Communist Agent Provocateur Operations
Communist Active Measures and Propaganda Operations in Shaping the Negative Image of Poland’s Post-World War II Armed Resistance.
Written by Dr. Maciej Korkuć, PhD, Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), Krakow, Poland.
The offensive of repressions against members of the legalized opposition was combined with attempts of final destruction of the armed underground units. A directive issued by the Minister of Public Security, Stanisław Radkiewicz, and Supreme Commander of the Communist Polish People’s Army, Marian Spychalski, provided "guidelines for the work of the Voivodeship Committees for Security for the period before the elections" of July 17, 1946. The directive stated: "the intentional use of AP [secret police] units in civilian clothes is prudent, [and that] such actions [were to] be closely coordinated with uniformed troops to avoid confusion.” 
It is difficult to overestimate the effectiveness of these types of active measures carried out by the UB [pol. Urząd Bezpieczeństwa – secret police] Agent Provocateur units.
We can enumerate at least several goals that were to be achieved (or were experimented with) by these kinds of "forest units":
(1) An AP unit claiming to be part of the resistance could gain easy access to information about political opponents of the regime, their sympathizers, and others who cooperated with the underground. In the "Instructions for reconnaissance officers in the field" cited earlier, we read that while "wearing civilian or military uniforms [an AP unit] can go to a nearby estate and gather information about the existing situation (that is, the relationship between the locals and the gang), to gather information about their whereabouts in a particular area. [?]." Loosely written, yet very specific orders, were issued as well: "A reconnaissance [AP unit] should find out: what was the last time the gang was in the area? What was its strength? On whose property did it [the resistance unit] take quarters; who among the locals maintains contact with the gang ([i.e.] who from among the locals speaks the longest with gang members while they are in the village); who among the locals is favored by the gangsters; who is willingly providing material support to the gangsters; who was robbed or beaten by a bandit (use it to recruit your informers); find out what the present location of the gang is, letting the locals know that the partisan group we are pretending to be got separated and wants to re-establish contact with the main unit. Finally, pay attention to the attitude of the villagers towards the [Communist Provisional] Government of National Unity and Organs of [Public] Security [secret police], and their attitude towards the gangs." 
Simply put, the effectiveness of such an undertaking cannot be overstated. It is illustrated by the report sent by the KBW unit dispatched into the area of Zawoja and Maków Podhalański: "The local people [?] respond more favorably to the thugs than the [communist] Polish [People’s] Army. You will not get anything out of these people unless you pretend to be with the partisans, and even then, they are very cautious in conversation. Carrying out reconnaissance, while wearing the [standard-issue] uniforms is impossible, unless you carry it out [these intelligence tasks] wearing civilian clothes.” 
Such means were often used to establish direct contact with the real partisan units to penetrate them at first, and to destroy them later. It was exactly this type of a mission that was assigned to the earlier mentioned “Czota Chumaka” operation: to liquidate the UPA unit commanded by Jarosław Staruch, nom de guerre “Stiah”.
Gronczewski recognized immediately the benefits “of being preceived as a forest unit by the locals” noting: “For several days we had rummaged through the Gościeradów and Lipsk forests, as well as villages that were located there. We were able to gather many priceless pieces of information about the life and activities of these forest units, or about the conspiratorial work of specific people. We got to know the areas where the forest units operate and what routes they take." 
In June 1946, the resistance intelligence cells in the Rzeszów area reported that the Voivodeship Office for Public Security along with PPR [Pol. Polska Partia Robotnicza – Communist Polish Worker's Party] were organizing partisan units whose goal is to join real partisan units in order to lead them into a trap. The Command of these AP units was to be assigned to a Russian officer, Col. Jevtshenko from the Grupa Operacyjna Rzeszów [Eng. Operations' Group Rzeszów]. 
