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Encyclopedia > Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig
Polish September Campaign
WesterplatteDanzigKrojanty • Lasy Królewskie • Mokra • Gdańsk Bay • Pszczyna • Mława • Tuchola Forest • Jordanów • Borowa Góra • Mikołów • Węgierska Górka • Tomaszów Mazowiecki • Wizna • Łódź • Piotrków • Różan • Radom • Łomża • Wola CyrusowaWarsawGdyniaHelBzura • Jarosław • Kałuszyn • Węgrów • LwówModlin • Kobryń • Brześć • Kępa Oksywska • Tomaszów Lubelski • Wólka Węglowa • Kampinos Forest • Janów Lubelski, Wereszyca, and Hołosko • Krasnystaw • Grodno • Cześniki • Krasnobród • Władypol • SzackWytyczno • Parczew • Kock

The Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig (today Gdańsk) was one of the first battles of the Polish September Campaign, and of the World War II in Europe. Combatants Poland Germany Soviet Union Slovakia Commanders Edward Rydz-ÅšmigÅ‚y Fedor von Bock (Army Group North) Gerd von Rundstedt (Army Group South) Ferdinand ÄŒatloÅ¡ (Field Army Bernolak) Strength 39 divisions 16 brigades 4,300 guns 880 tanks 400 aircraft Total: 1,000,000[1] 56 German divisions, 33+ Soviet... Westerplatte Conflict Polish Defence War of 1939 Date September 1 to September 7, 1939 Place Westerplatte peninsula in Gdańsk Result ? Westerplatte is a peninsula in Gdańsk, at an estuary of the Dead Vistula (one of the Vistula delta estuaries), in the Gdańsk harbour channel. ... The Battle of Krojanty was part of the Polish September Campaign of the Second World War. ... Battle of Lasy Królewskie (Polish: Bitwa w Lasach Królewskich, Battle of Royal Forests) refers to the battle on 1 September 1939 near Janowo and KrzynowoÅ‚ga MaÅ‚a during the battle of the border of the Polish September Campaign. ... Combatants Germany Poland Commanders Georg-Hans Reinhardt, Friedrich Kirchner Julian Filipowicz Strength 2 panzer divisions, infantry division cavalry brigade, elements of one infantry division Casualties ca. ... Battle of the GdaÅ„sk Bay took place on September 1, 1939, shortly after the outbreak of the Polish Defensive War. ... Battle of Pszczyna (Polish: Bitwa PszczyÅ„ska) refers to the series of battles on 1 and 2 September 1939 near the town of Pszczyna during the Polish September Campaign. ... The Battle of MÅ‚awa, otherwise known as the Defence of the MÅ‚awa position, took place to the north of the town of MÅ‚awa in northern Poland between September 1 and September 3, 1939. ... The Battle of Bory Tucholskie refers to one of the first battles of the Polish September Campaign, 1939. ... Combatants Poland Germany Commanders StanisÅ‚aw Maczek Ewald von Kleist Strength 1 motorized brigade reinforced with infantry 2 Panzer divisions, 1 infantry division Casualties {{{notes}}} The Battle of Jordanów took place on September 2, 1939, during the Polish Defensive War and the opening stages of World War II. It... Battle of Borowa Góra (Polish: ) refers to the series of battles from 2nd to 5th of September of 1939 that took place near the hills of Góry Borowskie, south west from Piotrków Trybunalski and east of BeÅ‚chatów. ... Combatants Poland Germany Commanders Tadeusz Semik Eugen Ott Strength 1,200 17,000 Casualties between 7 and 20 killed 7 murdered after their capitulation between 50 and 200 killed between 100 and 300 wounded The Battle of WÄ™gierska Górka was a lengthy, two-day-long defence of a... Battle of Tomaszów Mazowiecki (Polish: Bitwa pod Tomaszowem Mazowieckim) refers to the battle on 6 September 1939 near the town of Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Second Polish Republic, during the Polish September Campaign. ... Battle of Wizna Conflict Polish Defence War of 1939 Date September 7-September 10, 1939 Place Wizna near Poland Result unconcluded Battle of Wizna (sometimes referred to as the Polish Thermopylae) was fought between September 6 and September 10, 1939, between the forces of Poland and Germany during the initial... The Battle of Łódź was fought on September 8, 1939, between Poland and Germany. ... The Battle of Różan, otherwise known as defence of Różan bridgehead, took place between September 4 and September 6, 1939, in the fields before the town of Różan on the Narew River. ... Battle of Radom. ... Combatants Germany Poland The Battle of Wola Cyrusowa took place on September 8, 1939 near the village of Wola Cyrusowa near Stryków in Poland. ... Battle of Warsaw Conflict Polish Defence War of 1939 Date 8 to September 