Referring to an answer to Why is Poland's proposed Holocaust speech law so controversial?

While "Poland as a nation" is not to blame for the Holocaust, and while there was no official cooperation between Poland and Germany, government institutions (…) collaborated with the Nazis (…).

In contrast Wikipedia claims that

Unlike in most European countries occupied by Nazi Germany—where the Germans sought such collaborators among the locals—in occupied Poland there was no official collaboration either at the political or at the economic level.

  • I'm not sure whether focussing the question on institutions is helpful. "Did some poles collaborate in actions against the jews" might be better.
    – matt_black
    Feb 15, 2018 at 19:12
  • 5
    I feel like if you want to ask about the evidence for institutional collaboration, you should quote the press release that the answer links to: Collaboration and Complicity during the Holocaust which is the source of the statement "As German forces implemented the killing, they drew upon some Polish agencies, such as Polish police forces and railroad personnel, in the guarding of ghettos and the deportation of Jews to the killing centers."
    – paradisi
    Feb 16, 2018 at 0:28
  • 4
    @JanDoggen ... or rather History.SE
    – Evargalo
    Feb 16, 2018 at 14:00
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    Polish national institutions were by and large abolished by the German occupiers. However, such institutions that were permitted to remain in a strictly subordinate status, such as police, sometimes collaborated as ordered. @sumelic has the links. That this has been controversial is astonishing. Feb 16, 2018 at 18:19
  • 2
    There are notable claims in Israeli media, claiming that some death camps were actually run by Poles: timesofisrael.com/… Feb 16, 2018 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


TL;DR There is no evidence it did, and there is overwhelming evidence against this claim.

  • Poland neither surrendered to Germany nor formed a collaborative government.

    When Poland suffered military defeat, a significant number of Polish units who fought alongside the Polish government, were evacuated via Romania. Other Polish military units were evacuated using other routes. These Polish units continued fighting as part of Allied forces, until the end of the WWII, with the Polish Government in Exile, located first in France, and after its fall, in the United Kingdom.

    Poland also continued resistance on the Polish territory through Polish Underground State with military support of Armia Krajowa and specialized organizations like Żegota.

    Acts of collaboration, including denunciation and blackmail, have been prosecuted as an act of treason, and since July 17, 1943, punished with the death penalty (albeit actual ability to perpetrators to justice were limited).

  • As pointed out by Andrew Lazarus Polish institutions have been disbanded by the Nazis, including Polish National Railways, which assets transferred to Deutsche Reichsbahn and further transferred to Generaldirektion der Ostbahn (see Poland section in the Holocaust train) and made ongoing resorts to replace railway Polish workers with Germans.

    Furthermore a significant fraction of the Polish management of the pre-war institutions, had been killed during Operation Tannenberg, Intelligenzaktion, and following AB-Aktion.

    So fundamentally there were no:

    government institutions

    to collaborate with.

  • Territories initially occupied by Nazi Germany were inhabited mostly by ethnic Jews and Poles (13,9 Ukrainian minority were concentrated in the Territories by Soviet Russia), with both groups being a subject of racial / ethnic segregation (Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland, ur für Deutsche) and further planned extermination, as a part of "Final Solution" and Generalplan Ost respectively.

    Both ethnic groups were simply not in a position to collaborate with Nazis. It is quite symptomatic that member of pro-Nazi ONR, responsible for some antisemitic actions in the first months of the occupation were arrested and executed before summer 1940. Writing about Blue Police (see below), Raul Hilberg noted:

    The Germans could not view them as collaborators, for in German eyes they were not even worthy of that role. They in turn could not join the Germans in major operations against Jews or Polish resistors, lest they be considered traitors by virtually every Polish onlooker.

    The exception from the above were Volksdeutsche considered by Nazis as ethnic Germans, further classified into four categories. At its peak category I and II (Persons of German descent committed to the Reich before 1939 and Persons of German descent who had remained passive respectively) reached 1 million. According to rough estimates 25% of the German population were members of NSDAP, Gestapo, SD or Abwehr.


Nazis created a number of organizations delegated to administrative and policing activities, as well used preexisting Volksdeutsche organizations. Notable examples include:

  • Blue Police which was an attempt to re-establish pre-war Polish police under German supervision - this is likely what the linked means by drew upon some Polish agencies, such as Polish police forces. The force

    consisted primarily of Poles and Polish speaking Ukrainians


    the policemen were to report for duty or face the death penalty.