(2) The activities of AP partisan groups were to provide a pretext for communist repressions, and to disorient both locals who supported the partisans, and the real partisan units alike. There were numerous instances whereby an AP unit would receive support from the locals, only to return later and arrest the “gang's supporters”. Such incidents were frequently reported by WiN. One such report noted that “one of the means by which the UB and the PPR sets up a target person is by sending him letters demanding a donation of a specific amount of money for the NSZ [Pol. abr. Narodowe Siły Zbrojne – National Armed Forces] or AK [Pol. abr. Armia Krajowa – Home Army] activities. If the target is tricked successfully, the gains of the PPR are twofold: it [the PPR] receives free funds, and [at the same time] obtains evidence of such individuals’ collaboration with the underground – this is sufficient enough for them to completely finish off such a person.” 
The fate of a certain Kaczmarczyk, a miller in the Wysocice village in Olkusz County can serve as an example of such a provocation. Dressed in the partisan uniforms of the Polish Resistance, the UB operatives visited this man two times, demanding money for the “Underground Poland”. When the money was received, the UB arrested Kaczmarczyk for harboring [the partisans] and “aiding illegal organizations”. 
In yet another part of the Kraków Voivodeship, in the Wielka Wieś, Brzesk County, a four-man UB patrol asked the locals to collect some money for them “because they were in a difficult situation”. Lo and behold, the next day all who pitched in to help were arrested. 
The article “Terror in Poland” cited earlier, that appeared in the émigré publication "Dziennik Polski" and "Dziennik Żołnierza" goes on to say: “In practice, at first, under the guise of being an anti-communist unit sympathizing with London, [the communist] diversionary unit encourages people to resist the communist regime, i.e. by refusing to turn-in the goods. Then, with mastery and knowledge of the local topography, the UB and KBW strike at the peasants whom they had set up earlier.” 
Similar incidents are also found in Gronczewski’s memoirs as well. For example, on one occasion, his unit arrived at a harvest party at a rectory in the village of Rybitwy. At first, his men, who claimed to be part of a WiN unit, mingled with locals and real resistance guerrillas who were present there, conversed and observed who was raising anti-communist toasts, etc. After that, they outed themselves and arrested the real partisans. Then, they took 120 people hostage (most of whom they had severely beaten), and then, in public, Gronczewski personally executed a man named Tłuczek, who was involved in underground activities. 
While assessing his own actions, Gronczewski wrote: “we would carry out arrests under various conditions, but usually secretly [should read: in secrecy], and usually [acting] as a gang; as such, we created considerable confusion among the underground organizations; this led to antagonisms and reciprocal mistrust from other [resistance] organizations. This, or the other arrest, confrontation, or a failure in maintaining security, would be attributed by one organization to the other.” While boasting somewhat about his own successes, he added: “While we were operational in the field, the atmosphere we left behind was such that no one believed anyone in the underground [anymore]. Every meeting, or initiative was treated as if it was trickery, or a provocation”. 
(3) The activities of the Agent Provocateur units served to compromise the perception of the armed underground in the eyes of society and aimed at weakening the bonds the local populations had with the partisan forest units. For these reasons, [the secret police] AP members were often recruited from within common criminal elements that could carry out assaults and thefts under the majesty of “the communist law” that protected them.  The echoes of such activities would resonate throughout Poland, as more often than not, these were accompanied by assassinations carried out “on behalf” of the real underground, as he victims were usually well respected, well-known, and politically active members of local communities. The extent of the AP deep-cover was such, that not only would the UB be bold enough to return to the crime-scene under the guise of being the guardians of the law investigating an “incident” - but, as in the case Dr. Szczepan Niedźwiedź, detailed in the article - would also “severely reprimand” the local Militia for failing to be zealous enough during the time when the “gangsters are murdering local civilians and shoot at UBP functionaries.” 
