First Day of WWII in Gdansk

"In the Polish Post Office in the Free Cit y of Gdansk there worked 110 people. Most of them were local ethnic Poles and Kaszubs. The postal workers continuously endured persecution and maltreatment at the hands of Germanic chauvinists. They did not gave up on their work. When the threat of the war increased, they became more alert.

On 1 September, 1939, in the early morning the Post Office was attacked by Hitlerite formations of SS, SA, Heimwehr, and Wehrmacht soldiers in police uniforms. The postal workers on the night shift did not allow themselves to be surprised. For someteen hours they resisted the much larger enemy. They endured attacks by armoured forces backed by artillery barrages. They capitulated only when the building was set on fire with flamethrowers.

Eight defenders of the Post Office were killed in combat, four managed to escape capture after the capitulation when they got away in the thick smoke, six died of wounds, all the rest were executed. Today, near the entrance to the building by a postal box, commemorative plaques perpetuate the memory of the postal workers that fought here on 1 September, 1939. Thousands of people take a look at these plaques. They read. Sometimes one of the widows comes here, and shows on the plaque to her grandchild the name of her grandfather, who gave up his life for Poland.

The postal workers - after torture and the parody of a "court martial" - were later shot. Just prior to the salvo, Alfons Flisykowski, who commanded the defence of the Post Office after Lieutenant "Konrad" Guderski was killed, succeeded in shouting in both Polish and German Niech Zyje Polska!

The corpses of the executed postal workers were thrown into a deep ditch, covered with earth, walked over, all traces of the crime were obliterated.

One more mass execution followed. Then one more. And one more.

Afterwards Zaspa served as a mass burial ground for the remains of those murdered at the Stutthof Concentration Camp, which the Hitlerites started to organize already in the second day of the war.

In September of 1939, on the first line of the struggle for Gdansk's Polishdom - just the same as it was the case with the defenders of Westerplatte and the Post Office - found itself the entire ethnic Polish community of Gdansk.

'All these people - writes Melchior Wankowicz - from a chauffeur to the theology doctors, did not have any great words on their lips, maybe they were not aware of the greatness of their sacrafice. They grew up in the struggle, the time of the ultimate test has arrived, they knew it for years, that it will come in their live...

They did not took advantage of the possibility of an evacuation, they simply remained in Gdansk, without discussion, fulfilling a natural obligation...

They were hurried through a crowd that filled the sidewalks. The crowd went berserk, it spat on them, the women shook them by their clothes, insults and stones were hurled from all sides on their heads.

In front of the Victoria-Schule there was a mass of black SS uniforms. At the gate they are poured through a double cordon of SS-men - eight on each side with rubber bats. One of them has a wooden stick spiked with nails. A hail of hits is unleashed on them... Here our railway workers, postmen, customs officers are brought, along with all the parents whose kids attended Polish schools, and activists of Polish community organizations... Beaten priests are brought in...'

Subsequently, the beaten and tortured prisoners went through a selection process: some were immediately executed, some were send to the Stutthof Concentration Camp, some were murdered in the forests of Piasnica, some were detained in Gestapo jails, in order to torture them for information. It was intended not only to kill people, but to kill every Polish thougth, every Polish feeling.

So perished Polish inhabitants of Gdansk, nameless soldiers of the Fighting Poland, war heroes because their war was more difficult, unarmed and without military marches.

They all on the day of 1 September, 1939, and in the following rows of days, weeks, months proved the Polishdom of Gdansk and the value of Gdansk's Poles."

Taken from:

Gdansk, by Maria and Andrzej Szypkowscy (foreword by Wojciech Zukrowski), 2nd edition, Wydawnictwo "ST", Warszawa, 1983 (c 1979).

In the Defence of the Polish Coast

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Created, Researched, and Maintained by the Polish Resistance Movement.

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