Himmler's Auxiliaries: The Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle and the German National Minorities of Europe, 1933-1945

By Valdiso Lumans | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Himmier and the Volksdeutsche

HIMMLER

Near an iron trestle bridge, small groups of uniformed Germans stood waiting in the snow. Their field-gray overcoats harmonized with the low, overcast January sky. Halfway across the bridge spanning the frozen San River, near the ancient Polish town of Przemysl, was a figure dressed in brown and wearing a peaked cap with a small red star, marking him as a soldier in the Soviet Red Army and, at least for the time being, as an ally of the Germans. At the far end of the bridge stood a few other brown forms. These allies in gray and brown occasionally glanced at each other but otherwise displayed no signs of comradeship.

Four months earlier, in September 1939, Polish forces retreating from the German blitzkrieg had fled eastward across the San River, only to encounter a Red Army offensive from the opposite direction. Once the rout of the Poles was complete, the German and Soviet authorities decided on a final line of demarcation between their shares of Poland, using the San River as a section of the boundary. The bridge at Przemysl became a principal link between the Nazi and the Soviet conquerors.

At last the moment everyone had been waiting for had arrived. The gray coats jostled and scurried into positions prescribed by rank and

-17-

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