Gdańsk

The Polish Post Office Siege

29 Jan 2020
At just after 04:45 local time on September 1, 1939, as the Germans launched their attack on Westerplatte and WWII officially began, another ferocious assault was just beginning at the small post office in the city's then-called Hevelius Square. Detachments of German police and SS units lay siege to the 50 Polish post office workers inside, who put up a brave struggle for over 17 hours until the casualties became unbearable, part of the building collapsed and the Germans began to attack with flame-throwers.

One month later on October 2, 30 of the surviving postal workers were sentenced to death and subsequently shot a few weeks later (their bodies were only discovered in Zaspa Cemetery in 1991), and the whole episode has become part of modern Polish folklore.

​A wonderful and truly heroic story of David and Goliath proportions, what all accounts of the story fail to tell is just what a bunch of harmless postmen were doing armed to the teeth, and why it required two elite Nazi units to deal with them. The answer it seems lies in the fact that the Polish Post Office in the Free City of Danzig acted as a cover for Polish intelligence. So while the official history of the events of September 1, 1939 suggests the Nazis held Postman Patryk and his colleagues in contempt, the truth is probably a lot more logical and the attack was a strategic attempt to quell Polish resistance in the city.
Captured Polish postal workers being led away by the SS. A Danzig Police officer is standing on the far left.

Where can I see more about the Polish Post Office Siege in Gdańsk?

The Polish Post Office is now a museum that can be visited and bullet holes and shrapnel damage on the façade are still visible. This is particularly prominent on the side of the building, where the Polish prisoners were executed. Not far away is a monument, commissioned in 1979, commemorating the Poles who fought there.




 

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