Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Anti-Polish Propaganda

"I will provide a propagandistic casus belli.  Its credibility doesn't matter.  The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth." -Adolf Hitler to his generals August 22nd, 1939   
Translation: Danzig (Polish city) is German
Nazi Germany’s expansion during the 30’s alarmed England and France. England in particular thought that the Germans would attempt to invade Poland, and promised to assist the Polish in the event of an invasion. The Nazis used this fact as a propaganda tool, claiming that Poland and England were conspiring against the German people, and would eventually invade Germany while it was still rearming as a result of the Versailles Treaty reparations if the Germans did not act offensively. The Nazis’ propaganda to the German people thus framed the German invasion as a preemptive strike against those who would eventually do the same, if given the chance.
The Nazi Party of Germany used copious amounts of propaganda over the course of the 1930’s, which made it ideologically easier for the German soldiers occupying Poland to commit violence against its people.  The steady stream of cultural saturation went on for long enough that the new generation of German soldiers were raised on it.  While the Nazi propagandists attempted to justify the “deportation” of Polish citizens as necessary for the spread of German culture, the reality was much harsher.  There might have even been explicit instructions to the officers of the Wehrmacht to use wanton violence as a form of intimidation and pacification when the invasion started.  The Einsatzgruppen used violence as a tool regardless of whether these orders were explicit or not.  The approximate decade of propaganda probably made this task easier on the extermination teams’ minds.
Polish violence against ethnic German like "Bloody Sunday" aided the German propaganda machine.

This tension culminated in a staged attack on German buildings on the border by officers of the SS. The officers stormed the structures, firing wild shots without hitting anyone.  They retreated shortly after, leaving dead bodies of concentration camp prisoners dressed as Polish soldiers.  While the international community did not believe that the event, real or staged, was justification for a German invasion of Poland, Hitler used it as concrete justification for a German "preemptive" strike against Poland.


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