The Forgotten Holocaust


 Historians and media deny the genocide of Catholic Poles

During WWII, my Książyk Grandfather lost his brother, two uncles, three aunts, five cousins and seven children of cousins. All of them were Catholic Poles. 

WWII caused the death of 75 to 80 million people. Poland was in all respect the most affected nation with a loss of more than 6 million people representing 17% of the population. No Polish family was spared. The country was destroyed by 60%, some cities such as Warsaw suffered 80% destructions.


Regarding Poland, historians and media are focusing on the Shoah. This tragedy is rightly considered a major landmark in the History of Humanity. There is no single day without reference to the extermination of 6 million Jews by the Germans. The memory of this genocide should be respected and transmitted.


The forgotten holocaust of Catholic Poles should be remembered in the same terms. During WWII, Poland has lost 3 million Jews and an even greater number of non-Jewish population. The war-caused and war-related casualties of Catholic and Greco-Catholic Poles are estimated to 4 million. The point is not to fuel a debate about numbers but to highlight the terrible suffering and toll of Catholic Poles.

Czeslawa Kowka was 14 when she died in Auschwitz. She was a Catholic Pole, born in the village of Wolka Zlojecka. Czeskawa was deported with her mother Katarzyna in December 1942. She died three months later, a few weeks after her mother. 

    1.1.     German extermination (1939-1944)


No other country in Europe has suffered to the same extent the consequences of the German occupation. According to their racial ideology, the Nazis had a clear agenda regarding Poland. Catholic Poles were Untermeschen  Slavic people to be eliminated or subdued. The Generalplan Ost was the main programme for the ethnic cleansing of Poland.


► Key figures of the German extermination:


  • 200,000 Poles died during the 1939 combats against the two aggressors: Germany and Russia.


  • 200,000 to 250,000 Poles died during the Warsaw Insurrection (1 August3 October 1944).


  • About 550,000 Poles died during the German occupation from executions in prison or round-up in the street. Many mass graves remain unlocated. Every year, new victims are identified.


  • 240,000 Poles died in the German death camps located in Poland. They were killed in 7 extermination camps (Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bełzec, Sobibór, Majdanek, Chełmno, Treblinka) and 6 major concentration camps (Stutthof, Soldau, Potulice, Trawniki, Plaszów, Zasław).


  • Experts report 5,000 Poles who were executed for helping the Jews. They highlight that this number is well below the reality considering that Catholic Poles have supported, rescued or hidden some 350,000 Jews.


An unknown number of Catholic Poles died in Germany in forced labour imposed to more than 2 million of them. The Germans also kidnapped 200,000 Polish children considered as “Aryan compatible” in application of the Lebensborn program. Less than 30,000 of them returned to Poland after the war.

Park of the Heroes of the Warsaw Uprising - 53,000 names are written on these columns. Among them are two Jadwiga and Tadeusz Książyk, two siblings aged 22 and 19. Some 200,000 Poles died during the 63 days of the Warsaw Uprising (1 August-2 October 1944).  Among them, 104,105 victims are resting in this national necropolis.

2.2.      Russian Terror (1939-1953)


In Poland, WWII did not stop in May 1945. The German occupation was replaced by the Russian occupation that would last 50 years (1939-1989). The last Russian soldiers left the country in 1993. The Russian agenda for Poland was the organization of a submissive and satellite country that would contribute economically and military to the power of the USSR.   


► Key figures of the Russian terror:


  • 200,000 Polish troops arrested in 1939. 22,000 officers were executed in Katyń and nearby locations.


  • The number of Polish citizens and families arrested and deported in USSR as “enemies of the people” is estimated between 1 and 1,8 million. The casualties during this exile are above 500,000. They were mostly caused by forced labour and deprivation.


  • More than 100,000 Catholic and Greco Catholic Poles died during the massacres committed by Ukrainian nationalists of the OUN-UPA. This genocide was encouraged by the Germans and covered by the Russians.


  • More than 3500 anti-communist resistants from the Armia Krajowa were killed between 1945 and 1953. Some 25,000 were arrested. The real number of victims remains unknown, many were executed and buried in secret locations.


The casualties caused by German terror and Soviet repression do not include the terrible figure of 150,000 to 200,000 Catholic Poles who died in Poland from war-related deprivation and war-related diseases.

April 2021 - Experts of the IPN are studying the bodies of two victims discovered in the former NKVD and UB prison in Warsaw. Every year, additional victims  of the Russian post-war terror are exhumated. 

3.2.    Precious Memory


These terrible figures highlight that Catholic Poles have suffered an inequivalent toll from mass murders and crimes against humanity. Their extermination by the Germans and their subjugation by the Russians were planned and diligently executed. The exactions committed by the Nazis have all the aspect of a genocide, as defined by modern international law: 


Still, the forgotten holocaust of Catholic Poles is neglected by historians and denied by the media. More than 80 years after the end of WWII, the Shoah captures all attention and casts a shadow on many other crimes against humanity. Only few experts such as Norman Davies, Richard Lukas or Halik Kochanski have the courage to raise this issue and tell the truth. They have produced remarkable books (below) that anyone concerned by the balance of facts in History should read.


The exterminations of WWII do not belong to a specific group. There is no competition in grieving. There is no exclusiveness in suffering. This reality is not a negationist, revisionist, relativist or trivial view of the Shoah. One day, the last witnesses of the forgotten holocaust of Catholic Poles won’t be among us anymore. Their memory is precious. We should listen their own words because they speak the truth. With courage and determination, the Poles have survived two occupations. They are a remarkable example of resilience for all of us.


In September 1944, the Germans executed 50 civilians during a pacification operation in Rybitew, a hamlet located some 30 km north of Warsaw. This war crime was committed in retalitation to the presence of resistants in this area of the Kampinos Forest. Among the victims are four members of the Gruszka Family, the maternal branch of a Książyk Family living nearby.