THE POLISH GOVERNMENT - Part I.
The Government of the National Unity
The Polish Government, like the majority of democratic governments in this war, is a coalition Government; this means it does not consist of one party or of privileged parties but of a combination of political parties. The
four largest and most influential groups representing the greater part of the Polish nation agreed to forget the differences dividing them and to concentrate on their common interests and common cause, and work together
for the early liberation of their country. For this period of cooperation these parties have established a common political and social platform.
The Government of National Unity is composed of representatives of the following four parties:
(1) The Christian Democratic Labor Party
(2) The National Democratic Party
(3) The Polish Peasant Party and
(4) The Polish Socialist Party (P.P.S.)
Who is Who in the Polish Cabinet.
The present Government, formed after the death of General Sikorski, consists of three representatives of the Peasant Party, three representatives of the Polish Socialist Party, two representatives of the Christian Democratic Labor Party and two of the National Democratic Party. Three members of the Cabinet have no party allegiance.
The various ministerial portfolios are held as follows:
Prime Minister-Stanislaw Mikolajczyk (Peasant Party),
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Commerce and Shipping Jan Kwapinski (Polish Socialist party),
Minister of Foreign Affairs---Tadeusz Romer (no party affiliation), Minister of National Defense-General Marian Kukiel (no party affiliation), Minister of the Interior-Wladyslaw Banaczyk (Peasant Party), Minister of Information-Professor Stanislaw Kot (Peasant Party), Minister of Finance-Dr. Ludwik Grosfeld (Polish Socialist Party),
Minister of Labor and Social Welfare-Jan Stanczyk (Polish Socialist Party), Minister of Justice-Professor Waclaw Kamarnicki (National Democratic Party), Minister of State (Peace Conference Planning) - Marian Seyda (National
Democratic Party), Minister of State (Polish Administrative Planning)-Karol Popiel (Christian Demo-cratic Labor Party),
Minister of Education - Rev. Zygmunt Kaczynski (Christian Democratic Labor Party), Minister of State in the Middle East - Henryk Strassburger (no party affiliation).
As far as their professions are concerned, two of the thirteen members of the Polish Cabinet are farmers (one of these being Prime Minister Mikolajczyk), two are workmen,
three professors of University, three journalists, one lawyer, one military man and one career diplomat.
The nature of this outline does not permit of detailed biographies of each of the members of the Cabinet. However, in order to outline the type of men the Polish Government is composed, it is useful to present the biographies
of its leading personalities: tile Prime Minister and his Deputy.
Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, (correct pronunciation: Mee-ko-lai-chik), probably the youngest Premier in the world, was born in 1901 in Westphalia, to where his parents had emigrated from Western Poland. He returned to Poland (Province of Poznan) as a boy of ten.
By his sixteenth year he had started to work in a sugar-beet refinery and became an active participant in Polish patriotic organizations which were preparing an insurrection against the German rulers.
By 1920, when young Mikolajczyk was nineteen, he joined the Army as a private, and took part in the War against the Bolsheviks under the gates of Warsaw. Wounded in the trenches, he returned to take over the fifty-acre
farm his father had bought.
His early interest in the peasant movement led to further activity in politics and after holding a number of offices in the communal self-government of his own province, he was elected to the Sejm (Polish Diet) in his twenty-ninth year.
In 1935 he became Vice-Chairman of the executive committee of the Polish Peasant Party, the largest enfranchised group, and in 1937 was called upon to accept the Presidency of the party. When the present War against Germany broke out, lie enlisted voluntarily as private and served in the September campaign in defense of Warsaw. After the end of the campaign he escaped to Hungary, where he was interned.
The idle life of an internee was something to which he was temperamentally unsuited. He organized his ultimate escape by way of Yugoslavia and Italy into France.
On rejoining the Polish Government in France, he became Paderewski's deputy Chairman of the Polish National Council. In 1941 he was appointed Minister of the Interior and became Sikorski's Deputy Prime Minister.
It is Mikolajczyk who in this capacity coordinates all communications between the various government departments and officials and their "opposite numbers" in occupied Poland. His office handles all underground finances, a
perilous undertaking in itself, including a recently completed comprehensive census. Mikolajczyk's name is a household word among the underground, and representatives of the United Nations all know him as the custodian of the
most extensive and most reliable black list of Nazi criminals in all occupied Europe.
As an outspoken leader of the Polish Peasant Party, he was for many years the most prominent representative of this largest single political factor in Poland's domestic affairs, and in every aspect of his public life has
expressed his firm belief in democracy and world cooperation.
Mr. Mikolajczyk's family is in Poland and a few months ago the Polish Premier received information that his wife has been imprisoned in one of the notorious concentration camps in Poland.
Mr. Milan Hodza, former Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia, recently described Mr. Mikolajczyk as follows:
"Mr. Mikolajczyk, himself a small farmer, bad been an outstanding leader of Polish democratic peasants for eighteen years prior to this war.
"When Mr. W. Witos, now a Nazi prisoner, then the Chairman of the Polish Peasant Party, was persecuted by the Beck dictatorship and sentenced to three years in jail, Mr. Mikolajczyk was ready to take over as one of the
party's deputy leaders. He fought dictators for nearly a decade. It was largely owing to his cooperation that the most radical Polish peasant groups were able to unite and form the largest Polish democratic party which in coalition with socialistic workers and other groups undis-putedly represents in the exile the overwhelming majority of Polish democracy.
"Mr. Mikolajczyk has been for more than twenty years, an outstanding leader of his people as well as a representative of central European rural democracy held in high esteem as a brave fighter against totalitarian
intrigues in central Europe." (NY Times, December 30th, 1943).
Jan Kwapinski (correct pronunciation: Kv-a-pin-ski), Deputy Prime Minister anti Minister of Industry, Commerce and Shipping, son of a worker and a metal worker himself, has long been one of the most prominent figures in Poland's labor and political movement.
Born in Warsaw in 1885, his life reflects the turbulent history of the Polish patriotic revolutionary movement. From his early youth he took an active part in the underground organization. He joined the Polish Socialist
Party in 1902 and played an active role in the anti-Czarist uprising of 1905. When the revolt failed, Kwapinski made his escape to Cracow (then in Austrian Poland), where he continued his political activities, After his return to Russian Poland in 1906 he took part in underground revolutionary organization. The following year he was arrested by the Czarist police and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. Having organized the prisoners' rebellion
in the Lomza Prison, he managed to escape, but was caught and removed to Orel Prison, where he remained until 1917, when the Russian Revolution set him free.
Back in Poland in 1918, he was elected to the Central Committee of the Polish Socialist Party, of which he later became Vice-Chairman. His concern for the fate of the Polish workers and peasants led to his appointment,
during the twenty years of Polish independence, as President of the Farm Workers Union and Polish Trade Union Congress.
When the Soviets entered Poland, Kwapinski, who remained in Poland during both invasions, was deported to Siberia. Released after the signing of the Polish-Russian treaty in July, 1941, he proceeded to I.ondon where he was appointed to the Polish Cabinet and was made chairman of the Committee of the Polish Socialist Party. Since General Sikorski's death (in July, 1943), Mr. Kwapinski holds the post of Vice-Premier.