28, 1939 Place Warsaw, Poland Result Polish defeat The 1939 Battle of Warsaw was fought between the Polish Warsaw Army (Armia Warszawa) garrisoned and entrenched in the capital of Poland (Warsaw) and the German Army. ... German battleship Schleswig-Holstein stationed at Danzig harbor is shelling nearby Polish positions at Gdynia. ... Hel Peninsula as seen from Landsat satellite in 2000 Battle of Hel was one of the longest battles of the Polish Defence War of 1939 in 1939. ... Battle of Bzura (also known as Battle of Kutno) took place during the Second World War, Polish September Campaign between 9 September 1939 and 19 September1, 1939 and was fought between Polish and German Nazi forces. ... The Battle of KaÅ‚uszyn, took place between September 11 and September 12, 1939, in the fields before the town of KaÅ‚uszyn near MiÅ„sk Mazowiecki. ... Combatants Germany, Soviet Union Poland Commanders Ferdinand Schörner, Filip Golikov WÅ‚adysÅ‚aw Langner, StanisÅ‚aw Sikorski Casualties unknown unknown The Battle of Lwów (sometimes called the Siege of Lwów) was a battle for the control over the Polish city of Lwów between the Polish Army... Battle of Modlin Conflict Polish Defence War of 1939 Date September 13 to September 29, 1939 Place Modlin village, Modlin Fortress Result Polish capitulation During the Polish September Campaign at the beginning of the Second World War, Modlin Fortress was a headquarters of the Modlin Army until it retreated eastwards. ... Battle of KobryÅ„ was one of the battles of the Polish Defence War of 1939. ... Battle of Brześć Litewski (otherwise known as the Siege of Brześć, Battle of Brest-Litovsk or simply Battle of Brześć) was a World War II battle that took place between September 14 and September 17, 1939, near the town of Brześć Litewski (now Brest, Belarus). ... The battle of KÄ™pa Oksywska took place in the Oksywie Heights outside of the city of Gdynia between September 10 and September 19, 1939. ... Battle of Tomaszów Lubelski took place from 17th September to 26th September 1939 near the town of Tomaszów Lubelski. ... Battle of Wólka WÄ™glowa (Polish: ) refers to the battle on September 19, 1939, that took place near Wólka WÄ™glowa, during the last stages of the Polish counteroffensive (battle of the Bzura) of the Polish September Campaign. ... The Battle of Kampinos was in fact a series of skirmishes and battles fought in the forests around Kampinos during the Polish Defensive War of 1939, between the Polish Army and the German Wehrmacht. ... The Battle of Grodno took place between September 21 and September 24, 1939, during the Polish Defensive War. ... The Battle of Krasnobród took place on September 23, 1939 near the town of Krasnobród. ... Battle of Szack Conflict Polish Defence War of 1939 Date September 28, 1939 Place Szack, Poland Result Polish victory Battle of Szack was one of the major battles between the Polish Army and the Red Army fought during the Polish Defence War of 1939. ... The battle of Wytyczno took place on October 1, 1939 near the village of Wytyczno near WÅ‚odawa in Poland. ... The Battle of Kock was the final battle of the Polish September Campaign at the beginning of World War II. It took place from October 2nd through October 5th, 1939, near the town of Kock, Poland. ... GdaÅ„sk (?· i; German: , Kashubian: , Latin: ; older English Dantzig also other languages) is the sixth-largest city in Poland, and also its principal seaport and the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodship. ... Combatants Poland Germany Soviet Union Slovakia Commanders Edward Rydz-ÅšmigÅ‚y Fedor von Bock (Army Group North) Gerd von Rundstedt (Army Group South) Ferdinand ÄŒatloÅ¡ (Field Army Bernolak) Strength 39 divisions 16 brigades 4,300 guns 880 tanks 400 aircraft Total: 1,000,000[1] 56 German divisions, 33+ Soviet... Combatants Allies: Soviet Union United States United Kingdom and others Axis Powers: Germany Japan Italy and others Commanders Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Harry S. Truman Winston Churchill Adolf Hitler Hideki Tojo Benito Mussolini Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000,000 Total dead: 50,000,000 Military... World map showing Europe Political map Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of Earth; the term continent here referring to a cultural and political distinction, rather than a physiographic one, thus leading to various perspectives about Europes precise borders. ...


