Battle for the Polish post office in Gdansk

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Strategic location of the Free City of Gdansk between the Polish Corridor and East Prussia

The Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig was one of the first fighting in the invasion of Poland , which the National Socialist German Reich in Gdansk the World War II caused.


Opening of the post office No. 3 (later No. 1) on Heveliusplatz, the battlefield from 1939

Similar to the battle for the Polish ammunition depot on Westerplatte , it took place in the area of ​​the Free City of Danzig . In this port city, which is inhabited by far more than 90% of the German-speaking population (but not part of the German Empire due to the Treaty of Versailles ), the League of Nations of the Second Polish Republic granted extra-territorial locations near the port (17 in total).

Postage stamps from the Polish Post in Gdansk, before 1939

Due to this status, Danzig issued its own postage stamps, see Postal History and Postage Stamps of Danzig . Poland had been allowed to set up its own postal service to supply mail in the port of Danzig and in the Old Town district of Danzig . As of January 5, 1925, ten Polish mailboxes were set up throughout the city and Polish postal workers were delivering letters in Gdansk. A lengthy dispute arose between the Gdańsk and Polish authorities about the admissibility of these measures.

The League of Nations , which was called upon , made the decision, based on an opinion of the Permanent International Court of Justice on May 11, 1925, that Polish post boxes were allowed to remain in a more limited area, which included the port and the entire city ​​center of Danzig .

According to the Polish military historian Edmund Charaszkiewicz (1895–1975), the post office had been the base of the Polish secret service group "Zygmunt" since 1935.

On April 28, 1939, Adolf Hitler announced the German-Polish non-aggression pact of January 26, 1934. Both or all three sides began to make preparations for a military conflict. An SS Heimwehr Danzig was set up on June 20.

A weapons depot was set up in the post office: 40 pistols , three light machine guns type Browning wz.1928 and three boxes full of hand grenades . As with the Westerplatte, the plan was to defend itself until the regular Polish army arrived for relief . Since the Polish corridor was close by, it was estimated at six hours.

The situation escalated noticeably in August.


An ADGZ is used as cover during a storm
Polish post in Gdansk after the surrender

The building of the Polish Post Office was attacked on September 1st at 4.45 a.m. by the SS Heimwehr Danzig and police forces of the Free City of Danzig, at the same time as the attack of the warship Schleswig-Holstein on the Westerplatte . Before that, power and telephone lines had already been cut.

At that moment there were 57 people in the building: 40 post officials from Gdansk, ten post officials with military training delegated from Gdynia and Bydgoszcz , an employee of the Polish railway and the caretaker who lived there, along with his wife and ten-year-old adopted daughter.

The plan of attack, prepared in July 1939, provided for the post to be captured with the help of three assault groups, one of which was to attack the main entrance as a diversion, with three (formerly Austrian) Steyr ADGZ wheeled armored vehicles, labeled with " Sudetenland ", serving as cover . " Ostmark " and " Saar ". The command was Willi Bethke from the Danzig police.

The first German attack was halted, although it was possible to enter the entrance for a short time, but suffered losses (two dead, seven wounded). The attack through the wall from the side building was also repulsed, and the Polish commander Konrad Guderski died from his own hand grenade.

At 11 o'clock an attack was made with the support of two 75 mm guns that had now arrived, but without result. A two-hour German ultimatum at 3 p.m. was ignored by the defenders. In the meantime, a pioneer unit arrived and placed an explosive charge in the basement under the entrance.

At 5 p.m., it blew up a large hole in the facade and another attack followed, now with a 105 mm gun. The building was partially captured. At 6 p.m., the attackers pumped gasoline into the cellar, where there was still resistance, set it on fire and at the same time advanced it with flamethrowers, killing three Poles. By this time, six Poles had died in the battle.

At 7 p.m., the 50 surviving defenders decided to surrender. The first two people to step out of the white flag building were Director Dr. Jan Michoń and Commander Józef Wąsik. Both were shot. Six escaped, the remaining 44 were arrested. 16 injured were taken to hospital. Six of them died, including the ten-year-old girl. Of the six fugitives, two were later caught.



On September 8th, 28 uninjured defense lawyers stood before the court martial , on September 30th the remaining ten. All were sentenced to death as partisans or for belonging to an illegal combat group . The condemned were probably on October 5 shot .

The judgment was revised as unlawful by the Lübeck Regional Court in 1997/8 . The large criminal chamber of the regional court justified this with the fact that the chairman of the field war court was guilty of a violation of his official duties. It was a perversion of the law because the special war criminal law ordinance on which the judgment was based only came into effect in Danzig on November 16, 1939. The lawyers involved in this judicial murder - Kurt Bode (chairman of the court) and Hans-Werner Giesecke (prosecutor) - were never called to account. Both made another career in the Federal Republic of Germany.

The siege of the Polish post office in Danzig is portrayed in the novel Die Blechtrommel by Günter Grass as well as in the film of the same name , with scenes being re-enacted that were shown in the Ufa-Tonwoche, a forerunner of the German newsreel , in 1939.

further reading

  • Adam Bartoszewski, Wiesław Gomulski: Żołnierze w pocztowych mundurach . Wydawnictwo Morskie, Gdańsk 1969 (soldiers in post office uniforms).
  • Franciszek Bogacki: Poczta Polska w Gdańsku . Książka i Wiedza, Warsaw 1978 (Polish Post in Gdansk).
  • Günter Grass : The tin drum . Novel. Luchterhand, Darmstadt et al. 1959.
  • Dieter Schenk : The post office from Gdansk. History of a German judicial murder . Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1995, ISBN 3-498-06288-3 .
  • Dieter Schenk : Danzig 1930–1945. The end of a free city . Ch.links, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-86153-737-3 .

Web links

Commons : Defense of the Polish Post in Gdansk  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Archive link ( Memento of the original from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. War crimes in Europe and the Middle East in the 20th century, Franz W. Seidler / Alfred M. de Zayas (eds.), Hamburg: Mittler 2002, p. 138

Coordinates: 54 ° 21 ′ 18 ″  N , 18 ° 39 ′ 25 ″  E