Polish People's Army

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Polish People's Army
Ludowe Wojsko Polskie
Emblem of the Polish People's Army.png
Emblem worn by LWP soldiers;
the "Piast eagle" without the crown
FoundedMay 1943; 80 years ago (May 1943)
Disbanded30 December 1989; 33 years ago (30 December 1989)
Service branchesPolish Land Forces
Polish Air Force
Polish Navy
Polish Air Defence Force
HeadquartersWarsaw, Poland
First SecretaryMieczysław Rakowski (last)
Prime ministerTadeusz Mazowiecki (last)
Minister of National DefenceFlorian Siwicki (last)
Chief of the General StaffJózef Użycki (last)
Foreign suppliers Soviet Union
 East Germany
Annual exports Algeria
 North Vietnam
 North Korea
Related articles
HistoryList of wars involving Poland
Timeline of the Polish Army
World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
RanksMilitary ranks of the Polish People's Republic

The Polish People's Army (Polish: Ludowe Wojsko Polskie pronounced [luˈdɔvɛ ˈvɔi̯skɔ ˈpɔlskʲɛ], LWP)[1] constituted the second formation of the Polish Armed Forces in the East in 1943–1945, and in 1945–1989 the armed forces of the Polish communist state (from 1952, the Polish People's Republic), ruled by the Polish Workers' Party and then the Polish United Workers' Party. The communist-led Polish armed forces, allowed and facilitated by Joseph Stalin, were the result of efforts made in the early 1940s in the Soviet Union by Wanda Wasilewska and Zygmunt Berling.

The official name of those formations were: Armia Polska w ZSRR (Polish Army in the USSR) from 1943–1944, Wojsko Polskie (Polish Troops) and Siły Zbrojne Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej (Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland) from 1944–1952 and from 1952 Siły Zbrojne Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej (Armed Forces of the Polish People's Republic). On 7 October 1950, the anniversary of the Battle of Lenino was declared the official "Day of the Polish People's Army" by the authorities of the People's Republic.


World War II[edit]

Polish troops, 1943

What became the LWP was formed during World War II, in May 1943, as the 1st Tadeusz Kościuszko Infantry Division, which developed into the First Polish Army, unofficially known as Berling's Army. Because of the shortage of Polish officers and the policies of the Soviet Union, in March 1945 Soviet Red Army officers accounted for nearly 52% of the officer corps (15,492 out of 29,372). Around 4,600 of them remained in the LWP by July 1946.[2]

It was not the only Polish formation that fought on the Allied side, nor the first one formed in the East. The earlier Polish force formed in the Soviet Union, known as Anders' Army, was loyal to the Polish government-in-exile and by that time had moved to Iran. The communist-led Polish forces soon grew beyond the 1st Division into two major commands – the First Polish Army (initially under Zygmunt Berling) and the Second Polish Army (commanded by Karol Świerczewski). The First Polish Army participated in the Vistula–Oder Offensive, the Battle of Kolberg and the final Battle of Berlin.[1]

Immediate post-war years[edit]

The Polish First Army on their way to Berlin, 1945
Polish flag raised on the top of Berlin Victory Column on 2 May 1945
T-55A tanks of the Polish People's Army (Martial law in Poland)

After the war the Polish Army was reorganized into six (later seven) military districts. These were the Warsaw Military District, headquartered (HQ) in Warsaw, the Lublin Military District, HQ in Lublin, the Kraków Military District, HQ in Kraków, the Łódź Military District, HQ in Łódź, the Poznań Military District, HQ in Poznań, the Pomeranian Military District, HQ in Toruń, and the Silesian Military District, HQ in Katowice.[citation needed]

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Polish Army was under the command of Marshal of the Soviet Union, Marshal of Poland and Minister of Defense of Poland Konstantin Rokossovsky. It was increasingly integrated into Soviet military structure and organization. This process was mitigated in the aftermath of the Polish October of 1956, when Władysław Gomułka formalized aspects of Poland's military relationship with the Soviet Union.[3] The Sovietization of the armed forces structure was phased out altogether and thus the combat and service support structures were integrated once more into regular combat formations following the old Polish model.

Cold War[edit]

General Wojciech Jaruzelski in 1984

An anti-Zionist purge in the Polish Army took place in 1968 to systematically remove soldiers of Jewish origin, following the Six-Day War between Israel and Arab countries.



In 1949, the first fundamental uniform reform after the war was made.[4] The "Dress Rules for the Soldiers of the Polish Army" were introduced and were to apply from January 1, 1951.

In the Polish People's Army, a soft field cap modeled on the pre-war one was introduced. After the war, the pre-war garrison caps were used again. Stiffened caps were only worn until around 1950 when they were completely replaced by round caps. In 1982, the Polish Rogatywka, modeled on the pattern from 1935, were restored in the Polish Army's Representative Company.[5]


Throughout the entire period of the existence of the Polish People's Army, its officers and soldiers were provided with pastoral care. Such a service was provided by the General Dean's Office of the Polish Army.[6]


In the 1980s, the Polish People's Republic had 4 military academies and 11 higher officers' schools, which trained auxiliary corpsmen and corresponded in rank to higher educational institutions. In 1954, judo instructors from the Warsaw and Kraków institutes of physical culture, participated in the training program for border guards and military personnel of the airborne units of the Polish army.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Popularna Encyklopedia Powszechna Wydawnictwa Fogra (2016). "Pierwsza Armia Wojska Polskiego". Encyklopedia WIEM. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Kałużny, Ryszard (2007). "Oficerowie Armii Radzieckiej w wojskach lądowych w Polsce 1945-1956". Zeszyty Naukowe WSOWL (in Polish). AWL. Nr 2 (2): 86–87. ISSN 1731-8157.
  3. ^ Jerzy Eisler, Siedmiu wspaniałych poczet pierwszych sekretarzy KC PZPR [The Magnificent Seven: First Secretaries of KC PZPR], Wydawnictwo Czerwone i Czarne, Warszawa 2014, ISBN 978-83-7700-042-7, pp. 214–215
  4. ^ Dziennik rozkazów MON nr 4 z 1949 roku poz.30.
  5. ^ "Pulk Reprezentacyjny Wojska Polskiego".
  6. ^ "Duszpasterstwo wojskowe w PRL". sjerzy.parafia.info.pl. Retrieved 2017-09-04.
  7. ^ Влодзимеж Голембевский. Из-под Фудзиямы на Вислу // журнал «Польша», № 5 (117), май 1964. стр.52-53