National Armed Forces - Narodowe Sily Zbrojne - NSZ - The Doomed Soldiers

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Doomed Soldiers In Polish

Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (NSZ) - National Armed Forces

A Historical Brief

Although the Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (NSZ) (Eng. National Armed Forces) is one of the best-known paramilitary organisations of the WWII and post-war Polish Underground State, the general knowledge on this subject is exceptionally modest. Established in September 1942 as a merger of various organisations with their roots in their respective national political movements, the National Armed Forces (NSZ) never comprised a uniform structure. In March 1944, the National Armed Forces merged with the Home Army (AK) but interestingly, that merger only in actuality, encompassed part of the National Armed Forces’ divisions. Aside of the NSZ-AK (National Armed Forces – Home Army) there also existed a separate organisation, using the same name – NSZ (National Armed Forces). However, as its political background was primarily coming from the pre-war National-Radical Camp, in order to distinguish it from NSZ-AK, that organisation was called NSZ-ONR (National Armed Forces – National-Radical Camp). Therefore, after WWII and throughout the Communist occupation period, there coexisted 2 separate paramilitary organisations under the same name.

The ”Warta” group was, in principle, prepared to relieve Lwów if the city were to go to Poland [it was still believed that this would happen], but the Ukrainians tried to take control of it nevertheless. Polish villages were protected against UPA attacks, struggling against Soviet troops at the same time. A larger battle, however, did not take place. On 15 December 1944, the soldiers of the “D14” company, led by Sergeant Feliks Maziarski nom de guerre “Szofer” performed a bold and successful operation of rescuing a dozen or more local NIE soldiers from the prison in Brzozów, including the Commander of the District, Maj. Andrzej Wanic. The operation was conducted without any losses to themselves.

Brigadier General Zygmunt ‘Bogucki’ Broniewski - Narodowe Sily Zbrojne, NSZ, 1944.

Left: Brigadier General Zygmunt ‘Bogucki’ Broniewski. [Photo taken Dec 1944] – In conspiracy from 1939, the Commander of the District III [City of Lublin] of NSZ in 1943-1944; Inspector of the Western Region of NSZ-ONR from September 1944; Acting NSZ ’Commander in Chief’ from October 1944. Threatened with imprisonment by the Security Office (Pol. Abr. UB – Urzad Bezpieczenstwa – Polish Secret Police), he managed to flee in August 1945. He died in France in 1949.

In Feb 1945, the activists of the National Party founded a brand new paramilitary organisation, known as the National Military Union (NZW), incorporating divisions of both NOW-AK and NSZ-AK. Particular regional units of the NZW would still often use the old name NSZ, though. This is why presently it is sometimes difficult to work out which name refers to which organisation. The independent NSZ was commanded by Brigadier General Zygmunt ‘Bogucki’ Broniewski . The territorial structure of this organisation was as follows: up until March 1945, the NSZ-ONR was divided into Districts while from April 1945 – into Districts and Regions.

The Chief of Staff was Colonel Pilot Piotr ‘Barski’ or ‘Grzadziel’ Abakanowicz; Chief of the 1st (organisational) Division was Major Michal ‘Boleslawski’ Pobocha. The District Commandants were:

- In the Western Region – Major Stanislaw Kasznica, nom de guerre "Wasowski";
- Eastern Region – Captain Miroslaw Ostromecki, nom de guerre "Mirski;
- Southern Region – Lieutenant Colonel Qualified Jan Kamienski, nom de guerre "Klimaszewski" (until August 1945); taken over by Colonel Pilot Piotr ‘Barski’ or ‘Grzadziel’ Abakanowicz afterwards.

Lieutenant Colonel Stanislaw Kasznica, nom(s) de guerre "Wasowski" or "Przepona" - Narodowe Sily Zbrojne, NSZ.

