How did occupation affect peoples’ lives?

Extracts from an account of events in Poland, September 1939 to March 1940

Catalogue ref: FO 371/24472

Extract a

The lack of food is best illustrated by the dramatic account related to me by the girls, concerning a carthorse which dropped dead in one of the main streets of Warsaw. As soon as the carman disappeared, apparently to seek some help, the dead horse was carved up by hundreds of people who, at the end of ten minutes left a bare skeleton on the pavement.

The lack of food is also illustrated by the fact that the price of bread as and where available, has gone up four-fold, and cereals, floor, rice and sugar are almost non-existent.

Whenever the German soldiers get to know of some Stock of food either in a warehouse or shop, they walk in and take it away, either not paying at all, or paying very little for it.

Another daily occurrence is the intrusion of German soldiers and Officers, as well as of Gestapo Agents into private houses where the tenants are robbed of everything they possess, under the threat of being shot.

Extract b

The curfew is rigorously observed in Warsaw, and at the end of Jan. it was imposed from 8 p.m. till 8 a.m. Those who arrive at railway stations after the curfew hours, are advised to apply to the station master for special permits.

An Uncle of the girls, who returned from a short visit to a provincial town whence he was expelled a week or two earlier, arrived at the Warsaw railway station with the rest of the belongings he was able to save from the said visit. At about 8.10 p.m. he duly applied for his permit from the station master, and then walked home, a short distance from the station.
As he was about to enter his house, he was shot in the back, and dropped dead on the pavement. During the night, members of his family who expected his arrival, made enquiries by telephone, and. they at last were informed that he had left the stationmaster’s office in possession of a permit at about 8 p.m. The following morning his wife found him dead on the pavement, with a label attached to his clothing, stating “Found in the street without a permit at 8.10 p.m.” The label was issued by a Gestapo Officer. His wife found on him the permit allowing him to be in the street until 9 p.m.