|World War II|
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Resistance movements during World War II occurred in every occupied country by a variety of means, ranging from non-cooperation to propaganda to hiding crashed pilots and even to outright warfare and the recapturing of towns. In many countries, resistance movements were sometimes also referred to as The Underground.
Among the most notable resistance movements were the Polish Resistance, including the Polish Home Army, Leśni, and the whole Polish Underground State; Yugoslav Partisans, the Soviet partisans, [a] the Italian Resistenza led mainly by the Italian CLN; the French Resistance, the Belgian Resistance, the Norwegian Resistance, the Danish Resistance, the Greek Resistance, the Czech resistance, the Albanian resistance, the Dutch Resistance especially the "LO" (national hiding organisation) and the politically persecuted opposition in Germany itself (there were 16 main resistance groups and at least 27 failed attempts to assassinate Hitler with many more planned): in short, across German-occupied Europe.
A resistance movement is an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to withstand the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability. It may seek to achieve its objectives through either the use of nonviolent resistance, or the use of force, whether armed or unarmed. In many cases, as for example in Norway in the Second World War, a resistance movement may employ both violent and non-violent methods, usually operating under different organizations and acting in different phases or geographical areas within a country.
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.
Leśni ludzie is an informal name applied to some anti-German partisan groups that operated in occupied Poland during World War II, being a part of Polish resistance movement.
Many countries had resistance movements dedicated to fighting or undermining the Axis invaders, and Nazi Germany itself also had an anti-Nazi movement. Although Britain was not occupied during the war, the British made complex preparations for a British resistance movement. The main organisation was created by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, aka MI6) and is now known as Section VII.In addition there was a short-term secret commando force called the Auxiliary Units. Various organizations were also formed to establish foreign resistance cells or support existing resistance movements, like the British Special Operations Executive and the American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency).
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
The Auxiliary Units or GHQ Auxiliary Units were specially trained, highly secret units created by the United Kingdom government during the Second World War, with the aim of using irregular warfare to help combat any invasion of the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany, which the Germans codenamed Operation Sea Lion. With the advantage of having witnessed the rapid fall of several continental nations, the United Kingdom was the only country during the war that was able to create a multi-layered guerrilla in anticipation of an invasion. The Auxiliary Units would fight as uniformed guerrillas during the military campaign. In the event of an invasion, all Auxillary Units would disappear into their operational bases; and would not maintain contact with local Home Guard commanders, who should indeed be wholly unaware of their existence. Hence, although the Auxiliaries were Home Guard volunteers and wore Home Guard uniforms, they would not participate in the conventional phase of their town's defence; but would be activated once the local Home Guard defence had been ended, to inflict maximum mayhem and disruption over a further, necessarily brief but violent, period. They were not envisaged as a continuing resistance force against long-term occupation.
The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a British World War II organisation. It was officially formed on 22 July 1940 under Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton, from the amalgamation of three existing secret organisations. Its purpose was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements.
There were also resistance movements fighting against the Allied invaders. In Italian East Africa, after the Italian forces were defeated during the East African Campaign, some Italians participated in a guerrilla war against the British (1941–1943). The German Nazi resistance movement ("Werwolf") never amounted to much. The "Forest Brothers" of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania included many fighters who operated against the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States into the 1960s. During or after the war, similar anti-Soviet resistance rose up in places like Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Chechnya. While the Japanese were famous for "fighting to the last man", Japanese holdouts tended to be individually motivated and there is little indication that there was any organized Japanese resistance after the war.
The Allies of World War II, called the "United Nations" from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
Italian East Africa was an Italian colony in the Horn of Africa. It was formed in 1936 through the merger of Italian Somaliland, Italian Eritrea, and the newly occupied Ethiopian Empire which became Italian Ethiopia.
The Italian guerrilla war in Ethiopia was a conflict fought from the summer of 1941 to the autumn of 1943 by remnants of Italian troops in Ethiopia, in what had been the short-lived attempt to re-incorporate Ethiopia as part of Italian East Africa. The guerrilla campaign was fought following the Italian defeat during the East African Campaign of World War II, while the war was still on in Northern Africa and Europe.
While historians and governments of some European countries have attempted to portray resistance to Nazi occupation as widespread among their populations,only a small minority of people participated in organized resistance, estimated at one to three percent of the population of countries in western Europe. In eastern Europe where Nazi rule was more oppressive, a larger percentage of people were in organized resistance movements, for example, an estimated 10-15 percent of the Polish population. Passive resistance by non-cooperation with the occupiers was much more common.
