Operation Himmler

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Shown from left to right in this 1939 photograph are: Franz Josef Huber, Arthur Nebe, and the three men responsible for planning of most of Operation Himmler: Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Muller. Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R98680, Besprechung Himmler mit Muller, Heydrich, Nebe, Huber2.jpg
Shown from left to right in this 1939 photograph are: Franz Josef Huber, Arthur Nebe, and the three men responsible for planning of most of Operation Himmler: Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Müller.

Operation Himmler (less often known as Operation Konserve or Operation Canned Goods) 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. [1]

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.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Second Polish Republic 1918-1939 republic in Eastern Europe

The Second Polish Republic, commonly known as interwar Poland, refers to the country of Poland in the period between the First and Second World Wars (1918–1939). Officially known as the Republic of Poland, sometimes Commonwealth of Poland, the Polish state was re-established in 1918, in the aftermath of World War I. When, after several regional conflicts, the borders of the state were fixed in 1922, Poland's neighbours were Czechoslovakia, Germany, the Free City of Danzig, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and the Soviet Union. It had access to the Baltic Sea via a short strip of coastline either side of the city of Gdynia. Between March and August 1939, Poland also shared a border with the then-Hungarian governorate of Subcarpathia. The Second Republic ceased to exist in 1939, when Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic, marking the beginning of the European theatre of World War II.



For months prior to the 1939 invasion, German newspapers and politicians like Adolf Hitler had carried out a national and international propaganda campaign accusing Polish authorities of organizing or tolerating violent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans living in Poland. [2] [3]

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Propaganda Form of communication intended to sway the audience through presenting only one side of the argument

Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, but activist groups, companies, religious organizations and the media can also produce propaganda.

Ethnic cleansing is the systematic forced removal of ethnic, racial and/or religious groups from a given territory by a more powerful ethnic group, often with the intent of making it ethnically homogeneous. The forces applied may be various forms of forced migration, intimidation, as well as genocide and genocidal rape.

The plan, named after its originator, Heinrich Himmler, [1] was supervised by Reinhard Heydrich [4] and managed [5] by Heinrich Müller. [1] [4] The goal of this false flag project was to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany, which could be used to justify the German invasion of Poland. Hitler also might have hoped to confuse Poland's allies, the United Kingdom and France, into delaying or stopping their declaration of war on Germany. [6]

Heinrich Himmler High Nazi Germany official, head of the SS

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel, and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Germany. Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and a main architect of the Holocaust.

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.

Heinrich Müller (Gestapo) German police official and head of the Gestapo

Heinrich Müller was a German police official under both the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. He became chief of the Gestapo, the political secret state police of Nazi Germany, and was involved in the planning and execution of the Holocaust. He was known as "Gestapo Müller" to distinguish him from another SS general also named Heinrich Müller. He was last seen in the Führerbunker in Berlin on 1 May 1945 and remains the most senior figure of the Nazi regime who was never captured or confirmed to have died.


The operations were mostly carried out on 31 August 1939. [7] The operation - as well as the main German offensive - was originally scheduled for 26 August; the shifting diplomatic situation resulted in delay until 31 August/1 September - but one of the German undercover units was not informed and carried out its attack on a German customs post; several Germans were killed before the incident ended. [8] The operations were carried by agents of the SS [7] and the SD. [9] The German troops, dressed in Polish uniforms, would storm various border buildings, scare the locals with inaccurate shots, carry out acts of vandalism, and retreat, leaving behind dead bodies in Polish uniforms. [9] The bodies were in fact prisoners from concentration camps; they were dressed in Polish uniforms, killed (by a lethal injection, then shot for appearance) and left behind. They were described in plans as "Konserve", i.e. 'canned goods' (which also led to the more informal name of the operation, Operation Konserve). [1] [7] [10] [11]

<i>Schutzstaffel</i> Major paramilitary organization of Nazi Germany

The Schutzstaffel was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II. It began with a small guard unit known as the Saal-Schutz made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for party meetings in Munich. In 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under his direction (1929–45) it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. From 1929 until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and 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".

There were several separate operations, including staged attacks on:

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.

Gleiwitz incident staged attack by Nazi forces to begin the invasion of Poland in 1939

The Gleiwitz incident was a covert Nazi German attack on the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz on the night of 31 August 1939. 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. The attackers had been posed as Polish nationals. Adolf Hitler 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.

Rybnik Place in Silesian, Poland

Rybnik(listen) is a city in southwestern Poland, in the Silesian Voivodeship. The city first developed as a fishing centre in the Middle Ages, then was a capital of so-called Rybnik State. Rybnik grew as an important centre of coal mining and the seat of the surrounding county in the 19th century. Under Poland's communist rule from 1945-1989 the city was projected to grow as a main mining centre of southern Poland.

The Gleiwitz incident

Alfred Naujocks Alfred Naujocks.jpg
Alfred Naujocks
Gliwice Radio Tower today. It is the highest wooden structure in Europe. Sender gliwice.jpg
Gliwice Radio Tower today. It is the highest wooden structure in Europe.

On the night of 31 August 1939 a small group of German operatives, dressed in Polish uniforms and led by Alfred Naujocks, seized the Gleiwitz station and broadcast a short anti-German message in Polish (sources vary on the content of the message). Several prisoners (most likely from the Dachau concentration camp) and a local Polish-Silesian activist (arrested a day before) were left dead on the scene in Polish uniforms. [10] [13]

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.

