Historical story

An anthrax in the Gestapo. The secret weapon of the Home Army in the fight against the scourge of informing!

Letter with anthrax. A tool of terror in the hands of extremists and madmen, but also ... a weapon that the Polish Underground State did not hesitate to use. In the fight against the invader planning to exterminate the Polish nation, all tricks were allowed.

During the German occupation denunciation was a real nightmare (click here to read our previous article on this topic) . The increased activity of the "kind" cost the lives of tens of thousands of Poles. The Gestapo was literally flooded with a wave of anonymous denunciations, which became an excellent way to settle neighborly, and often family settlements. Jan Nowak-Jeziorański sadly wrote in "Kurier z Warszawy" that:

already in the first year of the occupation, anonymous letters sent to the Gestapo against personal enemies were a real disaster that could be easily disposed of in this way. In every society there is a percentage of people who are unscrupulous enough to free themselves from a dangerous competitor, husband, wife or uncomfortable mistress - if this can be handled with impunity and quietly.

Writing denunciations to the Gestapo became a real plague during the occupation. In the photo, one of such anonymous names, published in Barbara Engelking's book "Dear Mr. Gistapo" (Center for Research on the Extermination of Jews 2014).

Anonymous people write

The scale of this problem is best evidenced by - quoted in Barbara Engelking's book "Dear sir gistapo" - a fragment of the programmatic theses of the underground group "Znak", sent to the Government Delegation in June 1941. about the fact that:

informing has become a scourge with the loss of the best and bravest individuals. It is known that German offices (such as the Gestapo) are filled with denunciations made by Poles themselves about their compatriots . Much of these accusations are made voluntarily by casual reporting, and are not even paid for .

Half a year earlier, the "Information Bulletin", the central press body of the Union for Armed Struggle (renamed the Home Army in February 1942), also indignantly wrote about this case. In the issue of December 5, 1940, you could read that:

We find the multiplication of anonymous and non-anonymous denunciations and denunciations directed to the German police by outcasts of Polish society from various social strata. The hiding military, alleged independence activists, alleged distributors, conspiratorial meeting places, etc. are denounced.

The building of the pre-war Ministry of Religious Denominations and Public Education at al. Szucha 25 in Warsaw. It was there during the occupation that the Gestapo had its headquarters (source:public domain).

The magazine also called for the most brutal reaction from the Polish society to control this phenomenon. However, it did not help much. The informers felt virtually unpunished, and the problem grew with each passing month. That is why the Warsaw underground decided to use the last resort - biological weapons.

An anthrax in the Gestapo

Of course, it could not be directed against the denunciators themselves. The addressees of letters from the "kind", that is, employees of the Warsaw Gestapo from the infamous al. Szucha. They were most vulnerable to such an attack.

The members of the Polish underground were well aware of this and decided to use anthrax to teach the Gestapo officers the ugly - and deadly dangerous for Poles - habit of reading anonyms.

You can read about other unusual methods of fighting the occupant in the "Great Book of the Home Army", of which I am a co-author. You will also find texts by other journalists of "Historical Curiosities".

The whole matter was described in his legendary book by the previously quoted Jan Nowak-Jeziorański. On her cards, he wrote down this story:

Doctors at the Institute of Hygiene specializing in cultivating various vaccines and bacteria received an order from some heavily secretive underground cell to grow the anthrax germ . False anonyms were written out - usually mentioning non-existent names and addresses - they were infected with anthrax bacteria and sent en masse to Szucha.

After a short time, the Gestapo officers assigned to "do" the anonymous began to feel a severe itching of the skin - the first symptom of anthrax. Since then, anonymous letters have been thrown out of the way without being read. The Germans feared them like fire.

These are the changes to their skin that the Gestapo agents must have noticed when dealing with fake anonymous anthrax (source:Wikimedia Commons, public domain).

Thus, anthrax has become a tool in the fight against the scourge of informing. Unfortunately, as Barbara Engelking states in her book, the Germans' fear of it was impermanent and after the introduction of appropriate precautions the Gestapo again returned to reading anonymous.

Nevertheless, the use of this unconventional weapon surely saved many denounced from arrest. The Germans, on the other hand, were quite scared and made them no longer feel the masters of the situation.