The photos come from the resources of the State Archives in Zamosc.

We would like to present to you a portal, together with a mobile application, showing the scale of damages suffered by individual Polish citizens of the Zamość district during the German aggression and occupation during World War II 1939-1945.  

The project aims to show the scale of the phenomenon, but above all it provides an opportunity to analyse and check the situation by every inhabitant of the Zamość district whose family suffered harm during World War II. The project was possible thanks to the enormous work of the research team, which analysed thousands of documents and prepared detailed data under the direction of Professor Mirosław Kłusek, PhD, an employee of the Department of History of Economics at the Faculty of Economics and Sociology, University of Łódź. 

The research, the results of which we present, concerned the Zamojszczyzna area in 1939-1945. This area was located within the General Government created by Germany and was subjected to unprecedented pacification and displacement actions. The occupier carried out a plan to displace, nationalize these lands and replace the indigenous Polish population, with the German population, often by means of extermination. It was carried out under the name of the "General Plan East." 293 villages, about 100-110,000 people including 30,000 children, were subjected to deportation, often to be subjected to Germanization. In addition, like many other Polish lands under German occupation, Zamojszczyzna, was subjected to unprecedented looting of property, cultural goods, forced deportation for labor to Germany or to camps, and, finally, destruction caused by warfare, as well as the extermination activities of the occupiers.

In the case of German crimes committed against Poles, most of the perpetrators have not been tried, so the need arose to examine the possibility of holding Germany (as the legal heir of the Third Reich) responsible for the crimes and looting committed by its citizens against Poles during World War II. This issue has not been studied at all so far, due to the complexity of the subject matter, meanwhile, in the world at the beginning of the 21st century, there were a number of trials in which victims of crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, mass murders, massacres, etc.) obtained reparations or compensation, for example, for lost property. Poland never received reparations from Germany, individual reparations were extremely rare and symbolic.

Hence the need for archival research that shows what damage the residents of Zamojszczyzna suffered, how much it cost them to fight to remain Poles, on their land. For this purpose, the places of war crimes, executions of Zamojszczyzna residents, or places of looting of Polish property and cultural goods were investigated and described, and a visualization of the scale of this practice was prepared.

The following is a description of the research in question, showing the damage to individual Polish citizens of Zamość County, suffered during German aggression and occupation during World War II, which was verified, described in detail, and then ranked and presented in personal terms.   

Individual damages of Polish citizens of the Zamość district - how did they come about? 

The damage was mainly caused by:   

  • Warfare and looting by German troops. 
  • Official looting by three German institutions:  
  • The Plenipotentiary for the Registration of Raw Materials (Beufragter für Rohstofferfassung), in charge of confiscating raw materials, semi-finished products, products and machinery and equipment and exporting them to the Reich  
  • Trust Office for the General Government (Treuhandstelle für das Generalgouvernemet), dealing with the looting of Polish and Jewish property;  
  • Special Plenipotentiary for the Registration and Safeguarding of Works of Art and Cultural Monuments (Der Sonderbeufragte für die Erfassung und Sicherung der Kunst und Kulturschätze), dealing with the confiscation of the most valuable historical objects and works of art. 
  • Deportation for forced labour to the Reich. 
  • Forced referral of Polish citizens to labor camps located in the General Government. 
  • Displacement and rugging.  

Where did we get the source data on which the project was based? 

  •  War Compensation Office    

In connection with the need to determine the war losses incurred by Poland during World War II, in view of the intention to apply to Germany for reparations and to prepare a plan for rebuilding the country, an independent office called the Office of War Damages (BOW) was established under the Presidium of the Council of Ministers. Specialists were selected by individual ministries to inventory war losses within the BOW. In addition, the BOW relied on cells located at provincial and district offices, and cooperated with: municipal and township government units and professional institutions, such as the State Mutual Insurance Company; etc. 

The registration of war damage covered the whole of Poland's economic and social life on the basis of legal acts in industry, agriculture, forestry, communications, arts and culture, military, health, trade and private property, real estate. In addition to the above-mentioned orders, registration of deaths, cases and causes of disability, forms of German terror was carried out on the basis of the order of the Minister of Public Administration of June 9, 1945  

The registration and compilation of war losses were prepared for Poland within its post-war borders, excluding the Northern and Western Territories (the so-called Recovered Territories). The zloty was taken as the measure of losses according to its value on September 1, 1939. Losses were calculated as of the date of the end of the war, i.e. May 9, 1945. The process of registering and calculating war losses lasted from September 21, 1944 to January 1, 1947.  

