Fear and Terror: The Expulsion of Polish Jews from Saxony/Germany in October 1938
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Type of Work32 pages
ProgramCENTER FOR THE STUDY OF MODERN LANGUAGES, LITERATURES, & CULTURES
Citation of Original PublicationUta Larkey (2017) Fear and Terror: The Expulsion of Polish Jews from Saxony/Germany in October 1938, Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, 31:3, 243-260, DOI: 10.1080/23256249.2017.1385844
Polish Jews from Germany (Polenaktion);
November Pogrom (Kristallnacht)
This article is a regional study that focuses on the expulsion of Jews with Polish citizenship from Saxony, mostly long-term legal residents of Germany, in the context of the so-called ‘Polenaktion’ (27–29 October 1938). The article gives a brief overview of the expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany and highlights the special circumstances in Saxony, specifically in Leipzig. The article examines the role of the local police forces in carrying out the arrests and transports to the German–Polish border. It further draws attention to the tumultuous situation near Beuthen (Bytom) where the distressed expellees were chased across the border into Polish territory. The article also traces the steps of individuals and families after their disorienting arrival in Poland. Finally it addresses the question of the ‘returnees’ – a limited number of expellees who were allowed to return to their hometowns in Germany for a short period in order to take care of their businesses, financial affairs and apartments. Highlighting Saxony as one example, this article shows that the brutal mass expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany was not only an unprecedented act of mass violence and viciousness against Jews in Germany, but also became a precursor, a ‘test case,’ for subsequent mass deportations. The Security Service of the Reichsführer-SS and the Main Office of the Security Police most likely did not have fully developed plans for mass deportations ready in October 1938. However, the Nazi authorities could draw on their experiences during the Polenaktion with regard to logistics, coordination of administrative steps and offices, panic control, intimidation, and brutality. These measures set the stage for the arrests and mass transports during the November Pogrom not even two weeks after the Polenaktion and for the mass deportations during World War II.