Armia Krajowa

Armia Krajowa

Overview
The Armia Krajowa (ˈarmja kraˈjɔva, abbreviated AK), or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II
Polish resistance movement in World War II
The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish defence against the Nazi occupation was an important part of the European...

 German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej
Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej
Związek Walki Zbrojnej was an underground army formed in Poland following its invasion in September 1939 by Germany and the Soviet Union that opened World War II.The precursor to the ZWZ was the Service...

 (Union for Armed Struggle). Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces. It was loyal to the Polish government in exile
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 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

 and constituted the armed wing of what became known as the "Polish Underground State." Estimates of its membership in 1944 range from 200,000 to 600,000, with the most common number being 400,000; that figure would make it not only the largest Polish underground resistance movement
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

 but one of the three largest in Europe during World War II.
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Encyclopedia
The Armia Krajowa (ˈarmja kraˈjɔva, abbreviated AK), or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II
Polish resistance movement in World War II
The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish defence against the Nazi occupation was an important part of the European...

 German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej
Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej
Związek Walki Zbrojnej was an underground army formed in Poland following its invasion in September 1939 by Germany and the Soviet Union that opened World War II.The precursor to the ZWZ was the Service...

 (Union for Armed Struggle). Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces. It was loyal to the Polish government in exile
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 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

 and constituted the armed wing of what became known as the "Polish Underground State." Estimates of its membership in 1944 range from 200,000 to 600,000, with the most common number being 400,000; that figure would make it not only the largest Polish underground resistance movement
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

 but one of the three largest in Europe during World War II. It was disbanded on January 20, 1945, when Polish territory had been mostly cleared of German forces by the advancing Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

.

The AK's primary resistance operations were the sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 of German activities, including transports headed for the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. The AK also fought several full-scale battle
Battle
Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

s against the Germans, particularly in 1943 and 1944 during Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest was a series of uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army , the dominant force in the Polish resistance....

. They tied down significant German forces, diverting much-needed supplies, while trying to support the Soviet military.

The most widely known AK operation was the failed Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

. The AK also defended Polish civilians against atrocities
Ethnic violence
Ethnic violence refers to violence expressly motivated by ethnic hatred...

 committed by non-German military organizations, such as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Lithuanian Security Police
Lithuanian Security Police
The Lithuanian Security Police, also referred to as Saugumas , was a Lithuanian Nazi collaborationist police force that operated from 1941 to 1944. It had a staff of approximately 400 people, 250 of them in Kaunas and around another 130 in Vilnius....

. Due to its ties with the Polish government in exile, the Armia Krajowa was viewed by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 as a major obstacle to its takeover of the country. There was increasing conflict between AK and Soviet forces both during
Soviet partisans in Poland
Poland was annexed and partitioned by 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...

 and after
Cursed soldiers
The cursed soldiers is a name applied to a variety of Polish resistance movements formed in the later stages of World War II and afterwards. Created by some members of the Polish Secret State, these clandestine organizations continued their armed struggle against the Stalinist government of Poland...

 the war. Considered a model of heroic resistance in modern Poland, Armia Krajowa has occasionally been the subject of controversy. It was portrayed more critically in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 (which saw the Underground State as an enemy) and some post-Soviet states
Post-Soviet states
The post-Soviet states, also commonly known as the Former Soviet Union or former Soviet republics, are the 15 independent states that split off from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in its dissolution in December 1991...

 (primarily Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, where military groups who cooperated with Germans against the Soviets and/or were trying to separate from Polish control also clashed with the Polish resistance).

World War II


The AK's origins were in the Służba Zwycięstwu Polski (Service for the Victory of Poland), which had been set up, just as the joint German & Soviet invasions of Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland (1939)
The 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland was a Soviet military operation that started without a formal declaration of war on 17 September 1939, during the early stages of World War II. Sixteen days after Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union did so from the east...

 were nearing completion, on September 27, 1939, by General Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski. Seven weeks later, November 17, 1939, on the orders of General Władysław Sikorski, this organization was succeeded by Związek Walki Zbrojnej
Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej
Związek Walki Zbrojnej was an underground army formed in Poland following its invasion in September 1939 by Germany and the Soviet Union that opened World War II.The precursor to the ZWZ was the Service...

 (Union for Armed Struggle), which over two years later, on February 14, 1942, became the AK. While these two organizations were the founders of the AK, intended as the main Polish resistance movement, there were numerous other resistance organizations in Poland. A majority of these groups would eventually merge with the ZWZ-AK during the years of 1939-1944, significantly contributing to AK's growth.


According to the Polish government in exile
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 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

, AK was to be a non-political, nationwide resistance organization. The supreme command defined the main tasks of the AK as partisan warfare against the German occupiers, recreation of armed forces underground and, near the end of the German occupation, general armed revolt until victory. At the war's end, AK plans envisaged the seizure of power
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

 in Poland by the Delegatura (Government Delegate's Office at Home
Government Delegate's Office at Home
The Government Delegation for Poland was an agency of the Polish Government in Exile during World War II. It was the highest authority of the Polish Secret State in occupied Poland and was headed by the Government Delegate for Poland, a de facto deputy Polish Prime Minister.The Government...

) establishment, the representatives of the London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

-based government in exile; and by the government-in-exile itself, which would return to Poland. In addition to the London government there was also a political organization in Poland itself, a deliberative body of the resistance and the Polish Underground State. The Political Consultative Committee
Political Consultative Committee
Political Consultative Committee was the beginning of the political arm of the Polish Secret State in occupied Poland during World War II. It was formed on 26 February 1940 by several Polish political parties continuing their activities underground...

 (Polityczny Komitet Porozumiewawczy) was formed in 1940 after an agreement by representatives of several major political parties (PPS-WRN, SL
Stronnictwo Ludowe
The People's Party was a Polish political party, active from 1931 in the Second Polish Republic. An agrarian populist party, its power base was composed mostly from peasants....

, SN
National Party (Poland)
Stronnictwo Narodowe was a Polish political party formed on 7 October 1928 after the transformation of National Populist Union. It gathered together most of the political forces of Poland's National Democracy right-wing political camp. SN was one of the main opponents of the Sanacja regime...

 and SP
Stronnictwo Pracy
Stronnictwo Pracy was a Polish Christian democratic political party, active from 1937 in the Second Polish Republic and later part of the Polish government in exile. Its founder and main activist was Karol Popiel....

); renamed to Home Political Representation
Home Political Representation
Home Political Representation was the representation of the four major Polish political parties continuing their activities underground . It was the political arm of the Polish Secret State in occupied Poland during World War II...

 (Krajowa Reprezentacja Polityczna) in 1943 and to Council of National Unity
Council of National Unity
Rada Jedności Narodowej was the quasi-parliament of the Polish Underground State during World War II...

 (Rada Jedności Politycznej) in 1944. The AK, although in theory subordinated to the civil authorities and the government in exile, often acted somewhat independently with both the AK commanders in Poland and London government not fully aware of the situation of the other.

Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 in June 1941, the Soviet Union joined the Allies; the Anglo-Soviet Agreement
Anglo-Soviet Agreement
The Anglo-Soviet Agreement was a formal military alliance signed by the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union against Germany on July 12, 1941; shortly after the German invasion of the latter...

 was signed on July 12, 1941. This shift put the Polish government in a difficult position, since it had previously pursued a policy of "two enemies." Although a Polish-Soviet agreement
Sikorski-Mayski Agreement
The Sikorski–Mayski Agreement was a treaty between the Soviet Union and Poland signed in London on 30 July 1941. Its name was coined after the two most notable signatories: Polish Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski and Soviet Ambassador to the United Kingdom Ivan Mayski.- Details :After signing...

 was signed in August, co-operation continued to be difficult, and deteriorated further after the Katyn massacre
Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

 was publicized in 1943.

