GL in 1942

The year 1942 was a crucial year during WWII. It was also the year during which the GL (Gwardia Ludowa - People's Guard) itself was founded, at the beginning of January, from an amalgamation of a number of already existing left-wing resistance organizations. It was also a year of strong growth and development for the GL, as well as of active armed resistance against the occupiers and their collaborators. These actions were undertaken despite of the young age, small numbers, lack of support from abroad (or a very marginal one from the Soviets), lack of weapons, ammunition, explosives, equipment, insufficient officer cadre, and inexperience in combat on the part of a significant portion of the organization's membership, as well as the fact that most of its support base was found among the poorest segments of the Polish society. The very generalized information below should illustrate the not so inconsiderable growth and war effort of the GL during that pivotal year.

The list of the more significant actions contained below is very likely incomplete.

Attacks on the Enemy's Communication and Transportation Lines

55 attacks on the railways were made as a result of which 27 trains were derailed and 18 railway stations and bridges were destroyed, while some other railway devices and structures were destroyed or damaged. (For example when the GL Partisan Detachment of Jozef Rogulski "Wilk" destroyed on 28 November the signal devices at the Soltykow Railway Station, the rail traffic was halted for the entire night on the Koluszki-Skarzysko line; on the same day the GL Partisan Detachment "Imienia Ziemi Kieleckiej" destroyed signalling devices at the Malogoszcz Station shortly afterwards causing a collision between a locomotive and a train. Also in December the GL Partisan Detachment "Imienia W. Kononowicza" commanded by Tadeusz Rynkiewicz "Tadek" destroyed a section of the railway tracks near the Grabow Railway Station on the Warka-Radom line. According to a German document in October alone, and only on the territory of the General Governorship, manipulation of the railway signalling devices caused train collisions near Rawa Ruska, Czestochowa, and Skierniewice, while a train was derailed in vicinity of Pionki by the same means.)

There were 13 attacks on the road transportation, while a number of cable communications lines were severed; a German report states that in October alone, and only in the General Governorship, there were 13 instances of "bands" destroying telegraph wires, central telephone exchanges, and telegraph poles.

Attacks on the Administration Apparatus and Freeing of Prisoners

Dozens of police posts were captured and dis-armed, at least hundreds of prisoners and forced labourers, many facing certain death, were freed. Many German government offices were obliterated.


An especially large and successful action of liberating prisoners was carried-out on 07 November when the GL Partisan Detachment "Imienia Tadeusza Kosciuszki", together with the GL foray groups from Grabowek and Ludmilowka, under the command of Grzegorz Korczynski, liberated 500 Jewish inmates of a German slave labour camp at Janiszow, Powiat of Krasnik, in southern Lubelszczyzna. The camp was swiftly taken, to a large degree thanks to careful preparation and extensive intelligence obtained by the efforts of Jan Pytl ("Leon"), combined with the element of surprise. Peter Ignar, the camp's brutal commandant, was executed. A portion of the emancipated inmates joined the detachment on a voluntary basis, the rest found refuge among the local Poles.

Other Larger Ones:

The same partisan detachment on 09 October carried-out a daring action to free 45 Poles jailed in the Krasnik Prison, including PPR (Polska Partia Robotnicza - Polish Workers' Party) activist Edward Marszalek ("Ksiadz"), who were soon to be executed. The entire detachment had only 35 poorly armed partisans, while the Axis forces in Krasnik and the surrounding area amounted to around 600 well-armed troops and policemen. The detachment was divided into two, the first part was to launch a diversionary attack on Trzydnik, with the aim of removing at least part of the German forces from Krasnik. When this took place the second part, after a brief fight on the town's streets, quickly captured the prison, and took the liberated prisoners with them to the forests. During the action five Germans were killed and someteen wounded; the partisans had only one killed and a single wounded.

On 28 November the GL Detachment of "Edek" (Ludwik Kwiatek) dispersed a forced labour camp at Zakrzowek, Powiat of Ilza, in north-eastern Kielecczyzna, freeing around 100 people and capturing some weapons and ammunition in the process, while six German guards (including one officer) were dis-armed.

On 28 November GL Partisan Detachment "Imienia Ziemi Kieleckiej" stopped at the Zagnansk Station a railway transport ferrying a large number of Poles dispatched to Germany to perform forced labour; they were all set free.

