print version Part I

Lukas, Richard C. Did the Children Cry? Hitler's War against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939-1945. Hippocrene Books, New York, 2001.

Chapter IV. Germanization

Part II

The Nazis tried to conceal what they did by emphasizing secrecy and even taking circuitous routes to Germanization centers to cover their tracks. They repeatedly used euphemisms to try to give respectability to their activity. "Polish children" became "Polonized German children" or "Children of German descent" or even "German orphans." To allay suspicions of parents or guardians, the Germans told them that the children would be sent to schools or rest homes.46

The core of the Germanization process was to destroy the Polish identity of the boys and girls. Barbara Mikolajczyk was an adolescent when the Germans took her and her sisters to Bruczkow, where the Nazis forced them to learn German. "The Germans always said that we must forget about speaking in Polish and about Poland," Mikolajczyk said. They beat her and the other children when they spoke Polish. Mikolajczyk now became Baber Mickler. Placed in a German home, she had to address a German woman as "Mama." Like other Polish children doled out to German households, Mikolajczyk received a fraudulent birth certificate and genealogy which the Germans inventively composed for her.47

When a child received a German name, often a number of the initial letters of the Polish name were preserved – Sosnowska became Sosemann, Witaszek Wittke, Kawczynski Kancmann. Apparently, the intention was to allow the two names to blend in the memory of the child so that the original name would be forgotten. Often the children got names which corresponded phonetically to their Polish names – Piatek became Pionteck, Jesionek Jeschoruiek. Finally, some new names were German translations of the Polish – Ogrodowczyk was Gartner, Mlynarczyk Muller.48

The Nazis examined Jan Sulisz, a Polish orphan, at Bruczkow and placed him in a school attended by German children. Forced to join the Nazi youth group Hitlerjugend, he, too, was cut off from his Polish roots. Interestingly, Sulisz, whose new name was Suhling, met Barbara Mikolajczyk and her sisters at a Germanization center in Salsburg. The SS gave Suhling to a German business establishment from which he escaped. Un-fortunately, he was caught and beaten. He survived the war to be reunited with relatives in Lodz. A similar thing happened to Willi Nililek, who was sent to work in a German factory. When he and his friends were caught speaking Polish, Nililek said, "They stuck us in the arms and back with needles. I was sick. The other two boys went crazy and were given 'death pills.’"49

Despite the severe penalties involved, many Polish children continued to speak Polish. Jerzy Stickel, sent to a German institution in Ujazdow where he was treated as a German youth, was one of them. After the war, when Stickel learned he was Polish, German children got so angry with him they beat him up.50 In one institution, older Polish children used to wake up younger ones at night to use the Polish language and especially to recite their prayers so they wouldn't forget their heritage.51 "I could not reconcile myself to denying my nationality, so I went on talking Polish," said Sigismund Krajeski, who was 10-years-old when the Germans sent him to Gmunden, Austria. "For this I was often tied to a post and beaten, but as I was strong and refused to give in, I managed to stand it." When German families came to the institution to select a child for themselves, Krajeski deliberately spoke Polish. "Of course the resulting punishment was dreadful, but I preferred it to disgracing myself and going to a Hitler family. They had no success with me." Indeed, they didn't. Krajeski ran away and managed to return to his home in Poznan.52

There were several escapes from the Nazi Germanization center at Kalisz, where the Germans appropriated a monastery from Polish monks to set up their racist school. According to Stanislaw Kulczinski, known as "Papa Stanislaw," a handyman there, the Germans brought thousands of children to Kalisz. Those who refused Germanization were beaten and deprived of food. Zygmunt Swiatlowski, stubbornly refusing denationalization, was killed by the woman supervisor of the institution. "The children were always sad," Papa Stanislaw said. "They lived in fear and were homesick, and the German supervisors felt nothing but hatred for them because they were nothing but little 'Polacks' and did not belong to them."

