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The Doomed Soldiers
Polish Underground Soldiers 1944-1963 - The Untold Story

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Fundacja "Pamietamy"

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Doomed Soldiers In Polish

Home Army in the Nowogródek (Kresy Wschodnie - Eastern Borderlands) area after July 1944 - Armia Krajowa na Nowogródczyźnie po lipcu 1944.

A Historical Brief:

The failure of the Operation “Ostra Brama”, followed by the disarmament of Armia Krajowa (eng. Home Army, abr. AK) units near Wilno, in July 1944, dealt a severe blow to the Nowogródek District of AK. During this period, nearly 6,000 soldiers from the Home Army District "Nów" (code name of the Nowogródek AK District) found their way into the area around Wilno, to take part in its liberation from the Nazis. The great majority of men who were disarmed were transported to Kaluga (Russian: Калу́га). After refusing to give military oath to the Soviets, they were transported to punishment camps in the forests near Moscow. The grand-scale mobilization of the AK forces during the Operation “Burza”, or Operation "Tempest", provided Soviet intelligence with a great deal of information about the Home Army soldiers, their commanding officers, and their units in general. The Soviets viewed the membership in Home Army as a very serious crime. Special tactical units of the NKVD (Народный комиссариат внутренних дел Narodnyy komissariat vnutrennikh del - Soviet secret police) were very active in the area capturing AK soldiers, members of their families, and all other Poles sympathetic to the Home Army. The Soviets also announced an illegal conscription of the Polish citizens into the Red Army. Neither the Poles, nor the Belarusians living in the area intended to die for the Soviet cause, particularly while wearing their uniforms. They refused in great numbers, and were thereafter hunted by the NKVD special-purpose tactical units known as the “Khapuny” ("grabbers").

The Soviet reports from Lida, and their other regional NKVD county commands from this period reveal, that their special tactical units left bases every day to hunt and to arrest young men slated for conscription. Each NKVD unit killed and arrested between few and several dozen people. The roundups included summary executions and pacifications. Shooting individuals who were trying to escape, and torturing the families of men who were hiding, was also very common.

For example, on August 22, 1944 near Klukowicze, the Soviet units shot and killed 40 people. On August 23rd, they killed 27 people, and arrested 7 others. On September 11th, in Grod, 14 people were shot, and 11 others were arrested. On September 17-29, in the Eljaszki, and Orkany municipalities, 360 individuals were arrested; from within whom, 16 were shot. On January 19, 1945, around Chlebowce, 22 people were shot, and 11 others were arrested. On February 7th, during the pacification operation in the Puszcza Lipiczańska, the Soviets arrested 441 individuals and killed 34.

Nowogrodek Home Army

The extent of the Soviet terror can be gauged by the scope of their operation conducted between March 15, 1945, and April 12, 1945, in the area of two of Wilno’s administrative districts. The units from two NKVD divisions killed 109 individuals and arrested 5,245 others. The NKVD loses were 6 men and 10 wounded.

It is in this very climate, that the conspiratorial structures of the Home Army were beginning to re-emerge. Lt. Col. Maciej Kalenkiewicz, nom de guerre “Kotwicz”, became the new commanding officer of the Nowogródek District of Home Army.

Major Maciej Kalenkiewicz, nom de guerre “Kotwicz” - Armia Krajow Nowogrodek   Left: Major Maciej Kalenkiewicz, nom de guerre “Kotwicz”. Kalenkiewicz was one of the first partisans of the Second World War, having served as an officer in the Special Unit of the Polish Army, under command of Major Henryk Dobrzański, nom de guerre "Hubal". After the Soviet-Nazi invasion in 1939, in December 1939, Kotwicz made his way to France. After the fall of France, he escaped to England where he was instrumental in establishing the Polish Paratroop, Commando/Special Operations “Cichociemni” units. After parachuting into the Nazi-occupied Poland on the night of December 27-28, 1941, he became a member of the Home Army General Staff. Beginning in March 1944, Kalenkiewicz led the concentration of the “Nadniemieńskie" units of the Home Army in the Nowogródek District. On June 24, 1944 he was severely wounded by the Nazis near Dyndaliszki, and lost his right hand. Kalenkiewicz was the author of the Operation “Ostra Brama”. After the destruction of the AK units near Wilno by the Soviets, he was promoted to the rank of the Commandant of the AK Nowogródek District. Along with 36 of his soldiers, Maj. Kalenkiewicz died on August 21, 1944 during the battle with units from the 32nd Motorized Rifle Regiment of the NKVD at Surkonty. Maj. Maciej Kalenkiewicz was decorated with Cross of the Virituti Militari V Class, and twice with Cross of Valor. Read more about Major Kalenkiewicz here

