|Nickname(s)||"Wilk", "Wesołowski", "Dziemido", "Jan Kulczycki"|
February 18, 1895|
|Died||September 29, 1951
|Years of service||1916|
Aleksander Krzyżanowski nom de guerre "Wilk" (February 18, 1895 – September 29, 1951) was a Polish army officer, major, member of the Polish resistance movement in World War II and Commandant of the Armia Krajowa in the Vilnius Region. After the German withdrawal from the area, on July 17, 1944 Krzyżanowski had been duped by the Soviets into a fake debriefing, arrested and thrown in jail. He died in Stalinist prison on September 29, 1951 without a trial.
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Aleksander Krzyżanowski was born in Bryansk and was conscripted into the Russian Army during the First World War, where he specialized in artillery. After Poland regained independence in 1918 he joined the Polish military, and took part in the Polish-Soviet War where he distinguished himself in 1919 receiving the Krzyż Walecznych medal, and in January 1920 he took part in the heavy fighting at the Battle of Daugavpils.
During the interwar period in the Second Polish Republic he further continued his military career. At the time of the Nazi invasion of Poland (September 1, 1939) he was commanding the 26th Regiment of Light Artillery, attached to the Polish 26th Infantry Division, part of the Army Poznań under general Tadeusz Kutrzeba. His unit was destroyed during the battle of Bzura.
Soon after occupation he organized a partisan unit at Świętokrzyskie Mountains, but after this unit was defeated by the Germans he arrived in Warsaw by late October, and joined the first Polish resistance organizations, the Służba Zwycięstwu Polski. By November he was assigned to Wilno (now known as Vilnius, Lithuania), at the same time occupied by the Soviet Union which divided Poland with the Nazi Germany according to the earlier concluded Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The SZP was transformed into Związek Walki Zbrojnej. When in April 1941 Soviet NKVD arrested the commander of the ZWP in the Vilnius region, general Nikodem Sulik, it was Krzyżanowski who de facto replaced him, and his position was officially confirmed by general Stefan Rowecki in August. In 1942 ZWP was transformed into Armia Krajowa (AK).
Krzyżanowski attempted to build a larger anti-German coalition, and issued explicit orders that no ethnic group, including Jews, should be mistreated. He also opened negotiations with the representatives of the Lithuanian and Belorussian resistance but they were fruitless. The negotiations with the Soviets initially lead nowhere as well. The Soviet Union aimed to ultimately regain the control from Germany over the territories USSR annexed from Poland in 1939 and Joseph Stalin's aim to ensure that an independent Poland would never reemerge in the postwar period. The relationship between the Soviets and the Sikorski's Polish government in exile, formally a commanding force of the AK, was strained at best, especially in the wake of the evidence of the mass execution of the Polish POW officers by the Soviets at Katyn which was discovered in 1943.
As Soviet partisans increasingly engaged in terror against local population and attacked Home Army units, local AK commanders considered the Soviets as just another enemy. As ordered by Moscow on June 22, 1943 the Soviet partisans in Poland started an open fight both against the German forces as well as the local Polish partisans. In January and February 1944, in the wake of the massive assault by the Soviet paramilitary against the Polish AK resistance units Krzyzanowski conducted a series of negotiations with the Germans. In the aftermath of talks with Seidler for Rosenfield of the Nazi German Security Service near Wilejka and Julian Christiansen, the Chief of the Vilnius Abwehr, cooperation between Germans and the AK was agreed upon in the area of Krzyżanowski's units' operation and, according to the report of the local Nazi official: "three sizeable Polish detachments came over to our side and initially also fought well." While Krzyżanowski refused to sign an explicit agreement on cooperation, the secret arrangement was made that the AK would "capture" the armaments and provisions left to them by Germans.
As a result, the AK units in the area were re-supplied. The Germans pulled off their mobilization plans locally (leaving the territory for the AK's mobilization campaign) and largely withdrew. The German spies and agents were spared by the AK members and no AK members were executed by Germans in their reprisals against the local population. However any such arrangements were purely tactical and did not evidenced a type of ideological collaboration as shown by the Vichy regime in France, the Quisling regime in Norway or closer to the region, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. The Poles' main motivation was to gain intelligence on German morale, and preparedness and to acquire some badly needed weapons. There are no known joint Polish-German actions, and the Germans were unsuccessful in their attempt to turn the Poles toward fighting exclusively against the Soviets. Collaboration of local commanders with the Germans was atypical, and condemned by AK High Command.
In May 1944 Polish resistance units were attacked by the Local Lithuanian Detachment under general Povilas Plechavičius. Krzyżanowski attempted to negotiate, but Plechavičius demanded that AK and all Polish partisans were to retreat from Wilno region and accept Lithuanian sovereignty over that territory. Krzyżanowski would not agree to such a withdrawal and the fighting escalated, eventually culminating in the Polish victory over the Lithuanian collaborationist forces in the battle of Muravanaya Ashmyanka of May 13-May 14. After that battle Krzyżanowski attempted to resume negotiations but was ignored by the Lithuanian side. The increasing hostilities culminated in June, when Lithuanian pro-Nazi Lithuanian Security Police forces, which had recently suffered a loss of several members in a skirmish with AK, massacred 37 Polish civilians in Glinciszki, a village known to support the Polish partisans. Krzyżanowski ordered his forces to increase the activity against the Lithuanians in retribution and, according to the accounts published in Lithuania, his forces conducted a multitude of actions against the Lithuanian civil population. It is unclear whether he was aware of the Dubingiai incident, in which an AK unit massacred a number of Lithuanian civilians (the number of victims estimates vary between 27 and close to a hundred or more). Although the Armia Krajowa's actions are still controversial in Lithuania, a Lithuanian historian Arunas Bubnys has stated that there were no mass murders by the AK (the only exception being Dubingiai), but that the AK was guilty only of some war crimes against individuals or selected families. He also noted that accusations of genocide or widespread activities by the AK are false and have underlying political motives, including to counteract accusations of widespread German-Lithuanian collaboration and crimes committed by units such as the Lithuanian Secret Police.