After the first shock following the Blitzkrieg, people slowly started to get organized, both locally and on a larger scale, especially when Jews and other groups were starting to be deported and used for the Arbeitseinsatz (forced labor for the Germans). Organization was dangerous, so much resistance was done by individuals. The possibilities depended much on the terrain; where there were large tracts of uninhabited land, especially hills and forests, resistance could more easily get organised undetected. This favoured in particular the Soviet partisans in Eastern Europe. In the much more densely populated Netherlands, the Biesbosch wilderness could be used to go into hiding. In northern Italy, both the Alps and the Apennines offered shelter to partisan brigades, though many groups operated directly inside the major cities.
Blitzkrieg is a method of warfare whereby an attacking force, spearheaded by a dense concentration of armoured and motorised or mechanised infantry formations with close air support, breaks through the opponent's line of defence by short, fast, powerful attacks and then dislocates the defenders, using speed and surprise to encircle them with the help of air superiority. Through the employment of combined arms in manoeuvre warfare, blitzkrieg attempts to unbalance the enemy by making it difficult for it to respond to the continuously changing front, then defeat it in a decisive Vernichtungsschlacht.
Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.
Arbeitseinsatz was a forced labour category of internment within Nazi Germany during World War II. When German men were called up for military service, Nazi German authorities rounded up civilians to fill in the vacancies and to expand manufacturing operations. Some labourers came from Germany but exponentially more from roundups (łapanka) in the German-occupied territories. Arbeitseinsatz was not restricted to the industry sector and to arms producing factories; it also took place, for example, in the farming sector, community services, and even in the churches.
There were many different types of groups, ranging in activity from humanitarian aid to armed resistance, and sometimes cooperating to a varying degree. Resistance usually arose spontaneously, but was encouraged and helped mainly from London and Moscow.
Humanitarian aid is material and logistic assistance to people who need help. It is usually short-term help until the long-term help by government and other institutions replaces it. Among the people in need are the homeless, refugees, and victims of natural disasters, wars and famines. Humanitarian aid is material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, typically in response to humanitarian relief efforts including natural disasters and man-made disaster. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity. It may therefore be distinguished from development aid, which seeks to address the underlying socioeconomic factors which may have led to a crisis or emergency. There is a debate on linking humanitarian aid and development efforts, which was reinforced by the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. However, the approach is viewed critically by practitioners.
The five largest resistance movements in Europe were the Dutch, the French, the Polish, the Soviet and the Yugoslav; overall their size can be seen as comparable, particularly in the years 1941-1944.
A number of sources note that the Polish Home Army was the largest resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Europe. Norman Davies writes that the "Armia Krajowa (Home Army), the AK,... could fairly claim to be the largest of European resistance [organizations]." 339. ISBN 978-2-221-09997-1.Gregor Dallas writes that the "Home Army (Armia Krajowa or AK) in late 1943 numbered around 400,000, making it the largest resistance organization in Europe." Mark Wyman writes that the "Armia Krajowa was considered the largest underground resistance unit in wartime Europe." However, the numbers of Soviet partisans were very similar to those of the Polish resistance as were the numbers of Yugoslav partisans. For the French Resistance, François Marcot ventured an estimate of 200,000 activists and a further 300,000 with substantial involvement in Resistance operations.Laffont, Robert (2006). Dictionnaire historique de la Résistance. Paris: Bouquins. p.
Various forms of resistance were:
In March 1940, a partisan unit of the first guerilla organization of the Second World War in Europe, led by Major Henryk Dobrzański (Hubal) completely destroyed a battalion of German infantry in a skirmish near the Polish village of Huciska. A few days later in an ambush near the village of Szałasy it inflicted heavy casualties upon another German unit. As time progressed, resistance forces grew in size and number. To counter this threat, the German authorities formed a special 1,000 man-strong anti-partisan unit of combined SS-Wehrmacht forces, including a Panzer group. Although Dobrzański's unit never exceeded 300 men, the Germans fielded at least 8,000 men in the area to secure it.
In 1940, Witold Pilecki, Polish resistance, presented to his superiors a plan to enter Germany's Auschwitz concentration camp, gather intelligence on the camp from the inside, and organize inmate resistance.The Home Army approved this plan, provided him with a false identity card, and on 19 September 1940, he deliberately went out during a street roundup in Warsaw-łapanka, and was caught by the Germans along with other civilians and sent to Auschwitz. In the camp he organized the underground organization Związek Organizacji Wojskowej (ZOW). From October 1940, ZOW sent the first reports about the camp and its genocide to Home Army Headquarters in Warsaw through the resistance network organized in Auschwitz.
