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Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (NSZ; English: National Armed Forces) was a Polish anti-Nazi and later anti-Soviet military organization which was part of Poland's World War II resistance movement. The NSZ fought occupying German and Soviet forces as well as Soviet-allied Polish communist partisan forces such as Gwardia Ludowa and Armia Ludowa.

The NSZ was the third-largest Polish resistance movement of World War II, after the Home Army and Bataliony Chłopskie. The number of its soldiers ranged from 70,000 to 75,000.


Territorial structure and organization of the NSZ

The NSZ was created on September 20, 1942, as a result of the merger of the Military Organization Lizard Union (Organizacja Wojskowa Związek Jaszczurczy) and part of the National Military Organization (Narodowa Organizacja Wojskowa). At its maximum strength in 1943-44 the NSZ reached between 70,000 and 75,000 members, making it the third largest organization of the Polish resistance (after the Home Army (AK) and the Bataliony Chlopskie).[1] NSZ units participated in the Warsaw Uprising.

In March 1944 the NSZ split, with the more moderate faction coming under the command of the AK. The other part of the organization became known as the NSZ-ZJ (the Lizard Union). This branch of the NSZ conducted operations against Polish communist activists, partisans and secret police, the Soviet partisans, Armia Krajowa, NKVD and SMERSH, and their own (NSZ) former leaders. [2]

Political stanceEdit

The NSZ's program included the fight for Polish independence against Nazi Germany as well as against the Soviet Union, with its focus on keeping the Second Polish Republic's prewar eastern territories and borders while regaining additional former German territories to the west which they deemed "ancient Slavic lands". The General Directive Nr. 3 of the National Armed Forces General Command, L. 18/44 from January 15, 1944, reads: "In the face of crossing of Polish borders by Soviet forces, the Polish Government in London and its Polish citizens living on the territory of Poland express their unwavering desire for the return of the sovereignty to the entire area of Poland within the Polish borders established prior to 1939 through the mutually-binding Treaty of Riga and reaffirmed by the general principles of the Atlantic Charter, as well as by the declarations of the Allied governments which did not concede to any territorial changes that took place in Poland after August 1939."

NSZ cross

During the war, the NSZ fought the Polish communists including their military organizations such as the Gwardia Ludowa (GL) and the Armia Ludowa (AL).[3] After the war former NSZ members were persecuted by the newly installed communist government of the Polish People's Republic. Reportedly, communist partisans engaged in planting false evidence like documents and forged receipts at the sites of their own robberies in order to blame the NSZ.[4] It was a method of political warfare practiced against the NSZ also by the Ministry of Public Security of Poland and Milicja Obywatelska (MO) right after the war, as revealed by communist Poland's court documents.[4]

Such methodically devised propaganda and tactical operations carried out against the armed underground, including the NSZ, were spelled out in the Top Secret Directive VIII/1233/172 issued by the Ministry of Public Security (UB) on December 4, 1945. This Top Secret Directive signed by the ministry's head Stanisław Radkiewicz was issued to all the voivodeship and field UB offices. It reads: “(…) the heads of the UB offices are directed to prepare in great secrecy an action having as its goal liquidation of members of democratic organizations; this action is to be staged in such fashion as to appear to have been carried out by reactionary gangs. It is advised that special-purpose (secret police tactical) units created during the summer of last year be used for this purpose. This action is to be accompanied by a press campaign directed against the reactionary gangs who will be blamed for these actions. (-) Radkiewicz”.

Due to the policy of non-cooperation with the Soviets, the NSZ remained an independent and secret military and political organization also after Poland was taken over by the Soviets and the Polish communists. The NSZ described and evaluated the communist activities in the following way:

One can die by the method proven in Katyn, that is by a single shot in the back of the head, or in the Soviet forced labour camps, or in German Nazi concentration camps (...) there is no real difference in the way one dies (...) therefore it is our duty to stamp out the Soviet agents in Poland. This is simply demanded by the Polish national interest.[5]

Notable military operations by NSZ include the liberation of the Nazi subcamp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp located in Holýšov by the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade, and the assaults on German transport trains departing from Majdanek concentration camp.