After Kalenkiewicz’s death, the command of the district was passed onto its Chief of Staff ,Capt./Maj. Stanisław Sędziak, nom de guerre “Warta”. Sędziak, who was able to normalize the situation in the Nowogródek district, established a new General Staff. He also created new Unit V (communications), the Bureau of Information and Propaganda, and established contacts with other reemerging regional commands; among them, those in Wilno and Białystok. Unfortunately, already in November 1944, he was under the danger of being arrested, and was forced to move to the neighboring AK District in Białystok. In April 1945, “Warta’s" functions were transferred to Rtm. (Cavalry Capitan) Jan Skorb, nom de guerre “Boryna”, and then, in August 1945, to the Sec. Let. Ludwik Nienartowicz, nom de guerre “Mazepa”.

The earlier NKVD arrests irreversibly undermined the integrity of the organization. In a short while, many officers from the District Command were arrested as well. Among them were:

- I Deputy Commandant Capt. Władysław Stawowski, nom de guerre "Sawa", who died while in the Soviet camp in 1956;
- Chief of Staff (?) Capt. Stanisław Rybka, "Ikar", "Brożyna", who was murdered at the NKVD jail in Lida;
- Chief of the Sapper Unit, Lt. Józef Łubikowski, nom de guerre "Sybirak", who was sentenced to death;
- Lt. Józef Orechwo, nom de guerre "Już", was sentenced to many years in the Soviet punishment camps;
- Janusz Wroński, "Janosik", the Chief of the BiP (abr. Bureau of Information and Propaganda), was sentenced to many years of prison.

Capt. Władysław Stawowski, nom de guerre "Sawa"

Left: Capt. Władysław Stawowski, nom de guerre "Sawa". As a professional officer in the Ranks of the KOP (pol. abr. Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza – Border Security Corps), Stawowski participated in the 1939 defensive war. Initially, he took part in the underground resistance in the Wilno area, and thereafter, was part of the Command of the Nowogródek Home Army District. While there, he served as its Chief of Unit I (Logistics). He was one of the organizers of the local Nowogródek underground resistance. After July 1944, he was the district’s Deputy Commandant. Władysław Stawowski was arrested by the NKVD in autumn 1944, and was sent to into the labor/punishment camps in the Soviet Kazachstan, where he died on July 22, 1955 …

On September 8, 1944, the tactical group of NKVD/NKGB (rus. Народный комиссариат государственной безопасности) destroyed the Home Army District Command’s radio transmitter located in the village Zalesie, in Lida County. After this setback, the District’s tactical communications capabilities were never fully re-established. The communications of the district "Nów" (the codename of the Home Army District in Nowogródek) were from that point on conducted via its neighboring AK Unit V, codename "Pełnia", in Białystok.

Captain Pilot Stanisław Rybka, nom de guerre "Brożyna", "Ikar" - Home Army Nowogrodek

Left: Captain Pilot Stanisław Rybka, nom de guerre "Brożyna", "Ikar". Captain Rybka was an officer in the 5th Air Regiment in Lida, and in the 2nd Krakow Air Regiment. He participated in the 1939 defensive war, was shot down, and was severely wounded. In the Nowogródek District of AK, he served as the Chief of Air Support Operations. After July 1944, he played an important role in the re-created Command of the District, most likely serving as its Chief of Staff, and probably as its II Deputy Commandant. The NKVD arrested Stanisław Rybka in autumn 1944. He was sentenced to death and was murdered at the courtyard at the Lida jail.

On orders from the General Staff of Home Army, the district Command attempted to demobilize the remnants of its surviving in the field units. It became impossible however, since the mass arrests conducted by the NKVD forced more and more people into hiding. Having no other way of surviving, these men began to spontaneously create self-defense partisan units, thus supplying more, and more, men and women to the resistance.

Sec. Lt. Józef Jagielski, "Pion”.

Left: Sec. Lt. Józef Jagielski, nom de guerre "Pion”.

The strongest resistance units emerged in the autumn 1944 in the Lida County. They were referred to as the Zgrupowanie "Południe" (eng. The Grouping “South”) and Zgrupowanie "Północ" (eng. The Grouping “North”). These names denote the entire conspiratorial and partisan forces of the Home Army in a given area. The experienced officers, who distinguished themselves during the Nazi occupation, led them.

They were: Sec. Lt. Czesław Zajączkowski, nom de guerre "Ragner", and Sec. Lt. Jan Borysewicz, nom de guerre "Krysia". In addition to the number of self-defense operations against the NKVD, they also conducted reprisal, and sabotage actions. Such operations took place in September 1944, as a part of the reprisals for the murders of Polish citizens.