In August a GL Partisan Detachment of "Wilk" captured the settlement of Drzewica (west of Radom); a German government office was destroyed, a Polish Police post was dis-armed, and 15 local Polish peasants jailed for not providing the Germans with the required provisions of foodstuffs were freed.

Actions Directed Against the Enemy's Economic Interests

Over 3501 combat actions of that type were conducted, during the course of which agricultural-farming, mining, extracting, manufacturing, and processing facilities, various storages and magazines of the occupier, or those working for its war effort, were destroyed; their goods were often confiscated and subsequently given-away for free to the local starving population. When items could not be taken, disabled, or destroyed by any other means, arson was employed to destroy the occupier's economic capacity.

One of the Biggest:

One of the more prominent of such actions was the one performed by the GL Partisan Detachment "Imienia Ziemi Kieleckiej" under the command of Ignacy Robb (real surname: Rosenfarb, but also known as "Narbutt"), against a pyrite mine at Rudki near Nowa Slupia, in Kielecczyzna. On 15 December the detachment attacked both the mine and a nearby post of the German Gendarmerie, thus preventing the latter from providing relief to the mine, which was captured following a brief fight, and subsequently heavily devastated; among other things, the mine's shaft was barricaded with miniature mining railway carriages and subsequently its underground portion was flooded. The mine was put out of production for the next few weeks; the Germans suffered seven killed (six members of the mine's Werkschutz unit and one gendarme), while the partisans successfully withdrew with one fatality, their only casualty.

Other Larger Ones:

At the end of June the mixed Polish-Soviet GL Partisan Detachment of "Miszka Tatar" (Mihail Atamanov - a Soviet officer and an escaped POW) together with the BCh (Bataliony Chlopskie - Peasant Battalions) detachment led by "Iskrzak" and an AK (Armia Krajowa - Army of the Land) group commanded by "Tomasz" burned a sawmill and a furniture factory (probably also manufacturing wooden parts for firearms) working for the Germans at Tartak Tarnawatka, Powiat of Tomaszow Lubelski, in southern Lubelszczyzna.

In July the GL Partisan Detachment of "Jastrzab" (Antoni Palen) burned a sawmill together with a lumber depot located at that sawmill in Janowek, near Janow Lubelski, in southern Lubelszczyzna.

Clashes, Engagements & Battles Against the Axis Armed Forces

In excess of 802 clashes, engagements, and battles were fought against the German Gendarmerie (Rural Police) and other German police formations (Schupo, Gestapo, Bahnschutzpolizei, Sonderdienst, Werkschutz, and etc.), SS, Wehrmacht troops, and the German-controlled Polish Police and Ukrainian Police.

GL's Largest Battle in 1942:

(Counted as the one with the largest number of the Axis troops and policemen involved.)

The largest of these was a three-days long partisan battle fought by the GL Partisan Detachment "Imienia Jozefa Bema" commanded by Teodor Kovalov - "Fiodor", "Fiedia", or "Teodor Albrecht" (a Soviet officer and an escaped POW), lasting from the 6th to 8th December of 1942 in the Lasy Parczewskie forest complex in northern Lubelszczyzna. In spite of employing considerable police and military forces, the Germans failed to destroy it and themselves suffered significant losses, while the partisans managed to successfully extract themselves out of the encirclement, soon afterwards regaining the initiative (like the brief capture, by the above-mentioned detachment together with the GL foray groups from Rudki, Jedlanki, and Ostrow Lubelski, of the town of Ostrow Lubelski on the 17th December, during which a Polish Police post was attacked, while a German government office, a post office, and a dairy factory working for the German war effort were destroyed; a policeman was killed while a few informants in the German service were liquidated).

Avengement Actions

Avengement actions were carried-out to avenge crimes conducted by the Germans against Poles, especially against the most brutal and blood-thirsty members of the German government and security apparatus, and its military and police forces. Since members of this groups formed the bulk of the people attending the "Germans only" locales (cafes, cinemas, etc.) these places were at times targeted by such actions.

