Counterintelligence Operations of Home Army (AK - Armia Krajowa ) And WiN (Wolność i Niezawisłość - Freedom And Independence) Against Secret Police Apparatus In Poland During 1944-1947. (pol. Kontrwywiad AK-WiN w latach 1944-1947)
The subject presented here is very complex, and unfortunately poorly documented. Only few fragments of the reports from the intelligence, and counter-intelligence cells of the Home Army, and thereafter, the WiN survived. The majority of archives created by the counter-intelligence units were most likely destroyed in, and around, 1947, thus, before the underground soldiers revealed themselves as a part of the communist amnesty. What survived, were only those documents, which were confiscated by the UB (pol. Urząd Bezpieczeństwa – abbr. UB) functionaries during searches conducted during 1945-1947. They are scattered throughout various places, particularly in court records, personal files, and to a significantly lesser degree, in the records of investigations.
Only now, after the Security Service (pol. Urząd Bezpieczeństwa) archives were opened by the Institute for National Remembrance (pol. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej), it will be possible to learn more about the extend of these activities. It will be possible to gauge how individual cells of the Polish Underground State attempted to penetrate ranks of the newly forming State Security organization(s), and forming simultaneously organs of the People’s Militia (pol. Milicja Obywatelska – abbr. MO). We will attempt to compare and characterize these activities at the rural (pol. gmina), County, Voivodeship, and the central levels, that is the MBP (pol. Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego – Ministry of Public Security) l, and the KG MO (pl. Komenda Główna Milicji Obywatelskie), Central Command of the People’s Militia). The particulars of the penetration of these institutions by the members of the underground was particularly well guarded during the period of the Polish People’s Republic (pol. abbr. PRL). For example, in the Lublin district, well into the eighties, these records were reviewed by the SB (pol. Służba Bezpieczeństwa – State Security) functionaries, who at first actively combated the underground, and after retiring supplemented their income by writing (on the request of the SB - Służba Bezpieczeństwa) the "history" of the democratic underground. At the same time, the personnel files from the WUBP (pol. Wojewódzki Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - Voivodeship Office For Public Security), SB (pol. Służba Bezpieczeństwa - Internal Security Service), and KW MO (pol. Voivodeship Command of the People's Militia - Komenda Wojewódzka Milicji Obywatelskiej) (1) departments responsible for internal auditing of members of the security apparatus and their families for possible links with the democratic underground, didn’t survive. The probes into the past of the functionaries and their families were conducted until 1989. No one, whose family member (father, grandfather, uncle) was in contact with AK or WiN had any chance of being employed with the “resort” (pol. "resort" a name commonly used to describe all Polish communist internal security and foreign intelligence and counter-intelligence organizations); unless such person opted to cooperate with UB/SB, and through his/her particularly "dedicated" service as an informer, was able to clear his own trespasses by informing on others.
The surviving records form the Department VI KW MO (pol. Komenda Wojewódzka Milicji Obywatelskiej - Voivodeship Command of the People’s Militia) in Rzeszów reveal, that aside from real collaborators with the underground, others, perceived as not subordinated sufficiently towards the upper management, were often discharged under the guise of collaborating with WiN. (2) Simply, it often took only one report on a Militia man, that effectively ended his career with the security apparatus forever. It is regrettable that we will not be unable to compare our findings with the testimonies provided by the actual participants in those events, the Polish underground soldiers, who unfortunately have already left for the eternal service.
What is left before us, is a very arduous task re-assembling our understanding of this distinguished, and yet secretive service of the AK-WiN, based on the bits-and-pieces of reports, and correspondence. For it was a service in which soldiers of the Democratic Underground, contributed to saving countless human lives.
I. Counter-Intelligence Activities of Home Army during the German occupation
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the counter-intelligence is an "organized activity of an intelligence service designed to block an enemy's sources of information, to deceive the enemy, to prevent sabotage, and to gather political and military information". Similar in nature to the activities of the intelligence, the counter-intelligence also requires great secrecy of methods, means, aims, and scope of the activities. (3)
The Home Army possessed in its structures both the intelligence, and the counter-intelligence units. It was an attempt to recreate the former structures of the pre-war intelligence and counterintelligence of the Section II of the General Staff of the Polish Army [, commonly known as "Dwójka"]. The task of the intelligence was gathering information about the adversary - primarily the German military-industrial complex, military, and police units, as well as information about planned German military offensives. The functions of the Home Army counter-intelligence were, on the other hand focused, on gathering information about German police units, their intelligence infrastructure, agents recruited among Poles, as well as activities of the German military intelligence, the Abwehr on the Polish territory. In general, the activities of the Polish underground counterintelligence functioned as a part of the Polish Underground State, and aimed at protection of its own ranks against penetration by the intelligence services of the German occupier.