    Its main responsibility was to respond to common crimes, although units were are also used to guard entries to Ghettos, training Jewish Ghetto Police (see below) as well as (in later years) for anti-partisan activities.

    While Blue Police were never declared a criminal organization in certain cases its members assisted during street roundups, clashes with resistance or cooperated with szmelcowniks. There are several documented cases where members of the Blue Police were forced to carry out executions on both ethnic Poles and Jews.

    That being said, a large number of the members participated in the resistance (with actual estimates varying between with different estimates varying between 25 and 30 percent), including Marian Kozielewski - the first commander of the Blue Police.

    According to Wikipedia 9 members of the Blue Police have awarded the Righteous Among the Nations: Wacław Nowiński, Bronisław Marchlewicz, Władysław Cieśla, Franciszek Banaś, Piotr Czechoński, Jan Fakler, Jan Kubicki, Stanisław Śliżewski, Władysław Szalek.

    At the same time Emanuel Ringelblum wrote in his journal:

    The demoralization of the Polish police and Polish secret agents is indescribable. They do nothing in the Ghetto but move about detaining wagons full of merchandise and extorting protection money

    On another occasion he wrote

    The Polish police didn’t take part in the forced work press gangs

    as well as

    They are still filming the Ghetto. Every scene is directed. E.g., yesterday they ordered a child to run outside the Ghetto Wall at the corner of Leszno and Zelazna Streets, and to buy potatoes there. A Polish policeman catches the boy and raises his arm to beat him. At that moment who should come along but a German policeman: He grabs the Pole’s arm—children are not to be beaten!

    Some historians, like Jan Grabowski, claim that Blue Police actively participated in the persecutions and killings of Jews in Dąbrowa Tarnowska and further notes:

    Although our analysis concerns only one county, there is no reason to think that the activities of Polish policemen from Dąbrowa differed from the working habit of their counterparts of the other rural areas of occupied Poland with similar ethnic composition.

    For additional perspective you check Patterns of Cooperation, Collaboration and Betrayal: Jews, Germans and Poles in Occupied Poland during World War II linked here by Avery.

  • Jewish councils (Judenräte) - Jewish organization responsible for administering ghettos, managing forced labor, collecting tributes, and finally preparing deportations.

    To ensure compliance Nazis employed Jewish Ordnungspolizei (see below), and not complying consul members were killed on place, or sent to concentration camps. According to Wikipedia, in the Łódź ghetto:

    (...) selected 31 public figures to form the Council. However, less than three weeks later, on November 11, twenty of them were executed and the rest disappeared, because he denounced them to the German authorities "for refusing to rubber-stamp (...) policies."

    giving unchallenged power to Chaim Rumkowski whose

    rule, unlike the leaders of other ghettos, was marked with abuse of his own people coupled with physical liquidation of political opponents. (...) He was known to get rid of those he personally disliked by sending them to the camps. Additionally, he sexually abused vulnerable girls under his charge.

  • Jewish Ghetto Police were responsible for securing deportations and keeping public order in the ghettos. A majority of members were recruited from pre-War criminals, and were known from extortions, blackmails and other criminal activities.

    In the Warsaw Ghetto a so-called Jewish Gestapo also existed, responsible among other things for tracking the black market, as well as

    tracking down Jewish people outside the Ghetto walls, as well as their Polish helpers, and often profited by extorting them.

    For additional details about Jewish Police please check my answer to Is there any evidence of individual Jews participating in the Holocaust?.

  • Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz - paramilitary Volksdeutsche organization operating in the pre-War Poland. Selbstschutz actively collaborated with Nazi Germany during invasion of Poland and participated in the killings of Polish civilians including, but not limited to, Massacres in Piaśnica (killing between 12000 and 14000 people Poles and Jews between September 1939 and spring 1940).

    After being dissolved, its members were redirected to SS, Gestapo and Sonderdienst.

So clearly people holding Polish citizenship at the beginning of the war, were members of different organizations formed or controlled by the Nazis, and some were directly or indirectly involved in the crimes against ethnic Jews and Poles.

Considering that both Jewish Ghetto Police and Blue Police, consisted of Polish citizens the sentence claiming that "Polish police forces" responsible for "the guarding of ghettos" is partially correct. However linking them to Polish state is unjustified.


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