On the night of January 21–22, 1940, in the Soviet-occupied Podolian town of Czortków, the Czortków Uprising started. It was the first Polish uprising and the first anti-Soviet uprising of World War II. Anti-Soviet Poles, most of them teenagers from local high schools, stormed the local Red Army barracks and a prison, in order to release Polish soldiers kept there.
1940 was the year of establishing Warsaw Ghetto and infamous death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau by the German Nazis in occupied Poland. Among the many activities of Polish resistance and Polish people one was helping endangered Jews. Polish citizens have the world's highest count of individuals who have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem as non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from extermination during the Holocaust.
One of the events that helped the growth of the French Resistance was the targeting of the French Jews, Communists, Gypsies, homosexuals, Catholics, and others, forcing many into hiding. This in turn gave the French Resistance new people to incorporate into their political structures.
The 'Special Operations Executive' SOE was a British World War II organisation. Following Cabinet approval, it was officially formed by Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to develop a spirit of resistance in the occupied countries and to prepare a fifth column of resistance fighters to engage in open opposition to the occupiers at such time that the United Kingdom was able to return to the continent.To aid in the transport of agents and the supply of the resistance fighters, a Royal Air Force Special Duty Service was developed. Whereas the SIS was primarily involved in espionage, the SOE and the resistance fighters were geared toward reconnaissance of German defenses and sabotage. In England the SOE was also involved in the formation of the Auxiliary Units, a top secret stay-behind resistance organisation which would have been activated in the event of a German invasion of Britain. The SOE operated in all countries or former countries occupied by or attacked by the Axis forces, except where demarcation lines were agreed with Britain's principal allies (the Soviet Union and the United States).
After the war, the organisation was officially dissolved on 15 January 1946.
In February 1941, the Dutch Communist Party organized a general strike in Amsterdam and surrounding cities, known as the February strike, in protest against anti-Jewish measures by the Nazi occupying force and violence by fascist street fighters against Jews. Several hundreds of thousands of people participated in the strike. The strike was put down by the Nazis and some participants were executed.
In April 1941, the Liberation Front of the Slovene Nation was established in the Province of Ljubljana. Its armed wing were the Slovene Partisans. It represented both the working class and the Slovene ethnicity.
From April 1941, Bureau of Information and Propaganda of the Union for Armed Struggle started in Poland Operation N headed by Tadeusz Żenczykowski. Action was complex of sabotage, subversion and black-propaganda activities carried out by the Polish resistance against Nazi German occupation forces during World War II
Beginning in March 1941, Witold Pilecki's reports were being forwarded via the Polish resistance to the Polish government in exile and through it, to the British government in London and other Allied governments. These reports were the first information about the Holocaust and the principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies.
In May 1941, the Resistance Team "Elevtheria" (Freedom) was established in Thessaloniki by politicians Paraskevas Barbas, Apostolos Tzanis, Ioannis Passalidis, Simos Kerasidis, Athanasios Fidas, Ioannis Evthimiadis and military officer Dimitrios Psarros. Its armed wing concluded two armed forces; Athanasios Diakos with armed action in Kroussia, with Christodoulos Moschos (captain "Petros") as leader, and Odysseas Androutsos with armed action in Visaltia, with Athanasios Genios (captain "Lassanis") as leader.
The first anti-soviet uprising during World War II began on June 22, 1941 (the start-date of Operation Barbarossa) in Lithuania.
Also on June 22, 1941 as a reaction to Nazi invasion of USSR Sisak People's Liberation Partisan Detachment was formed in Croatia, near the town of Sisak. It was first armed Anti-Fascist partisan detachment in Croatia.
Communist-initiated uprising against Axis started in Serbia on July 7, 1941., and six days later in Montenegro. The Republic of Užice (Ужичка република) was a short-lived liberated Yugoslav territory, the first part of occupied Europe to be liberated. Organized as a military mini-state it existed throughout the autumn of 1941 in the western part of Serbia. The Republic was established by the Partisan resistance movement and its administrative center was in the town of Užice. The government was made of "people's councils" (odbors), and the Communists opened schools and published a newspaper, Borba (meaning "Struggle"). They even managed to run a postal system and around 145 km (90 mi) of railway and operated an ammunition factory from the vaults beneath the bank in Užice.
