Government General of Warsaw

General Governorate of Warsaw
Generalgouvernement Warschau  (German)
Generalne Gubernatorstwo Warszawskie  (Polish)
The Government General of Warsaw, depicted in light blue
The Government General of Warsaw, depicted in light blue
Capital Warsaw
Common languages German, Polish
Government Occupation authority
• Established
18 October 1915
• Armistice, withdrawal of German forces
11 November 1918
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Vistula Land
Ober Ost
Second Polish Republic
Today part of Poland

The General Government of Warsaw (German: Generalgouvernement Warschau) was an administrative civil district created by the German Empire in World War I.[1] It encompassed the north-western half of the former Russian-ruled Congress Poland.[1]

Although the territory initially formed a part of the Ober Ost military command under the authority of general Erich Ludendorff, after the military advances of the Central Powers in the fall offensive of 1915 the territory came under a separate administration in October.[1] It continued to exist even after the later establishment of a rump Kingdom of Poland, a Central Powers puppet state. Its governor-general, Hans Hartwig von Beseler, held his office for the entire duration of the region's existence. The headquarters of the General Government operated in the Royal Castle, Warsaw, while the governor-general's seat was in the Belvedere palace, Warsaw.[2]

To the south of the General Government lay an Austro-Hungarian-controlled counterpart called the Military Government of Lublin.[1]

On 18 October 1916 a joint administration was introduced[by whom?] for both districts of the former Congress Poland, with a German civil-servant, Wolfgang von Kries, appointed as the first chief of the intended administration. On 9 December, Kries founded a Polish central bank, which issued a new currency, the Polish mark (Marka polska).

During the occupation, German authorities drafted Poles into forced labor to replace German workers drafted into the army.


No. Portrait Name Term Notes
1 General von Beseler (closeup 3x4).jpg Hans Hartwig von Beseler 1915–1918 Served as governor-general from August 1915 to November 1918. He was also the titular commander of the Polska Siła Zbrojna, or "Polnische Wehrmacht". With the Polish declaration of independence and Germany's surrender, Beseler escaped from Warsaw to Berlin disguised as a worker. Reviled in both Germany and Poland, he died in 1921.[3]

Chiefs of Joint Administration:

  • Wolfgang von Kries [de] (18 October 1915 – 26 November 1917)
  • Otto von Steinmeister [de] (26 November 1917 – 6 October 1918)
10 Polish marks, 1917

See also



  1. ^ a b c d Liulevicius, Vejas G. (2000). War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, Identity, and German Occupation in World War I. Cambridge University Press, p. 54. [1]
  2. ^ W. Głębocki, Pałace Warszawy, Warszawa 1991, s. 8. ISBN 83-217-2814-6
  3. ^ Roshwald, Aviel (2002). European Culture in the Great War. University of Cambridge. p. 70. ISBN 9780521013246. Retrieved 2021-08-07.