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Operation Himmler

// Nazi operation to justify the invasion of Poland and considered as the first act of the World War II.

Who was the first victim of a war that would do more than forty million of them? It was a prisoner of the Nazi concentration camps (probably Dachau) used in a German secret operation that would lead to the outbreak of World War II.

Some months before the invasion of Poland by Germany, several German newspapers and other politicians like Adolf Hitler had already begun a national and international campaign accusing Polish authorities of organizing or tolerating violent ethnic cleansing of Germans living in Poland.

The August 22, 1939, Adolft Hitler warned his generals that he would get something that would legitimize an action war against Poland:

«I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn't matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth.»

Then they launched a plan that had the name of its creator Heinrich Himmler and was initially supervised by Heinrich Müller and then by Reinhard Heydrich. The aim was to create the idea of a Polish aggression against Germany, which would later be used to justify the invasion of Poland. In addition, another of the intentions of Adolf Hitler was that such an operation would confuse the Poland allies (United Kingdom and France) and delay their declaration of war on Germany.

Operation Himmler had several episodes:

  • Assault on radio station Gleitwitz (now Gliwice in Poland);
  • Attack of the customs station at Hochlinden;
  • Attack on forest service station at Pitschen.

The main one was in fact the assault on Gleitwitz radio station (about 4 kilometers from the border with Poland at that time) at about 8pm of August 31, 1939 where a small group of six German SS agents, dressed in Polish uniforms and led by Alfred Naujocks, attacked the Gleiwitz station and broadcasted a short anti-German message in Polish:

«Uwage! Tu Gliwice. Rozglosnia znajduje sie w rekach Polskich.»
(Attention! This is Gliwice. The broadcasting station is in Polish hands.)

In one of the cars was Franciszek Honiok, a peasant and Catholic singles 43 years old. He had been chosen because of his involvement in a series of local revolts against German rule in Silesia (border region covering today Poland, Germany and Czech Republic).
Franciszek Honiok had been arrested and killed by the SS in the village of Polomia the previous day and selected as one that would be proof of Polish aggression against Germany. Along with such prisoner, the SS agents also left behind other uniformed men with polish uniforms who has been taken away from the concentration camp of Dachau  and killed by lethal injection and subsequently shot.

In a carefully coordinated act and almost simultaneously, all German radio stations broadcasted the message of "invaders". It was also reported that the bodies of Polish soldiers killed in the incident had been left in place.
At London, the BBC broadcast the statement:

«There have been reports of an attack on a radio station in Gliwice, which is just across the Polish border in Germany.
The German News Agency reports the attack came at about 8pm this evening when the Poles forced their way into the studio and began broadcasting a statement in Polish. Within a quarter of an hour, say reports, the Poles were overpowered by German police who opened fire on them. Several of the Poles were reported killed but the numbers are not yet known.»

At 10 am the next day, in a speech at the Kroll Opera (where parliament met since the fire that had destroyed the Reichstag in 1933), Adolf Hitler cited the border incidents as a reason to justify a 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.»

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The Telegraph, Wikipedia, Gliwice Museum

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