On September 1, 1939, Polish civilian employees defended the building for some 15 hours against assault by the German SS (Schutzstaffel) and special units of Landespolizei (Danzig police). All but four of the defenders who escaped from the building during the surrender were sentenced to death by a Nazi German court and executed on October 5 as partisans. September 1 is the 244th day of the year (245th in leap years). ... 1939 (MCMXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... A civilian is a person who is not a member of a military. ... SS or ss or Ss may be: The Schutzstaffel, a Nazi paramilitary force Steamship (SS) (ship prefix) The United States Secret Service A submarine not powered by nuclear energy (SS) (United States Navy designator), see SSN A Soviet/Russian surface-to-surface missile, as listed by NATO reporting name Shortstop... The infamous double-sig rune SS insignia. ... Landespolizei is a term used in the Federal Republic of Germany to denote the law enforcement services which patrol the German Bundesländer and is the approximite equivalent to the State police in the United States of America. ... For alternative meanings of Gdańsk and Danzig, see Gdansk (disambiguation) and Danzig (disambiguation) The title given to this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. ... Look up surrender in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Nazi Germany, or the Third Reich, commonly refers to Germany in the years 1933–1945, when it was under the firm control of the totalitarian and fascist ideology of the Nazi Party, with the Führer Adolf Hitler as dictator. ... A court is an official, public forum which a sovereign establishes by lawful authority to adjudicate disputes, and to dispense civil, labour, administrative and criminal justice under the law. ... October 5 is the 278th day of the year (279th in Leap years). ... Look up Partisan in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Partisan may refer to: An adherent to a political party or political faction; especially, having the character of blind, passionate, or unreasonable adherence to a party; as, blinded by partisan zeal. ...


Although it was a brief and small-scale battle, it became known not only as one of the first battles of the Second World War, but one that was waged by elite SS troops against civilians. Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ...

Contents


Prelude

The Polish Post Office (Poczta Polska) in the Free City of Danzig was created in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles, and its buildings were considered extraterritorial Polish property. The Polish Post Office in Danzig comprised several buildings. In 1930 the "Gdańsk 1" building on Heweliusz Square in the Old Town became the primary Polish post office, with a direct telephone line to Poland. In 1939 it employed slightly over 100 people. Some employees at the Polish Post Office belonged to a self-defence and security organization, and many were also members of the Polish Związek Strzelecki (Riflemen's Association). According to the testimony of Edmund Charaszkiewicz, the Polish Post Office was from 1935 an important component of the Polish Intelligence organization, "Group Zygmunt." Napoleonic-era Danzig 19th century map of Duchy of Warsaw and Free City of Danzig The Free City of Danzig, sometimes referred to as the Republic of Danzig, was a semi-independent state established by Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars in years 9 September 1807– 22 January 1813/1815. ... 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... The Treaty of Versailles (1919) was the peace treaty which officially ended World War I between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany. ... Extraterritoriality is the state of being exempt from the jurisdiction of local law, usually as the result of diplomatic negotiations. ... 1930 (MCMXXX) is a common year starting on Wednesday. ... Stare Miasto (literally Old Town in Polish) is used to refer to the central historical district of any Polish city, although the most prominent example is the one in Krakow, the acknowledged cultural capital of Poland. ... ZwiÄ…zek Strzelecki Strzelec (Riflemens Association Rifleman) was a Polish paramilitary cultural and educational organization created in 1910 in Lwów, and revived in Poland in 1991. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... This article covers the history of Polish Intelligence Services. ...


As tensions between Poland and Germany grew, in April 1939 the Polish High Command detached engineer and Reserves Sublieutenant Konrad Guderski to the Baltic Sea coast. With Alfons Flisykowski and others, he helped organize the official and volunteer security staff at the Polish Post Office in Danzig, and prepare them for eventual hostilities. In addition to training the staff, he prepared the defenses in and around the building: nearby trees were removed, and the entrance was fortified. In mid-August, ten additional employees were sent to the post office from Polish Post offices in Gdynia and Bydgoszcz. Look up engineer in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Modern shoulder strap; until 1953 the rank of podporucznik was marked by one star less Podporucznik (literally sub-porucznik) is a rank of the Polish Army, roughly equivalent to the military rank of the Second Lieutenant in the armed forces of other countries. ... Map of the Baltic Sea. ... Alfons Flisykowski (22 September 1902, Goreczyno, Kartuzy County - 5 October 1939, Gdansk-Zaspa) was a Polish worker of The Polish Post_Office in Free City of Gdansk in years 1923_1939 and a second commander (after Konrad Guderski) of the defence of the Post Office from the invading Nazi-Germany forces when... Gdynia (pronounce: :gdiɲia; German: (until 1939 and after 1945) / Gotenhafen (1939-1945); Kashubian/Pomeranian: Gdiniô) is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodship of Poland and an important seaport at Gdańsk Bay on the south coast of the Baltic Sea. ... Bydgoszcz (Polish pronunciation: (?), German: Bromberg, Latin: Bydgostia) is a city in northern Poland, on the Brda and Vistula rivers, with a population of 369,151 (2004). ...