They were conducted by a large sabotage units from the Zgrupowania Południe", that carried out 12 acts of sabotage against the Soviet trains. The "Zgrupowanie Północ" on the other hand, destroyed 9 bridges. The following units operated within the Zgrupowanie “Południe": (1) Units of Sec. Lt. “Ragner”, (2) Sec. Lt. Józef Jagielski, "Pion”, and (3) Corp. Witold Hładko, "Gil", (4) a group of Sgt. Wacław Pawłowski "Zawieja", and patrol units of (5) Platoon Leader Tadeusz Orwid, "Kuba", (6) Sgt. Witold Skawiński, "Kuna", and (7) NN (pl. abr. Unknown and Unidentified) "Karas".

In the operational area of the Zgrupowanie "Północ", active were following units: (1) Personal Protection Unit of Lt. “Krysia”, (2) units and groups under command of Sec. Lt. Czesław Stankiewicz, "Komar”, (3) Sec. Lt. Józef Chiniewicz, "Grom", (4) Sec. Lt. Czesław Stecewicz, "Śmiały", (5) Platoon Leader Michał Tetianiec, "Myśliwy", (6) Cpl. Więckiewicz, "Zemsta", (7) Cpl. Adam Łoszakiewicz, "Iskra", (8) Cpl. Ryszard Kiersnowski, "Puchacz", (9) Cpl. Józef Zarzycki "Piętka", (10) Cpl. Michał Nawrocki, "Wrzos", (11) NN "Hajduk", (12) NN "Filar", (13) NN "Poręba".

In the Szczuczyński County, operated units of (1) Cpl. Werenowiszcz, "Kuna", (2) Sgt. Bolesław Koleśnik, "Smok", (3) Stanisław Rytkowski, "Wodny" and Bronisław Mickiewicz, "Niedźwiedź ", while in the Iwje-Juraciszki area, operated groups of (4) Hulecki, "Wiatr", (5) Antoni Don, "Jaskółka", (6) Sec. Lt. Jan Wasiewicz, "Lew", (7) Sec. Lt. Józef Sylwanowicz, "Listek", (8) Officer Cadet Eryk Barcz, "Eryk", (9) Cpl. Bolesław Zabłocki, "Oczko", (1) Józef Uss, "Śmigło”. The most active from among them was the Unit 1 of Oddział Samoobrony Czynnej Ziemi Wileńskiej (eng. Wilno’s Active Self-Defense Unit) that was led by Sec. Lt. Hieronim Piotrowski, “Jur”.

In the Baranowicki and Nieświeski counties, active were units of Sgt. Czesław Rymaszewski, "Nagan", Platoon Leader Jan Kanceralczyk, "Skiba", Sgt. Michał Modzelewski, "Miszka", Platoon Leader "Obiega". The title of the chief enemy of the Soviet regime in the Nowogródek area, was bestowed upon the Sec. Lt. “Ragner”, and his units from the Zgrupowanie "Południe". The units of the NKVD Internal Security Forces embarked on grand-scale operations against his units. On September 29, 1944, the Sub-Unit from the 265-th Infantry Regiment of the Internal Forces of the NKVD, destroyed the Edward Staron, “Karaś’s” patrol unit.

Tadeusz Orwid, nom de guerre "Kuba".
Above: Tadeusz Orwid, nom de guerre "Kuba".
Cavalry Captain (Rotmistrz) Jan Skorb, nom de guerre “Boryna”, who from March 1945, served as the Commandant of the Nowogródek District of Home Army.
Above: Cavalry Captain (Rotmistrz) Jan Skorb, nom de guerre “Boryna”, who from March 1945, served as the Commandant of the Nowogródek District of Home Army.
Lt. Jan Borysewicz, nom de guerre(s) “Krysia”, "Mściciel"

Left: Lt. Jan Borysewicz, nom de guerre(s) “Krysia”, "Mściciel". Borysewicz participated in the defensive war in 1939, and thereafter commanded the partisan unit Nr. 314, that served as a basis for the emerging II/77 Infantry Regiment of the Home Army. He began his unit with 7 men, and only after one year thereafter, it grew to 650 well-armed soldiers. He was very popular among both local population, and the AK partisans alike, distinguishing himself in operations against the Nazi pacification forces. Beginning in May 1944, Jan Borysewicz commanded the Zgrupowanie "Północ" (the II and V/77. Infantry Regiments of AK). After August 1944, he continued his conspiratorial activities in the Nowogródek area.

