79th anniversary of best organised WWII resistance movement

Poles commemorate the 79th anniversary of the founding of Armia Krajowa (AK). The “Home Army” was one of the largest and most active military underground organisations during the Second World War.

On February 14th 1942, the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, General Władysław Sikorski, issued an order to transform the Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ) into the Home Army.

Head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Repression, Jan Józef Kasprzyk, underlined at the commemoration ceremony in Warsaw that the Home Army was an integral part of the Polish army fighting on all fronts of World War II against Nazi Germany.

He also stated that it stood out compared to other resistance movements formed in Europe during the war, saying “There is no other case in which an underground army of almost half a million soldiers has ever been formed in conspiratorial conditions"

Mr Kasprzyk pointed out that the AK officer cadre consisted of professional military men who had a lot of wartime experience.

“The Home Army was formed by Polish Army officers, who had often acted in conspiratorial conditions during the First World War, when they were building the structures of the clandestine Polish Military Organisation,” the head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Repression stated.

The roots of the Home Army can be traced back to the establishment of the Service for Poland's Victory (Służba Zwycięstwu Polski), a military underground organisation created by a group of senior officers on the night of September 26-27, 1939, in connection with the city of Warsaw’s capitulation after the German invasion.

A week later, the last battle of the September Campaign took place and the Service for Poland’s Victory started developing the Underground State, a unique concept based on refusing to sign a capitulation with the occupying German forces and instead retaining state functions such as the judiciary, education, military and political representation in clandestine conditions.

The Polish Victory Service was transformed in 1940 into the Union for Armed Struggle and on February 14, 1942, a decision was made to expand it and rename it as the Home Army.

The new organisation was created to consolidate various factions of the Polish military underground and to subordinate them to the Polish Government-in-Exile in London.

The Home Army, which conducted tens of thousands of sabotage and diversion actions, had a nationwide and supra-party character.

It trained cadres for future struggle, carried out sabotage and assassination actions while also spending much effort on gathering intelligence and disseminating propaganda. In 1944, it launched Operation Tempest, an armed attempt to liberate the areas behind German lines, as the Soviet-German front quickly moved west into Polish pre-war territory. Larger uprisings were organised in Warsaw, Vilnius and Lviv but were either crushed by the German’s as in the case of Warsaw or saw the Polish fighters arrested by the Red Army after Soviet forces arrived at Vilnius and Lviv.

Following the end of the war, the Polish communist marionette-regime continued to persecute and harass former Home Army soldiers, sentencing many to lengthy prison sentences, ostracising them from society or even sentencing them to death.

The ceremonies marking the 79th anniversary of the Home Army’s founding began with a mass dedicated to the soldiers of the Home Army in the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army.

In the afternoon, wreaths will be placed at the Monument to the Polish Underground State and at the Monument to General Stefan Rowecki "Grot".

General “Grot”, the first commander of the Home Army, was murdered on August 2nd 1942, in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on the personal orders of Heinrich Himmler after he received the news of the Warsaw Rising’s outbreak.