In July 1941 Mieczysław Słowikowski (using the codename "Rygor"—Polish for "Rigor") set up "Agency Africa," one of World War II's most successful intelligence organizations.His Polish allies in these endeavors included Lt. Col. Gwido Langer and Major Maksymilian Ciężki. The information gathered by the Agency was used by the Americans and British in planning the amphibious November 1942 Operation Torch landings in North Africa.
On 13 July 1941, in Italian-occupied Montenegro, Montenegrin separatist Sekula Drljević proclaimed an Independent State of Montenegro under Italian protectorate, upon which a nationwide rebellion escalated raised by Partisans, Yugoslav Royal officers and various other armed personnel. It was the first organized armed uprising in then occupied Europe, and involved 32,000 people. Most of Montenegro was quickly liberated, except major cities where Italian forces were well fortified. On 12 August — after a major Italian offensive involving 5 divisions and 30,000 soldiers — the uprising collapsed as units were disintegrating; poor leadership occurred as well as collaboration. The final toll of July 13 uprising in Montenegro was 735 dead, 1120 wounded and 2070 captured Italians and 72 dead and 53 wounded Montenegrins.[ citation needed ]
The Battle of Loznica, 31 August 1941, Chetniks attacked and freed the town of Loznica in Serbia from the Germans. Several Germans were killed and wounded; 93 were captured.
On 11 October 1941, in Bulgarian-occupied Prilep, Macedonians attacked post of the Bulgarian occupation police, which was the start of Macedonian resistance against the fascists who occupied Macedonia: Germans, Italians, Bulgarians and Albanians. The resistance finished successfully in August–November 1944 when the independent Macedonian state was formed, which was later added to the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia.
During the time within which Hitler gave his anti-resistance Nacht und Nebel decree – made on the very day of the Attack on Pearl Harbor in the Pacific – the planning for Britain's Operation Anthropoid was underway, as a resistance move during World War II to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia and the chief of the Final Solution, by the Czech resistance in Prague. Over fifteen thousand Czechs were killed in reprisals, with the most infamous incidents being the complete destruction of the towns of Lidice and Ležáky.
The Luxembourgish general strike of 1942 was a passive resistance movement organised within a short time period to protest against a directive that incorporated the Luxembourg youth into the Wehrmacht. A national general strike, originating mainly in Wiltz, paralysed the country and forced the occupying German authorities to respond violently by sentencing 21 strikers to death.
On 27 May 1942 operation Anthropoid took place. Two armed Czechoslovak members of the army in exile ( Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík ) attempted to assassinate the SS-obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich was not killed on the spot but died later at the hospital from his wounds. He is the highest ranked Nazi to have been assassinated during the war.
In September 1942, "The Council to Aid Jews Żegota " was founded by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and Wanda Krahelska-Filipowicz ("Alinka") and made up of Polish Democrats as well as other Catholic activists. Poland was the only country in occupied Europe where there existed such a dedicated secret organization. Half of the Jews who survived the war (thus over 50,000) were aided in some shape or form by Żegota.The most known activist of Żegota was Irena Sendler head of the children's division who saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto, providing them false documents, and sheltering them in individual and group children's homes outside the Ghetto.
On the night of 7–8 October 1942, Operation Wieniec started. It targeted rail infrastructure near Warsaw. Similar operations aimed at disrupting German transport and communication in occupied Poland occurred in the coming months and years. It targeted railroads, bridges and supply depots, primarily near transport hubs such as Warsaw and Lublin.
On 25 November, Greek guerrillas with the help of twelve British saboteurscarried out a successful operation which disrupted the German ammunition transportation to the German Africa Corps under Rommel—the destruction of Gorgopotamos bridge (Operation Harling).
On 20 June 1942, the most spectacular escape from Auschwitz concentration camp took place. Four Poles, Eugeniusz Bendera,Kazimierz Piechowski, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster and Józef Lempart made a daring escape. The escapees were dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, fully armed and in an SS staff car. They drove out the main gate in a stolen Rudolf Hoss automobile Steyr 220 with a smuggled report from Witold Pilecki about the Holocaust. The Germans never recaptured any of them.
The Zamość Uprising was an armed uprising of Armia Krajowa and Bataliony Chłopskie against the forced expulsion of Poles from the Zamość region (Zamość Lands, Zamojszczyzna ) under the Nazi Generalplan Ost. Nazi Germans attempting to remove the local Poles from the Greater Zamosc area (through forced removal, transfer to forced labor camps, or, in rare cases, mass murder) to get it ready for German colonization. It lasted from 1942–1944, and despite heavy casualties suffered by the Underground, the Germans failed.
By the middle of 1943 partisan resistance to the Germans and their allies had grown from the dimensions of a mere nuisance to those of a major factor in the general situation. In many parts of occupied Europe Germany was suffering losses at the hands of partisans that he could ill afford. Nowhere were these losses heavier than in Yugoslavia.
In early January 1943, the 20,000 strong main operational group of the Yugoslav Partisans, stationed in western Bosnia, came under ferocious attack by over 150,000 German and Axis troops, supported by about 200 Luftwaffe aircraft in what became known as the Battle of the Neretva (the German codename was "Fall Weiss" or "Case White").The Axis rallied eleven divisions, six German, three Italian, and two divisions of the Independent State of Croatia (supported by Ustaše formations) as well as a number of Chetnik brigades. The goal was to destroy the Partisan HQ and main field hospital (all Partisan wounded and prisoners faced certain execution), but this was thwarted by the diversion and retreat across the Neretva river, planned by the Partisan supreme command led by Marshal Josip Broz Tito. The main Partisan force escaped into Serbia.
On 19 April 1943, three members of the Belgian resistance movement were able to stop the Twentieth convoy, which was the 20th prisoner transport in Belgium organised by the Germans during World War II. The exceptional action by members of the Belgian resistance occurred to free Jewish and Romani ("gypsy") civilians who were being transported by train from the Dossin army base located in Mechelen, Belgium to the concentration camp Auschwitz. The 20th train convoy transported 1,631 Jews (men, women and children). Some of the prisoners were able to escape and marked this particular kind of liberation action by the Belgian resistance movement as unique in the European history of the Holocaust.
In October 1943, the rescue of the Danish Jews meant that nearly all of the Danish Jews were saved from KZ camps by the Danish resistance. This action is considered one of the bravest and most significant displays of public defiance against the Nazis. However, the action was largely due to the personal intervention of German diplomat Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, who both leaked news of the intended round up of the Jews to both the Danish opposition and Jewish groups and negotiated with the Swedes to ensure Danish Jews would be accepted in Sweden.
On 26 March 1943 in Warsaw, Operation Arsenal was conducted by the Szare Szeregi (Gray Ranks) Polish Underground formation and led to the release of arrested troop leader Jan Bytnar "Rudy". In an attack on the prison, Bytnar and 24 other prisoners were set free.The Battle of Sutjeska from 15 May-16 June 1943 was a joint attack of the Axis forces that once again attempted to destroy the main Yugoslav Partisan force, near the Sutjeska river in southeastern Bosnia. The Axis rallied 127,000 troops for the offensive, including German, Italian, NDH, Bulgarian and Cossack units, as well as over 300 airplanes (under German operational command), against 18,000 soldiers of the primary Yugoslav Partisans operational group organised in 16 brigades. Facing almost exclusively German troops in the final encirclement, the Yugoslav Partisans finally succeeded in breaking out across the Sutjeska river through the lines of the German 118th Jäger Division,104th Jäger Division and 369th (Croatian) Infantry Division in the northwestern direction, towards eastern Bosnia. Three brigades and the central hospital with over 2,000 wounded remained surrounded and, following Hitler's instructions, German commander-in-chief General Alexander Löhr ordered and carried out their annihilation, including the wounded and unarmed medical personnel. In addition, Partisan troops suffered from a severe lack of food and medical supplies, and many were struck down by typhoid. However, the failure of the offensive marked a turning point for Yugoslavia during World War II.
Operation Heads started—an action of serial assassinations of the Nazi personnel sentenced to death by the Special Courts for crimes against Polish citizens in occupied Poland. The Resistance fighters of Polish Home Army's unit Agat kill Franz Bürkl during Operation Bürkl in 1943, and Franz Kutschera during Operation Kutschera in 1944. Both men were high-ranking Nazi German SS and secret police officers responsible for the murder and brutal interrogation of thousands of Polish Jews and Polish resistance fighters and supporters.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising lasted from 19 April-16 May, and cost the Nazi forces 17 dead and 93 wounded.
On 30 September the German forces occupying the Italian city of Naples were forced out by the townsfolk and the Italian Resistance before the arrival of the first Allied forces in the city on 1 October. This popular uprising is known as the Four days of Naples.
On October 9, 1943, the Kinabalu guerillas launched the Jesselton Revolt against the Japanese occupation of British Borneo.