In the building of the Polish post on 1 September there were 57 people: Konrad Guderski (the only person who was not a civilian), 42 local Polish employees, 10 employees from Gdynia and Bydgoszcz, and the building keeper with his wife and 10-year old daughter (who lived in the building). Polish employees had a cache of weapons, mostly pistols, three light machine guns and some hand grenades. The Polish defence plan assigned the defenders the role of keeping Germans from the building for 6 hours, where a relief force from Armia Pomorze was supposed to secure the area. A Browning 9 millimeter Hi-Power Ordnance pistol of the French Navy, 19th century, using a Percussion cap mechanism Derringers were small and easily hidden. ... The M249 SAW, one of the most popular 5. ... A WWII-era MkIIA1 pineapple fragmentation hand grenade A humorous use of the pineapple grenade. ...


The German attack plan, devised in July 1939, estimated that the building defenders would be stormed from two directions: a diversionary attack would be carried out at the front entrance, while the main force would break through the wall from the neighbouring Work Office and attack from the side.


The battle

At 0400 Germans cut the phone and electricity lines to the building. At 0445, just as the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein started shelling the nearby Polish Army fortified region at Westerplatte, German units began their assault on the Polish Post. German units detached for this task were composed of the special unit of Danzig police and SS units SS Wachsturmbann "E" and SS Heimwehr Danzig. German units had support of several formerly Austrian ADGZ armored cars. The attack was commanded by German police colonel, Willi Bethke. The Schleswig-Holstein, was a German battleship, that fought in both World Wars. ... Polish Army (Polish Wojsko Polskie) is the name applied to the military forces of Poland. ... Combatants Poland Germany Commanders Henryk Sucharski (nominal only), Franciszek DÄ…browski Strength 205 2,600 Casualties 14 killed, 53 wounded 300-400 killed and wounded (est. ... Military armored cars A French VBL reconnaissance vehicle. ... The Bundespolizei (or BPOL) is the federal police force of Germany. ... Colonel is a military rank of a commissioned officer, with the corresponding ranks existing in nearly every country in the world. ...


The first German attack, from the front, was repelled, although Germans managed to break through the entrance and briefly enter the building. The second attack, from the Work Office, was also repelled. The commander of Polish defence, Konrad Guderski, was killed during that second attack.


At 1100 German units were reinforced with two 75 mm artillery pieces, but the second attack, even with the artillery support, was also repulsed. At 1500 Germans declared a two hour ceasefire and demanded that Polish forces surrender, which they refused. In the meantime, Germans received additional reinforcements: a 105 mm artillery piece, and a unit of sappers, which dug under the walls and prepared a 600 kg explosive device. At 1700 the bomb was set off, collapsing part of the wall, and German forces under the cover of three artillery pieces attacked again, this time capturing most of the building with the exception of the basement. A 155 mm artillery shell fired by a United States 11th Marine regiment M-198 howitzer Historically, artillery refers to any engine used for the discharge of projectiles during war. ... A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war, or any armed conflict, where each side of the conflict agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with combat engineering. ... Explosive devices, as used by terrorists, guerrillas or commando forces, are formally known as Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs. ...


At 1800 Germans brought automatic pumps, gasoline tanks and flamethrowers, which they used to flood the basements with burning gasoline. After five Poles were burned alive, the rest decided to capitulate. The first two people to leave the building — director Dr. Jan Michoń, carrying a white flag, and commandant (naczelnik) Józef Wąsik — were shot by the Germans. The rest of the Poles were allowed to surrender. Gasoline, also called petrol, is a petroleum-derived liquid mixture consisting primarily of hydrocarbons and enhanced with benzenes to increase octane ratings, used as fuel in internal combustion engines. ... German troops use a flamethrower on the Eastern Front during the Second World War A flamethrower is a mechanical device designed to project a long, controllable stream of fire, hence the metaphor to throw flames. ...


Aftermath

Defenders of the Polish Post Office in Danzig, taken prisoner by the German SS.
Enlarge
Defenders of the Polish Post Office in Danzig, taken prisoner by the German SS.

