Der Fall Gleiwitz (The Gleiwitz Case) (1961)



Director:     Gerhard Klein.

Starring:     Hannjo Hasse (SS-Hauptsturmführer Alfred Helmut Naujocks, alias Birke), Herwart Grosse (Gestapochef Müller), Hilmar Thate (KZ-Häftling), Georg Leopold (Volksdeutscher Franz Wyczorek), Wolfgang Kalweit (Volksdeutscher Hans-Wilhelm Kraweit), Rolf Ripperger (Volksdeutscher Bieratzki), Christoph Bayertt (Volksdeutscher Franz Sitte (as Christoph Beyertt), Rudolf Woschiek (Volksdeutscher Tutzauer (as Rudolf Woschick), Manfred Günther (Volksdeutscher Kühnel).

Nazis dressed as Poles raid a German border radio station to give Hitler an excuse to invade Poland in 1939


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

SS-Hauptsturmführer Alfred Helmut Naujocks is the narrator of the story.  He comments that they have had 20 years of peace, but this won't last much longer.   In the theater he watches newsreels showing Hitler reviewing the fleet.  The nation is behind the fuehrer. 

An SS man watches the audience.  Naujocks is notified that they are ready.   

The Gestapo chief gives orders to several men.  An SS man is given the order to go to the Spandau Wehrmacht base where he will be issued fourteen Polish uniforms.  Another man is given the order to study the records of repatriates from Poland and choose six men.  Those selected must speak both German and Polish.  A third man is send to Sachsenhausen to pick up a prisoner and take him to the Oppeln facility.  This will not be a transfer.  The prisoner's name will be struck from the list. 

Naujocks is told that it has been decided that the issue of Poland will be resolved militarily.  Naujocks will be responsible for making the world think that the Germans were provoked into war.  The night before the start of war with Poland selected Polish repatriates will raid the German Reich radio station in Gleiwitz.  They will leave behind a corpse dressed as a Polish sharpshooter. 

A prison guard removes a prisoner from his cell.  He is told to change into civilian clothes provided for him.  At about the same time, pallbearers report for duty, which makes the prisoner worry.  The man's name is crossed off a list. 

The six Poles are chosen.  There is Franz Kuhne, who is a book dealer.  He has been with the SS Command for the last four years.  Hans-Wilhelm Kraweit, who has no trade, but with combat training with General Wiestenberg.  An electrician named Heinrich Bieratzky with signal corps training.  Teacher Franz Wieczorek.  Oskar Tutzauer, who fled from Poland after dismissal.   And grocer Franz Sitte, Freikorps, Bielitz Storm Troop.  They are told that they will be members of a special task force.

Naujocks says to himself that he's been at it for eight years and with war coming he is bound to get promoted.  He comments that the Germans will finish off Poland in four weeks.  "I'll mow the pigs down," he says.  He gets dressed in his uniform.  The Gleiwitz amplifier station is called and told to raise the transmission to 1,000 hertz.  Naujocks studies the blue prints for the radio station.  He's ready.  The six members of the task force arrive. 

Naujocks shows up at the radio station as the troubleshooter explaining that he is a substitute.  The radio man tells him that he can't figure out what's wrong.  Naujocks says he will start by checking in the basement for problems.  Down there he asks a mechanic where does the overhead enter?  On his right.  Het he goes outside for a moment and then comes back in.   He makes an impression of the key to an entrance door and then telephones telling headquarters he's in the radio station.  He uses an alias, Birke.   Ready to roll, he tells the radio fellow that they fixed the bug already. 

Being transported by car, the prisoner is blindfolded and handcuffed.   The car stops and he hears the roar of a train carrying military weapons to the border with Poland.  The six men are told that they don't have to know everything.  Everyone drinks a beer.  Their commander Naujocks talks about the duty he saw on the border with Czechoslovakia.  Like here, they had to sit and wait for the signal to start was given.  He says the action he saw  was exhilarating.  The guy is a real gung-ho SS man who talks tough about making mincemeat of the adversary.  He says they will show no mercy! 