At the same time, for the sake of legibility of the data presented, they were converted to the value of 2021 when we started the project. Thus, this value represents the contemporary base value and will be updated each year by the current index published at the beginning of the second quarter. We will present a detailed methodology for the valorization of the individual damages of Polish citizens of Zamość County incurred during the German aggression and occupation during World War II (1939-1945) into the contemporary value of the base year 2021, later in the project (Panel 3).  

Instead, in the content of the draft that we are just passing on to you, we have already used calculations and current data, updated for 2023. 

  •  Archival records of the Office of War Damages at the Presidium of the National Council located in the Archives of New Records in the complex of the Office of War Damages at the Presidium of the National Council 

The material documenting the activities of the War Compensation Bureau at the Presidium of the National Council is located at the Archives of New Records in the complex of the War Compensation Bureau at the Presidium of the National Council. Its holdings were queried: 

Organization and activities of the Bureau: Ordinances, circulars, correspondence, war losses and damages of Poland, biological losses of Poland, losses of industry and crafts, losses of agriculture and forestry, losses of trade, losses of communications and communications, war damage to residential, business and public buildings, war losses of central and local administration, war losses of trade unions, material war losses of individual Polish citizens - private-legal claims, revindication and war compensation, war losses and damages of other countries and problems of war compensation, correspondence logs, tributary: registration of war damages, German foreign assets and liabilities (Poland), current holders of German securities, French government materials on war losses and German war reparations compiled by La Documentation Française. 

The following archival units were queried in detail in the team of the Office of War Compensation at the Presidium of the National Council: war losses of individuals and legal entities on the territory of the Kielce province, damages and war losses incurred by the Białystok, Cracow, Pomerania, Lublin, Lodz, Silesia-Pomerania, Wroclaw provinces, the city of Warsaw and its inhabitants, the city of Lodz, war losses of institutions and civilians on the territory of the city of Lodz, war losses of individuals and private persons on the territory of the Szczecin province.   

  •  Archival records collected in the State Archives in Zamość, Zamość County Starost Office complex  

After a thorough search of archival materials collected in the team of the Office of War Compensation at the Presidium of the National Council, as well as the literature on the subject, it was decided to conduct research on the individual losses of Polish citizens of Zamość County suffered as a result of German aggression and occupation during World War II 1939-1945. This was dictated by the fact that the residents of Zamość suffered particularly severe losses resulting from the mass displacement action, which lasted from November 1941 to August 1943.This action included the population living in the Zamość, Tomaszów, Hrubieszów and Bilgoraj districts. The displaced population in Zamojszczyzna was forced to leave all movable and immovable property for the German settlers. The villages, after being surrounded by numerous SS, police and Wehrmacht forces, were brutally displaced in their entirety. There were frequent cases of burning all the buildings of a village and murdering its inhabitants.  

In total, the displacement action in the Zamosc region involved 300 villages and about 110,000 people. Some of the removed inhabitants of these villages, tens of thousands, were sent to concentration camps in Majdanek and Auschwitz. The remaining several tens of thousands were sent by the Germans to work in the Reich. In addition, about 4.5 thousand children were sent to the Reich for Germanization.   

Detailed queries were carried out on archival units located at the State Archives in Zamosc, Zamosc District Starosty Complex. 

  •  Results of the archival search in the team of the Office of War Compensation at the Presidium of the National Council and in the team of the Zamość County Office 

In total, a detailed search in the team of the Office of War Compensation at the Presidium of the National Council and in the team of the Zamosc District Office was carried out over 36 thousand pages - archival documents._As a result of a detailed query, archival documentation was collected regarding individual losses resulting from German aggression and occupation during World War II 1939-1945, suffered by the inhabitants of the following communes: Krasnobród, Łabunie, Mokre, Nielisz, Nowa Osada, Skierbieszów, Suchowola, Sułów, Szczebrzeszyn, Tereszpol, Wysokie, Stary Zamość, Zwierzyniec, in the Zamość district and the city of Zamosc. 

