Gleiwitz incident

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Gleiwitz incident
Part of Operation Himmler
Glivice radio tower.JPG
The historic Gliwice Radio Tower in 2012, the tallest wooden structure in Europe.
German Empire 1937 adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Gleiwitz Radio Tower
Location of the Gleiwitz radio tower in Nazi Germany (1937 borders)
Type Special operations
Location
50°18′48″N18°41′21″E / 50.313370°N 18.689037°E / 50.313370; 18.689037 Coordinates: 50°18′48″N18°41′21″E / 50.313370°N 18.689037°E / 50.313370; 18.689037
ObjectivePretext for the invasion of Poland
Date31 August 1939 (1939-08-31)
Executed by German SS

The Gleiwitz incident (German: Überfall auf den Sender Gleiwitz; Polish : Prowokacja gliwicka) was a covert Nazi German attack on the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz on the night of 31 August 1939 (today Gliwice, Poland). The attack is widely regarded as a false flag operation, staged with some two dozen similar German incidents on the eve of the invasion of Poland leading up to World War II in Europe. [1] The attackers had been posed as Polish nationals. Adolf Hitler’s armed forces invaded Poland the next morning after a lengthy period of preparations. During his declaration of war, Hitler did not mention the Gleiwitz incident but grouped all provocations staged by the SS as an alleged Polish assault on Germany. The Gleiwitz incident is the best-known action of Operation Himmler, a series of special operations undertaken by the Schutzstaffel (SS) to serve Nazi German propaganda at the outbreak of war. The operation was intended to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany to justify the invasion of Poland. Evidence for the Gleiwitz attack by the SS was provided by the German SS officer, Alfred Naujocks in 1945. [1]

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish-language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

Gliwice City in Silesian Voivodeship, Poland

Gliwice(listen) is a city in Upper Silesia, in southern Poland. The city is located in the Silesian Highlands, on the Kłodnica river. It lies approximately 25 km west from Katowice, regional capital of the Silesian Voivodeship.

False flag Covert operation designed to deceive

A false flag is a covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group, or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility.

Contents

Events at Gleiwitz

Alfred Naujocks, who organised and led the Gleiwitz operation on the orders of the Gestapo Alfred Naujocks.jpg
Alfred Naujocks, who organised and led the Gleiwitz operation on the orders of the Gestapo

Much of what is known about the Gleiwitz incident comes from the affidavit of SS-Sturmbannführer Alfred Naujocks at the Nuremberg Trials. In his testimony, he stated that he organised the incident under orders from Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Müller, chief of the Gestapo. [2] On the night of 31 August 1939, a small group of German operatives dressed in Polish uniforms and led by Naujocks seized the Gleiwitz station and broadcast a short anti-German message in Polish (sources vary on the content of the message). [3] The operation was named "Grossmutter gestorben" (Grandmother died). [4] The operation was to make the attack and the broadcast look like the work of Polish anti-German saboteurs. [3] [5]

Affidavit written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law

An affidavit is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public or commissioner of oaths. An affidavit is a type of verified statement or showing, or in other words, it contains a verification, meaning it is under oath or penalty of perjury, and this serves as evidence to its veracity and is required for court proceedings.

Alfred Naujocks SS officer

Alfred Helmut Naujocks, alias Hans Müller, Alfred Bonsen, and Rudolf Möbert, was a German SS functionary during the Third Reich. He took part in the staged Gleiwitz incident intended to provide the justification for the attack on Poland by Nazi Germany, starting the Second World War in Europe.

Reinhard Heydrich High Nazi German official, deputy head of the SS

Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich was a high-ranking German SS and police official during the Nazi era, and a main architect of the Holocaust. He was chief of the Reich Main Security Office. He was also Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia. Heydrich served as president of the International Criminal Police Commission and chaired the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, which formalised plans for the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question"—the deportation and genocide of all Jews in German-occupied Europe.

