Holocaust-Era Assets

RG 84: Poland

State Department and Foreign Affairs Records

Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State (RG 84)


The German Army, without a declaration of war and on the pretense that Poland was infringing on German territory, invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.  Within the week the Polish Army was virtually defeated.  On September 17, Russia, having signed a nonaggression pact with Germany on August 23, 1939, invaded Poland from the east.  Two days later the German and Russian forces met near Brest Litovsk.  On September 27 Warsaw surrendered and the next day Germany and Russia divided Poland.  By the end of the month a Polish government-in-exile was established in Paris and it eventually transferred to London.

Danzig was annexed and incorporated into the Greater Reich as well as 32,000 square miles of territory between East Prussia and Silesia.  Western Poland was divided into districts: Danzig- West Prussia under Gauleiter Albert Forster and Warth under Gauleiter Arthur Greiser.  The rest of German-occupied Poland was designated as Generalgouvernment of Poland and placed under German civil administration headed by Governor General Hans Frank, headquartered in Cracow.

The Nazi occupiers set about subjugating the Poles.  First they exterminated many political, intellectual, and religious leaders, and sent many to Germany as slave laborers.  To create new living space for Germans, many Poles were resettled (being pushed into Generalgouvernment from the incorporated areas) and German families moved into the emptied lands, and took control of Polish business establishments.  Thousands of other Poles, including Jews, were sent to concentration camps and some 50,000 Polish children were sent to Germany to be adopted by German families.

After the German invasion of Russia in June 1941, the Russian-occupied portion of Poland was brought into German control.  This meant that the Germans had acquired over 150,000 square miles, over 35 million people, and access to great wealth. The German occupiers brutally exploited Poland's economic resources, confiscating a significant amount of Poland's wealth. By the spring of 1942, it was estimated that 230,000 Polish firms, industrial and commercial, and 187,000 urban properties (urban real estate) had been expropriated in the incorporated area of Poland.  In addition, some 2 million Poles were sent to Germany as slave laborers.

During the early stages of occupation, some 3 million Polish Jews were forced into approximately 400 newly established ghettos.  Large number of Jews were also deported from other countries, including Germany, to ghettos in Poland and German-occupied territories further west.  Many of these ghettos provided a forced labor pool for the Germany.  In 1942, the Germans began a policy of eliminating most of the Ghettos and sending the Jews to extermination camps.

This process began in December 1941, when Jews in the Wartheland began being deported to Chelmno for extermination.  This was followed in March 1942, when Jews of Lublin began being deported to Belzec.  From July to September 1942, over 300,000 Jews were deported from Warsaw to Treblinka.  Extermination centers were also established at Sobibor, Majdanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau.  By war's end approximately 3 million Polish Jews, some 90 percent of the pre-Final Solution population were exterminated during the war.

Russian forces entered eastern Poland in July 1944 and a provisional Polish Government was established.  German forces were finally expelled from Poland early in 1945. (Note 87)

Records of the American Mission to the Polish Government in Exile

     General Records 1940-1944 (Entry 3110)

          Boxes 1-25
          Box # File #   File Title or Subject
          6    840.1     Jews in Poland-Future Policy Toward 
          Box # File #   File Title or Subject
          12   711  Jewish Problem (Violence in Occupied Countries)
               711  Persecution of Jews
               711  Persecution of the Jews in Nazi Slovakia
               711  Jewish Atrocities
               711  Jewish Problems
               711.2     Blocked Nationals  
          Box # File #   File Title or Subject
          16   711  Atrocities
               711  War Criminals
               711  Jewish Atrocities
               711  World Jewish Congress  
          19   840.1     Bermuda Conference  
          20   848  UNRRA  
          Box # File #   File Title or Subject
          23   711  War Crimes
               711  Atrocities
               711  World Jewish Congress
               711  Jewish Persecution
               711  Atrocities (Jewish Situation)
               711  Jewish Situation  
          24   840.1     War Refugee Board  
          25   848  UNRRA  

     Classified General Records 1942, 1945 (Entry 3112)

          Boxes 1-7
          Box # File #   File Title or Subject
          4    711.6     War Crimes Trials
               711.6     Displaced Persons
               711.9     List of Looted Property
               711.9     Recovery of Polish Property
               711.9     Property Looted by Germans
               711.9     Safehaven-Works of Art   location: 350/67/5/05

Records of the Warsaw Embassy

     General Records 1945-1949, 1951, 1954 (Entry 3114A)

          Boxes 7-106
          Box # File #   File Title or Subject
          11   711  Displaced Persons
               711.5     Polish Jewish Affairs
               711.6     Concentration Camps
               711.6     Mass Graves
               711.6     War Crimes Trials
               711.6     Hans Frank
               711.9     Restitution of Polish Property
               711.9     Restitution of Looted Property
               711.9     Claims on Cultural Materials Looted by Germans
               711.9     Restitution of Polish Property from Austria
               711.9     Polish Art Objects in Germany
               711.9     Polish Works of Art-Restitution
               711.9     Return of Altar Piece to Cracow
               711.9     Restitution of Veit Stoss Altarpiece  
          Box # File #   File Title or Subject
          20   711.3     Oatax-Subsidiary of Tokalon Companies-Proclaimed List
               711.5     Displaced Persons
               711.6     Katyn Forest Incident
               711.6     Execution of Greisers
               711.6     Trial of German SS Personnel  
          21   711.9     Restitution of Looted Polish Property
               711.9     Restitution Claims
               711.9     Restoration of Looted Art
          27   848  UNRRA 
          Box # File #   File Title or Subject
          37-38     711.6     Displaced Persons and Refugees  
          38   711.6     War Crimes in Poland
               711.9     Property of Count Alfred Potocki [art works]
               711.9     Return of Looted Art Objects
               711.9     Control of Looted Cultural Objects
               711.9     Tripartite Agreement concerning Looted Cultural Property
          Box # File #   File Title or Subject
          62   711.6     Displaced Persons and Refugees
               711.6     Polish Displaced Persons Criminals
               711.6     German War Crimes and Criminals  
          63   711.9     Restitution
               800  Jewish Situation