Until the major revolt began in 1944, the AK concentrated on self-defence (freeing prisoners and hostages, defence against pacification measures) and striking at the German forces. Throughout the period of its existence AK units carried out thousands of armed raids and intelligence operations, sabotaging hundreds of railway shipments and participating in many partisan
Partisan (military)
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...

 clashes and battles with German police and Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 units. The AK also conducted retaliatory operations to assassinate prominent Nazi collaborators
Collaboration during World War II
Within nations occupied by the Axis Powers, some citizens, driven by nationalism, ethnic hatred, anti-communism, anti-Semitism or opportunism, knowingly engaged in collaboration with the Axis Powers during World War II...

 and Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 officials in response to Nazi terror tactics imposed on the civilian population of Poland (notable individuals assassinated by AK include Igo Sym
Igo Sym
Karol Juliusz "Igo" Sym was an Austrian-born Polish actor and collaborator with Nazi Germany. He was killed in Warsaw by members of the Polish resistance movement.-Early career:...

 and Franz Kutschera
Franz Kutschera
Franz Kutschera was an SS General and Gauleiter of Carinthia...

).


Intelligence


Armia Krajowa supplied valuable intelligence
Intelligence (information gathering)
Intelligence assessment is the development of forecasts of behaviour or recommended courses of action to the leadership of an organization, based on a wide range of available information sources both overt and covert. Assessments are developed in response to requirements declared by the leadership...

 information to the Allies; 43 percent of all reports received by British secret services from continental Europe in 1939-45 had come from Polish sources. Until 1942, most of British intelligence from Germany came from AK reports; until the end of the war AK would remain the main British source for news from Central and Eastern Europe. Among other topics, Armia Krajowa intelligence provided the Allies with information on German concentration camps, as well as intelligence concerning the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 rocket
Home Army and V1 and V2
Aside from the military operations, the Polish Armia Krajowa was also heavily involved in intelligence work, including work done with regard to the German "Wunderwaffe" - the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 rocket...

 One Project Big Ben
Project Big Ben
"Big Ben" was the World War II code name for the British project to reconstruct and evaluate captured German missiles such as the V-2 rocket. On July 31, 1944, after the UK agreed to exchange Supermarine Spitfires for the wreckage of a V-2 in Sweden during World War II, experts at Farnborough...

 mission used a stripped-for-lightness RAF twin-engine Dakota (Operation Wildhorn III
Operation Most III
Operation Most III or Operation Wildhorn III was a World War II operation in which Poland's Armia Krajowa provided the Allies with crucial intelligence on the German V-2 rocket.-Background:...

) (Most III) from Brindisi
Brindisi
Brindisi is a city in the Apulia region of Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, off the coast of the Adriatic Sea.Historically, the city has played an important role in commerce and culture, due to its position on the Italian Peninsula and its natural port on the Adriatic Sea. The city...

, Italy, to fly to an abandoned German airfield in Poland to retrieve information prepared by engineer and aircraft designer Antoni Kocjan
Antoni Kocjan
Antoni Kocjan , was a renowned Polish glider constructor and a contributor to the intelligence services of the Polish Home Army during World War II....

, as well as 100 lb (45.4 kg) of cargo regarding V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 wreckage from a Peenemünde
Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

 launch, including Special Report 1/R, no. 242, photographs, a select set of eight parts, and drawings of the wreckage. Sabotage was coordinated by the Union of Retaliation and later Wachlarz
Wachlarz
Wachlarz |folding fan]]) was a Polish World War II resistance organization formed by the Armia Krajowa for sabotage duties behind the German Eastern Front, outside of the Polish borders. Its commanders were Lt.Col. Jan Włodarkiewicz and Lt.Col...

 and Kedyw
Kedyw
Kedyw , was an underground movement - Armia Krajowa organization during World War II, which specialized in active and passive sabotage, propaganda and armed action against Nazi German forces and collaborators.-Operations:...

 units. The AK also carried out psychological warfare
Psychological warfare
Psychological warfare , or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations , have been known by many other names or terms, including Psy Ops, Political Warfare, “Hearts and Minds,” and Propaganda...

, with the "Operation N" created the illusion of a German opposition movement to Hitler within Germany itself.

Major operations


Major military and sabotage operations included: the Zamość Uprising
Zamosc Uprising
The Zamość Uprising refers to the actions by Polish resistance against the forced expulsion of Poles from the Zamość region under the Nazi Generalplan Ost...

 of 1942-1943, with AK sabotaging German plans for expulsion of Poles under the Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

; the protection of the Polish population from the massacres of Poles in Volhynia
Massacres of Poles in Volhynia
The Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia were part of an ethnic cleansing operation carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army West in the Nazi occupied regions of the Eastern Galicia , and UPA North in Volhynia , beginning in March 1943 and lasting until the end of...

 in 1943-1944; Operation Wieniec
Operation Wieniec
Operation Wieniec was one of the large-scale anti-Nazi operations of the Armia Krajowa during the World War II that took place on the night from 7 to 8 October 1942. It targeted rail infrastructure near Warsaw....

 sabotaging German rail transport in 1942; Operation Taśma in 1943, a series of attacks against German border outposts on the frontier between the General Government
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

 and the territories annexed by Germany; Operation Jula – another rail sabotage in 1944; and most notably Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest was a series of uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army , the dominant force in the Polish resistance....

 in 1944, a series of nationwide uprisings whose chief goal was to seize control of cities and areas where German forces were preparing their defenses against the Soviet Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

, so that Polish underground civil authorities could take power before the arrival of Soviet forces
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. The largest and best known of the Operation Tempest battles was the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

 – the attempt to liberate Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

, the capital of Poland. It started on August 1, 1944; the Polish troops took control of significant portion of the city and resisted the German-led forces until October 2 (63 days in total). With no aid from the approaching Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

, the Germans eventually defeated the rebels and burned the city, finally quelling the Uprising on October 2, 1944. Other major city uprisings of AK included the Operation Ostra Brama in Wilno and the Lwów Uprising
Lwów Uprising
The Lwów Uprising was the armed struggle started by the Polish resistance movement organization Polish Home Army against the Nazi occupiers in Lviv, during World War II. It began on July 23, 1944 as a part of a plan of all-national uprising codenamed Operation Tempest. The uprising lasted until...

. In addition, AK prepared an uprising in Kraków
Krakow Uprising (1944)
The Kraków Uprising was a planned but never realized uprising of the Polish Resistance against the German occupation in the city of Kraków during World War II.- Background :...

, but it was canceled due to several circumstances. While the AK managed to liberate a number of places from German control, for example in the Lublin
Lublin
Lublin is the ninth largest city in Poland. It is the capital of Lublin Voivodeship with a population of 350,392 . Lublin is also the largest Polish city east of the Vistula river...

 region where the regional structures were able to set up a functioning government, in the end due to hostility and lack of support from the Soviet Union, it failed to secure sufficient territory for the government in exile to return.

Axis fatalities due to the actions of the Polish underground, of which AK formed the bulk, are estimated at up to 150,000 (one should however note that estimates of guerilla warfare inflicted casualties often have a wide margin of error). The AK primary focus was on sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 of German rail and road transports to the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 in the Soviet Union. It is estimated that one eighth of all German transports to Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 were destroyed or significantly delayed due to AK's activities. The battle
Battle
Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

s with the Germans, particularly in 1943 and 1944, tied down several German divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 (about 930,000 German soldiers in total).


Post-war




The AK officially disbanded on January 19, 1945 to avoid armed conflict with the Soviets
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and civil war. However, many units decided to continue their struggle under new circumstances. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the Polish Communist Government it controlled viewed the underground, still loyal to the Polish government in exile
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 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

, as a force that had to be removed before they could gain complete control over Poland. Future General Secretary of PZPR, Władysław Gomułka, is quoted as saying: "Soldiers of AK are a hostile element which must be removed without mercy." Another prominent Polish communist, Roman Zambrowski
Roman Zambrowski
Roman Zambrowski was a Polish communist activist. He is a father of journalist Antoni Zambrowski....

