The Germanization of the annexed lands also included an ambitious program to resettle Germans from the Baltic and other regions on farms and other homes formerly occupied by Poles and Jews. Beginning in October 1939, the SS began to expel Poles and Jews from the Wartheland and the Danzig corridor and transport them to the General Government. By the end of 1940, the SS had expelled 325,000 people without warning and plundered their property and belongings. Many elderly people and children died en route or in makeshift transit camps such as those in the towns of Potulice, Smukal, and Torun. In 1941, the Germans expelled 45,000 more people, but they scaled backed the program after the invasion of the Soviet Union in late June 1941. Trains used for resettlement were more urgently needed to transport soldiers and supplies to the front.
In late 1942 and in 1943, the SS also carried out massive expulsions in the General Government, uprooting 110,000 Poles from 300 villages in the Zamosc-Lublin region. Families were torn apart as able-bodied teens and adults were taken for forced labor and elderly, young, and disabled persons were moved to other localities. Tens of thousands were also imprisoned in Auschwitz or Majdanek concentration camps.
During the Zamosc expulsions the Germans seized many children from their parents to be racially screened for possible adoption by German parents in the SS Lebensborn ("Fount of Life") program. As many as 4,454 children chosen for Germanization were given German names, forbidden to speak Polish, and reeducated in SS or other Nazi institutions, where many died of hunger or disease. Few ever saw their parents again. Many more children were rejected as unsuitable for Germanization after failing to measure up to racial scientists' criteria for establishing "Aryan" ancestry; they were sent to children's homes or killed, some of them at Auschwitz of phenol injections. An estimated total of 50,000 children were kidnapped in Poland, the majority taken from orphanages and foster homes in the annexed lands. Infants born to Polish women deported to Germany as farm and factory laborers were also usually taken from the mothers and subjected to Germanization. (If an examination of the father and mother suggested that a "racially valuable" child might not result from the union, abortion was compulsory.)
The Zamosc expulsions spurred intense resistance as the Poles began to fear they were to suffer the same fate as the Jews—systematic deportation to extermination camps. Attacks on ethnic German settlers by members of the Polish resistance, whose ranks were filled with terrorized peasants, in turn provoked mass executions or other forms of German terror.
Throughout the occupation, the Germans applied a ruthless retaliation policy in an attempt to destroy resistance. As the Polish resistance grew bolder in 1943 after the German defeat at Stalingrad, German reprisal efforts escalated. The Germans destroyed dozens of villages, killing men, women, and children. Public executions by hanging or shooting in Warsaw and other cities occurred daily. During the war the Germans destroyed at least 300 villages in Poland.