Europe, Poland, Silesia, Wroclaw, Zbigniew Halat Photography
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Miss Love of  Wroclaw raising a basic issue of moral and legal responsibility for the Second World War human, cultural and material losses. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat
Miss Love of  Wroclaw raising a basic issue of moral and legal responsibility for the Second World War human, cultural and material losses. 

Der Spiegel, May 27, 2011,
"Germany's occupation of Poland is one of the darkest chapters of World War II. Some 6 million people, almost 18 percent of the Polish population, were killed during the Nazi reign of terror that saw mass executions, forced evictions and enslavement". Michael Sontheimer, Germany's WWII Occupation of Poland: 'When We Finish, Nobody Is Left Alive',  
"After Hitler's war had been lost, millions of ethnic Germans in regions that are today part of Eastern Europe were expelled -- often under horrendous circumstances. It has been proven that at least 473,000 people died as they fled or were expelled. The Nazis' crimes had been far worse, but the suffering of ethnic Germans was immense". Christian Habbe, A Time of Retribution: Paying with Life and Limb for the Crimes of Nazi Germany.

Fortress of Breslau: who was morally and legaly responsible for
The Death March of the Breslau Mothers in January 1945?

In August 1944, Adolf Hitler declared the city of Breslau to be a fortress (Festung Breslau), ordering that it must be defended at all costs. He named Karl Hanke (Gauleiter of Silesia since 1941) to be the city's "Battle Commander" Kampfkommandant).

Evacuation : On January 20, Gauleiter Hanke called on the military not suitable for people to leave the fortress city immediately. It was cold, hard winter, and the city was full of people, packed with refugees who had fled the advancing Red Army. Circa 700,000 had to leave at short notice. An evacuation of the city was totally unprepared. Gauleiter Hanke ordered the march of women and children. During the march by foot  in frost and snow, thousands of children and old people perished. Of the civilian population that was forced to leave Breslau 90,000 died in the bitter cold, frost - 20 C, of the makeshift evacuation; many more arrived in Dresden to be bombed a few weeks later.
On February 10, an inner-city evacuation was conducted. The inhabitants of the eastern neighborhoods between the Oder Rivers and urban areas in the West had to leave their homes and leave their packed suitcases.
In the city buildings were demolished in order for defenses to gain material and to take the attacking enemy in urban warfare coverage. In the parks and promenades guns went into position. At road crossings the Wehrmacht blew up entire houses.
After the capture of the airfield Gandau by Soviet troops, General Niehoff ordered  to create a second runway behind Kaiserbrücke. He had hit along the Kaiserstraße by demolition squads a swath of 300 m wide and a kilometer long. Forced laborers and civilians had to constantly fire the besiegers day and work at night. A military significance not obtained the provisional starting grid. It is reported that only one plane took off it: that of Gauleiter Hanke that settled immediately before the fall of the city.
During the Easter holidays 1945 on April 1 and 2, throwing hundreds of thousands of aircraft bombs on the city of Wroclaw. The massive bombing took place on Easter Monday. By dropped phosphorous bombs led to serious fires in the city. From 30,000 buildings were in ruins at the end of hostilities 21,600. Many industrial and precious cultural monuments were destroyed.

Breslau capitulated on May 6, 1945, four days after the last defenders of Berlin had laid down their arms.

For the remaining population, which had suffered for weeks under forced labor, siege, fighting and destruction, was no relief with the surrender. Hospitals and sewer were destroyed, epidemics spread in the face of catastrophic proportions. There were also looting, assaults and rapes by Red Army soldiers.

Festung Breslau: Der Todesmarsch der Breslauer Mütter im Januar 1945
Twierdza Breslau: Marsz Śmierci Matek miasta Breslau w styczniu 1945


Von ihren Funktionären gedrängt, oft gezwungen, binnen einer Stunde ihre Wohnung, Hab und Gut aufzugeben, wurden Frauen und Kinder in Autoomnibussen in die Gebirgsstädte am Rande der Sudeten abtransportiert. Eisenbahn und motorisierte Beförderungsmittel genügten natürlich dem Ansturm der freiwillig und unfreiwillig Flüchtenden nicht. Noch beherbergt die Stadt Hunderttausende; während schon ferner Kanonendonner die Stadt überschattet [...], dröhnen ab 20. Januar die Straßenlautsprecher zum Entsetzen der Bevölkerung alle Stunden: "Frauen und Kinder verlassen die Stadt zu Fuß in Richtung Opperau - Kanth."