, said that AK had to be "exterminated."

The first AK structure designed primarily to deal with the Soviet threat was NIE
NIE (resistance)
NIE, short for Niepodległość , "NIE" means also "NO" in Polish - was a Polish anticommunist resistance organisation formed in 1943 in a case of a Soviet occupation of Poland. Its main goal was the struggle against the Soviet Union after 1944. NIE was one of the most well hidden structures of Armia...

, formed in mid-1943. NIE's goals was not to engage the Soviet forces in combat, but rather to observe and conduct espionage while the Polish government in exile decided how to deal with the Soviets; at that time the exiled government still believed that the solution could be found through negotiations. On May 7, 1945 NIE ("NO") was disbanded and transformed into Delegatura Sił Zbrojnych na Kraj ("Homeland Armed Forces Delegation"), this organization however lasted only until August 8, 1945, when the decision was made to disband the organization and stop partisan resistance on Polish territories.


The first Polish communist government, PKWN, formed in July 1944, declined jurisdiction over AK soldiers, therefore for more than a year it was the Soviet Union agencies such as NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 that took responsibility for disarming the AK. By the end of the war approximately 60,000 AK soldiers were arrested, 50,000 of them were deported to the Soviet Union's Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

s and prisons; most of those soldiers were captured by Soviets during or in the aftermath of Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest was a series of uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army , the dominant force in the Polish resistance....

, when many AK units tried to cooperate with the Soviets in a nationwide uprising against the Germans. Other veterans were arrested when they decided to approach the Polish communist government officials after being promised amnesty
Amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

. After several such broken promises during the first few years of communist control, AK soldiers stopped trusting the government.


The third post-AK organization was Wolność i Niezawisłość ("Freedom and Sovereignty"). Again its primary goal was not combat. Rather, it was designed to help the AK soldiers in transition from the life of partisans into that of civilians; while secrecy and conspiracy were necessary in the light of increasing persecution of AK veterans by the communist government. WiN was however in significant need of funds, necessary to pay for false documents and to provide resources for the partisans, many of whom had lost their homes and entire life's savings in the war. Viewed as enemies of the state, starved of resources, and with a vocal faction advocating armed resistance against the Soviets and their Polish proxies, WiN was far from efficient. A significant victory for the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 and the newly created Polish secret police, Urząd Bezpieczeństwa, came in the second half of 1945, when they managed to convince several leaders of AK and WiN that they truly wanted to offer amnesty to AK members. In a few months they managed to gain information about vast numbers of AK/WiN resources and people. By the time the (imprisoned) AK and WiN leaders realised their mistake, the organizations had been crippled with thousands of their members having been arrested. WiN was finally disbanded in 1952. By 1947 a colonel of the communist forces declared that "Terrorist and political underground has ceased to be a threatening force, although there are still men of the forests" that need to be dealt with.

The persecution of AK was only part of the repressions under Stalinism
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 in Poland. In the period of 1944-1956, approximately 2 million people were arrested, over 20,000, including the hero of Auschwitz, Witold Pilecki
Witold Pilecki
Witold Pilecki was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army resistance group and a member of the Home Army...

, were executed or murdered in communist prisons, and 6 million Polish citizens (i.e. every third adult Pole) were classified as a reactionary or criminal element and subject to invigilation by state agencies. Most soldiers of the Home Army were captured by the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 or UB political police. They were interrogated and imprisoned on various charges like fascism. Many of them were sent to Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

s, executed or "disappeared." For example between 1944 and 1956 all members of Batalion Zośka
Batalion Zoska
- Order of battle of the battalion :-Bibliography:*"Pamiętniki żołnierzy baonu Zośka", Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1986 ISBN 83-10-08703-9....

 unit who took part in Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

 was closed in communist jail. In 1956 an amnesty released 35,000 former AK soldiers from prisons: for the crime of fighting for their homeland they had spent sometimes over 10 years in prisons. Even at this time however, some partisans remained in the countryside, unwilling or simply unable to rejoin the community; they became known as the cursed soldiers
Cursed soldiers
The cursed soldiers is a name applied to a variety of Polish resistance movements formed in the later stages of World War II and afterwards. Created by some members of the Polish Secret State, these clandestine organizations continued their armed struggle against the Stalinist government of Poland...

. Stanisław Marchewka "Ryba" was killed in 1957, and the last AK partisan, Józef Franczak
Józef Franczak
Józef Franczak was a soldier of the Polish Army, Armia Krajowa World War II resistance, and last of the cursed soldiers - members of the militant anti-communist resistance in Poland. He used codenames Lalek , Laluś, Laleczka, Guściowa, and fake name Józef Babiński...

 "Lalek," was killed in 1963 – almost 2 decades after World War II ended. It was only four years later, in 1967, that Adam Boryczka
Adam Boryczka
Adam Boryczka was a Captain of the Polish Army and member of the underground Home Army in the area of Wilno, where he fought the Germans and after 1944 - the Soviets. Some time in 1945 he moved to central Poland and began working for the anti-Communist organization Wolnosc i Niezawislosc...

, a soldier of AK and a member of the elite, Britain-trained Cichociemny ("The Silent and Hidden") intelligence and support group, was released from prison. Until the end of the People's Republic of Poland
People's Republic of Poland
The People's Republic of Poland was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Although the Soviet Union took control of the country immediately after the liberation from Nazi Germany in 1944, the name of the state was not changed until eight years later...

 AK soldiers remained under investigation by the secret police, and it was only in 1989, after the fall of communism, that the sentences of AK soldiers were finally declared invalid and annulled by the Polish courts. Many monument
Monument
A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or simply as an example of historic architecture...

s to Armia Krajowa have been erected in modern Poland, and there are many museum
Museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

 exhibitions such as the Armia Krajowa Museum in Kraków
Armia Krajowa Museum in Kraków
The Armia Krajowa Museum in Kraków was created in Kraków, Poland in 2000, to commemorate the struggle for independence by the underground Polish Secret State and its military arm Armia Krajowa , the largest resistance movement in occupied Europe during World War II.The Museum is located at ulica...

 and the Warsaw Uprising Museum in Warsaw. The Polish Home Army Museum
Polish Home Army Museum, Orchard Lake, Michigan
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...

 is located in Orchard Lake, Michigan
Orchard Lake Village, Michigan
Orchard Lake Village is a city in Oakland County in the U.S. state of Michigan and a small, exclusive suburb on the outskirts of Metro Detroit. The population was 2,375 at the 2010 census....

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Membership




In February 1942, when AK was formed from ZWZ, it numbered about 100,000 members. In the beginning of 1943, it had reached a strength of about 200,000. In the summer of 1944 when Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest was a series of uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army , the dominant force in the Polish resistance....

 begun AK reached its highest membership numbers. Estimates of AK membership in the first half of 1944 and summer that year range from 200,000, 300,000, 380,000, 400,000, 450,000-500,000 to even "over 600,000." Most estimates put the highest numbers in summer 1944 between 300,000 and 500,000, with the average of 400,000. The strength estimates vary, due to constantly ongoing integration of other resistance organizations into AK; as well as because while the number of members was high and sympathizers even much higher, the number of armed members participating in actions would be smaller(due to insufficient number of weapons). AK's numbers in 1944 include a cadre of more than 10,000-11,000 officers, 7,500 officers-in-training (podchorąży) and 88,000 NCOs
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

. The officer cadre was formed from pre-war officers and NCOs, graduates of underground courses and elite operatives usually parachuted from the West (cichociemni
Cichociemni
Cichociemni were elite special-operations paratroops of the Polish Home Army of the Polish Army in exile, created in Great Britain during World War II to operate in occupied Poland.-The name:...

