Dabrowa


Along the road at a village called Dabrowa just south of Ciepielow was murdered on 9 September 1939 about 250 Polish prisoners of war by the german armed forces. The decision to murder the prisoners of war was based on the fact that the poles had ambushed the Germans and killed an officer during the battle. The Germans, however, emerged victorious, but in retaliation for the ambush, the German commander, Colonel Walter Wessel, ordered the prisoners of war to be shot as partisans. They were ordered to take off their uniforms after which they were shot. This was one of the first massacres and perhaps the largest, in terms of the number of victims, but certainly the most famous that the German armed forces committed during the month-long Polish campaign. Colonel Walter Wessel was later awarded the Knights Cross with oak leaves for his efforts (not for the massacre) but died in a car accident in July 1943.

Current status: Monument (2023).

Location: 51° 13' 21.36"N, 21° 35' 44.64"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The reason why the massacre is the most famous is partly because it was photographed by an unknown soldier who was on the scene. It is also better known as the Ciepielow massacre despite the fact that it was committed in Dabrowa. The massacre itself is proof that war crimes were committed not only by the SS but also by the ”ordinary” German armed forces which, not only in Dabrowa, were committed, but on all fronts was guilty of war crimes to the same extent as units from the Waffen-SS. Today, there are several well-kept monuments and information boards on the site.

Follow up in books: Moorhouse, Roger: Poland 1939: The Outbreak of World War II (2020).