Lt. Jan Borysewicz perished on January 21, 1945, near Kowalki, during an ambush set up by the NKVD’s tactical group from the 105-th Boarder Regiment. The Soviets carried his body from village to village, and from city to city, for all to see. For example, his corps was shown on the market place in Lida. His place of burial remains unknown to this day.

On October 27, in Szejbaki near Żołudk, the NKVD tactical unit destroyed patrol unit of the Platoon Leader W. Grabowski, nom de guerre "Żyd”. At the end of October, and beginning of November, the units of “Gil”, and “Pion” operating on the southern side of the River Niemen, in the Ruda area, were destroyed as well. During November 7-9, 1944, the NKVD was also able to destroy the Nowogródek’s Central Command “Klara”, and arrested most of its leadership cadre. The Sec. Lt. “Ragner who on several occasions managed to evade the Soviet chases, was encircled by the NKVD forces on December 3, 1944, in the area of Jeremicze. The Soviets threw over 1,400 NKVD men, supported by 3 tanks, against “Ragner’s” unit that had less than 30-men. While the Sec. Lt. “Ragner” and four of his men died, and three wounded men fell into the Soviet hands. The rest of the unit managed to pierce through the encirclement. After that, the command of the “Ragner’s” unit was transferred to Sgt. Antoni Urbanowicz, nom de guerre "Laluś".

he partisan unit of Sgt. Władysław Janczewski, “Laluś” near Wersocka in April 1945.

Left: The partisan unit of Sgt. Władysław Janczewski, “Laluś” near Wersocka in April 1945. This unit fought many battles with NKVD. In August 1945, it moved from Puszcza Rudnicka to “Poland”, where on August 28, 1945, near Kraśniany, it was attacked by combined forces of NKVD, UB (pol. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa - Polish Secret Police), and KBW (Internal Security Corps – Polish Communist Internal Security forces) from Sokółka. During the engagement 12 partisans died, and 4 fell into the hands of Soviet and Polish secret police.

The Lt. “Krysia” who managed to survive a little longer, conducted quite a few successful operations against the NKVD. But, on January 21, 1945, near Kowalki, he was surrounded during an ambush setup by the NKVD’s 105th Boarder Regiment, and perished as well.

Right: Sgt. Anatol Urbanowicz, nom de guerre “Laluś”, an Adjutant to Sec. Lt. “Ragner”, who commanded the unit after his death. For a period of time, he commanded the Szczuczyn-Lida District of AK. He engaged NKVD tactical groups on many occasions. On May 27, 1945, near Lida, the Intelligence Reconnaissance Unit 34 from the Motorized Regiment of NKVD surrounded him. He shot himself rather than allowing himself to be captured by the NKVD.

The next target of the NKVD became the AK units hiding in the Puszcza Rudnicka. During January 6-7, 1945, a considerable NKVD forces attacked units of “Komar”, “Myśliwy”, and “Zemsta” killing at least 31 partisans. The partisan units managed to pierce through however, and continued their activities. In March 1945, however, an NKVD's special tactical unit killed “Komar” and 18 of his men in Okolica.

Sgt. Anatol Urbanowicz, nom de guerre “Laluś”

On January 29, 1945, near Korelicze, the combined forces of three NKVD regiments, destroyed the moving from the Eastern Borderlands “to Poland” (Read more about Polish territories annexed by the Soviet Union) units of the Cavalry Captain “Grom”, Lt. “Tur”, and Lt. “Tumra”, killing 89 partisans, and capturing 25 others. As a part of the reprisal, the NKVD also arrested 200 people in the area. During various engagements that took place in the autumn 1944, and spring 1945, on December 27, near Kamionka, the NKVD destroyed the units of “Smok”, and on January 6, 1945, near Narweliszki, destroyed the unit of “Listek”. In February 1945, the NKVD destroyed the unit of Wiatr”, and then on February 20, 1945, in Pieckowice, it destroyed the unit of “Kuna”. In March 1945, destroyed were units of "Jaskółka", and on May 25, 1945, near Dajnowo, “Iskra’s” units were destroyed as well.

April 1945. Armia Krajowa Unit of Sgt. Władysław Janczewski, nom de guerre "Laluś' unit near Koleśniki.

Above: April 1945. Armia Krajowa Unit of Sgt. Władysław Janczewski, nom de guerre "Laluś' unit near Koleśniki.

In the spring of 1945, the Wilno Command led by Cavalry Captain “Boryna”, and thereafter by Sec. Lt. “Miedzianka”, began to demobilize AK resistance in the Nowogródek area, and to move its members beyond the Curzon Line. The transfer of the Home Army soldiers to “Poland” lasted until the end of November 1945. In general, the process of organizing these secret transfers was aided by AK contacts (pol. wtyczki”) active in the Państwowy Urząd Repatriacyjny (eng. State Office of Repatriation).

