Posen Castle

In Poznan’s castle, Albert Speer had an exact copy built in miniature of Hitler’s office in the Reich Chancellery. The idea was that Hitler would use this during his visits to Posen. Speer also built a balcony outside the study where Hitler was supposed to receive troops marching on the street below. Hitler never visited either the castle or Posen.

One who used the castle (second floor) as study was the Nazi Gauleiter and Governor, Arthur Greiser, who between October 1939 and the end of the war was the supreme Nazi leader in the district of Wartheland. It was Hitler who personally appointed Gauleiters and Governors in all 42 Gau (district) in Nazi Germany and they were only responsible to Hitler. This gave them a big base of power over their respective areas, but also made them responsible for the crimes committed within the districts. Greiser thus came to bear the ultimate responsibility for the crimes committed against mainly Poles and Jews in the district.

Under Greiser the castle underwent extensive renovations and rebuilding to give it a clear and distinct German character. The whole of Wartheland, and especially Posen, under Greiser, was to undergo extensive changes where all the Polish would be erased and replaced with german values. Polish names were replaced by german names, polish schools were replaced by german schools, polish language was replaced by german language. Extensive restrictions applied to the Polish population, which in many respects came to remind of the restrictions imposed on the jews. In Greiser’s eyes, Poles were a great threat to the German authorities and must be fought by any means at his disposal. Greiser’s goal was for Wartheland to become, under his leadership, a pattern district in which German greatness would permeate everything. But even if some of the plans came to be implemented, there were only few of the more grandiose plans who actually was realized.

On Greiser’s initiative and order, hundreds of thousands of Poles were deported from the Wartheland to make way for ethnic Germans who would in turn be transferred to Wartheland from other parts of Europe. All in line with Nazi plans to germanize the district. Greiser was also responsible for all anti-Jewish measures in the district, which included the first Nazi extermination camp at Chelmno, which opened in December 1941. Greiser did not plan or built camp, but it would not have been possible without Greiser’s approval. After the war, Greiser was arrested by the Americans and extradited to Poland where he stand trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to death and hanged in July, 1946, at fort Winiary, Posen. The execution was witnessed by 15,000 people.

Current status: Preserved (2008).

Address: Swiety Marcin 40, 61-809 Poznan.

Get there: Tram.

My comment:

It is sometimes said that Himmler’s famous speech on October 6, 1943, in which he revealed that the Nazis were killing the Jews, was held in the castle, but this is probably not true. The speech was most likely held in Posen City hall.

Follow up in books: Longerich, Peter: Himmler: A Biography (2009).