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Polish Underground Soldiers 1944-1963 - The Untold Story

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An assault on the County Office for Public Security (pol. Powiatowy Urzad Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego, PUBP) in Włodawa, October 22, 1946. (Pol. "Rozbicie Powiatowego Urzędu Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego we Włodawie - 22 X 1946 r.")

"Lieutenant Henryk Lewczuk, nom de guerre “Młot” and his assault on Hrubieszów on the 26/27th of May 1946" by Grzegorz Makus

Lieutenant Henryk Lewczuk, nom de guerre “Młot”, c. 1947.  

Henryk Lewczuk was born on July 4, 1923 in Chełm (Lublin Voivodeship) in a working class family. He obtained a secondary education before World War II. In 1941, Lewczuk joined the ZWZ-AK (Pol. Abbr. Związek Walki Zbrojnej - Union of the Armed Combat - Home Army – Armia Krajowa). In April-May, 1944, he graduated from the Petty Officers School of the Home Army, and was transferred to Lieutenant Zygmunt Szumowski, nom de guerre “Sędzimir” partisan unit, as its unit commander. He fought against the withdrawing German troops; after the Russian entry, Lewczuk was conscripted into the Polish [Communist] People’s Army (Pol. abbr. LWP – Ludowe Wojsko Polskie). Beginning in August 1944, he began military courses at the Officers’ Artillery School in Chełm. In March 1945, he deserted from the Communist army and joined the Democratic Resistance. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to command the 1st AK-DSZ Area in Chełm District (consisting of the cities of Wojsławice, Rakołupy, Krzywiczki, Żmudź).

“Młot” quickly organized, and took command of an armed underground unit which he subordinated to the structures of the DSZ- WiN (Pol. abbr. WiN - Wolność i Niezawisłość) in the Chełm Area. “Młot’s” precursor in this area was Lieutenant Stanisław Kulik, nom(s) de guerre “Wołyniak”, “Tarzan”. Kulik was born in 1904 into a farming family in Surmacze, in Radzyń Podlaski County, where he obtained a secondary school education before the war. During the German occupation, Kulik served in the Home Army. Also see: "An Interview with Lieutenant Lewczuk" here ...

Above: Lieutenant Henryk Lewczuk, nom de guerre “Młot”, c. 1947.  

Following the entrance of the Soviet Red Army on Polish territory, just like many other Home Army soldiers, he was forcibly conscripted into the Polish [Communist] People’s Army, where he was enrolled in the Tank Officers’ School in Chełm. On March 2, 1945, along with 70 other soldiers from his company, he deserted from the Communist army. One day later, the III-rd Operational Group (abbr. GO - Grupa Operacyjna) “Krasnystaw” traced them to Chełmiec, in Krasnystaw County, killing 7 of them, and taking 38 others into custody. The Operational Group “Chełm” apprehended 11 others. The remaining soldiers established a partisan unit under Kulik’s command. He commanded the Rakołupy Region of the Chełm DSZ District until July 28, 1945, when during an exchange of fire with combined forces of the LWP, the Soviet NKVD (Rus. abbr. The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs - Народный комиссариат внутренних дел - Narodnyy komissariat vnutrennikh del, НКВД - Soviet secret police), and PUBP (Pol. abbr. Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego - Office for Public Security - the Polish secret police), his unit lost 2 men killed in action, three wounded, and two captured. Afterwards “Tarzan” decided to disband his formation, and left for the so-called “Recovered Territories” (Pol. Ziemie Odzyskane, literally "Regained Lands"), where he remained active in the WiN’s structures, established there by the Lublin WiN Area Command. Kulik was arrested by the Polish secret police, the UB, on October 31, 1946 and was sentenced to death. His sentence was carried out on December 28, 1946. His soldiers who remained in the Chełm area were subordinated to Henryk Lewczuk’s „Młot” unit.

Partisans from Stanisława Sekuła, nom de guerre “Sokół" unit. This picture was taken probably in 1945.

