Contributor: John Radzilowski
ww2dbaseOperation Kutschera was the most daring and successful attacks carried out against a top Nazi official by an underground resistance movement during the World War II. Unlike the better known killing of Reinhard Heydrich, which was carried out by Czech agents parachuted in from England, Operation Kutschera was entirely planned and executed by the underground Polish Home Army (known in Polish as Armia Krajowa or AK), Europe's largest clandestine resistance force.
ww2dbaseFranz Kutschera joined the Nazi party in 1930 in his native Austria and quickly rose through the ranks of the party, joining the SS in 1935 and becoming a protégé of Heinrich Himmler. He distinguished himself through his fanaticism and ruthlessness against Jews and other enemies of the party. He was appointed Gauleiter of Carinthia in 1938 and helped oversee the founding the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. He was appointed a judge of the "People's Court," designed by the Nazis to try opponents of the regime. In 1943, he was appointed SS police commander in occupied Belarus where he became known for his brutality in hunting down Jews and partisans. In September 1943 he was named police and SS commander of occupied Warsaw. He quickly enhanced his reputation for brutality by staging mass executions of Polish civilians in response to acts of resistance by the civilian population and the killing of Gestapo and SS policemen.
ww2dbaseAfter his appointment to Warsaw, Kutschera's identity remained a closely guarded secret, but the intelligence service of the AK soon discovered the name and residence of the notorious "Executioner of Warsaw." An underground tribunal tried Kutschera in absentia for crimes against humanity. He was convicted and sentenced to death. The matter was handed over the Directorate for Subversion, known as Kedyw, under the command of General August Emil Fieldorf, which carried out combat and sabotage operations against the Nazi occupiers. A team of a dozen Grey Ranks, former Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, was assigned to the mission, each known by a secret code name.
ww2dbaseKutschera lived in a heavy guarded house a block away from SS Headquarters. Each day he left his house in a guarded limousine and drove the 150-meter distance to his office. This area of German occupied Warsaw swarmed with armed Nazis. On the same block as SS headquarters was the German officer's club, Gestapo headquarters, and the headquarters of the Schutzpolizei. The highly risky operation was planned by team leader Adam Borys (codename: "Plow"). A key part of the plan rested on the actions of the signals team, made up of former Girl Guides, led by Maria Stypulkowska-Chojecka (codename: "Cammy"). Young men of military age passing through this part of Warsaw attracted the immediate attention of Nazi guards, but well-dressed young women could pass far more easily.
ww2dbaseThe first attempt on Kutschera was planned for Jan. 28, 1944 but was called off when Kutschera failed to show. A second attempt was planned for Feb. 1. At 0909 hours on Feb. 1, "Cammy," stationed near the gate of Kutschera's residence, spotted him leaving the house and gave the signal to the rest of the team. Kutschera's car left his house and made a left turn onto Al. Ujazdowskie. As it approached SS headquarters, a stolen Adler-Trumpf Junior, driven by three AK team members (Bronislaw Pietraszewicz, Zdzislaw Poradzki, and Michal Issajewicz) swerved in front Kutschera's car, forcing the driver to hit the brakes. Pietraszewicz and Poradzki, armed with submachine guns, pistols, and grenades, leapt from the car and opened fire on Kutschera, wounding the SS leader. Issajewicz and Poradzki shot the badly wounded Nazi again while Pietraszewicz tried to seize Kutschera's briefcase. German guards from the surrounding buildings opened fire on the team. A second AK team covering the operation returned fire and in an instant a gun battle erupted between Nazi guards and AK team members. Pietraszewicz and one of the cover team members were hit while running to a second getaway car idling nearby. The team members sped off followed by a hail of bullets. Pietraszewicz and cover team member Marian Senger would later die of their wounds. Cover team members Zbigniew G?sicki and Kazimierz Sott were caught on a bridge over the Vistula and leapt to their deaths in the icy waters of the river to avoid capture. In addition to Kutschera, five Nazi guards were killed and nine wounded.
ww2dbaseIn retribution, the Germans publicly executed 100 civilian hostages. This the last public execution of civilians in Warsaw until the Warsaw Uprising later that year. Shocked by the death of Kutschera, and with the Home Army already tying down hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police in occupation duties, Nazi official vainly tried to avoid further inflaming the population against them.
ww2dbaseSeveral of the team members survived the war. General Fieldorf, who commanded Kedyw, was arrested, tortured, and murdered by the communists after the war. Adam Borys was also persecuted by the communists but survived, passing away in 1986. Michal Issajewicz was arrested by the Nazis during the war and survived Stutthof Concentration Camp, passing away in 2012. Signals team leader "Cammy" passed away in February 2016, just days after the 72nd anniversary of Operation Kutschera. February 1 is commemorated each year by Polish Boy Scouts and Girl Guides from across Poland.
"69 lat temu zosta? zlikwidowany ‘kat Warszawy'" [69 Years ago the "Executioner of Warsaw" was Liquidated"] http://niezalezna.pl/37961-69-lat-temu-zostal-zlikwidowany-kat-warszawy
Piotr Stachiewicz. Akcja "Kutschera." Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Ksi??ka i Wiedza, 1982.
Tomasz Strembosz. Akcje zbrojne podziemnej Warszawy 1939–1945. Warsaw: Pa?stwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1983.
Tomasz Strzembosz. Oddzialy szturmowe konspiracyjnej Warszawy 1939–1945. Warsaw: Pa?stwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1983.
Operation Kutschera Interactive Map
Operation Kutschera Timeline
|28 Jan 1944||Polish AK resistance fighters planned an assassination of German SS commander Franz Kutschera in Warsaw, Poland, but the operation was called off when the target failed to appear as expected.|
|1 Feb 1944||Polish AK resistance fighters assassinated German SS commander Franz Kutschera at the intersection of Aleje Ujazdowskie and Piusa XI Street in Warsaw, Poland.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945