From November 1943, Operation Most III started. The Armia Krajowa provided the Allies with crucial intelligence on the German V-2 rocket. In effect, some 50 kg (110 lb) of the most important parts of the captured V-2, as well as the final report, analyses, sketches and photos, were transported to Brindisi by a Royal Air Force Douglas Dakota aircraft. In late July 1944, the V-2 parts were delivered to London.
On 11 February 1944, the Resistance fighters of Polish Home Army's unit Agat executed Franz Kutschera, SS and Reich's Police Chief in Warsaw in action known as Operation Kutschera .
In the spring of 1944, a plan was laid out by the Allies to kidnap General Müller, whose harsh repressive measures had earned him the nickname "the Butcher of Crete". The operation was led by Major Patrick Leigh Fermor, together with Captain W. Stanley Moss, Greek SOE agents and Cretan resistance fighters. However, Müller left the island before the plan could be carried out. Undeterred, Fermor decided to abduct General Heinrich Kreipe instead.
On the night of 26 April, General Kreipe left his headquarters in Archanes and headed without escort to his well-guarded residence, "Villa Ariadni", approximately 50 ft 6 in (15.39 m)25 km outside Heraklion. Major Fermor and Captain Moss, dressed as German military policemen, waited for him 1 km (0.62 mi) before his residence. They asked the driver to stop and asked for their papers. As soon as the car stopped, Fermor quickly opened Kreipe's door, rushed in and threatened him with his gun while Moss took the driver's seat. After driving some distance the British left the car, with suitable decoy material being planted that suggesting an escape off the island had been made by submarine, and with the General began a cross-country march. Hunted by German patrols, the group moved across the mountains to reach the southern side of the island, where a British Motor Launch (ML 842, commanded by Brian Coleman) was to pick them up. Eventually, on 14 May 1944, they were picked up (from Peristeres beach near Rhodakino) and transferred to Egypt.
In April–May 1944, the SS launched the daring airborne Raid on Drvar aimed at capturing Marshal Josip Broz Tito, the commander-in-chief of the Yugoslav Partisans, as well as disrupting their leadership and command structure. The Partisan headquarters were in the hills near Drvar, Bosnia at the time. The representatives of the Allies, Britain's Randolph Churchill and Evelyn Waugh, were also present. Elite German SS parachute commando units fought their way to Tito's cave headquarters and exchanged heavy gunfire resulting in numerous casualties on both sides. Blackmore and her captain Lt. Carson, RN.Chetniks under Draža Mihailović also flocked to the firefight in their own attempt to capture Tito. By the time German forces had penetrated to the cave, however, Tito had already fled the scene. He had a train waiting for him that took him to the town of Jajce. It would appear that Tito and his staff were well prepared for emergencies. The commandos were only able to retrieve Tito’s marshal's uniform, which was later displayed in Vienna. After fierce fighting in and around the village cemetery, the Germans were able to link up with mountain troops. By that time, Tito, his British guests and Partisan survivors were fêted aboard the Royal Navy destroyer HMS
An intricate series of resistance operations were launched in France prior to, and during, Operation Overlord. On June 5, 1944, the BBC broadcast a group of unusual sentences, which the Germans knew were code words—possibly for the invasion of Normandy. The BBC would regularly transmit hundreds of personal messages, of which only a few were really significant. A few days before D-Day, the commanding officers of the Resistance heard the first line of Verlaine's poem, "Chanson d'automne", "Les sanglots longs des violons de l'automne" (Long sobs of autumn violins) which meant that the "day" was imminent. When the second line "Blessent mon cœur d'une langueur monotone" (wound my heart with a monotonous langour) was heard, the Resistance knew that the invasion would take place within the next 48 hours. They then knew it was time to go about their respective pre-assigned missions. All over France resistance groups had been coordinated, and various groups throughout the country increased their sabotage. Communications were cut, trains derailed, roads, water towers and ammunition depots destroyed and German garrisons were attacked. Some relayed info about German defensive positions on the beaches of Normandy to American and British commanders by radio, just prior to 6 June. Victory did not come easily; in June and July, in the Vercors plateau a newly reinforced maquis group fought more than 10,000 German soldiers (no Waffen-SS) under General Karl Pflaum and was defeated, with 840 casualties (639 fighters and 201 civilians). Following the Tulle Murders, Major Otto Diekmann's Waffen-SS company wiped out the village of Oradour-sur-Glane on 10 June. The resistance also assisted the later Allied invasion in the south of France (Operation Dragoon). They started insurrections in cities such as Paris when allied forces came close.