Heydrich (left) with Karl Hermann Frank at Prague Castle in 1941 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1972-039-26, Reinhard Heydrich im Prager Schloss crop.jpg
Heydrich (left) with Karl Hermann Frank at Prague Castle in 1941

To make the attack seem more convincing, the Gestapo murdered Franciszek Honiok, a 43-year-old unmarried German Silesian Catholic farmer, known for sympathising with the Poles. He had been arrested the previous day by the Gestapo and dressed to look like a saboteur, then killed by lethal injection, given gunshot wounds. Honiok was left dead at the scene so that he appeared to have been killed while attacking the station. His corpse was then presented to the police and press as proof of the attack. [6] Several prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were drugged, shot dead on the site and their faces disfigured to make identification impossible. [3] [5] [7] The Germans referred to them by the code phrase "Konserve" (canned goods). Some sources incorrectly refer to the incident as Operation Canned Goods. [8] In an oral testimony at the trials, Erwin von Lahousen stated that his division of the Abwehr was one of two that were given the task of providing Polish Army uniforms, equipment and identification cards; he was later told by Wilhelm Canaris that people from concentration camps had been disguised in these uniforms and ordered to attack the radio stations. [9]

Franciszek Honiok is famous for being the first victim of World War II on 31 August 1939.

Silesians inhabitants of the Silesia region

Silesians is a geographical term for the inhabitants of Silesia, a historical region in Central Europe divided by the current national boundaries of Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Gestapo official secret police of Nazi Germany

The Geheime Staatspolizei, abbreviated Gestapo, was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.

Context

Plaque on site commemorating the incident Glivice plaque.JPG
Plaque on site commemorating the incident

The Gleiwitz incident was a part of a larger operation carried out by Abwehr and SS forces. [5] Other orchestrated incidents were conducted along the Polish-German border at the same time as the Gleiwitz attack, such as a house burning in the Polish Corridor and spurious propaganda. The project was called Operation Himmler and comprised incidents giving the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany. [10] [8] German newspapers and politicians, including Adolf Hitler, had made accusations against Polish authorities for months before the 1939 invasion of organising or tolerating violent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans living in Poland. [10] [11] On 1 September 1939, the day following the Gleiwitz attack, Germany launched Fall Weiss (Case White) the invasion of Poland, which precipitated World War II in Europe. Hitler cited the border incidents in a speech in the Reichstag on the same day, with three of them called very serious, as justification for his invasion of Poland. [10] Hitler had told his generals on 22 August, "I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn't matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth". [5] [8]

<i>Abwehr</i> military intelligence of the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht

The Abwehr was the German military intelligence service for the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht from 1920 to 1945. Despite the fact that the Treaty of Versailles prohibited the Germans altogether from establishing an intelligence organization of their own, they formed an espionage group in 1920 within the Ministry of Defense, calling it the Abwehr. The initial purpose of the Abwehr was defense against foreign espionage—an organizational role which later evolved considerably. Under General Kurt von Schleicher the individual military services' intelligence units were combined and, in 1929, centralized under his Ministry of Defense, forming the foundation for the more commonly understood manifestation of the Abwehr.

Polish Corridor

The Polish Corridor, also known as the Danzig Corridor, Corridor to the Sea or Gdańsk Corridor, was a territory located in the region of Pomerelia, which provided the Second Republic of Poland (1920–1939) with access to the Baltic Sea, thus dividing the bulk of Germany from the province of East Prussia. The Free City of Danzig was separate from both Poland and Germany. A similar territory, also occasionally referred to as a corridor, had been connected to the Polish Crown as part of Royal Prussia during the period 1466–1772.

Operation Himmler

Operation Himmler was a 1939 false flag project planned by Nazi Germany to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany, which was subsequently used by the Nazis to justify the invasion of Poland. This included staging false attacks on themselves using innocent people or concentration camp prisoners. Operation Himmler was arguably the first act of the Second World War in Europe.