One day he befriended a little girl, Christina, and gave her some candy and homemade toys which she later shared with her friends. Shortly thereafter, Papa Stanislaw met a woman who had traced her daughter to Kalisz. He agreed to help Christina escape from the institution but the problem was how to arrange it. "At last we found a way on the day when the Germans wanted to have a load of waste paper dumped at the public refuse pit outside," he said. He hid Christina under the paper; her mother anxiously waited near the pit to take her daughter home. Christina was the first Polish child to escape successfully from Kalisz. Others would follow, many with the help of Papa Stanislaw.53

Unfortunately, most children could not escape from Kalisz. Ryszard Tloczynski was one of several youngsters from Rogoz who, after satisfying the Nazi examiners that he was a promising candidate for Germanization, went to Kalisz and spent several months there. After that, the Germans placed him in an SS kindergarten at Oberweiss where German families selected the children they wanted to adopt. Spared adoption because he worked in the school kitchen most of the time, Tloczynski was liberated by American troops and looked after by Polish-American soldiers at the end of the war.54

Bronislawa Ewertowska's daughter, Eufenia, 7-years-old when the Germans kidnapped her, was not as fortunate as Tloczynski. Like hundreds of other Polish children, Eufenia was indoctrinated at Kalisz, and then sent to Austria where she ended up in a German household. She never returned to Poland.55 A similar fate occurred to Agnieszka Klimczak's 4-year-old daughter, Teresa. Klimczak possessed Category III status on the Volksliste but preferred to raise Teresa and her son as Poles. For that, the Nazis took the children away. One day Klimczak spotted her daughter and took her back, but the Nazis seized her again. The Germans imprisoned Klimczak for one year. Meanwhile, all traces of her children disappeared.56

Some Polish children were so completely Germanized that after the war, they chose to remain in Germany. Jan Chrzanowski, first examined when he was less than 1-year-old, was an ideal candidate because of his youth and, according to his German examiner, was a "harmonious blend of Nordic and East Baltic types." Chrzanowski's German foster mother wanted his name changed immediately. "She objects to having to register him everywhere under his Polish name," the German medical examiner reported. So completely Germanized, Chrzanowski refused to return to his mother in Poland because the only mother he really ever knew was his German parent.57

There were stubborn Poles who managed to hide their children from Nazi kidnappers. After Irena Nowak learned that it was likely the Nazis would take 6-year-old Konrad and his younger brother, Waclaw, she hid one of the boys and sent the other to relatives in Poznan.58 Janina Kowalska did the same thing. Her son Franciszek had been spotted by the Brown Sisters who commented how German he looked. When Franciszek told his mother, she hastily left her village and lived with cousins until the end of the war. Zenona Strozyk, an elementary school girl, remembered how Germans would often stop her and comment upon her fair complexion and blue eyes. She never gave any of them a chance to talk very long; she would stick her tongue out at them and run away.59

Some adolescents, not adopted by German families, ended up at camps in Grodkow and Cieszyn which housed boys 8 to 19. Intense Germanization of these youngsters was a prelude to their conscription, usually after turning 17, into the Wehrmacht. Discipline was extremely severe. Fifteen-year-old Henryk Kramarczyk recalled being locked up in solitary confinement and beaten to the point of losing consciousness by his Nazi "educators." Younger boys became Hitlerjugend. Thus the Nazis prepared to train Germanized Poles as an army of 20th century Janissaries to fight for them.60

Polish boys, who were neither adopted nor placed in the Hitlerjugend nor the Wehrmacht, were sent to work in German factories. Young Polish girls ended up in the Bund Deutscher Madel; some may even have become candidates for breeding children in SS maternity homes.61

The Nazis even agonized over how much Jewish blood in a family's line was sufficient to contaminate German blood. As late as May, 1943, when Nazi military fortunes had worsened following the debacle at the Battle of Stalingrad, Himmler wrote to the Nazi Party secretary Martin Bormann, supporting racial examinations "not only in quarter-Jews but also in per-sons with even less Jewish blood. We must follow a similar procedure to that which is used in breeding plants and animals, but this must remain between us." He believed that children of such mixed marriages had to be racially examined and if the results indicated racial inferiority, the youngsters should be sterilized.62 Himmler, who followed specific so-called "racial cases," often gave detailed instructions concerning the disposition of the Polish families and children involved. In one case, Brunhilde Muszynska's children, 4-and 7-years-old, were considered possible candidates for Germanization but when Himmler discovered Muszynska had Jewish blood, he ordered her arrest and the sterilization of her children.63

There seems to be general agreement that 200,000 Polish children were deported for Germanization purposes. Not all were Germanized. But only 15-20 percent of the children kidnapped by the Germans were recovered at war's end.64 Some parents and relatives are still looking for their children.


