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  • 3 June 2017

    Military historians and scholars explored the unique institutions of the Polish Underground State at a special conference on Saturday, 3rd June at the Polish Embassy in London.

     

    The conference, organised by the Polish Heritage Society UK in cooperation with the Polish Underground Movement Study Trust in London, the Institute of National Remembrance, and the Polish Embassy, was a next installment in a series of high-profile symposiums which previously covered topics such as operations of the Silent Unseen Cichociemni, and General Maczek’s command during military offensive in Belgium.

     

    The conference featured distinguished scholars, including Eugenia Maresch from the Polish Underground Movement Study Trust in London, Dr Paul Latawski - Senior Lecturer In the Department of Defence and International Affairs at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and Dr Karol Sacewicz and Dr Waldemar Grabowski from the Polish Institute of National Remembrance. Throughout the day panelists delivered deep insight into the history and role of the Polish Underground State, covered comparisons of the Polish situation with similar formations elsewhere in Europe, analysed British attitudes towards the Underground State, and a focused on one of its key leaders - General Stefan Rowecki.

     

    - I am delighted that the next installment of the hugely successful series of history conferences organised by the Polish Heritage Society in cooperation with the Embassy focuses on the unique history and role of the Polish Underground State during World War II. The particular structure and scope of this organisation – which did not focus only on the military aspect of resistance but also included a continuation of civilian administration, judiciary, media and education, is a true testament to the systemic opposition of Poles to the German occupation. It is especially meaningful that the conference takes place in the building of the Polish Embassy in London, where the Polish Government in Exile used to reside. – said Dr Arkady Rzegocki, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to London.

     

    - The Polish Underground State was extraordinary not just in the scope of its activities and the widespread support it enjoyed, but for its durability during the extremely harsh conditions of occupation. This conference will shed new light on this special period of Polish history. – said Dr Marek Stella-Sawicki, PHS Chairman.

     

    The Polish Underground State refers to multiple underground organisations formed in occupied Poland during the war, both military and civilian, that were loyal to the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile in London. It was seen by its supporters as a legal continuation of the pre-war Republic of Poland that waged an armed struggle against the country's occupying powers: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The civilian structures of the Underground State included education, culture and social services. Ultimately, hundreds of thousands of people were directly involved with various agencies of the Underground State - the estimates for membership in Armia Krajowa (Home Army) alone are often given at approaching half a million people. After the Soviet-backed communist takeover of Poland at the end of the war and without the support of Western Allies, the key institutions of the Underground State finally dissolved themselves. The structure and command of the Underground State were unique in war-torn Europe - it was the only such fully functional structure in Nazi occupied territories and operated quite differently to resistance in other countries.
     

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