The War Parliament
The accord of the Polish Government with public opinion in Poland was created not only through the establishment of the multipartite government, but also by setting up a representative body of the nation in the form of the National Council.
This National Council in which are represented the most important trends of the Polish political thought (among them representatives of the Polish Jewry), is a substitute for the parliament and was appointed because no election to parliament could be held in occupied Poland. Many of the
members of the Council escaped to London from the German or Russian occupation, as representatives of underground organizations - some came from the Soviets when, after two years of deportation (1939-1941), they were released from prisons and camps after the outbreak of the Soviet-German war.
The National Council held its first meeting on December 9, 1939. Its successive chairmen were lgnacy Paderewski, Stanislaw Mikolajczyk (Acting Chair-man) and Stanislaw Grabski, professor of political economy at the University of Lwow.
Thus the Polish Government was established and operates on the same principles that form the basis of all western democracies, that is, it has the support of the majority of the nation and is controlled by that nation.
PROGRAM OF WORK.
The personalities were described above. What is then the program of the Polish Government?
Below is the text of the declaration establishing the program of General Sikorski's Government, confirmed by the National Council at its meeting of February 24, 1942:
"The Government of National Unity, called into being by the President of the Republic in conformity with the Polish Constitution, is the lawful executive authority of the Polish State. Considering itself as the instrument of the
will of the citizens of the Republic, to whose welfare it is solely devoted, the Government declares:
"1. The principal object of the Polish Government is to liberate the mother country and to give it its due position among the independent Nations. It is pursuing this purpose by ensuring the most effective participation of Poland and her Armed Forces in the War on the side of the fighting
Democracies, and by aiming to secure for Poland broad direct access to the sea as well as frontiers which will fully guarantee the safety and prosperity of the Republic.
"2. Actively participating in the task of building a new world order, the Polish Government is actuated by the principle that this new order must ensure a just and lasting peace. Based upon the reciprocal collaboration of
free nations and their individual right to free existence, that peace must be protected by an organized force in the service of right. Groups of federated nations formed in Europe, will introduce and secure the new order and safeguard the world from the dangers of war.
"The Government will demand the complete and effective disarmament of the aggressors, which would exclude any future aggression, and will require severe punishment of those responsible for the present war, i.e., Germany
and her Allies. They must be made to suffer the chastisement they inherit for the injustices, crimes and destruction they have committed, and at the same time must render full material and moral satisfaction to those who have been wronged. This is required by the primary and eternal justice which must govern international relations.
II. "The future political and economic structure of Poland will be ultimately decided by the Parliament of free Poland, which will be endowed with legislative power as soon as hostilities have ended. Today, however, as the moment approaches to decide upon the post-war organization of the world and of Europe, and when international opinion desires to know the nature of the future Poland in order to justify its confidence in that country, the Government of National Unity declares:
"(a) Poland will take her stand on Christian principles and culture.
"(b) The Polish Republic will be a democratic and republican State, strictly observing the principles of legal Government responsible to a true national assembly, fully representative of the common will of the people and elected by the method of general, equal, direct and secret vote. The Polish Nation unreservedly repudiates all systems of totalitarian government and forms of dictatorship, as contrary to the principles of democracy.
"(c) Poland will guarantee and respect the civil rights and liberties of all citizens loyal to the Republic, regardless of national, religious or racial differences. Coupled with equality of obligations, equality of rights will be assured to the national minorities fulfilling their civic duties towards the State. They will be given the possibility of free political, cultural and social development.
"Freedom of conscience and expression, of association and assembly will be fully guaranteed to all. The exercise of justice will be independent of all influence on the part of the State administration.
"(d) Post-war Poland will endeavor to ensure work and a fair livelihood to the whole population, thereby removing the scourge of unemployment once and for all from her territory. Every citizen will possess the right to work as
well as the duty to work, while retaining the free choice of occupation. National economic policy will be guided by this principle, and will be subordinated to general principles conforming to the necessity of a planned
post-war reconstruction, industrial development and mobilization of all productive forces vital to the general welfare.
"A sound agrarian reform, ensuring a just partition of land among the peasant population should, with the exception of a limited number of model and experimental farms, create medium-sized but independent, profitable and productive farms worked as a rule by the farmers' households. On the basis of those legislative, political, economic and social principles we shall raise the living standards of the mass of peasant toilers, the workers and the intellectual professions, and assure them their rightful participation
in the development of their own national culture.
"(e) The general economic development of Poland was delayed for political reasons during the Partitions and is now suffering a setback by the occupation of the country. The Polish Nation will make every effort to attain, within the shortest possible time, the level of western European
nations and it desires to collaborate in this respect with other democratic nations.
"(f) The spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotism as well as sound political judgment of which our nation has given ample evidence during this war, demand that the entire public life of Poland be based upon the initiative
and activities of the community itself. In particular, the largest possible extent of public affairs should be left to the free administration and decision of autonomous local, economic and professional bodies.
"(g) Poland will possess strong and efficient executive power, capable of taking speedy action to frustrate intentions hostile to Poland and of rallying in times of danger all the vital forces of the country."
When Mr. Mikolajczyk took over the office of Prime Minister on General Sikorski's death, he declared that his Government will continue to pursue the policy and the program of General Sikorski's Government.
The Attitude of Underground Poland
The program of the Polish Government has been accepted and confirmed by Polish underground organizations.
On August 15, 1943, representatives of the four largest political parties already enumerated, forming the Political Representation in Poland, which is a kind of an underground parliament, met in Warsaw.
At this meeting a unanimous decision was passed to support the Government of National Unity in London and its program, not only during the war but also during the period of peace negotiations.
"The parties signatory hereto, constituting the Political Representation in Poland and representing the chief trends of political thought and the vast majority of those members of the Polish public who are organized politically, have determined to cooperate with one another, at least until
such time as elections for a constitutional legislative body are announced, in dealing with the enormous tasks which confront the Polish nation at the present moment and will confront it, when Poland is liberated from enemy
(a) reconstruction of the Polish State;
(b) establishment of its frontiers;
(c) restoration of internal order;
(d) active participation in setting up new forms of coexistence among the European nations . . .
"The Parties mentioned will also appeal unanimously to their representatives in London to maintain the same cooperation both in the National Council and in the Government. The Parties, supporting the Government which is the expression of their cooperation, and bearing the responsibility for that Government, oppose any other conception of the Government so long as this agreement shall last."
Deputy Premier Acting in Poland
Close cooperation of the Polish Government with the underground state organization is not new. From the first moment of the existence of an organized underground movement, its leadership was entrusted to the Delegate
of the Government in Poland, who, on September 1, 1942, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and as such is a member of the Cabinet.
This appointment was made known for the first time in a radio address of Prime Minister Mikolajczyk to tile Polish nation on January 6, 1944, (for obvious reasons of safety, the name of the delegate was not given):
"Acting in consultation with our authorities in Poland, I have submitted to the Cabinet (I was then Minister of the Interior) a draft of a decree concerning the temporary organization of tile administration on the
territories of the Polish Republic, which was duty signed on the 1st of September, 1942, by the President, Prime Minister Sikorski and all members of the Government.
