(Armia Krajowa) – Home
Army, subordinated to the Polish Government-in-Exile (first in France, later in the UK, London ). Created on Sept. 27, 1939 (still during
the September campaign) as SZP (Sluzba Zwyciestwu Polski) Service for
Poland's Victory, renamed in January 1940 as ZWZ for (Zwiazek Walki
Zbrojnej) Union for Armed Struggle, and finally on Feb. 14,1942 as
AK or Armia Krajowa. It was dissolved on Jan. 19, 1945 following the
occupation of Poland by the Soviet Army, which lasted till 1989.
AL (Armia Ludowa) – People's Army, a very small Communist-led military
organization, created in Jan. 1944 out of the People’s Guard (GL), opposing
AK and Poland 's independence.
Aryan – Indo-European. In this work it is used in the sense of non-Jewish,
or Polish, expression commonly used at the time.
BCH (Bataliony Chlopskie) – Peasants' Battalions, a strong military organization
of the population in the countryside, created in 1939 by the People's Party,
called: Roch, and coming from the youth countryside movement "Wici".
It recognized the Polish-Government-in-Exile, and cooperated with AK, being very
patriotic, and taking care also of the social needs of the population.
Boduen Home – foster home for infants foundlings, set up in 1736 in Warsaw
by the Catholic priest Gabriel Baudoin and run by the Sisters of Charity.
Blue Police – the uniformed auxiliary Polish police force created by the
Nazis out of the remnants of the regular pre-war Polish state police, called "navy
blue" for the navy blue color of their uniforms. According to international
law, they were subjected to the occupying power, i.e. to the Germans. The Polish
policemen were drafted on the pain of death and the Nazis held them and their
families accountable for fulfilling their duties. Many, if not most, cooperated
with the underground, including the Home Army.
BUND – Jewish Workers’ Party,
a Marxist, albeit non-Stalinist, underground group active in the Warsaw ghetto
and other places in Poland. Founded in Vilna in 1897.
FOP (Front Odrodzenia Polski) – Front for the Rebirth of Poland, a Catholic
conservative clandestine organization, one of the founders of the Zegota.
Gesiowka – a part of the Koncentrationslager Warschau (concentration camp
in Warsaw, 1942-1944) which only recently had been brought to the public knowledge
thanks to the opening (after 60 years) of the Polish Communist archives. Judge
Maria Trzcinska has established, on the basis of German and Polish documents
as well as witness interviews, that about 200,000 Varsovians were shot, gassed,
and cremated their. Hitler planned to obliterate completely Warsaw as capital
of Poland, which during the WW II lost in total 800,000 people, besides being
in 85% destroyed. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Communist regime secretly used
the very same facility to incarcerate political prisoners and force them to perform
Gestapo – Abbreviation for the German Geheime
Staatspolizei (Secret State Police). See also information under SS.
Ghetto – Since medieval times Jews flocked to Poland from East and West,
being persecuted everywhere. Here they found royal privileges, more freedom
and acceptance than elsewhere; they were even permitted self-government. Out
of their own volition they settled in towns, in their own Jewish quarters,
dealing with crafts, trade, money lending, often running great manufactories,
esp. in Lodz. The great masses were poor, but many became very rich. During
the war Germans closed
these Jewish quarters, forcing the Polish inhabitants living among them, to
leave and replaced them with a much greater number of Jews, in extremely cramped
quarters, several persons to a room, thus creating abominably unsanitary conditions,
a breeding ground for sickness and death. The Germans
themselves were extremely afraid of contracting the resulting typhoid fever.
The Warsaw ghetto was sealed in November 1941.
Kedyw (Kierownictwo Dywersji) – Subversion Directorate. Special elite
units of the AK formed in 1942-1943, for acts of sabotage, like derailing of
trains transporting German troops and military equipment, intended mainly for
the Soviet front.
Kennkarte (plural Kennkarten). German identity document, based on birth certificates,
work certificates, and other Polish documents, obligatory for everybody under
severe penalties, which included forced labor, prison, and concentration camp.
Nazi – National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi party), created
in 1919 and headed since 1921 by Adolf Hitler, with violently socialist, nationalist,
and racist ideology. It preached class and race struggle; upon their assumption
of power, the Nazis and introduced a centralized and dictatorial state, suppressing
all opposition and civic liberties.
NSZ (Narodowe Sily Zbrojne) – National Armed Forces. Formed in Sept.
