of the Polish Underground
The Home Army maintained constant communications with the
Polish government-in-exile in London, using secret radio
transmissions. Messages and microfilm were sent by couriers
travelling through Nazi-occupied territory on their way to London.
The Underground was able to organize the clandestine landing of
Allied aircraft on three separate occasions - an accomplishment
that is quite astounding considering that the Germans were
expert at scrutinizing airspace and communications. On the last
of these three flights, one of the passengers was the Captain of
the Home Army, Jerzy Chmielewski, who successfully
transported the plans and precious parts of Germany's V-1 and
V-2 missiles to London.
Underground activities were so effective in its organization that not only were they widespread throughout Poland,
but had members operating inside Germany, and the Soviet Union. Counterintelligence was given the mission to
protect the Underground from being infiltrated by the enemy. The Underground, or Home Army (AK) successfully
intercepted a shipment of 100 million zlotys from the Germans. Poles carried out sabotage virtually everywhere
in particular in Gdansk and Berlin.
All plans for sabotage and diversionary tactics were organized by the committee for "Underground Struggle"
( Kierownictwo Talki Podziemnej ). Sabotage involved clandestine operations resulting in the damage or
destruction of any sector of the German war machine and its administration.
Factories manufacturing armaments and planes, as
well as trucks, cars, tanks, railways, ships, bridges,
and so on, were all targets for sabotage.
Colonel Emil Fieldorf (Code Name: Nil) headed the Command of Diversion (KEDYW). His brigade was known
as the Gray Ranks ( Szare Szeregi ), and consisted of 20 officers, 43 officers in training, 64 non-commissioned
officers, 344 privates, 79 women, and 113 auxiliary. These were a secret group of the Polish Scouting Associa-
tion. There were many such units but most noteworthy was one of three platoons of the AK which dealt with
armed sabotage. The ODB3, led by Lt. K. Pogorzelski (Code Name: Rygiel ) consisted of about 50 men,
including a woman's support unit. Among the unit were 3 officers, 20 cadet-officers, and 10 NCO's, all well-armed
and supplied with explosives. They captured several German vehicles, which were subsequently used in
numerous sabotage missions, to great success.
The KEDYW was stationed mostly in larger cities, however there were large units deployed in the countryside.
These units ranged in size from platoons to brigades, to divisions. One such division was the 27th Volhynian
Division posted to the Wilno district. They were responsible for inflicting severe damages and losses to the
Germans. Their activity greatly assisted the Allies on the front lines. Diversionary propaganda was conducted to
demoralize German soldiers. Frequent messages were relayed taunting the Germans with threats that they
would be defeated and utterly humiliated. Numerous secret bulletins, periodicals and newspapers were printed.
The ZWZ , one of several Polish underground troops, obtained information that the Germans were secretly
planning to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941, and immediately sent a message to the Polish government
in London warning them of that outcome. In fact the Germans attacked on June 22. However, the ZWZ
encountered enormous difficulties in infiltrating the western part of Poland as it had been absorbed into the
German Reich. Similarly, there were difficulties in eastern region where the Soviets had established themselves.
The Underground could not infiltrate the south-eastern region (around Lwow ) because the area was
under surveillance by armies of Russian spies. The greatest success was made in the north-east near
Vilno and Bialystock, and in the central Poland, that is the "General Gouvernement ".
But their success changed drastically when the Germans attacked Russia in 1942. The Russians spent as
much time fighting off the Germans as they did the Poles. The SS as well as the Soviets recruited Ukrainian
nationalists to kill the Poles resulting in one of the most infamous massacres in modern history. Thousands
of Poles were brutally slaughtered.
The Intelligence Service of the AK regularly monitored the activity of the German army and air force, and provided
information on every discovery to the Allies. The most valuable information relayed to London was the
discovery of the German rocket manufacturing plant at Peenemunde. It led to a successful air raid by the RAF
on August 17 - 18, 1943 destroying the entire plant.
Diversionary tactics included misinformation, that is the planting of information designed to confuse and create
disillusionment among the German soldiers.
As plans were being made for a future uprising, women were permitted to join the ranks of the AK, and fight
during the uprising.
In April of 1942, while Germans and Soviets were battling on Russian soil, the Supreme Council of the AK
ordered that tactics be switched from acts of sabotage to that of armed diversions. Particular attention was given
to plans for the destruction of warehouses, bridges, troop trains, airfields, telephone and radio installations.
During this period several hundred actions took place. They began their guerilla operations in the same year.
Of the many incursions, one in particular was impressive. On December 31, 1942, the Germans began the
removal of the Polish population in the area of Zamosc for the purpose of replacing them with German settlers.