1. Trials of War Criminals before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Nuernberg, October 1946-April 1949 (15 vols.; Washington , D.C. : Government Printing Office, 1949-53), V, 91. Hereinafter cited as TWC.

2. Kamenetsky, Secret Nazi Plans, pp. 51-52; Report, Office of Strategic Services, May 31, 1943, in RG 226, OSS/NA; TWC, V, 92-93. 3. Kamenetsky, Secret Nazi Plans, p. 55.

4. Polish Research Center, German Failures in Poland ( London: 1942), pp. 13-15, 28.

5. Ibid., p. 18.

6. Central Commission, German Crimes in Poland, I, 33; Madajczyk, Polityka III Rzeszy, I, pp. 125ff.

7. TWC, 864-65.

8. Ibid.; U.S. Counsel, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, II, 641; Czeslaw Madajczyk, "Generalplan Ost," Polish Western Affairs, III, (1962), 397, 399.

9. Hrabar, Fate of Polish Children, p. 51.

10. Duraczynski, Wojna i Okupacja, pp. 393-96.

11. Memo, undated, in WR/22/18, PAG-4/2.0.62: Box 15 , LJN-RRA/UNA; Hrabar, Fate of Polish Children, p. 60.

12. Gumkowski and Leszczynski , Poland Under Nazi Occupation, p. 154; Central Commission, German Crimes in Poland, II, 81.

13. Pilichowski, Zbrodnie Hitlerowskie, p.17.

14. Aide Memoire, Appendix, August 5, 1943, in FO 371/34550, PRO.

15. Ibid.; Meldunek, Rowecki do Centrali, March 12, 1943, and De-pesza, Delegat Rzadu i D-ca AK do N.W. i Min. Mikolajczyka, April 3, 1943, in AKwD, II, 479, 488; Depesza Prokurator do Komendy Powiatowej Milicji Obywatelskiej, August 21, 1946, in Kolekcja Z, 187/I-178, AGKBZHP; Macardle, Children of Europe, pp. 75-76.

16. Raport, CKOS, Alexsandra Swiecka in Kolekcja Z,187/I-132V, AGKBZHP.

17. Jan Dobraczynski, Tylko w Jednym Zyciu: Wspomnienia (Warsaw: Instytut Wydawniczy Pax, 1977), p. 240; Pilichowski, Zbrodnie Hitlerowskie, p.14.

18. Wyciag z Protokolu, Kazimierz Wdzieczny, November 14,1945, in Kolekcja Z,187/I-4, AGKBZHP

19. Kazimierz Smolen, "Dzieci i Mlodziez w Obozach Koncentracyjnych," in Pilichowski, Dzieci i Mlodziez, pp. 129-30; International – Auschwitz Committee Nazi Medicine, pp. 104-105.

20. Gumkowski and Leszczynski, Poland Under Nazi Occupation, p. 157.

21. Wnuk, Dzieci Polskie Oskarzaja, p. 110; Smolen, "Dzieci i Mlodziez w Obozach Koncentracyjnych," p. 130; International Auschwitz Committee, Nazi Medicine, III, 221. According to Polish physicians, 35,000 people died as a result of phenol injections at Auschwitz. Ibid. 67.

22. Central Commission, German Crimes in Poland, II, 70-73.

23. Depesza, Kierownictwo Walki Cywilnej do Mikolajczyka, Decem-ber 23, 1942, in AKwD, II, 394.

24. Aide Memoire, Appendix, August 5,1943.

25. U. S. Counsel, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, IV, 916; Meldunek Zbiorowy, Rowecki do Centrali, January 21, 1943, in AKwD, II, 405.

26. There is an extensive correspondence on this subject between underground officials in Poland and Polish government leaders in London. See PRM 76/1, PRM 105/4, and PRM/K 102/54A J, in PI/GSHM.

27. Depesza, Rowecki do Centrali, January 29, 1943, in AKwD, II, 407; TWC, IV, 871-72.

28. Komisja Historyczna Polskiego Sztabu Glownego w Londynie, Polskie Sily Zbrojne w Drugiej Wojnie Swiatowej, Vol. III: Armia Kra-jowa (London: Instytut Historyczny im. Gen. Sikorskiego, 1950), 478.