Operation Halyard, which took place between August and December 1944,was an Allied airlift operation behind enemy lines during World War II conducted by Chetniks in occupied Yugoslavia. In July 1944, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) drew up plans to send a team to Chetniks led by General Draža Mihailović in the German-occupied Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia for the purpose of evacuating Allied airmen shot down over that area. This team, known as the Halyard team, was commanded by Lieutenant George Musulin, along with Master Sergeant Michael Rajacich, and Specialist Arthur Jibilian, the radio operator. The team was detailed to the United States Fifteenth Air Force and designated as the 1st Air Crew Rescue Unit. It was the largest rescue operation of American Airmen in history. According to historian Professor Jozo Tomasevich, a report submitted to the OSS showed that 417 Allied airmen who had been downed over occupied Yugoslavia were rescued by Mihailović's Chetniks, and airlifted out by the Fifteenth Air Force. According to Lt. Cmdr. Richard M. Kelly (OSS) grand total of 432 U.S. and 80 Allied personnel were airlifted during the Halyard Mission.
Operation Tempest launched in Poland in 1944 would lead to several major actions by Armia Krajowa, most notable of them being the Warsaw Uprising that took place in between August 1 and October 2, and failed due to the Soviet refusal, due to differences in ideology, to help; another one was Operation Ostra Brama: the Armia Krajowa or Home Army turned the weapons given to them by the Nazi Germans (in hope that they would fight the incoming Soviets) against the nazi Germans—in the end the Home Army together with the Soviet troops took over the Greater Vilnius area to the dismay of the Lithuanians.
On 25 June 1944, the Battle of Osuchy started—one of the largest battles between the Polish resistance and Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II, essentially a continuation of the Zamosc Uprising.During Operation Most III, in 1944, the Polish Home Army or Armia Krajowa provided the British with the parts of the V-2 rocket.
Norwegian sabotages of the German nuclear program drew to a close after three years on 20 February 1944, with the saboteur bombing of the ferry SF Hydro. The ferry was to carry railway cars with heavy water drums from the Vemork hydroelectric plant, where they were produced, across Lake Tinn so they could be shipped to Germany. Its sinking effectively ended Nazi nuclear ambitions. The series of raids on the plant was later dubbed by the British SOE as the most successful act of sabotage in all of World War II, and was used as a basis for the US war movie The Heroes of Telemark .
As an initiation of their uprising, Slovakian rebels entered Banská Bystrica on the morning of 30 August 1944, the second day of the rebellion, and made it their headquarters. By 10 September, the insurgents gained control of large areas of central and eastern Slovakia. That included two captured airfields, and as a result of the two-week-old insurgency, the Soviet Air Force were able to begin flying in equipment to Slovakian and Soviet partisans.
a ^ Sources vary with regard to what was the largest resistance movement during World War II. The confusion often stems from the fact that as war progressed, some resistance movements grew larger – and other diminished. In particular, Polish and Soviet territories were mostly freed from Nazi German control in the years 1944-1945, eliminating the need for their respective (anti-Nazi) partisan forces (in Poland, cursed soldiers continued to fight against the Soviets). Fighting in Yugoslavia, however, with Yugoslavian partisans fighting German units, continued till the end of the war. The numbers for each of those three movements can be roughly estimated as approaching 100,000 in 1941, and 200,000 in 1942, with Polish and Soviet partisan numbers peaking around 1944 at 350,000-400,000, and Yugoslavian, growing till the very end till they reached the 800,000.
Several sources note that Polish 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";Gregor Dallas wrote "Home Army (Armia Krajowa or AK) in late 1943 numbered around 400,000, making it the largest resistance organization in Europe"; Mark Wyman wrote "Armia Krajowa was considered the largest underground resistance unit in wartime Europe". Certainly, Polish resistance was the largest resistance till German invasion of Yugoslavia and invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
After that point, the numbers of Soviet partisans and Yugoslav partisans begun growing rapidly. The numbers of Soviet partisans quickly caught up and were very similar to that of the Polish resistance (a graph is also available here).
The numbers of Tito's Yugoslav partisans were roughly similar to those of the Polish and Soviet partisans in the first years of the war (1941–1942), but grew rapidly in the latter years, outnumbering the Polish and Soviet partisans by 2:1 or more (estimates give Yugoslavian forces about 800,000 in 1945, to Polish and Soviet forces of 400,000 in 1944).Some authors also call it the largest resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Europe, for example, Kathleen Malley-Morrison wrote: "The Yugoslav partisan guerrilla campaign, which developed into the largest resistance army in occupied Western and Central Europe...".