Flashback.  Naujocks is baptized.  A school teacher tells his students:  "Every hit kills a Brit.  Every flog kills a Frog."  A professor talks to him about studying.  He pledges an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler.  Naujocks has to lash a prisoner.  And he operates undercover. 

Back to the present.  Gestapo chief Muller gets a message, while sitting outside on a patio having tea with a man and a woman in civilian dress. .  He has to excuse himself.  Now he gives the details of the plan to Naujocks  The radio station raid is more than just an incident.  Naujocks is to get one of the Poles to write a statement defaming the Reich.  Muller is delivering to Naujocks a man from Oppeln at the last moment.  Heydrich will call Naujocks from Berlin.  He will give Naujocks a code word "canned goods" and then Naujocks is to call Muller and Muller will have the prisoner delivered to him.   

The prisoner is held in a cell in a bunker.  There are twelve other prisoners in the bunker.  Muller tells a doctor that he wants the men given an injection that will disorient the men for from three to four hours.  But the man must die only when he is hit by a bullet. The doctor says he will do his part.

Naujocks watches part of a movie while waiting for the signal.  He leaves.  Heydrich calls him saying the words "canned goods" and giving him the time of 8 pm. 

The prisoner is brought to see the doctor, who tells him he will be given a paratyphoid injection.  The prisoner is very slow moving, so one of the Germans knocks him out with a blow to the face.  The doctor gives the unconscious man the injection.  He is then dressed in a Polish uniform. 

The six men receive their Polish pistols.  Naujocks says that the police will appear fifteen minutes after the radio appeal.  They will fire their rifles at the station gate.  The six men are called in.  They have to sign a statement saying that if they reveal the secret of the mission they and their families will all be killed. 

German radio stations broadcast how the German people are being harassed by the Poles.  So far, they say, the Germans have manifested stoic restraint.  This is because the fuehrer is seeking to achieve German demands in peaceful ways. 

The drugged and unconscious prisoner is delivered.  The men in two cars drive to the radio station.  They climb over the outside gate and rush the station. The outer gate is opened and a car drives up to the station door.  Naujocks gets out and tells one of the men to lock the employees in the cellar.  Two men take out the unconscious prisoner and place him on the dock.  Naujocks sets up a microphone for the broadcast in broken German.  A Pole reads a statement:  "Attention!  Attention!  This is the Polish Insurrection Force using Radio Gleiwitz facilities."  The radio station and the city are in their hands and the hour to fight has arrived. "Poles, take up arms!"  Naujocks and some of the men make a lot of noise by breaking things while the message is broadcast.  After awhile, Naujocks pulls the plug for the microphone. 

Outside the prisoner is pulled into position.  Naujocks shoots the man once with his rifle and the man awakens with a jolt.  He then fires a round into the prisoner's chest area and the man shouts out in great pain.  The Germans and Poles now leave. 

Over the radio the Germans broadcast:  "Last night Poland opened fire from invaded German soil.  The adversaries went so far as to deploy regular troops.  We have been returning their fire since 5:45 am".   The next sound heard is a thunderous:  "Heil!" 

The words "43,000,000 dead" appear in big letters on the screen. 


Short movie, but interesting.  The whole story is told of the ruse the Germans used as excuse to attack Poland and start World War II.  There were a lot of persons involved in the fake attack on the radio station  in Gleiwitz, Germany near the Polish border, but those organized Germans carried it out without a hitch.  The war begins.  Except for the mechanics of the operation, there wasn't much acting except for the leader of the raid, SS officer Naujocks.  Hannjo Hasse was good in the role.  His little militant speech about the joys of war was pretty disgusting and confirms the image that the SS men were fanatics in their devotion and loyalty to the madman Adolf Hitler and war. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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