April 1945, in Wersoka near Koleśniki. From right are: Stanisław Krukowski, nom de guerre "Młot", and Jan Grzywacz, nom de guerre "Komar". Both men, having been members in the Sgt. Janczeski, “Laluś’s” unit, died in combat with NKVD’s tactical units in Wersoka, near Wojdagi.

Left: April 1945, in Wersoka near Koleśniki. From right are: Stanisław Krukowski, nom de guerre "Młot", and Jan Grzywacz, nom de guerre "Komar". Both men, having been members in the Sgt. Janczeski, “Laluś’s” unit, died in combat with NKVD’s tactical units in Wersoka, near Wojdagi.

Subsequently, the units of “Puchacz", "Piętka", "Myśliwy", "Filar", "Poręba", "Oczko", "Śmigły", "Nagan", "Skiba", "Lew", and "Obieg" were disbanded, and their soldiers were secretly moved to the Western Poland’s “New Territories” (former German territories assigned to Poland after the Yalta conference) , hiding among civilians being transferred in the repatriation transports. Several units whose members were known to, and and sought by the NKVD, crossed the “Curzon Line” holding arms in their hands. These were the units of “Laluś”, “Śmiały", "Żuk", and parts of the “Niedźwiedź’s” men. The movement of the combined units of “Laluś”, “Mroczny”, “Jurek”, and “Piorun” culminated in the battle at Kraśniany, while they were already on the “Polish side” of the boarder. The partisans lost 12 men dead, and 4 captured.

After reaching the area of "Polska lubelska" (eng. the area of Poland around Lublin), a considerable part of the Nowogródek’s AK soldiers continued their conspiratorial activities in the ranks of the AK-WiN. The Eastern Borderlands’ AK soldiers played particularly important role in the anti-communist resistance in the Białystok area. In August 1945, the Sec. Lt. “Miedzianka”, and the remnants of the command of the Nowogródek District of Home Army, left for the Western Poland. It is at this junction, that the activities of the Nowogródek District of Home Army had ended.

Sec. Lt. Anatol Radziwonik, name de guerre(s) “Olech”, “Mruk”, “Stary”, “Ojciec”.

Left: Sec. Lt. Anatol Radziwonik, name de guerre(s) “Olech”, “Mruk”, “Stary”, “Ojciec”. Anatol was a teacher and scoutmaster. During the Nazi occupation, he led a platoon in the VII Battalion of the 77th Infantry Regiment of Home Army. After July 1944, he was a commanding officer of the combined Districts of Szczuczyn and Lida (District Nr. 49/67), and commanded strong partisan unit. He was among the most distinguished commanding officers in the post-WWII resistance in the Nowogródek area. Lt. Anatol Radziwonik died along men from his security unit on May 12, 1949, near Rakowszczyzna during combat with the NKVD.

A considerable number of the Home Army soldiers remained in the Nowogródek area nonetheless. Among them were the remnants of the regional structures, and even entire armed resistance units. There were many reasons for these men and women to stay on the Poland’s “Lost Territories”.

Some of them believed that the Allies will not allow the Soviet Russia to annex this area, and thus, they believed that it was only a temporary state of affairs. Others made conscious decision to stay in the Borderlands, and to continue their fight. Yet, others were not able to leave as a part of the repatriation process. The great majority of them were peasants and petty nobility.

The most important coordinating centre of the Polish armed resistance in the Nowogródek area during 1945-1949, was the District Szczuczyn-Lida (District 49/76) led by Sec. Lt. Anatol Radziwonik, nom de guerre “Olech”. While this district didn’t have direct contact with other resistance centers in Poland, i.e. WiN, it maintained contact with the post-AK resistance structures in the Grodno County; among them, the concentration of partisan units of Sec. Lt. Mieczysław Niedziński, nom de guerre "Niemen", "Men", "Ben".

Similarly, he kept contact with units of Chwieduk, “Cietrzwien”, in the Wołkow County. The Sec. Lt. “Olech” created a robust network of conspiratorial cells in the Szczuczyń and Lida Counties. His second in command was Sgt. Paweł Klikowicz, nom de guerre "Irena".

