Wawelberg Group

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German train derailed by the Poles at Kedzierzyn-Kozle Wykolejony pociag.jpg
German train derailed by the Poles at Kędzierzyn-Koźle

The Wawelberg Group (Polish : Grupa Wawelberg), also known as the Konrad Wawelberg Destruction Group (Polish : Grupa Destrukcyjna Konrada Wawelberga), was a Polish special-forces unit. The group began the Third Silesian Uprising on May 2/3, 1921 by blowing up seven rail bridges linking Upper Silesia with the rest of Germany.

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.

Second Polish Republic 1918-1939 republic in Eastern Europe

The Second Polish Republic, commonly known as interwar Poland, refers to the country of Poland in the period between the First and Second World Wars (1918–1939). Officially known as the Republic of Poland, sometimes Commonwealth of Poland, the Polish state was re-established in 1918, in the aftermath of World War I. When, after several regional conflicts, the borders of the state were fixed in 1922, Poland's neighbours were Czechoslovakia, Germany, the Free City of Danzig, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and the Soviet Union. It had access to the Baltic Sea via a short strip of coastline either side of the city of Gdynia. Between March and August 1939, Poland also shared a border with the then-Hungarian governorate of Subcarpathia. The Second Republic ceased to exist in 1939, when Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic, marking the beginning of the European theatre of World War II.

Special forces Military units trained to conduct special operations

Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military units trained to conduct special operations. NATO has defined special operations as "military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces, manned with selected personnel, using unconventional tactics, techniques, and modes of employment".

Contents

Origins

The Wawelberg Group was organized by the Polish General Staff's Section II (Intelligence) as the "Destruction Office" in the waning days of 1920 (see History of Polish intelligence services [1] ) as rumors flew that the Inter-Allied Plebiscite Commission would grant almost all of Upper Silesia to Germany. Prompted by the rumors, the Polish Military Organization of Upper Silesia, which actively cooperated with the Polish Army, had begun forming a small, highly specialized unit which would come to be called the Wawelberg Group.[ citation needed ]

This article covers the history of Polish Intelligence services dating back to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Polish Military Organization of the Upper Silesia was a secret military organization formed in February 1919 in Upper Silesia. It was involved in the three Silesian Uprisings, although officially it was disbanded after the Second Uprising. It had over 20,000 members, including Alfons Zgrzebniok, Jan Wyglenda, Stanisław Krzyżowski, Walenty Fojkis, Karol Grzesik, Rudolf Kornke, Wolfgang Kornke, Maksymilian Iksal.

The Destruction Office took the "Wawelberg" name from the nom de guerre of its commander, Captain Tadeusz Puszczyński — "Konrad Wawelberg." [2] Puszczyński was a graduate of the Warsaw Polytechnic and had served in the World War I Polish Legions [3] and in the Polish Military Organization. He had also participated in the 1920 Second Silesian Uprising. His crucial task was to find the right people and carry out acts of sabotage in the rear of the German positions. All the men in the Wawelberg Group had to be skilled combat engineers with extensive knowledge of explosives.[ citation needed ]

Tadeusz Puszczyński was a Polish military intelligence officer who commanded the Polish General Staff's Destruction Group during the Third Silesian Uprising.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Polish Legions in World War I

The Polish Legions was a name of the Polish military force established in August 1914 in Galicia soon after World War I erupted between the opposing alliances of the Triple Entente on one side ; and the Central Powers on the other side, including the German Empire and Austria-Hungary. The Legions became "a founding myth for the creation of modern Poland" in spite of their considerably short existence; they were replaced by the Polish Auxiliary Corps formation on 20 September 1916, merged with Polish II Corps in Russia on 19 February 1918 for the Battle of Rarańcza against Austria-Hungary, and disbanded following the military defeat at the Battle of Kaniów in May 1918, against imperial Germany. General Haller escaped to France to form the Polish army in the West against the anti-Polish German-Bolshevik treaty.

The Group

The Group's deputy commander was Lt. Edmund Charaszkiewicz. Puszczyński recruited, from among his soldiers, two officer cadets (podchorąży), the brothers Tadeusz and Janusz Meissner. All four men would later be decorated with the Virtuti Militari , [4] [5] 5th class, on June 27, 1922. [6] Puszczyński divided his men into four teams — A, G, U and N. These designations came from the initial letters of the Polish phrase Akcja Główna Unieruchomienia Niemców ("Main Operation to Immobilize the Germans"). [7] All the agents were armed, wore civilian clothes, and were provided with money. [5]

Edmund Kalikst Eugeniusz Charaszkiewicz was a Polish military intelligence officer who specialized in clandestine warfare. Between the World Wars, he helped establish Poland's interbellum borders in conflicts over territory with Poland's neighbours.

Officer cadet is a rank held by military cadets during their training to become commissioned officers. In the United Kingdom, the rank is also used by members of University Royal Naval Units, University Officer Training Corps and University Air Squadron however these are not trainee officers and most do not join the armed forces.

Janusz Meissner Polish aviator

Janusz Meissner was a Polish author and journalist, and a pilot of Polish Air Force.

