Battle of Rablow


The Battle of Rablow (Powiat of Opole Lubelskie) resuled from a major German anti-partisan operation known as the Grosseinsatz Maigewitter which took place 10-15 May of 1944 in Lubelszczyzna in eastern Poland; the battle itself took place on the 14th of May.

The Operation Grosseinsatz Maigewitter took place simultaneously in two sectors. In the southern sector the Germans undertook a sweep of some of the forests in the environs of Krasnik and Janow Lubelski with the forces of three battalions; here the Germans failed to establish combat contact with the partisans. At the same time, in the northern sector the Germans used five battalions, and here combat contact was achieved.

The Battle:

At the beginning of May the AL grouping commanded by Podpulkownik Mieczyslaw Moczar ("Mietek"), the commander of the AL's Obwod II, left the Lasy Parczewskie forest complex in northern Lubelszczyzna for the Lasy Janowskie forest complex in the south-western part of the region, where it was planned to concentrate the partisan forces. During the march several battles and engagements were fought against the Germans by this grouping, like those at Ostrow Lubelski on 06 May, Dabrowka on 10 May (when it helped a Soviet partisan detachment from the grouping of V. Czepiga), and on 12 May at Syry, where, together with the Polish Partisan Brigade "Imienia Wandy Wasilewskiej" as well as an AL communications detachment, it repelled German attacks.

On the morning of the 14th May this AL partisan grouping reached the vicinity of the village of Rablow where it made a stop to rest. Soon Luftwaffe planes appeared overhead, which subsequently bombed the villages of Folwark Rablow and Grabowki. Afterwards, the partisan command, expecting the German ground forces to arrive soon, left the village and wisely moved all its forces to the nearby forest, which was criss-crossed by numerous long, narrow, and steep hills and intertwining ravines, offering excellent natural defensive positions, instead of having them to face more numerous and much better armed enemy forces in the open.

Defensive preparations were at once initiated, creating a very roughly "circular" defensive area in the hilly forest near Rablow; the southern sector was defended by a Soviet partisan detachment led by Captain V. Kolesniczenko, while the eastern, northern, and western defensive lines were assigned to the AL grouping of three companies (commanders: J. Litko "Janek", S. Gajus "Stach", J. Wojtowicz "Maciek") and four platoons (including two from the AL, one from the AK, and one from the BCh). Altogether the partisan forces collectively amounted to 900 partisans (including 600 from the AL). Moczar appointed Kapitan F. Wolanski "Franek", Kapitan A. Skotnicki "Zemsta", Porucznik M. Meluch "Kolka", and Captain V. Kolesniczenko, as the commanders of the four respective defensive lines.

The Germans with the forces of five battalions from the Wehrmacht and the police (including from the elite 5th SS Panzer Division "Wiking"), having at their disposal tanks, armoured cars, and artillery on the ground, and Luftwaffe air support from the air, first encirlced the hilly forest. After subjecting it to aerial bombardment and an intensive artillery barrage which lasted for an hour, the German infantry first attacked the forest around noon, directing their main thrust from the north and north-east; especially heavy fighting took place on the defensive lines held by the AL companies of "Janek" and "Stach".

At the beginning of the ground attack a line of German troops appeared, which then halted about 100 meters from the nearest partisan position, to prepare for the ground assault; after a moment the Germans stood-up and rushed towards the partisans who fired at them and forced them to retreat. Soon after a second ground attack was launched, but it too was repulsed. Nevertheless, a larger group of the attackers eventually succeeded in penetrating to the rear areas of these companies from the north-east, by entering a gap in the partisan defensive lines; however, these Germans subsequently were partially destroyed and then ejected in hand-to-hand combat.

Subsequent German attacks, mostly from the south and east, were likewise repulsed in hand-to-hand combat. In between the ground assaults the aerial bombardments and artillery barrages were renewed. The battle lasted until the late evening. At night, the partisans took advantage of the ensuing darkness, to sneack out of the encirclement to the east, in three separate groups. Afterwards the partisans left the endangered area; majority of the AL partisans then embarked on a return journey to the Lasy Parczewskie, while the rest, including Moczar himself, a group of other AL officers, and the Soviet partisan detachment, headed to the Lasy Janowskie to the south.

The partisan grouping suffered around 40 killed and 40-50 wounded in the Battle of Rablow; the Germans suffered (according to partisan sources) approximately 300 killed and wounded.


Encyklopedia Drugiej Wojny Swiatowej, Wydawnictwo MON, Warszawa, 1975.

Boleslaw Dolata & Tadeusz Jurga, Walki Zbrojne na Ziemiach Polskich, 1939-1945; Wybrane Miejsca Bitew, Walk i Akcji Bojowych, Wydawnictwo MON, Warszawa, 1970.

AL - People's Army

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