Left: Lieutenant Colonel Stanislaw Kasznica, nom(s) de guerre "Wasowski" or "Przepona" - in conspiracy from 1939 as a member of the Military Organisation Lizard Union; member of The Civil Commission and the Civil Service to the Nation; in NSZ-ONR from July 1944; Chief of the 1st organisational faculty of the front office; from September 1944, Commandant of the District VIII (city of Czestochowa); from April 1945, Inspector of the Western Region; Chief of the NSZ Inspectorate Committee; from August 1945 Acting Commander of NSZ-ONR. Arrested by the Security Office on 15th Feb 1947 and sentenced to death on 2nd March 1948; murdered in the Mokotow prison on 12th May 1948.

In August 1945 the Commander of NSZ, General ‘Bogucki’ fled abroad to the West to avoid the Security Office imprisonment. In the period until November 1945, the People’s Commisariat of Internal Affairs of the USSR (NKVD) along with the Security Office (UB) arrested the vast majority of officers in command of this organisation.

Chief of the so-called Inspectorate Committee and the Acting Commander in Chief of NSZ was Lieutenant Colonel Stanislaw ‘Przepona’ Kasznica, around whom concentrated the network of propaganda and clandestine operations. For many months, ‘Przepona’ was in close contact with the political centre of NSZ in the American zone of occupied Germany, where the ‘Swietokrzyska Brigade’ was based. In autumn 1946, he subordinated, along with the last remaining conspiracy members of the NSZ structure, to the General Headquarters of the National Military Union.

Parallel with NSZ-ONR there was another NSZ-SN organisation, with roots in that part of the NSZ which in 1944 was subordinated to the Home Army. After its liquidation in January 1945, numerous structures of the NSZ-AK were still fully and operationally active and went back to using the name NSZ. This is what happened in the Podlasie and Lubelszczyzna regions (which is where the Temporary National Political Committee of the Eastern Lands was founded, which subordinated to the General Headquarters of the National Military Union on 6th July 1945), and in the Kielecczyzna region.

Colonel Pilot Piotr Abakanowicz, nom(s) de guerre "Barski" or "Grey", or "Grzadziel" - in the NSZ-ONR from May 1944, District IB Commandant (Warsaw Districts). Between October 1944 and August 1945, he performed duties of the Chief of Staff of NSZ-ONR, after which he became Commandant of the Southern Region; arrested by the Security Office in October 1945 and sentenced to life imprisonment; died in Wronki prison as a result of a brutal beating by a prison guard on 1st June 1948.

Left: Colonel Pilot Piotr Abakanowicz, nom(s) de guerre "Barski" or "Grey", or "Grzadziel" - in the NSZ-ONR from May 1944, District IB Commandant (Warsaw Districts). Between October 1944 and August 1945, he performed duties of the Chief of Staff of NSZ-ONR, after which he became Commandant of the Southern Region; arrested by the Security Office in October 1945 and sentenced to life imprisonment; died in Wronki prison as a result of a brutal beating by a prison guard on 1st June 1948.

In reality, these structures comprised part of the National Military Union, proof of that being in organisational documents which have survived to this day. Apart from that, there functioned many paramilitary groups in Poland, which would refer in their names to the Military Armed Forces, but which wouldn’t in any way be linked with the Headquarters of NSZ-ONR and NSZ-SN. See for example the division of Major Antoni ‘Zuch’ Zubryd. The most intensive period of activity for the partisan divisions of the National Armed Forces came in 1945-1946. One of their biggest successes includes the battle between the divisions of Lieutenant Stanislaw [Zbigniew?] ‘Jarema’ Sikorski and the NKVD operational group near the town of Kotki (Busko Zdroj district), which took place on 28th May 1945.

Killed in action on the NSZ side were: the division commander and a few soldiers [however, the NKVD report states that 22 were killed and 11 injured]. The one NSZ-ONR group which remained active for the longest period of time was the so-called District VII under the command of Captain Henryk ‘Grot’ or ‘Bartek’ Flame. As a result of a Security Office provocation, around 200 of his soldiers were captured and subsequently murdered (without being officially sentenced) in September 1946 near Lambinowice village (Opole district). The circumstances surrounding their deaths remain unknown to this very day.