The men of the Wawelberg Group knew that, to overcome German military superiority in the area, they had to cut the rail and telegraph links between Upper Silesia and Germany. Therefore, the teams were deployed about the western part of Upper Silesia, ready to attack. Team G, 13 men commanded by Lt. Włodzimierz Dąbrowski, was deployed near Gogolin and ordered to watch the rail line between Krapkowice and Prudnik. [7] Team U, 10 men commanded by Lt. Edmund Charaszkiewicz, was deployed on the border between Głubczyce and Prudnik counties, to keep an eye on the rail lines GłogówekRacławice Śląskie – Prudnik, and Głubczyce– Racławice Śląskie. [7]

Włodzimierz Dąbrowski Polish politician

Włodzimierz Dąbrowski was a Polish lawyer and political activist in Silesia.

Gogolin Place in Opole, Poland

Gogolin is a town in Poland, in Opole Voivodeship, in Krapkowice County. It has 6,116 inhabitants (2004).

Krapkowice Place in Opole, Poland

Krapkowice(listen) is a town in south-western Poland with 17,840 inhabitants (2007), situated in the Opole Voivodeship, straddling both banks of the Oder River at the point where it joins with the Osobłoga. It is the regional capital of Krapkowice County.

Puszczyński — "Wawelberg" — himself, with a small team (including former German Army sapper Wiktor Wiechaczek and miner and explosives expert Herman Jurzyca), deployed in the deep rear of the German positions, at the village of Szczepanowice (German : Sczepanowitz), some five kilometers west of Opole (since 1936, it is a district of Opole). Their task was to blow up the crucial 200-meter-long Oder River rail bridge. [8]

German Army (German Empire) 1871-1919 land warfare branch of the German military

The Imperial German Army was the unified ground and air force of the German Empire. The term Deutsches Heer is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the Bundeswehr. The German Army was formed after the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership in 1871 and dissolved in 1919, after the defeat of the German Empire in World War I.

Sapper soldier who performs a variety of military engineering duties

A sapper, also called pioneer or combat engineer, is a combatant or soldier who performs a variety of military engineering duties such as breaching fortifications, demolitions, bridge-building, laying or clearing minefields, preparing field defenses, as well as working on road and airfield construction and repair. They are also trained to serve as infantry personnel in defensive and offensive operations. A sapper's duties are devoted to tasks involving facilitating movement, defence and survival of allied forces and impeding those of enemies. The term "sapper" is used in the British Army and Commonwealth nations, Polish Army and the U.S. military. The word "sapper" comes from the French word sapeur, itself being derived from the verb saper.

Wiktor Wiechaczek Polish activist

Wiktor Wiechaczek was a Polish soldier, who participated in the Silesian Uprisings. Born on 10 October 1879 in Ruda Śląska, Wiechaczek was a Polish patriot, living in Upper Silesia, which then belonged to Germany. In 1913 he took part in a strike in the Pawel coal mine, for which he was fired. After 1918, Wiechaczek actively participated in pro-Polish movement in Silesia, and together with Józef Trojok, he was one of leaders of the First Silesian Uprising. In 1921, he was a member of the Wawelberg Group, and for his activities, Wiechaczek was awarded the Virtuti Militari cross, number 7840.

Operation "Bridges"

The Poles' plan, Akcja Mosty (Operation "Bridges"), was implemented on the night of May 2/3, 1921. [8] Puszczyński and his men, equipped with some 320 kilograms of explosives, after initial difficulties managed to destroy a span of the Szczepanowice bridge. The other groups also succeeded in their objectives. Altogether the Poles managed to destroy seven rail bridges at such places as Szczepanowice, Kluczbork, Kędzierzyn-Koźle, Głogówek and Świętochłowice. [9]

The blowing up of the bridges initiated the Third Silesian Uprising, the greatest and best-organized of the three. The Germans, taken by surprise, needed time to repair their severed communications and to transport their troops, and the Poles took advantage of the situation. All the major rail lines leading to Upper Silesia (such as the WroclawOpoleKatowice, and the NysaKędzierzyn-Koźle) had been immobilized. Two German military rail transports had also been destroyed. [7]

Aftermath

After the operation, most of the Polish agents managed to withdraw to Sosnowiec, which due to its proximity to the border was the main base of Polish operations. [5] The Germans captured an unknown number of the men who had blown up the bridge at the village of Dobra; they were imprisoned for a few weeks at Opole. [7] Also caught, near Głubczyce, were two Poles who were trying to make their way to Czechoslovakia, but the Germans did not know their identity and released them. [7]

The Germans announced, in the June 18, 1921 Amts-Blatt der Königlichen Regierung zu Oppeln (Official Gazette of the Opole District), a reward of 10,000 Reichsmarks for information about the perpetrators of the attacks.[ citation needed ]

See also

Notes

  1. (in Polish)
  2. (in Polish)
  3. (in Polish)
  4. Index of Surnames Polish Order of the Virtuti Militari Recipients (1792-1992) (in English)
  5. 1 2 3 (in Polish)
  6. Wesolowski, pp. 231, 296, 319.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 (in Polish)
  8. 1 2 (in Polish)
  9. (in Polish)

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References