WWII (Poland & Nazi Germany) #4

As you’ve probably noticed, the Nazi beliefs were incredibly brutal and outright evil.  There’s a reason the swastika is outlawed in Germany (barring historical reasons). There’s a reason the Nazi is always the bad guy in movies.

And here’s the fact that’s probably been drilled into your head since the first mention of WWII in your history classes: The Nazis hated the Jews.

Here’s the thing; the Nazis hated a lot of people, based mainly on race. The disabled, African-Germans, the Roma, homosexual men, and Slavs, in particular, Poles. Basically, anyone besides ‘Aryans’ and the Japanese (allies and all).

If you were to compare on a scale of 1-10, one being least desirable and ten being most, Jews would get 0 and Poles would get a 1 in the Nazi mindset.

Poland was Hell on earth during WWII; the Germans put in charge of them were instructed to shoot on sight if a Pole was caught helping a Jew, and Poles were considered second-class citizens, if even that.

But see, what the big difference was between the treatment of the Jews and the Poles was that the Jews were meant to be eliminated immediately, as soon as possible. The Poles, however, were meant to be eventually eliminated, used up as slave labor gradually and then have their lands taken over by Aryans. They attempted to eliminate Polish culture entirely.

And to get rid of the Poles, they were used up in several ways: kidnapping of ‘racially superior’ children; slave labor in Germany and Poland; killings, especially of soldiers, priests, teachers, officials and anyone deemed ‘intelligentsia‘.

Essentially, it was a really bad time to be a Pole.

In spite of this, the Poles number among the largest group of Righteous Among the Nations.

Despite it all, the Poles emerged from World War II with a passion for their country and a will to survive. There’s a reason that Poland is referred to as the Phoenix country; it’s always risen from the ashes, alive again.

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WWII (Romania) #3

So you probably don’t know much about Romania’s involvement in World War II.  Never fear, you’re about to know some of it!

Romania started out in the war as a neutral country; 1939, Britain and France were promising that they would protect Romania’s independence (same thing they promised Poland, by the way). As you might have guessed, when France fell and Britain retreated off of the continent, that left Romania in a pretty sticky situation.

On one side, the Soviet Union loomed, eager for more land, like a kid making grabby hands at someone else’s food. On the other, they had Nazi Allies, particularly Hungary. Just to note, Hungary and Romania have historically liked each other about as much as the average cat loves a bath.

The King of Romania tried to hold on to neutrality by giving up chunks of land to the countries around them (some to the Soviet Union, some to Bulgaria, some to Hungary), but that made him really unpopular. So a general overthrew him, and the Iron Guard took over.

You know how Italy was fascist during WWII? Well, now Romania was too. And the Iron Guard was merciless, particularly towards Jews.

So the guy in charge of Romania decided they had to choose a side, and they went with Nazi Germany, which made life even more horrible for the Jews in the country.

Funny thing about Nazi Germany: they tended to invade their allies. About 50,000 troops showed up in Romania, and now Romania was the breadbasket for the Nazi empire.

Another funny thing about Nazi Germany: they didn’t feel like paying for the food, oil, and other products, so they simply didn’t. Inflation soared in Romania, and conditions became fairly miserable.

And before you ask, yes, they did have concentration camps. On a sobering note, Romania has the second highest death toll for Jews among Nazi Germany and its allies: more than 200,000. Most of the Jews in Romania escaped death, however.

The relationship between Germany and Romania was cut off by the Soviet Union, which German and Romanian troops had both been fighting on the Eastern Front. Romania was invaded and Germany lost its supply of food and materials.

WWII (Poland & Germany, + Free City of Danzig) #2

“First to Fight.”

That phrase from a British propaganda poster sums up a lot about Poland’s WWII history. Well, at least the beginning.

Cool thing about the Polish, especially at this time in history: really super patriotic. You can hardly blame  them, though, because Poland wasn’t even a country until the end of WWI; it was a bunch of lands that had been split up by the countries around it (Prussia, Austria, and Russia) about 1795 like chocolate pudding pie at a family gathering. For centuries, all that kept the Polish heritage alive was zealous Poles who resisted being Russified or Germanized by their rulers.

Anyway, after WWI, the Poles had to fight a lot just to keep their borders, and they did so well they even expanded them.

Come 1939, tensions had been brewing between Nazi Germany and Poland for some time.

Back up a second;  you all probably know that Germany attacked Poland, and that is was for a totally fake reason. But what was the reason?

There was this place called the Free City of Danzig (which was independent, btw), now called Gdańsk today. Now, Danzig was super important to Poland, because according to WWI treaties and stuff, Danzig was where Poland got a harbor. This was because President Wilson had promised Poland, along with its freedom and independence, free access to the sea.

Now, the thing about Danzig was that the population was mostly German, with some Poles also living there. The Nazi party had its influences there, and soon they were in charge.

Nazi Germany was soon pushing for Danzig to rejoin Germany, and the Germans in Danzig were like ‘yeah man, totally.’

But Poland was like ‘Hell no!’ except a bit more diplomatically than that. Access to the sea meant access to countries outside the countries that surrounded Poland. So, super important, especially in that time because using planes to transport goods just wasn’t a thing in Poland.

However, Danzig was not the main focus of Hitler’s; while it may have been a focus for the Poles, Hitler’s aims were far beyond that. Quote from Hitler: It is not Danzig that is at stake. For us it is a matter of expanding our Lebensraum in the east. 

(We’re cool on what lebensraum means, right? Lebensraum = land for German people to live in and be super exclusive)

This is where the Gleiwitz Attack comes in. The Germans needed a good reason to go to war with Poland, so a bunch of Nazis pretending to be Poles took over a German radio station. Quite literally, the morning after Nazi Germany attacked Poland on the 1st of September. They attacked Danzig first, and ended up annexing it.

And that is when WWII started.

More to come.