Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig
At 04:00 Germans cut the phone and electricity lines to the building.
At 04:45, just as the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein started shelling the nearby Polish Army military outpost at Westerplatte, German forces began their assault on the Polish Post. German units detached for this task were composed of the special unit of Danzig police, local SA formations and the SS units SS Wachsturmbann "E" and SS Heimwehr Danzig, supported by at least three ADGZ heavy armored cars. The attack was commanded by German police colonel, Willi Bethke.
The first German attack, from the front, was repelled, although Germans managed to break through the entrance and briefly enter the building (at the cost of two killed and seven wounded attackers, including one group leader). The second attack, from the Work Office, was also repelled. The commander of Polish defence, Konrad Guderski, died during that second attack from the blast of his own grenade which stopped the Germans who broke through the wall.
At 11:00 German units were reinforced by the Wehrmacht with two 75 mm artillery pieces, but the second attack, even with the artillery support, was again repulsed. At 15:00 Germans declared a two hour ceasefire and demanded that Polish forces surrender, which they refused. In the meantime, Germans received additional reinforcements: a 105 mm artillery piece, and a unit of sappers, which dug under the walls and prepared a 600 kg explosive device. At 17:00 the bomb was set off, collapsing part of the wall, and German forces under the cover of three artillery pieces attacked again, this time capturing most of the building with the exception of the basement.
At 18:00 Germans brought automatic pumps, gasoline tanks and flamethrowers, which they used to flood the basements with burning gasoline. After three Poles were burned alive (bringing the total Polish casualties to six killed in action), the rest decided to capitulate. The first two people to leave the building — director Dr. Jan Michoń, carrying a white flag, and commandant (naczelnik) Józef Wąsik — were shot by the Germans (according to one version, Dr. Michoń was attacked with a flamethrower). The rest of the Poles were allowed to surrender and leave the burning building. Six people managed to escape from the building, although two of them were captured the following days.
Though a rather brief and small battle in the grand scope of history, the story of the defense of the Polish post office during the invasion of Poland has grown into one of Gdansk's most cherished stories of heroism. Alongside the simultaneously occurring Battle of Westerplatte, the defense of the post stands as one of the first battles of the Second World War.
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