National Armed Forces and JewsEdit

Polish historian Alina Cała said that part of NSZ doctrine was the elimination of what they considered to be Communist bands, and that they systematically pursued that goal.[6][7] From November 1944 to mid-1947, during the period of armed anti-communist insurgency against the Soviet takeover of Poland, between 500 and 1,500 Jews were murdered in Poland, many of them members of communist security forces and the Stalinist political apparatus.[8] In Warsaw, the National Armed Forces killed Jerzy Makowiecki and Ludwik Widerszal, two Polish Home Army officers of Jewish origin.[9][10]

Some people also argue that initially, the bulk of the NSZ attacks were directed primarily against the Soviet partisans and the GL-AL, in whose ranks a number of Jews served, and that after the Soviet liberation of Poland, these attacks became more focused on individual Jews who were placed in highly visible positions of authority in the PRL [People's Republic of Poland] and in the organs of oppression.

— Tadeusz Piotrowski, Richard C. Lukas, Poland's Holocaust [11]

However, the National Armed Forces (though not uniformely[3]) did not accept Jews, and pursued an at times anti-Jewish policy.[9]

The solution of the Jewish question is almost as important for the future of our nation as the regaining of independence. The loss of independence and the continuation of Jewish presence in Poland are both an equal danger of slow death for the Poles.

— Main National Armed Forces newspaper Szaniec, cited in Gazeta Wyborcza, 24-5 September 1993[9]

We may condemn the Germans for their bestial methods but we must not forget that Jewry was always and will remain a destructive element in our state organism. The liquidation of the Jews in the Polish territories is of great importance for future development because it frees us from a million-headed parasite.

— National Armed Forces newspaper Barykada, no. 3, March 1943[12]

Archival documents of the Gestapo and the German Sicherheitsdienst for the Radom district reveal cooperation between the National Armed Forces and the Germans.[9] By the end of 1943 and beginning of 1944, the cooperation between the NSZ units and the German police in the Radom district acquired a permanent character.[9] Units of the NSZ were constantly on the lookout for Jews hiding in the forests to deliver to the Germans.[9] According to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Polish Jews who had sought shelter among ethnic Poles after escaping from ghettos were murdered by the NSZ.[13]

According to other sources, many NSZ soldiers and their families are credited with having saved Jews, including such noted ones as Maria Bernstein, Leon Goldman, Jonte Goldman, and Dr. Turski. The NSZ had Jews in its ranks, including Calel Perechodnik, Wiktor Natanson, Captain Roman Born-Bornstein (chief physician of the Chrobry II unit), Jerzy Zmidygier-Konopka, Feliks Pisarewski-Parry, Eljahu (Aleksander) Szandcer (nom de guerre Dzik), Dr. Kaminski, a physician who served in an NSZ unit led by Captain Władysław Kolaciński (nom de guerre Zbik), Major Stanisław Ostwind-Zuzga, and others.[14][15]

In January 1945, the NSZ Holy Cross Mountains Brigade (Brygada Świętokrzyska) retreated before the advancing Red Army and, after negotiating a ceasefire with the Germans, moved into the Nazi-controlled Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. It resumed operations against the Nazis on 5 May 1945 in Bohemia, where the brigade liberated prisoners from a concentration camp in Holýšov, including 280 Jewish women prisoners slated for death.[16]

Post-war persecution and later rehabilitationEdit

Members of the NSZ, like other "cursed soldiers", and their families were persecuted during the postwar Stalinist period. In the fall of 1946, 100-200 soldiers of an NSZ unit under the command of Henryk Flame, nom de guerre "Bartek," were lured into a trap and massacred by communist military and police forces.[17]

In 1992, National Armed Forces underground soldiers were rehabilitated by the Polish state, officially recognized as war veterans, and given pensions and decorations.