The Largest:

On 24 October at around 19:00 assault groups consisting of members of the Warsaw's GL Special Group "Imienia Ludwika Warynskiego" launched three separate attacks on the "Germans only" cafes of "Mitropa" and "Cafe Club" and the printing facility of the Nowy Kurier Warszawski which published German propaganda in Polish. As a result 10 Hitlerite officers were killed and another 24 were wounded (including some higher-ranking ones) while the printing machines were damaged; the guardists did not suffer any casualties. The groups were led by Jan Strzeszewski ("Wiktor", "Mecenas"), Roman Bogucki ("Chudy Roman"), and Mieczyslaw Ferszt ("Mlot"). The attacks were reprisals for the shooting of over 40 Poles imprisoned at the Pawiak Prison on the 15th October, and the public hangings of 50 Polish patriots (39 of them members of the PPR & GL) in Warsaw the next day. It is worth noting that after these actions the Germans did not took any revenge against the Polish lives; in Warsaw they briefly took 50 Poles hostage, but quickly released them unharmed when the GL threatened that if anything happened to them more such actions would follow. Besides that the curfew was moved from 22:00 to 20:00 and a "fine" of one million Occupational Zlotys was taken from Warsaw, but shortly afterwards it was confiscated by the GL in a daring action which only further compromitated the German authorities (see below).

On 22 November in Radom a GL combat group of three fighters (Anatol Sarnecki, Henryk Kobylinski, Jozef Czyzewicz) showered with hand grenades the Germans leaving the "Germans only" Cinema "Apollo"; seven (7) Germans were killed while another 19 were wounded. The attack was a reprisal for the public execution of 35 Polish patriots the previous month in Radom.

On 22 December GL groups in Cracow showered with hand grenades the "Germans only" cafes of "Cyganeria" and "Pawilon"; only in the attack on the former the guardists led by Idek Libera killed 11, gravely wounded nine (9), and lightly wounded four (4) Germans. On that day the guardists also decorated the city's streets with Polish national flags, and laid a wreath at the place of the Kosciuszko's oath.

From the middle to the end of 1942 GL combat groups in Czestochowa launched a whole series of avengement attacks in the city, killing and wounding dozens of Hitlerites, including Gestapo agents, policemen, and Wehrmacht troops, but suffered losses in the process (among others, both of the local commanders were killed, Hilary Pilsniak and Ignacy Liwoch).

Appropriating Actions


The single most successful such action took place on 30 November in Warsaw, when a "fine" imposed by the Germans on the city in response to the GL's avengement actions of 24 October, was confiscated by the GL soldiers, under the overall command of J. Strzeszewski, who carried-out the action in four groups which were led by Franciszek Bartoszek ("Jacek"), August Lange ("Stach"), Boleslaw Kowalski ("Janek"), and Janusz Zarzycki ("Wojtek") - 1 052 433 Occupational Zlotys were taken from a safety deposit box at the BKKO bank in Warsaw in broad daylight. The entire sum of money was used to finance the GL's resistance effort.

Dis-arming Actions

These were undertaken in large numbers, mainly against armed Germans in small groups or as individuals; usually they were released unharmed, unless they were known to be murderers of Poles. Other equipment, and sometimes the Germans' uniforms and/or boots were also taken. Such actions strengthened the GL by providing it with weapons, ammunition, equipment, boots, and uniforms, while at the same time it devoided the Germans of the same. Posts, small groups, and individual members of the German-controlled Polish Police were also quite frequently targets of such actions.

In some cases whole settlements of German colonists were captured, and these were likewise dis-armed and subject to other types of confiscations. For example, during the night of 21-22 December a GL foray group, led by Stanislaw Gac ("Kuba"), captured the village of Matyldow, Powiat of Sochaczew, Mazowsze, at that time inhabited by German colonists. As a result it captured 14 rifles, eight (8) hand pistols, one (1) double-barreled hunting rifle, lots of ammunition, and confiscated 15 000 Occupational Zlotys; the entire booty was used to support the foray group's activities.

Counter-Intelligence & Intelligence Gathering

Again, it featured prominently in the GL. Intelligence was extensively gathered, often by the "garrisons" and was subsequently passed on to the Soviets, who must have often found it quite valuable, albeit its quality varied. Probably in much of Poland the only way the Soviets could have obtained intelligence was via the GL. Counter-intelligence consisted of detecting and ferreting out of the German spies, informants, infiltrators, provocatuers, and elimination of especially dangerous members of the German security apparatus, in the latter case also combining as avengement actions.

From 1942 until the liberation in late July of 1944 the GL continuously operated a secret radio transmitter in the city of Lublin which transmitted to the Soviets valuable intelligence.

Perhaps later more notable actions of that type will be mentioned here.

Growth in Numbers and Units

Formally the first GL partisan detachment was the GL Partisan Detachment "Imienia Stefana Czarnieckiego" led by Franciszek Zubrzycki ("Maly Franek") which started operating in May in the environs of Piotrkow Trybunalski. But in reality some of the partisan detachments that joined the GL from the other organizations existed much earlier than that, like for example the GL Partisan Detachment of "Tadek Debiak" (Ladyslaw Buczynski) which existed already since 1941 as part of a left-wing resistance organization that was eventually absorbed into the GL.

