1939

22nd August
Adolf Hitler, in a secret speech to Wehrmacht officers, says “Genghis Khan drove millions of women and children to death with full awareness and a content heart. History sees him only as a founder of a great empire… Poland will be depopulated and settled by Germans.”

23rd August
The Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was signed in Moscow; secret clauses stipulated the division of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe into zones of influence. These clauses also mentioned resettlements of ethnic Germans from the Soviet zone of influence to the Reich.

1st September
WW2 started at 4:42 AM with an air raid over Wieluń, on the border of the Łódź region and Silesia. Three cities were destroyed by German bombers. From the first days of war Germans carry out executions of civilians in the occupied Polish lands.

2nd September
The Wehrmacht took Wieluń and Wieruszów, border towns. Almost 40 people, mostly Jews, were murdered in Wieruszów.

3rd September
Reinhard Heydrich, head of the security police, issued an order for the “special treatment” of the Poles (Sonderbehandlung). This meant executions without trial. Poles and Jews were executed right from the beginning of the war. First evictions of Poles from flats in Gdynia.

4th September
The Germans took Kalisz, Krotoszyn, Leszno, Ostrów Wielkopolski. 200 people in Złoczew were killed.

8th September
The Germans entered Łódź

10th September
The Germans took Poznań

12th September
Arthur Greiser, former president of the Gdańsk Senate, came to Poznań.

13th September
The German police transported the first Catholic priest, Teodor Dymek from the Gniezno diocese, to the Dachau camp.

21st September
The first public NSDAP demonstration in Poznań. Arthur Greiser declared that “Poznań will become a model district of the Reich (Mustegau)”, Germans would be the “lords”, and Poles would be the “servants” (Knechte).

22nd September
Reinhard Heydrich formulated a plan for creating a reserve for Jews east of Cracow. He also informed the commander in-chief of the Wehrmacht that Poles under Soviet occupation would be gradually shifted east. On the same day, police executed 22 Poles in Świerkówiec near Mogilno and 9 in Rawicz jail by firing squad. Two Polish hostages were killed in Konin. In Turek, Germans gathered a group of Jews in a synagogue and set fire to it. Such crimes were perpetrated on a daily basis.

28th September
An additional protocol to the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was signed. It established the German-Soviet border on Polish territory and planned the transfers of ethnic German population from the Soviet zone of influence.

4th October
The German authorities closed Poznań cathedral and transformed it into a warehouse.

6th October
Hitler gives a speech in the Reichstag proclaiming a resettlement policy in Eastern Europe to better separate nations and eliminate the seeds of conflict. It was the announcement of the deportations of Polish citizens from western Polish districts.

7th October
Heinrich Himmler was appointed Reich Commissary for Reinforcement of the German Nation. In this role he would remain responsible for the deportations of Polish citizens.

8th October
A decree was issued on the incorporation of western lands to the Third Reich (including the Wielkopolska region and Poznań). This was supposed to come into force on the 1st of November. Detailed description of the border was not defined yet. Finally the Reich border ran east of Kutno.

10th October
The Wehrmacht handed over the Fort VII prison in Poznań to security police.

12th October
Organised deportations started in Gdynia (in the Orłowo district). In October they covered altogether 12,000 Polish citizens, a further 38,000 fled the city, and 20,000 more were deported in 1940.

18th October
The first transports of Germans from Latvia arrive in Gdynia. At the same time, transports of Jews from Austria and the Czech Republic to occupied Poland began. A “reserve for Jews” was supposed to be created there. The memorandum of Theodor Schieder, a Nazi historian, on the prospects for the Germanisation of the western Polish lands of October 1939 assumed that “intensive migration” of Poles from incorporated lands to “the remnants of Poland” (i.e. General Government) would only be possible if “the Jews are pulled out” of Polish cities. It was often actually the case that Poles were deported to make space for Germans, and Jews were deported to make space for Poles. Demolition of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Monument in Poznań started. Jews and Poles were banned from possessing radios.