The unit of the Sec. Lt. “Olech”. In the center, sitting are: Sec. Lt. “Olech”, and Sgt. “Irena” who died on May 17, 1949 near Starodworce during combat with the NKVD. “Olech” who was shot in both legs, stayed behind and covered retreat of his unit. In the end, he shot himself, rather than allowing himself to fall into the Soviet hands.
Above: The unit of the Sec. Lt. “Olech”. In the center, sitting are: Sec. Lt. “Olech”, and Sgt. “Irena” who died on May 17, 1949 near Starodworce during combat with the NKVD. “Olech” who was shot in both legs, stayed behind and covered retreat of his unit. In the end, he shot himself, rather than allowing himself to fall into the Soviet hands.

pril 1945. Partisans from the Sec. Lt. “Krysia’s” unit and Sgt. “Laluś”, who participated in the “march to Poland”, and later fougth in the battle near Kraśniany.

Left: April 1945. Partisans from the Sec. Lt. “Krysia’s” unit and Sgt. “Laluś”, who participated in the “march to Poland”, and later fougth in the battle near Kraśniany. From left, and top, are: Marian Łuszkiwicz, nom de guerre "Kmicic", and Leokadia Nosewicz-Bojanowska, nom de guerre “Nieznana”, NN (unknown and unidentified soldier), Witold Szalewicz, nom de guerre “Szczur”.

In addition to other conspiratorial forces in place, the Sec. Lt. “Olech” overlooked several other units, and partisan groups, i.e. the units of Sgt. “Irena, Sec. Lt. Witold Maleńczyk, "Cygan", Wacław Szwarobowicz, "Kiepura", NN "Petera", and Leon Łapot, "Magik". Among activities carried out by these units were: self-defense operations against NKVD, liquidation of communist snitches, and NKVD functionaries and other particularly dangerous members of the Communist-Party regime. It also destroyed records kept by the “Siel'sovets” (rus. сельсовет- a Soviet governing unit, or an administrative-territorial unit of the Soviet Government), and combated the first attempts to transform the local farms into the Soviet-model kolkhoz, or collective farms, by burning them down, and by destroying the communist security outposts. As needed, the specific local resistance cells organized and conducted their own, armed patrols as well. The “Olech’s” units were widely supported by the inhabitants of the Kresy Wschodnie (eng. the Eastern Borderlands), and because of this very support, they had managed to survive until 1949. In March 1949, the Sec. Lt. “Cygan” died in an ambush, and the “Peter’s” unit was destroyed as well. Even at the end of April, the Sec. LT. “Olech” still managed to pierce through the NKVD encirclement around Lebioda, near Staniewicze, but ultimately, surrounded by the NKVD regiment, he perished along with his security unit on May 12, 1949 near Raczkowszczyzna.

While the “Kiepura’s” group managed to hold their ground until 1952, the death of Sec. Lt. “Olech” closes the chapter of organized resistance in the Nowogródek area.

April 1945. From left are: Witold Szalewicz, nom de guerre"Szczur", Kazimierz Kiedyk, nom de guerre "Klin", and Sgt. Władysław Janczewski.

Left: April 1945. From left are: Witold Szalewicz, nom de guerre"Szczur", Kazimierz Kiedyk, nom de guerre "Klin", and Sgt. Władysław Janczewski. As we can see, the resistance soldiers wore German-commandeered Einheitsfeldmütze M 43 hats instead of the traditional Polish four-pointed caps called the “rogatywki”. By a simple act of pinning the Polish Army eagles on them, they look surprisingly familiar. It has to be emphasized, that during the post WWII period, the resistance soldiers very reluctantly wore the second-hand German-Army uniforms. At least, 95% of resistance soldiers wore Polish uniforms, both those from the “September 1939” campaign, or those of the Polish “People’s” army.

During 1945-1948, in addition to Sec. Lt. “Olech’s” units, other well-known partisan units of Michał Durys and Jan Bukatko operated in the Lida Cunty. Conversely, in the area of Iwje and Wołożyn active were units of Bolesław Jurgiel, "Jeleń", and Zenon Zabrodzki’s group. The "Jeleń’s” men were commonly called the "Jurgielewcy", meaning the “men from the Jurgiel’s unit”. Michał Durys died on August 13, 1947, during combat with NKVD, near Wielkie Siolo, in Lida County, and the Bukatko’s unit was destroyed on March 28 in Demejki; Bukatko himself was killed. Bolesław Jurgiel, was killed in 1950, near Bakszyty, and thereafter, the NKVD destroyed the Zabrodzki’s unit at the end of 1949. The groups of Radiuk and Szydłowski active around Wołożyny and Iwieniec, were still alive during 1949-1950.