4) Politically motivated assassinations and beatings benefited the communist regime by frightening both the specific political adversaries and society at large. The fact that for the most part, the victims of these assassinations were members of the PSL would further undermine the balance of power, whereby - as reported by the Voivodeship PPR Committee in Kraków about the situation in the Nowy Targ County - “the peasants would rather join the PSL, because they were sure that the gangs will not terrorize them”.  It appears that while reporting in June 1946, WiN was accurate in its assessment of Poland’s political landscape. It noted that “pointing the tip of the terrorist-diversionary [sword] more and more towards the PSL - a legal organization, which is part of the government, and as such, in principle, is subject to the same protection under the law as the [communist] PPR - the role played by the UB as the PPR’s tool is more apparent than ever.” 
(5) Not only were specific political opponents eliminated physically, but in many instances as well, the regime was able to inflict heavy losses on the forest units by setting up ambushes carried out by the AP units. Here, Gronczewski also describes both armed confrontations and ambushes set up against real partisan units. He gives examples of arrests, and one specific example of the murder of a resistance courrier sent out by another unit seeking to establish contact.
The progressive breakdown of the democratic underground State structures, amplified by the existence of a multitude of partisan units operating outside of an unified command structure, provided an ideal environment for the activities of the communist Agent Provocateur units. Undoubtedly, the communist regime fighting against the “reactionary underground” was able to seize and exploit this situation to its advantage. Given the effectiveness of such operations - many of which were accompanied by a web of intricate intelligence penetration operations - it is impossible to view the post - World War II political and armed underground activities in Poland without taking such operations into account.
Communist Agent Provocateur Units in the Krakow Area
In April 1946, WiN reported to London: “to a far greater degree [than ever before] the [entire] area is saturated with diversionary UB, PPR, and units operating under the guise of being NSZ and AK formations; [this situation] is most unfortunate and dangerous for both the population [at large] as well as various [Democratic Resistance] units [operating in the field].”  This information was vetted by, among other things, detailed facts and figures obtained in the Kraków Voivodeship. The report goes on to state that by April 1946, the WiN intelligence network identified and localized sixteen such units (each consisting of 6 to 18 people) in Nowy Sącz and Nowy Targ; four units in Bocheń County; and one in Brzesk County. In order to solidify their cover, and to gain the confidence of the local population and the democratic resistance units in the area, the communist AP units went so far as to carry out “assaults” against the local PPR activists. 
In another report from May 1946 that follows, WiN intelligence ascertained that “all [communist AP] activities in the Kraków area are coordinated by [a certain] Chlebowski - all that, despite his sickness (resulted from a wound he received during an operation near Łapanowo). Written orders are not issued at all. Contact is maintained via the PPR Committee in Nowy Targ and through the city’s PPR cells in Kraków. – [The communist men killed in combat] are to be replaced by the ORMO [Pol. abbr. Ochotnicza Rezerwa Milicji Obywatelskiej), or the Volunteer Reserve Militia] volunteers.”  This report is certainly credible: At that time, Jan Chlebowski indeed held an official position as the chief of the Propaganda Section at the Voivodeship Committee of the PPR in Krakow. Indeed, he was wounded in his arm during operation against Jan Dubaniowski’s, nom de guerre “Salwa” unit near Łapanowo. Even if Chlebowski didn’t command these units personally, he could, and is likely to have, coordinated these activities on behalf of the communist PPR.
Photo Above: Soldiers from Capt. Jan Dubaniowski “Salwa” unit. Capt. Dubaniowski is standing in the middle.
WiN also reported on the existence of a thirteen-men-strong AP unit in the Olkusz County. This unit was led by the former chief of PUBP in Olkusz “who was said to have escaped because of <<excesses>> and is wanted by the [communist] authorities who issued warrants for his arrest. This is only a disguise to provide him with a better cover.” The report goes on to mention “pseudo-partisan” units active near Nowy Targ and Nowy Sącz, led by two former AL (Pol. Armia Ludowa - Communist People’s Army) men brought in from the Urzad Bezpieczenstwa (UB). The men used aliases “Iskra” (real name unknown), and “Żyła” (real name unknown). The report added that “PPR units” were also identified in Łagiewniki, Kurdwanowo, Borek Fałęcki, and Krakowska Huta Szkła. 
