The Political Roots of the Polish Guerrilla NSZ. The NSZ and the Jews
Narodowe Sily Zbrojne: Kulisy Walki Podziemnej 1939-1945
by Jerzy Pilacinski “Lech”
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
NATIONAL ARMED FORCES: THE BACKSTAGE OF THE UNDERGROUND COMBAT 1939-1945, is the title of this Polish-language book. This book has little on NSZ combat, and centers upon personalities and politics. It exhibits quite a bit of Dmowski-Pilsudski factionalism, in that it frequently refers negatively to the Sanacja, even going as far as blaming it for Poland’s defeat in the 1939 War. The author also displays a hostility towards the NSZ-ONR (Oboz Narodowo Radykalne), in favor of the NSZ-SN (Stronnictwo Narodowe). In fact, he asserts that the inclusion of the ONR into the NSZ was a mistake. (p. 164).
Not everything in this work follows the usual NSZ template of thinking. For instance, rather than being opposed to the Warsaw Uprising en toto, Jedrzej Giertych, in the introduction, opines that the Uprising could have been a realistic undertaking had it been in the Soviet’s interest, and had close cooperation with the Soviets. (pp. 21-22).
WHO KILLED FUGITIVE JEWS?
The Polish countryside not only contained Polish guerrillas and fugitive Jews, but also escaped Russian POWs and bands of criminals. To complicate matters further, criminal bands sometimes joined regular guerrilla forces, while certain guerrilla units abandoned contact with the higher leadership and began to act independently as rogue forces. (p. 146). While the regular NSZ units got their provisions by buying them from the peasants, the “wild” units lived by banditry and sometimes murder. (p. 147). So stop blaming the NSZ for killing fugitive Jews. Assuming that the murder happened at all, the perpretrator could have been almost anybody.
STOP CALLING THE NSZ ANTI-JEWISH. IT WAS NOT
The NSZ is frequently the target of Jewish opprobrium, including accusations of the NSZ killing fugitive Jews. The facts are otherwise. Lieutenant Colonel Reliszko “Kolodziejski” commanded the NSZ “Kolo” brigade during the fight for the Old Town during the Warsaw Uprising, evidently as part of a larger unit that had been subordinated to the A. K. (Home Army). In 1945, he was arrested by the Communists. He secured a release after the intervention of some Jews, who testified how his unit had liberated 500 Jews from the Gesiowka camp during the Uprising, and formed a work battalion out of them. (p. 162).
THE IMPENDING JEWISH QUESTION IN POLAND
During the German occupation, members of the Polish government in exile discussed how postwar Poland should look like. The SN (Stronnictwo Narodowe) concurred with Wladyslaw Sikorski, that Jews should have “equal duties and equal rights.” (p. 112).
GENESIS AND CONSTITUENTS OF THE NSZ
The Narodowa Organizacja Wojskowa (NOW) had over 150,000 members by May 1942. (p. 92). The NSZ was officially formed in September 1942. It main constituent (80,000 members) was from the NOW, with a much smaller input from the ONR (ABC), the latter of which was the Zwiazek Jaszczurczy. For more on the Zwiazek Jaszczurczy, see:
Author Jerzy Pilacinski estimates that, by 1944, the ONR consisted of only about 4,000 men out of a total of 90,000 NSZ soldiers. (p. 161). The ONR faction of the NSZ included the Brygada Swietokrzyska. (pp. 162-163). Smaller groups also joined the NSZ. These included the KOP, Unia, OW, “Wilki”, and ZPN. (p. 138).
The NSZ-SN followed in the tradition of Jan Ludwik Poplawski, Zygmunt Balicki, and Roman Dmowski, and regarded Germany as Poland’s main enemy. (p. 31). Even before the 1939 War, at least part of the SN envisioned the Oder-Neisse (Odra-Nysa) as the new Polish-German frontier that would be the outcome of a Polish-German war. (p. 78). The NSZ later re-affirmed the geopolitical goal of the Odra-Nysa boundary. (p. 141).
ATTEMPTING TO AVERT THE SOVIET COMMUNIST TAKEOVER OF POLAND
Pilacinski “Lech” points out that the Soviet guerrillas and Communist GL-AL bands conducted indiscriminate acts that provoked savage reprisals, by the Germans, against Polish villagers. (pp. 146-147). The ONR faction in the NSZ emphasized fighting the Communists. (p. 162).
This fight against the Communists eventually took the form of a small group of NSZ-ONR being parachuted, by the Germans, behind Soviet lines. (p. 26, pp. 163-164). For more on this, see: