Polish Contribution To World War II - Polish Resistance

Polish Resistance

Part of a series on the
Underground State
History of Poland 1939–1945
Authorities Government
Political organizations Major parties
Polish Socialist Party
People's Party
National Party
Labour Party Minor parties
Camp of National Unity
Democratic Party
Jewish Labour Bund
Hashomer Hatzair
Betar (Zionist youth) Opposition
National Radical Camp
Polish Workers' Party
Military organizations Armia Krajowa (AK)
Service for Poland's Victory (SZP)
Armed Struggle (ZWZ)
Szare Szeregi
National Security Corps (PKB) Mostly integrated
with ZWZ-AK
Gwardia Ludowa WRN
Bataliony Chłopskie Partially integrated
with ZWZ-AK
National Military Organization
National Armed Forces
Camp of Fighting Poland
Pomeranian Griffin
Konfederacja Narodu Non-integrated but recognizing authority of ZWZ-AK
Jewish Combat Organization
Jewish Military Union Opposition
Military Lizard Union
Armia Ludowa
Related topics Cultural activities
Education History of Poland
during 1939-1945

The main resistance force in German-occupied Poland was the Armia Krajowa ("Home Army"; abbreviated "AK"), which numbered some 400,000 soldiers at its peak as well as many more sympathizers. Throughout most of the war, AK could be considered one of the three largest resistance movements in the war. The AK coordinated its operations with the exiled Polish Government in London and its activity concentrated on sabotage, diversion and intelligence gathering. Its combat activity was low until 1943 as the army was avoiding suicidal warfare and preserved its very limited resources for later conflicts that sharply increased when the Nazi war machine started to crumble in the wake of the successes of the Red Army in the Eastern Front. Then the AK started a nationwide uprising (Operation Tempest) against Nazi forces. Before that, AK units carried out thousands of raids, intelligence operations, bombed hundreds of railway shipments, participated in many clashes and battles with the German police and Wehrmacht units and conducted tens of thousands of acts of sabotage against German industry The AK also conducted "punitive" operations to assassinate Gestapo officials responsible for Nazi terror. Following the 1941 German attack on the USSR, the AK assisted the Soviet Union's war effort by sabotaging the German advance into Soviet territory and provided intelligence on the deployment and movement of German forces After 1943, its direct combat activity increased sharply. German losses to the Polish partisans averaged 850-1,700 per month in early 1944 compared to about 250-320 per month in 1942.

In addition to the Home Army, there was an underground ultra-nationalist resistance force called Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (NSZ or "National Armed Forces"), with a fiercely anti-communist and chauvinist stance. It participated in fighting German units, winning many skirmishes. From 1943 onwards, some units took part in battling the Gwardia Ludowa, a communist resistance movement. From 1944, the advancing Red Army was also seen as a foreign occupation force, prompting skirmishes with the Soviets as well as Soviet-backed partisans. In the later part of the war, when Soviet partisans started attacking Polish partisans, sympathizers and civilians, all non-communist Polish formations were (to an increasing extent) becoming involved in actions against the Soviets.

The Armia Ludowa, a Soviet proxy fighting force was another resistance group that was unrelated to the Polish Government in Exile, allied instead to the Soviet Union. As of July, 1944 it incorporated a similar organization, the Gwardia Ludowa, and numbered about 6,000 soldiers (although estimates vary).

There were separate resistance groups organized by Polish Jews: the right-wing Żydowski Związek Walki ("Jewish Fighting Union") (ŻZW) and the more Soviet-leaning Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa ("Jewish Combat Organization") (ŻOB). These organisations cooperated little with each other and their relationship with the Polish resistance varied between occasional cooperation (mainly between ZZW and AK) to armed confrontations (mostly between ŻOB and NZS).

Other notable Polish resistance organizations included the Bataliony Chłopskie (BCh), a mostly peasant-based organization allied to the AK. At its height the BCh included 175,000 members.

On the other hand the role of the Polish Police force ('Granatowa Policja') in the General Government (Generalna Gubernia), a semi-state under the full control of Germany remains a debatable issue. There was some co-operation between the Polish Police and the Nazis in persecuting the Jewish community while at the same time some officers secretly supported the underground resistance movement.

There were single instances of military and political co-operation between the Polish ultra-nationalist resistance movement and the Nazis ('Brygada Swietokrzyska', the attempts of professor Wladyslaw Studnicki etc.). Throughout the war the German state was forced to divert a substantial part of its military forces to keep control over Poland:

Number of Wehrmacht and police formations stationed in General Gouvernment
(does not include annexed territories of Poland and parts of Kresy)
Timeperiod Wehrmacht Police and SS

(includes German forces only)

October 1939 550,000 80,000 630,000
April 1940 400,000 70,000 470,000
June 1941 2,000,000

(high number due to imminent invasion of Soviet Union)

50.000 2,050,000
February 1942 300,000 50,000 350,000
April 1943 450,000 60,000 510,000
November 1943 550,000 70,000 620,000
April 1944 500,000 70,000 570,000
September 1944 1,000,000 80,000 1,080,000
Sabotage and diversionary actions of the Union of Armed Combat (ZWZ) and Home Army (AK) from 1 January 1941 to 30 June 1944
Action type Totals
Damaged locomotives 6,930
Delayed repairs to locomotives 803
Derailed transports 732
Transports set on fire 443
Damage to railway wagons 19,058
Blown up railway bridges 38
Disruptions to electricity supplies in the Warsaw grid 638
Army vehicles damaged or destroyed 4,326
Damaged aeroplanes 28
Fuel tanks destroyed 1,167
Fuel destroyed (in tonnes) 4,674
Blocked oil wells 5
Wagons of wood wool destroyed 150
Military stores burned down 130
Disruptions of production in factories 7
Built-in faults in parts for aircraft engines 4,710
Built-in faults into cannon muzzles 203
Built-in faults into artillery projectiles 92,000
Built-in faults into air traffic radio stations 107
Built-in faults into condensers 70,000
Built-in faults into (electro-industrial) lathes 1,700
Damage to important factory machinery 2,872
Various acts of sabotage performed 25,145
Planned assassinations of Germans 5,733

Read more about this topic:  Polish Contribution To World War II

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