The twenty seventh of September 1939 saw the birth of the Polish Underground State. It was formed the day before the surrender of Warsaw, the Polish capital, following Poland’s invasion by Germany on the first September 1939 and the Soviet Union later in the month.
The Polish Underground State comprised a number of organisations both military and civilian, bound together by their common loyalty to the Government of the Polish Republic in Exile which continued initially in France, until the fall of France, and then London, England.
The Underground State operated in Poland during the Second World War and maintained communications with the Government in Exile by radio communications and hundreds, perhaps thousands of couriers who carried secret messages.
The Underground State fought for Poland to become a democratic independent state with guarantees in place to ensure equality for minorities and freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to carry out political activity.
During its strongest period the Underground State controlled one of the largest resistance groups to the Nazi regime. The Underground State was unique in that it developed under its civilian wing, educational and social service departments, a propaganda ministry
together with a parliament and judiciary.
The military wing developed into the Polish Home Army or the AK and was of particular significance during the Warsaw Uprising which began on 1stAugust 1944 and continued until 2ndOctober 1944. Despite extraordinary efforts by the Home Army and civilian population the uprising failed, arguably principally as a result of political expediency between the principal Allied Powers. The Soviet Union sought control of Poland after the defeat of Germany. Soviet troops waited on the outskirts of Warsaw but did not go to the assistance of the Home Army.
(Poland had broken of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in April 1943 after the discovery of the Katyn massacre. The Katyn Massacre took place in 1940 and was the murder of an estimated 22 000 Polish soldiers, policemen, clergy, officials etc by Soviet troops).
The Polish Government in Exile was not invited to attend either the Tehran Conference in 1943 or the Yalta Conference in February 1945 where Western Allies and the Soviets discussed their vision of post war Europe and the fate of Poland. The Soviet Union introduced their own puppet organisation for the government of Poland following the Tehran Conference and members of the Underground State found themselves persecuted by this communist organisation after the failure of the Warsaw Uprising.
Faced with persecution and unwilling to initiate civil war in Poland the Polish Underground State disbanded on the 19thJanuary 1945.
Much of the history of the Underground State was suppressed whilst Poland was under Soviet control but since the fall of communism, Polish historians have been able to research the history of the movement. There are now statues to the Underground State in Poland and the 27th September has been named Day of the Polish Underground State.
The flag of the Polish Underground State comprised the letter P on a boathook imposed centrally on the Polish flag, the emblem of the state was the Polish eagle and the anthem “Poland is not yet Lost.”
The Polish Codebreaking Team, inspiration for my novel The Cypher Bureau were loyal to the Polish Government in Exile.
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