|The monument to the murdered defenders of the Polish Post Office in Gdansk. It shows a mortally wounded Postal Officer handing his rifle to Nike, the Undying Goddess of Victory. He is, as Poland was; bowed but never broken!|
|The main entrance to the Post Office with a Postal Officer standing proud outside the entrance|
There were other post offices in Danzig that were held by the Poles of course but this one in particular was important because within the building was also the telephone exchange that was in direct contact with Poland proper. It is estimated that before the war over 100 people were employed inside the 'Poczta Polska Gdanska'.
|A Polish Switchboard Operator in the Polish Post Office|
The building itself used to be a hospital but had since been divided into two wings by temporary walls with the Danzig Labour Department occupying the West wing of the building (now occupied by a school) and the Polish Postal service occupying the East wing.
|A Polish Post Office Workers Uniform|
|The information plaque about Alfons Flisykowski in the museum|
These post office workers all belonged to the Polish Rifle Association which was a cover to train up extra territorial Poles in self defence and subversive activities and these workers would periodically return to Poland to participate in training courses aimed at improving their combat skills.
|A photograph of the Post Office Workers who were members of the Polish Rifle Association|
|The information plaque about Konrad Guderski in the museum|
On arrival he immediately set about training himself up on the workings of the postal systems but also in preparing Post Office No1 to defend itself in the event of a Nazi putsch in the city.
|A view from the grounds across from the Polish Post Office's main entrance|
The Post Office Museum has the original plan and translations into Polish and English
|The original German attack plan, and English and Polish translations.|
|Attack Plan Page 1|
|Attack Plan Page 2|
|Attack Plan Page 3|
|Attack Plan Page 4|
|Attack Plan Page 5|
|Attack Plan Page 6|
They possessed three lkm Light Machine Guns (Browning wz.1928), a selection of pistols and rifles and about 60 hand grenades. This was the complement that was on duty on the night of 31st August/1st September along with Lieutenant Konrad Guderski, Post Office Director Jan Michon and Postmaster Jozef Wasik.
|The information plaque about Dr Jan Michon in the Post Office Museum|
|The information plaque about Jozef Wasik in the Post Office Museum|
|10 year old Erwina Barzychowska|
|A photo reconnaissance view of the Polish Post Office and the directions of attack through the battle|
04:48: Coinciding with the SMS Schleswig-Holsteins naval barrage against the Westerplatte garrison, the first German attack against the Post Office takes place in the basement of the building where the Nazi's try to breach the temporary walls separating the Post Office and the Labour Office using grenades.
|SS Heimwehr-Danzig and SA begin their assault on the Polish Post Office|
The defenders greet them with a hail of small arms fire and a fist full of grenades! Casualties are inflicted, including the death of SS Untersturmfuhrer Alfred Heinrich and the Nazi's are forced to beat a hasty retreat.
|German troops at rest in between attacks on the Post Office|
Forster decides that he needs to take a hand in the planning and execution of the battle and decides to do a combat reconnaissance to get a close look at the building from Helvelius Square. He mounts an ADGZ armoured car and, supported by infantry, conducts his reconnaissance.
|ADGZ 'Sudetenland' with an infantry escort scouting out the position|
|The SS Heimwehr-Danzig bring forwards Infantry Gun support|
The two infantry guns lay down fire at the front of the building just before a second assault is launched against the doorway. Once again the defenders scramble just in time to beat it off with a hail of small arms fire and grenades. Holes are starting to pepper the front of the building though...
|The SS Heimwehr-Danzig huddle around a doorway keeping the Poczta Polska under close observation|
|One of SS Heimwehr-Danzig's Infantry Guns|
A 105mm Howitzer is brought up to support any further attacks.
|The German 105mm Howitzer opens fire on the Post Office|
Within this two hour pause the German Sappers have completed mining under the load bearing wall of the Post Office and lay a 600 pound explosive charge.
|The smoke from the demolition charge floods the street...|
Simultaneously the Germans launch another assault, supported by fire from the three cannon.
|The German 105mm Howitzer seen mid recoil from a shot|
This time gaining access to the building and clearing all floors except the basement.
|ADGZ 'Ostmark' sitting outside the Post Office entrance after the demolition smoke has settled|
A stiff resistance is maintained from the basement however and the Nazis can make no further headway.
|German troops creep up the side of the front of the Polish Post Office|
The basement is immediately set alight by German flamethrowers and 5 postal workers are burned alive, including clerks Bruno Marshall and Stanislaw Rekowski.
White flags are waved from the windows and the first to exit the building is Postal Director Jan Michon waving a smaller flag followed close behind by Postmaster Jozef Wasik. Jan Michon is immediately shot in the stomach, whilst the Nazis set light to Postmaster Wasik with a Flamethrower.
|The bodies of Jan Michon (Left) and Jozef Wasik (Right) lay partially covered after their murder.|
|The surrendered defenders of the Polish Post Office are lined up against the wall in the alleyway alongside the Post Office|
|Nazi troops carry away the injured Polish postal workers to the city hospital|
Of the individuals that were sent to hospital to recover from wounds 6 died, 5 as a result of burns.
|The defenders being marched off to captivity|
The youngest victim of this battle was unfortunately 10 year Erwina Barzychowska, the foster child of Jan and Malgorzata Pipka who was burned attempting to leave the building and died in hospital after clinging hold to life for 7 more tortured weeks.
All were sentenced to death as Illegal Combatants under the German special military penal law of 1938.