NSZ commanders:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hanna Konopka; Adrian Konopka (1 January 1999). Leksykon historii Polski po II wojnie światowej 1944-1997 (in Polish). Graf-Punkt. p. 130. ISBN 978-83-87988-08-1.
  2. ^ David Cesarani, Sarah Kavanaugh. Holocaust: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies. Routledge, 2004, page 119.
  3. ^ a b Piotrowski, Tadeusz (20 August 1998). Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947. McFarland. ISBN 9780786403714. Retrieved 20 August 2019 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b Gontarczyk, Piotr, PPR - Droga do władzy 1941-1944" pg. 347
  5. ^ Original in Polish: "Można umrzeć metodą pokazaną w Katyniu, to jest strzałem w tył głowy lub w sowieckim obozie pracy przymusowej, lub w niemieckim obozie koncentracyjnym (...) nie ma realnej różnicy w sposobie jak sie umiera (...) Dlatego naszym obowiązkiem jest, by wyeliminować sowieckich agentów w Polsce. To jest po prostu wymagane przez polską racją stanu". Source of original: The Magdeburg Sting.
  6. ^ Bartosz Machalica (28 February 2016). "Alina Cała stwiedza: NSZ zabiły więcej Żydów niż Niemców". Interview for Trybuna Online. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  7. ^ Piotr Zychowicz (May 2009). "Cała: "Polacy jako naród nie zdali egzaminu"". Rzeczpospolita (2009–05–25). ISSN 0208-9130. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24 – via Internet Archive.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ Halik Kochanski, The Eagle Unbowed, p. 550.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Cooper, Leo (2000). In the Shadow of the Polish Eagle: The Poles, the Holocaust, and Beyond. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York, N.Y.: Palgrave. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-333-99262-3. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  10. ^ Piotrowski, Tadeusz (2007). Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947. Jefferson (Carolina del Norte, Estados Unidos): McFarland & Company. pp. 95–96. ISBN 978-0-7864-2913-4.
  11. ^ Tadeusz Piotrowski, Poland's Holocaust. ISBN 0786429135.
  12. ^ Friedrich, Klaus-Peter (2005). "Collaboration in a "Land without a Quisling": Patterns of Cooperation with the Nazi German Occupation Regime in Poland during World War II". Slavic Review. 64 (4): 711–746. doi:10.2307/3649910. eISSN 2325-7784. ISSN 0037-6779. JSTOR 3649910.
  13. ^ Israel Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, p. 1032.
  14. ^ Chodakiewicz, Marek Jan (20 August 2004). Between Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland, 1939-1947. Lexington Books. ISBN 9780739104842. Retrieved 20 August 2019 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ Muszyński, Wojciech (2012). Nacjonalizmy różnych narodów - book chapter by Wojciech Muszyński [Nationalisms of different nations] (PDF) (in Polish). Księgarnia Akademicka. p. 140. ISBN 978-83-7638-132-9. The highest-ranking Jew in the structures of NSZ was Feliks Pisarewski "Parry" ... Another relatively high-ranking officer of Jewish origin in the NSZ hierarchy was Stanisław Ostwind vel Zuzga ps. "Kropidło" ... Aleksandr (Eliasz) Szandcer ... sh Jankiel Kleinman "Jasio", cadet. Władysław Hajutin "Władek", kp. Cadet. NN "Zawisza" - son of a doctor from Lviv, the senior shooter "Wujek" - entrepreneur from Chełm region, shot NN "Zawadzki" and a few girls serving as nurses .. brigadier doctors were (Jewish) dr Juliusz Kamiński..In the Brigade served still at least a few Jewish soldiers and paramedics, including NN "Negri" (Widloch 1992: 44), shoot NN "Antoni" and shoot NN "Fryc" ... Jews in the NSZ branches often held responsible functions. Capt. Born- Bornstein..In the same group, there were also: two officers of the Jewish Military Union: Marian Rosenstof and Henryk Gumiński, who joined the assault team of one of the companies commanded by NSZ-ONR staff, and Calel Perechodnik and NN "Ryksiarz". In addition, at "Chrobry II", a large group of Jews used food in the field kitchen, which during the uprising did not have to hide anymore. In turn in the "Gozdawa" group, in the team commanded by Sgt. officer cadet. NSZ Tadeusz Niezabitowski "Lubicz", Jerzy Żmidrygier-Konopka "Poręba" - son of professor Zdzisław Żmidrygier-Konopka from the University of Warsaw fought. "Poreba" took part in many actions, and for a special courage, he was presented by the commander to be decorated with the Virtuti Militari cross and the Cross of Valor. He fell on August 25 in the ruins of the Bank of Poland. (Bojemski 2009: 251-253) Zofia Lipmann participated in the propaganda activities of NSZ during the uprising, and she was listening to foreign radio stations for the "Szaniec" editorial office. The same function in the editorial office of the insurgent NSZ "Żołnierz Starego Miasta" was held by Karolina Stefania Marek "Stefa", and the orderly in this editorial office was also a Jew named NN "Adam
  16. ^ Antonin Bohun Dabrowski in "Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust" edited by Richard Lukas, pg 22. [1]
  17. ^ Rzeczpospolita, 02.10.04 Nr 232, Wielkie polowanie: Prześladowania akowców w Polsce Ludowej Archived 2007-12-19 at the Wayback Machine (Great hunt: the persecutions of AK soldiers in the People's Republic of Poland), last accessed on 7 June 2006

Further readingEdit

  • Siemaszko, Zbigniew S. (1985). Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (2nd ed.). Warszawa: Głos. OCLC 69304656.

External linksEdit