Above: Partisans from Stanisław Sekuła, nom de guerre “Sokół" unit. This picture was taken probably in 1945.

Another post Home Army (abbr. AK) formation operating in “Młot’s” zone, which remained under his command, was a group of Stanisława Sekuła, nom de guerre “Sokół”. They were active in the Chełm and Krasnystaw counties. The unit consisted of young youth, and soldiers who deserted from the Communist People’s Army in 1945; a common occurrence during this period. Having around 20 men in its ranks, “Sokół”’s unit was divided into three platoons, commanded by Kazimierz Stefanowski, nom de guerre “Zryw” (he outed himself during the second part of 1945), an NN (Pol. abbr. Nieznany i Niezidentifikowany - Unknown and Unidentified) soldier, nom de guerre “Jastrzab”, and another NN, nom de guerre “Torpeda”. The biggest success achieved by this group, was its operation against the Operational Group of the County Command of the Communist People’s Militia (abbr. MO - Milicja Obywatelska) in Chełm, which resulted in the liquidation of six Communist militiamen, and one UB functionary in the Wojsławicki Forest. It was a reprisal for the death of an AK soldier, Antoni Popek, nom de guerre “Pak” and his father Julian. Both were burned to death in their house, set ablaze by the Communists. The teams under “Sokół”’s command carried out many liquidation operations directed against the activists of the Communist “People’s Power”, and fought against Ukrainian nationalists. In July 1945, “Sokół” refused to subordinate his group to the DSZ-AK Lublin Area Command, and killed its envoy, NN, nom de guerre “Ślązak” who was dispatched to take a charge of the “rebellious” unit. For this insubordination, the DSZ-AK command issued a dead sentence against him. Probably in August 1945, he fled from the Chełm district to the “Recovered Territories“, and the command of his subordinates was taken over by Lieutenant Henryk Lewczuk. Due, in large part to the support of the local population, “Młot” organized a highly efficient resistance network. This is how Jadwiga Brandt, one of his aides, remembered Lieutenant “Młot”:

“[…] Lieutenant “Młot” was active in our area from sometime. Once he took command, a long awaited order returned not only to his own unit, but to this entire area as well. He was not only the Home Army (pol. Armia Krajowa) soldier; he became the guardian of the locals. His manners, his conduct and wisdom, were highly regarded by everybody in Wojsławice village, and in the surrounding area. If asked, the youngsters under his command would jump into a fire after him. He had an ability to unify people around his actions, so there was no one in our neighborhood who wouldn’t take part in this great cause. Soon, I met “Młot” personally. He would come and see “Zapałka” at night - and also to the post office. I have used every opportunity to scrutinize him. He was of medium built, upright, and wore a well-tailored uniform. The gun hanging by his arm added even more respect, and his movements displayed elegance and self-confidence. In his beautiful, masculine face, the eyes were shining like two stars, which when he was smiling, made it very interesting; he spoke slowly, carefully choosing his words, what meant, that he meant what he said.

While the clerks ran these institutions during the day, the night belonged to “Młot” and his unit. He was not only able to maintain order, but also, to wisely protect himself. We were happy when he stayed in our house; my entire family was at his service.

And the UB, (the Polish secret police) was going nuts. At all times, somebody was being arrested; the hunt for the partisans never stopped, and the partisans kept on dying. People didn’t get killed during the skirmishes alone. [For example], Lodzia Schontag, and her friend from the AK, named Prus, were murdered in the Kumowski Forest (pol. Las Kumowski). A local forester discovered their bodies a few days later, hidden beneath tree branches. To commemorate them, their families affixed a picture of the Blessed Mother on the tree; it’s still there to this day. It was a murder committed by the UB and the MO, aimed at forcing partisans to out themselves. But, the more terror the [Communist] authorities applied, the more our [boys] remained steadfast."