The counterintelligence of the Home Army had a considerably well developed infrastructure encompassing all operational levels ranging from the General Command of the AK, through the District Commands, Inspectorates, County Commands, and even rural municipalities. The documents recently discovered by the IPN Unit in Lublin, reveal considerable effectiveness of the counterintelligence cells within the Lublin Command of the AK; these subordinated to the Section II of the District Command, as well as the Section I - Planning. The discovered materials suggest, that the Home army had their people placed within Gestapo, Army, and Police organizations operating in the Lublin area. The conspirators operating in these units were able, through their contacts, to reach prisoners held by the Gestapo, and within the Lublin Castle (pol. Zamek Lubelski) prison, and even Majdanek Concentration Camp. They knew about arrests of the members of the underground, and were able to contact them through, among others, the secretary of the Chief of Gestapo in Lublin. At the same time, the internal counterintelligence cells, gathered intelligence about partisan units in the area, their commanders, their relationships with the local population, and their perception by the local civilian population, etc. (4)
Additional materials concerning Home Army counterintelligence activities, survived as well, among them, those concerning the 1940-1944 intelligence efforts against Polish communist, and Soviet partisan units, which incidentally, didn’t appear in this area until the second half of 1943. While counterintelligence sources of the AK informed about the presence of the communist groups, soviet partisans, and AL (pl. Armia Ludowa – Communist Peoples Army) in the area, it has not been confirmed that they reported on their aims, their internal situation, nor did they gather information about Polish nationals collaborating with them. Therefore, we can assert, that both the intelligence and counterintelligence operatives didn’t provide the Command of the Home Army with the full picture of the situation within the Lublin district, particularly as they related to the goals of the communist groups. As an example, we can cite an incident involving murder of the commandant of the Włodawa [See "An assault on the County Office for Public Security (Pol. Powiatowy Urzad Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, PUBP) in Włodawa, October 22, 1946] "District of AK, Capt. Józef Millert “Sep” and his adjutant, that took place in the Kakolewica-Radzyń forests, and was perpetrated by the Soviet partisans. The murder was committed, most likely by the NKGB (rus. Narodnyi Komisaryat Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti- People's Commissariat for State Security - Народный комиссариат государственной безопасности) unit under command of “Volodya” stationed at the distance of about 150 km from the place of murder. Interestingly enough, the ambush against Józef Miller “Sęp” and his adjutant took place right before his transfer to the Zamość area. The investigation conducted within the ranks of the Włodawa’s Home Army, didn’t reveal the identity of the traitor(s), however, there were many accusations that subsequently surfaced. (5) Later on, the kidnappings, and disappearances of the individuals holding the leadership positions within the Home Army infrastructure, took place in this area as well. Similar disappearances took place in the Radzyń county, where, for example, two curriers from the District Command of AK sent in June 1944 to Ostrów Lubelski in order to initiate contact with the leadership of the 27th Infantry Division of Home Army, (6) disappeared with out a trace. There were many more such incidents, and to their distain, the Command of the Home Army was completely powerless to prevent them. It is in this fashion, that the communist partisans were able to obtain information about local conspiratorial organizations.
The other reason why the organizational structures of Home Army were penetrated, was the fact that the AK would offer help to both the Soviet and the AL units during their relocation, by provading contacts with local conspiratorial organizations. The command of the AK was not aware of the seriousness of this situation, nor was it aware of the true nature of the activities of Soviet paratroopers, whose primarily mission was in fact, to became familiar with the local terrain, and to gather intelligence on local underground organizations. Only then, and in this order, they were to engage the Germans. Only during the second half of 1944, when the NKVD (rus. Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del - People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) was already in possession of lists containing names of the Home Army soldiers to be interned and/or sent into the Soviet Russia, that the true nature of these activities became crystal clear. Thus, it was a result of several years of systematic penetration of the Polish underground by the Soviet intelligence (NKVD, and NKGB), as well as the Polish communist partisans. The penetration of the democratic underground was also helped by the Operation "Tempest" (pol. "Burza") during which many partisans revealed their participation in the underground activities. After the conclussion of this operation, the neighbors, and acquaintances knew who from among them was a member in the underground organization. Thus, we can assume, that even this fact alone, had to aid the communists intelligence apparatus in their understanding of the democratic underground structures.
We can also conclude, that while the counterintelligence activities of the Home Army were in over 90% focused on the penetration of the security apparatus of the Third Reich stationed in the General Gouvernment (pol. Generalna Gubernia) area, they were spied on by communist Armia Ludowa (pol. People's Army - abbr. AL), and supporting them, the Soviet NKVD, and NKGB; simply put, they didn't hesitate to kidnap Home Army soldiers (in the Lublin, and Kielce regions). Similarly, the communists didn't hesitate to take advantage of the good will of the local Home Army leadership. Hence, after the Soviet Army entered Polish territory, the situation in which the Home Army soldiers found themselves was unenviable. It will take several months however, before the society at large will be able to discern what the real intentions of the "Allies of Our Allies" truly were. After the wave of mass arrests of the underground soldiers, which took place during the months of October and November 1944, the native-borne security apparatus created under the auspices of the PKWN (pol. Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego - Polish Committee of National Liberation), and supported by the NKVD, felt confident enough to begin their independent operations against the democratic underground, which at this point was largely disorganized.
II. Penetration of the Polish Underground State by the NKVD and UB on the "liberated" territories of Poland in 1944, and attempts made to locate individuals linked to the underground in the leadership structures of the communist security apparatus
Having the environment already softened, in August 1944 the units of the NKVD began their operations. During the first phase of this operation, the Soviets took advantage of the AK units revealing themselves in order to disarm them, to intern their leadership, and to forcefully conscript their members into the units of the Polish Communist People's Army (abr. LWP - Pol. Wojsko Ludowe) - particularly into the ranks of the II Polish People's Army. (7) This tactical maneuver didn't entirely went as planned however. The leadership cadres of the Polish underground (particularly in the Lublin, and Rzeszów area) were tempted by the communists in a variety of ways to participate in the recreating of the former (pre-World War II) divisions of the Polish Army; in order (as reasoned by the communists) to have them participate in a joint fight against the Germans. For these reasons, the commanding officers of the underground were being released from prisons. The communists encouraged re-estblishment of underground command, units, and concentrations of underground units. (8) All of these attempts aimed at one, and only one goal, that is, to capture the underground soldiers by the units of the NKVD. This process ended at the end of August, 1944. The next phase consisted of massive roundups, conducted on the basis of information gained throughout the period of German occupation, and information obtained, and delivered to the NKVD by the communist PPR (pol. acronym Polska Partia Robotnicza - Polish Workers Party) activists, and AL (pol. acronym Armia Ludowa - People's Army) units. Also, used was information extracted during interrogations, and from informers who were recruited on a massive scale in the filtration camps, and NKVD jails.
