Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gleiwitz Incident

The Gleiwitz incident was a staged attack by Nazi forces posing as Poles on 31 August 1939, against the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, Germany (since 1945: Gliwice, Poland) on the eve of World War II in Europe.

This provocation was the best-known of several actions in Operation Himmler, a Nazi Germany SS project. It was intended to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany in order to justify the subsequent invasion of Poland.

Much of what is known about the Gleiwitz incident comes from the sworn affidavit of Alfred Naujocks at the Nuremberg Trials. In his testimony, he states that he organized the incident under orders from Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Müller, the 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 Germans' goal was to make the attack and the broadcast look like the work of anti-German Polish saboteurs.

To make the attack seem more convincing, the Germans brought in Franciszek Honiok, a German Silesian known for sympathizing with the Poles, who had been arrested the previous day by the Gestapo. Honiok was dressed to look like a saboteur; then killed by lethal injection, given gunshot wounds, and left dead at the scene, so that he appeared to have been killed while attacking the station. His corpse was subsequently presented as proof of the attack to the police and press.

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