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Letters

September 2002

Volume XXII, No. 3


Authenticity of document

I have recently had an opportunity to read an old issue of Sarmatian Review containing a document (allegedly from Boleslaw Bierut's archives) detailing the methods of Communist rule in Poland (SR, XIV:1, January1994, pp. 211-213). It does not seem to be authentic. I am familiar with the Bierut Archives, and I do not believe any such document was found in these Archives. Moreover, in 1947 no one thought about the mass pollution of aquifers: mass pollution of the environment was not an issue then. It is therefore likely that the document is a forgery.

Andrzej Paczkowski, Oslo, Norway

Professor Paczkowski is a historian at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and a ranking member of the Institute of National Memory. Ed.


Jewish members in the right-wing NSZ

I would like to elaborate on the article by Professor Marek J. Chodakiewicz in the April 2002 issue of the Sarmatian Review. The author read my master's thesis and an early draft of my monograph on the National Armed Forces (NSZ) during the Warsaw Uprising. However, I have since augmented and revised my work. Therefore, a few clarifications are necessary.

First, the information provided by Chodakiewicz on the Jewish insurgents fighting in the ranks of the NSZ is imprecise. Jewish activist Calel (not Caleb) Perechodnik joined the 2nd Company "Neda-Kosa" of the 1st Battalion of Captain Lech Przystojecki (alias: Lech Zelazny) which was formed by the officers and soldiers of the Sword and Plow Movement (Miecz i Plug), subordinated to the Chrobry II NSZ-AK Group. It is unclear whether Perechodnik joined the Chrobry II by accident or because he was familiar with some of the participants (his Polish comrades were "pre-war anti-Semites," Catholics, and Nationalists). Perechodnik himself was a Beitarim, or an adherent of the extreme right wing Zionist-Revisionist movement. Aside from Perechodnik, there were other Jewish insurgents in the National Armed Forces during the Uprising. Chaim Lazar lists over a dozen Jewish soldiers of the Chrobry II NSZ-AK (Lazar, Muranowska 7: the Warsaw Ghetto Rising, Tel Aviv, 1966, p. 327). His numbers do not include persons of Jewish background, e.g., Wiktor Natanson (alias: Humiecki) who fought under Captain Piotr Zacharewicz (alias: Zawadzki) in the 1st Company of the 1st Battalion staffed by the officers and soldiers of the National Radical Camp, subordinated to the Chrobry II NSZ-AK Group. Despite his leftist background, Captain Roman Born-Bornstein was the chief physician of the Chrobry II. There were some insurgents of Jewish background in the company led by Leonard Kancelarczyk (alias: Jeremi) from the National Worker's Movement of the ONR of the 2nd Battalion of the Group. Dozens of Jews fought in the ranks of the NSZ Special Motorized Brigade "Kolo:" Jerzy Zmidygier-Konopka (alias: Poreba) fought in the NSZ squad of Cadet Officer Tadeusz Niezabitowski (alias: Lubicz) in the Gozdawa Group of the Home Army. Zmidygier-Konopka was awarded the Cross of Virtuti Militari and the Cross for Bravery before falling on the battlefield on August 25, 1944.

Further, in the Warsaw command (Okreg Warszawa-Powiaty) of the NSZ there was at least one high-ranking Jewish officer, Feliks Pisarewski-Parry. Pisarewski-Parry was a member of the Home Army. According to his memoirs and underground dispatches, he was captured by the Gestapo. A special squad of the NSZ under Captain Piotr Zacharewicz (alias: Zawadzki) attacked a Nazi police prisoner convoy and freed him. This was done on the specific order of Major Mieczyslaw Osmolski (alias: Mikolaj), the commander-in-chief of the Warsaw District (Okreg Warszawa-Miasto) of the NSZ. Osmolski and Pisarewski-Parry had been closely acquainted before the war: they trained at the same boxing club. After being rescued, Pisarewski-Parry joined the NSZ where he worked in the intelligence service. His NSZ rescuers provided him with the new false identity papers, and they arranged for surgery meant to mis-identify him if he ever fell into German hands again. Thus it seems that the relationship between persons of Jewish origin and Polish Nationalists was more nuanced and complicated that the current historiography allows.

