1971 Polish Map of Nazi Crimes in Poland

Zbrodnie Hitlerowskie na Ziemiach Polski w Latach 1939-45. [Hitler's Crimes in Poland 1939-45.] - Main View

1971 Polish Map of Nazi Crimes in Poland


Produced by Poland's Nazi-Hunting Commission.


Zbrodnie Hitlerowskie na Ziemiach Polski w Latach 1939-45. [Hitler's Crimes in Poland 1939-45.]
  1971 (dated)     63.25 x 46.25 in (160.655 x 117.475 cm)     1 : 600000


A chilling 1971 wall map documenting Hitler's war crimes in Poland published for the Polish commission established to hunt and prosecute Nazi war criminals. The map's scope, focus, and execution transcend the purely geographic in illustrating the horrors of the Holocaust. Its extreme significance reflects broad efforts by scholars, mapmakers, and other researchers throughout the 1960s-70s to record and preserve knowledge of the Holocaust. It is ever more poignant in the light of modern revisionist historical research that has re-evaluated the Polish role in the Holocaust, as well as efforts by the current Polish government to legislate and control the historical record.
A Closer Look
This massive map was published for use by students studying World War II and the Holocaust in Poland. Coverage embraces all of Poland and is minimalist except in its illustration of death camps, labor camps, and the sites of mass executions. Most prominent are the large furnaces representing the most notorious extermination camps: Chelmno, Sztutowo (Stutthof), Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor, Kraków-Płaszów, Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Rogozinca (Gross-Rosen), Brzezinka (Birkenau). German Iron Crosses mark mass execution sites - the size of the cross emphasizing the numbers killed, the largest being Warszawa, the location of the Wola Massacre. Burned towns and villages where part or all of the inhabitants were slain are also noted, as are branch extermination camps, work camps, and POW camps. Execution sites and mass graves associated with Polish and Soviet POWs are especially emphasized. Along the bottom, text in multiple languages, including English, describes the horrors perpetrated on Poland during the war.
Through a Soviet Lens
When this map was issued, Poland was firmly part of the Soviet Eastern Bloc. While the map is sensitive to the plight of Poles in general and especially the Soviets who suffered under the Nazis, this map is representative of the Soviet party line regarding 'Hitler's atrocities' - that all nations suffered, fought, and won equally. Aside from the Soviets and Poles, there is no mention of any specific ethnic or religious group. There also is naturally no mention of the Soviet Union's repressive actions and war crimes against Poles.

This derives from the necessity of kowtowing to Soviet censorship. Although the Nazis and Hitler specifically are demonized, there is no clear anti-German bias. The map appears to have been produced from impartial sources to represent Nazi war crimes accurately. Through this and similar maps, much of the current leadership of Poland, who grew up in the Soviet Era, received their education and understanding of the Holocaust.

Today, historical revisionism regarding Poland's role in the Holocaust encompasses a contentious area of public discourse. The narrative traditionally highlights Poland as a nation under German occupation, with Poles risking their lives to help Jews. This happened. However, current scholars are bringing to light instances where some Poles collaborated with Nazis or participated in the persecution of Jews. This revisionism has sparked intense debate, influenced by broader considerations of national identity, memory, and responsibility. Current efforts by the Polish government to legislate how the Holocaust is remembered, particularly laws making it illegal to accuse the Polish nation of complicity in the Holocaust, have further intensified these debates, highlighting the ongoing struggle over the historical memory.
Publication History and Census
This map is based on research compiled by the Jewish lawyer and historian Janusz Gumkowski, Stefan Guirardm, and Kazimierz Leszczynski. It was designed by the Polish cartographer and war veteran Jan Laskowski. The map was first published in 1962, with subsequent editions in 1968 and 1971. This 1971 edition is the first to include English text at the bottom. In 1971, it was published both in wall format (as here) and in a smaller poster format. This edition and wall map variant is rare. We note 4 examples of this 1971 wall map edition in OCLC: the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, the Biblioteka Narodowa, the Jewish National Library, and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. The smaller format variant, about half this size, is more widely represented.


Główna Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu (1945 - present), which translates as 'Main Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation', was established in 1945, in the aftermath of World War II (1939 - 1945), to investigate and prosecute war crimes committed against Poles. Its activities in the 1960s-70s were significantly shaped by the broader political context, including the Communist regime's emphasis on crimes committed by the Nazi regime while often overlooking or minimizing the Soviet Union's repressive actions and war crimes against Poles. This period was characterized by selective justice and the use of historical narrative to serve state propaganda, focusing on fostering a sense of victimhood and resistance against fascism, while underplaying or ignoring crimes that did not fit the state's ideological narrative. As Poland extracted itself from the Soviet Black, the organization's focus on expanded to include investigations into crimes committed by the Soviet Union. Today, the commission operates under the auspices of the Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej - IPN), established in 1998, which is tasked with researching, documenting, and disseminating knowledge on the sufferings and losses endured by the Polish nation during occupations, and on the crimes committed against Poles and citizens of other nationalities. The IPN plays a crucial role in Poland's efforts to deal with its past, including the prosecution of war criminals, education, and the cultivation of national memory, often navigating complex political and historical narratives. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. On original linen. Some wear.


OCLC 883537693. Cornell University Library, Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection, #2121.01.