Captain Henryk Flame, nom(s) de guerre "Grot" or "Bartek" Flame - Narodowe Sily Zbrojne, NSZ.

Left: Captain Henryk Flame, nom(s) de guerre "Grot" or "Bartek" Flame. Before WWII, he was a pilot-instructor in the Air Force 2nd Division; his plane was shot in action by Germans during the 1939 campaign; in NSZ during the German occupation, including acting as Cieszyn District Commandant; in 1944-1945 in NSZ-AK; from spring 1945 commander of the NSZ partisan group and Commandant of District VII of the NSZ; a three or so companies (around 400 soldiers) under his command fought over 240 battles against Security Office and KBW operational groups in the Podbeskidzie region in 1945-1947; on 3rd May 1946 his divisions took over the town of Wisla where they staged a few hours’ long commemorative parade. From July 1946 onwards, his divisions got infiltrated by Security Office agents, who were solely responsible for killing around 200 NSZ soldiers in September 1946 in Lambinowice; having lost contact with NSZ, ‘Bartek’ started cooperating with NZW, where he remained active until March 1947; he also cooperated with the ‘Ognia’ group and the Silesian battalion KWP ‘Wedrowiec’; revealed himself as well as part of his structures in March 1947; shot dead in unknown circumstances by a Civil Militia functionary Rudolf Dudek in Zabrzeg, near Czechowice on 1st December 1947.

Communists used various methods of provocation against the NSZ, also during the Nazi occupation. For example, divisions of the People’s Guard (GL) and People’s Army (AL) would commit various criminal assaults, to then leave false ‘receipts’ signed by NSZ and NSZ bulletins in places of their crime. Such methods were also commonly used by the People’s Militia and Security Office functionaries after the war – the documents detailing similar actions are even included in the court documents of the People’s Republic of Poland. The NSZ was also falsely accused of the mass murder of all residents of the Ukrainian village of Wierzchowiny (Krasnystaw district) on 6th June 1946, although the circumstances surrounding this crime clearly show that it was the Communists who were behind it. However, no one in the puppet state of the People’s Republic of Poland ever tried to get to the bottom of it and bring the real criminals to justice.

Despite Communist propaganda efforts shredding the NSZ’ good name to pieces by accusing them of committing the most horrendous of crimes, numerous independent Anti-Communist youth organisations with a local reach and functioning in Poland until the beginning of 1950’s would still associate themselves with and refer to the NSZ.

May 1945. PAS NSZ soldiers of the Lublin District from the division of Major Mieczyslaw ‘Szary’ Pazderski [seated in the middle row, above the soldier carrying an MP-40].

Above: May 1945. PAS NSZ soldiers of the Lublin District from the division of Major Mieczyslaw ‘Szary’ Pazderski [seated in the middle row, above the soldier carrying an MP-40].

Major Antoni Żubryd, nom(s) de guerre "Orlowski" or "Zuch" - Narodowe Sily Zbrojne - NSZ.