"Our purpose in making public the existence of such a decree is to make plain to the Polish citizens in the Motherland the legal basis of the authority and competence of that member of the Polish Cabinet who, as Deputy
Premier, is a delegate of the Polish Government in Poland. He is authorized to carry out all the functions of the Government concerning Home Administration. The Delegate of the Government carries out his duties in accordance with the orders and instructions of the Republic's Government,
acting in close cooperation with the Polish Political Representation and the Commander of the Polish Underground Forces, and with the assistance of his central office with its network of administrative offices."
In connection with the publication of the decree of September 1st, 1942, it has been decided to put some of its provisions into practice, namely to transform tile Political Representation in Poland into a body formally
defined ill tile decree as The Council of National Unity. On January 9, 1944, the Polish Government's Delegate in Poland announced the formation of the Council of National Unity in Poland. The Political Representation which
was composed of representatives of four chief political parties has been enlarged. The Council of National Unity is composed of a larger group of members. It is a political representation of the Polish people to the Government's Delegate. The names of members will be published at an
The fact that such a Council has been founded bears witness that the Polish state organization which has been active without interruption since the very outbreak of the war is assuming an increasingly formal and legal aspect and
is supported by the laws of the state. The organization is beginning to work more and more openly in preparation for taking full charge of affairs of the Republic.
Establishment of the Polish Government Abroad
In order better to understand the character and the legal bases on which the Polish Government in London rests, it is necessary to review the circumstances in which the Polish central executive authorities found themselves abroad.
While Poland was plunged in a desperate and uneven struggle with the German aggressor in the West, the Soviet armies invaded Polish territories from the East, as a result of the pact concluded between foreign ministers Ribbentrop
On September 17, 1939, while the country was thus menaced both from the West and the East, the President of the Polish Republic, Prof. Ignacy Moscicki, who was then in the small town of Kosow near the southern Polish border,
issued the following proclamation to the Polish nation:
"I have resolved to transfer the seat of the President of the Republic and of the Highest Offices of the State to the territory of one of our Allies."
(Monitor Polski, No. 213).
On the same day of September 17, 1939, in the nearby town of Kuty, an act was signed by President Moscicki, appointing Mr. Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, the Speaker of the Senate, as his successor. (Monitor Polski, No. 214-217).
']'his transfer of the authority of the highest ranking official of the State was accomplished in accordance with Art. 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, which provides as follows:
"In the event of war the term of the President's office shall be prolonged until three months after the conclusion of peace; the President of the Republic shall then, by a special act, promulgated in the Official Gazette, appoint his successor, in case the office falls vacant before the conclusion of peace. Should the President's successor assume office, the term of his office shall expire at the end of three months after the conclusion of peace."
At the approach of the occupation armies, the Government in the afternoon of September 17 crossed the southern frontier and found refuge in Rumania. On September 30, 1939, Prof. Moscicki resigned from his office as President of Poland. At the same time the resignation of the entire Cabinet headed by General Slawoj-Skladkowski was tended.
Upon receiving this news, Mr. Raczkiewicz, who was already in Paris, immediately took his constitutional oath at the Polish Embassy there and became President of the Republic of Poland. On the same day General Wladyslaw Sikorski was appointed by the new President as Commander-in-Chief
of the Polish Armed Forces and Prime Minister, and entrusted with the task of forming a new Cabinet.
Legal Basis of the Polish Government
This procedure is consistent with the spirit and letter of the provisions of the Polish Constitution (Art. 12) and is in conformity with the manner in which governments in Poland had been formed for a long time before the
outbreak of the present war.
Subsequent changes in the Government (and this includes the nomination of the Government of Mr. Mikolajczyk after the tragic death of General Sikorski on July 4, 1943) were carried out in full conformity with the law in force
Thus the Polish Government is the only legal executive authority of the Polish State. As long as Poland is occupied by the enemy, the government is physically prevented from practicing its authority in the territory of its country. It has, therefore, continued to direct Poland's struggle against the Germans first from Paris and Angers (France) and, after the collapse of France, from London. Although the people in the Government and the seat of the Government have changed, the legal position of the Government in no way differs from what it was before the war.
The legal status of the Polish Government in exile was recognized by all the foreign governments (except, of course, those of the Axis). The governments of all allied and neutral countries were officially informed of
the establishment of General Sikorski's Government and proceeded to establish normal diplomatic relations with it.
In this respect the attitude of the United States Government was typical.
After an exchange of notes with the former Polish Ambassador Jerzy Potocki, Secretary of State Cordell Hull issued a statement on October 2, 1939, to the effect that:
the "United States continues to regard the Government of Poliand as in existence in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Poland."
Giving a practical expression to this attitude, the various countries have appointed diplomatic representatives to the Polish Government of kept their former ones, and have concluded with it a number of international agreements, as for instance the lend-lease agreement with the United States or the military agreement with the British Government of August 5, 1940.
The opinion of experts in law who have studied the problem of legality of tire governments-in-exile is as unanimous in tile case of Poland as is the attitude of the international diplomacy. As an example thereof we quote the opinion of Prof. P. E. Oppenheim, who declared in the American journal of Inter. national Law ("Governments in exile") for 1942, P. 567:
"The present Prime Minister, General Sikorski, and the Ministers of his Cabinet were appointed by the new President of tire Republic, all in accord-ance with the Constitution. Hence the continuity of the Polish
Republic is preserved."
Soviets Recognize the Polish Government
The same attitude was taken by the Soviet Government the Polish and it treated the Polish Government in London as the Government only legal Polish Government.
Polishi-Soviet diplomatic relations, suspended at the moment of the Soviet aggression on September 17, 1939, were resumed again after the German attack
upon the U.S.S.R. A number of important treaties was concluded between the Polish and the Soviet Governments, among others the, pact of July 30, 1941, on the nullification of the Russo-German agreement concerning the
dismemberment of the Polish territory; the military agreement of August 14, 1941; the Stalin-Sikorski declaration of December 4th 1941, on military
and peace-time collaboration.
Even in the note of the Soviet Government of April 25, 1943, suspending Polish-Russian relations, the Moscow Government does not in any way question the legality of the Polish Government.
As it found the legal position of tile Polish Government unshakable, the Soviet Government changed the form of its attack. It began to undermine the Polish Government in the political sense, assuring public opinion in the
world that the Polish authorities are inimical towards the U.S.S.R.
The facts contradict this propaganda. Despite Russian military intervention from the East during her deadly fight with the Germans, Poland forgot the wrongs done to her and in 1941 resumed relations with the Soviets after the outbreak of the Russo-German war. These relations became
suspended again not by Poland, but by the Soviet Government. Finally, since April 25, 1941, both General Sikorski and later Mr. Mikolajczyk on many occasions have stressed Poland's willingness to collaborate and establish
good neighborly relations with Russia.
The hand extended has not yet been grasped by the Soviet Government. On the contrary, a campaign was begun recently against the composition of the Polish Government, suggesting the dismissal of certain "undesirable"
This procedure is in glaring contradiction to the customs prevailing in international relations. If every government began to dictate to its neighbors the personal make-up of their authorities, such an intervention in the internal affairs of another country would result in complete
international anarchy and would signify the superiority of force over law.
All attempts to undermine or destroy the Polish Government by means of foreign intervention must be treated as an attempt at a coup d'etat.
