On September 1, 1939, after 14 hours of defending the post office building in the Free City of Gdańsk, a Pole, Jan Michoń went out of the building flying a white flag but instead of being heard, he was met with a deadly shot from the Germans still in awe that the mailmen would fight back so fiercely.
“They were sure that the Polish Army was about to enter and take back Gdańsk and hence this defence. As they couldn’t take the building, they began pumping gasoline to its basements. Already then, they proved how barbaric they would be to the Poles,” recounted Andrzej Flisykowski, son of Alfons Flisykowski, one of the mailmen murdered by the Germans.
Dariusz Drelich, the prefect of the Pomorskie province told PolandIN that “the postmen, the Polish Post was a symbol of Polishness on the territory of the Free City of Gdańsk. Most of what was Polish had been destroyed long before the war.”
After being arrested, the postmen were sentenced to death in a show trial.
“The Germans knew perfectly that this was a court crime,” said PhD Daniel Czerwiński, a historian of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN).
On October 5, 1939, the Germans shot all 38 of the postmen and buried the bodies at a shooting range near the Wrzeszcz airport in Gdańsk.
Henryka Flisykowska-Kledzik, the daughter of Alfons Flisykowski, said that “in fact, I found out about this in 1945. I knew that I do not have a dad, that my aunt and uncle are raising me, but times were such that we didn’t really talk about it.”
Not until 1991 was this mass grave found. The remains were exhumed and buried at the Zaspa Cemetery in Gdańsk. Those responsible for the murder were never trialled.
As a result of Germany’s attack on Poland, the country lost several million of its citizens. Many Polish cities and villages were razed to the ground.