FROM GERMAN JEWS TO POLISH REFUGEES: GERMANY'S 'POLENAKTION' AND THE ZBASZYN DEPORTATIONS OF OCTOBER 1938
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The Zbaszyn Deportation, also known by its Nazi term as the 'Polenaktion', occurred on October 28, 1938, less than two weeks before the 'Reichkristallnacht' Pogrom of November 9, 1938, an event that looms larger than all other actions in the story of the destruction of the Jews of Europe. The Polenaktion expelled nearly 20,000 Polish Jews from Germany and was soon eclipsed by the state invoked violence of Kristallnacht wherein tens of thousands of German Jews lost their homes, their businesses, their synagogues, their civil liberties, and some even their lives. As an episode of profound historical eminence, it is no wonder that Kristallnacht overshadowed the very event that precipitated it, pushing the Polenaktion into obscurity for the last seventy years. Known to historians as the Zbaszyn Deportations and termed by the Nazis as the Polenaktion, this event received little to no attention in the massive field of Holocaust scholarship over the ensuing decades since it occurred. This paper utilizes the historical works of Milton, Maurer, and Tomaszewski, along with original documents from the 'Politisches Auswärtiges Amt in Berlin' and newly discovered testimonies of Zbaszyn Deportation survivors, such as Cantor Joseph Cysner and other witnesses of the Polenaktion, to update and further clarify the historiography of these events.
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