). A basic organization unit was a platoon, which numbered 35-50 people, with a skeleton, unmobilized version of 16-25; in February 1944 AK had 6287 regular and 2613 skeleton platoons operational. Such numbers made Armia Krajowa not only the largest of the Polish resistance movements, but among the two largest in World War II-time Europe . Casualties during the war are estimated at about 34,000-100,000, plus about 20,000-50,000 after the war (casualties and imprisonment).

AK was intended as a mass membership organization, organized around a core of pre-war officers. AK soldiers could be divided into three groups. The first two consisted of "full-time members": the undercover operatives, living mostly in urban setting under false identities (most senior AK officers belonged to this group) and uniformed (to a certain extent) partisans, living in the forested regions (see leśni
Leśni
Leśni is one of the informal names applied to the anti-German partisan groups operating in occupied Poland during World War II. The groups were formed mostly by people who for various reasons could not operate from settlements they lived in and had to retreat to the forests...

), and fighting Germans openly (the numbers of that group can be estimated at about 40 groups numbering in total 1,200-4,000 in early 1943 but the numbers would grow significantly during Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest was a series of uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army , the dominant force in the Polish resistance....

). The largest group consisted of "part-time members," sympathizers leading 'double life', under their real names in their real homes, receiving no payment for their services, staying in touch with their undercover unit commander, but usually not called for any actions, as AK was planning to use them only during the planned nationwide uprising.

AK was intended as a representative of the Polish nation, as its members were recruited from all social parties and classes (the communists sent by Soviets and Soviet created Armia Ludowa
Armia Ludowa
Armia Ludowa was a communist partisan force set up by the Polish Workers' Party during World War II. Its aims were to support the military of the Soviet Union against German forces and aid the creation of a pro-Soviet communist government in Poland...

 (People's Army) being the only notable exception). Growth of the AK was significantly based on integration of scores of smaller resistance organizations into its ranks. Most of the other Polish underground armies became incorporated into the AK (retaining a varying amount of autonomy) including:
  • The Konfederacja Narodu
    Konfederacja Narodu
    Konfederacja Narodu was one of the Polish resistance organizations in occupied Poland during World War II. KN was created in 1940 by far-right National Radical Camp political party from several smaller underground organizations, including the Secret Polish Army...

     (Confederation of the Nation). Created in 1940 by far-right Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny (National Radical Camp) and opposed to more center SZP-ZWZ, it would partially merge with ZWZ around 1941 and finally join AK around fall 1943.
  • The Bataliony Chłopskie (Peasants' Battalions). Created by leftist Stronnictwo Ludowe (People's Party) around 1940-1941, it would partially merge with AK around 1942-1943, although in 1944 parts would split and join the AL.
  • The Gwardia Ludowa WRN
    Gwardia Ludowa WRN
    Gwardia Ludowa WRN was a part of the Polish resistance movement in World War II. Created in 1939 by Polish Socialist Party - WRN faction, since 1940 it was subordinated to ZWZ with a degree of autonomy. In 1944 it numbered about 42,000 people...

     (People's Guard of WRN) of Polish Socialist Party
    Polish Socialist Party
    The Polish Socialist Party was one of the most important Polish left-wing political parties from its inception in 1892 until 1948...

     (PPS) (joined ZWZ around 1940) and Socjalistyczna Organizacja Bojowa (Socialist Fighting Organisation) created in 1943 and subordinated to AK,
  • The Narodowa Organizacja Wojskowa (National Military Organisation), (joined AK around the fall 1942/summer 1943) established by the Stronnictwo Narodowe (National Party).
  • The Obóz Polski Walczącej
    Obóz Polski Walczacej
    Obóz Polski Walczącej was a minor part of the Polish resistance movement in World War II. Created in 1942-44 and centered in Warsaw, its members were mostly composed of the former political party, Obóz Zjednoczenia Narodowego , part of the Sanacja movement...

     (Camp of Fighting Poland), established by the Obóz Zjednoczenia Narodowego
    Obóz Zjednoczenia Narodowego
    Obóz Zjednoczenia Narodowego was a Polish political party founded in 1937 by leaders in the Sanation movement.A year after the 1935 death of Poland's Chief of State Marshal Józef Piłsudski, in mid-1936, one of his followers, Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły, attempted to unite the various Sanation...

     (Camp of National Unity) around 1942, subordinated to AK in 1943.
  • From March to summer 1944, parts of the Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (National Armed Forces) were also subordinated to AK.

The largest group that refused to join AK was the pro-Soviet and communist Armia Ludowa
Armia Ludowa
Armia Ludowa was a communist partisan force set up by the Polish Workers' Party during World War II. Its aims were to support the military of the Soviet Union against German forces and aid the creation of a pro-Soviet communist government in Poland...

 (AL), which at its height in 1944 numbered 30,000 people.
As a result, individual AK units varied significantly in their political outlooks (notably in their attitude towards ethnic minorities or the Soviets).

Headquarters


AK's Headquarters was divided into five sections, two bureaus and several other specialized units:
  • Section I: Organizations - organization, planning, personnel, justice, religion
  • Section II: Information and Espionage - espionage and counterespionage
  • Section III: Operations and Training - coordination, planning, preparing for the nationwide uprising
  • Section IV: Logistics - information management (ex. maps), supplies
  • Section V: Communications - communication (including with the Western Allies), air drops
  • Bureau of Information and Propaganda
    Bureau of Information and Propaganda
    The Bureau of Information and Propaganda of the Headquarters of Związek Walki Zbrojnej, later of Armia Krajowa - in short: BIP) a conspiracy department created in spring 1940 during the German occupation of Poland, inside the Związek Walki Zbrojnej, then of the Supreme Command of Armia Krajowa...

    , sometimes known as Section VI - propaganda
  • Bureau of Finances and Control, sometimes known as Section VII - finances, budget
  • Kedyw
    Kedyw
    Kedyw , was an underground movement - Armia Krajowa organization during World War II, which specialized in active and passive sabotage, propaganda and armed action against Nazi German forces and collaborators.-Operations:...

     (acronym for Kierownictwo Dywersji, Polish for Directorate of Diversion), a highly independent special operations section, responsible for much of the ongoing resistance operations
  • Directorate of Underground Resistance
    Directorate of Underground Resistance
    Directorate of Underground Resistance was one of the agendas of the Polish Underground State created during the World War II. It was created in 1943 from the Directorate of Civil Resistance and Directorate of Covert Resistance...

  • others


The Commanders of AK were subordinated to the Polish commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 (General Inspector of the Armed Forces
General Inspector of the Armed Forces
General Inspector of the Armed Forces was an office created in Poland in 1926. The General Inspector reported directly to the President, and was not responsible to the Sejm or the government. In the event of war, the General Inspector was to become the Commander-in-Chief.-See also:*Captain...

) of the Government in Exile in the military chain of command
Chain of Command
Chain of Command may refer to:* Chain of command, in a military context, the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed* "Chain of Command" , the fifth episode of the first season of Beast Wars...

 and responsible to the Government Delegate's at Home
Government Delegate's Office at Home
The Government Delegation for Poland was an agency of the Polish Government in Exile during World War II. It was the highest authority of the Polish Secret State in occupied Poland and was headed by the Government Delegate for Poland, a de facto deputy Polish Prime Minister.The Government...

 in the civilian chain of command. Stefan Rowecki
Stefan Rowecki
Stefan Paweł Rowecki was a Polish general, journalist and the leader of the Armia Krajowa. He was murdered by the Gestapo in prison, probably on the direct order of Heinrich Himmler.-Life:Rowecki was born in Piotrków Trybunalski...