The aforementioned search provided information on individual damage to the municipalities Krasnobród, Łabunie, Mokre, Nielisz, Nowa Osada, Skierbieszów, Suchowola, Sułów, Szczebrzeszyn village, Tereszpol,, Wysokie, Stary Zamość, Zwierzyniec,, in Zamość country, , as well as the town of Zamość and and the town of Szczebrzeszyn resulting from: direct warfare carried out by German and other troops; unlawful orders of German occupation authorities; acts of rape by German soldiers and officers and others subordinate to the German command; acts of rape by German citizens, persons belonging to the German nation and persons in German service; actual necessity for the injured person to leave his home, farm, workplace, resulting from warfare or orders of the authorities of the German military and allied forces. 

Detailed summary of war damage suffered by Zamosc county residents 

On the basis of the surveys, discussed above, a detailed summary in the form of tables were drawn up showing the type and value of damage suffered by the residents of the community: Krasnobrod, Łabunie, Mokre, Nielisz, Nowa Osada, Skierbieszow, Suchowola, Sułow, Szczebrzeszyn village, Tereszpol, Wysokie, Stary Zamosc, Zwierzyniec, in Zamosc county, as well as the city of Zamosc and the town of Szczebrzeszyn.  

The detailed statements were prepared on the basis of questionnaires for registration of war damage for towns and for villages, filled out by residents of Zamość county in 1945, sporadically in 1946. The administrative division of Zamość county into municipalities is in accordance with the state at the time of submitting the questionnaires. 

Registration through questionnaires for villages and towns was mainly subject to damage resulting from: direct warfare carried out by German troops and other armies; unlawful orders of German occupation authorities; acts of rape by German soldiers and officers and others subordinate to the German command; acts of rape by German citizens, persons belonging to the German nation and persons in German service; actual necessity of the injured party to leave his home, farm, workplace, resulting from warfare or orders of the authorities of the German army and allied with Germany. 

Three types of damage were distinguished:  

  • Intangible damage - personal;  
  • material damage - tangible;  
  • other damages - in claims. 

 Property damage was divided into damage to real estate and movable property, as well as to businesses. Registration of all types of damage was carried out at the Registration Office, in the case of the city at the Municipal Board, and in the case of villages at the Municipal Office. 

The authorities adopted the principle of compensation in kind, and in registering the damage, efforts were made first and foremost to accurately determine the size and quality of destroyed, damaged or exported objects. On the other hand, recalculation of damages according to monetary value was more of an auxiliary nature and was generally at the discretion of the injured party. The monetary yardstick was only relevant in the case of intangible damage and damage to claims. 

All monetary standards were to be determined according to prices as of September 1, 1939. Determinations in other currencies, e.g. USD, German marks, were excluded. In the case of items acquired during the war at market prices that were damaged or exported, their value also had to be stated according to September 1, 1939 prices. Next, it was necessary to specify exactly how the damage was caused - by destruction, damage or deportation, and what was the immediate cause - acts of war or an act of rape by the German administration or other factors. 

 Efforts were made to document the damage as best as possible. Evidence in the form of certificates from authorities, bills, expert reports, etc., was required first. If there was no such possibility, a witness statement was accepted as evidence. Damage registration was not refused even if there were difficulties in providing any evidence. This applied to such cases as repatriates, displaced persons, etc. Then the extent of the damage and the circumstances of its occurrence were determined by the person registering the damage (registrar) together with the injured party.  

War damage to all Polish citizens and those belonging to the Polish nation was subject to registration (this category concerned mainly the Western and Northern lands annexed to Poland after World War II). Applications for compensation could be submitted not only by injured persons. A guardian submitted an application on behalf of a minor orphan, a wife on behalf of an absent husband, etc. Applications submitted by strangers to the injured person, such as a neighbour, were also accepted when the injured person and his family were killed or disappeared. In other cases, damages from the entire dwelling and farm were filed by the head of the family, including damages from all dependent family members.   

