Polish Home Army organization, 1943-45

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daveshoup2MD
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Polish Home Army organization, 1943-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 04 Jan 2022 09:49

The background to this is shallow, but my understanding is the Home Army was organized geographically along the lines (more or less) of the prewar Polish mobilization structure, although obviously in skeletal form ... by the time of the major uprising in 1944, I've seen figures as high as 400,000 personnel, which seems impressive. So, two questions:

Is that figure widely accepted?

And if (and this is a huge IF, obviously) the uprising had succeeded, was the intent to convert the partisan force into something resembling an active field force, to join with the Polish exile forces already in the field?

gebhk
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Re: Polish Home Army organization, 1943-45

Post by gebhk » 06 Jan 2022 11:45

Hi Daveshoup

I was hoping someone more knowledgeable would answer first. However, here goes in very broad brush-strokes. Estimates at peak vary from 100K, through 250K to 390K (the latter figure often rounded up to 400K). Interestingly, German security services who had little incentive to underestimate, estimated the numbers at 100-200K. Why these huge discrepancies? The following are some of the main causes:

1) For obvious reasons, no individual records were kept. The global figures were derived from local leaders' reports. There were many incentives for these leaders to over-report their numberrs. While the leadership, both in Poland and the UK, was aware of the problem, there was little it could do to verify the figures.

2) Who do you count as a member? Broadly, the membership could be divided into three groups - the full-time partisans in rural areas, principally forests; a part-time clandestine urban branch which often had full or part-time day-jobs and became active only for the duration of specific operations; and a reserve which consisted of people living a civilian life but ready for call-up following liberation or the declaration of a national uprising. The last were probably the largest and also least quantifiable element. In addition, the AK had weapons to arm at most 10% of its personnel, which severely limited the total that could be used and counted as combat troops at any one time.

3) What is the AK? Aside from the AK proper, there were, for want of a better name, associate organisations, usually affiliated to particular political parties, more or less under the command of the AK. This kaleidoscope of literally dozens of smaller organisations which came and went, shifted frequently in its composition and allegiances. The views of the organisations themselves on the subject whether they were part of, or not, of the AK frequently differed to that of the AK leadership! Add to that that many grass-roots members could have little or no knowledge what organisation they actually belonged to and overall you have a recipe which is good for security contemporaneously but very bad for historical census gartherers!

Yes, AFAIK the plan was that as soon as possible the AK and the emigre Polish Armed Forces would be united and placed under joint national command.

Hope this is of some help.

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henryk
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Re: Polish Home Army organization, 1943-45

Post by henryk » 06 Jan 2022 21:30

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Army+
The Home Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa, abbreviated AK; Polish pronunciation: [ˈar.mʲja kraˈjɔ.va]) was the dominant resistance movement in German-occupied Poland during World War II. The Home Army was formed in February 1942 from the earlier Związek Walki Zbrojnej (Armed Resistance) established in the aftermath of the German and Soviet invasions in September 1939. Over the next two years, the Home Army absorbed most of the other Polish partisans and underground forces. Its allegiance was to the Polish government-in-exile in London, and it constituted the armed wing of what came to be known as the Polish Underground State. Estimates of the Home Army's 1944 strength range between 200,000 and 600,000. The latter number made the Home Army not only Poland's largest underground resistance movement but, along with Soviet partisans, one of Europe's two largest World War II underground movements.[a]

The Home Army sabotaged German transports bound for the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union, destroying German supplies and tying down substantial German forces. It also fought pitched battles against the Germans, particularly in 1943 and in Operation Tempest from January 1944. The Home Army's most widely known operation was the Warsaw Uprising of August–October 1944. The Home Army also defended Polish civilians against atrocities by Germany's Ukrainian and Lithuanian collaborators. Its attitude toward Jews remains a controversial topic.

