Tarnów train station bombing

The Tarnów train station bombing was a deadly bombing carried out by a German saboteur two days before the outbreak of World War II in Europe. The bombing occurred in the city of Tarnów, Poland during the interwar period, and preceded the joint invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. A time bomb detonated inside the station on the night of 28 August 1939, resulting in the deaths of 20 people and injuries to 35 others.[1]

Tarnów train station bombing
Part of Nazi terrorist attacks preceding invasion of Poland
Approximately a third of the train station collapsed due to the bombing.
Location of Tarnów in the interwar period
Tarnów train station is located in Tarnów
Tarnów train station
Tarnów train station
Tarnów train station (Tarnów)
Date28 August 1939
WeaponsTwo time bombs hidden in suitcases
PerpetratorsAntoni Guzy

In 1939, Tarnów had a population of approximately 40,000. Tarnów Główny (Tarnów Central), a busy train station, was located on the railway line connecting Kraków to the west and Lwów to the east, two major cities in southern Poland. Many trains carrying thousands of passengers passed through Tarnów regularly. The growing threat of conflict with Germany added to the crowds, as many army reserve soldiers were ordered to report to their units amid worsening international tensions. At 11:18 p.m., the dense traffic abruptly stopped when a time bomb planted by a German saboteur named Anton Guzy exploded in the waiting hall. Twenty people died instantly. Some commentators argue that this event marked the beginning of the world war.[2]

Attack edit

The saboteur who planted the bomb, Antoni "Anton" Guzy from Bielsko (formerly Bielitz), was the son of a German mother and a Polish father.[3] Guzy, who worked as a locksmith, joined the Gewerkschaft Deutscher Arbeiter, a local organization that facilitated job opportunities in Germany, after he found himself unemployed in 1938.[2]

It is likely that he was convinced to carry out the attack by this agency.[3] Guzy traveled to Tarnów, a Polish town located just over the border from the German city of Gleiwitz, with a man named Neumann.[2] He left two suitcases filled with explosives in the luggage hall and proceeded to a platform to wait for the arrival of a Luxtorpeda train from Krynica, which passed through Tarnów on its way to Kraków. The scheduled departure time was 11:02 p.m. There is speculation that Guzy may not have known when the bomb would detonate. Before the explosion, he drank a beer at the station's restaurant and took a stroll around the station. When the explosion occurred, Guzy and other passengers fled in panic. It is believed that his German handlers may have intended for him to die in the attack.[3]

The number of casualties would have been much higher if a train from Kraków had not arrived eight minutes late. In addition, a military transport carrying several soldiers had left Tarnów station just moments before the attack. About one-third of the station building was destroyed. Rail workers and policemen spent hours searching for victims in the rubble.[3]

Reconstructing all the details of the attack is impossible. At 11:30 a.m., Guzy met a man named Neuman from Skoczów, who was allegedly affiliated with a German saboteur organization. They traveled together by rail to Kraków, departing from Bielsko-Biała station at 12:13 p.m. In Kraków, they stopped for coffee and then retrieved two large suitcases from the station's luggage office. According to Guzy's testimony, Neuman told him to deposit both cases at the Tarnów station and then return to Kraków, where Neuman would be waiting for him.

After the explosion, Guzy was stopped by the railroad police who asked for his identity papers before releasing him. When he was stopped again near the station, he was identified as the person who had abandoned the suitcases. During the interrogation that followed, he expressed remorse and claimed that he had never received any money. His subsequent fate is uncertain.[3] A German investigation conducted in 1941 concluded that Guzy was shot in early September 1939, before the invading Germans had reached the area.[4]

No clear motive was ever established. It is thought that the attack may have been intended to incite anger against Germans in Poland, therefore providing justification for the Nazi invasion.[5]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Krzysztof Gzyl (2018). "Bombing attack at the train station in Tarnów" [Zamach bombowy na tarnowskim dworcu kolejowym]. Taka jest historia (in Polish). Tarnów i region at it.tarnow.pl. Archived from the original on 2018-02-08. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  2. ^ a b c The Bomb Attack at Tarnów. Vol. 27. Instytut Zachodni. 1986. pp. 243–247, 267. ISSN 0032-3039. OCLC 1606392. Archived from the original on 5 January 2024. Retrieved 7 February 2018. On the night of August 18, Guzy and Neumann, travelling in separate compartments, transported the explosives by train to Lwów. Guzy sent two suitcases as registered luggage and carried a parcel with him. Neumann carried four suitcases with him. – Neumann was to look after the explosives in Lwów. On the evening of 24 August 1939 (according to Guzy), Breslau radio broadcast the appointed signal for the attack: "A special announcement, Dr Funk is to set to work" (Sondermeldung, Dr. Funk soll an die Arbeit gehen). It is significant that an almost identical signal was recorded by the monitoring service of the Silesian police: "Comrades Dr Funk and Eichenholz are to set to work immediately and report" (Kameraden Dr. Funk und Eichenholz haben die Arbeit sojort aujzunehmen und sich dann zu melden) It appears to be the same command. The cryptonym Dr Funk is also known from elsewhere. This was the name of a subversive unit of Volksdeutsche who operated in the Chodziez district on 1 September 1939. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e Łukasz Winczura (September 30, 2008). "How the Fifth Column started the world war..." [Jak piąta kolumna, wojnę światową zaczynała...]. Salon 24 (in Polish). Archived from the original on March 30, 2012 – via Internet Archive. 24 sierpnia 1938 roku przez radiostację wrocławską popłynął w eter lakoniczny komunikat wygłoszony po niemiecku : "Herr Doktor Funk soll an die Arbeit gehen". Był to znak dla grup dywersantów niemieckich, by przystępowali do planowanych wcześniej akcji... W Gliwicach na szyfrowany "apel radiowy" odpowiedział ochoczo niejaki Antoni Guzy, którego sabotażowy przydział przypadł na Tarnów.
  4. ^ Zygmunt Szych (August 28, 2017). "Explosion at Tarnów Train Station. The terrorist came by taxi. How did Antoni Guzy died?" [Wybuch na tarnowskim dworcu. Zamachowiec przyjechał taksówką. Jak zginął Antoni Guzy?]. tarnow.in (in Polish). Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  5. ^ S, Artur (2020-09-25). "Nazi espionage in pre-war Poland: an act of terror". Stories Through Keepsakes. Retrieved 2024-02-22.

External links edit

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