Outbreak of the Second World War - POI049

Outbreak of the Second World War

01-09-1939

Gdańsk, Poland
Liberation Route Europe

Outbreak of the Second World War

On 1 September 1939 German SS troops took possession of Polish buildings and institutions in the city of Gdańsk. Some 1.500 members of the Polish minority were arrested to be imprisoned, deported or executed. Many others were expelled from their homes and directed to central Poland. That same day the Nazis proclaimed the reunion of Gdańsk with the German Reich.

On 1 September 1939, shortly after the first shots on the Westerplatte were fired, the city of Gdańsk itself also became a battlefield when German SS troops took possession of Polish buildings and institutions. In the days before the war the Poles in the city had prepared themselves to defend the Polish institutions in Gdańsk. About 50 armed postmen defended the Polish Post Office for about 14 hours. After the death of some of their colleagues they surrendered. While leaving the building carrying a white flag, director Jan Michoń was killed. Later the other postmen were executed as franc-tireurs, one of the first war crimes of the Second World War (only in 1995 a German court rehabilitated them). In his novel The Tin Drum Günter Grass gave an emotional insight into these events.

That same morning German SS, SA, police and Gestapo units also arrested some 1.500 members of the Polish minority. They were gathered in the Victoriaschule near the city center. Many of them were deported to a newly established concentration camp in Stutthof. 67 of them were executed, many died in camps and elsewhere as a result of German terror. Poles in the nearby city of Gdynia were expelled from their homes and directed to central Poland. The Polish inhabitants of Pomerania were terrorized throughout the war, put in concentration camps and executed for being Polish. Especially the elites of the Polish nation, like teachers and catholic priests, were in the Nazis’ sights.

Also on 1 September 1939 the Gauleiter (Nazi Provincial Governor) of Gdańsk, Albert Forster , announced the re-union of Gdańsk with the German Reich in a radio speech.

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Outbreak of the Second World War

On 1 September 1939, shortly after the first shots on the Westerplatte were fired, the city of Gdańsk itself also became a battlefield when German SS...

Gdańsk, Poland

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