Polish Underground State

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Polish Underground State
Polskie Państwo Podziemne
1939–1945 [1] [2]
Coat of arms of the Polish Government in exile (1956-1990).svg
Coat of arms
Anthem: "Mazurek Dąbrowskiego"
(English: "Poland Is Not Yet Lost")
Status Government in exile
Common languages Polish
Government Republic
President of the Polish government-in-exile  
 1939–1945
Władysław Raczkiewicz (first)
Prime Minister of the Polish government-in-exile  
 1939–1940
Władysław Sikorski (first)
 1944-1945
Tomasz Arciszewski (last)
Historical era World War II / Cold War
23 April 1935
1 September 1939
28 June 1945 [1] [2]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg Second Polish Republic
Provisional Government of National Unity Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg
Polish government-in-exile Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg

The Polish Underground State (Polish : Polskie Państwo Podziemne, also known as the Polish Secret State) [a] is a collective term for the underground resistance organizations in Poland during World War II, both military and civilian, that were loyal to the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile in London. The first elements of the Underground State were established in the final days of the German and Soviet invasion of Poland, in late September 1939. The Underground State was perceived by supporters as a legal continuation of the pre-war Republic of Poland (and its institutions) that waged an armed struggle against the country's occupying powers: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The Underground State encompassed not only military resistance, one of the largest in the world, [b] but also civilian structures, such as education, culture and social services.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

Polish resistance movement in World War II Combatant organizations opposed to Nazi Germany

The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Polish Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance movement in all of occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish resistance is most notable for disrupting German supply lines to the Eastern Front, providing military intelligence to the British, and for saving more Jewish lives in the Holocaust than any other Western Allied organization or government. It was a part of the Polish Underground State.

Polish government-in-exile

The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile, was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, which brought to an end the Second Polish Republic.

Contents

Although the Underground State enjoyed broad support throughout much of the war, it was not supported or recognized by the far left (communists). The nationalists from the National Radical Camp Falanga and National Radical Camp ABC opposed the German occupation of Poland and the two movements were quickly replaced by the Konfederacja Narodu, a part of the Polish Underground State which also included most members of the pre-war far-right. Influence of the communists eventually declined amid military reversals (most notably, the failure of the Warsaw Uprising) and the growing hostility of the USSR. The Soviet Union had created an alternative, puppet government in 1944 (the Polish Committee of National Liberation) and ensured it formed the basis of the post-war government in Poland. During the Soviet-backed communist takeover of Poland at the end of the war, many Underground State members were prosecuted as alleged traitors and died in captivity. Abandoned by the Western Allies, finding it impossible to negotiate with the Soviets, and wishing to avoid a civil war, the key institutions of the Underground State dissolved themselves in the first half of 1945.

Konfederacja Narodu organization

Konfederacja Narodu was one of the Polish resistance organizations in occupied Poland during World War II. KN was created in 1940 by the far-right National Radical Camp Falanga (ONR-Falanga) political party from several smaller underground organizations, including the Secret Polish Army (TAP). In the political realm it was opposed to more center and sanacja-related mainstream resistance organizations. It would never attract major support and would remain marginal, eventually partially merging with ZWZ around 1941 and finally joining Armia Krajowa around fall 1943.

Warsaw Uprising major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army

The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation, in the summer of 1944, by the Polish underground resistance, led by the Home Army, to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. The uprising was timed to coincide with the retreat of the German forces from Poland ahead of the Soviet advance. While approaching the eastern suburbs of the city, the Red Army temporarily halted combat operations, enabling the Germans to regroup and defeat the Polish resistance and to raze the city in reprisal. The Uprising was fought for 63 days with little outside support. It was the single largest military effort taken by any European resistance movement during World War II.

Ultimately, hundreds of thousands of people were directly involved with various agencies of the Underground State (the estimates for membership in Armia Krajowa alone are often given at approaching half a million people), and they were quietly supported by millions of Polish citizens. The rationale behind the creation of the secret civilian authority drew on the fact that the German and Soviet occupation of Poland was illegal. Hence, all institutions created by the occupying powers were considered illegal, and parallel Polish underground institutions were set up in accordance with Polish law. The scale of the Underground State was also inadvertently aided by the actions of the occupiers, whose attempts to destroy the Polish state, nation, and its culture, including most importantly genocidal policies that targeted Polish citizens, fuelled popular support for the Polish resistance movement and its development.

Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people in whole or in part. The hybrid word "genocide" is a combination of the Greek word γένος and the Latin suffix -caedo. The United Nations Genocide Convention, which was established in 1948, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group".

During the Cold War era, research on the Underground State was curtailed by Polish communist officials, who instead emphasized the role that communist partisans played in the anti-Nazi resistance. Hence, until recently, the bulk of research done on this topic was carried out by Polish scholars living in exile.

Cold War Geopolitical tension after World War II between the Eastern and Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins between 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and the Truman Doctrine of 1947, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989, which ended communism in Eastern Europe, and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, when nations of the Soviet Union abolished communism and restored their independence. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.

Armia Ludowa military unit

Armia Ludowa was a communist partisan force set up by the communist Polish Workers' Party (PPR) during World War II. It was created by order of the Polish State National Council on 1 January 1944. Its aims were to fight against Nazi Germans in occupied Poland, support the Soviet military against the German forces and to aid in the creation of a pro-Soviet Union communist government in Poland.

History

1939–1940: Formation

In many respects, the history of the Polish Underground State mirrors that of the Polish non-communist resistance in general. The Underground State traces its origins to the Service for Poland's Victory (Służba Zwycięstwu Polski, SZP) organization, which was founded on 27 September 1939, one day before the surrender of the Polish capital of Warsaw, at a time when the Polish defeat in the German invasion of Poland (accompanied by the Soviet one) appeared inevitable. [3] [4] SZP founder General Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski received orders from Polish Commander-in-Chief Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły to organize and carry out the struggle in occupied Poland. [4] [5] Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski decided that the organization he was creating needed to move beyond a strictly military format; and in line with the traditions of the underground 19th-century Polish National Government and World War I-era Polish Military Organization, it would need to encompass various aspects of civilian life. [6] Hence, the SZP, in contact with (and subordinate to) the Polish Government in Exile, envisioned itself not only as an armed resistance organization, but also as a vehicle through which the Polish state continued to administer its occupied territories. [7]

Service for Polands Victory

Służba Zwycięstwu Polski was the first Polish resistance movement in World War II. It was created by the order of general Juliusz Rómmel on 27 September 1939, when the siege of Warsaw, capital of Poland, where Rómmel commanded Polish defence, was nearing its end.

Siege of Warsaw (1939) battle during WWII

The Siege of Warsaw in 1939 was fought between the Polish Warsaw Army garrisoned and entrenched in Warsaw and the invading German Army.

Soviet invasion of Poland

The Soviet invasion of Poland was a military operation by the Soviet Union without a formal declaration of war. On 17 September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east, sixteen days after Germany invaded Poland from the west. Subsequent military operations lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly approved by Germany following the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August 1939.

Following the Polish Constitution, President Ignacy Mościcki, interned in Romania after the Polish government evacuated itself from Poland on 17 September, resigned and appointed General Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski as his successor; unpopular with the French government, Wieniawa-Długoszowski was replaced by Władysław Raczkiewicz on 29 September. [8] [9] [10] General Władysław Sikorski, a long-term opponent of the Sanacja regime who resided in France and had the support of the French government, would become the Polish Commander-in-Chief (on 28 September) and Poland's Prime Minister (on 30 September). [9] [11] [12] This government was quickly recognized by France and the United Kingdom. [13] Raczkiewicz, described as "weak and indecisive", held relatively little influence compared to charismatic Sikorski. [14]

The April Constitution of Poland was the general law passed by the act of the Polish Sejm on 23 April 1935. It introduced in Poland a presidential system with certain elements of authoritarianism.

Ignacy Mościcki Polish physical chemist, politician

Ignacy Mościcki was a Polish chemist, politician, and President of Poland from 1926 to 1939. He was the longest serving President in Poland's history.

Romania Sovereign state in Europe

Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.