Left: Major Antoni Żubryd, nom(s) de guerre "Orlowski" or "Zuch". Participant of the defence of Warsaw in September 1939; from winter 1939 cooperated with the Soviet secret services; arrested by the Gestapo in November 1941, sentenced to death by the German field court in September 1943; escaped from the place of execution. In autumn 1944, he joined the Polish Secret Service, where he performed duties of the deputy chief of PUBP in Sanok. He maintained contacts with the anti-Communist underground movement. Threatened with arrest, in June 1945, having released the PUBP prisoners, he escaped to the forests to join the partisan squads with a few of his collaborators. In an act of revenge, the Security Office arrested his wife, mother-in-law and his little son. In answer to this, the ‘Żubryd’ squad assassinated the PUBP chief in Sanok, after which they took over the Citizens’ Militia post in Haczow, imprisoning its entire team. ‘Żubryd’ threatened the newly appointed PUBP chief in Sanok that if his family aren’t released, the Citizens’ Militia team will be shot dead. The threat worked. As soon as he joined the partisans, Major Żubryd got in touch with the NSZ. He led a platoon consisting of a few dozen men, which operated in the Sanok district. The platoon was called the NSZ Independent Operational Platoon ‘Zuch’. Zubryd fought many successful battles against the NKVD, UB and KBW operational groups. He also carried out several liquidation missions. Defending Polish nationals, the Żubryd division fought against UPA. Major Żubryd and his wife Janina were both murdered by a Security Office agent Jerzy Vaulin in the village of Malinowka on 24th October 1946. The remaining few Żubryd soldiers got arrested in 1949.

Janina Żubryd [née Praczynska], the wife of Antoni Żubryd - Narodowe Sily Zbrojne, NSZ.

Above, Left: Janina Żubryd [née Praczynska], the wife of Antoni Żubryd. After her release from the Security Office prison, she remained in her husband’s unit. Shot dead with Major Zubryd by a Security Office agent Jerzy Vaulin on 24th September 1946 in the village of Malinowka.

Lieutenant Colonel Stanislaw Kasznica, nom(s) de guerre "Wasowski" or "Przepona" - Narodowe Sily Zbrojne, NSZ.

  Bodies of Major Antoni Żubryd and his wife Janina, shot dead by a Security Office agent, Jerzy Vaulin.

Above, Right: Picture taken by Security Office in Malinowka village. Bodies of Major Antoni Żubryd and his wife Janina, shot dead by a Security Office agent, Jerzy Vaulin. Vaulin, a former Home Army soldier, was in Major Zuch’s unit using the pseudonym ‘Bronek’, whereas in the Security Office he was known as ‘Mewa’

Left: Major Antoni ‘Zuch’ Żubryd- photo taken by the Security Office. Even in the 1960’s, the People’s Republic of Poland’s Communist propaganda was building a ‘true’ picture of the Major - the demon of the wild Bieszczady corner of post-war Poland.

In the film ‘Ogniomistrz Kalen’ directed by Ewa and Czeslaw Petelski, Major Żubryd was portrayed as a common bandit, murdering innocent soldiers of the ‘Peoples’ Polish Army, in cold blood.

Translated by Magdalena Homa, Further Editing by Jan Czarniecki

Written by Leszek Żebrowski, Praca Zbiorowa, "Żołnierze Wyklęci. Antykomunistyczne Podziemie Zbrojne po 1944 roku” [Eng. Anti-Communist Armed Underground After 1944], Oficyna Wydawnicza Volumen, Warsaw 2002. Photo captions by Grzegorz Wąsowski & Leszek Żebrowski.

This Historical Brief is published here in accordance with the Greater Public Good Doctrine, and is a part of the "Fundacja Pamietamy" [1] and "Żołnierze Wyklęci - Zapomniani Bohaterowie" project.

[1] The primary goal of the Foundation "Pamietamy" is the restoration of the proper social and historical place for the individuals, who during second half of the 1940's, and beginning of the 1950's, undertook armed resistance against the Communist regime in Poland. The goal of the foundation is to commemorate those, who in the name of freedom, and in the name of human dignity, laid on the altar of freedom their own personal and professional aspirations, their personal freedoms, and above all, their lives.

For more information about Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (NSZ), (Eng. National Armed Forces) see:

- "Wspomnienia Partyzanta NSZ" ["Memoirs of NSZ Partisan"]
- Who were enemies of Poland
- Who Occupied Poland?
- Lies, Lies by Omission, and Obfuscations - History likes to play jokes ...
- Life and Survival In Polish Partisan Units.

 

 

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