Operation Kutschera

(name of victim)

This was the Polish assassination of Franz Kutschera, the head of the SS and Reich police in Warsaw, by the fighters of the Armia Krajowa’s Agat anti-Gestapo unit as part of 'Główki' (1 February 1944).

An SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Polizei, Kutschera had become SS and police leader of the Warsaw district on 25 September 1943 after having proved himself, in an earlier posting in the Mogilev district of the German-occupied western part of the USSR, a ruthless officer characterised by brutal and unscrupulous methods. Immediately after arriving in Warsaw Kutschera increased the terror measures directed against the civilian population. The number of public executions and arbitrary round-ups was increased, and lists of hostages to be shot in the event of any attack on a German soldier were published daily. These actions, based on decree by Hans Frank, the governor general of the General Gouvernement in Poland, were intended to crush the will of the Polish people to resist German domination.

The Polish underground leadership therefore included Kutschera in its 'Heads' list, and the German target’s whereabouts were established by 'Rayski' (Aleksandr Kunicki), chief of Agat’s intelligence, who was working undetected in the German administration of Warsaw, and reported Kutschera’s details to 'Nil' (Emil August Fieldorf ), commander of the Kedyw (Kierownictwo Dywersji, or Directorate for Subversion). An order for Kutschera’s assassination was quickly raised, and 'Pług' (Adam Borys), commander of the Batalion Parasol, allocated the task to the 1st Platoon led by 'Lot' (Bronisław Pietraszewicz). The first attempt was prepared for 28 January 1944 but was abortive as Kutschera did not appear.

The next attempt was made at 08.50 on 1 February by a 13-person team armed with sub-machine guns, pistols and grenades. The team was informed at 09.05 that Kutschera had left home in a car despite the fact that his home and office were a mere 165 yards (150 m) apart. When it was close to the gate of the SS headquarters, Kutschera’s car was blocked by a car driven by one of the team, and two others ran forward and opened fire. There followed an intense firefight as German guards from nearby institutions reacted, Kutschera was killed, and all of the Polish team, two of them severely wounded, escaped by car. The two wounded men died two days later. Two others were later found as they tried, against orders, to return the car to a garage, and jumped into the Vistula river, where they were either shot or drowned.

The Germans demanded 100 million zloty as a retribution from the city of Warsaw, and on the following day, 2 February, 100 civilian hostages were shot in one of the last public executions in the city before the outbreak of the Warsaw rising on 1 August 1944.