29. Zywia i Bronia, February, 1943.

30. Duraczynski, Wojna i Okupacja, pp. 400-403.

31. Quotations from Returning Europe's Kidnapped Children, (Exhibit 27), History of Child Welfare, in PAG-4/4.2; Box 81, UN-RRA/UNA.

32. Pilichowski, Zbrodnie Hitlerowskie, p. 18.

33. U.S. Counsel, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, IV, 559-60. 34. Ibid., I,103ff; TWC, IV, 715-16.

35. Dokument Nr. 3, Himmler do Greisera, June 18,1941, in Glowna Komisja Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, Zbrodnie Hitlerowskie, p. 146.

36. Anordung Nr. 67/I, February 19, 1942, Z/Ot,1056, 282V, in AGKBZHP

37.TWC, IV, 767.

38. Hrabar, Hitlerowski Rabunek, pp. 50ff, Wnuk, Dzieci Polskie Oskarzaja, pp. 7-8.

39. Clarissa Henry and Marc Hillel, Children of the SS. Translated by Eric Mosbacher (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1975), pp. 155-56. 40. Ibid. pp. 156-57.

41. International Auschwitz Committee, Nazi Medicine, III, 223-24. 42. Hrabar, Fate of Polish Children, p. 112; Wnuk, Dzieci Polskie Oskarzaja, p. 8; Henry and Hillel, Children of the SS, p. 153. Other racial centers included: Buszkowo, Chelm Lubelski, Dzialdowo, Dzier-zazania, Glogow, Gorzyce Wielkie, Kietrz, Korfantow, Lubawa, Lubliniec, Oterow, Polczyn, Potulice, Puszczykowo, Raciborz, Rusinowo, Zamosc, Zwierzyny, Zary.

43. Hrabar, Fate of Polish Children, p. 135. 44. Ibid., pp. 135-36.

45. Sprawozdanie, December 15, 1941, z/Ot-1050/293-4, in AGKBZHP

46. Depesza, Bader do Namiestnika Warthegau w Poznaniu, Z/ot-1056/291-92, in AGKBZHP; Gumkowski and Leszczynski , Poland Under Nazi Occupation, p. 166.

47. Wnuk, Dzieci Polskie Oskarzaja, p. 60.

48. Gumkowski and Leszczynski , Poland Under German Occupation, p. 176; Hrabar, Fate of Polish Children, pp. 135-37.

49. Wnuk, Dzieci Polskie Oskarzaja, pp. 61-62; Quotations from Returning Europe's Kidnapped Children.

50. Wnuk, Dzieci Polskie Oskarzaja, p. 31.

51. S. Sawicka, "Zbrodnaia Niemiecka nad Dzieckim Polskim," Przeglad Zachodni, No. 9 (1947), 736.

52. Henry and Hillel, Children of the SS, pp. 159-60. 53. Ibid. pp. 161-63.

54. Protokol Przesluchania Swiadka, Ryszard Tloczynski, May 18, 1946, NTN 27/123-123v, in AGKBZHP.

55. Protokol Przesluchania Swiadka, Bronislawa Ewertowska, May 18,1946, NTN, 27, in AGKBZHP.

56. Wnuk, Dzieci Polskie Oskarzaja, p. 46.

57. Henry and Hillel, Children of the SS, p. 170.

58. Protokol Przesluchania Swiadka, Irena Nowak, May 16, 1946, NTN, 27/120-120v, in AGKBZHP.

59. Interview with Pelagia Lukaszewska, September 22,1992; Zenona Strozyk, "W Krakowie i Gdzie Indziej," in Turski, Byli Wowczas Dziecmi, p. 232.

60. Pilichowski, Zbrodnie Hitlerowskie, pp. 20-21; Hrabar, Fate of Polish Children, pp. 92-93.

61. Konnilyn Feig, "Non-Jewish Victims in the Concentration Camps," in Michael Berenbaum (ed.), A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis (New York: New York University Press, 1990), p. 166.

62. Benno Muller-Hill, Murderous Science: Elimination by Scientific Selection of Jews, Gypsies and Others (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 53n.

63. Wnuk, Dzieci Polskie Oskarzaja, p. 14.

64. Glowna Komisja Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, Zbrodnie Hitlerowskie, p. xxiv.