International reactions

American correspondents were summoned to the scene the next day but no neutral parties were allowed to investigate the incident in detail and the international public was sceptical of the German version of the incident. [5] [12]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

There have been several adaptations of the incident in cinema. Der Fall Gleiwitz (1961), directed by Gerhard Klein for DEFA studios (The Gleiwitz Case; English subtitles), is an East German film that reconstructs the events. [13]

The Gleiwitz Case is an East German war film directed by Gerhard Klein. It was released in 1961. The plot was reconstructed exactly according to the statements of SS-Man Alfred Naujocks before British authorities at the Nuremberg trials.

DEFA was the state-owned film studio of the German Democratic Republic throughout the country's existence.

East Germany Former communist country, 1949-1990

East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic, was a country that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the eastern portion of Germany was part of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. It described itself as a socialist "workers' and peasants' state", and the territory was administered and occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II — the Soviet Occupation Zone of the Potsdam Agreement, bounded on the east by the Oder–Neisse line. The Soviet zone surrounded West Berlin but did not include it; as a result, West Berlin remained outside the jurisdiction of the GDR.

Operacja Himmler (1979) is a Polish film that covers the events. [14]

Both Die Blechtrommel (1979), directed by Volker Schlöndorff and Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil (1985), directed by Jim Goddard, briefly include the incident. [15] [16]

It was also mentioned in a video game; Codename: Panzers (2004), which stirred up controversy in Poland where the game was briefly discussed in Polish media as anti-Polish falsification of history, before the issue was cleared up as a case of poor reporting. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sicherheitsdienst, full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. Originating in 1931, the organization was the first Nazi intelligence organization to be established and was considered a sister organization with the Gestapo through integration of SS members and operational procedures. Between 1933 and 1939, the SD was administered as an independent SS office, after which it was transferred to the authority of the Reich Main Security Office, as one of its seven departments/offices. Its first director, Reinhard Heydrich, intended for the SD to bring every single individual within the Third Reich's reach under "continuous supervision".

Casus belli is a Latin expression meaning "an act or event that provokes or is used to justify war". A casus belli involves direct offenses or threats against the nation declaring the war, whereas a casus foederis involves offenses or threats against its ally—usually one bound by a mutual defense pact. Either may be considered an act of war.

Venlo incident

The Venlo incident was a covert German Sicherheitsdienst operation on 9 November 1939, in the course of which two British Secret Intelligence Service agents were captured five meters (16 ft) from the German border, on the outskirts of the Dutch town of Venlo.

Operation Tannenberg

Operation Tannenberg was a codename for one of the extermination actions by Nazi Germany that was directed at the Poles during the opening stages of World War II in Europe, as part of the Generalplan Ost for the German colonization of the East. The shootings were conducted with the use of a proscription list, compiled by the Gestapo in the span of two years before the 1939 invasion.

The Reich Main Security Office was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei and Reichsführer-SS, the head of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel (SS). The organization's stated duty was to fight all "enemies of the Reich" inside and outside the borders of Nazi Germany.

SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT) was formed in 1934 as combat troops for the Nazi Party (NSDAP). On 17 August 1938 Adolf Hitler decreed that the SS-VT was neither a part of the police nor the German Wehrmacht, but military-trained men at the disposal of the Führer. At the time of war, the SS-VT were to be placed at the disposal of the army.

Kurt Daluege German SS general

Kurt Max Franz Daluege was the chief of the national uniformed Ordnungspolizei of Nazi Germany. Following Reinhard Heydrich's assassination in 1942, he served as Deputy Protector for the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Daluege directed the German measures of retribution for the assassination, including the Lidice massacre. After the end of World War II, he was extradited to Czechoslovakia, tried, convicted and executed in 1946.

Gliwice Radio Tower transmission tower in the Szobiszowice district of Gliwice, Upper Silesia, Poland

The Gliwice Radio Tower is a transmission tower in the Szobiszowice district of Gliwice, Upper Silesia, Poland.

<i>Selbstschutz</i>

Selbstschutz is the name given to different iterations of ethnic-German self-protection units formed both after the First World War and in the lead-up to the Second World War.

<i>Feldzug in Polen</i> 1940 Nazi propaganda film directed by Fritz Hippler

Feldzug in Polen is a 69-minute Nazi propaganda film released in 1940 depicting the 1939 invasion of Poland and directed by Fritz Hippler. Portraying the Poles as aggressors and ethnic Germans living in Poland as an oppressed minority, the film alleges that the Poles employed unheroic tactics in the war and characterizes as senseless the defence of a besieged Warsaw. The film was often screened by German minorities overseas to clarify the German point of view. The Gleiwitz incident was part of Operation Himmler run by the SS and SD to justify German aggression. It involved dressing Nazi concentration camp prisoners as Polish soldiers who apparently attacked a German radio station. The prisoners were murdered by the SS/SD, appearing to have been shot by heroic German defenders. Other parts of Operation Himmler involved terrorist attacks on the Polish Railways and attacks by ethnic Germans on Polish property.

<i>Intelligenzaktion</i>

Intelligenzaktion was a secret mass murder conducted by Nazi Germany against the Polish intelligentsia early in the Second World War (1939–45). The operations were conducted to realise the Germanization of the western regions of occupied Poland, before territorial annexation to the German Reich.

<i>Intelligenzaktion Pommern</i>

The Intelligenzaktion Pommern was a Nazi German operation aimed at the eradication of the Polish intelligentsia in Pomeranian Voivodeship and the surrounding areas at the beginning of World War II. It was part of a larger genocidal Intelligenzaktion, that took place across most of Nazi-occupied western Poland in the course of Operation Tannenberg, purposed to install Nazi officials from Sipo, Kripo, Gestapo and SD at the helm of a new administrative machine.

Operacja Himmler (film) is a Polish historical film. It was released in 1979. It tells about the Gleiwitz incident.

References

  1. 1 2 Gleiwitz casus belli. Google Books. 2018. Nazi government under Hitler's leadership staged the Gleiwitz incident as a casus belli for the invasion of Poland the following morning
  2. "20 Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 4". Avalon Project. 20 December 1945. Retrieved 12 October 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 Christopher J. Ailsby, The Third Reich Day by Day, Zenith Imprint, 2001, ISBN   0-7603-1167-6, Google Print, p. 112
  4. The World War II's first victim. A farmer was murdered as part of a Nazi plot to provide an excuse to invade Poland, the story of a man forgotten by history. By Bob Graham, 29 Aug 2009. The Telegraph.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 James J. Wirtz, Roy Godson, Strategic Denial and Deception: The Twenty-First Century Challenge, Transaction Publishers, 2002, ISBN   0-7658-0898-6, Google Print, p.100
  6. "Museum in Gliwice: What happened here?". Muzeum.gliwice.pl. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  7. Thomas Laqueur, 'Devoted to Terror,' in London Review of Books, Vol. 37 No. 18–24 September 2015, pp. 9–16.
  8. 1 2 3 Bradley Lightbody, The Second World War: Ambitions to Nemesis, Routledge, 2004; ISBN   0-415-22405-5, Google Print, p.39
  9. "20 Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 2; Friday, 30 November 1945". Avalon Project . Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  10. 1 2 3 "Address by Adolf Hitler". archives of the Avalon Project at the Yale Law School. 1 September 1939. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  11. "Holocaust Educational Resource". Nizkor. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  12. Steven J. Zaloga, Poland 1939: The Birth of Blitzkrieg, Google Print, p. 39, Osprey Publishing, 2002; ISBN   1-84176-408-6
  13. Der Fall Gleiwitz (1961), IMDb.com; accessed 4 June 2015.
  14. Operacja Himmler (TV 1979), IMDb.com; accessed 4 June 2015.
  15. Die Blechtrommel (1979), IMDb.com; accessed 4 June 2015.
  16. Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (TV 1985), IMDb.com; accessed 4 June 2015.
  17. "Skrytykowali grę, choć jej nie widzieli". Wiadomosci.gazeta.pl. 23 August 2004. Retrieved 18 May 2012.

Further reading