After the fall of the Warsaw Uprising (pol. Powstanie Warszawskie) , in October 1944, taking advantage of the disintegration of the underground in the Bialystok, and Lublin, and partially "liberated" Rzeszów area, the NKVD began massive roundup operations in order to capture Home Army soldiers in hiding, and to terrorize the population at large. At the same time, the process of identifying and socking AK officers and soldiers affiliated with Home Army from within the ranks of the LWP (pol. Ludowe Wojsko Polskie - Polish People's Army) began. Often, they were sentenced to death for their activities against the Germans during the German occupation, or if they were "lucky" enough, they were sent to the Skrobowo, or Bludki-Nowina concentration camps, while others were sent to the punishment military units. They were sent into the front-line units as "disposable" cannon meat units. Thus, they were destined for certain death, which was only delayed by time. The events of this period are well documented by Dr. Zygmunt KŁukówski, MD, an officer of the Home Army, and a doctor in the Szczebrzeszyn hospital, or the account of Waclaw Beynar "Orszak" (10), soldier in the V Wilno Brigde of Home Army, or as described in the book written by Jan Lopuski (11), a communications officer of the "Rzeszów" Inspectorate of the Home Army. The horrors of the immediacy of the arrest by the NKVD, UB, or the MO is eloquently described in their accounts. While comparing German occupation to the first phases of the PKWN reign, KŁukówski writes: "This kind of witch-hunt deeply paralyses all conspiratorial work. First and foremost, people have to find place to hide, and they are unable to freely move, not only on the city streets, but in general, anywhere, because in the PPR, MO, or in the Berling's units, are more, and more former soldiers, and junior officers from the forest underground units, and other active former members of the underground. The underground work is now far more difficult then it was during the German occupation." (12)
In order to survive, the Home Army had to begin its defensive operations. These were two-fold. First, it had to be instilled into the members of their own units, what dangers are posed by the special services of the "Allies of our Allies", through issuing instructions containing full information about operational methods of the NKVD, UB, and the less known SMERSH (rus. Smert' Shpionam - Death to the Spies). In the territory of the operational Sub-District of Home Army "Rzeszów", such instructions were issued on 26 October, 1944 (13) Similarly acted, Major Wilhelm Szczepaniewicz "Kogut" of the the Lublin District Inspectorate, who on 17 October, 1944 issued orders to warn Home Army soldiers against contacts with deserters from the LWP, and soldiers from the stationed in the area Red Army. He wrote: "[...] Under the guise of desertion, [the members from the] Berling's units are attempting to establish contacts with AK units, in order to penetrate our ranks, and to obtain materials for future prosecution, and arrests. I forbid any contacts with the escapees, and additionally inform [you] that regardless of the character of their service, the Soviet soldiers [...] received secret orders to penetrate our private life's, and to surveil our movement in the area. Those suspected, [are to be] detained and frisked. Under the guise of making purchases [of food], they were also ordered to visit local homes in order to find out what takes place [in those homes], and who is present [there]. They are very much aware that our [conspiratorial] net is very much alive, and utilizes rural farms [for our activities]. In some instances, they [the Soviets] forcibly enter [premises] in order to catch [the conspirators] red handed." (14)
Secondly, the Home Army counterintelligence had to take advantage of the forming from the ground up, and based on the Soviet model, new secret police apparatus, that is: Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (Office of Security), and Milicja Obywatelska (People's Militia). Taking advantage of a meager presence of the AL (pol. Armia Ludowa - the Peoople's Army communist partisan units) and PPR (pol. Polska Partia Robotnicza - Polish Communist Party) personnel in the area, the AK counterintelligence began to staff UB, MO, and local administrative units with its own people. This task was much easier to accomplish in case of the People's Militia, where in some instances, even former members of the "Gray Police" were hired. This was much more difficult in the case the UB however, where a recommendation for hiring had to come as a result of a transfer form the communist LWP, or with the approval of the PPR, AL, or from the operating in the General Gouvernment area Soviet partisans. Additionally, after completing a questionnaire by the future functionary, the Personnel Cadres Section lead by Capt. Mikolaj Orechwa, would conduct background investigation of the candidate, and of his immediate family. If any ties to the Home Army were discovered, the functionary was detained, and subjected to interrogations.
Already in the beginning of 1945, the leadership of the Urząd Bezpieczeństwa was well aware, that the underground made efforts to penetrate its structures. During the meeting of the directors of County Offices of the UB (attended among others by the Minister of Public Security, Stanisław Radkiewich) which took place from August 1, 1945 to August 17, 1945, in the building of the WUBP (pol. Wojewódzki Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - Voivodeship Offce for Public Security) in Lublin, a case of discovery of 4 functionaries "malevolently predisposed towards democracy" (15) was discussed. Aside from the presence of Radkiewicz himself, in the meeting also participated the PUBP commandants, provincial governors (pol. wojewoda - voivode), the soviet advisors, and the chief of the MBP (pol. acronym Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - Ministry of Public Security) in Lublin, Capt. Wincenty Wojciusz. The case of 2 additional "hostaily predisposed" functionaries discovered at the PUBP office in Lublin lead by 2nd Lt. Mikolaj Joszczuk (16), were also discussed, as also were two additional cases discovered at the PUBP office in Zamość, lead by Lt. Mikolaj Lachowski (17). It caused an understandable concern on the part of the head of the WUBP in Lublin, Colonel Faustyn Grzybowski, who while evaluating work of the WUBP, and of the selected PUBP offices stated, among other things: "A particular attention has to paid to the UBP (pol. Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - Office for Public Security) employees, in order to discover the traitors, because it is the most dangerous enemy. These people need to be unceasingly hunted down". (18)
From the remaining documents we can ascertain, that in the Lublin area, at least a dozen Home Army operatives were active at the county and district level of the UB. We know that at the WUBP office, was placed at least one AK operative who provided information to the Lublin area WiN organization. This information consisted, among other things, notices of upcoming pacifications, lists of secret police operatives, information about detained underground soldiers, etc. In the county PUBP office in Łuków, WiN had at last five operatives, while PUBP Radzyń Podlaski had two, PUBP in Włodawa had one, PUBP Pulawy had two, PUBP Lubartow had four, PUBP Hrubieszow had three [See "Assault on Hrubieszów " here], the PUBP Krasnystaw had four, and the PUBP in Chełmno had one operative. Additionally, two PUBP functionaries from the Garwolin county office cooperated with unit under command of Major Marian Bernaciak "Orlik". We also know of one employee of the Ministry of Public Security who also worked with the "Orlik's" unit as well. Considering that the activities of the repressive communist security apparatus was hermetically sealed from the outside world, these numbers are indeed, very impressive.
