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Polish hostages arrested during the "pacification" of Bydgoszcz

Polish hostages in the Old Market Square. Bydgoszcz, Poland, September 9–10, 1939.

Just after the German invasion of Poland, armed groups of ethnic Germans in the city of Bydgoszcz staged an uprising against the local Polish garrison. This was put down by the next day, one day prior to the entrance of German troops in the city on September 5. A local command structure was quickly put into place by Major General Walter Braemer, and in response to continued attacks upon German personnel in the city, severely repressive measures were instituted in the following days. Assisted by Military Field Police Section 581, Einsatzgruppe IV under the command of SS-Brigadefuehrer Lothar Beutel, and the 6th Motorized Police Battalion, Braemer's troops assembled hundreds of hostages and executed hundreds more at various locations in and around the city, including the Bydgoszcz market square. As a result of these actions, at least 500 Polish civilians, many of whom were members of the local intelligentsia and clergy, were shot and over 1,000 more incarcerated between September 6 and 11. On September 11, Braemer moved his headquarters out of Bydgoszcz, placing Police Colonel Goesch, SS-Brigadefuehrer Max Henze, and Lothar Beutel in command. These men continued to order the execution of hostages, particularly of members of the intelligentsia and clergy, in accordance with instructions given by Heydrich and Himmler for the "political housecleaning" of Poland.


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  • Instytut Pamieci Narodowej

Polish hostages in the Old Market Square. Bydgoszcz, Poland, September 9-10, 1939. [LCID: 50835]

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