The Gleiwitz Incident

Alfred Helmut Naujocks, an SS member and loyal Nazi, was asked to carry out a secret mission by Reinhard Heydrich on August 10, 1939.  

The mission was to stage a simulated attack on Germany by Polish militants at a radio station near the Polish-German border.  Naujocks was ordered to take the radio station and occupy it long enough to allow a Polish-speaking German to make an announcement. The speech was supposed to contain inflammatory rhetoric about fighting Germans, which would make it appear that the Poles were trying to rise up and attack Germans. On August 31, 1939 the incident transpired at around 20:00 hrs; Naujocks and his men seized the radio station, made the broadcast, and fired some pistol shots before leaving.  They had also been given a prisoner to shoot and leave as a decoy on the scene.  The prisoners used were from a concentration camp and he was dressed in civilian clothes and drugged before the murder.  

The Gleiwitz attack was part of a series of attacks along the Polish-German border on the night of August 31, 1939.  There was also a house burning in the Polish Corridor of the town and there was a lot of propaganda.  The main incident, though, was the fateful broadcast that the Polish-speaking German man made: Uwage! Tu Gliwice. Rozglosnia znajduje sie w rekach Polskich.” (Attention! This is Gleiwitz. The radio station is in Polish hands.”) Those 9 words were enough to trigger a coordinated German radio response which broadcast the message for all the citizens to hear.  All around Europe the news spread like wildfire, with BBC London broadcasting a memo about the attack that very night.  The following day, Hitler made a speech in which he referenced the events and uses them as an excuse to declare war against Poland. 

Hitler declares war 1939

Hitler declares war on Poland in the Reichstag on September 1, 1939

The man who the Germans took to a concentration camp for sympathizing with the local Poles was the first victim of World War II.  Franz Honiok, a 43-year old Bavarian Catholic, was abducted and taken to a concentration camp.  He would later be chosen as the decoy body that Naujocks murdered at the radio station in Polish civilian clothes.  He appears to have been selected because of his involvement in a number of local revolts against German rule in Silesia, a border region spanning present day Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic. According to his surviving family in Poland, Honiok identified strongly with Silesia and Poland. 

Franz Honiok