Tarnów rail station bomb attack
The Tarnów rail station bomb attack was a bombing carried out by a German agent at Tarnów, Poland. It occurred in the night of August 28, 1939, when a time bomb planted by the agent exploded, killing 20 people and wounding 35.
In 1939, Tarnów was a town with a population of 40,000 in southern Poland. Trains passed through the busy main rail station of Tarnów Główny, carrying thousands of travellers, including numerous soldiers reporting to their units, as the international situation worsened day by day. The routine, however, was interrupted at 11:18 p.m., when a time bomb left by a German saboteur exploded in the luggage hall. Twenty people died and it has been argued that World War II started at that point.
The saboteur who planted the bomb, a man named Antoni Guzy, was the son of a German mother and a Polish father. His father died during World War I, and in 1938 Guzy, a locksmith, became unemployed. In search of a job, he joined the Gewerkschaft Deutscher Arbeiter, an organization which helped to organize employment in Germany.
It was probably through this agency that he was persuaded to carry out the attack. He left two suitcases packed with explosives in the luggage hall and went to a platform to wait for a night Luxtorpeda train from Krynica, via Tarnów, to Kraków, which, according to the schedule, would leave at 23:02. It is probable that Guzy had no idea when the bomb would explode. He had a beer in the station restaurant, before taking a slow walk around the station. When the explosion happened, the saboteur, together with other people, ran away in panic. Reportedly, his German principals wanted him to die in the attack.
The number of victims would have been much higher, had it not been for a stopping train from Kraków, which arrived eight minutes late. Also, a few minutes before the attack, a military transport with numerous soldiers had left the Tarnów station. Approximately one-third of the station building was destroyed. Rail workers and policemen spent hours searching for victims in the rubble.
It is impossible to reconstruct all the details of the attack. At 11:30 a.m. Guzy met a man from Skoczów named Neuman, who was a member of a German saboteur organization. Together, they went by rail to Kraków, leaving Bielsko-Biała station at 12:13 p.m. In Kraków they had coffee, and later took two heavy suitcases from a station's luggage office. According to Guzy’s later statement, Neuman told him to leave both cases at the Tarnów station and return to Kraków, where he would be waiting.
After the explosion, Guzy was stopped by the railroad police, asked for his identity papers and released. Stopped again near the station, he was recognised as the man who had left the suitcases. During the interrogation he said that he felt sorry about what had happened, and that he had never received any money. Guzy’s subsequent fate is unknown.
- http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/1,75480,2887486.html (Polish)
- http://www.tarnow.pl/historia/taka/1.php[dead link] (Polish)
- http://www.diapozytyw.pl/pl/site/slady_i_judaica/tarnow (Polish)
- http://www.go-tarnow.com/english/worth_seeing/tarnow-history.html[dead link] (English)
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/countdown_390829_tue_04.shtml (English)
- Photos of the station after the attack, taken in the morning on Tuesday, August 29, 1939[dead link]