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- For other meanings of Home Army see: Home Army (disambiguation)
The Armia Krajowa or AK (Home Army) functioned as the pre-eminent underground military organization in German-occupied Poland, which functioned in all areas of the country from September 1939 until its disbanding in January 1945. The Home Army, the largest underground resistance army during World War II, formed the armed wing of what subsequently became known as the "underground state" (państwo podziemne).
The AK originated from the Sluzba Zwyciestwu Polski (Polish Victory Service), set up on 27 September 1939 by General Michał‚ Torkarzewski-Karaszewicz . On 17 November 1939 General Wladyslaw Sikorski replaced this organization with the Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej (Union for Armed Struggle), which after joining with the Polski Zwiazek Powstanczy (Polish Union of Rersistance) became the AK on 14 February 1942.
Stefan Rowecki (known as Grot, or "arrowhead"), served as the AK's first commander until his arrest in 1943; Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski commanded from July 1943 until his capture in September 1944. Leopold Okulicki , known as Niedzwiadek ("bear cub") led the organisation in its final days. The AK officially disbanded on 19 January 1945 to avoid armed conflict with the Soviets and a civil war. However, many units decided to continue their struggle under new circumstances.
The executive branch of the AK was the operational command, composed of many units. Estimates of the AK membership in the first half of 1944 range from 250,000 to 350,000, with more than 10,000 officers. Most of the other Polish underground armies became incorporated into the AK, including:
- The Konfederacja Narodu (Confederation of the People) (1943).
- The Bataliony Chlopskie (Peasants' Battalions).
- A large military organization of the Stronnictwo Ludowe (People's Party).
- The Socjalistyczna Organizacja Bojowa (Socialist Fighting Organization), established by the Polska Partia Socjalistyczna (Polish Socialist Party).
- The Narodowa Organizacja Wojskowa (National Army), established by the Stronnictwo Narodowe (National Party).
- From March 1944, part of the extreme right-wing organization, the Narodowe Sily Zbrojne (National Armed Forces).
The AK divided itself organizationally in Poland into sixteen regional branches, subdivided in turn into eighty-nine inspectorates, which further comprised 278 districts. The supreme command defined the main tasks of the AK as preparation for action and, after the termination of the German occupation, general armed revolt until victory. At that stage plans envisaged the seizure of power in Poland by the delegatura establishment, the representatives of the London-based Polish government-in-exile; and by the government-in-exile itself, which would return to Poland.
While the AK did not engender a general revolt, its forces did carry out intensive economic and armed sabotage. In 1944 it acted on a broad scale, notably in initiating the Warsaw Uprising, which broke out on 1 August 1944. It had the aim of liberating Warsaw before the arrival of the Soviet Red Army. While the insurgents released a few hundred prisoners from the Gesia St. concentration camp and carried out fierce street-fighting, the Germans eventually defeated the rebels and burned the city, finally quelling the Rising only on 2 October 1944.
AK units carried out thousands of armed raids and daring intelligence operations, bombed hundreds of railway shipments, and participated in many partisan clashes and battles with the German police and Wehrmacht units.
In total the AK killed an estimated 150,000 Germans.
Major military and sabotage operations include:
Important Armia Krajowa sub-units include:
Relations with Jews
In February 1942, the Operational Command of the AK Information and Propaganda Office set up the Section for Jewish Affairs, directed by Henryk Wolinski . This section collected data about the situation of the Jewish population, drafted reports and sent information to London. It also centralized contacts between Polish and Jewish military organizations. The AK also organised financial aid for Jews (see Zegota). The AK accepted only a few Jews (about one thousand) into its own ranks: it generally turned down Jewish applicants.
The AK provided the Warsaw ghetto with about sixty revolvers, several hundred hand grenades, and ammunition and explosives. During the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943, AK units tried twice to blow up the ghetto wall, carried out holding actions outside the ghetto walls, and together with GL forces sporadically attacked German sentry units near the ghetto walls. One AK unit, the Security Corps (korpus bezpieczeństwa or KB) took a direct part in fights inside the ghetto together with Jewish fighters from ŻZW.
Three out of seven members of the Collective Command of the AK (KG AK), had Jewish origins.
- Home Army (Polish) the Home Army
- Polish resistance - Edited by the London Branch of the Polish Home Army Ex-Servicemen Association
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