The numbers of French resistance were smaller, around 10,000 in 1942, and swelling to 200,000 by 1944.
The European theatre of World War II opened with the German invasion of Poland on Friday September 1, 1939, which was then followed by 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.
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".
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.
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.
The Yugoslav Partisans, or the National Liberation Army, officially the National Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia, was the Communist-led resistance to the Axis powers in occupied Yugoslavia during World War II.
The Soviet partisans were members of resistance movements that fought a guerrilla war against the Axis forces in the Soviet Union, the previously Soviet-occupied territories of interwar Poland in 1941–45 and eastern Finland. The activity emerged after the Nazi German Operation Barbarossa during World War II, and according to Great Soviet Encyclopedia it was coordinated and controlled by the Soviet government and modelled on that of the Red Army. The partisans made significant contributions to the war by frustrating German plans to exploit occupied Soviet territories economically, gave considerable help to the Soviet Army by conducting systematic strikes against Germany's rear communication network, disseminated political work among the local population by publishing newspapers and leaflets, and succeeded in creating and maintaining a feeling of insecurity among German forces.
A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent activity. The term can apply to the field element of resistance movements, examples of which are the civilians who collaborated with or opposed Nazi German, Fascist Italian, Chetniks Serbian and Ustashe Croatian rule in several countries during World War II.
The Belarusian Resistance during World War II opposed Nazi Germany from 1941 until 1944. Belarus was one of the Soviet republics occupied during Operation Barbarossa.
Jewish resistance under the Nazi rule took various forms of organized underground activities conducted against German occupation regimes in Europe by Jews during World War II. According to historian Yehuda Bauer, Jewish resistance was defined as actions that were taken against all laws and actions acted by Germans.The term is particularly connected with the Holocaust and includes a multitude of different social responses by those oppressed, as well as both passive and armed resistance conducted by Jews themselves.
Aleksander Krzyżanowskinom de guerre "Wilk" was a Polish army officer, colonel member of the Polish resistance movement in World War II and Commandant of the Armia Krajowa in the Vilnius Region. After the German withdrawal from the area, on 17 July 1944 Krzyżanowski had been duped by the Soviets into a fake debriefing, arrested and thrown in jail. He died in Stalinist prison on 29 September 1951, without a trial.
During World War II, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union (1940–1941), Nazi Germany (1941–1944), and the Soviet Union again in 1944. Resistance during this period took many forms. Significant parts of the resistance were formed by Polish and Soviet forces, some of which fought with Lithuanian collaborators. This article presents a summary of the organizations, persons and actions involved.
Jewish partisans were fighters in irregular military groups participating in the Jewish resistance movement against Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II.
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 Zamość uprising comprised World War II partisan operations, 1942–1944, by the Polish resistance against Germany's Generalplan-Ost forced expulsion of Poles from the Zamość region (Zamojszczyzna) and the region's colonization by German settlers.
The occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany lasted from the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 to the end of the Battle of Memel on January 28, 1945. At first the Germans were welcomed as liberators from the repressive Soviet regime which occupied Lithuania prior to the German arrival. In hopes of re-establishing independence or regaining some autonomy, Lithuanians organized their Provisional Government. Soon the Lithuanian attitudes towards the Germans changed into passive resistance.
Adolf Pilch was a Polish resistance fighter. He became part of the Polish special forces (cichociemni) trained in the United Kingdom, and was parachuted into occupied Poland on 17 February 1943. There, as a member of the Armia Krajowa Polish resistance, he organized a cavalry partisan unit in the Nowogródek area, and broke through to the Kampinos forest near Warsaw, taking control of this area. At its height of operations his unit consisted of up to 1000 men. Between 3 June 1943 and 17 January 1945 his partisans fought in 235 battles.
Anti-partisan operations during World War II were counter-insurgency operations against the various partisan resistance movements. During World War II those operations were primarily carried out by the invading and occupying Axis powers, although with changing fortune of the wars, the Soviet Union and the Allied powers also had to deal with partisans.
The Polish Home Army Museum in Orchard Lake, Michigan is dedicated to the memory of the brave men and women of the Armia Krajowa during World War II. The Museum tells the story of the struggle for the freedom and independence of Poland during World War II. On September 1, 1939, without declaring war, the Nazi German Army, Navy, and Air Forces invaded Poland from the north, west and south. Sixteen days later, on September 17, the Soviet Union also attacked Poland from the east. For Europe, the Nazi invasion of Poland marked the beginning of World War II; for Poland, the Soviet invasion also marked the beginning of a 50-year struggle against communism.
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