Chrobry II Battalion

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Pin of the Chroby II Battalion
Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the battalion on Towarowa St. in Warsaw

The Chrobry II Battalion was a unit, formally subordinate to the Polish Home Army (AK), which took part in the Warsaw Uprising. It was named after the Polish king Bolesław I Chrobry ("Chrobry" is old Polish for "valiant"[1]).

Formation and name[edit]

It was formed as a battalion on August 1, 1944, the day the Warsaw Uprising broke out. It was later expanded to a Battalion group. Its first commander was Major Leon Nowakowski (Lig).[2] Later the Battalion group was led by Major Zygmunt Brejnak.[3] Since it was organised without direct oversight from the Home Army High Command it soon turned out that there already was another battalion of the same name operating in the same area of Warsaw, under the command of Major Gustaw Billewicz (Sosna - Pine).[4] As a result, the unit was redesignated with the Roman numeral "II"[5] and came under the command of the 1st Region's Śródmieście (City centre) officer, Edward Pfeiffer.[6]

Because of the chance nature of the unit's formation, it contained fighters of various underground formations and ideological backgrounds, including those from the Home Army and from the nationalist National Armed Forces (NSZ).[7]

The battalion fought in the city centre and on the 3rd of August its "Warszawianka" company, led by Lieutenant Zbigniew Brym carried out a successful assault on the Railway Post Office, located at the junction of Żelazna St. and Aleje Jerozolimskie.[8] On the 8th of August it captured the building of the Ministry of Water and Sewerage in Starynkiewicz Sq.,[9] which it lost four days later having to retreat after a counter attack by the Russian-backed Kaminski Brigade.[10]

Notable soldiers of the unit[edit]

At its height, the battalion group Chrobry II had 3200 personnel, including 3000 fighters. During the uprising, about 400 of them were killed.[5]

One of the platoons of the battalion was led by the author of the first ever report about the Holocaust, Witold Pilecki,[11][12][13] later executed by the Polish communist secret police.[14]

Notable soldiers in the battalion, in addition to those mentioned above, included Captain Piotr Zacharewicz ("Zawadzki") commander of the "Warszawianka Company" located in Dom Kolejowy (The Railworkers' Union Building), Tadeusz Siemiątkowski and Mirosław Biernacki[15]

The unit has also been noted for having a high number of Jewish soldiers in its ranks, most of whom had emerged from hiding on the outbreak of the uprising.[16] These included the diarist Calel Perechodnik, who served with the NSZ platoon, and Wiktor Natanson ("Humieński"), aged 14 and Jakub Michlewicz 15 years old, who were among the youngest members of the battalion.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gunnar S. Paulsson, "Secret city: the hidden Jews of Warsaw, 1940-1945", Yale University Press, 2002, pg. 176-177, [1]
  2. ^ The Warsaw Uprising Museum, "Major Leon Nowakowski"
  3. ^ The Warsaw Uprising Museum, "archiwum historii mówionej: MIECZYSŁAW OPĘCHOWSKI „Błyskawica”" (Archive of Oral History: Mieczyslaw Opechowski "Blyskawica", [2]
  4. ^ The Warsaw Uprising Museum, "Maj. Gustaw Billewicz"
  5. ^ a b The Warsaw Uprising Museum, "Zgrupowania Powstańcze: Zgrupowanie „Chrobry II”", accessed 5/19/2012
  6. ^ "Rejony i odcinki obrony oraz zgrupowania w czasie powstania". Powstanie Warszawskie 1944. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  7. ^ Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, "The Warsaw Uprising 1944: Perception and Reality", [3]
  8. ^ The Warsaw Uprising Museum, "August 3, 1944"
  9. ^ The Warsaw Uprising Museum, "August 8, 1944"
  10. ^ The Warsaw Uprising Museum, "August 12, 1944"
  11. ^ Józef Garliński, "Fighting Auschwitz: the resistance movement in the concentration camp", Julian Friedmann Publishers Ltd., 1975, pg. 267, [4]
  12. ^ "Rotamaster Pilecki", Institute for National Remembrance
  13. ^ Norman Davies, "Europe: a history", HarperCollins, 1998, pg. 1023
  14. ^ Piekarski, Konstanty R. (1990), Escaping Hell: The Story of a Polish Underground Officer in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Dundurn Press Ltd., ISBN 1-55002-071-4, pg. 249
  15. ^ The Warsaw Uprising Museum, "Corporal Miroslaw Biernacki"
  16. ^ a b Barbara Engelking, Dariusz Libionka, "Żydzi w Powstanczej Warszawie" (Jews in the Warsaw Uprising), Polish Center for Holocaust Research Association, 2009, pgs 184-190

Pictures and personal writings (Weteran Magazine, New York, New York in the 1970s) of Emilian Marian Szostak (1913-1978) (reference by daughter Mary Szostak Sitko)