Polish Underground Reports

During the German occupation of Poland between 1939 and 1944, the Polish Government-in-Exile in London managed to organize a well-functioning shadow government inside Poland working completely underground. To one degree or another, it could count on the support of almost the entire Polish population. This underground government had informants almost everywhere.

Apart from active acts of resistance and sabotage, two of the most important tasks of the various branches of this shadow government were, first, to gather intelligence about what was happening in the country and to report it to London; and second, to spread propaganda aiming at lifting the spirit of the Polish resistance movement, hardening the resilience and anti-German stance of Poland’s allies in East and West, and undermining any efforts of the occupational authorities to stabilize their rule. This of course included black propaganda, as in every war: exaggerate and invent losses the enemy suffers, and atrocities they supposedly committed.

The reports by the Polish underground sent to their government in London reflect all these aspects. Where claims and data can be verified by other documents, it shows that the Polish underground was indeed well informed about anything of significance happening inside Poland, including the territories Germany had temporarily annexed.

However, atrocity propaganda spread about many camps also show their false nature by their disparate, often contradictory or simply absurd nature which, when compared with reliable sources, turn out to be freely invented.

The Polish underground movement spread its tentacles also inside the various German labor and concentration camps, where it stayed in close contact with the resistance movements established among the inmates. In Auschwitz, for instance, the inmate resistance movement prided itself in having informants and collaborators in most every office and department of the camp authorities.

Since the Germans depended on inmates doing most of the work even in their offices, they could hide nothing from the resistance. Information flow between the camp-internal resistance and the underground outside was facilitated by corrupt German guards as well as privileged inmates permitted to leave the camp and work outside its fenced-in area.

The vast documentation about Auschwitz permits us to either verify or refute most claims made in the Polish underground reports sent to London. Some show that the resistance movement knew indeed very well what was really going on inside the camp. Others indicate that those writing these reports were not merely interested in informing their government in London – as well as its host, the British government. They were also in the business of supplying fuel and ammunition for black propaganda.

(For more details on this, see the sections on “Propaganda History” in the entries of the camps Auschwitz Main Camp, Belzec, Birkenau, Chełmno, Majdanek, Sobibór and Treblinka; see particularly on Auschwitz: Mattogno 2021, pp. 105-289).

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