Six people managed to escape from the building, although two of them were captured the following day. 16 wounded were sent to the city's hospital, where six subsequently died (five because of the burns, including the 10-year old Erwina). The other 28 were first imprisoned in the police building, and after a few days sent to Victoriaschule, where they were interrogated and tortured, together with many other Polish inhabitants of Danzig. SS or ss or Ss may be: The Schutzstaffel, a Nazi paramilitary force Steamship (SS) (ship prefix) The United States Secret Service A submarine not powered by nuclear energy (SS) (United States Navy designator), see SSN A Soviet/Russian surface-to-surface missile, as listed by NATO reporting name Shortstop...


All the prisoners were put on trial: first the 28 imprisoned in Victoriaschule on 8 September, and then the 10 who recovered in the hospital, on 30 September. All were sentenced to death for being partisans, under the German special military penal law of 1938. The sentence was demanded by the prosecutor Hans Giesecke, declared by presiding judge Kurt Bode, and signed by general Walther von Brauchitsch. There was no defence lawyer. The postmen were executed by firing squad on 5 October. A similar fate awaited Polish railway workers south of the city after they foiled an attempt to use an armored train to seize a bridge over the Vistula.[1] September 8 is the 251st day of the year (252nd in leap years). ... September 30 is the 273rd day of the year (274th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 92 days remaining. ... 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... A judge or justice is an official who presides over a court. ... A General is an officer of high military rank. ... Walther von Brauchitsch Von Brauchitsch in 1939 Walther von Brauchitsch (October 4, 1881, Berlin - October 18, 1948, Hamburg) was commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht in the early years of World War II. Brauchitsch was commissioned in the Prussian Guard in 1900. ... British barrister 16th century painting of a civil law notary, by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. ... Execution by firing squad is a method of capital punishment, especially in times of war. ... Polskie Koleje Państwowe (Polish State Railways, PKP) is the Polish national railroad operator. ... The Vistula (Polish: Wisła) is the longest river in Poland. ...


Giesecke and Bode were never held responsible for that crime (Justizmord). They were denazified after the war and continued their careers as lawyers. Both died of natural causes in 1970s. Only in 1995 did the German court at Lübeck invalidate the 1939 ruling and rehabilitate the postmen, citing among the reasons for the ruling that it was a violation of the Hague Convention. Denazification (German: Entnazifizierung) was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary and politics of any remnants of the Nazi regime. ... British barrister 16th century painting of a civil law notary, by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. ... 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A court is an official, public forum which a sovereign establishes by lawful authority to adjudicate disputes, and to dispense civil, labour, administrative and criminal justice under the law. ... Lübeck ( pronunc. ... The longtime status of Netherlands as a largely neutral nation in international conflicts and the corresponding ascendance of The Hague as a primary location for diplomatic and international conferences has led to several negotiated conventions over the years being termed the Hague Convention: The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907...

Monument to the Defenders of the Polish Post Office, Gdańsk, Poland.
Enlarge
Monument to the Defenders of the Polish Post Office, Gdańsk, Poland.

In Poland, the whole episode has become one of the better known episodes of the Polish September Campaign, usually portrayed as a heroic story of David and Goliath proportions, with a group of harmless postmen who held out against German SS troops for almost an entire day. In 1979 in the People's Republic of Poland a Defenders of the Polish Post Monument was unveiled in Gdańsk.[2] David and Goliath. ... This page refers to the year 1979. ... The Peoples Republic of Poland or Polish Peoples Republic (Polish: Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL) was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1989, during its period of rule by the Communist party, officially called the Polish United Workers Party (Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza, or PZPR). ... GdaÅ„sk (?· i; German: , Kashubian: , Latin: ; older English Dantzig also other languages) is the sixth-largest city in Poland, and also its principal seaport and the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodship. ...


References

  • This article incorporates text translated from the corresponding Polish Wikipedia article as of 8 May 2006.

Further reading

  • Adam Bartoszewski, Wiesław Gomulski, "Żolnierze w pocztowych mundurach" (Soldiers in the postal uniforms), Gdańsk, 1969.
  • F.Bogucki, "Poczta Polska w Gdańsku" (Polish Post in Gdańsk)
  • Dieter Schenk "Die Post von Danzig. Geschichte eines deutschen Justizmords" [Post-Office of Gdansk. History of a German Justice Murder], 1995
  • Günter Grass "Die Blechtrommel" (The Tin Drum), 1959

The Tin Drum (German: Die Blechtrommel) is a 1959 novel by Günter Grass. ...

External links

  • (Polish) Obrona Poczty Polskiej w Gdańsku, 1939.pl
  • (Polish) Miłosz Sosnowski, OBRONA POCZTY POLSKIEJ W GDAŃSKU 1939 R., Polskiejutro.com
  • (Polish) Bogusław Kubisz, Obrońcy Poczty Polskiej: Chwała i Zbronia, Mówią Wieki

 
 

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