Milicja Obywatelska

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Milicja Obywatelska MO
Citizens' Militia
Milicja patch
Milicja patch
Collar patch known as palemka
Collar patch known as palemka
Common nameMilicja
Agency overview
Formed7 October 1944
DissolvedMay 1990
Superseding agencyPolicja
Employees80,000 (1980s)[1]
Jurisdictional structure
National agencyPolish People's Republic
Operations jurisdictionPolish People's Republic
General nature
Operational structure
Agency executive
Parent agency
Child agency

Milicja Obywatelska (Polish pronunciation: [miˈlit͡sja ɔbɨvaˈtɛlska]), in English known as the Citizens' Militia and commonly abbreviated to MO, was the national police organization of the Polish People's Republic. It was established on 7 October 1944 by the Polish Committee of National Liberation, effectively replacing the pre-war police force.[2] The Citizen's Militia would remain the predominant means of policing in Poland until 10 May 1990, when it was transformed back into Policja.

The term milicja had been adapted from the cognate term, militsiya, used in several communist countries. The term is derived from militia, which derives its etymology from the concept of a military force composed of ordinary citizens. In most cases it represented a state-controlled force used to exert political repression, especially with its elite ZOMO squads.

Under both communist and post-communist governments, the Polish police system has traditionally operated under the auspices of national authority. Starting at the end of World War II, Poland went under the influence of the Soviet Union. In 1948, the country's strengthened turn toward Stalinism brought the beginning of formalised totalitarian rule, "in which one Party ruled autonomously over all sections of society".[3] Training for the force was conducted in the town of Legionowo.


The Citizens' Militia was created on the basis of provisions of the PKWN Manifesto of the Polish National Liberation Committee and the decree on the establishment of MO of October 7, 1944 and organizationally subordinated to Public Security Department. The first generation officers and agents were drawn from the following groups and sectors of society:[4]

Former members of the underground (eg Armii Krajowej), who tried to ensure an influence on everyday life, joined the new force. It even happened that the entire outposts were Armia Krajowa, at least at the beginning of their creation people's power.[5] The cadre of the Citizens' Militia was supplemented by about a thousand former policemen employed in 1945, mainly in positions requiring special qualifications.[6] The officers of the Citizens' Militia took the same solemn oath as the officers of the Security Service. Its main fragment read as follows:

I solemnly vow ...- to faithfully serve the Fatherland, the Party and People's Authority and to protect the law, order and public safety.

— Sławomir Cenckiewicz, Through the eyes of the security. Sketches and materials from the history of the security apparatus of the People's Republic of Poland, Kraków 2006, p. 509

The first chief commander of MO was Franciszek Jóźwiak.[7] The militia was then subordinated to Ministry of Public Security, and from 1955 to Ministry of Internal Affairs. From March 1946 to the end of the 1940s, local MO units with units of the Polish People's Army, Internal Security Corps, Ministry of Public Security and Border Protection were subordinated to provincial security committees subordinate to State Security Commission. In the years 1944–1948, the Citizens' Militia was used to fight cursed soldiers' ', as well as servicemen of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and German Werwolf elements.[8] [9]

The decrees and the first organizational structure[edit]

When on July 27, 1944, the Civic Militia was established by one of the two decrees of the Polish Committee of National Liberation (PKWN's decree was approved on August 15, 1944 by the National National Council),[10] in Rzeczpospolita - "press organ of the Polish Committee of National Liberation" - August 16 1944 [10] was provided with:

We are creating the Citizens' Militia. The name is not accidental. The militia must be truly a civic militia and all its efforts to ensure public safety will find support from the public.

Given the fact that the first generation officers and men of the MO were drawn partly from the armed force the MO sported military ranks, a tradition shared with the other Warsaw Pact police forces.

Rise of terrorism[edit]

Due to increasing terrorist threats, the MO created the Wydział Zabezpieczenia (Security Department) on February 22, 1976.[11] This consist of 47 officers assigned to five sections.[11]


Militia shields from 1980s, display at the European Solidarity Centre
An actor dressed in a militiaman's uniform

When the MO was first organized in 1945, it comprised the following:[12]

  • Main Office (Kancelaria główna)
  • Political and Educational Board (Zarząd polityczno-wychowawczy)
  • Investigation Service Board (Oddział służby śledczej)
  • External Service Branch (Oddział służby zewnętrznej)
  • Operational Battalion (Batalion operacyjny)
  • Personnel Department (Wydział personalny)
  • Finance and Economic Department (Wydział Finansowy i gospodarczy)

Until 1950, Poland was divided to 16 provinces. It was only from 1950-1975 when the country was divided to 17 provinces and five cities with voivodeship rights.[12]

The MO had 20 municipal headquarters.[12]

The Citizens' Militia was divided into a Public Order Department, Traffic Militia (Highway patrol), Criminal Investigations (Major crimes, forensics), Investigations Militia and an Infrastructure Security Section (Security of government buildings, airports, installations).