From the surviving documents at the Lublin Office of the (Institute of Public Remembrance) IPN we learn, that already in October, 1946, WiN had their "moles" placed at the Voivodeship Office of Public Security (pol. accr. WUBP) in Lublin. An informer working for the WUBP Lublin, codenamed "Dziadek" (pol. "Grandpa") (23) reports [to the UB] as follows:
"[... the democratic underground] intelligence [source placed at the WUBP in Lublin] reports that the UB is first to assassinate 'Rys',(24) who is staying at the rural municipality (pol. Gmina) Konopnica-Zemborzyce, and that the UB is directing their people into the OP (pol. Abbr. OP - Oddzdzial Partyzancki - Partisan Unit) units with names of those known to work for the UB [to establish contact]. I learned of one of such names from 'Rys'. He is a man from Silesia region, named Zdzislaw, who lives in Puchaczowo, rural municipality (pol. Gmina) Leczna. The report about this went to 'Uskok' [...]" (25) Further more, the underground's counterintelligence in Lublin area was likely to have acquired a source of information within stationed in Lublin, the III Brigade of KBW (pol. Korpus Bezpieczeństwa Wewnetrznego - Internal Security Corps). On 25 October, WUBP informer codenamed "Dziadek" reports further: "[...] In the main office of the KBW is a mole who takes out, and personally delivers this information from 'Wisla'."(26)(27)
|Alicja Wnorowska, nom de guerre(s) "Ewa", and "Alina". Arrested by the UB in 1947, and sentenced to death while 8 months pregnat. Her death sentence was commuted, and changed to life imprisonment. She was released from prison in 1955. Mrs. Wnorowska provided vital information about Polish Secret Police operations to the WiN Intelligence and Counterintelligence units. Mrs. Alicja Wnorowska died on April 30, 2008Maria Grzegorczyk - Provided vital information about Polish Secret Police, the UB to the WiN Counterintelligence. Information gathered included: personnel files, photos of UB functionaries, operational plans of Urząd Bezpieczeństwa and Milicja Obywatelska, summaries of interrogation reports, lists of arrested underground soldiers, lists of agents and secret police collaborators. Above: Irena Szajowska nom de guerre(s) "Hanka", and "Rudnicka" receiving the "Order Odrodzenia Polski" decoration from the President of Poland Lech Kaczynski in 2007. Mrs. Szajowska compiled and organized information obtained by Alicja Wnorowska and Maria Grzegorczyk for WiN intelligence and counter-intelligence operations. Photo by Grzegorz Karnas.
The situation looked similarly in the Bialystok and Rzeszów area, where at least several dozens of UB functionaries collaborated with WiN. For example, several UB functionaries cooperated with the operating in the Bialystok area unit of Cpt. Kazimierz Kamienski "Huzar". In the Rzeszów Voivodeship area as well, at the same WUBP office, at least one person collaborated with WiN units. It was Alicja Wnorowska, nom de guerre(s) "Ewa", and "Alina", who was employed as a secretary. Alicja Wnorowska had earlier worked at the PUBP (pol. Powiatowy Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - County Office for Public Security) in Przemysl. Others were Maria Grzegorczyk, (28) and Irena Szajowska, nom de guere(s) "Hanka", and "Rudnicka".
Additionally, with WiN also collaborated an investigator from the PUBP office in Brzozow, warrant officer Stanisław Wojtowicz, nom de guerre "Rota", who provided information about upcoming arrests, information about PUBP informers, their names, aliases, their places of residence, and information about their UB controllers. In the Voivodeship office in Lodz, WUBP (pol. Abbr. Voivodeship Office for Public Security - Urzad Wojewódzki Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego), Czeslaw Stachura (30) provided WiN with documents which allowed identification of the UB agents, as well as information about members of the underground detained at the WUBP investigative jail (pol. areszt sledczy). (31) In the Voivodeship Office of the People's Militia in Lodz, information was provided by Halina Piotrowska (32), and by warrant officer Luczak who was employed by the special investigations unit. Information provided by these two agents allowed to preempt operations of the Voivodeship Office for Public Security directed by head of the Lodz's WUBP, Mieczyslaw Moczar. (34)
In the Krakow Voivodeship, functionaries from the PUBP (pol. abbr. Powiatowy Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - County Office for Public Security) in Nowy Targ, and one functionary from the WUBP in Krakow, cooperated with the partisan units of Major Józef Kuraś "Ogień". At this time, we are uncertain what this situation looked like in the Voivodeships of Gdansk, Poznan, Katowice, or Warsaw.
From the materials transferred to the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) we can discern, that based on the experience obtained during the German occupation, the underground also made attempts to penetrate structures of the Department VI of the MBP (Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - Ministry of Public Security), that is the department of corrections. From the surviving documents we know that Andrzej Sobol, head of the Biala Podlaska jail cooperated with Home Army, and made it possible for the underground to take over the jail facilities by the unit under command of 2nd Lt. Robert Domanski "Jarach", who freed over 100 incarcerated individuals. (35) It is certain, that there were many more such individuals collaborating with democratic underground in the ranks of the correctional system.
In comparison with the UB, the penetration of the ranks within the county and rural municipal (pol. Gmina) offices of the People's Militia was much more prevalent. In some instances, entire MO offices were staffed with Home Army soldiers (36) who in this fashion provided security for the units in the field. In one instance, for example, the Home Army was able to staff Lubaczow and Jaroslaw offices of the MO by their own people, including the commandant positions. These particular instances are described by the head of the Cadres Department of the Voivodeship Office of MO in Rzeszów: “Thereafter, penetrated [by the underground] were County Offices [of the People’s Militia] in Lubaczow, and Jaroslaw, where around dozen of employees at these offices were discovered, arrested, and removed from the ranks of the MO for collaborating with gangs, and illegal underground organizations. After completion of the investigation, at the County MO Office in Lubaczow, the entire staff, including the commandant, were detained for collaborating with Polish and UPA gangs”. (37)
This situation remained virtually unchanged until the middle of 1946, when a wide-ranging process of vetting of the MO functionaries was conducted. Even the smallest suspicion of collaborating with underground organizations was sufficient enough to remove the functionary from within the ranks of the MO. Even in the first half of 1950s, the Special Purpose Department IV, of the Voivodeship Command of the People’s Militia (pol. abbr. KWMO) in Rzeszów suspected, and for a good reason, that several militia men were collaborating with the WiN units.
III. The Home Army (AK) and Freedom and Independence (Wolnosc i Niezawislosc - WiN) Counterintelligence activities within their own ranks
During the German occupation, the counterintelligence of AK (Home Army) and Freedom And Independence (WiN) applied several preventive methods to avert penetration of its ranks by the German spies, and collaborators. Among other methods utilized by the AK/WiN counterintelligence, was baiting underground soldiers through fictitious recruitment attempts [into the German intelligence], following by a vetting process conducted by an independent counterintelligence underground unit(s). A wide ranging initiative to prevent the so called “big mouth” incidents, to which many arrests conducted by the German occupier were attributed, was also conducted. Additionally, the postal service in the German occupied Poland, was also for the most part, under control of the Home Army intelligence and counterintelligence, whose members were able to snatch majority of the reports mailed by collaborators wanting to squeal on the underground to the German authorities. After the Soviets entered Polish territory, these types of activities almost disappeared.
