June 17, 2024
Book Reviews Polish Experience Polish Guerrilla Warfare

The Efficacy of the Polish Underground Freely Recognized by the Nazi German Enemy

The Service: The Memoirs of General Reinhard Gehlen.

1972. World Publishing, New York

Reviewed by Jan Peczkis

Nowadays, there are complaints about Polish guerrilla warfare by some Jews, in that Poles dwell on their “heroic narrative” instead of beating their breasts with regards to their presumed past wrongs towards Jews. Other self-appointed critics suggest that Polish guerrilla resistance was just romantic adventurism and futile bloodletting, and that it otherwise had no military significance. None other than the Nazi German enemy sets the record straight.


Major-General Reinhard Gehlen was in charge of German military intelligence on the Eastern front. He knew what he was talking about, and gave unstinting credit to the Polish Underground movement as follows:

“To give substance to my claim, I telephoned Schellenberg and asked him if Himmler would be interested in a detailed study of the rise and fall of the Polish underground resistance, to see if we could learn anything from the Polish experience that might be of use to us in the ordeal we might well be about to face. Schellenberg phoned me back not long afterward to confirm that this was a subject which would particularly interest Himmler. Over the next eight days I completed on the basis of our documents a very bulky study on the Polish resistance.” (p. 11. Emphasis added).

Notice, from Gehlen’s statement quoted above that, far from being some kind of romantic adventurism, the Polish underground movement was, 1) A valuable potential lesson for contemplated German guerrilla resistance, 2) Good enough to study in detail, by the very head of military intelligence, over an eight-day period, 3) Worthy of being brought to the attention of the very highest levels of the Nazi German leadership (Himmler). Here are some details from the Gehlen report on Polish guerrilla warfare:


Oddly enough, Gehlen did not make use this information, and no significant German guerrilla movement developed after the defeat of the Third Reich (a few tales about the misunderstood Werwolf notwithstanding). The author is conspicuously silent about this matter. Was his silence for military reasons or was it for political reasons? (Note that, soon after the War, the victorious western Allies made Gehlen a major figure in anti-Soviet intelligence).


Gehlen concludes with this sage comment, “As a result of World War II, the Soviets realized nearly all of the czars’ dreams of expansion.” (p. 336).

He adds that, “National Socialism and Communism always did overlap at their extremes. I once suggested we adopt as our slogan, ‘Fight the Red fascism,’ but found little support.” (p. 287).

Efficacy of Polish Guerrilla Warfare: Recognition and Admiration by Top Nazi Officials. Futile Bloodletting? No! Gehlen

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