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Tuesday, 18 June, 2024
06November 1939

Gestapo arrest 184 Polish professors and lecturers, and halt all secondary and higher education in Poland

On this day, 184 professors, lecturers and doctors from various Polish universities were arrested by the SS and deported to concentration camps.

Despite the invasion of Poland, various Polish universities decided to open as usual on 13th November 1939. The occupying Nazi authorities showed no objection to this. However, on 3rd November the Gestapo chief in Kraków, SS-Obersturmbannführer Bruno Müller, instructed all professors and lecturers in the city to attend a lecture on German plans for education in Poland, which he would be giving on 6th November. When the 185 academics arrived at the venue, they were surprised to see no lecture was due to take place. Instead, Müller informed those present that they no longer had permission to start the academic year, and that he considered Polish academics to be hostile to Germany. Some of the professors and lecturers were slapped and pushed by the guards. So began Sonderaktion Krakau (special operation Kraków).

After briefly being held at a prison in Kraków, they were moved to Breslau, then to Buchenwald concentration camp, then on to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, before arriving at their final destination of Dachau concentration camp. There was outrage amongst the public, including from Italian leader Mussolini and the Pope at the Vatican. Responding to the outrage, the Gestapo released 101 prisoners over the age of 40, but the remaining were kept in prison. Many of those ultimately died at the hands of the guards or the weather.

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