The additional difference between activities against German and those against the Russian intelligence apparatus was employment of the so called “quarantine”, that is, each and every AK soldier arrested by the German occupier, who was either released, or who escaped from captivity, had to provide a detailed report to his superiors. (38) Only after circumstances of his release, or his escape, were verified by the counterintelligence unit, only then was he able to return to the conspiratorial work; those activities after rejoining the underground, were however, very limited.
During our study of the post World War II underground activities, it was ascertained that such strict adherence to the counterintelligence methods was not as widely applied against Soviet and Polish communist security apparatus. Consequently, abandonment of such practices lead to many tragedies, which at best, culminated in very long prison sentences, and/or annihilation of the entire conspiratorial underground infrastructure. Not surprisingly, under such circumstances, once penetrated by the communist security apparatus, the conspiratorial infrastructures were impossible to rebuild.
To illustrate this phenomenon, we will use two cases that took place in the Lublin area. In both cases, the counterintelligence measures were totally ignored by the democratic underground. The first case concerns Helena Moor, vel “Juka”, a currier from the Kedyw (pol. acronym for Kierownictwo Dywersji - Directorate of Sabotage and Diversion). The second one pertains to the case of Stanisław Wnuk “Opal”, who was second in command in the Major Hieronim Dekutowski “Zapora” democratic underground unit. Both of these individuals betrayed the underground, and began intelligence activities on behalf of the communists. In case of “Juka”, the recruitment was conducted by the NKVD, and then by the UB, while in case of “Opal”, the recruitment was handled, probably during 1945/1946, by the WUBP office in Lublin. While they were both identified as communist moles by the underground, their fishy explanations were accepted on their face value, and without any substantial explanation about the reasons for their detention by the UB and NKVD. (39). What makes it even more perplexing, and troubling is, that at the same time, they both had unrestricted access to the command staff of the underground units, their plans, and goals. Once such information was obtained by "Juka", and "Opal", it was reported the following day to their secret police controllers. Who was Helena Moor, vel "Juka"? The true nature of "Juka's" activities, and her links with the communist intelligence units of the PKWN was discovered by the Chaplain of the Lublin District Command (pol. Komenda Okregu AK Lublin), Reverend Iwanicki, nom de guerre "Alchilles". Rev. Iwanicki warned other members of the Lublin AK command, but his accusations were not believed by others. In her report to the UB controller(s) which survived in her secret police files, "Juka" reports that after her release from prison in 1945, she was visited by a former commandant of the Section I of the Home Army Planning And Cadres Department, Bijasiewicz, who said: "People are saying that you are collaborating with the UB, but I personally don't believe it." (40)
At a later time, Bijasiewicz was on many occasions used by this Lublin's WUBP agent to deliver interesting to the UB information about democratic underground, including, information about members of the District Command, about armed underground units, and above all, the particulars of the underground unit under command of Hieronim Dekutowski, nom de guerre "Zapora". Dekutowski's second in command, "Opal", was recruited by the communists most likely in December, 1945, or in January, 1946, while arrested by UB Captain Stanisław Wojciusz. Wojciusz was able to quickly extract from "Opal" particulars concerning Maj. "Zapora's" family, and his possible place of hiding.
In their notes from January 3, 1946, the UB wrote:
"[...] During his conversation with [his controller from the Polish UB - Secret Police named], Capt. Wojciusz, "Opal" reported as follows:
1) In the city of Warsaw, lives a Home Army female currier who delivers [underground] literature to the Lublin district of AK (Home Army). The above mentioned currier, has contact with the London's representatives of the Government in Exile in Warsaw. "Opal" knows this currier personally, and can hand her over to the security apparatus.
2) He also personally knows [another] AK female currier who lives in Lodz, and who is in contact with the Krasnik and Pulawy Inspectorates of the AK, and [also has a contact(s)] in Pulawy.
3) "Opal" personally knows the commandant of AK [unit, nom de guerre] "Bolek" operating around Urzedow, and can hand him over to the Office [of the Public Security, the UB].
4) He can recognize currier from the Lublin Inspectorate, and the Home Army District, through whose arrest [... it might be] possible to detain the commandant of the [Home Army] District [nom de guerre] "Boruta". "Opal" is able to contact him.
5) "Opal" is able to intiate contact with the commandant[s] of the NSZ (pol. Narodowe Siły Zbrojne - National Armed Forces) "Cichy" and "Orzel" operating in the area of Gdynia-Sopot, and in Sopot [itself].
6) He also promised to hand over "Zapora", that is, Dekukowski Henryk, born in Tranobrzeg, Rzeszów Voivodeship, whose family lives in Tarnobrzeg, at 67 Kolewa Street. According to "Opal", "Zapora" is to be on leave at his sister's place, in January of this year.
7) "Opal" can establish contact with many commandants of diversionary units in the Pulawy county.
January 3, 1946 [...]" (42)
|Above: Capt. Stanisław Wnuk, vel. "Opal", "Zmudzki", "Iskra", Polish secret Police informer - agent. Contributed to the arrest of countless democratic underground soldiers, most notably to the destruction of the Maj. Hieronim Dekutowski "Zapora" democratic underground partisan unit.
The remaining secret police files reveal that "Zapora" was aware of his former second in command collaboration with the UB, but apparently believed that "Opal's" activities were only fictitious, that of a double-agent, and that he was loyal to him. Thus, "Zapora" didn't hide from him his plans to escape to Germany in 1947. (43) However, "Opal's" loyalty was with the UB, and not with his former comrades-in-arms in the democratic underground.
The report from the interview conducted with Stanisław Wnuk "Opal" [by the UB] sheds some additional light on this subject:
"The above (45) was reported the following day, to then, the Director of the PUBP (County Office for Public Security) in Lublin, Joszczuk, and than within several days after that, while staying in Lublin, I told about this to Capt. Lachowski (46). I was requested by Maj. Wojciusz, and Capt. Lachowski (47) to gather similar information about 'Zapora'."
