DOOMED SOLDIERS

Trust & Betrayal in a world Long Gone.

In 1943 at Tehran during November and early December U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin met to discuss the strategy for a future Europe.

The main published information referred mostly to the Allies in the West opening a 2nd front which became operation Overlord.

Hidden from public scrutiny were the discussions about important issues concerning the fate of Eastern Europe and Germany in the post-war period. Stalin pressed for a revision of Poland’s eastern border with the Soviet Union to match the line set by British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon in 1920. This was agreed in principle.

In order to compensate Poland for the resulting loss of territory, the three leaders agreed to move the German-Polish border to the Oder and Neisse rivers. This decision was formally announced at the Yalta conference in February 1945 and formally ratified at the Potsdam Conference of  July 1945. During these negotiations Roosevelt also secured from Stalin his assurance that the Republics of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia would be reincorporated into the Soviet Union only after the citizens of each republic voted on the question in a referendum. Stalin stressed, however, that the matter would have to be resolved “in accordance with the Soviet constitution,” and that he would not consent to any international control over the elections.

On 22 July 1944 the Manifesto of the Polish Committee of National Liberation was published, announcing radical social, political and economic reform, continuation of the fight against Nazi Germany, nationalisation of industry and a “decent border in the West”. It also proclaimed the PKWN to be “the only legitimate Polish government”, thus formally rejecting the Polish government in exile.  This was in accord with the secret agreements made at Tehran.

This movement of borders clearly explains why the Warsaw Uprising of August 1 1944 was not supported by the Soviet Forces. It is often argued that Stalin betrayed the Poles at this point but logically surely he was only pursuing a goal already agreed by the Allies. We must also understand it was Roosevelt as well as Stalin who refused air drop assistance. Churchill operating as a maverick in the trio 200 low level airdrops. No doubt this assuaged his conscience.

The First Independent Parachute Brigade (Polish) was formed by the Polish High Command in exile with the sole aim of it being used to support the Polish resistance during the nationwide uprising. Command of the Brigade was given to General Sosabowski.  The uprising itself  was taking place as operation Tempest during the summer of 1944.  The British had always opposed the plan for an uprising by arguing they would not be able to support any parachute drop properly. Please note this was an independent brigade and NOT subject to British Command.

 On 6 June 1944 the unit directly subordinate to the Polish government in exile was transferred into the same command structure as all other Polish Forces in the West. Betrayal is a matter of timing!

The brigade was assigned to take part in several operations as part of the invasion of Normandy, but all operations were cancelled. On 27 July, aware of the imminent Warsaw Uprising, the Polish government in exile asked the British government for air support, including dropping the Brigade in the vicinity of Warsaw. This request was refused on the grounds of “operational considerations” and the “difficulties” in coordinating with the Soviet forces. Why then is Stalin’s action heinous but Roosevelt and Churchill get away with the betrayal.

It affects us today in that ‘the enemy is in the East’ but the betrayal was equal in the West.

As for the Polish Parachute Brigade the morale of the Polish troops suffered badly.   The Government in Exile was pressured into allowing the Brigade to be part of the infamous Operation Market Garden; the dash for the Rhine bridges. The British staff even threatened its Polish counterpart with disarmament of the Brigade.

 Bad weather notably fog, caused the Poles to be dropped late and at a point when the disaster for the British forces was already understood. In effect, dropped on top of the waiting Germans the Poles suffered heavy casualties of 40%. The emasculating of the Brigade and loss of equipment put to an end to any hope of Polish support for the Uprising. It could be said this was very convenient to the Allies.

As part of this miserable story, having dropped the Poles in the wrong place, on top of German guns and with a failure to follow General Sosabowski’s rescue plan for the British 1st Airborne Division being cut to pieces at Arnhem, the British Field Marshal Montgomery wrote a letter, to the British commanders, in which he made General Sosabowski responsible for the failure of Operation Market Garden. The Polish General Staff was forced to remove him as the commanding officer of his brigade.

Even as late as 2006 the British were trying to pressure the Dutch Government over a posthumous award they wished to make to General Sosabowski.

What is this all to do with the generally accepted view that the Doomed or Cursed soldiers were those of the Armja Krajowa or Home Army who did not lay down their arms after the Soviet armies occupied Poland. Based on a decision of the President of Poland (in London), Gen. Okulicki Commander of the Home Army issued an order closing down the Home Army on January 19, 1945.