War damage registration questionnaires for cities and villages 

The detailed statements were prepared on the basis of questionnaires on the registration of war damage for cities and for villages, filled out by residents of Zamość County. These questionnaires contain the following data: 

  1. A. General data - - filled out by residents of villages and towns:  
  1. Personal data:surname and first name of the injured person; nationality; nationality; date and place of birth; place of residence before September 1, 1939; place of residence at the time of submitting the questionnaire; occupation practiced before September 1, 1939; occupation practiced at the time of submitting the questionnaire; marital status; number and age of children and other dependents of the injured person. 
  1. Details of the occurrence of the injury:when the injury occurred; the locality in which the injury occurred; a description of the event causing the injury. This description included whether the damage was caused by destruction, damage or deportation. Then whether as a result of warfare or due to acts of rape. 
  1. Witnesses:surname and first name of the witness; occupation of the witness; relationship of kinship or business or material dependence of the witness to the injured party.   

As witnesses, mainly strangers and persons who were materially independent of the victim were reported. Only if no suitable persons could be found was the testimony of family members or persons who were materially dependent on the victim, e.g., domestic help, journeyman, etc., allowed. In such cases, there was an obligation to note this in the questionnaire. 

  1. Intangible losses were filled by rural and urban residents:  
  1. 1. Physical impairment and mental impairment - in these sections, efforts were made to accurately determine: the type of physical and mental impairment; the percentage of incapacity; the age of the injured person; the annual income (earnings) of the injured person.  

The type and percentage of incapacity were first determined by a Social Security doctor, by a county doctor or by a city doctor. As a last resort, by a private doctor. When it was difficult to obtain a doctor's certificate, other reliable documents (e.g., hospital certificate, health center certificates, etc.) were resorted to. When the aforementioned documents were not available, the type of impairment and percentage of incapacity were determined by the registrar. The injured person's annual income was entered on the basis of a certificate from the workplace or the Internal Revenue Service. In their absence, witness testimony was allowed. 

  1. loss of life of the breadwinner due to:warfare; murder; imprisonment in prisons, concentration camps, prison camps, labor and etc.; forced labor; injury, illness, exhaustion, hiding.  

In the case of documents confirming the death of the breadwinner, a certified copy was made and attached to the questionnaire. In the absence of such documents, the attestation of two witnesses was sufficient. The registrar then had to determine whether the deceased was indeed the breadwinner, and determine his age and annual earnings. 

  1. Moral losses due to:loss of an immediate family member; physical impairment of an immediate family member; mental impairment of an immediate family member; disappearance of an immediate family member; forced separation of an immediate family member; national, racial, political persecution, etc.  
  1. The amount of pension or one-time compensation claimed..  

In section 4, losses from several types of losses were added up, e.g., if the claimant suffered bodily harm, his parents were killed, his brother disappeared, there was forced separation from his wife, etc., then the individual amounts were added up and entered separately in the pension column and separately in the single compensation column. The two types of compensation were different. The case of an annuity occurred if the injured party claimed a fixed monthly emolument for the injury suffered. In the case of one-time compensation, the amount that was to be paid on a one-time basis as compensation for the damage suffered was determined. In determining the amount of pension and one-time compensation, the earning capacity of the injured person or his breadwinner was guided. When earning capacity was guided by the principle that the average person works and earns until the age of 65. 

  1. C. Damage to farms and movables - was filled out by urban residents. With this type of damage, the following was given: the number of pieces, sets, kg, etc.; the price as of September 1, 1939; the amount of compensation claimed. 
  1. Clothing:clothes - men's, women's, children's; outer garments - furs, coats, costumes; sets of underwear; sets of bedding; sets of footwear; miscellaneous. 
  1. Housing:number of chambers (rooms) as of September 1, 1939; number of rooms destroyed; sets of furniture; libraries - number of volumes; scientific collections; works of art, paintings, sculptures, antiques, carpets, etc. - information was given about them and who was the creator; technical items and equipment - radios, patephones, etc.; pianos, upright piano, etc.; miscellaneous. 
  1. Housekeeping:: farm equipment, kitchen equipment, etc.; food supplies; fuel supplies. 
  1. Livestock::horses; cows; pigs; goats; sheep; poultry. 
  1. Automobiles:cars; trucks; motorcycles; bicycles; others. 
  1. Various.

Finally, there was the total amount of compensation claimed for farm and movable property losses and the degree of damage in percentages. 