Anti-German sentiment

Anti-German sentiment is defined as an opposition to or fear of Germany, its inhabitants, its culture and the German language. Its opposite is Germanophilia. The sentiment largely began with the mid-19th century unification of Germany, which made the new nation a rival to the Great Powers of Europe on economic, cultural, geopolitical and military grounds.

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.


On 1 September, in a speech in the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler cited the 21 border incidents as justification for Germany's "defensive" action against Poland:

I can no longer find any willingness on the part of the Polish Government to conduct serious negotiations with us. These proposals for mediation have failed because in the meanwhile there, first of all, came as an answer the sudden Polish general mobilization, followed by more Polish atrocities. These were again repeated last night. Recently in one night there were as many as twenty-one frontier incidents: last night there were fourteen, of which three were quite serious. I have, therefore, resolved to speak to Poland in the same language that Poland for months past has used toward us...

This night for the first time Polish regular soldiers fired on our own territory. Since 5:45 a. m. we have been returning the fire... I will continue this struggle, no matter against whom, until the safety of the Reich and its rights are secured [2]

By mid-1939, thousands of Polish Volksdeutsche had been secretly prepared for sabotage and guerrilla warfare by the Breslau (Wrocław) office of the Abwehr; the purpose of their activities was to provoke anti-German reprisals that could be claimed as provocations by the Germans. [14] Those German agents indeed cooperated with the German forces during the invasion of Poland, leading to some reprisals, which were highly exaggerated by the German Nazi propaganda. [14] [15] [16] One of the most notable cases of such a scenario was reportedly carried out during Bydgoszcz Bloody Sunday. An instruction issued by the Ministry of Propaganda for the press said:

must show news on the barbarism of Poles in Bromberg. The expression "bloody sunday" must enter as a permanent term in the dictionary and circumnavigate the globe. For that reason, this term must be continuously underlined. [17]

The operation failed to convince international public opinion of the German claims. [6]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Roger Manvell, Heinrich Fraenkel, Heinrich Himmler: The SS, Gestapo, His Life and Career, Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2007, ISBN   1-60239-178-5, Google Print, p.76
  2. 1 2 Address by Adolf Hitler - September 1, 1939; retrieved from the archives of the Avalon Project at the Yale Law School.
  3. Nazi Conspiracy And Aggression, Volume VI. Office of United States Chief of Counsel For Prosecution of Axis Criminality. United States Government Printing Office: Washington, 1946, p.188
  4. 1 2 20 Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 4; Thursday, 20 December 1945 Archived 24 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine .. The Avalon Project. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  5. Gerald Reitlinger, The SS, Alibi of a Nation, 1922-1945, Da Capo Press, 1989, ISBN   0-306-80351-8, Print, p.122
  6. 1 2 Steven J. Zaloga, Poland 1939: The Birth of Blitzkrieg, Osprey Publishing, 2002, ISBN   1-84176-408-6, Google Print, p.39
  7. 1 2 3 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
  8. Jack Weidner, A Question of Honor, Infinity Publishing, 2002, ISBN   0-7414-0953-4, Google Print, p.61
  9. 1 2 3 4 Martin Allen, Himmler's Secret War: The Covert Peace Negotiations of Heinrich Himmler, Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005, ISBN   0-7867-1708-4, Google Print, p.51
  10. 1 2 3 4 Christopher J. Ailsby, The Third Reich Day by Day, Zenith Imprint, 2001, ISBN   0-7603-1167-6, Google Print, p.112
  11. John S. Craig, Peculiar Liaisons in War, Espionage, and Terrorism of the Twentieth Century, Algora Publishing, 2005, ISBN   0-87586-331-0, Google Print, p.180
  12. Jorgensen, Christer, "Hitler's Espionage Machine", Spellmount Ltd., 2004, ISBN   1-86227-244-1
  13. Museum in Gliwice: WHAT HAPPENED HERE?
  14. 1 2 Perry Biddiscombe, Alexander Perry, Werwolf!: The History of the National Socialist Guerrilla Movement, 1944-1946, University of TorontoPress, 1998, ISBN   0-8020-0862-3, Google Print, p.207
  15. For an example of Nazi propaganda document discussing "Polish atrocities against the German people", see The Polish Atrocities Against the German Minority in Poland Compiled by Hans Schadewaldt (Berlin: German Foreign Office, 1940) pp. 35-54, cases 1 - 15. signed testimony of Herbert Matthes, Bromberg furniture maker
  16. Richard Blanke, The American Historical Review, Vol. 97, No. 2. Apr. 1992, pp. 580-582. Review of: Włodzimierz Jastrzębski,Der Bromberger Blutsonntag: Legende und Wirklichkeit. and Andrzej Brożek, Niemcy zagraniczni w polityce kolonizacji pruskich prowincji wschodnich (1886-1918)
  17. A. K. Kunert, Z. Walkowski, Kronika kampanii wrześniowej 1939, Wydawnictwo Edipresse Polska, Warszawa 2005, ISBN   83-60160-99-6, s. 35.

Further reading

Coordinates: 50°19′00″N18°41′00″E / 50.3167°N 18.6833°E / 50.3167; 18.6833