Due to political differences among factions in the Polish exile government, and in particular, SZP ties to the Sanacja regime which dominated the Polish government since mid-1920s, the SZP was reorganized into the Union of Armed Struggle (Związek Walki Zbrojnej, ZWZ) on 13 November 1939. [13] [15] Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski supported that move, aiming to include parties marginalized by the Sanacja regime, and supported the formation of the Main Political Council (Główna Rada Polityczna, GRP). [11] Sikorski named General Kazimierz Sosnkowski the head of the ZWZ and Colonel Stefan Rowecki was appointed the commander of the ZWZ German occupation zone. Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski became the commander of the ZWZ Soviet zone, but was arrested in March 1940 by the Soviets when attempting to cross the new German-Soviet border. [13] In June Sikorski appointed Rowecki as the commander of both zones. [13]

Wladyslaw Sikorski, Polish commander in chief and prime minister during World War II Wladyslaw Sikorski 2.jpg
Władysław Sikorski, Polish commander in chief and prime minister during World War II

Given that the ZWZ focused on military aspects of the struggle, its civilian dimension was less clearly defined and developed more slowly—a situation exacerbated by the complex political discussions that were then unfolding between politicians in occupied Poland and the government in exile (first located in Paris, and after the fall of France, in London). [11] [16] [17] Sikorski's government opted for a much more democratic procedure then the less democratic prewar Sanacja regime. [9] [18] [19] The National Council (Rada Narodowa) was formed by the government in exile in December 1939, including representatives from different Polish political factions. [9] Meanwhile, in occupied Poland, a major step toward the development of the organization's civilian structure was taken in late February 1940, when the ZWZ established its local version of the National Council, the Political Consultative Committee (Polityczny Komitet Porozumiewawczy, PKP). [16] [20] The structures in occupied Poland maintained close communication with the government in exile, through radio communications and "hundreds, if not thousands" of couriers, such as Jan Karski. [21] [22] [23] One of the most significant developments of 1940 was the creation of the office of Government Delegation for Poland (Delegatura Rządu na Kraj), with Cyryl Ratajski (nominated on 3 December) as the first Delegate; this event marked the official beginning of the Underground State (Ratajski would be followed by Jan Piekałkiewicz, Jan Stanisław Jankowski and Stefan Korboński). [24] [1] The post of the Delegate could be seen as equivalent to that of a Deputy Prime Minister (particularly since the legislation of 1944). [1] [25] Unlike the GRP and PKP, which operated alongside the military structures but had no influence over them, the Delegation had budgetary control over the military. [26] The Delegation was to oversee the military, and recreate the civilian administration. [26]

As early as 1940, the Underground State's civilian arm was actively supporting underground education; [24] it then set out to develop social security, information (propaganda) and justice networks. [27] [28] [29]

1941–1943: Growth

By 1942, most of the differences between politicians in occupied Poland and those in exile had been positively settled. [30] By 1943, the PKP had evolved into the Home Political Representation (Krajowa Reprezentacja Polityczna, KRP), which served as the basis of the Council of National Unity (Rada Jedności Narodowej, RJN), created on 9 January 1944. [31] The Council, headed by Kazimierz Pużak, was seen as the Underground State's parliament. [32] Meanwhile, the military arm of the Underground State expanded dramatically, and the ZWZ was transformed into Armia Krajowa (AK, or the Home Army) in 1942. [33] ZWZ-AK commanders included Stefan Rowecki, Tadeusz Komorowski and Leopold Okulicki. [34]

In August 1943 and March 1944, the Polish Underground State announced its long-term plan, which was partly designed to undercut the attractiveness of some of the communists' proposals. [35] The communists, in their increasingly radical What We Fight For declarations (from March and November 1943), were proposing the creation of a heavily socialist or even communist state, denouncing capitalism, which they equated to slavery. [36] They demanded nationalization of most if not all of the economy, introduction of central planning, [36] [37] The Underground State's declaration What the Polish Nation is Fighting For declared the reconstruction of Poland as a democratic parliamentary state as its goal, guaranteeing full equality to the minorities, as well as full freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of political activity. [32] [38] The plan also called for the creation of a Central European federal union, without domination by any single state. [38] In the economic sector, planned economy would be endorsed, by embracing the socialist and Christian Democrat principles, such as income redistribution, aiming at a reduction of economic inequality. [32] [39] The plan promised land reform, nationalization of the industrial base, demands for territorial compensation from Germany, and re-establishment of the country's pre-1939 eastern border. [35] According to the plan, the country's Eastern borders, as delineated by the 1921 Treaty of Riga, would be kept while in the north and west compensation would be sought from German territories. [38] Thus, the main differences between the Underground State and the communists, in terms of politics, were not rooted in radical economic and social reforms, which both sides advocated, but rather in their divergent positions on such issues as national sovereignty, borders, and Polish-Soviet relations. [35] The program was criticized by the nationalist factions, for being too socialist, and not "Christian" enough. [39]