1942, it consisted of a plethora of right wing groups, fighting against the
Nazis and the Communists. After the battle of Stalingrad the NSZ considered
the Communist underground and the impeding Soviet occupation to be a greater
threat to Poland ’s independence than the collapsing Third Reich. The
NSZ was active throughout Poland, although its structures were the weakest
in the east. Most of the NSZ joined the Home Army in March 1944. The NSZ remained
underground after the arrival of the Red Army and continued the struggle for
Poland ’s independence into the 1950s.
OUN ( Oganizacja Ukrainskich Nacjonalistow) – the Organization of Ukrainian
Nationalists, was created before World War II. It supervised the UPA (Ukrainska
Powstancza Armia) – Ukrainian Insurgent Army which was active mainly
in Poland ’s eastern borderlands. Both the OUN and the UPA collaborated
to various degrees with the Germans. According to the doctrine of Dmytr Doncow
of ultra fascist principles (1926), they dreamed of a "Greater Ukraine" which
would encompass some of the Polish heartland, parts of Czechoslovakia, Belarus, Rumania, and all of Soviet Ukraine. The OUN and UPA struggled against the
Poles (both civilian and underground), Soviet partisans, Ukrainian Communist
sympathizers, Jews, and, occasionally, the Germans. The UPA continued its struggle
against the Soviets and Polish Communists into the 1950s.
RGO (Rada Glowna Opiekuncza) – Central Relief Council, established
in Feb. 1940. It was the only major Polish social charity organization
allowed by the Germans, beside the Polish Red Cross, which remained
active until the end of the German occupation.
Partisans – armed people, mostly in the woods, fighting for freedom,
as was the case of the Polish partisans who were the most numerous. In addition,
in eastern Poland in particular, there were also Belorussian, Lithuanian, Russian
and Ukrainian partisans, exacting food and goods from the manors and from the
peasants. As they all spoke Polish, it was difficult to differentiate them
from the Poles and even from common bandits and robbers. There were also Jewish
partisans maintaining themselves in the field at the expense of the civilian
Registration – residence registration papers; all people were required
during the occupation to carry on them the proof of residence. Failure to register
one’s whereabouts with the police could result in heavy penalties. The
owners and supervisors of buildings had the obligation to notify German authorities
if any Jews or strangers (i.e., unregistered people) lived in their buildings.
Q.V. in Latin Quod Vide – which see. In this book the acronym after a
name denotes a person, whom Yad Vashem recognized as "Righteous Among
the Nations" and whose entry appears in the book.
SS in German Schutzstaffel – Defense Squad, the elite Nazi military
corps, created in 1925 as Hitler's bodyguard, and commanded by Heinrich Himmler
from 1929. The SS, or Blackshirts, by the mid-1930 controlled the Nazis'
security system, including the Gestapo, concentration camps guards, and the
Waffen SS, an elite combat troops in the World War II. Himmler was able to
put SS men in many key posts in Nazi Germany. They carried out the racial
extermination of Jews and the Germanization of the conquered lands in the
East, which were slated for colonization by Germans. All SS formations were
considered in the Nuremberg trials as criminal organizations responsible
for crimes against humanity.
Volksdeutsch – an ethnic German born and residing outside of the pre-war
boundaries of the Third Reich. Generally, a person of any degree of German
ancestry who signed the "Volksliste", either for one’s own
security’s sake or to enjoy benefits of the Nazi occupation, while colluding
with the Nazi aims. In western Poland, many, if not most, people were forced
to sign it.
WRN (Wolnosc, Rownosc i Niepodleglosc) – Liberty, Equality and Independence, the underground Polish Socialist Party.
Yad Vashem – The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes Remembrance Authority,
a State tribunal of Israel, created in 1956. It has a Department which studies
and decides the cases of non-Jewish persons, who saved Jews during the Holocaust
(1939-1945). It confers in such cases a medal and a certificate in two languages,
(Hebrew and French) per family, and the right to have their names and country
engraved on the Honor Wall at Yad Vashem, in the city of Jerusalem. Before,
when space permitted, the heroes planted an olive tree in the Alley of the
Just at Yad Vashem, which recognizes such people by a very moving ceremony
Zegota – a Polish underground organization created for saving Jews.
Its founders included Arczynski, Bartoszewski, Grobelny, Kossak-Szczucki,
and many others. A special chapter on it concludes the present work.
ZKN (Zydowski Komitet Narodowy w Polsce) – Jewish National Committee
ZOB (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa) – Jewish Fighting Organization, a
leftist Jewish underground group.