Poland lost one-quarter of its population in the war. Portions of Poland were polluted by Nazi invaders who built their largest extermination camp on Polish soil. Virtually every Polish family tasted the bitter taste of displacement, death, pauperization and, after the war, total powerlessness.
In 1939, Hitler said: "The destruction of Poland is our primary task. The aim is not the arrival at a certain line but the annihilation of living forces. . ."
(Lukas 4) Before Jews became the primary target, Poles were shipped to Auschwitz by the tens of thousands.150,000 Polish Catholics went to Auschwitz. In Sachsenhausen, 20,000 Poles perished, in Mauthausen, 30,000, in Neuengamme, 17,000 (Lukas 38); 35,000 went to Dachau, 33,000 Polish women went to Ravensbrück many of them to be experimented upon, with glass and other objects implanted in their uteruses.
Unlike those Jews who survived the Holocaust and moved to the West, Poles remained captives of the Soviets for 45 years. Unlike the Jews, Poles were never individually compensated by Germans for forced labor and camp atrocities. Tens of thousands of Poles were executed for helping Jews. In the Belzec concentration camp alone, 1,000 Poles died solely and exclusively for having been caught helping the Jews (Lukas 150). In 1944, after the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, the Germans ordered the entire population of Warsaw man, woman, child to leave the city, somewhat like the Khmer Rouge leaders who did the same to the capital of Cambodia Phnom Penh in the 1970s. Two hundred thousand Catholic civilians died in that uprising, of those who survived, 50,000 were shipped to concentration camps.
The Germans closed all scientific, artistic and literary institutions in Poland. Some 2250 periodicals ceased publication. Polish university professors were shot or sent to concentration camps. Calorie allotment for those Poles who were not shipped to concentration camps was 669 calories per day. --The Forgotten Holocaust