The Underground State achieved its zenith of influence in early 1944. [35] In April, the Polish government in exile recognized the administrative structure of the Delegate's Office as the Temporary Governmental Administration. [40] This was when the Delegate officially became recognized as the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Council of Ministers at Home (Krajowa Rada Ministrów, KRM) was created. [25] The Underground State however declined sharply in the aftermath of the nationwide uprising, Operation Tempest, initiated in the Spring of 1944. [41] In addition to the costly and eventually unsuccessful Warsaw Uprising part of the Operation Tempest, the hostile attitude of the Soviet Union and its puppet Polish government, the Polish Committee of National Liberation (Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego, PKWN) towards the non-communist resistance loyal to the Polish government in exile proved to be disastrous. [41] The Underground State assumed that the Polish resistance would aid the advancing Soviet forces, and AK commanders and representatives of the administrative authority would assume the role of legitimate hosts. [1] Instead, the Soviets commonly surrounded, disarmed and arrested the Underground's military authority members and its civilian representatives, instituting their own administrative structures instead. [42] [43] In early July 1944, even as the AK resistance continued its struggle against the Germans, the Underground State was forced to order the AK and its administrative structure to remain in hiding from the Soviets, due to continued arrests and reprisals experienced by those who revealed themselves. [1]

1944–1945: Decline and dissolution

Events taking place in 1943 significantly weakened the Polish government in exile. A rift developed between Poland and the Soviet Union, an increasingly important ally for the West, particularly after the revelation of the Katyn massacre in 1943 (on 13 April), followed by the breaking-off of diplomatic relations with Poland by the Soviets (on 21 April). The subsequent death (on 4 July) of the charismatic General Sikorski, succeeded by less influential Stanisław Mikołajczyk as the Prime Minister, and General Sosnkowski as the Commander-in-Chief, contributed to the decline. [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] No representative of the Polish government was invited to the Tehran Conference (28 November 28 – 1 December 1943) or the Yalta Conference (4–11 February 1945), the two crucial events in which the Western Allies and the Soviet Union discussed the shape of the post-war world and decided on the fate of Poland, assigning it to the Soviet sphere of influence. [1] [50] In Teheran, neither Churchill nor Roosevelt objected to Stalin's suggestion that the Polish government in exile in London was not representing Polish interests; as historian Anita Prażmowska noted, "this spelled the end of that government's tenuous influence and raison d'être." [49] After the Teheran Conference, Stalin decided to create his own puppet government for Poland, and the PKWN was proclaimed in 1944. [50] PKWN was recognized by the Soviet Government as the only legitimate authority in Poland, while Mikołajczyk’s Government in London, was termed by the Soviets an "illegal and self-styled authority." [51] Mikołajczyk would serve in the Prime Minister's role until 24 November 1944, when, realizing the increasing powerlessness of the government in exile, he resigned and was succeeded by Tomasz Arciszewski, "whose obscurity", in the words of historian Mieczysław B. Biskupski, "signaled the arrival of the government in exile at total inconsequentiality." [48] [50]

Stefan Korbonski, the last Delegate. Stefan Korbonski.jpg
Stefan Korboński, the last Delegate.

The communists refused to deal with the Underground State just like they refused to deal with the government in exile; its leaders and soldiers in "liberated" Polish territories were persecuted. [42] A number of prominent leaders of the Underground State, including the Government Delegate, Jan Stanisław Jankowski and the last AK Commander-in-Chief, General Leopold Okulicki, who decided to reveal themselves and upon the Soviet invitation begun open negotiations with the communist authorities, were arrested and sentenced by the Soviets in Moscow in the infamous Trial of the Sixteen (arrests were carried out in March 1945, and the trial itself took place in June that year). [1] [42] [52] [53] [54] On 27 June 1945 the Council of National Unity held its last session, issuing a 12-point declaration demanding that the Soviet army leave Poland and the repression of the non-communist political parties cease. [1] [2] The Government Delegate's Office at Home, restructured after the arrests of its leadership and headed by the last Delegate, Stefan Korboński, disbanded on 1 July, after the creation in Moscow of the Provisional Government of National Unity (Tymczasowy Rząd Jedności Narodowej, TRJN) on 28 June 1945. [55] [56] The disbanding of those structures marked the end of the Underground State. [1] [2]

