Operation Heads

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Operation Heads (Polish: Operacja Główki) was the code name for a series of assassinations of Nazi officials by the World War II Polish Resistance. Those targeted for assassination had been sentenced to death by Polish Underground Special Courts for crimes against Polish citizens during the World War II German occupation of Poland. The operation's code name, literally "Operation Little Heads", was a sardonic reference to the Totenkopf ("Death's Head") insignia on Nazi German SS uniforms and headgear[1].


SS cap with Totenkopf inspiration of "Operation heads" name.
Announcement of the execution 100 Polish hostages in revenge for the assassination of members of the German police and SS by Polish "terrorist organization in English service". Warsaw, 2 October 1943

Operation Heads was the response of Polish Resistance fighters of the Home Army to Nazi terror in Poland. On the streets of Polish cities, the non-Jewish population was targeted by the łapanka policy, in which Nazi forces indiscriminately rounded up, kidnapped and murdered civilians.[2] In Warsaw, between 1942 and 1944, there were approximately 400 daily victims of łapanka. Tens of thousands of these victims were killed in mass executions, including an estimated 37,000 people at the Pawiak prison complex run by the Gestapo and thousands of others killed in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto. The Nazis also held public executions of hostages. Daily lists of Poles to be executed in the event of any attack upon Nazi troopers were published. In retribution for these acts of terrorism, the Polish Underground leadership prepared lists of Nazi leaders to be eliminated for the said crimes against civilian non-combatants[3].


The targets of this operation were members of the German administration, police, SS, SA, labour office and Gestapo agents[4] who had been sentenced to death by the Special Courts of the Polish Underground for crimes against Polish citizens. Because of the particular brutality of the police, the Home Army killed 361 gendarmes in 1943, and in 1944 another 584. In Warsaw alone 10 Germans were killed daily, which caused repression and revenge from the German side. From August to December 1942, the Home Army carried out 87 attacks on the German administration and members of the occupation forces. In 1943 this number grew radically. During the first four months of 1943, the Home Army increased these attacks to 514.[5]

Operation Heads 1943–1944[edit]


  1. ^ Strzembosz (1983)
  2. ^ "With the demands of the German military draining its industrial labour force, where better had Germany to procure replacements than from the defeated and occupied countries? Round-ups, or lapankas, * the Polish name they were known under, became an essential feature of life in Warsaw and precipitated much wider ferocity on both sides. Abroad in public I had survived numerous German security checks, shielded from unpleasant developments by Nazi Labour department registration and other efficient false documents. The round-ups of Poles created an additional threat for me as well as all Poles. Whole streets were sealed off by police and soldiers and most trapped men and women were carted off to concentration camps or sent as slave labour to the Reich. Tram and trainloads of people, regardless of work documents, were herded like cattle into trucks, many never to see home or family again. Being Polish was sufficient to qualify for such treatment.", Ron Jeffery, "Red Runs the Vistula", Nevron Associates Publ., Manurewa, Auckland, New Zealand 1985
  3. ^ Strzembosz (1983)
  4. ^ Tomasz Strzembosz, Akcje zbrojne podziemnej Warszawy 1939–1944, Warszawa, 1978, p.401-406, ISBN 8306007174.
  6. ^ Strzembosz (1983)
  7. ^ Strzembosz (1983)
  8. ^ Strzembosz (1983)
  9. ^ "ISSUU - Inferno of Choices by Service culturel de l'Ambassade de Pologne". Issuu. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  10. ^ Richard C. Lukas "Forgotten holocaust - The Poles under German Occupation 1939–1944" Hippocrene Books 1997 ISBN 0-7818-0901-0
  11. ^ Kutschera miał utopić Warszawę w morzu krwi... http://www.rzeczpospolita.pl/specjal_040612/specjal_a_15.html
  12. ^ http://eela1.blox.pl/2012/03/mjr-Michal-Issajewicz-ps-Mis.html Komentarze eela
  13. ^ "ISSUU - Inferno of Choices by Service culturel de l'Ambassade de Pologne". Issuu. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  14. ^ Warsaw aflame. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  15. ^ Seite 75 in https://www.amazon.de/Okkupation-Osten-Besatzeralltag-Warschau-1939-1944-ebook/dp/B00BEC5POE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409514953&sr=8-1&keywords=lehnstaedt+Okkupation+im+Osten
  16. ^ "ISSUU - Inferno of Choices by Service culturel de l'Ambassade de Pologne". Issuu. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  17. ^ Warsaw aflame. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  18. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Polish) Piotr Stachiewicz "Akcja Koppe : Krakowska akcja Parasola" Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, Warsaw, 1982, ISBN 978-83-11-06752-3


  • Strzembosz, Tomasz (1983). "Akcje zbrojne podziemnej Warszawy 1939–1944" (eng. Armed actions of underground Warsaw 1939-1944) (in Polish). Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy. ISBN 8306007174.
  • Richard C. Lukas "Forgotten holocaust - The Poles under German Occupation 1939–1944" Hippocrene Books 1997 ISBN 0-7818-0901-0
  • Stachiewicz Piotr, Akcja "Kutschera", Książka i Wiedza, 1987, ISBN 83-05-11024-9.
  • Henryk Witkowski, Kedyw okręgu Warszawskiego Armii Krajowej w latach 1943–1944, Fakty i Dokumenty, 1984.