The Decision Lies in the Hands of the Nation
The legally constituted Polish government must return to Poland when it is freed, must give an account of its activities and then transfer its authority to the elected democratic national representatives.
The following declaration of Premier Mikolajczyk of July 27, 1943, serves as a testimony that this is the procedure which the present government intends to follow and that it does not wish to impose any faits accomplits:
"The future structure of the Polish State will be decided by Poland herself, freely expressing her will. We have full confidence in the political maturity of out nation, which has shown political understanding among its broadest masses and has so magnificently stood the test of the times. To
that nation we desire to hand over authority immediately the country's liberation is achieved, ordering democratic elections, in which the nation itself will make its decision concerning the nation's representatives and
the details or the democratic structure of the State, which we both at home and abroad are jointly preparing."
In conclusion and in order to avoid any misunderstandings, it should be stressed that although the present Government is obviously a legal continuation of the Polish constitutional government, it in no way whatsoever represents the continuation of the policy of the pre-war regime.
"We do not wish to see"-said Mr. Mikolajczyk in his declaration of July 27, 1943-" only a formal democracy, but a social democracy which will put into practice not only political, religious and personal freedom but also social
and economic freedom, the four freedoms of which President Roosevelt spoke so finely.
"In any case there is and will be no place in Poland for any kind of totalitarian Government in any shape or form.
"To me the question as to which of the idealistic democratic movements will win the greatest influence over the Government in the State is not fundamental; the most important thing is that the Government should have
behind it the true and honest will of the people.
"I wish also to state, that anyone who may try to impose himself on the country by force, fearing that lie would not find sufficient support by legal means, will be opposed ruthlessly.
"An honest, legal and democratic use of authority in Poland and the preparation for everything which leads in this direction that is our aim in home policy. Those who-far from Poland, because of their own personal desires and with the support of fortuitous groupings of Poles in exile
assume that they will be able to impose and dictate to Poland, are mistaken."
This statement shows beyond doubt that there could not be a more definite break with the past errors or a more ardent confession of the democratic creed.
The accusation that the Polish Government holds fascist tendencies is unjust. Poland was the first to fight and for the past four years has struggled incessantly against fascism.
Every tenth Pole has died in the fight for freedom and democracy and no other United Nation has equaled Poland in this respect.
It is a tragic paradox of this war that Poland, whose losses in her struggle with Nazism have been so great, is now being asked for a proof of her democracy. It is as if a volunteer for a dangerous patrol, perishing in the fulfillment of his duty, were asked to prove his patriotism.
THE POLISH UNDERGROUND STATE.
The underground movement in Poland is different from that of every other movement of a like nature in German-occupied countries. This is due to the different conditions of existence, the different form taken by the German
terror, and in particular to tile different principles applied by the Germans to Poland in the course of the war.
No Collaboration with Germans
The Poles are the only nation in Europe who from the beginning have adopted a rigid attitude towards the occupying power and its representatives. This
means that in no sphere of political life has there been any collaboration with the German occupying authorities, and that even tile semblance of a stabilization of relations has been at all costs avoided, and so far
successfully avoided. Despite more than one attempt on the part of German official sources to stabilize relations with the Poles, and to achieve some degree of political collaboration between the Polish nation and the German
authorities, to develop some form of Polish political administration cooperating with tile Germans, the Poles have always resolutely refused.
There is not one Pole in the "Government of the General Gouvernement," not one Pole has undertaken to act as a provincial governor or head of county administration, or town mayor. In no sector of political life have the
Poles submitted to the occupying authorities.
The result has been to create a permanent state of martial law, The Poles have been in practice placed outside all law. A Pole can obtain no legal redress against a German, in the sphere of criminal or even of civil law. A
Pole may not bring any charge against any German official in any sphere of national, provincial, local, economic or social activity. A Pole may not hold any position of authority over a German.
This state of affairs has in turn provoked a further reaction among the Poles. As early as 1939 Polish leaders realized that if this unique, unyielding attitude to the occupying authorities was maintained, the Polish
people could not be left in a state of chaos and internal lawlessness. And this was the basic cause of the development of the underground life which exists in Poland today.
Once the attitude had been adopted that no German prescription, regulation,
or order was binding on the Polish nation, it followed ,is an inevitable
consequence that the Polish nation must set up its own supreme authority and
its own various administrative departments. And as the Polish leaders,
supported by the mass of the people, took the attitude that
these -,authorities, and institutions could have no relations with the
German administration and legal system, they had to be created underground,
as a second parallel, but secret, national and local authority.
Underground Organization of the Polish State
From the very beginnings of the organization of the Polish Underground
Movement the principle was adopted that the aim to be achieved was not
merely the organization of a
patriotic resistance," but that Polish State authorities, departments and
institutions must be maintained.
Immediately after the fall of Warsaw on September 27th, 1939, Polish leaders
decided that their chief objective must be to prevent any de facto break in
the continuity of Polish State sovereignty. From the very beginning the
underground movement adopted the principle of State legality, with the
corollary that for Poles generally the Polish State was officially and
legally recognized as still in existence. This principle, which has been
most fruitful in its consequences for all Polish decisions and postulates
throughout the war, meant that the Polish State has existed and functioned
through all the most essential authorities, departments and institutions of
a normal democratic State. More-over, that State with its Administrative
machinery has continued to function in all the territories within the Polish
State's frontiers as they existed on September 1st, 1939. But the legal,
plenipotentiary government of that State, together with all its
constitutional titles with relation to the Polish nation, had to exist
abroad, for only by functioning in conditions of security and by having the
physical possibility of day-to-day collaboration with the rest of the Allied
Nations, could that Government effectively pursue Polish policy.
This principle has proved of inestimable value both to the Underground
Movement and to the Polish Government. It is of value to the Underground
Movement because it gives that movement authority in relation to the Polish
people, and because it underlines its official character, its character as a
function of State. And the principle is also of inestimable value to the
Polish Government because it entitles it to speak and to conduct policy not
simply in the name of the Polish emigres living abroad but in the name of
the entire Polish community.
A closer analysis of this situation brings out all its importance. For
instance, the underground authorities have long possessed the right to call
upon individual Poles to take part in the administrative machinery of the
Government's Delegate authority, or above all in the Underground Army. Most
frequently Poles are called up or mobilized to work or fight in the
Underground Movement. In most cases the decision rests not with the
individual person but with the underground authorities. Naturally, in
practice only the best and most reliable individuals are so mobilized, and a
free hand is left to those who either do not possess the technical and
psychological qualifications for conspiratorial activities or are not
Obviously this degree of authority could not be achieved easily or
automatic-ally. The extent and degree to which the principle was put into
practice can be very well judged from the methods of enrolling new members
of the Underground Movement. In 1939 or the beginning of 1940 when a
patriotic Pole was asked to collaborate in the Underground Movement he was
invited in terms rather of sentiment and patriotism. But when a
representative of the Governments Delegate or an officer of the military
authorities applies to any Pole today lie no longer does so in such terms:
they are obvious and are taken for granted. He notifies the man or woman
that he or she has been summoned by the Delegate of the Polish Government or
the Commander of the National Army to service, and that he or she is
allocated a certain definite task. In such conditions only obstacles of a
technical nature can be accepted as motives for refusal. If such do not
exist, and the given individual refuses to carry out the order or
instruction, it would mean that he does not recognize the official State
authority of the underground organization. Such instances are very rare.