 (pseudonym Grot, or "Arrowhead"), served as the AK's first commander until his arrest in 1943; Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski
Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski
General Count Tadeusz Komorowski , better known by the name Bór-Komorowski was a Polish military leader....

 commanded from July 1943 until his capture in September 1944 and Leopold Okulicki
Leopold Okulicki
General Leopold Okulicki was a General of the Polish Army and the last commander of the anti-German underground Home Army during World War II. He was murdered after the war by the Soviet NKVD....

, pseudonym Niedzwiadek ("Bear Cub") led the organisation in its final days.

Regional



Geographically, AK was divided into regional branches or areas (obszar). Below the branches (or areas) were the subregions (or subareas) (podokręg) or independent areas (okręgi samodzielne). Smaller organizational units involved ; inspectorates (inspektorat), of which there were eighty-nine (89) and districts (obwód), of which there were two hundred eighty (280, as of early 1944). Overall, AK regional structure resembled to a significant extent Polish interwar administration division, with okręg being similar to Polish voivodeship
Voivodeships of Poland
The voivodeship, or province, called in Polish województwo , has been a high-level administrative subdivision of Poland since the 14th century....

 (see also Administrative division of Second Polish Republic
Administrative division of Second Polish Republic
Administrative division of Second Polish Republic became an issue immediately after Poland regained independence in the aftermath of the First World War, 1918...

).

There were three to five areas: Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 (Obszar Warszawski, with some sources differentiating between left- and right-bank areas - Obszar Warszawski prawo- i lewobrzeżny), Western (Obszar Zachodni in the Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

 and Poznań
Poznan
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

 regions), South-Eastern (Obszar Południowo-Wschodni in the Lwów area); sources vary on whether there was a North-Eastern Area (centered in Białystok - Obszar Białystocki) or whether Białystok was classified as an independent area (Okręg samodzielny Białystok).


From 1943 AK started to recreate the organization of the pre-war Polish Army, with its various units being designated as platoons, battalions, regiments, brigades and divisions and operational group
Operational Group
Operational Group was the highest level of tactical division of the Polish Army before and during World War II and the Invasion of Poland. It was corps-sized, although various Operational Groups varied in size....

s.

Weapons and equipment


As a clandestine army operating in a country occupied by the enemy, separated by over a thousand kilometers from any friendly territory, the AK faced unique challenges in acquiring arms and equipment. AK was able to overcome these difficulties to some extent and put tens of thousands of armed soldiers into the field. Nevertheless, the difficult conditions meant that only infantry forces armed with light weapons could be fielded. Any use of artillery, armor or aircraft was impossible (except for a few instances during the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

, like the Kubuś
Kubus
The term Kubu is a Malay exonym ascribed to mobile, animist peoples who live throughout the lowland forests of Southeast Sumatra. In the Malay language, the word Kubu can mean defensive fortification, entrenchment, or a place of refuge...

 armored car). Even these light infantry units were as a rule armed with a mixture of weapons of various types, usually in quantities sufficient to arm only a fraction of a unit's soldiers.

In contrast, their opponents - the German armed forces and their allies – were almost universally supplied with plentiful arms and ammunition, and could count on a full array of support forces. Unit for unit, its German opponents enjoyed a crushing material superiority over the AK. This severely restricted the kind of operations that it could successfully undertake.

The arms and equipment for Armia Krajowa mostly came from four sources: arms buried by the Polish armies on the battlefields after the Invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

 in 1939, arms purchased or captured from the Germans and their allies, arms clandestinely manufactured by Armia Krajowa itself, and arms received from Allied air drops.


From the arms caches hidden in 1939, the AK obtained: 614 heavy machine guns, 1,193 light machine guns, 33,052 rifles, 6,732 pistols, 28 antitank light field guns, 25 antitank rifles and 43,154 hand grenades. However, because of inadequate preservation, which had to be improvised in the chaos of the September campaign, most of these guns were in poor condition. Of those that were hidden in the ground and dug up in 1944 during preparation for Operation Tempest, only 30% were usable.

Sometimes arms were purchased on the black market from German soldiers or their allies or stolen from German supply depots or transports. Purchases were made by individual units and sometimes by individual soldiers. As Germany's prospects for victory diminished and the morale in German units dropped, the number of soldiers willing to sell their weapons correspondingly increased and thus made this source more important. All such purchases were highly risky, as the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 was well aware of this black market in arms and tried to check it by setting up sting operations. For the most part this trade was limited to personal weapons, but occasionally light and heavy machine guns could also be purchased. It was much easier to trade with Italian and Hungarian units stationed in Poland, which more willingly sold their arms to the Polish underground as long as they could conceal this trade from the Germans.

The efforts to capture weapons from Germans also proved highly successful. Raids were conducted on trains carrying equipment to the front, as well as guardhouses and gendarmerie posts. Sometimes weapons were taken from individual German soldiers accosted in the street. During the Warsaw Uprising, the AK even managed to capture several German armored vehicles.
Arms were clandestinely manufactured by the AK in its own secret workshops, and also by its members working in German armament factories. In this way the AK was able to procure submachine guns (copies of British Sten
Sten
The STEN was a family of British 9 mm submachine guns used extensively by British and Commonwealth forces throughout World War II and the Korean War...

, indigenous Błyskawica and KIS
KIS (weapon)
Kis was the name of a Polish machine pistol from the time of the Second World War. It was designed and manufactured by engineers in Jan Piwnik's "Ponury" guerrilla unit that was operating in Holy Cross Mountains region...

), pistols (Vis
Vis (weapon)
Vis is a 9 mm caliber, single-action, semi-automatic pistol...

), flamethrowers, explosive devices, road mines and hand grenades (Filipinka
Filipinka
Filipinka was an unofficial, yet common name for the ET wz. 40 hand grenade produced for the Armia Krajowa during World War II in occupied Poland....

 and Sidolówka
Sidolówka
Sidolówka was an unofficial, yet common, name of the R wz. 42 hand grenade, produced by the Polish resistance organization Armia Krajowa in occupied Poland during World War II....

). Hundreds of people were involved in this manufacturing effort. AK did not produce its own ammunition, but relied on supplies stolen by Polish workers from German-run factories.

The final source of supply were Allied air drops. This was the only way to obtain more exotic but highly useful equipment such as plastic explosives or antitank weapons (PIAT
PIAT
The Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank was a British hand-held anti-tank weapon developed during the Second World War. The PIAT was designed in 1942 in response to the British Army's need for a more effective infantry anti-tank weapon, and entered service in 1943.The PIAT was based on the spigot...

). During the war 485 air drop missions from the West (about half of which was flown by Polish airmen) delivered about 600 tons of supplies for Polish resistance. Besides equipment, the planes also parachuted highly qualified instructors (the Cichociemni
Cichociemni
Cichociemni were elite special-operations paratroops of the Polish Home Army of the Polish Army in exile, created in Great Britain during World War II to operate in occupied Poland.-The name:...

), of whom 316 were inserted into Poland during the war. Due to the large distance from bases in Britain and the Mediterranean, and lukewarm political support, the airdrop
Airdrop
An airdrop is a type of airlift, developed during World War II to resupply otherwise inaccessible troops, who themselves may have been airborne forces. In some cases, it is used to refer to the airborne assault itself. Early airdrops were conducted by dropping or pushing padded bundles from...

s were only a fraction of those carried out in support of French, Yugoslavian, Greek or other resistance movements.

In the end despite their efforts most of AK forces had inadequate weaponry. In 1944, when AK numbers where at their peak strength (200,000-600,000 according to various estimates), AK had enough weaponry only for about 32,000 soldiers. On 1 August 1944 when Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

 started, only one sixth of AK fighters in Warsaw were armed.

