Polish Intelligence During World War II

Even critical contributions by intelligence services are often hidden in secrecy and only declassified after many years, if at all. Such was also the case with Poland’s counterintelligence during World War II.

The Polish intelligence service played an important role in the Allied camp. Their pre-war deciphering of the Enigma (see) displayed their worth. The service commanded a large network of contacts, which during the war was not only maintained but in fact expanded, reaching from Sweden to North Africa (where it played a significant role during the planning of Operation Torch, the Allied landings in Morocco and Algeria in November 1942). British intelligence was inundated with reports from Polish sources; for instance in 1943 over 10,000 messages were reported. In as much as the messages being dispatched from Polish agents were valuable, the reports being sent from agents of the Polish Home Army were priceless, as the British had no other way of attaining accurate information from the region.

V-2 rocket launch site in Peenemunde (Germany) Thanks to the information supplied by Polish intelligence this site was bombarded by Allied air force on August 17, 1943. Fot. FoKa, FORUM
V-2 rocket launch site in Peenemunde (Germany) Thanks to the information supplied by Polish intelligence this site was bombarded by Allied air force on August 17, 1943. Fot. FoKa, FORUM

The underground intelligence service, with agents active in occupied Poland as well as in Germany, France, and the USSR provided information regarding the planned German attack on the West in 1940, the attack on the Soviet Union a year later, and subsequently reported on the situation on the Eastern front, including the planned attack on the Caucuses in 1942. Detailed reports were also sent from Germany, which aiding in the Allied bombardment of Hamburg among others. Practically unknown is the Polish contribution to the Allied subversion of the German Wunderwaffe, which was intended to change the course of the war: The V1 and V2 rockets. First information was gathered about the experimental rocket facilities in Peenemunde. These reports, first treated by the Allies with disbelief, turned out to be authentic and enabled the bombardment of these facilities. The Home Army also managed to recover an entire V2 rocket. Polish experts carried out tests on the rocket, and the results as well as the most important components of the rocket were sent to London in July 1944.

The wartime accomplishments of the Polish intelligence service could be listed extensively. But rather than this long list, it’s worthwhile to quote Commander Wilfred Dunerdale, who wrote to Winston Churchill in 1945, that “the input of the Polish Intelligence Service was priceless, and contributed to the ultimate success of the Allied forces.” Unfortunately, those contributions were forgotten for the next half century.