German Occupation in Nowy Sącz During World War II

Aneta Grabowska

Script of a HISTORY lesson

The objectives of the lesson:

correctly uses the terms: Gestapo, operationReinhardt, ghetto, concentration camps, extermination camps, “the final solution of the Jewish question”, the Holocaust;
knows the dates of: the German troops entering Nowy Sącz, April operation, operationReinhardt”;
presents the reality of everyday life in occupied Nowy Sącz;
describes the ways in which the German occupants fought Polishness;
lists the methods of extermination of the Polish society used by the Germans;
characterizes the fascists’ policy toward the Jewish population in Polish lands.

teaching conversation;
film fragments analysis;
working with a map;
working with source text.

1. Organisational activities: roll call, giving students the subject and objectives of the lesson.

2. The teacher reads to the students a fragment of a speech given by Adolf Hitler on 22 August 1939,

Adolf Hitler’s speech given to Wehrmacht officers, outlining the goals to be achieved by German troops in Poland (excerpts):

…Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. […] It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command – and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad – that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my Totenkopf formation in readiness – for the present only in the East – with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians? […] Poland will be depopulated and settled with Germans. My pact with Poland was, after all, intended only to gain time…
It’s a matter of utter indifference to me whether or not the world believes me.
The world believes in success alone.
For you, gentlemen, glory and honor are in the offing, such as have not beckoned for centuries. Be tough! Be without compassion! Act more quickly and more brutally than the others. The citizens of western Europe must shudder in horror. That’s the most humane method of conducting war, for that scares them off… And now: at the enemy! In Warsaw we shall meet again and celebrate!
Source: Lochner, L.P, What About Germany? 1942 Dodd, Mead & Company, pp. 11–12.

3. The teacher approaches the map and reminds the students how the border agreed upon in the Boundary and Friendship Treaty of 28 September 1939 between the USSR and the Third Reich was drawn.

4. The student selected by the teacher presents on the map where the border of the General Government was.
Students should notice where the capital of the GG was located and that their hometown (Nowy Sącz) was part of the GG.
The teacher shortly recapitulates the assumptions of Heinrich Himmler, who believed that the extermination of the Poles is the main duty of the German nation and quotes Hitler’s words from October 1939, after the GG was created: …This territory should be treated as an almshouse for Poles, Jews and other rabble… The only thing we want from there is labor force…
The teacher talks about everyday life in the GG, shutdown of Polish institutions and administration, destruction of Polish monuments.

5. Based on the 3 parts of the “War-time Triptych”: “Part I: Jadwiga”, “Part II: Berta”, “Part III: Helena” students answer the questions:


(students should watch them before the lesson as part of a homework assignment)


1. When did the German troops enter Nowy Sącz? — ……………………………
2. What surprised the Polish people the most in the soldiers’ behavior? — …………………………
3. Present the merits of Jadwiga Wolska for the people of Nowy Sącz. — ……………………………
4. What emotions did Heinrich Hamann invoke in the people of the city? — …………………
5. What was the name of the Jewish girl Stefan Mazur had hidden on the town hall tower? — ……………………………
6. List the two most numerous religious groups that lived in Nowy Sącz before the war. — ……………………………
7. When was the Nowy Sącz ghetto created? Describe its location. — ………………………
8. What was the operationReinhardt”?………………………………………………………………
9. How did the 1st deportation of Jewish people of Nowy Sącz look like? — ……………………………
10. List the restrictions imposed on the Polish population. — ……………………………
11. What was the name of Jagiellońska Street and whose name was given to the Main Square of Nowy Sącz in the occupation period? — ……………………………


Answer.1 When did the German troops enter Nowy Sącz?
— 6.09.1939

The teacher can present the source text to the students (available at the website in the Reading Room section):

…Nowy Sącz, although prepared for defense, was still not fully evacuated and all ways possible were used to move the military units and reservists still remaining in the city out of it. This is how Certified Cpt. Zygmunt Węgorek described what was happening in the city before noon on 5 September:The city and the barracks are full of soldiers, it was a mobilizing point of a whole range of units. The city is an image of a great campground. Besides people, there are thousands of peasant wagons and horses. There is no physical force that could set it all in order. These masses from yesterday’s nightfall started floating eastwards. The Nowy Sącz – Grybów road is completely packed. Solitary policemen still remaining in the city tried to take control of the situation, they had to cope not only with the commotion on the roads, but also with looting of the abandoned shops and of the Tobacco Monopoly warehouse.
Thanks to the operations of their air forces, the Germans knew exactly, that the Polish defense was soon to center on the city of Nowy Sącz, which was not suitably prepared for the fights. This conviction was probably reinforced by the report of one of the pilots, in which he stated that fresh earthwork on fortifications, i.e. trenches and anti-fragmentation dug-outs, was being done near Nowy Sącz. The Germans also obtained information on what to expect in the city, from captured soldiers. In one of the reports prepared by the officers in the command of the 2nd Mountain Division attacking along the valley of the Dunajec River one can read: In Nowy Sącz, there are still various Rez[erve] formations, barracked in schools. It seems that there are no fortifications and no artillery from Nowy Sącz to Jazowsko. Since last week there are no regular units in Nowy Sącz. Nowy Sącz is in great disorder. Reserve soldiers are partially in civilian clothes.
Only after passing Mała Wieś, about 500 meters before the Helena residential area (which is a suburb of Nowy Sącz, but administratively a part of Chełmiec), the Germans were shot at by machine guns – both from the front, as well as from the right and left. In the Helena area there was probably an alarm outpost of the Lt. Mach company, which has taken the previously prepared positions approximately along the railway embankment, suitable for defense.