As Polish–Soviet relations deteriorated, conflict grew between the Home Army and Soviet forces. The Home Army's allegiance to the Polish government-in-exile caused the Soviet government to consider the Home Army to be an impediment to the introduction of a Communist-friendly government in Poland, which hindered cooperation and in some cases led to outright conflict. On 19 January 1945, after the Red Army had cleared most Polish territory of German forces, the Home Army was disbanded. After the war, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, Communist government propaganda portrayed the Home Army as an oppressive and reactionary force. Thousands of ex-Home Army personnel were deported to gulags and Soviet prisons, while other ex-members, including a number of senior commanders, were executed. After the Fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe, the portrayal of the Home Army was no longer subject to government censorship and propaganda.

daveshoup2MD
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Re: Polish Home Army organization, 1943-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Jan 2022 05:44

gebhk wrote:
06 Jan 2022 11:45
Hi Daveshoup

I was hoping someone more knowledgeable would answer first. However, here goes in very broad brush-strokes. Estimates at peak vary from 100K, through 250K to 390K (the latter figure often rounded up to 400K). Interestingly, German security services who had little incentive to underestimate, estimated the numbers at 100-200K. Why these huge discrepancies? The following are some of the main causes:

1) For obvious reasons, no individual records were kept. The global figures were derived from local leaders' reports. There were many incentives for these leaders to over-report their numberrs. While the leadership, both in Poland and the UK, was aware of the problem, there was little it could do to verify the figures.

2) Who do you count as a member? Broadly, the membership could be divided into three groups - the full-time partisans in rural areas, principally forests; a part-time clandestine urban branch which often had full or part-time day-jobs and became active only for the duration of specific operations; and a reserve which consisted of people living a civilian life but ready for call-up following liberation or the declaration of a national uprising. The last were probably the largest and also least quantifiable element. In addition, the AK had weapons to arm at most 10% of its personnel, which severely limited the total that could be used and counted as combat troops at any one time.

3) What is the AK? Aside from the AK proper, there were, for want of a better name, associate organisations, usually affiliated to particular political parties, more or less under the command of the AK. This kaleidoscope of literally dozens of smaller organisations which came and went, shifted frequently in its composition and allegiances. The views of the organisations themselves on the subject whether they were part of, or not, of the AK frequently differed to that of the AK leadership! Add to that that many grass-roots members could have little or no knowledge what organisation they actually belonged to and overall you have a recipe which is good for security contemporaneously but very bad for historical census gartherers!

Yes, AFAIK the plan was that as soon as possible the AK and the emigre Polish Armed Forces would be united and placed under joint national command.

Hope this is of some help.
Thanks; appreciate the information.

daveshoup2MD
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Posts: 1541
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
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Re: Polish Home Army organization, 1943-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Jan 2022 05:44

henryk wrote:
06 Jan 2022 21:30
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Army+
The Home Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa, abbreviated AK; Polish pronunciation: [ˈar.mʲja kraˈjɔ.va]) was the dominant resistance movement in German-occupied Poland during World War II. The Home Army was formed in February 1942 from the earlier Związek Walki Zbrojnej (Armed Resistance) established in the aftermath of the German and Soviet invasions in September 1939. Over the next two years, the Home Army absorbed most of the other Polish partisans and underground forces. Its allegiance was to the Polish government-in-exile in London, and it constituted the armed wing of what came to be known as the Polish Underground State. Estimates of the Home Army's 1944 strength range between 200,000 and 600,000. The latter number made the Home Army not only Poland's largest underground resistance movement but, along with Soviet partisans, one of Europe's two largest World War II underground movements.[a]

The Home Army sabotaged German transports bound for the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union, destroying German supplies and tying down substantial German forces. It also fought pitched battles against the Germans, particularly in 1943 and in Operation Tempest from January 1944. The Home Army's most widely known operation was the Warsaw Uprising of August–October 1944. The Home Army also defended Polish civilians against atrocities by Germany's Ukrainian and Lithuanian collaborators. Its attitude toward Jews remains a controversial topic.

As Polish–Soviet relations deteriorated, conflict grew between the Home Army and Soviet forces. The Home Army's allegiance to the Polish government-in-exile caused the Soviet government to consider the Home Army to be an impediment to the introduction of a Communist-friendly government in Poland, which hindered cooperation and in some cases led to outright conflict. On 19 January 1945, after the Red Army had cleared most Polish territory of German forces, the Home Army was disbanded. After the war, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, Communist government propaganda portrayed the Home Army as an oppressive and reactionary force. Thousands of ex-Home Army personnel were deported to gulags and Soviet prisons, while other ex-members, including a number of senior commanders, were executed. After the Fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe, the portrayal of the Home Army was no longer subject to government censorship and propaganda.
Thanks; appreciate the information.

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