The ZOMO motorized riot troops, which played the most visible role in quelling demonstrations in 1980 and 1981, were reduced in size somewhat by the early 1990s and renamed Preventive Units of the Citizens' Militia (Oddziały Prewencji Milicji Obywatelskiej—OPMO). OPMO forces are restricted to roles such as crowd control at sporting events, ensuring safety in natural disasters, and assisting the regular police. In theory, higher government authority would be required for large OPMO contingents to be used.[13]

From the 1960s through the 1980s, ORMO forces, which at one time numbered as many as 600,000 civilian volunteers, were used to augment regular police personnel at key trouble spots. In the early 1980s, ORMO harassed Solidarity members and prevented independent groups from organizing. Largely staffed by industrial workers who gained substantial privileges by monitoring their peers in the workplace, ORMO was the object of extreme resentment throughout the 1980s. Kiszczak attempted to promote ORMO as a valuable auxiliary police force, but the organization was abolished by the Sejm in 1990.[13]

Ranks and uniform[edit]

As a general rule, the MO wore grey and sky blue uniforms. The full dress variant of this was worn with the peaked cap, service dress was the same but the riot police wore combat helmets.

Rank Category Commissioned Officers (1945-1957) Commissioned Officers (1958-1990
with changes made in 1975 and 1986)
English translation (military/police rank)
General officers No equivalent General armii General
Director General
No equivalent General broni Lieutenant General
Commissioner General
No equivalent Generał dywizji Major General
Inspector General
Generał brygady MO
(formerly General MO)
Generał brygady MO Police Brigadier
Field grade officers Pułkownik Pułkownik Police Colonel
Detective Commander
Podpułkownik Podpułkownik Police Lieutenant Colonel
Chief Superintendent
Detective Chief Superintendent
Major Major Police Major
Detective Superintendent
Subaltern grade officers Kapitan Kapitan Police Captain
Chief Inspector
Detective Chief Inspector
Porucznik Porucznik Police Lieutenant
Senior Inspector
Detective Senior Inspector
Podporucznik Podporucznik Police Second Lieutenant
Detective Inspector
(abolished as officer rank 1956-57)
No equivalent Police Ensign
Divisional Inspector
Detective Divisional Inspector
Rank Category Non-Commissioned Officers and basic agents English translation (military/police rank)
Station inspectors and senior NCOs
(created 1974-75)
Starszy chorąży sztabowy Senior Station Inspector
Chief Warrant Officer(ZOMO)
Chorąży sztabowy Station Inspector
Senior Warrant Officer(ZOMO)
Starszy chorąży Sub-inspector first class
Master Warrant Officer(ZOMO)
Chorąży Sub-inspector
First Warrant Officer(ZOMO)
Młodszy chorąży Assistant sub-inspector
Second Warrant Officer(ZOMO)
Police NCOs Starszy sierżant sztabowy Sergeant Major
Sierżant sztabowy Head Constable
Master Sergeant (ZOMO)
Starszy sierżant Sergeant First Class
Sierżant Staff Sergeant
Plutonowy Sergeant
Starszy kapral Lance Corporal
Kapral Corporal
Constables Starszy szeregowy Senior Constable
Private First Class (ZOMO)
Szeregowy Constable
Private (ZOMO)


The most common types were:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ogólnopolskie Stowarzyszenie Internowanych i Represjonowanych - Biuletyn 24".
  2. ^ Czubacki, Jacek (7 October 2015). "Powstanie Milicji Obywatelskiej 7 października 1944". Historia zapomniana i mniej znana. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  3. ^ Kemp-Welch, A. (2008). Poland under Communism: A Cold War History, p. 26. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-71117-3.
  4. ^ Work collective, Dictionary of civic knowledge , Warsaw 1970, p. 248.
  5. ^ Maciej Krawczyk, Fighting Poland. History of the Underground State. Ani Polska, Ani Robotnicza PPR i Gwardia (Armia) Ludowa , Warsaw 2015, vol. 11, p. 46.
  6. ^ Krzysztof Halicki, 'The history of the police in Gniew and the region in 1920-2013'. Bydgoszcz 2014, pp. 137-138.
  7. ^ Tadeusz Łepkowski, "Dictionary of Polish history", Warsaw 1973, p. 253.
  8. ^ Tadeusz Łepkowski, 'A Little Dictionary of Polish History', Warsaw 1964, p. 300.
  9. ^ Collective work, 'History of the PRL. Politics, people, everyday life', Warsaw 2009, vol. 1, pp. 28, 37, 38.
  10. ^ a b Henryk Piecuch Secret History of Poland; Imperium Służb Specjalnych "from Gomułka to Kania" Agencja Wydawnicza CB Warszawa 1997 st. 56 ISBN 83-86245-16-6
  11. ^ a b "Historia CPKP "BOA"".
  12. ^ a b c "Struktura organizacyjna Milicji Obywatelskiej".
  13. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2022-02-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)