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Intelligenzaktion Pommern

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Title: Intelligenzaktion Pommern  
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Subject: Nazi crimes against the Polish nation, German war crimes, Intelligenzaktion
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Intelligenzaktion Pommern

Intelligenzaktion Pommern
Location German occupied Pomeranian Voivodeship, Free City of Danzig
annexed as Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany)
Date 1939 - 1940
Target Polish intellectuals and the upper classes.
Attack type Massacres
Weapon(s) Automatic weapons
Deaths 23,000[1]
Perpetrators Germany Nazi Germany, organized militia of German minority in Poland

The "Intelligenzaktion Pommern"[2][3][4] was a Nazi action aimed at the elimination of the Polish intelligentsia in Pomeranian Voivodeship and other adjacent areas, at the beginning of World War II. It was part of a larger genocidal action that took place in all Nazi-occupied Poland, named Operation Tannenberg[5] after its planners or Intelligenzaktion[6] after its victims: the action was planned on the direct order of Adolf Hitler by Reinhard Heydrich's bureau "Referat Tannenberg" of Heinrich Himmler's SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), executed primarily by SS-Einsatzgruppen,[7] and targeted the Polish intelligentsia and elites.[5] Starting in September 1939[5] with a second wave in the spring of 1940,[8] it was an early measure of the Generalplan Ost.


After the Nazi invasion of Poland, the Polish and Kashubian population of Polish Pomerania was immediately subjected to brutal terror.[9] Poles were seen by German state during the war as subhuman. Prisoners of war,[10] as well as many Polish intellectuals and community leaders were murdered. Many of the crimes were carried out, with official approval, by the so-called Einsatzkommando 16 and "Selbstschutz", or paramilitary organizations of ethnic Germans with previously Polish citizenship. They in turn were encouraged to participate in the violence and pogroms by the local Gauleiter Albert Forster,[11] who in a speech at the Prusinski Hotel in Wejherowo agitated ethnic Germans to attack Poles by saying "We have to eliminate the lice ridden Poles, starting with those in the cradle... in your hands I give the fate of the Poles, you can do with them what you want". The crowd gathered before the hotel chanted "Kill the Polish dogs!" and "Death to the Poles".[12] The Selbstschutz participated in the early massacres as Piaśnica, and many of their members later joined police and SS formations which continued the massacres until the Fall of 1940.[12]

Organized action aimed at exterminating the Polish population of the region, however, began only after the end of the September campaign, with the Intelligenzaktion Pommern, a part of an overall Intelligenzaktion by Nazi Germany aimed at liquidating the Polish elite. Its main targets were the Polish intelligentsia, which was blamed by the Nazis for pro-Polish policies in the Polish corridor during the interwar period. Educated Poles were also perceived by the Nazis as the main obstacle to the planned complete Germanization of the region.

"The enemies of Reich list"

Main article: Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen

Even before the Nazi invasion of Poland, German police and Gestapo cooperated with the German minority in Poland to prepare special lists of Poles "Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen" whom they regarded as representative of Polish government, administration, culture and life in the region. People on this list were called ""The enemies of Reich" and were designated to be executed.[12] According to official criteria, the Polish "intelligentsia" included anyone with a middle school or higher education, priests, teachers, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, veteran military officers, bureaucrats, members of Polish administration, police, medium and large businessmen and merchants, medium and large landowners, writers, journalists and newspaper editors.[12] Furthermore, all persons who during the interwar period had belonged to many Polish cultural and patriotic organizations such as Polski Związek Zachodni (Polish Union of the West), Związek Obrony Kresów Zachodnich, Polish Gymnastic Society "Falcon" and Maritime and Colonial League.[12]

Between the fall of 1939 and spring of 1940, in the "Intelligenzakition" and other actions, the Nazis killed around 60,000 Polish intellectuals and others.[13] The main site of these murders were the forests around Wielka Piasnica.

Method of realisation

Main article: Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz

The action was realised by SS paramilitary death squads - Einsatzcommando 16 and the paramilitary organisation of the German minority in Poland - Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz.[14] The aim of this action was elimination of Polish society elite: Polish nobles, intelligentsia, teachers, Polish entrepreneurs, social workers, military veterans, members of national organisations, priests, judges and political activists.


Most executions of this regional action took place in forests near Piaśnica Wielka, Mniszek near Świecie and in the Szpęgawski forests near Starogard Gdański. Local Germans (Selbstschutz) and the Gestapo murdered 5,000 – 6,600 Poles and Jews in October and November 1939 in Fordon, Bydgoszcz, northern Poland in a place known as the "Fordon Valley of Death" (Polish: fordońska Dolina Śmierci).[15][16] In a similar mass murder near Chojnice, known as "Choinice Valley of Death" (Polish: Choinicka Dolina Śmierci), 2000 citizens from Chojnice were murdered between 1939 and 1945. Most victims were Polish intelligentsia and patients from local mental hospitals murdered in the "Euthanasia Program" called Action T4.[17][18]

German forces

Those who participated in the mass murder in Piaśnica included:

  • Einsatzkommando 16, under command of head Danzig gestapo - Rudolf Tröger,
  • special unit of SS - 36 Regiment SS Wachsturmbann ˝Eimann˝, under command of Kurt Eimann,
  • members of local Selbstschutz

Mass murder in Szpęgawski Forest:

  • special unit of SS - 36 Regiment SS Wachsturmbann ˝Eimann˝, under command of Kurt Eimann,
  • members of Selbstschutz from Starogard Gdański under command of SS-Unterscharführer Paul Drews,
  • 12 members of SS Heimwehr Danzig under command of SS-Obersturmführer Wilhelm Fast

Mass murder in Mniszek:

  • special unit of SS - 36 Regiment SS Wachsturmbann ˝Eimann˝, under command of Kurt Eimann,
  • members of local Selbstschutz


  • Elżbieta Grot, "Ludobójstwo w Piaśnicy z uwzględnieniem losów mieszkańców powiatu wejherowskiego." (Genocide in Piaśnica with a discussion of the fate of the inhabitants of Wejherow county", Public Library of Wejherowo,[19]
  • Maria Wardzyńska "Był rok 1939 Operacja niemieckiej policji bezpieczeństwa w Polsce. Intelligenzaktion" IPN Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2009 ISBN 978-83-7629-063-8
  • Tadeusz Piotrowski, "Poland's holocaust: ethnic strife, collaboration with occupying forces and genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947", McFarland, 1998, pg. 25,[20]
  • Maria Wardzyńska: "Intelligenzaktion" na Warmii, Mazurach oraz Północnym Mazowszu. Główna Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni Przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu. Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej nr. 12/1, 2003/2004, ss. 38-42.[21]
  • Andrzej Szcześniak: Generalplan Ost. Plan Zagłady Słowian. Radom: Polskie Wydawnictwo Encyklopedyczne, 2001, ISBN 978-83-88822-03-2.
  • Dieter Schenk "Hitlers Mann in Danzig Gauleiter Forster und die NS-Verbrechen in Danzig-Westpreußen", J. H. W. Dietz Nachf. Verlag, Bonn 2000, ISBN 3-8012-5029-6, ISBN 978-3-8012-5029-4
  • Meier, Anna "Die Intelligenzaktion: Die Vernichtung Der Polnischen Oberschicht Im Gau Danzig-Westpreusen" VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, ISBN 978-3-639-04721-9 ISBN 978-3-639-04721-9



  • "Mass murder in Piaśnica in 1939" article in (Polish)

See also

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