19th October
Creation of the Main Trustee Office for the East [Haupttreuhandstelle OST]. Its main task was to confiscate Polish property in incorporated lands.

20th October
Further crimes: under liquidation of “Polish leadership elements” German police formations executed 28 people in Środa, 27 in Kostrzyn, 19 in Śrem, 15 in both Kórnik and Mosina and 12 in Książ Wielkopolski by firing squad. Physical liquidation of elites took the whole autumn of 1939 and involved about 20,000 people in the incorporated lands.

After 20th October
Executions in Piaśnickie Woods near Wejherowo started. These lasted till spring 1940. Victims included about a dozen Polish citizens (mostly from Gdynia) and political prisoners transported from the Reich.

26th October
Hans Frank took office as General Governor with his headquarters in the Wawel castle.

1st November
Arthur Greiser banned church services on this day. The first settlers from Baltic countries arrived in Poznań.

2nd November
Arthur Greiser officially took office as Gauleiter and Reich Lieutenant in Poznań. National Socialist Days were held from the 2nd to the 5th November in Wielkopolska towns. Germans celebrated the “return of Eastern recovered territories to the Reich”.

4th November
An official rally took place in Środa Wielkopolska, the home town of Arthur Greiser, who stated that “no king had such power as I have”.

5th November
Systematic expropriations and deportations of Poles in Poznań and Wielkopolska started. They were evicted to make space for Germans from the Baltic countries and from the Reich. In Główna street in Poznań a temporary camp was created for resettled Poles. Initially also Wielkopolska Jews were resettled through this camp to the General Government. The Główna camp operated till May 1940 and more than 30,000 evicted people passed through it. In general, several dozen transition camps for evicted Polish citizens were created in the Wielkopolska, Łódź, Pomorze, northern Mazowsze and Silesia regions.

At the same time, between 2nd and 5th November Nazi celebrations took part in Poznań to celebrate the return of Poznań to the Reich and Arthur Greiser’s taking office as Reich Lieutenant. The newly created Warthegau province (Wielkopolska, Kujawy together with Inowrocław and Włocławek and part of the Łódzkie region with Łódź) was the biggest in the Reich.

7th November
The Reich Lieutenant banned mixed Polish-German marriages, as well and Jewish-Polish and Jewish-German marriages.

At the same time, from 7th November to 15th December, 48,868 Germans were resettled from Latvia to the Reich. This took place mostly through Gdynia (called Gotenhafen in German), Szczecin and Świnoujście ports. Most of them, after spending some time in transition camps, received flats and houses “freed” by Poles evicted from Warthegau to the General Government.

14th November
Reich Lieutenant Arthur Greiser introduced an obligation for Jews to wear yellow, 10 cm wide bands.

20th November
The Germans accommodated about 10,000 Jews in market hall in Kalisz, and then transported them to the General Government.

6th December
Further transports of resettled Poles from Poznań and Żnin.

7th December
The murders of patients from the mental asylum in Dziekanka near Gniezno started. The murdering continued till 12th January 1940. 1,044 people were killed. Some of the patients were killed in a gas chamber in Fort VII.

9th December
Another transport with 4,000 evicted people from Poznań.

12th December
In one of the chambers of Fort VII carbon monoxide was used to kill patients from mental asylums in Wielkopolska. On this day Heinrich Himmler observed the operation of the gas chamber assembled in fort VII. This was the first gas chamber in the Third Reich.

13th December
During his visit to Łódź, Heinrich Himmler declared before his colleagues:  “I will not allow the Mongolian type to spread over the newly settled East. I want to create a fair-haired province here.”

17th December
By this day, only 6 weeks after beginning of the operation, German authorities had evicted 87,789 people from the Poznań district to General Government.

19th December
Heydrich appointed Adolf Eichmann “special referee” for “cleansing of eastern provinces”.

21st December
Arthur Greiser ordered all monument and religious figures to be removed from public places.

22nd December
The first transport of Germans from Volhynia arrived in Pabianice.

23rd December
The first train with Germans from Volhynia arrived in ‎Łódź.