The Paradox in the Situation in Poland.
The occupying authorities' specific system of terrorization, of the
Situation which is calculated to achieve the object of frightening and in
Poland reducing to passivity the entire nation, has produced a certain kind
of paradox in Poland. It is that the chief victims
of German ruthlessness and brutality are most frequently the masses of tile
people who are not engaged in the underground movement. The fact that while
the occupying authorities methods of terrorization are highly ruthless, they
are also automatically bureaucratic, enabling the underground organizations
to avoid suppression and sacrifice, while a high standard of conspiracy is
This is neither the place, nor the time, to make public the methods which
the underground movement employs in order to avoid the occupying
authorities' attempts to break it up, but the fact remains that the losses
in the movement are incomparably lower than those suffered by the people as
a whole. It is easier for the Germans to arrest and destroy a hundred
innocent people than to capture and render harmless a single member of an
official underground organization. This leads to the strange situation that
membership of the Underground Movement entails greater chances of remaining
in freedom, even in everyday life, than if one relies only on being
"innocent" in regard to the occupying authorities.
From time to time steps are taken to draw quite a number of people into the
Underground Movement, not so much because of their immediate utility in
this regard, as in order to protect them and save them from the everyday
dangers arising from the German occupation.
Why There is No Polish Quisling
Working in accordance with the foregoing principles, the Underground
Movement built up a preliminary organizational structure very early, in the
first few months of 1940, and that structure was almost completely organized
in its final form soon after the fall of France.
One of the most important and essential things to be said about that
structure is that it constitutes a normal Polish State organization. All
the most important authorities, departments and institutions characteristic
of a normal democratic State, have been organized and restored as far as
possible, though of course in a more restricted sphere, within the framework
of the Underground Movement. This constitutes a fundamental difference
between the Polish Underground Movement and those of other nations, whom the
Germans have temporarily conquered.
In every other country of Europe there are normal administrative
authorities, local government authorities, economic authorities, normal
educational institutions, and almost always a more or less legal
constitutional government, cooperating with the German occupying
authorities or set up within the frame-work of the occupying administration.
Of course the majority of the citizens of the country realize that the only
moral authoritative and patriotic factor of national policy is the
Government abroad. None the less, the fact that official State authorities,
departments and institutions are functioning inside the country within
bounds laid down and allowed by the occupying power by no means facilitates
the organization of the underground movement on a constitutional and State
scale. And it provides the answer to the question why the Under-ground
Movement watches so thoroughly and effectively over the principle that no
Pole should take any part whatever in the German occupying administration
who is in any way the political representative of even the smallest section
of the Polish people. Unfortunately, people abroad do not sufficiently
appreciate the significance of the fact, unique in the war, that not one
Polish politician occupies any position whatever in the official German
politico-organizational system established for the "General Gouvernement."
This question is not to be explained exclusively in terms of the problem of
the relentless struggle against the occupying authority. And there is no
need to conceal the fact that this is so. For any violation of this
principle would menace the most essential principle of the structure of
underground life. It would undermine that structure, and would complicate
the question of Polish State existence. Not for one moment could a
situation be allowed in which any Pole, even the humblest member of the
community, could feel any doubt on the fundamental issue of State unity,
legality and distinctive existence. Not for one moment could a situation be
allowed to develop, in which any Pole was confronted with the existence of
another Polish authority and another Polish administration apart from the
authority and administration of the Underground Movement within Poland and
of the Polish Government abroad.
This position has cost Poland a great deal, and the world knows or should
know it. But at the same time, owing to this relentlessness and refusal to
be deterred even by the most painful sacrifices, the Polish Underground
Movement has maintained the purity of the State doctrine and the
unchallenged authority and sway of the organs of the Polish Underground
Movement over every Pole. The fact that there is no cooperation whatever
with the occupying power on any sector of political life means not only
that Poles have been able to hold the standard of Polish honor as high as
former generations of Poles have held it in times of adversity, but that
they have been able to avoid any kind of rivalry for authority over the
And this attitude has consequences equally significant for the future. So
long as this war lasts there will be no political cooperation in Poland with
the Germans. There will be no traitors in Poland. The Underground Movement
will not allow such a situation to happen, even if mechanical methods of
prevention have to be applied, even if the necessity arises of applying such
methods. But, in fact, there is no need to fear such a development. The
most characteristic and most honorable testimony that can be paid to the
Polish nation in this war is the fact that not once has the necessity arisen
to eliminate any outstanding Polish figure for being ready to collaborate
with the occupying authorities. The few dozen cases in which the
Underground Movement has found it necessary to order the elimination of
Poles who proved disloyal to Poland, have been exclusively concerned with
persons of the least importance and having no political standing, such as
petty agents, small-scale agents provocateurs, cowardly Volksdeutsche and
similar small fry to be found everywhere.
The Problem of the Government
From the earliest days of October, 1939, when the Polish Government abroad
was organized, the problem of the Government was one of the most important
the Underground Movement had to consider. The newly formed Polish
Government was recognized by the entire nation as the constitutional, fully
empowered Government of the country.
Of course the question arose whether the headquarters of the Government
should be established within the country and in the framework of the
Under-ground Movement, or whether a Government plenipotentiary, entrusted
with the Government's general delegation of authority, should be appointed
to reside within the country.
There were many official conferences, discussions, plans, etc., on this
subject. In the end the second alternative was decided upon: the Government
should remain abroad, but should appoint its delegate at home, entrusting
the general direction of the Government in the administrative-executive
sphere to him. Three factors contributed to the acceptance of this plan;
all of them were, for that matter, outside the control of the Polish people
at home and imposed by the de facto state of affairs.
To begin with, if State life had been organized with the Polish Government
remaining on Polish soil, acting from underground, that Government would by
force of circumstances have been isolated from the world, and could not have
had direct contact with the Allied Governments, or carried on Polish foreign
policy, and would have found it difficult to maintain adequate
communications with Polish diplomatic posts in Allied and neutral countries.
Even if a general delegation of authority had been entrusted to one of the
Polish ambassadors or to some collective body, it would have failed to
achieve the importance in the international sphere that the Polish cause
required. Great opportunities would have been given to the enemy for
propaganda exploitation of the situation, and undoubtedly the Germans would
have made every attempt to throw doubts on the authenticity of the
instructions, declarations and the political bona fides of this kind of
official representation of the secret and anonymous National Government in
Further, if a secret National Government had been organized within the
country there would have been a terrible danger of interruptions in the
continuity of State and constitutional authority. Who would have appointed
a new Government if the existing Government had been discovered and
arrested? There would always have been the danger of uncertainty, chaos,
and even political abuses.
Finally, by the application of the accepted principle that the State is
inside the Underground Movement, while the Government of that State is
functioning abroad, advantages for Poland and the Government are achieved
which would be impossible under any other arrangement. The country is
assured the organizational continuity of the Underground Movement. This is
a factor which is often inadequately appreciated even by Poles abroad.
