The term “False flag operation” describes secretive operations designed to deceive in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities, groups or nations than those who actually planned and executed them. Apparently war has a lot to offer those positioned to get a lot out of it, such as money, territory, prestige, and a large pool of slave labor. War has been naturally associated with suffering and misery, but to a select few nations and leaders it has also been associated with the aforementioned highly exclusive benefits. The latter being so powerful and alluring that history has documented cases of nations seeking out ways not to avoid war, but to actually start them! Any way possible, even illegally. From shelling their own lines, ships and cities to soldiers donning the uniforms of enemy combatants, nations have gone to great lengths to start wars. Unfortunately, it seems many nations have yet to learn the consequences of such cloak and dagger acts. The notoriety, the sanctions, and the international isolation that come with blatant subterfuge appear to be lost on certain state actors, particularly in light of the recent actions taken in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Here’s a list of some of the most shocking False Flag operations carried out in history.
5. Soviet Shelling of Mainilla
By 1939, the USSR had set up itself as a force to be reckoned with. The dual chaos of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing civil war had subsided and the nation was settling in for a relatively stable existence, even under Stalinist repression. This lull in activity must have been quite boring to Stalin himself for he set his sights on immediate Soviet expansion. After agreeing with Hitler to partition the hapless Poles, Stalin started thinking of his next victim….Finland! For over a year the USSR had tried to bully and intimidate the resolute Finns into becoming a virtual protectorate to no avail. The Soviets upped the ante by merely staging a false flag operation on the shared border of both countries. On the morning of November 26th, 1939, Soviet artillery shelled the village of Mainilla, about a mile from the Finnish border. Although the Finns denied involvement and even proposed a joint or neutral investigation, the Soviets refused and launched and invasion merely three days later. It turned out to be a complete disaster for the USSR, despite eventually winning. It wasn’t until 1994, when the USSR was no longer in existence that the Russian government finally admitted that it had been an illegal war of aggression.
4. Operation Northwoods
Apparently, President John F. Kennedy was not a man to repeat the same mistake twice. In 1959, communist guerrillas under the command of Fidel Castro overthrew the dictatorship of Colonel Fulgencio Batista, who nevertheless was an American ally. For the next two years, the American security establishment would be working very hard to find ways to remove Castro from power. The first attempt to remove Castro from power came in 1961, with what became known as the Bay of Pigs invasion. Suffice to say it was an embarrassing flop for the CIA. Cuban emigres and dissidents proved to be poor coordinators and even poorer secret keepers. Not to be deterred, the Pentagon worked up another plan, this time for a full blown invasion by the U.S. But this would require a pretext. In came the war spinsters. Though Operation Northwoods was never carried out it was nevertheless a False Flag operation, if only on an academic level. The scenarios envisioned shooting down or hijacking U.S. airliners and blaming it on Cuba, harassing or even blowing up U.S. merchant ships near Cuba, and various other sabotage operations within the U.S. to be blamed on the Cuban government and give America the justification for an invasion.
3. Gulf of Tonkin Incident
The 1960’s, an era of counterculture and hippies, free love and college kids tuning out an older generation. Also an era of lingering post-McCarthyist paranoia about “Communist aggression.” As European nations were dealing with the rising tide of De-colonization, America was dealing with the after effects, namely that some of those countries decided to take the Communist route. That was a big enough issue for the U.S. government that another False Flag operation was required to straighten things out. This time, the unlucky recipient was the nation of Vietnam. On the night of August 2, 1964 the USS Maddox, a U.S. destroyer was conducting routine intelligence patrols off the coast of Vietnam. Through mis-communication it engaged Vietnamese patrol boats, inflicting and receiving damage. Two nights later on August 4, 1964 the USS Maddox again was reported to have engaged Vietnamese patrol boats and sustained damage. This second engagement of course turned out to be false since it did not even take place, but it was enough for the Johnson Administration to label it a communist attack and launch a wider troop engagement in Vietnam.
2. Operation Greif
This latest False Flag deviates somewhat from the narrative, as it does not involve the pretext for war, due to the fact that it takes place during the heat of battle, five years into a war. Operation Greif was an infamous German false flag operation during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. It’s relevant to this list due to its potential to have altered the course of WWII, if only for a short while. Operation Greif was lead by the notorious Waffen SS commando, Otto Skorzeny, who’s swashbuckling exploits to organize a jailbreak to spring free Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in 1943 had endeared him as Adolf Hitler’s favorite commando leader. Skorzeny’s notoriety would be elevated even further with Operation Greif. In this particular event, Skorzeny commanded German troops, dressed as American MP’s(military police) and crossed behind American lines to sow havoc and mistrust among American personnel, by switching sign posts to direct columns the wrong way and spreading outlandish rumors about casualties and defeats to lower morale. Furnished with uniforms and proper ID cards, Skorzeny’s commandos were armed with their deadliest weapon yet; accent-free English with which they went about their work to sabotage and terrorize at will. Eventually the tide of the battle turned against Germany, but not before Skorzeny had his commandos spread the rumor that General Dwight Eisenhower was indeed the target of their plans, wreaking havoc on American communications as Eisenhower was confined in his chateau unable to visit the front lines and assess the situation for himself, thus slowing the advance towards Germany. For this subterfuge, Skorzeny earned the nicknames of “The Most Dangerous Man in Europe” and perhaps more menacingly “Scarface” due to his numerous battle scars.
1. Gleiwitz Incident
This is arguably the most notorious False Flag operation of all time, particularly due to its far reaching consequences. This was the spark that Adolf Hitler needed to invade Poland and start WWII in Europe. Obviously not content with gobbling up all of Austria with the Anschluss of 1938 and the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia the same year(followed up by the entire country in 1939) Hitler agitated for more Lebensraum or living space for his Greater Germany vision. The next obvious target for expansion was Poland. Sensing that neither France nor Great Britain were going to tolerate further “justified” expansion, Hitler went about fabricating a reason to invade Poland. On the night of August 31, 1939, German security troops escorted Jewish concentration camp victims to a radio tower near the Polish border town of Gleiwitz. There they dressed them in German border guard uniforms and had them promptly shot. Hitler used this pretext of “Polish Aggression” to invade Poland the next day on September 1, 1939. Two days later Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany, WWII had begun!