Secret State

Secret conspiratorial formations existed in all the countries of occupied Europe, but only in Poland was a true underground state formed, with an army, ministries, parliament, police and even social services.

Although the underground state was theoretically only a branch of the government in exile, in reality it was in the occupied country, not in Paris or London, that the fate of Poland would be determined. It was the leadership of the underground state which made critical decision concerning both resistance to the occupier, as well as in matters of domestic policy. From the start of the occupation, the Government Delegation for Poland (headed first by Cyryl Ratajski, and later Jan Piekalkiewicz and Jan Stanislaw Jankowski) built the civilian structure of the underground state. The everyday work of the Delegation was divided into 15 departments. The most important of which were: Domestic Affairs, which oversaw provincial and regional delegates, and prepared the structure of future territorial administration, including those lands which Poland prepared to receive from Germany (Silesia-Opole, Baltic Coast region and Eastern Prussia); Press and Information: which formed together with the Office of Information and Propaganda of the Head Command of the Home Army the giant “information conglomerate” (books and press published by it had an incredible influence on public opinion); Labor and Social Welfare, which cared for political prisoners and unemployed artists and scholars. The Delegation also played a large role in the rescue of Jews (see Polish Relations..). The Department of Education and Culture managed to form a secret system of education, which by 1944 had an estimated 100,000 students. This department was also tasked with rescuing from destruction Poland’s cultural artifacts and objects of importance to the national heritage. The Civilian Resistance Office, subordinate directly to the Chief Delegate, was in charge of the secret courts, and monitored public opinion regarding the occupier.

At the beginning of 1944, in response to the decision by Soviet-affiliated Communists to create the State National Council, the underground, loyal to the legal Polish government in exile, formed the Council of National Unity, aspiring to be the “underground parliament.” At the start of May 1944, President Raczkiewicz created a Council of Ministers at Home, which became an integral part of the London government, and Chief Delegate Jankowski received the status of Deputy Prime Minister. This act also ended the formation of the Underground State, which was prepared to govern as was their legal right. This authority, however, was not to be given to it (See Operation Tempest). On July 1, 1945, after the formation of the Provisional Government of National Unity (with Stanislaw Mikolajczyk as Deputy Prime Minister) and the expected decision that western allies would cease to recognize the government in exile, the Council of National Unity dissolved itself. It’s last act was to publish the “Proclamation of the Council of National Unity to the Polish Nation and Allied Nations” whose conclusion formed the so called “Testament of Fighting Poland” which postulated an independent and just Poland, free from any outside influences. This testament was realized only after almost half a century, in 1989.