Today, no matter what happens, no matter what ruthless methods the occupying
power may use, and even though the German security authorities should work
with the maximum of efficiency, and the Polish people suffer the maximum of
suffering and sacrifice, the Underground Movement cannot be exhausted and
cannot be smothered. That is not an expression of exaggerated confidence in
the forces working in Poland, but follows naturally from the nature of the
structure of underground life. The entire secret consists in the fact that
tile highest dis-posing authority, which determines the framework and the
bounds of the Underground Movement, works in conditions of security.
The Underground Organization
What is known in Poland as the "structure of the Underground Movement" took
shape quite early in the German occupation.
Speaking generally, one can divide the Polish Underground Movement into two
fundamental parts: the "official movement," representing the official Polish
State authorities, departments and institutions, and the movement
representing "underground public opinion."
The first, official part of the movement consists of four branches, strongly
organized and extending to all parts of Poland ever since September, 1939.
Delegate of the Polish Government
The first branch is headed by the "Delegate of the Government." He is the
Government's representative in Poland, and has the rank of Deputy Prime
Minister of the London Cabinet. He possesses general administrative and
executive powers. He serves as the link to fill the gap arising from the
application of the principle that the Government of the Polish State must
function in conditions of security and freedom.
The Government's Delegate has his representatives in the various parts of
Poland. One of his most important tasks is the organization of the secret
Polish Administration" and its maintenance at the highest possible level,
both politically and organizationally. The Germans overreached themselves
when they reckoned that they would be able to impose their Own State
administration on Poland. They erred in thinking that the "Government of
the General Gouvernement headed by Dr. Frank could become the real
Government in Polish eyes through resort to terror and violence. Tile
Polish nation has organized its own authorities, and they are the only ones
which it regards as genuine. That is one of the reasons why there is not a
Pole to be found in "Frank's Government. For every Pole realizes that if he
did join Frank's government that he would automatically be passing on
himself a sentence of death. But, quite apart from this, not one Pole of
responsibility and sagacity has been found to believe that it would be right
to collaborate politically with the German-occupying authorities.
The existence of a secret administration in Poland is already of tremendous
importance, but it will be of still greater importance on the day when the
German army and civil authorities clear out of Poland. For then that
administration will openly and automatically take over the administrative
system from German hands. Two factors have been of importance in the
development of the secret Polish administration. One was the will of the
Polish people to avoid any internal disturbance or fratricidal struggle
during the first period of recovery of independence. When the German
occupying authority departs, the Polish people will not find themselves in a
political, administrative and organizational vacuum. In Poland the period
from the conclusion of the armistice to the final decisions of the peace
conferences period in which conditions will undoubtedly not be satisfactory
for the holding of elections, of election campaigns, of Party struggles, and
for political consultations involving the great mass of the people-will be a
period of internal order, law and stabilization.
The second factor in the development of the secret administration was the
legal position. From the very beginnings of its existence the Underground
Movement stood for strict legality. And this applies to the taking over of
power from tile occupying authorities. Because of the secret administration
the act of eliminating those authorities in Poland will not be merely an
armed step against the enemy, will not be simply a rising of the Polish
people against foreign domination, but will be a legal act of taking over
authority from the hands of the oppressing foreign authorities.
Polish Underground Army
The second powerful and highly organized branch of the underground movement
is the Home Army." This is merely an underground military organization, or
one among many such. It is the one official, legal Polish army, fighting
unit under one centralized command. In October, 1941, it was officially
named the Polish Underground Army, and called Army No. 1, as distinct from
Army No. 2 in Scotland and Army No. 3 in the Middle East.
The members of this army have all the rights and duties, and in the future
will possess all the privileges within the community, possessed by the
soldiers fighting in the front line during this war. That perhaps is the
sole difference between the soldiers of the Home Army and those of the
armies in the Middle East or in Great Britain, - a difference which
compensates for the fact that the soldiers in the Home Army are not able to
wear the military uniform. The Polish armies in the Middle East and in
Scotland are engaged in fighting only from time to time, and the country
realizes this, whereas the Home Army and all its members are legally
recognized as continually engaged in the struggle, as continually on active
service in the front line.
The Polish people abroad and the Polish armies in the Middle East and
Scotland cannot be regarded as separate entities. They cannot be regarded
as isolated from all those who are working, fighting and acting in Poland at
home. The people in emigration are not a whole, they are only a part of the
entire Polish nation, and only thus can they be regarded, only thus should
they regard themselves. Just as the Polish Government, -and just as the most
minor official is not only a representative of the Poles abroad but of the
Polish nation as a whole, so the fighting Polish army has to be considered
as a whole consisting of three parts: the Home Army, the Middle East Army,
and the Army in Scotland. If this is done, then the losses which the Polish
Army has suffered will be seen to be not only in proportion with (and of
that there is not the least doubt), but, perhaps, even in absolute figures
as high as those of the British or American Army.
Every effort has been made to built up the Home Army along the lines of a
modern army and not of guerilla groups.
The .Polish underground organization is divided into two parts:
The first part are the Operational Units, that is units which are used in
The second is the Regular Army, which is undergoing constant training so
that it may be ready when the time comes. Soldiers of the former are
constantly under arms, living away from their homes, within reach of their
units and having practically nothing in common with the everyday life of
their countrymen. Soldiers of the Regular Army live as ordinary citizens
under the German occupation are subject to military discipline of their
The underground Army's operations are always planned in advance and carried
out according to a general schedule. Thus the highest possible standard of
efficiency in actual fighting, sabotage or reprisals is obtained. Nothing
is left to chance.
Operational Units being constantly ready for action live in specially
organized hiding places in forests or sometimes in towns. On the fringes
of the forests special notices were posted by the Germans: "Achtung ---
Bandengefahr! Einzehlverkehr Verboten. (Beware of bandits-It is forbidden
to enter alone.)
There are two categories of soldiers in operational units: those wearing a
uniform and those wearing civilian clothes. The former have prewar Polish
uniforms or German uniforms seized from the enemy but provided with Polish
badges. They are confined to certain areas and are used only for larger
scale engagements, while detachments formed by the ununiformed men are
dispersed immediately after their task has been concluded. They are
stationed mostly in towns where it would be impossible for them to wear
uniforms or congregate in large numbers.
The underground army has a large supply of arms and ammunition seized from
the Germans, mostly from military transports en route to the Eastern front.
The units are strong enough to seize and carry away entire trainloads. Even
if the Germans happen to discover the whereabouts of the secret ammunition
dumps, usually deep in the forests, they do not risk an attack because they
realize that casualties involved would be too high. However, they
sometimes try to destroy dumps by bombardment.
The purpose of the operations is to engage the greatest possible number of
German troops, police and civilian officials and thus to prevent them from
carrying out their normal duties and to weaken the German effort on the
Russian front generally. Further aims are to force the German troops to
concentrate in strong garrisons instead of being evenly distributed
throughout the country, thus leaving vast areas practically free from the
German control and also to hamper German communication and supply lines, to
fight the German terrorism by carrying out reprisals, executing those guilty
of atrocities, liberating political prisoners and hampering deportation of
Polish workers to Germany.
So far as questions of security permit, the activities of and results
achieved by the Home Army are reported and made public from time to time.
