HJ is too early for 1944?
    If we're talking about members of the Nazi youth organization "HJ" (not the SS division) during the summer of 1944 in Normandy/France...yes.
    Later that year on German (East Prussian) soil it would be a different thing.
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by flamethrowerguy View Post
    If we're talking about members of the Nazi youth organization "HJ" (not the SS division) during the summer of 1944 in Normandy/France...yes.
    Later that year on German (East Prussian) soil it would be a different thing.
    Which was the youngest conscript age for Wermacht in 1945? and in 1944?If my memory serves well, i read it was decreased to the 16 ( or 15.5)years in march 1945.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    The 1927'ers were drafted in July 1944. Those of 1928 were drafted for the RAD (labour service) and only sporadically for the Wehrmacht.
    Allegedly there were single drafts of boys born in 1929 by March 1945, but this is not officially assured.
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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