Second, I would like to make some clarifications concerning the place of the NSZ within the Home Army. Following the agreement of March 1944 between the NSZ and AK commands, a minority group led by the National Radical Camp (Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny) refused to join, while the majority part of the NSZ that was politically controlled by the National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe) subordinated itself to the Home Army. They constituted an autonomous force within the Home Army, using on their documents the designation NSZ-AK. To complicate the issue further, in mid-July 1944, the far-right Sword and Plow Movement joined the NSZ-AK, thus indirectly subordinating itself to the Home Army. When the 1944 Warsaw Uprising broke out, however, the remaining minority NSZ-ONR subordinated itself to the majority NSZ-AK, thus indirectly becoming part of the Home Army as well. The National Radicals thus displayed political maturity as they temporarily suspended their oppositionist tendencies for the sake of victory over the Nazis.

Third, the battlefield history in World War II Poland was complicated by the fact that the command of the National Armed Forces was not informed about the hour and date of the Uprising by the leadership of the Home Army. Hence, the NSZ failed to mobilize on time. Therefore, many NSZ soldiers fought individually in the AK units. We are unable to provide precise statistics, because they were obliged by previous agreement to keep their membership in NSZ secret. They posed as the freshly-recruited AK soldiers who had not been affiliated with any underground group prior to the Uprising. Nonetheless, within a few days after the Uprising broke out, the NSZ Warsaw command managed to reassemble in the City Center. As a result, most of the cohesive units of the NSZ in the City Center fought under their own unified NSZ command, which was in turn subordinated to the Home Army Headquarters. The most notable exception was one of the largest and most audacious insurgent units: the Chrobry II Group of the NSZ-AK and NSZ-MiP, which fought independently of the NSZ Warsaw command, taking orders directly from the AK. Meanwhile, other NSZ officers, who rallied their troops in the districts of Wola and the Old Town, also subordinated their units, the Special Motorized Brigade "Kolo" in particular, directly to the local Home Army command. However, while fighting under the AK leadership, many of the NSZ, especially the National Radicals, continued to stress their separate status. For example, when Second Lieutenant Stanislaw Tylingo (alias: Bóbr) was awarded a Virtuti Militari Cross by General Tadeusz Komorowski, he declared that he was a soldier of the Academic Legion (Legia Akademicka) of the NSZ.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain the relations between the AK insurgents and their colleagues from the NSZ is to invoke the image of regimental rivalry within the same army. They fought together against the common enemy (or, more properly, enemies, since there were two, Hitler and Stalin). The AK and the NSZ assisted one another without forgetting that there was competition between them not only for political power after the war but also for valor on the battlefield. This sentiment was fully reflected in the opinion of one of the Home Army superior officers who stated at the end of September 1944, only the insurgents affiliated with the Polish Socialist Party and the National Armed Forces had not succumbed to defeatism ("ze srodowisk politycznych wysuwaja sie w tych ciekich chwilach czlonkowie NSZ i PPS"). It should also be stressed that only the Communists remained outside the Polish military fraternity. One only needs to peruse the clandestine press of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) or the liberal Biuletyn Informacyjny of the AK to realize that the Communists took no interest in liberating Warsaw from the Nazis. Nonetheless, under Nazi fire, tactical cooperation between the AK and the miniscule Communist force did take place and the rank-and-file probably developed soldierly solidarity that transcended the ideological boundaries.

The title of my forthcoming book on these issues is W skier powodzi: NSZ w Powstaniu Warszawskim, 1944 (Into the Flood: The National Armed Forces during the Warsaw Uprising, 1944). The title invokes the pre-war "Youth Anthem" ("Hymn mlodych") sang by the young Nationalists and National Radicals to the tune of the popular revolutionary song "Warszawianka:"

Zloty slonca dzien dokola

Bialy Orzel wzlata wzwy.

W góre wzniesmy dumne czola,

Patrzac w Polski znak i krzy.

Polsce niesiem odrodzenie,

Depczac podlosc, falsz i brud.

W nas mocarne wiosny tchnienie,

W nas jest przyszlosc,

Z nami lud.

Naprzód idziem w skier powodzi

Niechaj wroga przemoc dry

Ju zwyciestwa dzien nadchodzi

Wielkiej Polski moc to my!

Sebastian Bojemski, Kosciuszko Foundation Fellow, Charlottesville, Virginia


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