|Part of Operation Himmler|
Gliwice Radio Tower in 2012
|Type||False flag attack|
|Objective||Pretext for the invasion of Poland|
|Date||31 August 1939|
|Executed by||German SS|
The Gleiwitz incident (German: Überfall auf den Sender Gleiwitz; Polish : Prowokacja gliwicka) was a false flag attack on the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz, staged by Nazi Germany on the night of 31 August 1939. Along with some two dozen similar incidents, the attack was manufactured by Germany as a casus belli to justify the invasion of Poland, which began the next morning. The attackers posed as Polish nationals.
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.
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.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). The operation was named "Grossmutter gestorben" (Grandmother died). The operation was to make the attack and the broadcast look like the work of Polish anti-German saboteurs.
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 and 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.Several prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were drugged, shot dead on the site and their faces disfigured to make identification impossible. The Germans referred to them by the code phrase "Konserve" (canned goods). Some sources incorrectly refer to the incident as Operation Canned Goods. 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.
The Gleiwitz incident was a part of a larger operation carried out by Abwehr and SS forces.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. 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. 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. 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".
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 skeptical of the German version of the incident.
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.
Operacja Himmler (1979) is a Polish film that covers the events.
Both Die Blechtrommel (1979), directed by Volker Schlöndorff and Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil (1985), directed by Jim Goddard, briefly include the incident.
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.
The Geheime Staatspolizei, abbreviated Gestapo, was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.
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. He served as president of the International Criminal Police Commission and chaired the January 1942 Wannsee Conference which formalised plans for the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question"—the deportation and genocide of all Jews in German-occupied Europe.
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.
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 was a codename for one of the anti-Polish 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.
Bruno Streckenbach was a German SS functionary during the Nazi era. He was the head of Administration and Personnel Department of the Reich Main Security Office. Streckenbach was responsible for many thousands of murders committed by Nazi mobile killing squads known as Einsatzgruppen.
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.
The Gliwice Radio Tower is a transmission tower in the Szobiszowice district of Gliwice, Upper Silesia, Poland.
SS-Totenkopfverbände was the SS organization responsible for administering the Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps for Nazi Germany, among similar duties. While the Totenkopf (skull) was the universal cap badge of the SS, the SS-TV also wore the Death's Head insignia on the right collar tab to distinguish itself from other Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) formations.
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, a False flag intended to provide the justification for the attack on Poland by Nazi Germany, starting the Second World War in Europe.
Franciszek Honiok is famous for having been the first victim of World War II on 31 August 1939.
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.
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.
The Intelligenzaktion, or Intelligentsia mass shootings, was a, not always 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.
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.
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.
The Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz was an ethnic German self-protection militia, a paramilitary organization consisting of ethnic German (Volksdeutsche) mobilized from among the German minority in Poland. The Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz operated before, and during the opening stages of, World War II in the western half of Poland and were responsible for, and took part in, massacres of Poles, along with SS Einsatzgruppen. Selbstschutz counted circa 100,000 members, who formed greater part of German minority members "fit for action".
Nazi government under Hitler's leadership staged the Gleiwitz incident as a casus belli for the invasion of Poland the following morning