In the terminology of the UB, Stanisław Wnuk "Opal" was referred to as "Zmudzki" vel. "Iskra", and took active part in his deplorable activities beginning at the end of 1945, and continued them until the fall of communism Poland, that is until 1989. According to Leszek Pietrzak (48), as an active agent-informer for the communist regime, during 1945-1989, Stanisław Wnuk provided UB with nearly 1,600 reports. (49) Another significant problem facing WiN's counterintelligence was its inability to prevent commonly occuring incidents of open and/or unregulated conversations about underground activities among both members, and non-members of the underground.
Sadly, it appears, that WiN was unable to eliminate this problem until the very end of its existence. Without any question, this was an extremely difficult problem to eliminate during the German occupation as well. However, it was lessened, by both the language barrier, and notably, by a significantly lesser saturation of the area by the German intelligence network. After the entrance of the Soviets, and creation of the native-born security forces who spoke the same languages as the population at large, this linguistic barrier was no longer an issue, and thus, this particular problem reached significant proportions.
Not surprisingly, the persecution of the Home Army soldiers by the communist regime facilitated development of very strong bonds between them. That in turn, lead to a natural, and almost automatic sense of trust between the AK and WiN soldiers. But, this trust was also skillfully used by their nemesis, the UB. The case of two UB operatives cited above, are perfect examples of this phenomenon, where both UB agents "Opal", and in particular, "Juka", operated in the AK circles for years providing significant information to the UB and the SB (pol. Służba Bezpieczeństwa - Security Service). Naturally, there were others, but they were less active in their shameful service to the Polish and Soviet internal security services, that operated against their former colleagues, and friends from the underground.
Similarly, the issue of open conversations upon which we briefly touched upon above, was yet another significant problem faced by the partisan units. A perfect example demonstrating this problem is the case of WiN unit commanded by Leon Taraszkiewicz "Jastrzab". This particular unit operated in the Włodawa and Chełm counties. During one of the ambushes conducted by this unit, two functionaries from the PUBP (pol. Powiatowy Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - County Office for Public Security) in Wolodawa were captured. The underground soldiers were under impression that both of these men will be liquidated, and thus, they didn't refrain from openly speaking in their presence. One of those, Stanisław Pakula, nom de guerre "Krzewina" stated point blank in the presence of the detainees, that his unit has a mole in the PUBP Woldawa, named Feliks Matejczuk. Unaware that such conversation took place between UB captives and his soldiers, "Jastrzab" released both UB functionaries unharmed. Needles to say, the result of this tragic mistake will became apparent almost immediately. Upon return to their UB unit, they immediately alerted their superiors about Matejczuk's collaboration with "Jastrzab's" WiN underground unit. The faith of Feliks Matejczuk is easily predictable. He was immediately arrested and spent several years at various prisons as a result of stupidity and recklessness of others. (50) Thus, we can easily discern, that if within "Jastrzab's" unit someone was delegated to the counterintelligence duties, they would have prevented loosing an invaluable source of information at the PUBP office in Włodawa.
In contrast, such countermeasures were widely applied within the ranks of the UPA units, where a counterintelligence security investigator was placed within each platoon, and each squad. His primary role was to provide the command with information about each member of the unit, their conduct during operations, and about all contacts he had with outsiders, etc. For this reason alone, it prevented UPA units from being penetrated from within by the security forces of USSR, and PRL, and against desertions from its ranks. Similarly, during the period discussed here, such counterintelligence measures were widely practiced within the ranks of the KBW, LWP, and later within UB, and MO, where Personnel Departments had well developed net of agents, and informers reporting about behavior of each functionary in its ranks.
Another very important aspect necessary to the survival of the underground units, particularly in small villages and cities, was their collaboration with the District Command leadership, and with local intelligence network. In the areas were during the German occupation, and thereafter, the Soviet occupation, partisan units, and their leadership commanded respect of the local populous (i.e. Maj. "Ogien" in Podhale, or Maj. Marian Bernaciak "Orlik" in Lublin voivodeship), such environment provided much easier to operate within. In such cases, the local net of collaborators, and individuals sympathetic to the underground would provide not only valuable intelligence, such as information about movement of military units, security apparatus, suspicious individuals in the area, or information about the attitude of the locals towards underground units, but also, facilitated acquisitiong of provisions necessary to the survival of the unit in the field. Because of such collaboration, military confrontations with superior communist forces were avoided, and prior knowledge of any adversarial activities in the area, provided uninterruped rest time for the underground units.
However, not all Polish partisan units had such strong support from the local rural populous, particularly, at the end of 1946, and in the beginning of 1947, when the UB terror reached its peak, and thus, substitute methods had to be developed in order to provide underground units with means of surviving in the field. As a rule, in order not to endanger individuals sympathetic to the underground, quarters were taken on premises of individuals who were known to sympathize with communist regime. On the other hand, in case of suspicious individuals in the area, such as merchants, hawkers, chimney sweepers, etc., more drastic methods were utilized, including their liquidation. For example, in June 1945, in the area of Biala Podlaska District, it was noticed that there is a considerable number of communist agents masquerading as beggars, chimney sweepers who were roaming about in the area. These communist activities were countered through distribution of leaflets, in which those bumming around were warned that they will be arrested, and detained until their identities are verified. They were also warned, that if affiliation with the NKVD and UB is discovered, they will be liquidated. As a result of liquidating dozen of UB agents masqueraded as chimney sweepers, this "plague", as it was reported by the Regional Inspectorate in Radzyń Podlaski, was effectively cured.