Left: Czesław Zajączkowski, nom de guerre "Ragner". Before the war, Zajączkowski was an official in the Lida municipality, and was an Officer Cadet in the Polish Army’s Communications reserves. During the war he was the Chief of Communications for the Lida District of AK. From April 1943, he was an organizer and commanding officer of the unit Nr. 312, and then, the IV/77 Infantry Regiment of Home Army. It was the largest partisan unit in the Nowogródek District. He fought against Nazis and Soviet communist partisans, stifling their push towards the Niemen line. He was decorated with Cross of the Virituti Militari V Class. After August 1944, he commanded the Zgrupowanie "Południe", that was mercilessly hunted by the NKVD. Along with several of his subordinates, he perished on December 3, 1944 near Jeremicze, around Nieciercze, after being surrounded by 1,400 NKVD troops.

We should also mention here several other, strong post-AK centers that collaborated with Sec. Lt. “Olech”, that formed in the Grodno and Wolkow counties - even though, they were earlier directly connected with the Białostok District of AK.

Czesław Zajączkowski, nom de guerre "Ragner".

There were several partisan units that operated in this area in 1945, as well, but for the most part, the NKVD destroyed them. The only unit from that area that managed to reach the "Polska lubelska", or “Poland around Lublin” that was still relatively intact, was the Sec. Lt. Stefan Pabis “Stefan’s” group BOA (pol. abr. "Bojowy Oddział Armii" – “Tactical Army Unit”].

Cpl. Leon Zajączkowski, nom de guerre "Drzewica" - Armia Krajowa, Nowogrodek

Left: Cpl. Leon Zajączkowski, nom de guerre "Drzewica", who was Sec. Lt. “Ragner’s” brother, a boy scout, who also commanded a squad in the IV/77 Infantry Regiment of AK. He died along with Sec. Lt. “Ragner” on December 3, 1944.

During the summer and fall, in a fashion similar to that of the District "Nów", the most active larger units from this area were to evacuate behind the “Curzon Line”. The only remaining active resistance center was one in Grodno County, led by then the District’s II Deputy Commandant, Sec. Lt. Mieczysław Niedzielski, nom de guere(s) "Men", "Ren", "Niemen". He was the first partisan in the Grodno (pol. Grodzieńszczyzna”) area during the Nazi occupation, having been a soldier in the I and VII/77 Infantry Regiment of Home Army.

He was the only officer in the area who conscientiously opposed the idea of suspending resistance activities and moving to the “New Territories” in the western Poland. In fall 1945, “Men” established a new partisan unit, led by Józef Mikłaszewicz, nom de guerre "Fala". By spring 1946, this unit had 70 soldiers. In addition, on the left bank of the Niemen River, and along the Latvian boarder, active was also unit of Bronisław Maciukiewicz, nom de guerre "Bawarski", who had about dozen men. Both units operated strictly in the “forests”, and had many bunkers hidden in larger forests.

The loses experienced during summer 1946, forced “Men” to divide his single, large unit, into three smaller groups, commanded by Józef Mikłaszewicz, "Fala", Franciszek Talewicz, "Komar", and by Markisz (his name is unknown), "Niedźwiedź".

Officers from the IV baon (battalion) of the 77th Infantry Regiment of Home Army. From left are: -Sec. Lt. Wojciech Stypuła, nom de guerre "Bartek", shot by the Soviets on August 22, 1944 in Puszcza Rudnicka; -Sec. Lt. Jerzy Bakłażec, nom de guerre "Pazurkiewicz, captured by the NKVD in November 1944, and publicly executed by hanging in Lida, in February 1945.

Left: Officers from the IV baon (battalion) of the 77th Infantry Regiment of Home Army. From left are: -Sec. Lt. Wojciech Stypuła, nom de guerre "Bartek", shot by the Soviets on August 22, 1944 in Puszcza Rudnicka; -Sec. Lt. Jerzy Bakłażec, nom de guerre "Pazurkiewicz, captured by the NKVD in November 1944, and publicly executed by hanging in Lida, in February 1945.

The burden of the sabotage and self-defense operations, fell for the most part upon the “Fala’s” group, that conducted number of attacks on Soviet Political-Administrative bodies, liquidated dozens of snitches, and NKVD agents. Both of these units managed to survive throughout 1946, and 1947. But, the following winter brought about the destruction of the " Niedźwiedź" and "Komar’s" units that found themselves surrounded by the NKVD at their forest encampments. The survivors from the“Niedźwiedź’s” unit regrouped once again, this time led by Józef Stasiewicz, nom de guerre "Samotny".

Because the "Bąk’s” unit gained more men in spring 1948, it was divided into two groups: the first one led by "Bąk" himself, and the other by Stanisław Burba, nom de guerre "Skoczek". In May, the “Fala’s” unit, in which at this time “Men” stayed, conducted a sweep operation in the area cleaning it up from the Soviet NKVD agents.

