Polish resistance movement in World War II

Polish resistance movement in World War II

The Polish resistance movement was a resistance movement in Poland which fought against the occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was an important part of the European anti-fascist resistance movement. In Poland resistance to the Nazi German occupation began already before the German invasion of Poland had ended, although there is little terrain in Poland suitable for guerrilla operations.

The largest of the Polish resistance organizations was the Home Army (in Polish "Armia Krajowa" or AK), loyal to the Polish government in exile in London. It was formed in 1942 from the Union of Armed Struggle ("Związek Walki Zbrojnej" or ZWZ which was created in 1939) and incorporated most of the other Polish resistance groups (with the exceptions of communists and some far-right groups). It was also the military arm of the Polish Secret State. From 1943 the AK was increasingly in competition with the communist resistance People's Army (Polish "Armia Ludowa" or AL), backed by the Soviet Union and controlled by the Polish Workers' Party (Polish "Polska Partia Robotnicza" or PPR). By 1944 the AK had some 380,000 men, although not all of them were armed: the AL was much smaller, numbering around 30,000 [http://encyklopedia.pwn.pl/3804_1.html] . By the summer of 1944 Polish underground forces numbered more than 300,000 [http://www.polishembassy.ca/files/Polish%20Armed%20Forces%20in%20WWII%20eng.pdf] with some estimates of over 400,000-500,000.

In April 1943 the Germans began deporting the remaining Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, provoking the Warsaw Ghetto Rising, April 19 to May 16, one of the first armed uprisings against the Germans in Poland (see also Zamosc Uprising). Some units of the AK tried to assist the Ghetto rising, but for the most part the resistance was unprepared and unable to defeat the Germans. The Jewish leaders knew that the rising would be crushed but they preferred to die fighting than wait to be deported to their deaths in the camps.

During 1943 the Home Army built up its forces in preparation for a national uprising. The plan was code-named Operation Tempest and began in late 1943. Its most widely known elements were Operation Ostra Brama and the Warsaw Uprising. In August 1944, as the Soviet armed forces approached Warsaw, the government in exile called for an uprising in the city, so that they could return to a liberated Warsaw and try to prevent a communist take-over. The AK, led by Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, launched the Warsaw Uprising. Soviet forces were less than 20 km away but on the orders of Soviet High Command they gave no assistance. Stalin described the rising as a "criminal adventure". The Poles appealed for the western Allies for help. The Royal Air Force, and the Polish Air Force based in Italy, dropped some arms but, as in 1944, it was almost impossible for the Allies to help the Poles without Soviet assistance.

The fighting in Warsaw was desperate, with selfless valour being displayed in street-to-street fighting. The AK had between 12,000 and 20,000 armed soldiers, most with only small arms, against a well-armed German Army of 20,000 SS and regular Army units. Bór-Komorowski's hope that the AK could take and hold Warsaw for the return of the London government was never likely to be achieved. After 63 days of savage fighting the city was reduced to rubble, and the reprisals were savage. The SS and auxiliary units recruited from Soviet Army deserters were particularly brutal.

After Bór-Komorowski's surrender the AK fighters were treated as prisoners-of-war by the Germans, much to the outrage of Stalin, but the civilian population were ruthlessly punished. Overall Polish casualties are estimated to be between 150,000–300,000 killed, 90,000 civilians were sent to labor camps in the Reich, while 60,000 were shipped to death and concentration camps such as Ravensbruck, Auschwitz, Mauthausen and others. The city was almost totally destroyed after German sappers systematically demolished the city. The Warsaw Uprising allowed the Germans to destroy the AK as a fighting force, but the main beneficiary was Stalin, who was able to impose a communist government on postwar Poland with little fear of armed resistance.

In the latter years of the war, there were increasing conflicts between Polish and Soviet partisans, some groups continued to oppose the Soviets long after the war. The last of the cursed soldiers - members of the militant anti-communist resistance in Poland was Józef Franczak who was killed by ZOMO in 1963.


*Antyfaszystowska Organizacja Bojowa
*Armia Krajowa
*Armia Ludowa
*Bataliony Chłopskie
*Brygada Swietokrzyska
*Gwardia Ludowa
*Gwardia Ludowa WRN
*Narodowa Organizacja Wojskowa
*Narodowe Siły Zbrojne
*Obóz Polski Walczącej
*Państwowy Korpus Bezpieczeństwa
*Szare Szeregi
*Związek Odwetu
*Związek Walki Zbrojnej
*Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa
*Żydowski Związek Walki

See also

*Belarusian resistance movement
*Cursed soldiers
*Lithuanian resistance during World War II
*General Government
*History of Poland (1939–1945)
*Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany
*Polish areas annexed by Soviet Union
*Resistance during World War II
*Resistance movement
*Operation Ostra Brama


External links

* [http://wilk.wpk.p.lodz.pl/~whatfor/armia_krajowa.htm Armia Krajowa]
* [http://www.sp11.nowytarg.pl/sp11/module.php?show=patron Armia Krajowa]
* [http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/5/0,1872,2149861,00.html Die "Stunde W"]
* [http://wilk.wpk.p.lodz.pl/~whatfor/zw_nsz.htm Narodowe Siły Zbrojne]
* [http://www.poloniatoday.com/record2.htm POLAND: HERE IS THE RECORD]
* [http://www.polishresistance-ak.org/ Polish Resistance in World War II]
* [http://www.electronicmuseum.ca/index.html Tadeusz WICHROWSKI - "Wicher"]
* [http://www.warsawuprising.com/paper/okulicki2.htm Warsaw Uprising 1944]
* [http://www.atsnotes.com/articles/article-contibution-en.html History of Warsaw's contributions levied by the German Occupation Authority]

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