IV. Military operations of Home Army (AK) and Freedom And Independence (WiN) Counterintelligence Units Against NKVD and "Smersh"
In 1944, along with the Red Army, the NKVD, and the military counterintelligence formations of Smersh (rus. Smert' Shpionam - Death to Spies) arrived on the Polish territory, and immediately began their activities against Polish underground. It began with internment of the Polish Home Army soldiers who took part in the Operation "Tempest" (pol. Operacja "Burza"), and in particular, commanding officers, who were forcibly sent into the Soviet Union. During this initial period, there were however, instances of reciprocity from the Russians who were grateful to Poles for saving their lives during the German occupation. One such particular instance is described by Zygmunt Radzka, who was a soldier in the unit operating in the Radzyń county. Only by a miracle, along with his entire family, Radzka avoided being arrested by the NKVD. He describes it as follows: "In August, some people were arrested by the NKVD, and through [the former German concentration camp in] Majdanek, they were sent into Siberia, despite the fact that they knew [about] the information that warned them about [their impending] arrest. This information was obtained by my father during a meeting at the magistrate from the NKVD functionaries, who earlier were members of the [Soviet] partisan unit of Major Konstanty Witkowski 'Muller'. The functions of the 'Gray Police' (pol. Policja Granatowa) were replaced by the Office of Public Security (pol. abbr. UB), and by the People's Militia (pol. abbr. MO). The UB commandant became Atoni Dawidowicz, and his counterpart at the People's Militia became Lt. Lato. The terror campaign that intensified in the beginning of October, 1944 began. In order to prevent impending arrests, my colleagues from the unit - the NKVD soldiers - were moved to the area around Warsaw. In the middle of October, the NKVD, UB, and MO conducted mass arrests of former soldiers of Home Army from the Miedzyrzecze, and surrounding areas. The detained were incarcerated in the basement of the [secret police] City Command building located at the Staromiejska Street. There were around 160 individuals [detained there]. Myself, my father, and my brother were able to escape by a miracle. After two weeks, they [those imprisoned] were loaded onto the trucks and under heavy security, through Biala Podlaska, Parczew, Radzyń, and Siedlce, they were transported to the temporary transit camp in Sokolowa. From there, we received a card that they are being transported to Siberia." (53).
Immediately upon entering Reszow, Lublin, and Bialystok areas, the NKVD and Smersh began establishing, the so called, temporary transit camps (pol. obozy przejsciowe) . These camps were immediately filled with the arrested Home Army soldiers, who were incarcerated under very difficult conditions, and interrogaged to extract information, before being shipped to the Soviet Union. Some of those interrogated were offered collaboration with the communist security apparatus, and complied, wanting to escape from the hands of the NKVD. Such attempts to recruit underground soldiers as secret police informers, are well described in the report prepared by the Commandant of the Home Army District in Lupkow, Capt. Waclaw Rejmak, nom de guerre "Ostoja". In the excerpt from his report we read: "1. I am reporting that Lt. Pawel, the first adjutant at the K.O. (pol. abbr. K.O. - Regional Command) was arrested by the NKVD, and was released [by them] as a collaborator. After reporting this [fact to us], he voluntarily left the area [...]" (55) Most likely the great majority of AK soldiers and officers recruited by the Soviets acted honorably, and either reported their recruitment, or simply didn't provide any information to the NKVD. There were however, isolated instances where individuals recruited by the NKVD provided critical information to the communists that lead to many tragedies, including the earlier cited example of Helena Moor "Juka". In very few instances, including the case of the Lubartow county, the underground was able to mislead the NKVD, and through its people was able to frame members of the PPR (pol. Polska Partia Robotnicza - Communist Party of Poland) which lead to their arrest by the NKVD.
In January, 1945, a 3-million-men strong Read Army lunched its offensive against Germany, and began its march towards the West. In the "liberated" territories of Lublin, Rzeszów, and Bialystok area overtaken by the Soviet army, remained scattered units of the NKVD, which served as "advisers" to the newly formed Polish Urząd Bezpieczeństwa operating from local county PUBP ,and Voivodeship WUBP offices. In addition to their own intelligence operations, the NKVD also monitored activities of local UB offices, and maintained, and coordinated activities of its own agents, and informers. Such was the case of the Home Army District in Łuków, whose commanding officer, Capt. Waclaw Rejmak, nom de guerre "Ostoja", who was captured in June 1945 by the NKVD, after interrogations, was handed over to the WUBP (pol. Wojewódzki Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - Voivodeship Office for Public Security) in Lublin. (56)
The counterintelligence of the Polish underground was powerless against activities of the "Soviet advisors", and only sporadically conducted combat operations against them - and if they did, those usually culminated in the liquidation of such individual(s). For example, the "Radzyń Podlaski" Regional Inspectorate of Home Army attempted to dismantle (pol. "rozpracowac" - to gain knowledge of, penetrate, and destroy) the local communist intelligence network directed by NKVD's "adviser" Colonel Shpilovoyi. This particular operation was successful, and led to the dismantling of Soviet "agentura", and forced Soviet "adviser" to flee from the Radzyń area in March, 1945. Similar operations were undertaken in the Biala Podlaska AK District, where soviet adviser Vakhitov fell in love with a Polish woman, who was an underground soldier. She was assigned to Vakhitov for this very purpose by underground counterintelligence . (57) Unfortunately, this particular "operational play" ended abruptly, when it was discovered, that she is, in fact, providing information about underground to the NKVD officer whom she was to seduce. Thus, a decision to liquidate Vakhitov was made. Under the pretext of, most likely, meeting with the Biala Podlaska Region head of the underground intelligence, nom de guerre "Jurek", Vakhitov was baited to travel to the outskirts of the city, where along with his Polish wife he was liquidated. (59)
It is also necessary to mention NKGB and NKVD attempts to penetrate underground structures in the areas [annexed by the Soviets - Click Here to See Map] near Northern and Eastern border of Poland, particularly in the cities of Lwow (Lviv), Brzesc (Brest), Grodno, and Kalingrad. While there is very little information on this subject, such attempts took place during 1944-1947, and even perhaps, at a later time. We were able to ascertain that in the area of the Biala Podlaska county, for several months, the WiN counterintelligence was monitoring activities of the NKGB resident office in Brest near the Bug river. The remaining reports reveal, that members of Brest’s NKGB office were freely moving beyond Polish-Soviet border, and made attempts to recruit agents among Polish populous, and in particular, from within ranks of the Polish MO (pol. Milicja Obywatelska - People’s Militia). On October 8, 1945, WiN operative codnamed “111” reports on this very subject:
“I report that on September 9, 1945 Major Petrov and Senior Lieutenant (rus. transliteration - Starshiy Leytenant) Bugkharov arrived from Brest and demanded [from me that]:
1) I must become their collaborator
2) I have to write my autobiography
3) I have to sign declaration of secrecy
4) I have to provide timely information about AK (Home Army) activities in the entire Terespol area
5) I will be given as much money as I need
6) They will meet with me secretly at my house during the night
7) I have to write details about my family, my brothers, and their place of employment.