Interaction with the Jewish community and Jewish resistance




In February 1942, the Operational Command of the AK Information and Propaganda Office set up the Section for Jewish Affairs, directed by Henryk Woliński
Henryk Wolinski
Henryk Woliński was a member of the Polish resistance movement in World War II, specifically the Armia Krajowa , where he reached the rank of colonel. He was the head of the "Jewish Department" in AK's Bureau of Information and Propaganda. His codename was "Wacław". He was recognized by Yad Vashem...

. This section collected data about the situation of the Jewish population, drafted reports and sent information to London. It also centralized contacts between Polish and Jewish military organizations. The AK also supported the Relief Council for Jews in Poland (codenamed Żegota
Zegota
"Żegota" , also known as the "Konrad Żegota Committee", was a codename for the Polish Council to Aid Jews , an underground organization of Polish resistance in German-occupied Poland from 1942 to 1945....

) as well as the formation of Jewish resistance under Nazi rule organizations in Poland. One member of the AK, Witold Pilecki
Witold Pilecki
Witold Pilecki was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army resistance group and a member of the Home Army...

, was the only person to volunteer for imprisonment in Auschwitz. The information he gathered proved crucial in convincing Western Allies about the fate of the Jewish population
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

. In 1942, AK sent Jan Karski
Jan Karski
Jan Karski was a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter and later scholar at Georgetown University. In 1942 and 1943 Karski reported to the Polish government in exile and the Western Allies on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and...

 on a secret mission to personally carry the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to the mostly disbelieving Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

. Before leaving, Karski was visited by two leaders of the Jewish underground who had managed to briefly leave the Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

.

According to Professor Antony Polonsky, the commander of the AK General Stefan Grot-Roweski made clear in an order of 10 November 1942, that they did not regard the Jews 'as part of our nation', and that action was not to be taken to defend them if it endangered other AK objectives.

The AK provided the Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

 with some firearms, ammunition and explosives. Jewish fighters from ŻZW received only from PKB: 2 heavy machine guns, 4 light machine guns, 21 submachine guns, 30 rifles, 50 pistols, and over 400 grenades. During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp....

 in 1943, AK units tried twice to blow up the ghetto wall, carried out holding actions outside the ghetto walls, and together with GL
Gwardia Ludowa
Gwardia Ludowa or GL was a communist armed organisation in Poland, organised by the Soviet created Polish Workers Party. It was the largest military organization which refused to join the structures of the Polish Underground State. It was created in 1942 and in 1944 it was incorporated by the...

 forces sporadically attacked German sentry units near the ghetto walls. Security Cadre (Kadra Bezpieczeństwa or KB), one of the organizations subordinate to the AK, under the command of Henryk Iwański
Henryk Iwanski
Henryk Iwański , nom de guerre Bystry, was a member of the Polish resistance during WWII. He is known for leading one of the most daring actions of the Armia Krajowa in support of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising...

 took a direct part in fights inside the ghetto together with Jewish fighters from ŻZW and ŻOB
Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa
The Jewish Combat Organization was a World War II resistance movement, which was instrumental in engineering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. ŻOB took part in a number of other resistance activities as well...

. During the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

 a year later, Batalion Zośka
Batalion Zoska
- Order of battle of the battalion :-Bibliography:*"Pamiętniki żołnierzy baonu Zośka", Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1986 ISBN 83-10-08703-9....

, one of the most notable units of the Uprising, liberated hundreds of Jews from the Warsaw Concentration Camp
Warsaw concentration camp
The Warsaw concentration camp was an associated group of the German Nazi concentration camps, possibly including an extermination camp, located in German-occupied Warsaw, capital city of Poland...

.

While AK was largely untainted with collaboration with Nazis during the Holocaust, some historians have asserted that because of antisemitism AK was reluctant to accept Jews into its ranks. This may have been due to the leftist leanings of the ŻOB. However many Jews, among many others Marek Edelman
Marek Edelman
Marek Edelman was a Jewish-Polish political and social activist and cardiologist.Before World War II, he was a General Jewish Labour Bund activist. During the war he co-founded the Jewish Combat Organization. He took part in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, becoming its leader after the death of...

, Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum
Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum
Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum , nom de guerre "Kowal" was an officer in the Polish Army and a commander of the Jewish Military Union , during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising In 1939 Apfelbaum was a Lieutenant in the...

, Henryk Chmielewski, Alicja Gołod-Gołębiowska  and Leon Kopelman (members of the famous Zośka Battalion
Batalion Zoska
- Order of battle of the battalion :-Bibliography:*"Pamiętniki żołnierzy baonu Zośka", Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1986 ISBN 83-10-08703-9....

), Stanisław "Shlomo" Aronson
Stanisław Aronson
Stanisław Aronson is a Polish Jew and an Israeli citizen, as well as a former officer of the Polish Home Army with a rank of Lieutenant...

 in rank of Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 was also a member of the elite Kedyw
Kedyw
Kedyw , was an underground movement - Armia Krajowa organization during World War II, which specialized in active and passive sabotage, propaganda and armed action against Nazi German forces and collaborators.-Operations:...

 unit, "Kolegium A", Ludwik Widerszal, Adolf Berman
Adolf Berman
-Biography:Born in Warsaw under the Russian Empire , Berman attended the University of Warsaw, where he earned a PhD in philosophy...

 or Calel Perechodnik
Calel Perechodnik
Calel Perechodnik was a Polish Jew who joined the Jewish Ghetto Police in the Otwock Ghetto during the Nazi German occupation of Poland...

, were part of the AK, while others, such as Szmul Zygielbojm
Szmul Zygielbojm
Szmul Zygielbojm was a Jewish-Polish socialist politician, leader of the Bund, and a member of the National Council of the Polish government in exile...

, held top leadership positions in the National Council of the Polish government in exile
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 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

 to which the AK answered. Over the years, hundreds of Jews (such as Julian Aleksandrowicz
Julian Aleksandrowicz
Julian Aleksandrowicz was a Polish medical professional, professor of medicine, a notable specialist on leukemia. He is known for having developed concepts of comprehensive psychotherapy of persons suffering from somatic diseases, as well as of the ecological prevention of cancer and...

) had joined the AK (particularly its Socialist Fighting Organization subsidiary.

Polish resistance
Polish resistance movement in World War II
The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish defence against the Nazi occupation was an important part of the European...

 in German-occupied Poland founded also in September 1942 "The Council to Aid Jews Żegota
Zegota
"Żegota" , also known as the "Konrad Żegota Committee", was a codename for the Polish Council to Aid Jews , an underground organization of Polish resistance in German-occupied Poland from 1942 to 1945....

" 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. Most known activist of Żegota was Irena Sendler
Irena Sendler
Irena Sendler was a Polish Catholic social worker who served in the Polish Underground and the Żegota resistance organization in German-occupied Warsaw during World War II...

head of the children's division who saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

, providing them false documents, and sheltering them in individual and group children's homes outside the Ghetto. Many members of Home Army was awarded Polish Righteous among the Nations
Polish Righteous among the Nations
Polish citizens have the world's highest count of individuals awarded medals of Righteous among the Nations, given by the State of Israel to non-Jews who saved Jews from extermination during the Holocaust...

 medals after war: Władysław Bartoszewski, Zofia Kossak-Szczucka
Zofia Kossak-Szczucka
Zofia Kossak-Szczucka was a Polish writer and World War II resistance fighter. She co-founded the wartime Polish organization Żegota, set up to assist Poland's Jews in escaping the Holocaust...

, Aleksander Kamiński
Aleksander Kaminski
Aleksander Kamiński was a Polish school teacher, form tutor, author of Polish Cub Scout and Brownie method, writer, historian, Scoutmaster , and wartime resistance leader under the codenames: Kamyk, Dąbrowski, J...

, Jan Dobraczyński
Jan Dobraczynski
Jan Dobraczyński was a Polish writer and publicist. During the Second Polish Republic, he was a supporter of the Stronnictwo Narodowe and Catholic movements...