The TRJN was composed primarily of communist representatives from the PKWN, with a token representation of the opposition as a gesture towards the Western Allies. [50] [52] With the establishment of the TRJN, the government in exile stopped being recognized by the Western Allies (France withdrew its recognition on 29 June, followed by United Kingdom and the United States on 5 July), who decided to support the Soviet-backed and increasingly communist TRJN body. [8] [19] [48] [57] [58] Seeing this as a "Western betrayal", [59] the government in exile protested that decision and continued to operate till the fall of communism in 1989, when it recognized the post-communist Polish government. [19] [60] The rigged Polish legislative election of 1947 marked the onset of undisguised Communist rule in Poland; the few independent politicians like Mikołajczyk who attempted to form an opposition were threatened with arrests, retired or emigrated. [58]

The Underground State's military arm, Armia Krajowa, officially disbanded on 19 January 1945 to avoid armed conflict with the Soviets and a civil war. [61] [62] Over the next few years the communists solidified their hold on Poland, falsifying elections, persecuting the opposition and eliminating it as a political power. [63] Remnants of the armed resistance (NIE, Armed Forces Delegation for Poland, Freedom and Independence) that refused to lay down their weapons and surrender to the communist regime continued to hold out for several years as the cursed soldiers, fighting the Soviet-backed communist forces until eradicated. [42] [55] [63]

Political representation

The Underground State represented most, though not all, political factions of the Second Polish Republic. The Political Consultative Committee (PKP) represented four major Polish parties: the Socialist Party (PPS-WRN), the People's Party (SL), the SN, and the Labor Party (SP). [25] The SP joined the PKP in June 1940, four months after the PKP was created; and the PPS-WRN withdrew from the PKP between October 1941 and March 1943. [64] Those parties, known as the Big Four, were also represented in the Home Political Representation (KRP). [25] Compared to PKP and KRP, the Council of National Unity was much more representative, and included representatives of several smaller political groupings. [43] Several other groups lacked significant representation in PKP and KRP, but nonetheless had supported the Underground State. [65] Non-Polish ethnic minorities, primarily the Ukrainians and the Belarusians, were not represented in the Underground State; however the Jews were. [66] [67]

The most important groups that lacked representation in the Underground State included the communist (Polish Workers Party (PPR) and its military arm, the Gwardia Ludowa), and the far right (Group Szaniec and its military arm, the Military Organization Lizard Union). [68] Both the extreme left (the communists) and the extreme right (the nationalists) saw themselves in opposition to the Underground State. [65] Only the PPR, however, opposed to Polish independence and supporting full inclusion of Poland in the Soviet Union, was seen as completely outside the framework of the State; the other groups were seen as a legitimate opposition. [69] In 1944 PPR would become part of the PKWN Soviet puppet government. [69]

Structure

Civilian

Polish Underground State's underground Information Bulletin , 15 July 1943, reports the death of Gen. Sikorski and orders a national day of mourning Biuletyn informacyjny sikorski.jpg
Polish Underground State's underground Information Bulletin , 15 July 1943, reports the death of Gen. Sikorski and orders a national day of mourning

The government in exile, located first in France and later in the United Kingdom, with the President, Prime Minister and the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army was the top military and civilian authority, recognized by the authorities of the Underground State as their commanders. [9] [70] The government in exile was represented in the occupied Poland by the Government Delegation for Poland, headed by the Government Delegate for Poland. [1]

The main role of the civilian branch of the Underground State was to preserve the continuity of the Polish state as a whole, including its institutions. These institutions included the police, the courts, and schools. [24] [27] [28] [29] This branch of the state was intended to prepare cadres and institutions to resume power after the German defeat in World War II. [71] By the final years of the war, the civilian structure of the Underground State included an underground parliament, administration, judiciary (courts and police), secondary and higher level education, and supported various cultural activities such as publishing of newspapers and books, underground theatres, lectures, exhibitions, concerts and safeguarded various works of art. [11] [1] [72] It also dealt with providing social services, including to the destitute Jewish population (through the Council to Aid Jews, or Żegota). [1] Through the Directorate of Civil Resistance (1941–1943) the civil arm was also involved in lesser acts of resistance, such as minor sabotage, although in 1943 this department was merged with the Directorate of Covert Resistance, forming the Directorate of Underground Resistance, subordinate to AK. [13]

