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NSZ in War: NSZ Guerrilla Combat Action. Poles and Not Only Jews Lost Their Property.


All Guerillas Were Bandits a Myth. Rutkowski

Z Ziemi Swietokrzyskiej Na Ziemi Odzyskane: Wspomnienia, by Marian Rutkowski. 2014. Oficyna Wydawnicza Politechniki Wroclawskiej, Wroclaw

The NSZ in War Against the German Conquerors of Poland

FROM THE SWIETOKRZYSKI LANDS TO THE RECOVERED TERRITORIES: RECOLLECTIONS is the title of this Polish-language book. This work includes the author’s involvement in the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), the NSZ, and the Brygada Swietokrzyska. The guerrilla action is the focus of my review. Most of this work is biographical and postwar, and is not covered in my review.

THE NAZI GERMAN OCCUPATION OF POLAND

Because the Germans closed all schools in order to deprive the Poles of an education, the Polish Underground ran secret classes, and some of the author’s colleagues were taking these classes. (p. 61).

The German confiscations of feedstuffs were draconian. Farm animals were scrupulously registered, and with identification earrings. The breeding of pigs was forbidden. (p. 61). The Poles faced increasing starvation:  In some parts of Poland, people ate cats. (p. 74).

The German authorities ordered all radios to be surrendered, and the Poles found creative places for hiding them. This included in ricks of wheat in the fields. (p. 58).

The Germans played off Jews and Poles against each other. Rutkowski was an eyewitness to the hanging of Poles, in which Jews were forced to be the executioners. (p. 64). The bodies of the victims hung several days.

When the Germans set up the Kielce Ghetto for the Jews, they expelled some 15,000 Poles from their homes in order to do so. (p. 71). This reminds us that Poles and not only Jews lost property in WWII.

The Polish Blue Police (Policja Granatowa) went alongside the German gendarmes in the patrolling of the Jewish ghettos. Rutkowski reminds is that the Blue Police was under control of the Germans. (p. 85).

THE TIMING OF GUERRILLA WARFARE

In the first years of the occupation, the Polish Underground authorities were reluctant to conduct open guerrilla warfare against the German occupants, as this would provoke reprisals against civilians. The turning point was the winter of 1942-1943. The German terror had only grown more savage, and their Operation Zamosc was especially galling. At the same time, the Germans had been defeated at Stalingrad. It was time for open action. (p. 101).

A SAMPLING OF GUERRILLA COMBAT ACTION

By way of introduction, the Gory Swietokrzyski (Holy Cross Mountains) were ideal for guerrilla warfare. The terrain had dense forests and few paved roads. Moreover, the locals had a long tradition of guerrilla resistance. (p. 102).

Major “Ponury” (Jan Piwnik) was a legendary leader in the partisan operations in the Gory Swietokrzyskie. He had earlier been involved in the behind-German-line actions in Operation Wachlarz (Operation “Fan”). In January 1943, his unit had boldly broken open a jail in Pinsk. Later, he had been shooting up German trains that were returning from the Russian front. (p. 102). At times, his unit succeeded in stopping the German trains and confiscating their arms and ammunition. This was facilitated by the dense forests in the Swietokrzyski Mountains, which had forced the trains to proceed slowly. (p. 103).

The Germans made several unsuccessful attempts to counteract Ponury’s unit. At times, it was the Germans that fell into ambushes. Finally, a German mass action, in the Fall of 1943, forced “Ponury’s” unit to be broken up into smaller units. (p. 103).

Polish guerrillas kept popping up everywhere. There were more and more reports of derailed trains, shot-up trains, downed bridges, and torched German ammunition dumps. More and more Polish collaborators were being liquidated. (p. 104).

Rutkowski himself was an eyewitness to a large sabotage operation. It occurred at the Kielce repair station for locomotives. Guerillas entered the shop, took it over, smashed a rotating disk, and caused some 15 locomotives to be put out of action. (pp. 107-108).

While on a march in July 1944, Rutkowski’s unit encountered a Communist band, led by Jozef Maslanka, and which had been reinforced by Soviet paratroopers. After a furious gunfight, the Reds were forced to withdraw. (p. 112).

In another combat encounter, the unit ran into a group of German gendarmes and Ukrainians. The unit captured some arms and ammunition. (p. 112). In still another combat encounter, Rutkowski’s unit captured 300 arms. (p. 115). However, some arms used by Polish guerrillas were homemade, and notably some of them were modeled on the versatile British Sten gun. (p. 110).

THE SECOND SOVIET OCCUPATION OF POLAND

By the end of 1943, the doom of the Third Reich was obvious. (p. 104). The Red Army soon entered Poland and started imposing a Communist government. As a consequence of Operation Burza (Operation Tempest), Home Army units fighting on behalf of and with the Red Army were subsequently disarmed. (pp. 172-173). The Warsaw Uprising was betrayed by the Soviet Union.  Because the Soviet Union had proven herself to be no ally of Poland, in any way, shape, or form, it was decided to evacuate the NSZ units ahead of the Red Army. (p. 113).

In August 1944, the Brygada Swietokrzyska was formed. (p. 113). Its leadership decided to move west, out of reach of the Soviets.

SECURING PROVISIONS

The Armia Krajowa had ties to the Polish Government in Exile in London. So it got some airdrops of arms, ammunition, and especially money to buy provisions from the peasants. The NSZ had no ties to this government, and they had to get provisions on their own. Rutkowski has a moving account of peasants freely sharing their very last provisions with the NSZ guerrillas. (p. 118).

The Communist GL-AL bands got their provisions by banditry and terror. Some of their apologists have argued that “all guerrillas did it”. This is not true. The A. K. and NSZ got its provisions by means of purchases and voluntary donations from the peasants, and not by banditry or terror.

COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA ABOUT THE BRYGADA SWIETOKRZYSKA

Because the Brygada moved west, and was behind German lines, the Communists have leveled the false charge that the Brygada collaborated with the Nazis. This is unsupported by any evidence (p. 125, 364), and is total nonsense. Neutrality towards the Germans is hardly the same as collaboration with them, and it was a German decision not to fight the Brygada. Besides, the Germans called on the Brygada to go fight the Soviets. They refused. (p. 125).

There is an irony to this collaboration charge. The NSZ was perhaps the most anti-German guerrilla organization of all, proposing since 1939 that Poland’s western boundary be the Odra-Nysa (Oder-Neisse) Rivers. (p. 364).

=========

Originally published here: https://www.jewsandpolesdatabase.org/2021/06/10/nsz-in-war-nsz-guerrilla-combat-action-poles-and-not-only-jews-lost-their-property-all-guerillas-were-bandits-a-myth-rutkowski/

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