It is almost impossible to realize the tremendous scope of the Polish
Under-ground Movement without knowing all the methods of operation, the
forms of organization, all that in the slang of the Underground Movement is
called "tricks." For the time being these "tricks" must remain unrevealed.
Some day the history of the Underground Movement will relate the story of
these years as a whole and in detail, and then many things which would be
regarded as "impossible" will be seen to have been achieved.
Home Political Representation
The third powerful branch of the Underground Movement is given the genetic
name of "Political Representation in Poland."
Of recent times four political ideological trends have come to the forefront
of all the political movements. They are the Socialist and the Peasant
movements, the Christian Democratic Labor Party, and the National Movement.
Each of these political groups carries on activities in the underground at
its own cost, so to speak. Their activities can be classified as militant
and political, propaganda and organizational. Each group is responsible for
and bears the risk of its own activities. But from representatives of these
four political movements a body has been formed which is in the nature of a
State institution, known as the Home Political Representation. The basis of
cooperation in this body is the Governments Declaration of Principles in
1939 and 1942, and its powers approximate to those of a Parliament together
with those of a Supreme Audit.
Politically both the Government's Delegate in Poland first and foremost and
also to a certain extent the Commander of the Home Army are responsible to
this body. It also has political control of the secret administration, and
especially of its higher posts, and over the budget of both civil and
military authorities. And among other things it watches to ensure that the
division between civil political life and military organizational activity
should be made strictly and advantageously for the efficiency of both
spheres of activity.
In regard to this particular organization, the Home Political
Representation, there are certain deviations from the principle governing
the relations between Government and country. For, while the authority
represented by the Government's Delegate and by the Commander of the Home
Army derives to a lesser or greater extent, and in any case in principle
from the supreme authorities at present in Great Britain (the Government and
the Commander in Chief), in this sector of the national struggle the
situation is exactly the converse. Each of the various political trends
represented in the Home Political Representation has its representatives or
in certain cases its legal organizational authorities abroad. Those
representatives in London contribute to the formation of the Government, by
means of the "Government Coalition." Therefore it is not they who give their
comrades it home a mandate to carry on activities, but they themselves are
either appointed is representatives of the various political trends
operating at home, or are recognized by their home parties as the legal
Recently it has been decided to transform the Political Representation in
Poland into a body formally defined in the degree as The Council of National
Unity. On the 9th of January, 1944, the Polish Government's Delegate in
Poland Announced the formation of the Council of National Unity in Poland.
The Political Representation which was composed of representatives of four
chief political parties has been enlarged. The Council of National Unity is
composed of a larger group of members. It is a political representation of
the Polish people working with the Government's Delegate. The names of
members will be published at an appropriate time.
Directorate of the Civil Resistance
The Fourth branch of the Underground Movement is the organization known as
the Directorate of Civil Resistance.
This organization is of a special nature. It was brought into existence
only in 1941. Its powers and competence are reminiscent of the powers and
competence of the People's Tribunals which society brings into existence in
times of turbulence. This organization watches over the national morale,
maintains the spirit of resistance and struggle, and simultaneously is
responsible to the nation for what is known in Poland as "the rigid attitude
towards the occupying nation," and which abroad is conveyed in the phrase
.'no Quislings!" In 1941 the German terror was especially bloody and
ruthless, and during this period the German armies were having their
greatest successes on all fronts. The Germans were then absolutely confident
of victory and were at their most arrogant. They were most ruthless in
their treatment of the conquered nations and in particular, of the stubborn
Poles. During this phase two needs became evident. One was that there
should be a punishment for those of the German executioners who excelled
even their fellows in brutality, a punishment meted out not as a form of
retribution or act of desperation but as a legal, legitimate act of justice
of an oppressed but not subdued nation. This was the beginning of the death
sentences on Germans which have now developed on such a wide scale. The
creation of this organization has led to hundreds of especially brutal
Gestapo-men, county heads, German gendarmes, soldiers, officers, and S.S.
men being assisted out of this life.
A further need for such an organization arose out of the necessity to take
every step, to maintain the morale of the Polish people themselves, and
especially of those Poles, or, more frequently Volksdeutsche, who were
not strong enough in the conditions of German terror to resist tire
temptation to succumb and to be disloyal to their fellow Poles. The
Directorate of Civil Resistance has the right to administer two kinds of
sentences: that of ostracism and that of death. The fact that people of wide
and high qualifications are members of the tribunals ensures that the
sentences are always just amply motivated. The fact that every accused has
allways an official defender , even though he himself be not present, who pleads
all the existing extenuating circumstances, ensures that there is no abuse
of the tribunal or any possibility of misunderstanding.
The majority of the sentences passed are published before being carried out.
And not one sentence has failed to be carried out, except in cases where its
execution has been formally postponed to the post-war period in connection
with the proposed steps for bringing "responsible war criminals" to trial.
The sentence for ostracism is of special importance. It is effected by the
publication of the name of the given person in the official secret press, as
one who has been alienated from the Polish nation. It is in a sense the
deprivation of civic and honorable rights without imprisonment. It leads to
an inevitable moral, social and political isolation of the man condemned.
Legally the passing of sentence means that although the person condemned to
the sentence of ostracism does not suffer any punishment beyond being
compromised and ostracized, so long as the German occupation continues, as
soon is Polish courts are able to function in freedom again he will be
handed over to be dealt with under the normal criminal court procedure.
Thus from the legal aspect sentence to ostracism is to be understood as
meaning that, on the ground of indubitable evidence against the accused
person, the State authorities and public opinion hold him in a condition of
permanent public accusation.
The competence and powers of the Directorate of Civil Resistance must be
considered in the light of the tremendous moral discipline of the Polish
community and the great national solidarity during this war. Not one Pole
occupying an important position, whether political, social, economic or
moral, in the community before or during the war has earned the death
sentence. Every case has concerned people who were dangerous from the
functional, and not from the political aspect. They have all been petty
provocateurs, agents of the German police, and in the overwhelming majority,
Volksdeutscbe, who both during the days of Polish independence and in
wartime made demonstration of being Polish, but concealing the fact that their German origin had let them to be long active against Poland and for Germany.
The Underground Public Opinion
The four branches of the underground movement ,those mentioned constitute
what are known in Poland as the "Underground Authorities."
In addition there are a number of stronger and weaker, but mainly local
organizations, centres and groups of a political, social, economic,
religious, self-educational or literary character, operating illegally
underground. Each of these groups reveals the fact of its existence mainly
through secret publications: journals, brochures, books, etc. Many of them
are concerned with the question of planning for the future, with analysis of
the international situation, with discussion of programs. In the aggregate
they act as forms of manifestation of "public opinion." Both in political
and in organizational regards they have a very extensive scope.
The Secret Press
The fact that there are a very large number of underground publications has
to be ascribed first and foremost to the great differentiation of these
so-called "loose groups." It need only be mentioned that the Polish
Underground Movement possesses over 140 regularly published periodicals. In
Warsaw alone there are over 85 secret periodicals, which is far more than
the number which existed openly in normal conditions before the war. It
would be impossible to give any indication of how the printing machinery,
paper, printing and press workers, and headquarters are obtained and
arranged. In this field more than anywhere else the great fertility of
invention, capacity, and daring of the underground workers are revealed. It
is an amazing fact that one periodical was for a long period printed on the
finest Japanese paper, while another was published in the format of the
London Times. In the first leading article of this newspaper the editors
informed their readers that they had adopted this non-conspiratorial and
dangerous format because after long consideration it had been decided . . .
not to take any notice of the German occupying authorities and the Gestapo."
