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Poster in German and Polish describing "Obligations of Polish workers in Germany" including death sentence to every man and woman from Poland for sex with a German

Polish decrees, Polish directives or decrees on Poles (German: Polenerlasse) refer to the decrees of the Nazi Germany government announced on 8 March 1940 during World War II.[1] They concerned the Polish laborers (Zivilarbeiter) used during WWII as forced laborers in Germany, regulating their working and living conditions.[1] The regulation intentionally supported and even created discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity.[1][2]

Contents

Purpose

The decrees were an important step towards codifying Nazi Germany policies and laws on foreign forced labor.[1] They were meant to provide a legal basis for discriminating against Poles, fulfilling at the same time Nazi ideology and the needs of the Nazi economy.[1] The racist notion of the inferiority of the forced laborers and prisoners of war from Poland when compared with the German master race was a prominent feature of the orders.[2] The decrees, which recommended that examples of severe punishment be demonstrated to workers early on, were also aiming at clearly distinguishing the new conditions from pre-war voluntary seasonal labor.[3]

Specific content

Polish workers were required to wear a clearly visible badge, in addition to a work permit with a photo.[2] They should be kept away from German "cultural life" and "places of amusement" (this included churches and restaurants).[2] Sexual contact between Polish males and German women was prohibited, and so it was recommended that the same numbers of Polish males and females should be recruited, or that brothels should be set up.[2][4] Mobility of workers, housed as far away as possible from Germans, was to be restricted, hence they were barred from using public transportation.[2] They were also affected by after dark curfew.[2] Wages paid to Polish workers were to be lower than those paid to the German workers.[4] Polish workers were also to receive substandard nutrition. They were not allowed certain types of possessions (bicycles, cameras). They often were denied holidays and had to work seven days a week. They could not enter a marriage without permission. Births were discouraged, and children were sometimes taken away from their families (see kidnapping of Polish children by Nazi Germany).

Punishments for disobeying, for Polish workers, included being sent to a concentration camp and the death penalty.[4][3] Germans who disobeyed those laws by helping or sympathizing with the workers were to be punished as well, in extreme cases, by being sent to concentration camps.[3]

Application

German propaganda poster in Polish language: "Let's do agricultural work in Germany. Report immediately to your Vogt"

In 1939 there were about 300,000 prisoners from Poland working in Germany;[5] Already in 1944 there were about 2,8 m Polish Zivilarbeiters in Germany (approximately 10% of Generalgouvernement workforce)[6] and a similar number of workers in this category from other countries.[5]

Forced laborers worked in agriculture, but also manufacturing. [7]

Where voluntary recruitment failed to yield a required number of workers, penalties were issued on communities that failed to provide workers (confiscation of property, fines); later, manhunts were organized (see łapanka).[8]

Worker's life was almost totally regimented.[3]

In December 1941 the decrees were supplemented by Polish Criminal Regulation (Polenstrafrechtsverordnung), which introduced shortened trials for Poles in criminal cases. In February 1942 Eastern decrees (Ostarbeitererlasse) were issued concerning the OST-Arbeiter (workers from territories taken from Soviet Union); based on the Polish decrees.[9]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Ulrich Herbert, William Templer, Hitler's foreign workers: enforced foreign labor in Germany under the Third Reich, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0521470005,Google Print, p.71
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Ulrich Herbert, William Templer, Hitler's foreign workers: enforced foreign labor in Germany under the Third Reich, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0521470005,Google Print, p.72
  3. ^ a b c d Ulrich Herbert, William Templer, Hitler's foreign workers: enforced foreign labor in Germany under the Third Reich, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0521470005,Google Print, p.74
  4. ^ a b c Ulrich Herbert, William Templer, Hitler's foreign workers: enforced foreign labor in Germany under the Third Reich, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0521470005,Google Print, p.73
  5. ^ a b John C. Beyer; Stephen A. Schneider. "Forced Labor under Third Reich - Part 1" (PDF). Nathan Associates Inc.. http://www.nathaninc.com/nathan2/files/ccLibraryFiles/FILENAME/000000000072/Forced%20Labor%20Under%20the%20Third%20Reich%2C%20Part%20One.pdf.   and John C. Beyer; Stephen A. Schneider. "Forced Labor under Third Reich - Part 2" (PDF). Nathan Associates Inc.. http://www.nathaninc.com/nathan2/files/ccLibraryFiles/FILENAME/000000000073/Forced%20Labor%20Under%20the%20Third%20Reich%2C%20Part%20Two.pdf.  
  6. ^ A. Paczkowski, Historia Powszechna/Historia Polski, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa 2008, tom 16, p. 28
  7. ^ Reinhold Billstein, Karola Fings, Anita Kugler, Nicholas Levis, Billstein Levis, Working for the enemy: Ford, General Motors, and forced labor in Germany during the Second World War, Berghahn Books, 2004, ISBN 1845450132, Google Print, p.144
  8. ^ M. L. Bush, Servitude in modern times, Wiley-Blackwell, 2000, ISBN 0745617301, Google Print, p.226
  9. ^ Ulrich Herbert, William Templer, Hitler's foreign workers: enforced foreign labor in Germany under the Third Reich, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0521470005, Google Print, p.xvii

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