The Polish Home Army and the struggle for the Lublin region 1943-1945

Blackwell, James William. (2010) The Polish Home Army and the struggle for the Lublin region 1943-1945. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Between 1939 and 1944 the underground forces of the Polish Government-in-Exile created an underground army in the Lublin region, which, at its height, numbered 60,000 men. The underground Army was created in order to facilitate the reestablishment of an independent Poland. The Army that was created, the AK, was in effect, an alliance organisation comprising, to varying degrees, members of all pro-independence underground groups. It was, in Lublin, to always suffer from internal stresses and strains, which were exaggerated by the actions of the region’s occupiers. These strains were highlighted and exploited by the ‘liberating’ Red Army. From the moment that they set foot in the province in July 1944, the forces of the Soviet Union aimed to put into place a Polish regime that was compliant and communist.

The most interesting fact about the operation mounted by the AK to liberate Lublin province from the Germans, lies in the regional command’s reaction to both their orders and the demands made of them by the incoming Soviets. The regional commander’s decision in July 1944 to order his forces to hand in their weapons and disperse meant that the human stock of the underground would remain, that it would survive the first wave of NKVD arrests. This meant that, despite the massive setback of the post liberation era, a core, armed, and well structured underground still existed. What destroyed this attempt to preserve the AK in Lublin was the halting of the eastern front for five months. This meant that 2.2 million Soviets were operating in and around Lublin whilst the AK central command was fighting to liberate Warsaw. The halting of the front, therefore, was to hasten the fate of those in the underground, both in the capital and to the east.

Ultimately it was the mass repression in the aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising that fatally weakened the Lublin underground as an organised, coherent entity. In many senses the crucial period for the AK in Lublin was the one from July until November 1944. The alliance of the underground in the area had been an often-difficult one but after months of silence from London, and the failure of the Warsaw Uprising and the Moscow talks, this alliance began to collapse.

Whilst the framework of the underground had been almost destroyed by the winter of 1944-1945, crucially a framework of resistance had survived the NKVD’s concerted attempts to destroy it totally. The importance of this framework was clearly shown after the Red Army restarted its attack at the heart of the Third Reich in January 1945, removing the vast majority of troops from the region. The second underground was much more disjointed in its nature with weaker command structures. Yet because a framework was in place, because some respected officers and their men had survived the winter of 1944-45, the underground was to remain more organised in Lublin than in most other areas of Poland. Whilst the anti-communist underground was ultimately defeated, in Lublin it was to remain a sizeable threat to the communist regime until 1947.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Polish, History, World War Two, Home Army
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Slavonic Studies
Supervisor's Name: Swain, Professor Geoffrey
Date of Award: 2010
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-1540
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:42

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