Gleiwitz Incident - Context

Context

The Gleiwitz incident was a part of a larger operation, carried out by Abwehr and SS forces. At the same time as the Gleiwitz attack, there were other incidents orchestrated by Germany along the Polish-German border, such as a house torching in the Polish Corridor and spurious propaganda output. The entire project, dubbed Operation Himmler and comprising a number of incidents, was intended to give the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany.

For months before the 1939 invasion, German newspapers and politicians like Adolf Hitler accused Polish authorities of organizing or tolerating violent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans living in Poland.

On the day following the Gleiwitz attack, 1 September 1939, Germany launched the Fall Weiss operation — the invasion of Poland — initiating World War II in Europe. On the same day, in a speech in the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler cited the border incidents, with three of them called very serious, as justification for Germany's invasion of Poland. Just a few days earlier, on 22 August, he had told his generals, "I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn't matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth."

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