*** Polish boy scout uniforms -- World War II

Polish Boy Scout Uniforms: World War II

Figure 1.--

The Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, which beause of defense treaties with Britain and France, launched World War II. The Polish Army was defeated in a 6-week blitzkrieg. When it was clear that Poland was defeated, the Red Army invaded from the east, partioning Poland. The German split western Poland into two areas and annexed them and created a Government General for central Poland. Regulations varied greatly in these areas. Scouting was outlawed. The NAZI occupation of Czecheslovakia had been brutal. The ocupation of Poland was savage. The NAZIs were determined to destroy Polish society for ecer by whipig out the entire Polish intelegencia and reduce Poland to a kind of ignorant labor pool for mannual laborers. The NAZIs moved in to Polish villages and towns with names of scholars, teachers, doctors, writers and journalists, noted musicians, priests, public officials, prominent businessmen, bankers, members of the nobility, and others. In some cases they were short outright and in other cases arrested and worked to death in concentration camps. Boy Scouts in their uniforms were not imune from this wave of killing. An English woman in town of Bydgoszcz witnessed the process. The square of the town was ringed by soldiers with machine-guns The very first victims of the action were a group of Boy Scouts, ranging from 12-16 years of age. The boys stood up in a marketplace against a wall and shot. The Germans gave no explanation. The boys were not involved in resistance activities. They were shot because they were Scouts. A priest rushed forward to administer the Last Sacrament was shot as well. A Pole describing the event latter said the sight of the dead boys was the most piteous of all the attrocities he saw during the War. The killing of the Scouts was just the beginning. There were many more murders that week. The Gernmans murdered 34 of the prominent tradespeople and merchants as well as many other leading citizens. [Rhodes] It is not clear why the Scouts were selected. Perhaps they had violated or did not know that Scouting was banned and the uniform could not be worn. As tghey were shot first, perhaps the German commander wanted to make it clear that he was in charge. As Scouting was a middle-class activity the boys probably came from an affluent educated family. we will never know. The NAZI occupation authorities did not organize any pro-NAZI youth groups for Polish boys as was the case with many other counties. The NAZIs considered the Poles and unter-mench, suitable only for slave labor to support the Reich. The Soviets in their zone of eastern Poland began organizing Young Pioneer groups. I assume they immeditalely outlawed Scouting. This of course changed in June 1941 when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. The Germans proceed to put the same draconian occupation regulations into force in the rest of Poland. While Scouting was outlawed, the NAZIs were unable to destroy the movement. Scouts continued to operate underground. In fact, it played an important role in the Polish ressistance in opposing the brutal occupation of their country. NAZI actions during the occupation are There wre many examples of heroic acts against the NAZIs. Scouts for example delivered the mail during the Warsaw uprising in 1944. Tragically, most of the boys involved were killed. An account of their participation in the resistance is available on the Pinetreeweb.


Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death (Knopf, 2002).


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Created: July 11, 2002
Last updated: 3:14 AM 10/5/2022