By June of 1942 there were already 12 GL partisan detachments. By the end of 1942 the GL had 29 partisan units of full-time partisans - 21 partisan detachments, one (1) partisan grouping, and seven (7) special groups (one each in Warsaw, Lodz, Cracow, Radom, Lublin, Czestochowa, and Rzeszow); according to some sources there were 38 combat units in all at that point in time, but that number perhaps also includes the foray groups which consisted of part-time fighters and thus were, possibly for that reason, not included.

During 1942 there was a several-fold numerical growth; at the end of that year the Obwod IV Krakowski alone had over 1 000 members and it was surely not the most numerous one; besides it, there were seven, for a brief time even eight, other obwody (already in 1942 there were the following: Warszawski, Lubelski, Radomsko-Kielecki, Krakowski, Lodzki, Slaski, for a brief time Zaglebie which was shortly absorbed into Slaski, and Lwowski). Thus, the total number of GL members at that point in time amounted to approximately 5 000.

Diversion & Sabotage

Extensive and wide-ranging, one of the most common forms of the GL's direct combat by the means of which the GL inflicted damage on the enemy. The GL's sabotage and diversion actions were very numerous.

Perhaps later more notable actions of that type will be mentioned here.

Informational & Social Work

Amounted to the distribution of information and news that were independent of the German-run mass media. Extensive work was also done in this field as well; in 1942 the PPR & GL are known to have published five separate underground newspapers and periodicals. Their reach often went beyond the GL's own membership.

Social work amounted to providing aid to the victims of the Nazi regime in a wide variety of forms; the free distribution of food and other items captured on the Germans was part of it, as was the giving of food, shelter, and protection to the fugitives and escaped POWs evading the Nazis and to the hiding Jews. Aid was also supplied to the inmates of the Nazi prisons, POW as well as the concentration & death camps, and Jewish ghettos via the underground channels. This type of work may not have involved any combat, but nevertheless was important and very dangerous considering the brutal Nazi regime imposed on Poland (among other things, Poland, Yugoslavia, and the occupied part of the Soviet Union were the only three places where helping Jews was punishable by death).


1 - One of the sources only lists 174; the number stated above is from a later source, whose compilation of the total number of actions was likely more complete, and/or this smaller number only applies to central Poland (see below).

2 - An earlier sources states that "in the central districts of Poland the first foray groups and partisan detachments of the GL, according to incomplete data, in 1942 conducted 119 actions directed against the occupiers' terror apparatus (actions against the posts of the police, gendarmerie, SS and Wehrmacht, against larger concentrations of the enemy: entertainment locales, railway stations, and etc., freeing of prisoners, liquidating of traitors); 55 actions destroying railway transportation, 13 the road one, and 174 actions undertaken as part of the struggle against the occupiers' administration and economy".


Marian Spychalski, Poczatek Walki; Fragmenty Wspomnien, Wydawnictwo MON, Warszawa, 1982.

Mieczyslaw Wieczorek, Armia Ludowa; Powstanie i Organizacja, 1944-1945, Wydawnictwo MON, Warszawa, 1979.

Obozy Hitlerowskie na Ziemiach Polskich, 1939-1945; Informator Encyklopedyczny, chief editor: Czeslaw Pilichowski, Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa, 1979.

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.

Okupacja i Ruch Oporu w Dzienniku Hansa Franka, 1939-1945, Vol. 1, Ksiazka i Wiedza, Warszawa, 1970.

Wladyslaw Wazniewski, Walki Partyzanckie nad Nida, 1939-1945; Z Dziejow Walki Podziemnej na Ziemi Miechowsko-Pinczowskiej, Wydawnictwo MON, Warszawa, 1969.

Stanislaw Okecki, Ruch Partyzancki w Polsce, 1939-1945, Panstwowe Zaklady Wydawnictw Szkolnych, Warszawa, 1968.

Bogdan Hillebrandt, Partyzantka na Kielecczyznie, 1939-1945, Wydawnictwo MON, Warszawa, 1967.

GL - People's Guard

AL - People's Army

Return to Main Page

Created, Researched, and Maintained by the Polish Resistance Movement.

Copyright © 2005-2008.

Используются технологии uCoz