Operation Tannenberg

The codename Unternehmen Tannenberg (Operation Tannenberg) was used for two discrete German operations:


Several Gleiwitz incident-like commando acts took place in late August 1939, see Operation Himmler.

Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei

Operation Tannenberg (Unternehmen Tannenberg) was the codename for one of the extermination actions directed at the Polish people during World War II, part of the Generalplan Ost. Conscription lists (Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen) identified more than 61,000 Polish activists, intelligentsia, actors, former officers, and others, who were to be interned or shot. Members of the German minority living in Poland assisted in preparing the lists.

The plan was created in May 1939. Following the orders of Adolf Hitler, a special unit dubbed Tannenberg was created within the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt). It commanded a number of Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD formed of Gestapo, Kripo and SD officers who were theoretically subordinate to local Wehrmacht commanders. Their task was to arrest all the people listed on the proscription lists prepared before the outbreak of World War II.

First, in August 1939 about 2,000 activists of Polish minority organisations in Germany were arrested and murdered. The second part of the action began on September 1, 1939, and ended in October, resulting in at least 20,000 deaths in 760 mass executions by special units or Einsatzgruppen (with some help from regular Wehrmacht units). In addition, a special formation was created from the German minority living in Poland called Selbstschutz, whose members had trained in Germany before the war in diversion and guerilla fighting. The formation was responsible for many massacres and due to its bad reputation was dissolved by Nazi authorities after the September Campaign.


  • Various authors (2000). Monografia obozu KL Stutthof. Państwowe Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie.
  • Andrzej Leszek Szcześniak (2001). Plan zagłady Słowian - Generalplan OST. Radom, POLWEN. ISBN 83-88822-03-9.
  • Alfred Spiess, Heiner Lichtenstein: Unternehmen Tannenberg. Der Anlass zum Zweiten Weltkrieg. Korrigierte und erweiterte Ausgabe. (Ullstein-Buch ; Nr. 33118 : Zeitgeschichte) Ullstein, Frankfurt/M ; Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-548-33118-1.
  • Stefan Scheil: 1940/41. Die Eskalation des Zweiten Weltkriegs München: Olzog Verlag, 2005. ISBN 3-7892-8151-4

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