Beginning in the spring of 1944 the Polish underground was preparing for the major Operation Tempest, which was designed to cause a large scale uprising behind the German lines to prevent the Soviet takeover of the territory by establishing a local Polish administration before the Soviet's arrival, as a sign to the entire world that the Polish government in exile commanded significant Polish forces. Operation Tempest would also support of the Soviet Eastern Front offensive. In June Krzyżanowski and his subordinates prepared the plan for the liberation of Wilno: Operation Ostra Brama. On 2 July 1944 he gave orders to begin the operation on the 7 July, although because of the Soviet quick advance the operation was put into effect one day early (on 6 July).
Largely in the effect of the German-AK relationship in the area, only a third of the available AK force took part in the operation against the Nazis. In the end, the Polish forces had to cooperate with the Soviets to secure Wilno. After the Poles and Soviets defeated the Germans on July 17, 1944, Polish officers, including Krzyżanowski, who had been invited to a debriefing with the Soviets, were arrested and imprisoned.
Krzyżanowski was in prison until 1947. In August 1947 he escaped but was quickly re-arrested when he approached a Polish official who worked for the Polish communists. He was repatriated to Poland in October 1947. He did not support any secret resistance against the Soviets, like Wolność i Niezawisłość, arguing that it was pointless in the face of Soviet numerical superiority and the Western betrayal, but he remained in contact with many of his former subordinates. He was however still viewed as a danger to the state by the Polish communist regime, and was arrested in 1948 by Polish secret police, Urząd Bezpieczeństwa. In the prison his health collapsed, and he died on September 29, 1951 from tuberculosis.
He was buried in an unmarked grave, but in the wake of destalinization in 1957 his body was exhumed and buried in the Powązki Military Cemetery. In 1994 he was posthumously promoted to the rank of general.
Notes and references
- Piotrowski, op.cit, p.99,
- Dymitri (2006). "Konflikty polsko-litewskie w latach 1918-45 (Polish-Lithuanian Conflicts 1918-1945)". Gazetka Socjologiczna (in Polish). Koło Naukowe Studentów Socjologii, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. Retrieved 2006-07-17.
- John Radzilowski (June 1999). "Review of Yaffa Eliach's Big Book of Holocaust Revisionism". Journal of Genocide Research. 1 (2).
- Judith Olsak-Glass (January 1999). "Review of Piotrowski's Poland's Holocaust". Sarmatian Review. Retrieved 2006-07-17.
- Review of Sowjetische Partisanen in Weißrußland, by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, in Sarmatian Review, April 2006
- Tadeusz Piotrowski, Poland's Holocaust, McFarland & Company, 1997, ISBN 0-7864-0371-3. Google Print, p.88, p.89, p.90
- Review by John Radzilowski of Yaffa Eliach's There Once Was a World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok, Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1999), City University of New York.
- Joseph Rothschild, Nancy Merriwether Wingfield, Return to Diversity: A Political History of East Central Europe Since World War II, p. 55, Oxford University Press US, 1999, ISBN 0-19-511993-2, Google Books preview. Quote: "the Polish Home Army was by and large untained by collaboration."
- (Polish) Henryk Piskunowicz, Działalnośc zbrojna Armi Krajowej na Wileńszczyśnie w latach 1942-1944 in Zygmunt Boradyn; Andrzej Chmielarz; Henryk Piskunowicz (1997). Tomasz Strzembosz, ed. Armia Krajowa na Nowogródczyźnie i Wileńszczyźnie (1941-1945). Warsaw: Institute of Political Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences. pp. 40–45. ISBN 83-907168-0-3.
- United States Department of Justice (1996-06-26). "Court Revokes U.S. Citizenship of Former Security Police Official". Archived from the original on 11 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-09.
- (Lithuanian) Arūnas Bubnys. Armija Krajova Rytų Lietuvoje (Armia Krajowa in Eastern Lithuania). "Atgimimas", 9 June 1989, No. 22 (35)
- (Lithuanian) Kazimieras Garšva. Armija krajova ir Vietinė rinktinė Lietuvoje (Armia Krajowa and Local Detachment in Lithuania). XXI amžius, No.61 (1264), 18 August 2004
- (Lithuanian) Vilnijos draugija. Kodėl negalima sakyti tiesos apie Armiją krajovą ? (Why the truth about Armia Krajowa cannot be said?), „XXI amžius“ No.61(1264), 18 August 2004]
- (redPor) (February 2001). "Litewska prokuratura przesłuchuje weteranów AK (Lithuanian prosecutor questioning AK veterans)". Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish) (2001–02–14). Retrieved 2006-06-07.
- "Gorące lato 1944 roku. Czy potrzebna była "Burza"? (Hot Summer of 1944; was the Operation Tempest necessary?)". Oblicza historii (in Polish). 02: 2. February 2005. Retrieved 2006-07-17.
- Tarka, Krzysztof. Generał Aleksander Krzyżanowski "Wilk" Warsaw (2000).