Answer 2. What surprised the Polish people the most in the soldiers’ behavior?
— How cruel they could be The students give examples from the film that stuck in their memory.

Answer 3. Present the merits of Jadwiga Wolska for the people of Nowy Sącz.
— Bold, self-denying, selfless. “Guardian Angel”, “Mother of Mercy”. She helped those in need, founded a house for orphaned boys. She helped the Jewish people of Nowy Sącz, did social work in the Polish Committee for the Displaced. She was the head of the political prisoners aid section.

Answer 4. What emotions did Heinrich Hamann invoke in the people of the city
— fear, dread,”a two-legged monster”

The teacher can introduce the source text to the students:

Hamann, the chief of the Gestapo, was a natural-born murderer. He systematically abused the Jewish people. I started with robberies. […] Soon there were first victims. […] In order to scare the Judenrat and the auxillary police, so that they would be an even better instrument for him, he ordered several members of Judenrat to be shot at the cemetery. It was in 1941. Among those murdered were: Israel Wenzelberg, Leon Goldberger, Mendel Wasner and others. […] At the beginning of 1942, Hamann ordered the imprisonment of sixty Jews (including Peterfreund, Chaim and Rajza Klagsbald) on charges of housing reearangments. They were taken from prison to the cemetery and shot there. […] In April 1942 Hamann found an accidentally preserved list of members of Max Rozenfeld’s library which was used by the Jewish residents of Nowy Sącz before the war, in the Court’s archive. Hamann ordered for all people from the list to be brought to him. There were around 400 of them. All of them young, the most beautiful of children. “They are all Communists!” – Hamann says. He made a spectacle of them in prison. […] In the morning they were chained, taken to the cemetery and shot. The corpses were thrown into pits, dug in advance by the Jewish auxillary police. […] [After the ghetto was liquidated] the Gestapo officers rounded up a group of hiding Jewish people, about 50, took them to the cemetery and murdered them there. Hela [Goldberger] was shot personally by Hamann[1].


1] Quoted after: Anisfeld R., Zbrodnie Obersturmführera Henricha Hamanna w getcie Nowego Sącza, [in:] Sefer Sanc / The Book on the JewishCommunity of Nowy Sącz, ed. by R. Mahler, Tel Aviv 1970, pp. 854–859.

!!!! Hamann, who during the Bochum trial was proven to be responsbile for 77 murders, was sentenced to life in 1966, but was released due to poor health in 1985. He died in an old people’s home in 1993.

Answer 5. What was the name of the Jewish girl Stefan Mazur had hidden on the town hall tower?
Berta Korennman

Answer 6. List the two most numerous religious groups that lived in Nowy Sącz before the war
– Catholic, Jewish

Answer 7. When was the Nowy Sącz ghetto created? Where was it located
– 12 August 1940
Closed ghetto – between the Market Square and the castle, bounded by the streets: Bożnicza, Pijarska and Piotra Skargi. In June 1941, it was enclosed with a three-meter wall.
Open ghetto – created in the Zamienica district, also called “Hell”. Jewish people who were able to work lived in it. The borders of the ghetto were the Kamienica River and the streets: Kraszewskiego, Lwowska, Barska, Hallera and Zdrojowa.

Answer 8. What was the operationReinhardt
it is the code name of the German plan to murder the Jewish people of the General Government and the Białystok District.

Answer 9. How did the 1st deportation of Jewish people of Nowy Sącz look like?
– The Jews were gathered on the banks of the Dunajec River according to apartment numbers, with keys in their hands which that had to give up. They walked along the Dunajec River embankments, through “Kocie Planty” park to the railway station, from where they were transported to Bełżec.

Answer 10. What was the name of Jagiellońska Street and Main Square in the occupation period?
Jagiellońska Str. – Hauptstrasse (Main Street)
Market Square – Adolf Hitler’s Square

6. The teacher uses the map on the website to point out the places where the occupants created labor camps, the places of mass executions of Poles, the Jewish ghetto.

7. The teacher asks students about their thought after watching the films. What emotions did they feel, did something surprise or astonish them?

The subject of the lesson is a basis for reflection on the importance of values such as freedom, human rights, tolerance, social solidarity in human life.
It should be made clear to the students that it was “people who did this to other people”, and the free world remained silent.
When working on this subject it is worth referring to contemporary examples of genocide, terrorism and racist practices.