, Henryk Woliński
Henryk Wolinski
Henryk Woliński was a member of the Polish resistance movement in World War II, specifically the Armia Krajowa , where he reached the rank of colonel. He was the head of the "Jewish Department" in AK's Bureau of Information and Propaganda. His codename was "Wacław". He was recognized by Yad Vashem...

, Mieczysław Fogg and others.

On the other hand, instances of AK individuals or groups engaging in violence against Jews have been reported, albeit disputed. AK members' attitudes towards Jews varied widely from unit to unit. According to some sources the bulk of antisemitic behavior can be ascribed to only a small minority of AK members, often affiliated with the far-right endecja
Endecja
National Democracy was a Polish right-wing nationalist political movement active from the latter 19th century to the end of the Second Polish Republic in 1939. A founder and principal ideologue was Roman Dmowski...

 spectrum of the Polish political scene, whose National Armed Forces organization was only partially incorporated into AK. To the extent that wartime circumstances permitted the leadership of the AK tried to punish instances of violence, on several occasions issuing and carrying out death sentences against perpetrators. Nonetheless some Jewish sources have characterized Armia Krajowa as anti-Semitic. The issue remains a controversial one and is subject to a difficult debate.

Interaction with the Lithuanian Nazi collaborators




Although Lithuanian
Resistance in Lithuania during World War II
During World War II, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union , Nazi Germany , 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...

 and Polish resistance movements had in principle the same enemies – Nazi Germany and Soviet Union – they started cooperating only in 1944-1945, after the Soviet re-occupation, when they both fought against the Soviet occupiers. The main obstacle in forming an earlier alliance was a territorial dispute centering on Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 (see Żeligowski's Mutiny
Zeligowski's Mutiny
Żeligowski's Mutiny was a sham mutiny led by Polish General Lucjan Żeligowski in October 1920, which resulted in the creation of the short-lived Republic of Central Lithuania. Polish Chief of State Józef Piłsudski had surreptitiously ordered Żeligowski to carry out the operation, and revealed the...

 for background).

Some Lithuanians, encouraged by Germany's vague promises of autonomy
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

,
cooperated with the Nazis in their actions against Poles during the German occupation. In autumn 1943, Armia Krajowa started retaliation operations against the Lithuanian Nazi supporters, primarily the Lithuanian Secret Police,
and killed hundreds of mostly Lithuanian policemen and other collaborators during the first half of 1944. In response, Lithuanian police, who had already murdered hundreds of Polish civilians since 1941 (see Ponary massacre
Ponary massacre
The Ponary massacre was the mass-murder of 100,000 people, mostly Polish Jews, by German SD and SS and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators Sonderkommando collaborators...

),
intensified their operations against the Poles. In May 1944 in the battle of Murowana Oszmianka
Battle of Murowana Oszmianka
The Battle of Murowana Oszmianka of May 13–May 14, 1944 was the largest clash between the Polish resistance movement organization Home Army and the Nazi Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force ; a Lithuanian volunteer security force subordinated to Nazi Germany...

 AK dealt a significant blow to the Lithuanian Nazi auxiliaries of the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force. What resulted was a low-level civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 between anti-Nazi Poles and pro-Nazi Lithuanians, encouraged by the German authorities, which culminated in the massacres of Polish and Lithuanian civilians in June 1944 in the Glitiškės
Glinciszki massacre
Glinciszki massacre refers to a mass murder that occurred on 20 June 1944 in the village of Glitiškės . In the massacre, thirty-seven mostly Polish villagers were killed by Nazi subordinated Lithuanian policemen retaliating for the death of four policemen that occurred during a fight with element...

 (Glinciszki) and Dubingiai
Dubingiai massacre
The Dubingiai massacre was the mass murder of between 20 and 27 Lithuanian civilians in the town of Dubingiai on 23 June 1944, by a unit of the Armia Krajowa, a Polish resistance group, in a reprisal action for the Glinciszki massacre of 20 June.-Background:Polish-Lithuanian relations during the...

 (Dubinki) villages.

The postwar assessment of AK's activities in Lithuania has been a matter of controversy. Its activities in Lithuania were investigated by a special Lithuanian government commission in 1993. Only in recent years have Polish and Lithuanian historians been able to reach some compromises, even if they still differ in the interpretation of many events.

Interaction with Red Army and Soviet partisans




Armia Krajowa relations with the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 became increasingly poor over the course of the war. Not only did the Soviet Union invade Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland (1939)
The 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland was a Soviet military operation that started without a formal declaration of war on 17 September 1939, during the early stages of World War II. Sixteen days after Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union did so from the east...

 following the German invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

 in 1939, but even after the Germans invaded Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 the Soviet Union saw Polish partisans loyal to the government in exile as more of an enemy to their plans to take control of post-war Poland, than as a potential ally. On orders from Stavka
Stavka
Stavka was the term used to refer to a command element of the armed forces from the time of the Kievan Rus′, more formally during the history of Imperial Russia as administrative staff and General Headquarters during late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and those of the Soviet Union...

 sent on June 22, 1943, Soviet partisans engaged Polish partisans in combat, and it has been claimed that they attacked the Poles more often than they did the Germans.

In late 1943, the actions of Soviet partisans, who were ordered to liquidate the AK forces, even resulted in a limited amount of uneasy cooperation between some units of AK and German forces. While AK still treated Germans as the enemy and conducted various operations against them, when Germans offered AK arms and provisions to be used against the Soviet partisans, some Polish units in the Nowogródek and Wilno decided to accept them. However, any such arrangements were purely tactical and did not evidence the type of ideological collaboration as shown by the Vichy regime in France or the Quisling regime
Quisling regime
The Quisling regime, or the Quisling government are common names used to refer to the collaborationist government led by Vidkun Quisling in occupied Norway during the Second World War. The official name of the regime from 1 February 1942 until its dissolution in May 1945 was Nasjonale regjering...

 in Norway. The Poles main motivation was to acquire intelligence on Germans and to acquire much needed equipment. There are no known joint Polish-German actions, and the Germans were unsuccessful in their attempt to turn the Poles toward fighting exclusively against Soviet partisans. Further, most of such collaboration of local commanders with the Germans was condemned by AK headquarters. Tadeusz Piotrowski
Tadeusz Piotrowski (sociologist)
Tadeusz Piotrowski or Thaddeus Piotrowski is a Polish-American sociologist. He is a Professor of Sociology in the Social Science Division of the University of New Hampshire at Manchester in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he lives....

 quotes Joseph Rothschild
Joseph Rothschild
Joseph Rothschild was an American Jewish professor of history and political science at Columbia University, specializing in Central European and Eastern European history....

 saying "The Polish Home Army was by and large untainted by collaboration" and adds that "the honor of AK as a whole is beyond reproach."

With the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 entering Polish territories in 1944, AK established an uneasy truce with the Soviets. Even then, the main forces of the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 and the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 conducted operations against the AK partisans, including during or directly after the Polish Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest was a series of uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army , the dominant force in the Polish resistance....

, which was designed by the Poles to be a joint Polish-Soviet action against the retreating Germans and to establish Polish claims to those territories. AK helped Soviet units with scouting or organizing uprisings and helping to liberate various cities (ex. Operation Ostra Brama, Lwów Uprising
Lwów Uprising
The Lwów Uprising was the armed struggle started by the Polish resistance movement organization Polish Home Army against the Nazi occupiers in Lviv, during World War II. It began on July 23, 1944 as a part of a plan of all-national uprising codenamed Operation Tempest. The uprising lasted until...

), only to find that immediately afterwards AK troops were arrested, imprisoned – or even executed. Unknown to the Poles, Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's aim to ensure that an independent Poland would never reemerge in the postwar period made the Operation Tempest idea fatally flawed from the beginning.

