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In the early years of the Second World War, news of atrocities was often met with disbelief or strategic scepticism (British Foreign Office) due, in part, to the success of inter-war claims that atrocity stories during the First World War were propaganda. The Polish Government in Exile developed an information strategy to overcome scepticism and reticence to respond. This chapter explores how the Polish Government in Exile sought to inform the world of the outrages committed by Germany and the Soviet Union during the invasion and occupation of Poland through official government publications. It focuses on eight core publications including those of the White Book and Black Book series (published between 1940 and 1942).
The chapter discusses the founding of the Polish War Crimes Office, the ways in which the War Crime Office engaged with the UNWCC, and the Charge Files that it submitted. It is argued that the Polish War Crimes Office developed Charge Files in a strategic and organised manner. It was able to do this due to the continuous flow of intelligence from the Polish Underground State. It is also maintained that, through contributions to legal debates within the UNWCC and through submitted Charge Files, the Polish War Crimes Office helped to expand understanding of the idea of ‘war crimes’.
This chapter explores the evolution of thinking on war crimes prior to and during the Second World War. The first part of the chapter considers how ’war crimes’ were understood before the Second World War. It discusses the Hague Conventions, the post-World War I settlement, the failure to try Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the legacy of the Leipzig trials. This is followed by an examination of the deliberations on war crimes in different international fora during the war years. The chapter also explores the debate within the Polish Government in Exile that resulted in the passing of war crimes legislation. It is argued that the debates in these fora helped advance understanding of the challenges of war crimes prosecution which, in turn, provided firm foundations for legal discussion and innovation within the UNWCC.
The chapter considers how the Polish Government in Exile sought to exert influence on various civil society organisations in order to advance understanding of the situation of Poland under occupation and to encourage such organisations to support calls for retaliation and post-war justice. It examines the Polish engagement with women’s organisations, the Churches, the broad Left, and legal/political organisations. It is argued that the Polish Government in Exile attempted to shape the wider discursive environment in a manner favouring Polish policy but faced a number of challenges, including the counter-discourses promoted by different actors.
This chapter focuses on the activities of the Polish War Crimes Office from 1947 to the closure of the UNWCC in March 1948. The War Crimes Office is discussed with reference to the political situation in Poland following the rigged January 1947 election. The scale and substance of Charge File submissions are examined, and the ways in which the head of the office, Marian Muszkat, sought to influence debates within the UNWCC are explored. The chapter highlights the growing East/West tensions over the issues of extradition and alleged traitors/collaborators in the early period of the Cold War.
This chapter highlights the significance of the UNWCC in the development of ideas about ‘war crimes’, and the contribution made by the Polish War Crimes Office through interventions in internal UNWCC debates and through submitted Charge Files. The chapter considers post-war justice in the context of increasing East/West tensions and the decisions made by various Polish jurists to remain in exile or to return to Poland. The final part of the chapter discusses the continued relevance of the Polish War Crimes Office in relation to debates on collaboration, sexual and gender-based crimes and to understandings of Polish responses to the Holocaust.
The chapter focuses on the development of the UNWCC from its founding in late 1943 to the summer of 1945. It analyses its position at the nexus of inter-Allied debates on war crimes and demands for post-war justice. The chapter considers the flow of legal ideas through the organisation, and how those ideas, Allied inter-relations and knowledge of war crimes encouraged several representatives at the UNWCC to adopt a more expansive conception of the organisation’s role than that initially conceived by the British Foreign Office.
In the early part of the Second World War, the Polish Government in Exile (often in concert with the Czechoslovak government) sought to maintain pressure on the British Foreign Office to respond to war crimes. The chapter examines the statements made by Allied governments, from the Anglo–French–Polish statement of April 1940 to the publication of Punishment of War Crimes (2) in late August 1943. It analyses the diplomatic steps taken by the Polish Government in Exile to press for an Allied response to German atrocities. The chapter charts the path to the important St James’s Palace Declaration on Punishment for War Crimes of 13 January 1942. The 10 December 1942 Polish Note to Allies and the 17 December 1942 United Nations Declaration that publicly and officially recognised Germany’s policy ’to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe’ are also discussed.
This chapter introduces the United Nations War Crimes Commission and highlights its significance in relation to debates on war crimes during the Second World War. It is argued that the notion of war crimes at the start of the global conflagation was underdeveloped, and that a range of jurists, some of whom remain little known, made important contributions to developing legal knowledge that helped shape post-war war crimes prosecutions. The chapter explains the book’s focus on Poland and indicates how the Polish engagement with UNWCC can offer a fresh perspective on the emerging Cold War.
This chapter considers the activities of Polish War Crimes Office under the authority of the Provisional Government of National Unity (Warsaw) and the contribution various jurists associated with the War Crimes Office made to the work of the Polish delegation at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. It is argued that Polish jurists, through the submission of an indictment and liaison with prosecutors at Nuremberg, sought to ensure that Polish concerns were given due consideration. The final part of the chapter analyses Polish Charge Files submitted to the UNWCC during 1946 and discusses reasons for the relatively low rate of Charge File submissions in that year.
In the midst of the Second World War, the Allies acknowledged Germany's ongoing programme of extermination. In the Shadow of the Holocaust examines the struggle to attain post-war justice and prosecution. Focusing on Poland's engagement with the United Nations War Crimes Commission, it analyses the different ways that the Polish Government in Exile (based in London from 1940) agitated for an Allied response to German atrocities. Michael Fleming shows that jurists associated with the Government in Exile made significant contributions to legal debates on war crimes and, along with others, paid attention to German crimes against Jews. By exploring the relationship between the UNWCC and the Polish War Crimes Office under the authority of the Polish Government in Exile and later, from the summer of 1945, the Polish Government in Warsaw, Fleming provides a new lens through which to examine the early stages of the Cold War.
Two introduced carnivores, the European red fox Vulpes vulpes and domestic cat Felis catus, have had extensive impacts on Australian biodiversity. In this study, we collate information on consumption of Australian birds by the fox, paralleling a recent study reporting on birds consumed by cats. We found records of consumption by foxes on 128 native bird species (18% of the non-vagrant bird fauna and 25% of those species within the fox’s range), a smaller tally than for cats (343 species, including 297 within the fox’s Australian range, a subset of that of the cat). Most (81%) bird species eaten by foxes are also eaten by cats, suggesting that predation impacts are compounded. As with consumption by cats, birds that nest or forage on the ground are most likely to be consumed by foxes. However, there is also some partitioning, with records of consumption by foxes but not cats for 25 bird species, indicating that impacts of the two predators may also be complementary. Bird species ≥3.4 kg were more likely to be eaten by foxes, and those <3.4 kg by cats. Our compilation provides an inventory and describes characteristics of Australian bird species known to be consumed by foxes, but we acknowledge that records of predation do not imply population-level impacts. Nonetheless, there is sufficient information from other studies to demonstrate that fox predation has significant impacts on the population viability of some Australian birds, especially larger birds, and those that nest or forage on the ground.