“Młot’s” unit was spreading fear among the Communists of the southern Chełm area, and by doing so, in turn, supported the unit of the Taraszkiewicz brothers. Leon, nom de guerre “Jastrząb”, and Edward, nom de guerre “Żelazny”, operated in the northern part of the Chełm area, on the borders of Włodawa, Chełm and Radzyń Podlaski counties. [See “An assault on the County Office for Public Security (pol. Powiatowy Urzad Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego, PUBP) in Włodawa, October 22, 1946”, by Grzegorz Makus]

“Młot’s” formation carried out many operations aimed at the Communist regime, slowing down the process of enforcing their unwanted authority on the local population. Below, is a short summary of some activities that took part during this period:

- Summer 1945: the members of the Citizen’s Militia (MO) in Wojsławice deserted and joined “Młot’s” unit.

- May 18, 1945: Near the foresters station in Czułczyce, the Operational Group of the UB and the MO destroys the partisan unit commanded by an NN, nom de guerre “Fala”. Due to severe losses, this formation was disbanded, and its soldiers joined “Młot”’s unit.

- December 2, 1945: As a result of a UB agent-provocateur operation in the village of Zarudzie, Jan Galusz, the unit’s armaments officer, is arrested; an arms’ store is compromised.

- The night of December 15, and 16, 1945: Near the forester’s station in Haliczany, the UB Operational Group loses four men trying to encircle the unit. Two partisans lose their lives (both men are NN, and are known only by their nom(s) de guerre). They were “Dzik” and “Litwin”. Both men were buried at the cemetery in Wojsławice). An operation to encircle and capture “Młot”’s WiN soldiers who stayed there, fails. The unit disperses, and regroups in two weeks’ time.

- December 16, 1945: “Młot”’s unit liquidates the Head of the People’s Militia (abbr. MO) station in Rejowiec;

- December 28, 1945: A secret police agent assigned to the Chełm PUBP office, Jan Buczek , is liquidated in Majdan Kukawiecki.

- February 29, 1946: the People’s Militia station in Staw is destroyed. Its commanding officer is liquidated. The partisans enter the City Hall, where the death sentence against a clerk is carried out. Three militiamen are apprehended.

- March 21, 1946: 200 liters of spirits are confiscated from a distillery in Sielc.

- May 9, 1946: Two of the unit’s soldiers, an NN, nom de guerre “Kania” and Jerzy Biegalski, nom de guerre “Skośny” liquidate Communist People’s Party’s Propaganda & Agitation instructor, Andrzej Piwonoski, in Wojsławice. “Skośny” carries out the death sentence against Piwonowski.

- May 27-28, 1946: As one of several WiN formations, along with the UPA units, “Młot’s” unit carries out an assault on Hrubieszów.

This picture was taken probably in 1945. The 3rd from left is Czesław Hajduk, nom de guerre “Ślepy”, who will later command the WiN’s tactical unit subordinated to the III WiN Hrubieszów District; 4th from the left is Stanisław Sekuła, nom de guerre “Sokół” who commanded an assault team of the Home Army (AK). His post is later assumed by Henryk Lewczuk “Młot”; 1st from right is Stefan Bakuniak, nom de guerre “Watażka” (a close aide of the “Ślepy”); the girl in the photo is Halama from the forester’s station in the nearby Wojsławice. Her brothers were collaborating with “Sokół”.  

Left: This picture was taken probably in 1945. The 3rd from the left is Czesław Hajduk, nom de guerre “Ślepy”, who will later command WiN’s tactical unit subordinated to the III WiN Hrubieszów District; 4th from the left is Stanisław Sekuła, nom de guerre “Sokół” who commanded an assault team of the Home Army (AK). His post is later assumed by Henryk Lewczuk “Młot”; 1st from the right is Stefan Bakuniak, nom de guerre “Watażka” (a close aide of the “Ślepy”); the girl in the photo is Halama from the forester’s station in the nearby Wojsławice. Her brothers were collaborating with “Sokół”.