  1. D. Losses in real estate, business establishments establishments - were filled out by city residents. The degree of destruction in percentage and the amount of compensation claimed were given. 
  1. Real estate:rental houses; single-family houses; outbuildings; size of the house - number of apartments, number of rooms; mortgage number; construction cost; price and year of acquisition.  

When registering damage to real estate, the main focus was on general information, primarily determining the value of the house based on the insurance policy or other evidence in the victim's possession, and assessing the damage to the house in percentages. In the absence of evidence, the valuation was carried out by the injured party. In determining the value of the house, a statement of construction costs, the purchase price according to the mortgage deed, etc. was used. Owners with multiple damaged or destroyed properties submitted questionnaires separately for each property. 

  1. Industrial plants:type of industry; buildings; equipment, machinery, installations, movables; fabrications, raw materials, commodities; construction costs; price and year of acquisition; category of industrial certificate. 

The registrar determined the type of industry based on the following classification: mineral industry - brickyards, cement plants, glass factories, lime kilns, quarries; metal industry - iron works, iron foundries, rolling mills and foundries of other metals; tool factories; bulk product factories, construction and equipment factories; transportation equipment factories, agricultural machinery and tool factories, precision product factories; electrical engineering; chemical - kerosene and gasoline refineries, gas plants, fertilizer factories, artificial silk yarn factories, fat processing factories, rubber product factories; Textile - knitting factories, spinning mills, weaving mills; paper - paper mills; leather - tanneries; wood - bentwood furniture factories, sawmills, dicta and veneer factories; food - sugar mills, distilleries and ratifiers, breweries and malt houses, mills, bacon mills, tobacco factories, canning factories; clothing - mechanical shoe making; toy making; printing - printing houses; construction; mining - all types of mines.  

On the other hand, next to the category of industrial certificate, the categories that the plant received in 1938 were entered.  

  1. Craft factory:type of craft; buildings; equipment, machinery, tools, movables; fabrications, raw materials, goods; miscellaneous; industrial certificate category. 

The classification of the types of crafts was as follows: tailoring; butchery and charcuterie; blacksmithing; shoemaking; carpentry; barbering; millinery; baking; carpentry; locksmithing; painting; tinsmithing; shoe-making; wheelwrighting; watchmaking; saddlery and saddle-making; furriers; confectionery; photography; hatmaking; glassmaking and others. 

  1. Commercial enterprises store: types of trade; equipment and other property; goods; miscellaneous; categories of industrial certificate. 

The classification of types of trade was as follows: purchase of goods, including grains, live animals, fruits, raw hides; commodity trade; stores for agricultural goods, food, clothing, furniture, liquor, etc. 

  1. The type of liberal professions was determined on the basis of the tax return. 

And the value of the establishment on the basis of a certificate from the authorities of the economic self-government - the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Chamber of Crafts, the Bar Association, the Medical Chamber, etc. 

  1. were filled in by rural residents in place of farm and movable losses and property and business losses, which were filled in by urban residents: type of occupation; equipment, movable office, office; miscellaneous. 
  1. Agricultural holding - - for statistical purposes in ha: total area; arable land; meadows; pastures; orchards, gardens; forests; other.  
  1. Budynkidwellings; barns; barns; granaries; pigsties; other. 

Buildings and buildings destroyed as a result of direct warfare as well as as as a result of orders of the German occupation authorities, especially as part of pacification actions, forced land consolidation carried out, repressive actions for hiding Jews and partisans, etc., were subject to registration 

  1. Inwentarz martwy: młockarnie; żniwiarki; sieczkarnie; siewniki; kieraty; wozy, bryczki; pługi, broni i pozostałe. 
  1. Livestock:; horned cattle; pigs; sheep; goats; poultry; other 

Damage to livestock was considered to be animals fallen during warfare or due to the actions of the occupying forces, requisitioned by German and allied troops (Hungarians, Romanians, Ukrainians, Slovaks, etc.) and by the German administration, animals surrendered as part of a quota action, etc. 

  1. Arable crops and fodderwheat; rye; barley; oats; potatoes; sugar beet; other. 

Crops destroyed in barns, stacks and on the stump as well as those requisitioned by the occupying forces or given away as part of a quota action, etc., were recorded. 

  1. Agricultural production:butter; eggs; fruit; vegetables, other. 

In points 1 - 6, the victims gave the exact number of animals, objects and products lost and their value according to pre-war prices of 1 September 1939. 

