In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland and the country completely taken over by October. Even with the loss of their country and the major powers fighting for dominance, the people of Poland never gave up. A government in exile was set up and numerous resistance organizations sprung up around the country and the world as Poles both at home and abroad were ready to stand and fight for the liberation of Poland. But the fight was not an easy one. The Poles were outnumbered and their enemy was much better armed, but still they fought bravely. Below are 10 amazing facts about the Polish resistance during WWII.
Secret Operations Successfully Took Out Nazi Officials
Operation Heads was the movement by Polish Resistance fighters of the Home Army. The Home Army or AK (for Armia Krajowa, ‘Home Army’ in Polish) was the largest resistance group in Poland, formed in 1942. They were loyal to the Polish government-in-exile and sought to liberate Poland.
Operation Heads was the code name for the mission to assassinate Nazi officials. The name came from the Death Head symbol on the SS Nazi Germany uniforms and headgear. Special courts of the Polish Underground would pick Nazi officials and sentence them to death for crimes against Polish citizens during the German occupation. The operation would target the German administration, police, SS, SA, the labor office, or German agents, anyone that was seen to be committing atrocities against civilians.
The operation started largely as a response to the German policy of ‘lapanka’. In territories that Germany occupied, they would regularly round up large groups of people to be killed or sent to concentration camps. German soldiers would pick a street, neighborhood, or even a passing group, surround the area with troops, and then take anyone that was captured. Between 1942 and 1944, there were about 400 daily victims of lapanka in Poland.
As a way to maintain order and stop the Home Army from attacking leaders, the Nazis published a daily list of Poles to be executed in the event of an attack against Nazi troops. The Home Army had their own list of targets, and they killed hundreds of Nazi officials.