The departments can be seen as loosely corresponding to ministries. Three departments were dedicated to war-related issues: the Department for Elimination of the Consequences of War, the Department for Public Works and Reconstruction, and the Department for Information and the Press; the other departments mirrored pre-war Polish ministries (e.g., Department of Post Offices and Telegraphs, or Department of the Treasury). [73] The Delegate's Office was divided into departments, [74] 14 of which existed toward the end of the war; the full list included: the Presidential Department, the Department of Internal Affairs, Justice Department, Employment and Social Welfare Department, Agriculture Department, Treasury Department, Trade and Industry Department, Postal and Telegraph Services Department, the Department for Elimination of the Consequences of War, Transport Department, Information and the Press, Department of Public Works and Reconstruction, Department of Education and Culture and the Department of National Defence. [1]

On the geographical division level, the Delegation had local offices, dividing Polish territories into 16 voivodeships, each under an underground voivode, further divided into powiats headed by starostas, and with separate municipal bodies. [1] In early 1944, the Delegation employed some 15,000 people in its administration; those were primarily older people, as the younger ones were recruited for the military side of the operations. [1]

Military

Regional organization of Armia Krajowa in 1944 Armia krajowa 1 en.png
Regional organization of Armia Krajowa in 1944

The military arm of the Polish Underground State consisted primarily of various branches of the Armia Krajowa (AK) and, until 1942, the Union of Armed Struggle. This arm of the state was designed to prepare the Polish society for a future fight for the country's liberation. Apart from armed resistance, sabotage, intelligence, training, and propaganda, the state's military arm was responsible for maintaining communication with the London-based government in exile, and for protecting the civilian arm of the state. [75] [76]

The Armia Krajowa's primary resistance operations were the sabotage of German activities, including transports headed for the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union. [62] The sabotage of German rail and road transports to the Eastern Front was so extensive it is estimated that one eighth of all German transports to the Eastern Front were destroyed or significantly delayed due to AK's activities. [77]

The AK also fought several full-scale battles against the Germans, particularly in 1943 and 1944 during Operation Tempest. [62] They tied down significant German forces, worth at least several divisions (upper estimates suggest about 930,000 troops), diverting much-needed supplies, while trying to support the Soviet military. [62] [78] [79] Polish intelligence operatives supplied valuable intelligence information to the Allies; 43 percent of all reports received by British secret services from continental Europe in 1939–45 came from Polish sources. [80] [81] At its height, AK numbered over 400,000 and was recognized as one of the three largest, or even the largest, [b] resistance movement of the war. [82] [83] [84] Axis fatalities due to the actions of the Polish underground, of which AK formed the bulk, are estimated at up to 150,000. [85]

Definition, historiography and remembrance

The Polish Underground State Monument in Poznan Undergrund State Mon.Poznan.JPG
The Polish Underground State Monument in Poznań

For decades, research on the Polish Underground State was restricted, largely because the Soviet imposed-communist People's Republic of Poland did not wish to fully acknowledge the role of the non-communist resistance. [86] During the first postwar Stalinist years, efforts to explore this topic were regarded as dangerous, bordering on illegal. [86] Research into the events occurring in the Soviet-annexed territories in the 1939–1941 period was particularly difficult. [72] [87] The limited research devoted to the Underground State that did take place was done mainly by Polish émigré historians living in the West. [88] [89] The communist state downplayed the importance of the non-communist resistance movements, while the communist movement (Armia Ludowa) was emphasized as being of primary importance; in fact, the opposite was true. [90] The absence of research by Polish scholars, along with obstacles presented to foreign scholars seeking access to source material in communist Poland, contributed to a situation in which there was virtually no discussion by Western scholars of one of Europe's largest resistance movements—the non-communist Polish resistance movement. The bulk of Western research centred on the much smaller [b] French Resistance (la Résistance). [91] [92]

