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Execution of Polish POWs

Execution of Polish POWs

Execution of Polish POW’s near Ciepielow in September 1939. Here some of the 300 Polish prisoners-of-war who were executed by firing squad are visible. In the background is a WehrmachtWehrmacht: the armed forces of Germany during the period from 1935 to 1945; the former name of the armed forces had been Reichswehr.

The victories of 1939 against Poland and 1940 against France were spectacular successes. In June 1941 Hitler opened up a 2 front war by invading the Soviet Union. Nazi atrocities in the wake of this invasion were largely tolerated without protest by the Wehrmacht officers.

Within the Wehrmacht opposition to what was seen as Hitler’s destructive leadership culminated in the abortive July 20, 1944 attempt on Hitler’s life. The participants in this plot were executed or forced to commit suicide, most notably Erwin Rommel.

In the beginning of World War II the Wehrmacht numbered 2,700,000 men by 1943 it totaled 13,555,000 men. Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.
soldier who participated in the killing.

Photo Credit: Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes in Poland, courtesy USHMM