Als Polen Deutsch war 1939-1945 (When Poland was German)
by Erich Kuby, Max Hueber Verlag, 1986

I don't know for sure how relevant this book is for Europe today. On the one hand I know from my consideration of history that peoples have astoundingly long collective memories. I have not lived in or even visited Europe since 1998. But I too have a good memory – not once in the 5 years I lived in Germany nor the 10 years I spent traveling there as a sales representative did I hear a kind word from a German about Poland. Once, in around 1995, I extended a business trip and drove to Frankfurt an der Oder in order to ask one question. I parked the car within sight of the bridge crossing into Poland and buttonholed chance passers-by and asked them: "What do you think about those people over there?" My car had Italian license plates, I spoke German with a Swiss accent, so the people I met there were perhaps released from caution and inhibition by my foreign presence. I will never forget the hatred that flamed up in many those people at the thought of Poland. If one or two of those people seemed more reflective, I asked a seond question: "Is there any cooperation between the fire departments of Frankfurt and Slubice" (the Polish city on the other side of the river)? "Wieso denn," oder "Hätte keinen Zweck mit denen," and other dismissive comments.

I've heard every argument. Poland confiscated some border territory from Czechoslovakia when Germany annexed the Sudetenland. In the past, the Poles supposedly treated the Ukrainians just as badly as they were treated by the Germans. Well, today Poland has the fastest growing economy in Europe and has therefore gained considerable political weight in recent times. Also Poland is investing a big chunk of its per capita income in armaments, and I wouldn't be surprised if they had an atomic bomb project ready to start up instantly, should another threat appear from West or East. Even without it, a power encroaching on Polish territory either from the East or the West would pay a prohibitively high cost for the pleasure. As the Jews say, and the Poles may well say – Never forget, never again.

There is no published translation of this book in English. As a matter of fact, only 3 of Kuby's 30 or so books ("The Sitzkrieg of Private Stefan," "Rosemarie – Favorite child of the German [Wirtschafts]wunder," and "Berlin and the Russians 1945") have been translated into English. I am making a start at remedying this imbalance on this website and here on this page. You find below my translation of the Preface of this book, and you will eventually find here one or two of its chapters translated as well.

Preface

pg. 7
The German occupation policy in Poland was, from the very first day and forward, a policy of extermination and destruction. It cost Poland one fifth of its population. This fact, and how it came to be, has (unlike the destruction of European Jews, not entered the the public consciousness of the people of the German Federal Republic. Instead there is an unpaid German-Polish account. In it, the Germans do not figure as being in Poland's debt, but rather the opposite – Poland in debt to Germany because the victorious powers decreed that the eastern provinces of pre-war Germany be assigned to Poland. Not the 6 million murdered Poles have been graven into the Germans' collective memory, but rather all the millions of Germans who fled and/or were expulsed from the east, along with the loss of the eastern territories.

In a general sense there is a definable and still continuing burden on the German people because of the measures carried out against the Jews between 1933 and 1945, a burden which will not lose its moral stain in a hundred years. With Poland, however, the matter is completely different. The "Final Solution'" can not be undone, the murdered Poles can not be brought back to life, but there remains the question of former German territory in the East. One can travel through it and experience it as integral part of Poland, but they nevertheless do not represent a fact that even in theory can't be changed. Every German and every Pole knows that there are attempts in West Germany to reshape

pg. 8
this reality by means of dubious legal initiatives. Certain political groups and various propagandists from the circles of displaced persons from Silesia, Pomerania and Königsberg do not accept the current borders as codified in the 1945 Potsdam Conference, and they refuse to drop their claims of restitution of the lost territories in the East. This is not news.

Meanwhile, since this book was written in 1985 and published in 1986, it finds its justification in the fact that the demand for revision of the Oder-Neiße-line has been made in the last two years with increasing volume. For the Poles it is not an exaggeration to speak of renewal of the German-Polish conflict, as they are acutely aware of their history under changing circumstances going back for centuries.

It has not escaped the notice of the author that the current Federal president, the current Federal chancellor, and the current Federal foreign minister are making an effort to reassure the Poles, and they assert that nobody is thinking about contesting the Polish claim to the "administered territories." Such declarations are an attempt to play down the normalization process taking place now in the Federal Republic. Historic experience is being thrown to the winds, and one ignores the fact that dissatisfaction with the current status quo and the urge to pick a fight with the neighbors is a part of the political and psychological normality of the Germans. It is the position of those who regret always being the ones who get the short end of the stick. ....

Pr. 11-13
At the beginning of the 13th century the Knights of the German order, driven by hunger for power and missionary zeal, bult the first castles at the Weichsel river [empties into the Baltic at Danzig]. These were forward military bases, from which the campaigns to subjugate the Prussen began. They were the tribe from which then the Prussians derived their name, an expression of  German Knights' establishment in the East.
    It would go beyond the thematic frame of this book to follow the history of Poland from that point onward; nevertheless it should be remembered that Poland, after throwing off the rule of the German Order of Knights in the 15th century, became a great power and experienced an examplary cultural expansion. However, in the last third of the 18th century, Poland lost its independence: In three stages, Russia, Austria, and Prussia divided it amongst themselves. A further division took place in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna. Only in 1918 with the defeat of the Central Powers did Poland regain its independent statehood.
   The Reich not only lost the "Reich territories" Alsatia and Lorraine, which it had taken from the French in 1871, but also had to accept amputation in the East. Danzig was separated from the Reich and became a free city, connected to Poland by a corridor so that Poland had direct access to the sea.
    In 1939 Poland suffered its 5th partitioning, at first on paper in the Hitler-Stalin pact of 23 August, then in practice through the Poland campaign of the Greater German Wehrmacht which began on 1 Sept. On 17 September, the Soviet Union moved it western border to the demarcation line agreed upon by the foreign ministers Ribbentrop and Molotow, where the German armies remained until 1941 when they attacked the Soviet Union. Today, the two German successor states of the Reich, one of which claims to be its only heir and thus its continuation, west of the Oder respectively west of the Elbe rivers. Thus we have the result of aggressive German Eastern policy spanning 7 centuries. In the extension of German rule over all of Poland it found its terrible fulfillement. The military occupation became a colonial government which degenerated into a mechanism of extermination, the object of this book.
   The central goals of the Third Reich's Ostpolitik complimented and augmented this policy of extermination: on the one hand, securing and expansion of the German people outside of the Reich's borders, and on the other hand the destruction of Jewery which, to be sure extended throughout Europe, found special circumstances in Poland because of its large share of Jews (1.7 million out of overall 22 million).