With the fall of communism, Poland regained full independence and Polish scholars could begin unrestricted research into all aspects of Polish history. [93] Scholars who chose to investigate the Underground State were also confronted with the issue of its uniqueness (no country or nation has ever created a similar institution), and hence, the problem of defining it. [88] Polish historian Stanisław Salmonowicz, discussing the historiography of the Polish Underground State, defined it as a "collection of state-legal, organizational and citizenship structures, which were to ensure constitutional continuation of Polish statehood on its own territory". [94] Salmonowicz concluded that "This constitutional continuity, real performance of the state's functions on its past territory and the loyalty of a great majority of Polish society were the most significant elements of its existence." [94]

The Underground State also became officially recognized by the Polish government, local authorities and the community, with most major cities in Poland erecting various memorials to the Underground State affiliated resistance. [95] In Poznań, there is a dedicated Polish Underground State Monument erected in 2007. [95] On 11 September 1998 the Sejm (parliament) of Poland declared the day of 27 September (anniversary of the founding of the Service for Poland's Victory organization) to be the Day of the Polish Underground State. [96]

See also

Notes

a ^ The more widely used term Polish Underground State was first used on 13 January 1944 by the official underground publication of the Polish underground authorities, the Biuletyn Informacyjny. [97] Polish Secret State (Polish: Tajne państwo) was a term used by Jan Karski in his book Story of a Secret State , written and first published in the second half of 1944 in the United States.
b ^ Several sources note that the Armia Krajowa was the largest resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Europe. For example, Norman Davies wrote "Armia Krajowa (Home Army), the AK, which could fairly claim to be the largest of European resistance"; [82] Gregor Dallas wrote "Home Army (Armia Krajowa or AK) in late 1943 numbered around 400,000, making it the largest resistance organization in Europe"; [83] Mark Wyman wrote "Armia Krajowa was considered the largest underground resistance unit in wartime Europe". [84] Certainly, the Polish resistance was the largest resistance movement until the German invasion of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union in 1941; in the last years of the war those two resistances would rival AK in its strength (see Resistance during World War II for a more detailed analysis). Compared to them, the size of the French resistance was smaller, numbering around 10,000 people in 1942, and swelling to 200,000 by 1944. [98]

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Polish contribution to World War II

The European theatre of World War II opened with the German invasion of Poland on Friday September 1, 1939 and the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939. In the face of overwhelming forces of opponents and the betrayal of its allies, the Polish Army was defeated after more than a month of fierce fighting. Poland never officially capitulated. After Poland had been overrun, a government-in-exile, armed forces, and an intelligence service were established outside of Poland. These organizations contributed to the Allied effort throughout the war. The Polish Army was recreated in the West, as well as in the East.

Home Army Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland

The Home Army was the dominant Polish resistance movement in Poland, occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, during World War II. The Home Army was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej. Some authors stress the continuity using acronym ZWZ/AK. Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces. Its allegiance was to the Polish government-in-exile, and it constituted the armed wing of what became known as the "Polish Underground State".

Kotwica

The Kotwica was a World War II emblem of the Polish Underground State and Armia Krajowa. It was created in 1942 by members of the AK Wawer Minor sabotage unit, as an easily usable emblem for the Polish struggle to regain independence. The initial meaning of the initials PW was Pomścimy Wawer. This was a reference to the Wawer massacre, which was considered to be one of the first large scale massacres of Polish civilians by German troops in occupied Poland.

Trial of the Sixteen

The Trial of the Sixteen was a staged trial of 16 leaders of the Polish Underground State held by the Soviet authorities in Moscow in 1945. All captives were kidnapped by the NKVD secret service and falsely accused of various forms of 'illegal activity' against the Red Army.

<i>Biuletyn Informacyjny</i>

Biuletyn Informacyjny was a Polish underground weekly published covertly in General Government territory of occupied Poland during World War II. The magazine was edited by Aleksander Kamiński and distributed as the main organ of ZWZ-AK headquarters in Warsaw, initially in order to inform the AK soldier about ongoing resistance activities. By 1944 Biuletyn Informacyjny had a circulation of 42,000-43,000 copies. The publishers recommended readers to have the articles reprinted in provincial underground publications throughout Poland.

Bataliony Chłopskie

Bataliony Chłopskie was a Polish World War II resistance movement, guerrilla and partisan organisation. The organisation was created in mid-1940 by the agrarian political party People's Party and by 1944 was partially integrated with the Armia Krajowa. At its height, in summer 1944 the organisation had 160,000 members.

Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski Polish general and resistance fighter

General Michał Tadeusz Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski, Coat of arms of Trąby pseudonym Doktor, Stolarski, Torwid was a Polish general, founder of the resistance movement "Polish Victory Service".

Union of Armed Struggle

Związek Walki Zbrojnej was an underground army formed in Poland following its invasion in September 1939 by Germany that opened World War II. It existed from 13 November 1939 until 14 February 1942, when it was renamed into Home Army.

Janusz Bokszczanin Polish Army officer

PodpułkownikJanusz Bokszczanin was a colonel of the Polish Army and one of the first Polish commanders of the motorized troops in the reborn Second Polish Republic. During World War II he joined the ZWZ resistance organization and later the Home Army. Until 1943 he served as chief of department of rapid response within its headquarters. In 1944, prior to the anti-Fascist Operation Tempest, he became the chief of operations, and deputy chief of staff of the entire Home Army (AK).

Soviet partisans in Poland

Poland was invaded and annexed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the invasion of Poland in 1939. In the pre-war Polish territories annexed by the Soviets the first Soviet partisan groups were formed in 1941, soon after Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Those groups fought against the Germans, but conflicts with Polish partisans were also common.

Cursed soldiers

The "cursed soldiers" or "indomitable soldiers" Polish: Żołnierze niezłomni) is a term applied to a variety of Polish anti-Soviet or anti-communist Polish resistance movements formed in the later stages of World War II and its aftermath by some members of the Polish Underground State. The clandestine organisations continued their armed struggle against the communist government of Poland well into the 1950s. The guerrilla warfare included an array of military attacks launched against the communist regime's prisons and state security offices, detention facilities for political prisoners and concentration camps that were set up across the country. Most of the Polish anti-communist groups ceased to exist in the late 1940s or 1950s, as they were hunted down by agents of the Ministry of Public Security and Soviet NKVD assassination squads. However, the last known 'cursed soldier', Józef Franczak, was killed in an ambush as late as 1963, almost 20 years after the Soviet take-over of Poland.

The issue of Polish and Lithuanian relations during World War II is a controversial one, and some modern Lithuanian and Polish historians still differ in their interpretations of the related events, many of which are related to the Lithuanian collaboration with Nazi Germany and the operations of Polish resistance organization of Armia Krajowa on territories inhabited by Lithuanians and Poles. In recent years a number of common academic conferences have started to bridge the gap between Lithuanian and Polish interpretations, but significant differences still remain.

Stefan Korboński Polish agrarian politician, lawyer, journalist and a notable member of the wartime authorities of the Polish Secret State

Stefan Korboński was a Polish agrarian politician, lawyer, journalist and a notable member of the wartime authorities of the Polish Secret State. Among others, he was the last person to hold the post of Government Delegate for Poland. Arrested by the NKVD in 1945, he was released soon afterwards only to be forced into exile. He settled in the United States, where he remained active among the local Polish diaspora. An active journalist, he was among the few people whose names were completely banned by the communist censorship in Poland.

Polish culture during World War II

Polish culture during World War II was suppressed by the occupying powers of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, both of whom were hostile to Poland's people and cultural heritage. Policies aimed at cultural genocide resulted in the deaths of thousands of scholars and artists, and the theft and destruction of innumerable cultural artifacts. The "maltreatment of the Poles was one of many ways in which the Nazi and Soviet regimes had grown to resemble one another", wrote British historian Niall Ferguson.

Gwardia Ludowa WRN was a part of the Polish resistance movement in World War II. Created in 1939 by the WRN faction, since 1940 it was subordinated to ZWZ with a degree of autonomy.

Anti-communist resistance in Poland (1944–1946)

The anti-communist resistance in Poland, also referred to as the Polish anti-Communist insurrection fought between 1944 and 1946, was an armed struggle by the Polish Underground against the Soviet takeover of Poland at the end of World War II in Europe. The guerrilla warfare conducted by the resistance movement formed during the war, included an array of military attacks launched against Communist prisons, state security offices, detention facilities for political prisoners, and prison camps set up across the country by the Stalinist authorities.

Ryszard Reiff Polish resistance member

Ryszard Reiff was a Polish politician, lawyer, publicist and resistance fighter. He was a deputy to the Polish parliament (Sejm) during the 1968 Polish political crisis and again during the Martial law in Poland.

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Further reading