Documentation of the Polish Military Organisation

Date 1914–1920

Storing institution Military Historical Office of the Central Military Archive

The history of the Polish secret military organisation

The records of the Polish Military Organisation contain documents which enable the tracing of the history and operation of this secret paramilitary sabotage and intelligence unit. This paved the way for independent Poland and later became a model for another underground organisation – the Home Army. This all-party organisation was established in the middle of 1914 at the initiative of Józef Piłsudski (based on two other organisations: the Union of Active Struggle and the Polish Rifle Squads) and was unique in Europe. It managed to survive the difficult years of the First World War and grow into the main independence force in the country, which was occupied by the armies of three powers. The members of the Polish Military Organisation were active in many fields: they trained, collected weapons, distributed leaflets, organised demonstrations and sabotage actions aimed at the occupation administration. They were never exposed by Ochrana (the Russian secret police) and the intelligence units of the organisation were active on the Russian territory until the end of 1920 – that is during the Polish-Soviet war. After regaining independence, the organisation was dissolved and its members joined the newly created Polish army. The most important politicians, statesmen, local government officials, diplomats, MPs, army officers and artists of the times of independence were former members of the Polish Military Organisation.

The records of the Polish Military Organisation are the only historical source of such richness, documenting the development and evolution of the formation that set itself a clear goal – an independent Poland and, thanks to enormous determination, managed to achieve it under extremely unfavourable circumstances.

The records of the Polish Military Organisation are of enormous cognitive and research value. They show the organisation’s activity and the evolution of its structures, assumptions and goals, from the moment it was created in 1914 until its dissolution. The documentation legacy of the Polish Military Organisation includes, among others: orders, messages, reports, instructions, rules and regulations, personnel files of organisation members, as well as press, propaganda and mobilisation materials. Among the documents there is the text of the oath for candidates, instructions for female squads and so-called flying squads (units that carried out sabotage actions in the enemy’s rear), the statute of the “Piechur” Society, an extension of the Polish Military Organisation which aimed at developing the physical fitness of recruits under the guise of a tourist society. One of the objects of great symbolic importance is the white and red band of an unknown member of the Organisation. It should be noted, however, it is only a fraction of the resources. The full documentation of the Polish Military Organisation, kept in the Military Historical Office of the Central Military Archive, contains over 71,000 numbered pages.