Certain of the periodicals published have pictures printed by three color
process, and there are frequent new editions of Polish literary classics,
running to hundreds of pages per volume, as well as new breviaries, school
primers, etc. The scope of the secret press and its influence on the
community are inestimable. A citizen of another occupied country, a man who
is now in freedom, has defined a member of the Underground Movement as being
"in the broadest sense of the word, anyone who at least has contact and
regularly reads the underground press." If this criterion were applied in
Poland the resulting figure would seem incredible. Certain journals, such
as Rzeczpospolita (The Polish Republic), the official organ of the
Government, the Wiadomosci Polskie (Polish News), the official organ of the
Commander of the Home Army, or, finally, the most popular of all the
underground journals, the Biuletin Informacyjny (Information Bulletin), are
published in 25,000 copies per issue. And the aggregate printing of all the
underground periodical press has been calculated to be at least 500,000
copies. Taking it as certain that each copy is read by at least ten
persons, the astonishing figure of over five million Polish readers is
reached. As it happens, in Poland the very broad definition of an
Underground member given above is not accepted. In Poland a member of the
Underground Movement is one who gives his labor, energy or safety; a person
who receives something from the Underground Movement, even though he runs
some risk in accepting it, is not ipso facto a member. He has been given
something, has been served by that movement, but he is not therefore
entitled to be regarded as a fighter for national freedom.
In discussion of the secret press attention must be drawn to the tremendous
part played by poetry. Every number of a periodical, and every publishing
activity, even the most important, finds a place of special honor for the
poet's contribution to human aspiration. Certain poems and verses which
Poles learned by heart at school have now acquired particular value and
significance. There was the case of the fifteen-year-old boy who was a
member of the Home Army, was captured by the Gestapo in the act of
distributing secret periodicals, and was subjected to horrible torture.
When the Underground Movement got a secret message to him asking how they
could help him and what he needed, he answered with not one word of his own,
but in the words of the poet Asnyk:
"Though I perish,
Though I fall,
Yet life will not have been squandered,
For the finest part of life is in such struggle and pursuit.
It will be worth while seeing that magic building of crystal from afar.
It will be worth while to pay with blood and pain for entering the region of
We do not imply any sentimentality or weakness in the leaders of the
Underground Movement if we admit that, reading this answer of the boy, those
veterans who had fought in Tsarist times had tears in their eyes.
And there is the case of the periodical which was discovered by the Gestapo,
with the result that the entire editorial office was blown up and the editor
in chief as well as other members of the staff shot. The next number issued
was run off on a duplicator, on wretched quality paper, uncorrected, but
bearing the following words of apology: "We sincerely apologize to our
readers for the fact that owing to circumstances outside editorial control
the present number does not appear in the format to which readers are
accustomed . . ."
Tile editor of another periodical printed an article listing all the crimes
which had been committed by Governor General" Frank, concluding that after
the war lie should be sentenced to death by an international legal tribunal,
and added: "But now it gives us genuine pleasure to inform our readers that
we have sent a copy of this issue by registered post to Governor General
Frank in Cracow. For we took the view that it would not be fair not to make
him acquainted with all the charges which the Polish Underground Movement
will bring against him after the war. Maybe he has sunk so deep in his
criminality that lie has lost all measure of its extent, and is acting in
ignorance of his guilt."
Scope of the Underground Movement
Abroad the question is frequently asked: How deeply does the official
Underground Movement penetrate into the mass Movement of the people, and how
far is it possible for the secret administration and organs of the
Government Delegate to function? The underground authorities themselves
have asked the same question again and again. And attempts have been made
to obtain a satisfying answer. The means employed were simple enough.
For instance, in 1941 the Government's Delegate was experiencing a severe
shortage of financial resources, and a normal internal state loan was
issued. Of course, superficially it could not be a very "official" sort of
affair: pieces of ordinary paper bare the authorities' thanks for so many
kilograms of certain products, for articles of everyday use, for writing
materials, etc. Each kind of article represented a certain sum contributed.
Each receipt was furnished with a special sign, which of course cannot be
indicated publicly today. The principle adopted was that each sum
contributed to the Government Plenipotentiary department or to other
branches of the Underground Movement would be met at some date in the future
by the Polish Government from the State Treas-ury, together with a normal
rate of interest. And meantime each contributor will have had the honor of
assisting the Underground Movement in the days of struggle and sacrifice.
Thus the loan had two purposes: to raise finances, and to discover how far
the people were ready to make financial sacrifices for what after all are
anonymous and personally unknown state authorities working underground. The
results were far above all expectations. The vast majority of those invited
to contribute gave larger or smaller sums.
Another indication of the peoples support was obtained in a different way.
As is well known, the Germans publish a popular reptile press in Poland
newspapers and periodicals printed in Polish and intended to disorientate
and demoralize the Polish people. Among Poles there is a definite tendency
to refuse to read these journals, but the underground authorities always
realized that it would be difficult to enforce a categorical ban on Poles
reading them. For many people have to buy a newspaper from time to time, if
only because of the general shortage of paper for all kinds of purposes.
Moreover, there is a terrible lack of news and shortage of tile "printed
word" because of the Germans' ban on any genuinely Polish publication. But,
anxious to restrain Poles from buying these periodicals and at the same time
to check up on the social discipline, the Directorate of Civil Resistance
prohibits the purchase of any newspaper whatever on Friday. The order was
so effective that the Germans had to reduce the publication of Friday
issues of newspapers to the bare minimum, so completely did the sales fall
The Youth of Poland
The youth of Poland provides a particularly difficult problem for the
Underground Movement, yet it can be said that they give great reason for
hope in the future. As is well known, the German authorities pursue a
particularly loathsome policy in regard to the young people of Poland. The
Germans have closed all the secondary and higher schools, and all the
universities, they have confiscated four to five thousand different works in
history, geography and Polish literature, they have banned tile publication
of even a single truly Polish classic. At the same time they attempt to
demoralize the youngsters who are thus deprived of education and books. They
print special pornographic literature in Polish, they issue special
magazines with pornographic text and pictures, they open special cinemas and
theaters for doubtful types of films and performances, they have opened
special gaining houses which only Poles may attend and bearing the sign
"Wehrmacht und deutschen Genssen nicht erlaubt (Members of the German army
and German comrades are not allowed).
In answer, secret instruction and education have been organized on a great
scale. The teaching is concealed under all kinds of pretexts. In
consequence large numbers of young people are provided with opportunities of
education. It can even be revealed that despite the enemy's ban "high
schools" and "universities" have been opened, the young people have primers
which aid them to study, and they are even issued school certificates and
matriculation certificates. The secret education is strictly linked up with
the Underground Movement, and in practice it brings great benefits to that
movement. It can be said that, often without their knowing it, every girl
and boy profiting by secret education is passing through a preliminary
course before being drawn into the main Underground Movement.