THE POLISH RESISTANCE Introduction
When Warsaw fell to the Germans, it seemed to the
world that the Poles were defeated. This was simply
not the case, as Poles went underground to continue
the fight against the Nazis. To have confronted the
enemy directly would have been suicidal, as Poland
was far out-numbered by troops and military
equipment. Neither the invasion by the Soviets could
extinguish the fiery will of the Polish people to defend
their freedom and their beloved homeland.
The Polish Resistance involved virtually every member of society who took part in some way. Every man, woman
and child. Family members, neighbors, friends, doctors, lawyers, nurses, artists, musicians, priests,
nuns, professors, students, boy scouts, Rabbis, and laborers of all kinds.
These "home-made" soldiers seemed indistinguishable in appearance, some even wearing tattered German
military uniforms, yet all wore the red and white armbands that identified them as the Sons and Daughters of
Poland. Each person acted in whatever capacity he could, and supported the Home Army in resisting Nazi
terror. The Armia Krajowa, the Home Army conducted various strategies of subterfuge which included
propaganda, espionage, sabotage, diversionary tactics, explosives, and assasinations of German officers. The
Poles knew that to have been caught by the Germans would have resulted in their deaths, but they continued to
fight undeterred. The Polish nation had suffered more than a century of violent partitions, and occupation by
foreign powers - resistance became second nature to them. They refused to surrender.
At the very onset of the war, the underground resistance consisted of numerous scattered groups, but soon
became unified into one large, cohesive military unit, pledging allegiance to the Polish Government-in-exile, in
London. Unlike resistance groups in other Nazi-occupied countries, the Polish Underground was a highly
organized, integrated military organization with a strong chain of command, and received funds and military
equipment from the Polish Government-in-exile. The main objective of the Polish Underground, that is, the
Home Army, or AK, was to plan, organize and execute a general uprising which would include the entire Polish
nation, so that the freedom and independence of Poland would be regained. They intended to carry out this
mission once German defeat was imminent, and when the Allied armies were approaching Poland.
Since the fall of 1942, German reprisals against the Polish Underground intensified. When members of the AK
started blowing up railway tracks, the Germans began carrying out public executions of Poles on the former
location of the Warsaw Ghetto. In the month of May 1943, over 500 Poles were executed there, and thousands of
more Poles throughout the city of Warsaw. The AK responded by carrying out numerous assassinations, the
victims among which were SS-Aberscharfuhrer Herbert Schultz, and Brigade-fuhrer Franz Kutschera.
A report of the Delegatura (see Secret Underground State) described the atmosphere in Warsaw:
Situation in Warsaw is not going to calm down, as Germans expected from the action. On the contrary, the
city is outraged and excited...time after time in different places you can hear shooting which in some cases
develop into skirmishes. Warsaw controls its nerves and stands German terror with a great deal of calmness,
although in an atmosphere of depression and deep worry. The traffic has got much lighter. People are avoiding
trams, city rail, train stations and those points where roundups are the heaviest. Poles are walking through the
city with caution, hiding in cases of roundups, in shops, gates, and private flats. At the same time, feelings of
hatred and vehemence towards Germans and desire for vengeance and revenge are growing. After the first
execution in Niepodleglosci Av. throughout a day the place became a scene of great silent yet powerful in its
expression manifestation of people of Warsaw of all circles and classes. Piles of flowers appeared, as well as
crosses, small crosses and candles. People were getting down on their knees praying aloud for the souls of the
victims, crying. Cases of collecting traces of blood into scarves or even marking bodies and hands with it were
observed. You could tell by a mood of the crowd it was swearing a revenge on Germans. Similar manifestations
took place on Pius St...."
At first the Germans tolerated these manifestations to allow the people to become traumatized by the horrors, but
soon banned such gatherings as soon as the mood of the crowd became apparent to them. Thereafter anyone
stopping in the area was arrested or shot. By 1944, over 5,000 Poles were executed.
The contributions made to the Allied war effort by the Polish Home Army were immense and invaluable,
particularly in espionage. Their discovery of the location of Hitlers' V-1 and V-2 rocket plants at Peenemunde,
and cracking the Enigma code contributed greatly to winning the war. Though Polish loyalty to the Allies never
faltered, she was betrayed by Churchill and Roosevelt. (see Yalta Conference ) Even from behind the Iron
Curtain, the hopes that the resistance was never extinguished. It emerged again more than 50 years after the
end of the war, and gained momentum in Solidarnosc, led by Lech Walesa. ( see The Aftermath )
Like the Phoenix, Poland never died. She rose again.