The third article of this penal code states:
"a partisan punishable by death is one who, without having provided for by international law external badges of belonging to the armed forces of an enemy power, weapons or other means are used, or have in his possession with intent to use to the detriment of German or allied troops or belonging to kill them or take action that for the purposes of war may take only members of the armed forces in uniform"
The sentence was demanded by the prosecution Hans Giesecke and declared by the presiding judge Kurt Bode, Vice President of the Oberlandesgericht Danzig (Higher Regional Court of Danzig). 28 of the judgements were countersigned, and thus became legally valid, by General Hans Gunther von Kluge, the remaining 10 were countersigned by Colonel Eduard Wagner. A clemency appeal was rejected by General Walther von Brauchitsch.
The sentence was probably announced on 5th October 1939 at 04:00 on the Scutzpolizei's training ground at Zaspa. The postal workers were shot in an old shooting range at the airport Wrzeszcz and buried in a mass grave to be forgotten by history until their grave was discovered in 1991, following which their remains were reinterred on holy ground with thier own memorial to their contribution to the Polish cause.
In 1995 the District Court of Lubeck conducted a revision of the postal process, stating inter alia violation of the rules of court proceedings and breach of the IV Hague Convention of 1907. As a result they were aquitted by the court. To begin the process author and historian Dieter Schenk released his magnus opus "Polish Post Office in Gdansk - the story of a murder by a German Court". This judgement allowed for the request for compensation from the German government whcih was duly paid.
A List of the Heroes:
|The Museums wall plaque of all of the defenders...|
Died September 1st 1939
Konrad Guderski b.19.II.1900 Lieutenant Engineers. Commander of Defence
Brunon Marshall b.01.I.1904 Clerk
Jan Michon b.01.VI.1888 PhD, Postal Director
Stanislaw Rekowski b.17.IX.1900 Clerk
Bronislaw Szulc b.03.X.1910 Postman
Juzef Wasik b.08.VII.1904 Head of UPT
Died in Danzig City Hospital
Erwina Barcychowa b.16.X.1929 d.20.X.1939 Foster Child. Died of Burns
Bernard Binnebesel b.20.V.1893 d.04.IX.1939 Assistant. Abdomen Shot & Skull Damage
Stefan Cywinski b.29.V.1907 d.02.IX.1939 Assistant. 2nd & 3rd Degree Burns
Aloysius Franz b.17.II.1905 d.05.IX.1939 Assistant. 2nd & 3rd Degree Burns
Joseph Nitkowski b.15.VI.1885 d.31.X.1939 Controller. 2nd & 3rd Degree Burns
Jan Pipka b.20.VII.1872 d.02.IX.1939 Housekeeper. 2nd & 3rd Degree Burns
Executed by Firing Squad in Zaspa probably 05.X.1939
Jan Banaszkowski b.17.X.1904 Postman Seconded
Wladyslaw Bazgier b.22.IV.1911 Assistant Seconded
Stefan Baczkowski b.04.I.1906 Postman Seconded
Heliodor Becker b.03.VII.1904 Assistant
Aloysius Bela b.09.VI.1899 Postman
Andrew Binkowski b.11.XI.1902 Postman Seconded
Florian Budziak b.01.X.1911 Postman Seconded
Maximilian Cygalski b.17.IX.1900 Assistant
Jan Ellwardt b.03.XI.1905 Clerk
Alfons Flisykowski b.22.IX.1902 Commander of Defence
Kazimierz Gdaniec b.17.I.1907 Driver
Konrad Groth b.26.VII.1906 Postman
John Kilmek b.20.IX.1889 Clerk
Francis Klinkosz b.22.XII.1899 Clerk
Wladyslaw Koprowiak b.21.V.1897 Assistant Seconded
Francis Krause b.13.VIII.1900 Postman
Francis Kuntz b.24.VI.1907 Postman
Wojciech Kurkowski b.24.IV.1893 Clerk
Augustine Lis b.27.XI.1900 Postman
Francis Magulski b.02.IX.1904 Clerk
Bernard Majewski b.07.XII.1900 Postman
Francis Mionskowski b.13.IX.1897 Postman
Jan Nowak b.04.II.1890 Branch Manager
Stefan Nowakowski b.21.VIII.1901 Clerk
Kazimierz Orzechowski b.23.XI.1915 Assistant
Brunon Pielowski b.29.VIII.1902 Driver
Sylwester Ploszynski b.07.XII.1906 Postman Seconded
Ignatius Polom b.06.VII.1898 Clerk
Alexander Racks b.14.X.1903 Clerk
Francis Rabca b.04.I.1904 Clerk
Kazimierz Rogaczewski b.25.III.1903 Clerk
Joseph Rzepka b.25.XI.1899 Clerk
Leon Schreiber b.05.IX.1912 Postman Seconded
Ignatius Sikorski b.23.X.1895 Head of Newsprint
Joseph Strzelecki b.15.III.1887 Clerk
Leonard Wisniewski b.02.I.1904 Clerk
Peter Teshmer b.16.XI.1894 PKP (Railway) Clerk
Andrzej Gorski b.21.VII.1910 Assistant
Francis Mielewczyk b.02.XII.1910 Driver
Wladyslaw Milewczyk b.02.V.1901 Driver
Augustine Mylinski b.25.XI.1905 Postman
Malgorzata Pipka b.xxxxxx d.1963 Caretaker
|Images of the formal re interment of the victims of the Nazis that defended the Post Office|
|The cenotaph to the Polish Post Office defenders in their resting place just outside Gdansk|
|Just LOVE this monument!|
...and that as they say is that for this visit to Poland. Next time I will spend a bit of time exploring the Polish defensive belts around Pszczyna and Wegierska Gorka and possibly trample over Jordanow (seeing as I have links to the Podhale Rifles and an interest in the 10BK) until then... its time for something completely different!