They demanded that I find out who from among [Polish] People’s Militia men in Terespol reads [democratic underground publication entitled] ‘Reduta’. At the end, Major Petrov took out his gun, told me to raise my hands up, and along with the Lieutenant frisked me, and [after] not finding anything, they left. The same was demanded from [WiN agent] '125'” (60)
In the intelligence report prepared by the Regional Inspectorate “Radzyń Podlaski” WiN, for the period of 14 September to 15 October, 1945 concerning operations of the Soviet NKVD, and Polish UB, we read: “[… The NKVD] Commandant for the city of Brest has a well established contact with [certain] Kubiel, an inhabitant of the village Koptkow (Kopylow). The above mentioned Kubien, leads a well developed net of operatives in other areas as well, including: Koden, Slawatycze, Bubel, and others. The above mentioned Kubien, as well as his agents were of Ukrainian ethnicity. After discovering and apprehending these individuals by our units, they were turned over to the UPA (who conducted their liquidation). We emphasize, that above mentioned Kubiel contacted Major Pietrov in the following fashion: ‘During 13451, adychat na dziesat dniej”. Kubiel and his agents were to gather at the train station in Stradecz on 30 March of this year, (but didn’t make it). On March 30th, apprehended by our units were: Mikolaj Siluk, born in Zalesie, rural municipality (pol. gmina) Dobryn, Biala Podlaska county, who for a long time stayed in Russia, and on October 12, 1945 arrived [back] in Poland via plane, and [subsequently] took residence in Zalesie. [Another individual named] Grzegorz Kuprzedin had a red NKVD certificate number 252. Recently he resided at the Lebiediew, rural municipality Koden. In order not to draw attention to himself, he obtained employment as a farm hand with a [local] farmer. All above mentioned [individuals] testified that they were paid NKVD agents, and were paid 400 rubles a month […]” (61)
The detention of several NKGB agents from Brest, and their interrogation allowed the Biala Podlaska WiN counterintelligence to gain insight into Maj. Petrov’s interest in Polish nationals. From the information gathered by Miroslaw Barczynski, a student of the World War II, and of the post WW II history of of the Podlasie region, we learn, that after liquidation of the NKGB collaborators, efforts were made to entice Maj. Petrov to travel to Poland, in order to apprehend him. Additional efforts were also made to obtain additional information about NKGB agents in Brest. It cannot be excluded that the NKGB office in Brest took active part in kidnappings of Polish nationals who were subsequently sent into Soviet detention camps. While we are uncertain what this situation looked like in the Bialystok, and Rzeszów area, it is known however, that the NKVD boarder security units were entering Polish territory during their chases after partisan units, particularly those Ukrainian.
We can conclude that during 1945, and in the first half of 1946, the counterintelligence of the Home Army and thereafter, the WiN, was capable of defending its ranks against mass penetration efforts of the Polish security apparatus, the UB. These activities, particularly at the Regional, and Inspectorate level were quiet effective, and resulted in development of viable countermeasures, through acquisition of UB operational plans, list of agents, armaments, lists of prisoners, and content of their testimonies. Similarly, WiN was able to recruit UB functionaries, and members of the MO (pol. Milicja Obywatelska - People’s Militia), who often being members of the AK-WiN themselves, through their contact with UB personnel, were able to provide daily reports about activities of the security apparatus. Based on the research conducted by historians during the last few years, we are aware of at least several dozen instances where UB personnel began willingly to collaborate with the underground structures of WiN. While we are left with an educated guess as to the motifs of UB functionaries who risked it all by collaborating with the underground, it is probably safe for us to assume, that in many cases, such willingness had to be triggered by their dismay with the barbaric methods employed by their colleagues from the “resort” against their own countrymen. And thus, despite unimaginable risks, through their secret collaboration with the underground, they protected both the underground, and the populous at large against communist apparatus of repression. Naturally, both the scope of this collaboration, and its effectiveness is extremely difficult to gauge. Have we discovered all of them? We certainly have not. While despite the hermetically sealed nature of the communist security apparatus the WiN counterintelligence was able to penetrate ranks of the UB, similar activities against NKVD and NKGB were extremely difficult, if not impossible to conduct. But such attempts took place, and in few instances proved to be successful. This fact alone, makes these valiant efforts that much more impressive, as Soviet special services cultivated a myth of its infallibility, omnipresence, and impenetrability.
Written by Dr. Jaroslaw Kopinski, PhD
1) The personnel files in possession of the Personnel Departments were systematically destroyed. The first wave of purging existing records took place during 1956-1957, and then at the end of 1960s. As a result, only partial records survived.
2) It concerns Investigative Unit of the Voivodeship Command of the MO in Rzeszów. According to information from the Department VI of the KWMO (pol. Komenda Wojewódzka Milicji Obywatelskiej – Voivodesip Command of the People’s Militia), the great majority of the MO personnel collaborated with WiN, including, commandant of the department – see Report of the Department VI KWMO in Rzeszów from 08.28.47 to 09.24.47, IPN Rz 00106/22, k.43
3) L. Pietrzak, "Dzialalnosc wywiadu Zrzeszenia WiN w Obwodzie Garwoli w latach 1945-1947", Zeszyty Historyczne WiN 19-20 (2003), p.193-194
4) In the two reports provided to the MBP (pol. Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - Ministry of Public Security) Department III, agent “333” identified intelligence network of the Home Army District Command, operating within Department I – Logistics of the Lublin District Command of AK. Among individuals cooperating with Home Army intelligence network, communist agent “333” identified secretary to the Head of the Political Department of Gestapo, Anni Neeschen, and Capt. Oberfeld Kommandantur Lublin, who cooperated with Polish underground for ideological reasons - See Jaroslaw Kopinski - two reports by agent “333” spying for the Department III of Ministry of Public Security. Source: Zeszyty Historyczne WiN 24(2005) p. 291-302
5. J. Kopinski," Kilka uwag o smierci Komendanta Obwodu AK Włodawa kapitana Józefa Milerta 'Sep', 'Kowalski'", Rocznik Chełmski 5 (1999), p. 237-243
6. Related by Stanisław Kalisz on July 14, 1991 / in author’s collection