Just as a little backgroundâ¦
According to Colonel Kuropieska, the Warsaw Governmentâs Military Attache in London 1945, the number of "Germans" (viz ex-German Army) in the Polish Army under British Command was:
1st Polish Corps
2,000 : Recruited North Africa
33,192 : Recruited from D-Day to end 1944
15,439 : 1st Jan. 1944 to End April 1945
4,000 : May and June 1945
2nd Polish Corps
2,500 : Recruited up to June 1944
14,000 : Recruited Second half of 1944
18,000 : Recruited first half of 1945
Total : 89.131
The British War Office gives a much lower estimate for 1 Corps:
Ex-Wehrmacht + Todt
1st Armd Div (BAOR) 4,149 + 96 = 4,245 out of 15,000
1st Para Brig (BAOR) 1,984 + 55 = 2,039 out of 4,000
1st Corps (UK) 16,200 out of 30,000
22,484 out of 39,000 Most of these "Germans" were being trained in Britain and did not see front line service.
With regards to post war repatriation of Volksdeutcheâ¦ According to a report from Major Gondowicz of Warsaw's Repatriation Mission in Germany to HQ BAOR in November, 1946, there were four classes on the Volksliste:
Class 1 - Full German. These people belonged to pre-war German associations were fully German and had 'Reichsdeutsche' identity cards. These people had no right of repatriation to Poland and had lost their right to citizenship and rehabilitation to Polish society.
Class 2 - 50% German. The Nazis issued blue identity papers to these people who had a "positive attitude" to Germany and the German occupation. These people had lost their citizenship but could reapply for it after a process of rehabilitation.
Class 3 - German by name, origin or ancestry and holding green identity papers. It was possible for this class to return to Poland and sign a declaration of 'Polishness' - no rehabilitation was needed.
Class 4 - The holders of yellow identity papers could best be described as 'Germanic' rather than German. These were the least trusted by the Nazis.
According to Gondowicz, a return to Poland after the war depended on which class the Volksdeutsche belonged to. He went on: "It should be made clear that enlistment on the "Volksliste" could take place only on base [sic] of a voluntarily signed application." This, as Gondowicz probably knew, was not strictly true. Names very often appeared on the Volksliste without the consent of the owner. Very often fear prompted people to sign and often, given the harsh terms of the Nazi occupation, the promise of better conditions were enough incentive for people to sign up.
Franciszek Janikowski was a Pomeranian who had been conscripted to the German Army before joining the Polish 1st Armoured Division. His appearance on the Volksliste was typical:
"My father worked on the railways. He had no land and no fortune so he was afraid. When they took them away in 1942 and asked who doesn't want to be Germanised? Nobody answered. My father signed and, as he told me later, he thought: I have a son and he is going to go to war...."
Pomeranians and Silesians were the most prone for inclusionâ¦ but it was often very arbitrary. If one had a German sounding name, that was enough to get included on the Volksliste.
For the Polish readers I would offer:
Best regards, Mark Ostrowski