Szpegawsk


In a forest outside Szpegawsk, about fifty kilometres south of Gdansk, the Nazis murdered between 1939 and 1944 about 7000 poles. The bodies were buried in one of the 39 mass graves. The murders were part of an action called Intelligence Action Pomerania and aimed to pacify Pomerania by murdering anyone who could possibly pose a threat to German supremacy and a germanisation of the region (and Poland as a whole). It was mainly (high) educated poles, journalists, teachers, police officers, officers, priests, etc., who became the targets of the Germans. These were hunted down, arrested, imprisoned and eventually taken off to some wooded area where they were shot and buried. The murders were carried out by local units consisting of German minorities called Selbstschutz. In addition to trained poles, patients from the mental hospital in Kocborowo in Szpegawsk were also murdered. Alongside Piasnica in northern Poland, Szpegawsk was the place where the Nazis murdered most Poles in Pomerania. At the end of September 1944, the bodies were dug up and cremated over open fires. This in a desperate attempt on the part of the Germans to remove evidence.

Current status: Monument (2015).

Location: 54°00'09.47"N 18°34'17.47"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The site is well maintained and the mass graves are bound together by small roads. Many times it can be really atmospheric to walk around in places like this. It is calm, quiet and not at all the stress that exists at many of the more famous and well-attended concentration camps. Here you can at your own pace wander around and reflect in peace and quiet. The only thing that is heard is the silence and the wind that gently grabs the treetops and reminds the visitor that Jews were not the only ones who were indiscriminately murdered by the Nazis.

Follow up in books: Lukas, Richard C: Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944 (2008).