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Public humiliation for violation of racial laws in Silesia, 1941

Film | Accession Number: 2012.142.1 | RG Number: RG-60.1356 | Film ID: 2954

Public humiliation of a young couple guilty of "Rassenschande" [racial shame or racial defilement] in Steinsdorf [present day Scinawa Nyska, Poland] in Silesia. Sexual relations between Germans and non-Aryans were forbidden and punishable by law in Nazi Germany. Bronia, a 16 year old Polish slave laborer, had been working with Gerhard Greschok (Krzeszczok), a 19 year old German, at the Adler family farm in Steinsdorf in the summer of 1941 when their forbidden affair was reported to the Gestapo. The film was discovered in an attic in Sturov, Slovakia in 1946.

01:00:00 Bronia and Gerhard are brought to Paul Hose's farm. They stand in front of the gate next to the home on the street, Gerhard with a sign around his neck. The men begin to place a bag over Bronia's head. A group of spectators and a policeman in uniform gather by an automobile, a few of the children have musical instruments, street sign "Neisse" visible in BG. Man with an overcoat, hat, and round-rimmed glasses (government official?) with his back to the camera seems to be in charge. Quick shot of four men (including the policeman and the man with glasses) around a building with an iron gate and a sign reading "...Steindorf". Cut to quick shot of young men (local Hitler Youth?) marching down the road (filmed from behind). 01:00:31 Back in front of Paul Hose's home, men finish putting the straw bag with a sign over Bronia's head. Spectators behind the fence can be seen peering over the fence observing the activity. Another view of the couple. Bronia's sign says "I am a Polish pig". Gerhard wears a sign saying "I am a German traitor." His hands are tied behind his back. The couple is forced to parade through the village streets. Approximately a dozen men (Hitler Youth?) escort Bronia and Gerhard, while children with musical instruments hover and walk closer to the curb. 01:00:41 A man with a still camera (frame right) quickly walks off screen.

The scarf is removed from Bronia's head. A light-haired man (Gestapo?) with wire-rimmed glasses, suit and striped tie, gestures and speaks to the crowd, and then begins to cut off Bronia's hair with scissors. Spectators of all ages (some were seen parading with the couple earlier) watch. A few smile. Some walk in and out of the frame. In the BG, a man leans out of a doorway. 01:01:22 An elderly woman with a headscarf watches. Different angles of the head-shaving. Another man shakes powder over Bronia's head. 01:01:42 Quick shot of the light-haired man cutting Gerhard's hair. Longer and wider shot of the man cutting Bronia's hair showing a ewspaper announcement board in BG and the man with camera (seen earlier). Camera pans left to show the captive audience. Back to the closer shot. A local helper with a mug of water assists the ringleader as he twists a bunch of hair at the crown of Bronia's head. They affix a flower to her sign. The light-haired man finishes cutting Gerhard's hair, stopping to berate him. He holds a mirror in front of Bronia's face so she can see herself, and twists a bunch of hair on Gerhard. Several women are in BG, other locals hang over a wire fence, and a youngster primps himself looking at the handheld mirror. The shorn couple stands side by side. 01:03:18 A brass band leads the procession of Bronia and Gerhard through the streets. They are surrounded by locals, the police officer, and two photographers. Very quick cut to film slate, "AGFA 1940."

01:03:30 The light-haired man crouches at street-level with Bronia (seen from behind) and bare-footed Gerhard at right. Their shorn hair is piled on the pavement and Bronia is forced to light a paper to set the pile of hair on fire. She is also barefoot. CU, hair in flames. Local children watch. 01:04:06 Long and wide shot of the couple paraded along the cobbled village streets, preceded by the brass band of youth. Another wide shot (from behind) as the couple walks along a dirt road surrounded by locals, Gerhard holds his hat behind him. Closer view as Bronia says something (to Gerhard?). 01:04:33 A young man in a cap and sweater points his finger and yells at the couple, they look down at the pavement. The police officer escorts Gerhard and Bronia to the city prison (filmed from behind a wire fence, trees block the view as the camera follows the activity). Side view of the couple, no longer wearing signs. A man stands behind them, talking to the light-haired man from earlier scenes. Crowd of locals. Another shot of the couple walking along with the policeman and a man in a trenchcoat, suit and hat (government official?), followed by the local spectators. View of landscape, presumably surrounding this Silesian town.

As punishment, Gerhard was sent to the Eastern Front where he was injured by shrapnel; he died in 1945. Bronia was sent to a concentration camp, where she most likely died (her fate is unknown). Typically, Polish men who violated the "racial laws" were hanged immediately. Polish women were sent to camps. German men were sentenced to front duty and German women, eventually, to prison.

Event:  1941
Steinsdorf, Poland
Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Instytut Slaski w Opolu
Record last modified: 2021-06-03 12:42:38
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