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Związek Strzelecki "Strzelec" (Riflemen's Association "Rifleman") was a Polish paramilitary cultural and educational organization created in 1910 in Lwów as a legal front of Związek Walki Czynnej, and revived in Poland in 1991.
An important part of the Association's mission was training young Poles in military skills. Before World War I, the Riflemen's Association provided military training to over 8,000 people, and its trainees subsequently formed an important part of the Polish Legions in World War I. Prominent members and leaders of the Riflemen's Association included Józef Piłsudski, Henryk Dobrzański, Kazimierz Sosnkowski, Edward Rydz-Śmigły, Władysław Sikorski, Marian Kukiel, Walery Sławek, Julian Stachiewicz, Aleksander Prystor and Włodzimierz Tetmajer.
The Riflemen's Association was revived in Poland in 1991, after the fall of communism.
1910 - 1918
In 1910, upon initiative of the Union of Active Struggle, two legal paramilitary organizations were created in Austrian Galicia. These were the Riflemen’s Association (in Lwow), and the Rifleman Society (Towarzystwo Strzelec) in Krakow. In 1912, both organizations were merged, under the Headquarters of the Riflemen’s Association, located in Lwow, and commanded by Jozef Pilsudski and Kazimierz Sosnkowski. The association was divided into the following branches:
- Western Galicia (Krakow),
- Central Galicia (Rzeszow),
- Eastern Galicia (Lwow),
- Command of Congress Poland,
- Foreign Command.
Polish Riflemen’s Associations active in the German Empire (see Partitions of Poland) were illegal, and operated without permission of the government of the Kingdom of Prussia. Meanwhile, the government in Vienna supported the associations, knowing that they were training for the future Great War with the Russian Empire. As a result, several paramilitary courses were organized in Austrian Galicia. Among most active members of the Riflemen's Association were students of Krakow’s Jagiellonian University, and by the summer of 1914, the association had 6,449 trained members, most of whom came from western Galicia. At the same time, Polish Rifle Squads had some 4,000 trained members.
1918 - 1940
In the Second Polish Republic, the Riflemen's Association concentrated its efforts in the countryside, and among poor urban youth. It organized gymnastics classes, reading courses and paramilitary courses, and was under supervision of the Ministry of Military Affairs (Ministerstwo Spraw Wojskowych). The association had 3,000 local branches, with 15 regions. It had its own libraries, reading rooms, choirs, orchestras, people’s houses, and sports fields. In mid-1939, the association had some 500,000 members.
In late September 1939 in German-occupied Krakow, the conspirational Organization of White Eagle (Organizacja Orla Bialego) was created. It was based on the Riflemen's Association, and in June 1940, it merged with the Union of Armed Struggle. The Organization of White Eagle published its own conspirational magazine, Nakazy Dnia (The Orders of the Day).
Currently, several organizations exist which trace back its roots to the traditions of the Riflemen's Association. To unite them, a Federation of Riflemen’s Teams and Associations was created, under command of Maciej Wechmann. On July 15, 2009, the two main associations, Zwiazek Strzelecki and Zwiazek Strzelecki “Strzelec” signed a declaration of cooperation. The headquarters of the new body is in Warsaw.
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of 04 Jun 2013 of the equivalent article on the Polish Wikipedia.
- Riflemen's south district headquarters
- JS 1001 Bełchatów
- JS 2006 Nowy Sącz
- JS 2007 Tymbark
- JS 2019 Tomaszów Lubelski
- JS 2023 Wodzisław Śląski
- JS 3003 Trzebnica
- JS 3005 Olesno
- JS 3021 Dzierżoniów
- JS 3024 Katowice
- JS 2029 Kraków - SF Unit
- Riflemen's north district headquarters
- JS 1313 National Defense University in Warsaw
- JS 1003 Warszawa
- JS 1014 Sokółka
- JS 4018 Gdańsk
- JS 4026 Rzepin
- JS 4031 Szczecin
- Unit Bielsko-Biała of Riflemen's Association
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