Es ist schwerer Winter, die Oder völlig zugefroren. Bei über 20 Grad Kälte ziehen Tausende von jungen und alten Frauen mit Kinderwagen, Schlitten und kleinen Ziehwagen auf verschneiten Landstraßen in die Winternacht hinaus. Zurückkehrende geben grausige Berichte über diesen Todesmarsch. Für Hunderte von Kleinkindern war diese Nacht die letzte. In den Straßengräben nach Liegnitz zu liegen in den nächsten Tagen massenhaft Säuglingsleichen, erfroren, zurückgelassen von den in panischer Angst Flüchtenden - in Neumarkt wurden allein über 40 Kleinkinderleichen, säuberlich auf Stroh auf dem Marktplatz niedergelegt, gezählt. Koffer, Bettenbündel und Kleidungsstücke garnieren die Gräben der Chausseen. Viele Frauen haben sich, um in dem oft über einen halben Meter hohen Schnee vorwärtszukommen, sogar ihrer Mäntel und Pelze entledigen müssen. Eine Katastrophe war die Ernährung der Kleinkinder. Eigensinnig bleiben die Bauernhäuser vor den verzweifelt nach Lebensmitteln und Milch suchenden Frauen verschlossen. Aber immer wieder dröhnen in den nächsten Tagen die Lautsprecher: "Frauen und Kinder verlassen sofort die Stadt!", und wie unfaßbarer Hohn klang es, wenn die unglücklichen Mütter in diesen Aufrufen jetzt auch noch ermahnt wurden, Spirituskocher zum Abkochen der Milch auf ihren Passionsweg mitzunehmen.

Friedrich Grieger, Wie Breslau fiel, Metzingen (Verlag Die Zukunft) 1948


Urged by their officials, often forced to abandon their homes, belongings and within an hour, women and children were transported in buses car in the mountain towns on the edge of the Sudeten. Naturally, railway and motorized means of transport were not enough the onslaught of voluntary and involuntary fugitives. Yet the city is home to hundreds of thousands; while already further cannon overshadows the city [...], booming from 20 January street loudspeakers to the dismay of the population every hour: "women and children to leave the city on foot towards Opperau - Kanth."

It is terrible winter that or completely frozen. With more than 20 degrees below zero thousands of young and old women  with strollers, carriages and small drawing carriage on snowy roads in the winter night. Returning give gruesome reports of this death march. For hundreds of young children that night was the last. Lying in the ditches to Liegnitz in the coming days masse infant corpses, frozen, left behind by the panic-stricken fugitives - in Neumarkt were alone over 40 infants corpses neatly on straw laid down in the marketplace, counted. Suitcases, bundles and bed clothes garnish the trenches of highways. Many women have to thrive in the high often over half a meter of snow, even have to remove their coats and furs. A disaster was the diet of infants. Willful farmhouses remain closed to the desperate for food and milk-seeking women. But again booming in the next few days the speakers: "women and children to leave town now!", And how incomprehensible mockery sounded when the unfortunate mothers were now even admonished in these calls, Spirit stove to boil the milk on their Passionsweg take.

Friedrich Grieger, How Breslau fell,
Metzingen (Verlag The Future) 19


"Popędzane przez funkcjonariuszy, często zmuszane do porzucenia domu  i własnych rzeczy w ciągu godziny, kobiety i dzieci były wywożone autobusami do miejscowości górskich na obrzeżach Sudetów. Kolej oraz zmotoryzowane środki lokomocji oczywiście nie wystarczały wobec nawału uciekających, z własnej i nie z własnej woli. Miasto jest jeszcze domem dla setek tysięcy, na które kładzie się cieniem nadchodząca z oddali kanonada [...], od 20 stycznia głośniki uliczne huczą co godzinę ku przerażeniu ludności: "Kobiety i dzieci opuszczą miasto i udadzą się pieszo w kierunku Oporowa - Kątów Wrocławskich."

Jest ciężka zima, Odra całkowicie zamarznięta. Przy ponad 20 stopniach mrozu tysiące młodych i starszych kobiet zimową nocą pcha wózki dziecięce, ciągnie sanki i inne wózki po zaśnieżonych drogach. Powracający zdają straszliwe relacje o tym marszu śmierci. Dla setek małych dzieci była to ich ostatnia noc. W następnych dniach w kierunku Legnicy w rowach przydrożnych masowo leżą zwłoki niemowląt, zamarznięte, pozostawione przez uciekających w panicznym strachu - tylko w Srodzie Sląskiej złożono na rynku czysto na słomie ponad 40 zwłok dziecięcych, zliczono je. Walizki, tłumoki i odzież zalegają w rowach przydrożnych. Wiele kobiet, by móc poruszaç się do przodu w śniegu sięgającym często ponad pół metra, musiało pozbyç się nawet własnych płaszczy i futer. Katastrofą było wyżywienie małych dzieci. Domy chłopskie pozostawały stale zamknięte przed zrozpaczonymi kobietami, szukającymi środków żywności i mleka. Ale w następnych dniach nadal huczą głośniki: "Kobiety i dzieci natychmiast opuszczą miasto!", a brzmiało to jak szyderstwo nie do pojęcia, kiedy w
tych wezwaniach przestrzegano jeszcze nieszczęśliwe matki, by na drogę męki zabrały ze sobą kuchenkę spirytusową do odgotowania mleka.".

Friedrich Grieger, Wie Breslau fiel (Jak padł Wrocław),



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Europe, Poland, Silesia, Wroclaw, Zbigniew Halat Photography Europa, Polska, Śląsk, Wrocław, Fotografia Zbigniewa Hałata