The partisans, assembled in the forests near Zamosc, and Krasnobrod, initiated many attacks which lasted
until mid-February 1943. At that time, the Germans had to abandon their colonization plans. Its police, army
battalions, tanks and warplanes all had to retreat as a result of attacks from the Polish Underground. There
were other large-scale counter-offenses by the Underground, in operations in the forests between Radum and
Kielce (Central Poland), in addition to the northeast region between Vilno and Nowogrodek.
As the Germans retreated from the advancing Soviet armies, the AK intensified its attacks against them, but
many were captured and imprisoned by the Soviets. The Soviets were hostile to the AK and its only goal
was to destroy them, for the resistance they presented, and for the hope they instilled in all Poles for a free and
The qualities of an underground worker had to be one of utmost dependability. Any sign of yielding to or
collaborating with the Germans was sufficient to permanently bar Poles from being accepted in the AK. The
AK had secret schools instructing members on street fighting, sabotage and diversions. There was even a
unit called the Little Wolves, young Polish boys, who were engaged in harassing, annoying, and ridiculing the
Germans. Their tactics involved spray painting slogans on German trucks, cars, and buildings, flattening tires,
festooning the city streets with cartoons and posters ridiculing the Germans. One particular mission involved the
removal of all German signs which read, "Nur Fur Deutschen " ( Only For Germans ), and hanging hundreds of
these signs over every lamp post and tree in Warsaw, where the Germans had previously hung Polish partisans.
For every Polish monument destroyed by the Germans, the Little Wolves scattered flowers at its ruins. For every
member of the Underground executed, flowers were placed on the spot.
The Education Department in Warsaw alone had more than 85,000 children enrolled in clandestine classes.
During the war, more than 1,700 youths graduated from its secret high schools. Classes could not be larger
than four to six people, as it would have invited suspicion. The students met at various homes on the pretext of
a "social visit ". Tragically, many teachers were arrested, tortured, and murdered. Graduates of the Underground
schools received a makeshift diploma, which consisted of a small calling card printed with an obscure greeting,
"Thank you for your lovely visit on September 29, 1942. I was indeed pleased. You told me of such interesting
stories. Bravo. "This card was to be exchanged for an official diploma after the war.
The Underground was skilled and efficient in fabricating false documents to provide its' members with a change
of identity whenever it became imperative to do so. Among the documents were the much vied for Arbeitsamts
and Kennkarten that entitled the bearer to hold a job, and obtain food and clothing rations. None of the forgeries
were ever detected.
Farms shrewdly evaded German attempts at extortion, and often outwitted them. In many cases, Polish farmers
secretly salvaged food for themselves, and handed over to the Germans only the worst produce they had.
The Peasant Party illicited a great deal of influence on the Polish people. They wrote the "Ten Commandments
of the Resistance", which was memorized word per word by every Pole, young and old. It was printed in the
The Underground even had experts at "biological warfare ". One man, who shall be known as Jan, went
everywhere carrying a little inconspicuous case containing an astonishing collection of every type of virus - vials
containing typhoid-bearing lice, among many other types of pestilence. "Jan" frequented bars drinking with the
Germans, and at the propitious moment, slipped a louse behind the German's collar, or directly into his drink.
Poles in the Underground were especially vigilant to any display of collaboration between Poles and Germans.
Retribution was swift and brutal. Depending on the degree of the crime, Poles were publicly ostracized
and humiliated, or were executed. Blackmail and bribery were frequently used against the Germans. In some
cases, the Polish Underground took photographs of every detail of an illegal transaction with a corrupt German
soldier. They then used this evidence against him in order to obtain continuing cooperation.
Listening posts were set up in secret locations to monitor radio
broadcasts from London. The Polish Underground sent messages
to London by every possible means to alert them of what was
happening in Poland. The danger was immense as the Gestapo
vans were constantly on the prowl throughout the neighborhood,
trying to track down the sources of the radio transmissions. When
the AK discovered the fate of the Jewish people under the hands of
the Nazis, they sent frequent messages to London giving them
detailed accounts of the atrocities that were being carried out, and
asking for help to intervene and stop the slaughter. The British
response was one of outright condemnation of the Nazi crimes,
but no action was taken.
The AK, despite having had limited resources of its own, gave what assistance it could to the Jewish armed
resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto, the ZOG. They were supplied with pistols, hand grenades, explosives, and
ammunition, as well as secret training in diversionary tactics. The AK also helped the ZOG obtain machine guns,
on the black market. On April 23, 1943, during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the AK helped the Jews by attacking
the Germans at several points inside and outside of the Ghetto walls. They assisted in the evacuation of many
Jews, and gave them a map of the sewer network used by the AK and put them in touch with Polish guides.
Tragically, the AK fighters were apprehended by the Germans, and were executed, but before they were executed
they shouted triumphantly, “Long Live Poland! Long Live Moscow!
Polish salvage German V-1 Rocket
Diversionary tactics were carried out on Germany`s
military and on the transport of their war supplies
Polish Underground Grenade Production