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The cursed soldiers ( ) is a name applied to a variety of Polishmarker resistance movements that were formed in the later stages of World War II and afterwards. Created by former members of the Polish underground resistance organizations of World War II, these organizations continued the struggle against the pro-Soviet government of Poland well into the 1950s. Most of these anti-communist groups ceased operations in the late 1940s or 1950s. However, the last known 'cursed soldier', Józef Franczak, was killed in an ambush as late as 1963, almost 20 years after the Sovietmarker take-over of Poland.


main Polish resistance movement in World War II, Armia Krajowa (or simply AK), officially disbanded on 19 January 1945 to avoid armed conflict with the Sovietsmarker and the prospect of a civil war. However, many units decided to continue their struggle under new circumstances, seeing the Soviet forces as new occupiers. Soviet partisans operating in pre-war Polish territories had already been ordered by Moscow on June 22, 1943 to engage Polish partisans in combat and in those territories they commonly engaged Poles more often than they did the Germans. Similarly, the main forces of the Red Army (Northern Group of Forces) and the NKVD conducted operations against AK partisans, even during or directly after the Polish Operation Tempest, which was designed by the Poles as a preventive action to assure Polish rather than Soviet control of the cities after the German withdrawal. Stalin's aim was to ensure that an independent Poland would never reemerge in the postwar period.

The Soviet and Polish communists viewed most of the Polish underground, which was loyal to the Polish government-in-exile, 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, said that the AK had to be "exterminated."

The first AK structure designed primarily to deal with the Soviet threat was the NIE, formed in mid-1943. NIE's goal 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, the NIE ("NO") was disbanded and transformed into the Delegatura Sił Zbrojnych na Kraj ("Armed Forces Delegation for Homeland"). However, this organization lasted only until August 8, 1945, when the decision was made to disband it and stop partisan resistance on Polish territory.

The first Polish communist government, PKWN, was formed in July 1944, but declined jurisdiction over AK soldiers. Consequently, for more than a year, it was Soviet agencies like the NKVD that dealt with the AK. By the end of the war, approximately 60,000 soldiers of the AK had been arrested, and 50,000 of them were deported to the Soviet Union's gulags and prisons. Most of those soldiers had been captured by the Soviets during or in the aftermath of Operation Tempest, 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 government after being promised amnesty. In 1947, an amnesty was passed for most of the partisans; the Communist authorities expected around 12,000 people to give up their arms, but the actual number of people to come out of the forests eventually reached 53,000. Many of them were arrested despite promises of freedom; after repeated broken promises during the first few years of communist control, AK soldiers stopped trusting the government.

The third AK organization was Wolność i Niezawisłość ("Freedom and Sovereignty"). Again, its primary goal was not combat; rather, the WiN was designed to help AK soldiers make the transition from a life as partisans to that of civilians. The continued secrecy and conspiracy were necessary in light of the increasing persecution of AK veterans by the communist government. WiN was, however, much in need of funds 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 and the newly created Polish secret police, Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (UB), came in the second half of 1945, when they managed to convince several leaders of the AK and WiN that they truly wanted to offer amnesty to AK members. Within a few months, they managed to gain information about vast numbers of AK/WiN resources and people. Several months later when the (imprisoned) AK and WiN leaders realized their mistake, the organization was crippled and thousands more of their members were arrested. WiN was finally disbanded in 1952.

The NKVD and UB used force to eliminate the opposition. In the autumn of 1946, a group of 100–200 soldiers of Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (NSZ)(or National Army Forces) were lured into a trap and massacred. By 1947, a colonel of the communist forces declared that "The 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 the AK was only part of the big picture of Stalinism in Poland. In the period of 1944–56, approximately two million people were arrested, and over 20,000 (including Witold Pilecki, the hero of Auschwitzmarker) were executed or murdered in communist prisons. A further six million Polish citizens (i.e., one out of every three adult Poles) were classified as suspected members of a 'reactionary or criminal element' and subjected to investigation by state agencies. In 1956, an amnesty released 35,000 former AK soldiers from prisons. Still, some partisans remained in the countryside, unwilling or simply unable to rejoin the community. They became known as the cursed soldiers. Stanisław Marchewska "Ryba" ("The Fish") was killed in 1957, and the last AK partisan, Józef Franczak "Lalek" ("Doller"), was killed in 1963 — almost two decades after the Second World War ended. It was only four years later, in 1967, that Adam Boryczka, a soldier of the AK and a member of the elite, British-trained Cichociemny ("The Silent and Hidden") intelligence and support group, was released from prison. Until the end of the People's Republic of Poland, AK soldiers were 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.

Operations and actions

  • On May 7, 1945 in the village of Kuryłówkamarker, southeastern Polandmarker, the Battle of Kuryłówka started. It was the biggest battle in the history of the National Military Alliance (NZW). In battle against Soviet Union's NKVD units, the anti-communist partisans shot 70 NKVD agents. The battle ended in a victory for the underground Polish forces.


Among the best-known of these organizations were:

Notable members

See also


External links

Further reading

  • Jerzy Ślaski, Żołnierze wyklęci, Warszawa, Oficyna Wydawnicza Rytm, 1996
  • Grzegorz Wąsowski and Leszek Żebrowski, eds., Żołnierze wyklęci: Antykomunistyczne podziemie zbrojne po 1944 roku, Warszawa, Oficyna Wydawnicza Volumen and Liga Republikańska, 1999
  • Kazimierz Krajewski et al., Żołnierze wyklęci: Antykomunistyczne podziemie zbrojne po 1944 r., Oficyna Wydawnicza Volumen and Liga Republikańska, 2002
  • Tomasz Łabuszewski, Białostocki Okręg AK- AKO : VII 1944-VIII 1945 (Warszawa: Oficzna Wydawnicza Volumen and Dom Wydawniczy Bellona, 1997
  • Zrzeszenie “Wolność i Niezawisłość” w dokumentach, 6 vols. (Wrocław: Zarząd Główny WiN, 1997-2001)
  • Zygmunt Woźniczka, Zrzeszenie “Wolność i Niezawisłość” 1945-1952 (Warszawa: Instytut Prasy i Wydawnictw “Novum” – “Semex”, 1992)
  • Marek Latyński, Nie paść na kolana: Szkice o opozycji lat czterdziestych (London: Polonia Book Fund Ltd., 1985)

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