Polish Air Force, 1939 through German eyes

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Poland began to mobilize the military reserves and prepared for war. The Polish radio constantly repeated code names for military units to present themselves at their designated places. Soldiers began to appear on the streets heading to their military bases. The process was slow, cumbersome and never completed.

Here is White's eye account of the beginning of the war in Krosno. Hours before Hitler officially declared war on Poland, German Stukas dive-bombers raided and bombed our military airport in Krosno. I was awakened by the sirens and bombing. It was around 4 AM. As an appointed warden for the street and trained to use a gas mask at school, I ran outside to urge people to get down into the cellars that had been designated as make-shift bomb shelters.

Instead, we were just standing in the street watching the end of the precision bombing of our airport. Little damage was sustained by the neighboring homes. At the same time in the proximity of Krosno, the oil refinery in Jedlicze and the electricity plant in Mecinka were bombed. The Stukas returned later in the day but didn't bomb the Airbase again. In the days following, chaos reigned. While Hitler's highly mechanized armies were rapidly overrunning Poland, the Polish army unprepared for war was still being mobilized.

Polish Jews were among the enlisted men and officers. The German armies raced across Poland as though they were on maneuvers. The Polish government soon left Warsaw and headed southeast near the Polish- Rumanian border. The Polish government urged all military units to head East and form a battle line along the Vistula or Wisla river.

World War 2: Poles increase resistance on two fronts

The Polish roads became clogged with military units and civilians heading East. The stukas dive bombers had a field day machine-gunning these long human columns of civilians and soldiers.

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Meanwhile the German armies continued their rapid advance through Poland. Krosno was occupied on September 8, by German troops under the command of general Wilhelm List that came from occupied Czechoslovakia. Many Jews of Krosno had left the city prior to the German arrival and were now stranded along the roads leading from Krosno to the Soviet border.

Polish Air Force 1939 Through German Eyes Vol. 1

But the city received many Jews who were heading East but were cut off by the German army and could not continue their trip. Finally, Russian forces entered Poland and occupied Eastern Poland in accordance with the secret agreement signed between Russia and Germany. The Polish government crossed the Rumanian border and headed to the West. Hitler appointed Hans Frank governor general of Poland with his seat in Krakow.

The German panzer columns swept across Poland. The poorly equipped Polish army was no match for the Germans. The market square of Krosano became a huge parking lot for German tanks, armored vehicles and trucks.

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Military kitchens were set up to provide the soldiers with hot food. Telephone wires were stretched across balconies and poles that lead to the military headquarters. The Jews immediately felt the iron hand of the occupiers. Jews were rounded up for work details to clean the streets and debris of the bombing. Jewish store owners were forced to open the stores.

German soldiers bought everything in sight, paid in zlotys, marks or worthless paper coupons. The purchases were immediately packaged and sent back home to Germany via military post. Jakob Leibner was forced to open his clothing store and sell or give away the merchandise to German soldiers.


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Most of the merchandise was removed from the store prior to the German arrival and buried in his father-in law's, Chaim Lang's cellar. He closed the store when there was nothing left on the shelves and headed home. He was lucky for in some stores the soldiers worked over the owners. Some SS officers also came to my maternal grand father, Chaim Lang's store.

They entered the store with their long black leather coats, their spit polished boots, their suspended daggers, indeed messengers of Satan. They inquired about the lack of merchandise in the store. The Germans asked him where he studied German and he told them whereupon they asked him with what regiment he served. He named the regiment and the commanding officers in a typical Austrian Imperial military manner that impressed the visitors.

The SS men were Austrian and warned my grand father to disappear. They left the store and we all began breathing again. The SS men went next door and practically destroyed the store and beat the Jewish owner. We had luck that they met an ex-camarade in arms, although Jewish, still an old soldier and decided not to make an issue. Indeed, the entire stock of merchandise of Chaim Lang's store and that of Jakob Leibner were buried in the cellar. The family also buried the silver candelabra and other expensive items. The place was sealed and invisible to the naked eye. The German army ruled the city for a while then the German civil administration took over.

Michael Zuzik was appointed administrator of Krosno, he was later replaced by Dr. He was born January 17, in the village of Neindorf. He finished public school. His assistant was Oberstumrfuhrer Ludvik Von Davier. He was a descendant of German colonists in Poland and resided in Katowice where he was a butcher. The city itself was in the district of Jaslo whose Gestapo chief was Hauptsturmfuhrer Wilhelm Raschwitz.

He was chief of the Gestapo office in Jaslo from to He was killed later in battles with the partisans. The Gestapo harassed Jews notably religious Jews. Then the order was given that all Jews must leave Krosno. The city was near the new border between Germany and Russia, The Germans wanted to push the Jews of Krosno to the Russian side of the border To the Jews it was a terrible blow to leave everything behind and begin to wander not knowing what the tomorrow will bring.

Some Jews prepared to leave Krosno, others decided to hide in the country side or in nearby villages until things calmed down. Age-old strategy used by Jews throughout their history, hide when in doubt until things calm a bit and things settle down. Soon Jews began to return to Krosno from their nearby hiding places or cellars.

All Jewish organizations, associations and group activities were disbanded. Jews decided not to attend the synagogue for fear of being grabbed by the Germans.

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They prayed at home or in small groups in private homes. Many religious Jews abandoned their traditional caftans for jackets and tried to avoid the streets. Most of the Jewish stores or workshops were handed over to German agents. All rights reserved. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.

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