“Młot” frequently collaborated with Hrubieszów’s WiN unit under the command of Lieutenant Czesław Hajduk, nom de guerre “Ślepy”. While fleeing from the UB roundups, sometimes his unit would enter the area where “Ślepy” operated. It was “Młot” who sent four men from Vilnius, among them was Stanisław (Cima?), nom de guerre “Łańcuch” (Hajduk was his son’s godfather). At times, soldiers would rotate between both units.

Under the threat of the common Communist enemy, in order to cease fratricidal struggle, and to carry out joined operations, “Młot” realized the necessity of setting up some sort of collaboration with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (abbr. UPA - Ukrainian: Українська Повстанська Армія (УПА), "Ukrayins’ka Povstans’ka Armiya"). Hence, “Młot” and several others commanders from that region managed to prepare one of the most daring military operations in the history of the post-war Poland. During the night of May 27, May 28, 1946, the combined forces of WiN and UPA assaulted the Communist-controlled city of Hrubieszów.

There were many fables and falsifications surrounding this spectacular operation. While such written accounts were aplenty, not only do they contradict each other, but more often then not, are also less-than accurate …

On May 21, 1945, in Ruda Różaniecka, the envoys from the Zamość Directorate of the Home Army, and UPA, signed an agreement terminating fierce military enagements between Polish and Ukrainian underground formations that spanned for two years. According to the agreement, not only were there established zones of control, but also means of communication, sharing of intelligence, passwords, principles of roaming in the case of the UB or NKVD pursuit were implemented. Both sides agreed on common strategies to combat the Communist agents, and to prevent occurrences of common lawlessness.

In September 1945, the pact was extended to cover the entire Chełm and Podlasie areas, that is, all ethnically mixed areas of the AK-WiN Lublin District.

Principally, both sides respected the terms and conditions of the concord. On May 6, 1946, the first joint operation culminated in the overtaking of a rail station in Werbkowice. One of the most important summits took place at Miętkie estate on May 19, 1946. The Polish underground was represented by: the chief of BiP (Pol. abbr. Biuro Informacji i Propagandy - Bureau of Information and Propaganda) Lublin District Jan Zatrąg, nom de guerre “Ostoja”, Lieutenant Wacław Dąbrowski, “Azja”, Lieutenant Kazimierz Witrylak, nom de guerre “Hel”, “Druk”, and four other NN, WiN officers. Teodor Harasymiuk, nom de guerre “Dunajski”, an NN officer, nom de guerre “Pewnyi”- “Jawir”, and Zacharczuk, nom de guerre “Chmurnyi”, represented the Ukrainian side. When both sides agreed to the previously agreed terms; the Poles proposed a common assault on Hrubieszów, at the same time providing intelligence on the NKVD, the Polish Communist forces, and the plan of the town.

Immediately after the meeting, the Polish proposal was presented to the chief commander of the UPA units operating on Polish territory, Colonel Miroslaw Onyszkiewicz “Orest”, who in turn, contacted the Krayovy Provydnik (National Leader) of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists Jaroslav Staruch, nom de guerre “Stiah”. Staruch. Although without enthusiasm, he accepted the Polish WiN plan.

During this time, Hrubieszów was a typical provincial pre-war Polish town, where most of the urban area consisted of timber buildings, and had only a few brick buildings located in the centre of the town. From west to east, the town was divided by the wide (20 meters), Huczwa River. The downtown was located south of the river. It is there, that the County Office of Public Security (Pol. abbr. PUBP - Powiatowy Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego), the County People’s Militia Command, and the NKVD unit (located in the manor house “Du Chateau”), had around 150 soldiers located. The County Polish Communist Workers’ Party Committee, and the Ukraińska Komisjia Przesiedleńcza (Eng. Ukrainian Resettlement Commission) were headquartered there as well. On the northern riverbank, approximately 1km away from town buildings, the garrison of the 5th Regiment and the Command of the 32nd Section of the Border Security Forces was located. Both sides of the town were connected via a wooden bridge, commonly known as the “Chełmski” Bridge.

Continue to Part 2




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