Operation Kutschera was the code name for the successful assassination of Franz Kutschera, SS and Reich's Police Chief in Warsaw, killed on 1 February 1944 by the Polish Resistance fighters of Home Army's Anti-Gestapo unit Agat. This action was a part of the larger Operation Heads.
SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Polizei Franz Kutschera became SS and Police Leader of the Warsaw District on 25 September 1943. During his earlier posting in the Mogilev District of the Soviet Union he proved himself as ruthless officer, prone to brutal and unscrupulous methods.
Immediately on his arrival in Warsaw he stepped up terror measures directed against civilian population. The number of public executions and łapanka round-ups were increased, and lists of hostages to be shot in case of any attack on a German soldier were published daily. These actions, based on decree by Hans Frank, were intended to crush the will of resistance among Polish citizens. Due to Kutschera's policy since late 1943, stepping outside one's home was a venture into the unknown. Thus, the underground leadership included Kutschera in its "Operation Heads" list, describing him only as "SS and Police Leader" (Kutschera knew the methods of the Polish intelligence and therefore kept his name and whereabouts confidential). His disclosure was a matter of lucky coincidence.
Chief of the Agat company's intelligence "Rayski" (Aleksander Kunicki) was working on Walter Stamm, IV Department Gestapo director in Warsaw Sicherheitsdienst and Gestapo Command Office as well as Dr Ludwig Hahn, the Office's boss himself, often visiting the police quarter of Warsaw. One day he noticed an Opel Admiral limousine entering drive of a palace at Aleje Ujazdowskie 23, seat of the Warsaw District SS and Police Leader. Out of this car an SS-man emerged and his black coat opened a little, showing a general's collar insignia. From then on his arrivals were closely followed and soon his name and address were revealed.
"Rayski's" report reached Kedyw commander Emil August Fieldorf "Nil" and in several days a Special Courts liquidation order was sent back. "Pług" (Adam Borys), Batalion Parasol commander chose 1st Platoon for this action. Platoon commander "Lot" (Bronisław Pietraszewicz) assumed personal leading and after completing all intelligence from "Rayski" planned the assassination in close cooperation with "Pług".
The first attempt was prepared for 28 January 1944. "Lot" people took their positions and waited in vain, as Kutschera did not show up. On break up, after all arms were given over, Jan Kordulski "Żbik" was heavily wounded by a German patrol. That caused the addition of Zbigniew Gęsicki "Juno" and Stanisław Huskowski "Ali" to the team.
The next attempt took place on 1 February 1944, 8.50 AM. The execution team included:
- "Lot" (Bronisław Pietraszewicz) – commander and 1st executioner, (armament: MP 40 submachine gun, Vis gun, Filipinka hand grenade).
- "Ali" (Stanisław Huskowski) – second-in-command and security screen, (STEN, grenades).
- "Kruszynka" (Zdzisław Poradzki) – 2nd executioner, (STEN, grenades).
- "Miś" (Michał Issajewicz) – Adler Trumpf-Junior car driver and 3rd executioner, (Parabellum pistol and grenades).
- "Cichy" (Marian Senger) – cover, STEN, Parabellum, grenades.
- "Olbrzym" (Henryk Humięcki) – cover, STEN, Parabellum, grenades.
- "Juno" (Zbigniew Gęsicki) – cover, STEN, Vis, grenades.
- "Bruno" (Bronisław Hellwig) – Opel Kapitän driver, 2 Parabellums, grenades.
- "Sokół" (Kazimierz Sott) – Mercedes 170 V driver, 2 Parabellum, grenades.
- "Kama" (Maria Stypułkowska-Chojecka) – signals.
- "Dewajtis" (Elżbieta Dziębowska) – signals.
- "Hanka" (Anna Szarzyńska-Rewska) – signals.
At 9:09 AM Kama signalled that Kutschera was leaving his house at Aleja Róż 2. In spite of the fact that Kutschera had barely 150 metres to cover from his home to SS headquarters, he always used his car. When he was close to the gate of SS HQ, he was blocked by a car driven by Miś.
Lot and Kruszynka then ran up to the limousine and opened fire from close range. At the same time a covering squad took their places and getaway vehicles moved into place. An intensive firefight ensued, as German guards from neighbouring institutions (Gestapo, Schutzpolizei, garrison club) reacted. Miś jumped out of his car, together with Kruszynka and finished off the wounded Kutschera and then searched him for documents.
At the critical moment Ali could not open the briefcase with the hand grenades. Since it was his only weapon (other weapons did not arrive in time), he could not support Cichy, Lot and Olbrzym. They were all wounded soon thereafter, as the open street was under constant fire.
Due to his injury, Lot could not call for withdrawal loudly enough and the shootout was unnecessarily prolonged in the very dangerous centre of the German office quarter. Finally, all assassins managed to get into cars and drive away.
A frantic search for a hospital willing to defy the Germans and operate on the heavily wounded Cichy and Lot began, since the originally planned medvac scheme failed. It took several hours and five attempts before a hospital finally admitted them. As a result of the delay, both men died within a couple of days. Meanwhile, Sokół and Juno - against their orders - tried to return the car to the garage and were intercepted at Kierbedź bridge. After a short, hopeless exchange of fire, they jumped into the Vistula river where they were either shot or drowned.
The funeral ceremony was held by the Germans in Brühl palace. Kutschera's body was then transported to Berlin on a special train. The Germans demanded 100 million zloty as a retribution from the city of Warsaw. The next day, 2 February 1944, 100 civilian hostages were shot in one of the last public executions in the city before the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising.
In popular culture
- Richard C. Lukas "Forgotten holocaust - The Poles under German Occupation 1939-1944" Hippocrene Books 1997 ISBN 0-7818-0901-0
- Andrew Hempel, Poland in World War II: An Illustrated Military History', Hippocrene Books, 2003, ISBN 0-7818-1004-3, Google Print, p.51-56
- (Polish) Description, map and photos
- (Polish) Interview with "Kama"