Officers leading the real Democratic Underground partisan units were not only well aware of the character of these AP units, or the dangers they presented, but on many occasions had also engaged them. “It is difficult to differentiate – we read in WiNs report from September 1946 - which operations were carried out by the O[ddziały] L[eśne, Pol. abbr. Forest Units] or by the UB and PPR Agent Provocateur units, or by common criminal gangs which are plentiful everywhere as well. For example, taking up an identity of the[Józef Kuraś] <<Ogień>> and <<«Błyskawica>> units, the PPR forest gangs, and gangsters in Podhale went on by carrying out their robberies. <<Ogień>> reacts once again liquidating these [communist AP] groups.” 
The destruction and dispersing of one such AP unit by the partisan units under command of Józef Kuraś, nom de guerre “Ogień” is described in the memoirs of Eugeniusz Wojnar - then Propaganda Instructor at the PPR County Committee in Nowy Targ. This AP unit was created during the summer of 1946 in Nowy Targ. “The goal of these operations was a simple one - wrote Wojnar - the group was to become operational, pretend to be an unit fighting the peoples' government, learn the topography of the area, get to know all of the hiding places and encampments of the real gang, [and] establish contact with the local population in order to gain the necessary information [through which Kuraś’ unit] could be penetrated and destroyed.” In this instance, the entire undertaking was a complete failure. Already on the first day after establishing an encampment in the forest, this well armed, provisioned, and equipped with communications’ equipment AP group, was engaged and destroyed by “Ogień’s” unit. “It all happened so fast, that the soldiers and [communist] activists with years of combat experience while in the [communist] partisan units were forced to save their lives by escaping. For a few days one could see people coming back to the city. They wore half-civilian, half-military clothing, some carrying guns and some not, they were barely clothed. It was a pathetic and sad sight to behold. We - party activists - were neither filled with hope nor optimism.” 
It is possible that this was the very same event described by Stanisław Wałach – the 1946 PUBP chief in Limanowa - who also led one of the AP units. While he avoids using the terms “Agent Provocateur”, or “Anti-Partisan Units” altogether, and doesn’t reveal what his specific orders were, he speaks directly about the creation of “small penetration units, tasked with finding <<Ogień’s>> hideouts.”  Wałach didn’t write how many such units were created, but always referred to them in the plural, stating that he was given the command of “one of such groups”. Whereas, J. Depo states that in the summer of 1946, in addition to KBW and uniformed LWP military units, “active [in the Nowy Targ were] two WUBP Krakow special-purpose groups. One of them was commanded by Jan Dąb-Kocioł, and the other by Stanisław Wałach.”  The direct command and oversight of such activities rested with Kraków’s WUBP chief Jan Bielecki, who had Wałach transferred to his headquarters in Kraków. Wałach was to operate in the Turbacz Mountain area, that is, the epicenter Józef Kuraś's activities. It is possible then, and likely to be true, that in this instance, his AP group was strictly prohibited from entering the village, where the locals were familiar with the partisans and could easily recognize and blow Wałach’s unit’s cover. The members of Wałach’s unit were for the most part UB-men with prior experience in the communist AL, among them: Franciszek Ostafin, Stanisław Moniowski, Tadeusz Pędziałek, Maurycy Grzesiak and Kazimierz Chełmecki. They also recruited three KBW men to man the radio transmitter. The unit was equipped with automatic weapons and grenades. It operated for the first time for about a week and then returned to Kraków. After several days, Wałach’s “partisans” left for the mountains again. Noticed by an old Highlander, or Góral, in Polish, the unit was engaged by “Ogień’s” soldiers. It is uncertain whether Wałach’s group had any casualties. All of them made a mad dash to save their lives. “I don’t know if anyone heard me amidst this hell - Wałach wrote - whatever clothes one wore, without a jacket, or barefoot - everyone raced blindly, not to be left in the middle of the encirclement. I shot at the radio transmitter [to disable it…] and in a matter of few seconds made it to the forest. After less than an hour I was already in Nowy Targ. I didn’t know anything, nor did I know what happen to [my] men.” It is possible that it is this very same event described by the PPR activist E. Wojnar. There are many similarities here, the timing is right, and there are very few discernable differences between these descriptions. Both authors, however, refuse to reveal the specific date of these events, and this makes it difficult to fully verify these accounts. It is also difficult to ascertain the ultimate results gained by Wałach’s unit. He went on to say that “by the afternoon [all members of the group] made it back.” 
