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political world

The Polish resistance home army, 1939-1945

Jan Peczkis|Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent English-Language Summary of the Polish-Guerrilla Armia Krajowa (AK, or A.K.) and Its Uniqueness, July 20, 2010 This review is from: The Polish resistance home army, 1939-1945 (Paperback) The AK (or A.K.) was not only the largest (or second largest, after Yugoslavia) anti-Nazi European guerrilla movement, but was also unique in several ways. It boasted an entire Underground state apparatus (p. vii) and had the only Underground photoengraving facility in the whole of German-occupied Europe. (p. 154). Its serial Underground manufacture of British "Sten" guns (at least 1,000 of them), based on original plans, was unprecedented in the whole of underground Europe. (p. 99).

Many thousands of diversionary-sabotage actions were conducted by the AK, and these are tabulated according to type of action. (p. 166). Specific guerrilla actions against the Germans are recounted in some detail (p. 52-on), as are assassinations of selected German officials. The origin of the PW ("anchor": Polska Walczaca, Fighting Poland) symbol of the AK is described. (pp. 150-151). Operation Wachlarz ("Fan") is featured (p.39-on), as is the capture of a nearly-intact fallen V2 rocket. (p. 98). Owing to the fact that the AK received a pittance of airdrops from the Allies, its own Underground workshops manufactured some 350,000 grenades and 70 tons of explosive. (p. 99).

In the Kresy, the AK also defended Polish villagers from the Ukrainian fascist-separatist OUN-UPA genocide (p. 46). It also fought-off attempts by Soviet guerrillas, operating in German-occupied northeastern Poland, to destroy it. (pp. 46-47, 57).

An AK communiqué (Biuletyn Informacyjny of February 11, 1943) has been misquoted as evidence of the Polish Underground's indifference to the Jews. It was no such thing. The full context, which I include in my quote below, makes it obvious that the communiqué was not intended to downplay Jewish deaths in any way, but to forestall panic among the Poles. It describes measured acts of guerrilla resistance against the Germans, and condemns Communist attempts to stir up the Polish population into premature, suicidal uprisings, but adds: "They [the Polish people] are also incited by our own incessant gossiping, which inflates every instance of terror into an event of catastrophic dimension. Those who panic and those who gossip are unwittingly cooperating with the enemy, helping him to induce a feeling of despair in which the extreme depression and passive fatalism of some contrasts with the urge to rash insurgent madness in others...Of course, should the barbaric enemy attempt to destroy the Polish Nation by the same methods that have been employed against the Jews, then the die will have been cast and orders to fight in defense of the Nation shall be issued immediately. But this moment will be specified not by panic-struck gossips but by the Commander of the Home Forces...Let our nerves, weakened by three years of occupation, not take the upper hand over our reason." (pp. 162-163).

The reader must keep things in perspective. Jewish resistance was greatly delayed by the fact that later-doomed Jews were unwilling to die prematurely fighting on behalf of the already-dead Jews. Likewise, the later-doomed Poles were unwilling to die prematurely fighting on behalf of the already-dead Jews. Finally, complaints that the Polish Underground did not launch a suicidal nationwide uprising in an attempt to stop the mass extermination of Jews overlook the fact that neither did it order a suicidal nationwide uprising in an attempt to stop the murder of millions of Poles.

As the German armies were being driven out of Poland by the Red Army, the AK came out in open combat on behalf of the Soviets. Ney-Krwawicz has a fine description of Operation Burza (Tempest), the Warsaw Uprising, continued combat after the Uprising, etc. With the impending Soviet-imposition of Communism on Poland, General Leopold Okulicki ordered the disbanding of the AK on January 19, 1945. (p. 139).



       
 

Many thousands of diversionary-sabotage actions were conducted by the AK, and these are tabulated according to type of action. (p. 166). Specific guerrilla actions against the Germans are recounted in some detail (p. 52-on), as are assassinations of selected German officials. The origin of the PW ("anchor": Polska Walczaca, Fighting Poland) symbol of the AK is described. (pp. 150-151). Operation Wachlarz ("Fan") is featured (p.39-on), as is the capture of a nearly-intact fallen V2 rocket. (p. 98). Owing to the fact that the AK received a pittance of airdrops from the Allies, its own Underground workshops manufactured some 350,000 grenades and 70 tons of explosive. (p. 99).

In the Kresy, the AK also defended Polish villagers from the Ukrainian fascist-separatist OUN-UPA genocide (p. 46). It also fought-off attempts by Soviet guerrillas, operating in German-occupied northeastern Poland, to destroy it. (pp. 46-47, 57).

An AK communiqué (Biuletyn Informacyjny of February 11, 1943) has been misquoted as evidence of the Polish Underground's indifference to the Jews. It was no such thing. The full context, which I include in my quote below, makes it obvious that the communiqué was not intended to downplay Jewish deaths in any way, but to forestall panic among the Poles. It describes measured acts of guerrilla resistance against the Germans, and condemns Communist attempts to stir up the Polish population into premature, suicidal uprisings, but adds: "They [the Polish people] are also incited by our own incessant gossiping, which inflates every instance of terror into an event of catastrophic dimension. Those who panic and those who gossip are unwittingly cooperating with the enemy, helping him to induce a feeling of despair in which the extreme depression and passive fatalism of some contrasts with the urge to rash insurgent madness in others...Of course, should the barbaric enemy attempt to destroy the Polish Nation by the same methods that have been employed against the Jews, then the die will have been cast and orders to fight in defense of the Nation shall be issued immediately. But this moment will be specified not by panic-struck gossips but by the Commander of the Home Forces...Let our nerves, weakened by three years of occupation, not take the upper hand over our reason." (pp. 162-163).

The reader must keep things in perspective. Jewish resistance was greatly delayed by the fact that later-doomed Jews were unwilling to die prematurely fighting on behalf of the already-dead Jews. Likewise, the later-doomed Poles were unwilling to die prematurely fighting on behalf of the already-dead Jews. Finally, complaints that the Polish Underground did not launch a suicidal nationwide uprising in an attempt to stop the mass extermination of Jews overlook the fact that neither did it order a suicidal nationwide uprising in an attempt to stop the murder of millions of Poles.

As the German armies were being driven out of Poland by the Red Army, the AK came out in open combat on behalf of the Soviets. Ney-Krwawicz has a fine description of Operation Burza (Tempest), the Warsaw Uprising, continued combat after the Uprising, etc. With the impending Soviet-imposition of Communism on Poland, General Leopold Okulicki ordered the disbanding of the AK on January 19, 1945. (p. 139).
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