The partisan unit of Bronisław Zabłocki, nom de guerre "Oczko" in the Puszcza Nalibocka, in October 1945. For the most part, this unit consisted of partisans from the III and VI Battalion of the Home Army’s 77 Infantry Regiment. It conducted many self-defense operations against the NKVD. In November 1945, it was disbanded, and via PUR transports its men were secretly moved “to Poland”. From among them, two groups made it through, but the third one fell into the NKVD hands and was never seen again.

Above: The partisan unit of Bronisław Zabłocki, nom de guerre "Oczko" in the Puszcza Nalibocka, in October 1945. For the most part, this unit consisted of partisans from the III and VI Battalion of the Home Army’s 77 Infantry Regiment. It conducted many self-defense operations against the NKVD. In November 1945, it was disbanded, and via PUR transports its men were secretly moved “to Poland”. From among them, two groups made it through, but the third one fell into the NKVD hands and was never seen again.

During this operation, “Men’s” unit were surrounded and completely destroyed by the NKVD; among the dead were both commanding officers. The death of “Men” concludes the period of the coordinated activities of partisan groups in the Grodno, or Grodzieńszczyzna, area. An unceasing sweeps and arrests conducted by the NKVD, led to the destruction of the conspiratorial net in this area. The burden of the ongoing resistance activities was at this time transferred to the area of Lithuania.

The Soviet NKVD map signed by Major Goryun of NKVD tactical unit, prepared for the operation against the "Laluś's" unit - dated May 30, 1945.

Left: The Soviet NKVD map signed by Major Goryun of NKVD tactical unit, prepared for the operation against the "Laluś's" unit - dated May 30, 1945.

The conspiratorial resistance centers that emerged in spring 1946, in the eastern rural municipalities of the Wolkow County, were somewhat less developed. It is exactly then, that Reverend Antoni Bańkowski from Krzemienica Kościelna, and AK soldiers Bronisław Chwiediuk, "Cietrzew" and Antoni Szot, "Burza", organized a local resistance network, and along with it, the partisan unit codename “Reduta 2”. At times it had around 30 people, and had at its disposal four platoons, or conspiratorial centers. During this time, a new partisan unit codename "Żądło" (eng. sting) that had about dozen men led by Józef Karnacewicz "Kwiat” was created from within the ranks of the “Reduta 2”. Shortly thereafter, a new unit led by Michał Cisłowski "Gołąb" was established. Initially, it had 11 people, and by spring 1948, it grew to 20 men. The “Żądło” group was destroyed relatively early on as a result of a communist penetration and the arrests that followed.

The units in the Wolkow area avoided direct engagements with communist militia and NKVD, and instead focused on self-defense, and liquidation of communist agents and snitches. However, in 1948, the “Gołąb’s” unit got entangled in the combat with NKVD’s tactical units, and as a result was partially destroyed. The only group still holding on in the filed was the patrol unit of “Cietrzew”; that is, until it was liquidated by the NKVD on September 13, 1948 in the village Stanielewicze.

The wounded “Cietrzew” was taken prisoner, and was sentenced to 25 years in punishment camp. The capture of “Cietrzew”, that preceded the destruction of the majority of the conspiratorial resistance centers, ends the period of the mass-resistance to the communist terror in the Wolkow County.

 

The last notable event was the December 19, 1948 liquidation of a 4-men patrol from the “Wilk’s” (eng. wolf) unit; these men were survivors from the “Kwiat’s” unit.

During 1949-1953 there were still small partisan groups and individual men who single-handedly continued their doomed fight against the communist regime in the Nowogródek area. The last most famous doomed partisans of this period were: Mr. Puchalski from Klukowicze, and Mr. Hryniewicz “Bogdan” from Jodka village. During the Nazi occupation, “Bogdan” was a soldier in “Ragner’s” IV/77 Home Army Infantry Regiment. He gained fame by liquidating many NKVD functionaries. One of his most known actions was liquidation of an NKVD ambush unit in August 1953, set up by the Soviets at a roadside, near Berdówka. As a result, 4 NKVD agents, among them a captain was left dead. Ultimately betrayed, “Bogdan” fell into the Soviet hands in autumn 1953. He was transported to Grodno, never to be heard from again …

Along with his capture, the armed resistance against the Soviet regime in the Nowogródek area was extinguished by the communists …

Written by Kazimierz Krajewski, IPN Warsaw, Praca Zbiorowa, "Żołnierze Wyklęci. Antykomunistyczne Podziemie Zbrojne po 1944 roku” [eng. Anti-Communist Armed Underground After 1944], Oficyna Wydawnicza Volumen, Warsaw 2002.

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 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.

 

 

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