  1. Various:drainage losses; stand losses; miscellaneous. 

Forests felled as a result of trench construction, pacification, German construction, bunkers, labour camps, etc.; forests destroyed as a result of warfare, regardless of the type of troops involved. Losses in drainage included: losses in drainage facilities due to warfare, trench construction and other devastating activities. 

  1. Rural work establishments:rural handicrafts; shops; rural industry - windmills, mills, distilleries, breweries, sugar factories, brick factories, roof tile factories, peat deposits, tobacco, vegetable and fruit plantations, inspectorates, tree nurseries, fish farms, stock farms, etc.; credit institutions - Communal Savings Banks, Stefczyk Banks, People's Banks, etc.; liberal professions; others - people's houses, fire stations, etc. 

For damage to rural establishments, information was provided on the type of establishment and the amount of compensation in: buildings; machinery, equipment and movable property; raw materials, stocks and products; others.   

  1. clothing - men's, women's, children's; bedding; furniture; kitchen appliances; supplies; other.: odzież – męska, damska, dziecięca; pościel; meble; sprzęt kuchenny; zapasy; inne.  

The registration of damage to the household of rural residents was handled in a similar way to the registration of farm and property losses reported by urban residents.  

  1. Degree of damage to the farm the injured party approximated the degree of damage as a percentage.  
  1. F. Other lossesin claims, caused by (filled in by rural and urban residents): 
  1. Eviction fromrental house; flat; workplace 

Here information was given on: the size and type of facility; its annual income, with a flat the possible income from renting out individual rooms; the duration of eviction, evacuation, actual abandonment. Removal costs and other costs caused by the eviction were added to the total loss. 

  1. Destruction, confiscation and robbery of:gold and valuables; foreign currencies; circulating money; securities, mortgage bonds, bonds, shares, etc.; bills of exchange, reverses, cheques; passbooks; bank deposits; various debts; various valuables. 

The damage listed above was caused by confiscations ordered by the German occupation authorities and by private individuals subject to the occupier. Next to foreign currencies, the types and amounts of damage were indicated. Circulating money included: cracow zlotys, carbuncles, roubles, German marks, etc. Shares, mortgage bonds and bonds included the name of the issuing company or financial institution, the nominal value and the currency. Cheques, bills of exchange and reverses, on the other hand, gave the name of the issuer and his or her nationality if possible, while passbooks and bank deposits carried the name of the credit or savings institution. Gold and foreign currencies were converted into zlotys at the rate of exchange on 1 September 1939 and entered under the heading "amount of compensation claimed". The value of shares and securities and occupation circulation money was determined in a similar manner. 

  1. Non-payment of due sums of money: emoluments, pensions, allowances, provisions; work receivables; delivery receivables; loss of mortgage securities due to destruction of real estate.  

In the case of damage resulting from the suspension by the German occupation authorities of payments of certain categories of emoluments, pensions, allowances, provisions, etc., the injured party stated in which state institution or in which enterprise he had received this receivable before the war, what the annual amount was and the period of non-receipt of these receivables. In the case of damage resulting from the loss of collateral security for receivables due to the destruction of real estate on which the injured party held a mortgage, the address, the mortgage name and the amount of the mortgage, as well as the type of real estate destroyed, were stated. 

  1. Forced use of:insufficiently remunerated work in relation to maintenance; insufficiently liquidated claims; other contracts, rights, patents. 

The registrars entered for: underpaid wages - the name and address of the workplace and the type of claim, the annual earnings and the amount of the claim sum, the duration of the underpayment; under-liquidated claims, i.e. claims converted unfavourably for the debtor - the type of claim (mortgage, cheque, bill of exchange, etc.), the amount of the claim sums and the date on which they were paid; other contracts, rights and patents - a detailed description of what the loss consisted of, the type and extent of exploitation and the amount of compensation. 

  1. Unlawful deprivation of liberty, fines: deprivation of liberty;contraband, fines, fines; miscellaneous. 

Damages related to deprivation of liberty included the victim's incarceration in a prison, concentration camp, labour camp or elsewhere, which resulted in his or her inability to earn money or help support his or her family during that time. The amount of damage was determined by taking into account the victim's annual earnings and the length of his or her stay in prison or a camp.