Soviet forces continued to engage the elements of AK long after the war. Many AK soldiers continued fight after World War II in anti-Soviet Polish underground, known as the cursed soldiers
Cursed soldiers
The cursed soldiers is a name applied to a variety of Polish resistance movements formed in the later stages of World War II and afterwards. Created by some members of the Polish Secret State, these clandestine organizations continued their armed struggle against the Stalinist government of Poland...

.

Interaction with Ukrainian partisans and Nazi collaborators


Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) of Stepan Bandera
Stepan Bandera
Stepan Andriyovych Bandera was a Ukrainian politician and one of the leaders of Ukrainian national movement in Western Ukraine , who headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists...

, a Ukrainian nationalist force and the political arm of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists is a Ukrainian political organization which as a movement originally was created in 1929 in Western Ukraine . The OUN accepted violence as an acceptable tool in the fight against foreign and domestic enemies particularly Poland and Russia...

 (OUN), fighting against the Germans, the Soviets and the Poles – all three seen as occupiers of Ukraine – decided in 1943 to direct most of their attacks against the Poles. Bandera and his followers came to the conclusion that the war would end with the exhaustion of both Germany and the Soviet Union, and thus the Poles, which also laid claims to the territories of East Galicia (seen by Ukrainians as Western Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, and Poles as Eastern Poland
Kresy
The Polish term Kresy refers to a land considered by Poles as historical eastern provinces of their country. Today, it makes western Ukraine, western Belarus, as well as eastern Lithuania, with such major cities, as Lviv, Vilnius, and Hrodna. This territory belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian...

), had to be weakened before the Polish state could rise again. The collaboration of some Ukrainian groups with Nazi Germany (although declining in 1943) had discredited Ukrainian partisans as potential Polish allies; Polish pretensions to restore the borders of pre-war Poland were opposed by the Ukrainians.

The OUN decided to attack Polish civilians who constituted about a third of the population of the disputed territories. The OUN equated Ukrainian independence with ethnic homogeneity; the Polish presence had to be removed completely. By February 1943 OUN started a deliberate campaign of murdering Polish civilians. OUN troops targeted Polish villages, leading to the formation of Polish self-defence units (ex. Przebraże Defence
Przebraze Defence
The Przebraże Defence was the World War II defence of Przebraże, a Polish settlement, located in Lutsk county, Volhynian Voivodeship, near the village of Troscianiec. Between 1919 and 1939, the settlement belonged to the Second Polish Republic; it exists no more.-Location:The Przebraże settlement...

) and fights between Armia Krajowa and OUN. The Germans encouraged both sides against each other. Erich Koch
Erich Koch
Erich Koch was a Gauleiter of the Nazi Party in East Prussia from 1928 until 1945. Between 1941 and 1945 he was the Chief of Civil Administration of Bezirk Bialystok. During this period, he was also the Reichskommissar in Reichskommissariat Ukraine from 1941 until 1943...

 once said: "We have to do everything possible so that a Pole, while meeting a Ukrainian, would be willing to kill him and conversely, a Ukrainian would be willing to kill a Pole"; a German commissioner from Sarny
Sarny
Sarny translated as Deer, is a small city in the Rivne Oblast of western Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Sarny Raion , and is a major railway node on the Sluch River.The current estimated population is 27,700....

, when local Poles complained about massacres, answered: "You want Sikorski, the Ukrainians want Bandera
Stepan Bandera
Stepan Andriyovych Bandera was a Ukrainian politician and one of the leaders of Ukrainian national movement in Western Ukraine , who headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists...

. Fight each other." In massacres of Poles in Volhynia
Massacres of Poles in Volhynia
The Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia were part of an ethnic cleansing operation carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army West in the Nazi occupied regions of the Eastern Galicia , and UPA North in Volhynia , beginning in March 1943 and lasting until the end of...

 in spring and summer 1943 at least 40,000 Poles were killed; the death toll would rise in the following year although by that time Polish resistance would stiffen.

The Polish government in exile in London were taken by surprise; it had not expected a Ukrainian anti-Polish action of such magnitude. There is no evidence that the Polish government in exile contemplated a general policy of revenge against the Ukrainians but local Poles, including commanders of AK units,would engage in various retaliations. Polish partisans attacked OUN, assassinated prominent Ukrainians and carried out operations against Ukrainian villages. According to Ukrainian estimates, the AK may have killed in retaliation as many as 20,000 Ukrainians in Volhynia. By winter 1943 and spring 1944 AK was preparing for Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest
Operation Tempest was a series of uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army , the dominant force in the Polish resistance....

; one of the goals of the operation was to reinforce Polish position in Volhynia. Most notably, in January 1944 the 27th Infantry Division of Armia Krajowa, numbering 7,000, was formed, and tasked with defense of Polish civilians, engaging OUN and the German troops. By mid-1944 the region was occupied by the Soviet Red Army; Polish partisans were disbanded or went underground, as did most of the Ukrainians; both would however increasingly concentrate on Soviets as their primary enemy – and both would ultimately be unsuccessful.

See also

  • Polish resistance movement in World War II
    Polish resistance movement in World War II
    The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish defence against the Nazi occupation was an important part of the European...

  • Polish contribution to World War II
    Polish contribution to World War II
    The European theater of World War II opened with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. The Polish Army was defeated after over a month of fighting. After Poland had been overrun, a government-in-exile , armed forces, and an intelligence service were established outside of Poland....

  • Szare Szeregi
    Szare Szeregi
    "Gray Ranks" was a codename for the underground Polish Scouting Association during World War II.The wartime organisation was created on 27 September 1939, actively resisted and fought German occupation in Warsaw until 18 January 1945, and contributed to the resistance operations of the Polish...

  • Western betrayal
    Western betrayal
    Western betrayal, also called Yalta betrayal, refers to a range of critical views concerning the foreign policies of several Western countries between approximately 1919 and 1968 regarding Eastern Europe and Central Europe...

  • Cursed soldiers
    Cursed soldiers
    The cursed soldiers is a name applied to a variety of Polish resistance movements formed in the later stages of World War II and afterwards. Created by some members of the Polish Secret State, these clandestine organizations continued their armed struggle against the Stalinist government of Poland...


Further reading

  • Norman Davies
    Norman Davies
    Professor Ivor Norman Richard Davies FBA, FRHistS is a leading English historian of Welsh descent, noted for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland, and the United Kingdom.- Academic career :...

    , Rising '44, Macmillan, 2003.
  • Richard Lukasz, Forgotten Holocaust, The Poles under German Occupation 1939-1944 New York, 1997.
  • Marek Ney-Krwawicz, The Polish Home Army, 1939-1945, London, 2001.
  • Roger Moorhouse
    Roger Moorhouse
    Roger Moorhouse is a British historian and author. Born in Stockport, Cheshire, he was raised in Hertfordshire and attended Berkhamsted School. Inspired to return to education by the East European Revolutions of 1989, Moorhouse enrolled in the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of the...

    , Killing Hitler, Jonathan Cape, 2006. ISBN 0-224-07121-1
  • Michael Alfred Peszke
    Michael Alfred Peszke
    Michael Alfred Peszke is a Polish-American psychiatrist and historian of the Polish Armed Forces in World War II.-Life:...

    , Polish Underground Army, the Western Allies, and the Failure of Strategic Unity in World War II, McFarland & Company, 2004, ISBN 0-7864-2009-X Google Print
  • Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski
    Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski
    General Count Tadeusz Komorowski , better known by the name Bór-Komorowski was a Polish military leader....

    .Secret Army. Macmillan Company, New York 1951. ISBN 0-89839-082-6.
  • Jonathan Walker, Poland Alone: Britain, SOE and the Collapse of the Polish Resistance, 1944, The History Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-86227-474-7

External links