|The Blue Police|
|Polnische Polizei im Generalgouvernement |
|Active||30 October 1939 – 27 August 1944|
|Country||General Government territory of Nazi Germany|
|Major Hans Köchlner (until 1942)|
|Aleksander Reszczyński (AK)|
The Blue Police (Polish: Granatowa policja, lit. Navy-blue police), was the police during the Second World War in German-occupied Poland (the General Government). The entity's official German name was Polnische Polizei im Generalgouvernement (Polish Police of the General Government; Polish: Policja Polska Generalnego Gubernatorstwa).
The Blue Police officially came into being on 30 October 1939 when Germany drafted Poland's prewar state police officers (Policja Państwowa), organizing local units with German leadership. It was an auxiliary institution tasked with protecting public safety and order in the General Government. The Blue Police, initially employed purely to deal with ordinary criminality, was later also used to counter smuggling, which was an essential element of German-occupied Poland's underground economy.
The organization was officially dissolved and declared disbanded by the Polish Committee of National Liberation on 27 August 1944. After a review process, a number of its former members joined the new national policing structure, the Milicja Obywatelska (Citizens' Militia). Others were prosecuted after 1949 under Stalinism.
In October 1939, General Governor Hans Frank ordered the mobilization of the pre-war Polish police into the service of the German authorities. The policemen were to report for duty or face the death penalty. Formally, the Polnische Polizei (PP) was subordinate to the German Order Police (Uniformed Police, Orpo). The same prewar facilities were used across occupied Poland with exactly the same organizational structure, under Major Hans Köchlner (he was trained in Poland in 1937). They wore the same uniforms, but without national insignia. In spring 1940, the Ukrainian Police was split off from the Polish Police. The department existed already before 1939. The German chief of the Order Police (KdO, as well as its entire leadership) assumed a dual role, in charge of both. After the attack on the USSR known as Operation Barbarossa, all newly acquired territories in the District of Galicia were put under the Ukrainian control with headquarters in Chełm Lubelski. Notably, the District of Galicia created on August 1, 1941 (Document No. 1997-PS of July 17, 1941, by Adolf Hitler) – although considered by some to be part of occupied Ukraine – was a separate administrative unit from the actual Reichskommissariat Ukraine created on September 1 of the same year. They were not connected with each other politically.
According to historian Andrzej Paczkowski (Spring Will Be Ours), the police force consisted of approximately 11,000–12,000 officers, but the actual number of its cadre was much lower initially. Emmanuel Ringelblum put the number as high as 14,300 by the end of 1942 including Warsaw, Lublin, Kielce and Eastern Galicia. The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust reports its manpower as 8,700 in February 1940 and states that it reached its peak in 1943 with 16,000 members. The statistics are explained by historian Marek Getter. The initial expansion of the force was the result of expulsion to Generalgouvernement of all Polish professional policemen, from the territories annexed by the Third Reich (Reichsgau Wartheland, Westpreußen, etc.). Another reason was a salary (250–350 zł) impossible to obtain elsewhere, augmented by bonuses (up to 500 zł each). Also, the Germans had intentionally eroded moral standards of the force by giving policemen the right to keep for themselves 10% of all confiscated goods. The Blue Police consisted primarily of Poles and Polish speaking Ukrainians from the eastern parts of the General Government. However, from August 1, 1941 (date of incorporation) the district of Eastern Galicia – as mentioned by Ringelblum – was no longer controlled by the ethnically Polish division of PP. Instead, the Ukrainian division was put in charge across some 600 precincts, expanded from 242 officers initially, to 2,000 by 1942, and to 4,000 officers by 1943.
The Blue Police had little autonomy, and all of its high-ranking officers came from the ranks of the German police (Kriminalpolizei). It served in the capacity of an auxiliary force, along with the police forces guarding seats of administration (Schutzpolizei), Railway Police (Bahnschutz), Forest Police (Forstschutz) and Border Police (Grenzschutz). The Blue Police was subordinate to the German Order Police with Polish prewar regulations. New volunteers (Anwärter) were trained at a police school in Nowy Sącz, with 3,000 graduates (receiving salary of 180 zł each), under the Schutzpolizei Major Vincenz Edler von Strohe (real name Wincenty Słoma, a Reichdeutscher formerly in the Austrian police).[p. 7] There were additional though separate courses for Polish and Ukrainian enlisted ranks.
From the German perspective, the primary role of the Blue Police was to maintain law and order on the territories of occupied Poland, as to free the German Order Police for other duties. As Heinrich Himmler stated in his order from 5 May 1940: "providing general police service in the General Government is the role of the Polish police. German police will intervene only if it is required by the German interests and will monitor the Polish police."
As the force was primarily a continuation of the prewar Polish police force, it also relied largely on prewar Polish criminal laws, a situation that was accepted as a provisional necessity by the Germans. While the Polish Underground State had its own police force and judiciary (see National Security Corps and Directorate of Civil Resistance), it was unable to provide basic police services for the entire population of the former Second Polish Republic in the conditions of German occupation.
The role of the Blue Police in its collaboration and resistance towards the Germans is difficult to assess as a whole and is often a matter of dispute.[needs update] Historian Adam Hempel estimated based on data from resistance that circa 10% members of Blue Police and Criminal Police can be classified as collaborators.