Continue to Part 3
22. Wytyczne operacyjne szczególnej wagi nr 00167/III from 29 March 1946 do wiadomości wyłącznie dowódców OW i Komitetów Bezpieczeństwa, cyt. za: L. Grot, Działania..., op. cit., p. 482.
23. CAW, Zesp. KBW, sygn. 1580/75/403, k. 150, Instrukcja dla oficerów zwiadu w terenie, (undated).
24. CAW, Zesp. KBW, sygn. 150/75/90, Meldunek zwiadowczy Sztabu 6 Specjalnego Pułku KBW nr 00330 z 25 lipca 1946.
25. E. Gronczewski, Działalność operacyjna Grupy Specjalnej..., op. cit., cz. II, nr 23/139,
26. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, teczka 6, Sprawozdanie informacyjne WiN za czerwiec 1946 r., część B, s. 7.
27. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, teczka 5, Sprawozdanie informacyjne WiN za maj 1946 r., część B, p. 5.
28. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, teczka 5, Sprawozdanie informacyjne WiN za maj 1946 r., część B, p. 5.
29. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, teczka 8, Sprawozdanie informacyjne WiN za sierpień 1946 r., część B, p. 12.
30. J. Skalniak, Terror w Polsce, op. cit., p. 95.
31. E. Gronczewski, Działalność operacyjna Grupy Specjalnej..., op. cit., cz. IV, nr 25/141,
33. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, teczka 9, Sprawozdanie informacyjne WiN za wrzesień 1946 r., część B, p. 9.
34. AAN, sygn. 193/III-25, k. 44, 44a, Pismo Sekretariatu Naczelnego PSL do Prezesa Rady Ministrów, Warszawa 12 sierpnia 1946 r.
35. AAN, Zesp. KC PPR, sygn. 295/IX-172, k. 49, Sprawozdanie KW PPR w Krakowie [za maj 1946].
36. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, informacyjne WiN za czerwiec 1946 r., część B, p. 6.
37. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, informacyjne WiN za kwiecień 1946 r., część A, p. 20.
38. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, informacyjne WiN za kwiecień 1946 r., część B, p. 5.
39. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, informacyjne WiN za maj 1946 r., część B, p. 4
40. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, informacyjne WiN za maj 1946 r., część B, p. 4.
41. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, informacyjne WiN za wrzesień 1946 r., część B, p. 21.
42. E. Wojnar, Z lat walki z reakcją (Nowy Targ w latach 1945-1948), „Pokolenia”, nr 2-3/1969, p. 39.
43. S. Wałach, Był w Polsce czas..., op. cit., p. 186-190.
44. J. Depo, Walka organów Bezpieczeństwa..., op. cit., p. 299.
45. It appears to be Wałach’s propaganda-inspired phantasy, uncorroborated by any sources. Allegedly based on teczka 6, Sprawozdanie teczka 4, Sprawozdanie teczka 4, Sprawozdanie teczka 5, Sprawozdanie teczka 5, Sprawozdanie teczka 9, report concerning account given by „Harnas” from the “Ognien’s” General Staff, the UB-men were able to escape because "«Ogień» and his entire gang were drinking vodka starting in the early morning on. Source: S. Wałach, Był w Polsce czas..., op. cit., pp. 186-190.
46. SPP Londyn, Archiwum Del. WiN, Kol. 19, teczka 6, Sprawozdanie informacyjne WiN za czerwiec 1946 r., część B, p. 6.