Those who followed the Czas I Honoru series on Polish TV will have seen in series 5 & 6 a good portrayal of the times.

What would you have done? Would you lay down your arms or continue in the misguided belief that a London Government was supported by the British and the USA. Nothing further could be from the truth.

The US President Truman rather than worrying himself over Poland was supporting the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). In effect the CIA picked up the old pro Nazi  Nightingale group and even took its leaders to the US for training before dropping them back into what I would call Poland. Certainly these OUN units continued its fight against the Home Army and its successors, at one point killing off the remnants, whilst at the same time fighting a battle against the new Polish Authorities.

Returning to Czas I Honoru most people after the war wanted  a normal life. Many settled for the status quo. The old Poland had been beaten. The culture, traditions and its history was about to be changed into a parody of the past. If the servant was now the master both had to eat.

Gradually those who fought from the forest were eliminated and were described by the authorities as bandits. No matter that they held an allegiance to an exiled government.  

In June and July of 1945 first France then the USA and Britain withdrew recognition from the Polish Government in London. Really think about those dates. They were immediate at the end of the war. Yet today Poles talk as though these States are Poland’s friend or guarantee.  Politics at best is a dirty business.

This withdrawal of recognition did indeed leave these hapless loyal soldiers as doomed or cursed. They were condemned and betrayed by the West. The betrayal has been and is, ongoing.

An example of this can be found in Oxford. In an Oxford cemetery is the grave of Lt. Col. Helena Wolińska-Brus a state prosecutor from Communist times. Post-communist Poland sought the extradition of Wolińska-Brus from the United Kingdom on three separate occasions between 1999 and 2008. The official charges against her were initiated by the Institute of National Remembrance, which investigates both Nazi and Communist crimes committed in Poland between the years 1939 and 1989.  Wolińska-Brus was accused of being an “accessory to a court murder,” which is classified as a Stalinist crime and a crime of genocide. A notable victim of hers was General Nil or Fielsdorf someone who can certainly be classified as a cursed soldier.

The three attempts at extradition from Britain failed even with a European Arrest Warrant issued. She lived a comfortable protected wealthy life in Britain. Britain knows its friends and enemies. Communist Poland was as much a construction of the US and Britain as the Soviets.

When I visited friends in Zywiec about ten years ago I mentioned the Cursed soldiers. ‘Oh yes there were bandits hereabouts’ they said. Were these people Communists – no, just part of the recycling of history; that is what they were told and believed.

Gradually these cursed soldiers did turn to robbery and theft and perhaps murder at least by the definition of the changed times. What else were left to them? The last known was Jozef Franczak and as usual was betrayed which was always inevitable for these men and women.  Surrounded in a barn not so far from Lublin, the Security troops  demanded his surrender; Franczak presented himself as a local peasant, but after having been asked about identity documents, he opened fire and was mortally wounded. After an autopsy, Franczak’s body (without its head), was returned to his family. He was buried in the cemetery in Piaski Wielkie.

What of today and lessons from history. Poland should not trust allies; they are not friend’s just occasional allies. Since 1772 Poland has consistently been betrayed by its so called friends.

The country has also been betrayed by its short sighted politicians who whether as Magnacy or pro European Elite have consistently put personal gain and prestige ahead of the country with a very  few notable exceptions.  

Individuals must question the media and not make assumptions based on only one media source. 

With a US foreign policy of orchestrated Chaos and Instability Poland should think of itself as a trading partner not a military partner that spans East and West to the advantage of its own people.

Poland has a heritage of courage and individuality exemplified by these cursed soldiers that took in odds which were beyond their capacity to deliver due to the betrayals at every level.  Today it should act in its own interest not NATO ‘s, not the Euro, not the EU project. Make Poland work again on its own two feet like the doomed soldiers did with honour.

J.Kusmirek February 2015

About Jan Kuśmirek

Having brushed with the Security Services in my late teens and early twenties, I went on to become one of the world's leading exponents of aromatic medicine and skin care. I am an accepted authority on the subject and a sought-after lecturer. In the last few years I have turned my hand to literature and am the author of three spy novels that retell the European confilcts of the 20th century from a Polish perspective. The central character in the series - Teddy Labden - has resonated with the Polish media, who have claimed him as their own "James Bond".
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