Scholars disagree about the degree of involvement of the Blue Police in the rounding up of Jews. Although policing inside the Warsaw Ghetto was a responsibility of the Jewish Ghetto Police, a Polish-Jewish historian Emmanuel Ringelblum, chronicler of the Warsaw Ghetto, mentioned Polish policemen carrying out extortions and beatings. The police also took part in street roundups. On June 3, 1942, during a prison execution of 110 Jews in Warsaw, members of the Blue Police stood and wept, while the Germans themselves executed the victims after the Poles refused to obey the orders of their overseers to carry out the shooting. According to Szymon Datner, "The Polish police were employed in a very marginal way, in what I would call keeping order. I must state with all decisiveness that more than 90% of that terrifying, murderous work was carried out by the Germans, with no Polish participation whatsoever." According to Raul Hilberg, "Of all the native police forces in occupied Eastern Europe, those of Poland were least involved in anti-Jewish actions.... They [the Polish Blue Police] could not join the Germans in major operations against Jews or Polish resistors, lest they be considered traitors by virtually every Polish onlooker. Their task in the destruction of the Jews was therefore limited."
Jan Grabowski states that Blue Police played an important role in the Holocaust in Poland, often operating independently of German orders and killing Jews for financial gain. He states, "For a Jew, falling into the hands of the Polish police meant, in practically all known cases, certain death... The historical evidence—hard, irrefutable evidence coming from the Polish, German, and Israeli archives—points to a pattern of murderous involvement throughout occupied Poland."
According to Emanuel Ringelblum, who compared the role of the Polish police to the Jewish police, "The uniformed police has had a deplorable role in the “resettlement actions”. The blood of hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews, caught and driven to the “death vans” will be on their heads. The Germans’ tactics were usually as follows: in the first “resettlement action” they utilized the Jewish Order Service, which behaved no better from the ethical point of view than their Polish opposite numbers. In the subsequent “actions,” when the Jewish Order Service was liquidated as well, the Polish Police force was utilized."
A substantial part of the police belonged to the Polish underground resistance Home Army, mostly its counterintelligence and National Security Corps. Some estimates are as high of 50%. Some policemen refused German orders, "shouting in the streets and breaking[?] doors to give people time to escape or hide". Officers who disobeyed German orders did so at the risk of death. A few Blue Police members who acted against orders were eventually recognized as Righteous among the Nations.[better source needed]
Additionally, forcible draft among members of the Polish police was conducted to create the Polnisches Schutzmannschaftsbataillon 202 sent to the East, with 360 men most of whom deserted to the 27th Home Army Infantry Division in defence of ethnic Polish population against the UPA massacres.
Warsaw was the biggest city in the Generalgouvernement, so the position of commander of the Warsaw police was the most important post available to an ethnic Pole in German-occupied Poland. Its first chief, Marian Kozielewski(Jan Karski's brother), was imprisoned by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. Its next chief, Aleksander Reszczyński , was murdered in 1943 by the communist Gwardia Ludowa; 1977 research in the Polish Government-in-Exile archives revealed that Reszczyński was a member of the underground who gave the Polish Home Army invaluable intelligence. After the Revolutions of 1989 many Blue Police officers were rehabilitated, and earlier communist-propagated stereotypes were revised.
The ranks of the Blue Police was as following:
|Cap insignia||Shoulder insignia||Rank||German equivalent|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Granatowa policja.|
Reprint, with extensive statistical data, at Policja Państwowa webpage. Niemieckie władze policyjne nie dowierzały Policji Polskiej. Niezależnie od oficjalnych upomnień, nakazów i gróźb (por. aresztowania w maju 1940 roku) oraz rozciągnięcia nad Policją Polską sądownictwa SS i policji od wiosny 1943 rozpoczęło się poufne sprawdzanie jej przydatności (Überprüfung der nichtdeutschen Polizei), jak też opiniowanie jej poszczególnych funkcjonariuszy.
Grabowski lässt keinen Zweifel daran aufkommen, dass die polnische Polizei sowohl ihre deutschen Kollegen umfassend unterstützte als auch Juden aus eigener Initiative ermordete und die deutsche Besatzung dazu nutzte, sich zu bereichern und ihr Land sowohl von den Juden als auch von Sinti und Roma zu "befreien".
Najważniejsze wnioski prof. Grabowskiego Pierwszy: „granatowa” policja odegrała kluczową rolę w Zagładzie. „Z rosnącym zdumieniem odkrywałem coraz to nowe wypadki rabunków, gwałtów, tortur i mordów, których dopuszczali się polscy policjanci na ukrywających się Żydach. Skala tego »współsprawstwa« była niesłychana – swoją wydajnością mordercy w granatowych mundurach potrafili dorównać kolegom, niemieckim żandarmom (…)”. Drugi: polscy policjanci często mordowali Żydów, w tym swoich przedwojennych sąsiadów, w tajemnicy przed Niemcami. Po wojnie często tłumaczyli, że robili to w odruchu solidarności z lokalnymi Polakami – na których mogły spaść niemieckie represje za ukrywanie Żydów. Grabowski: „Niemcy, bezpośredni przełożeni granatowych policjantów, najczęściej nie mieli najmniejszego pojęcia o mordach dokonywanych przez polskich podwładnych”. W praktyce chodziło często o łupy.Citing the book: Grabowski, Jan (2020). Na posterunku: udział polskiej policji granatowej i kryminalnej w zagładzie Żydów (in Polish). Wydawnictwo Czarne. ISBN 978-83-8049-986-7.
Reprint: Zbrodnia w Malinie (cz.1) Głos Kresowian, nr 20.