Freedom and Independence group formed to combat Soviet terror founded 75 years ago today – The First News

Having suffered so much during the years of German occupation, when World War II was officially over, Poland was again under foreign domination and the country was in the grip of Soviet terror. Public domain

Before his execution on March 1st, 1951, Lt. Col. ukasz Ciepliski took pen to paper and wrote: I am glad to be murdered as a Catholic for the holy faith, as a Pole for my homeland and as a man for truth and justice.

I believe more than ever that Christ will win, that Poland will regain its independence and that the disgraced human dignity will be restored.

He was then taken outside his cell at Mokotow prison in Warsaw and shot in the back of the head.

Freedom and Independence was established by Colonel Jan Rzepecki as a continuation of the Home Army, which was dissolved in January 1945.Public domain

As the last leader of the Freedom and Independence movement, his death was also the death knell of the movement which was founded on September 2nd, 1945, 75 years ago today.

As the largest independence organisation in Poland after World War II, its aim was to regain independence through political not military means. It ended in tragedy when its leaders were arrested and shot.

The end of the war was extremely bitter for Poles. Having suffered so much during the years of German occupation, when World War II was officially over, they were again under foreign domination and the country was in the grip of Soviet terror.

As the largest independence organisation in Poland after World War II, the aim of Freedom and Independence was to regain independence through political not military means.Lower Silesian Public Library T. Mikulski

After the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, it was clear that the Soviets and Polish communists had no intention of sharing power with anyone.

Home Army soldiers and those in the underground were in a desperate position.

The prisons were full and former Home Army soldiers were being arrested on a massive scale. The NKVD were waging a campaign of terror to subjugate and Sovietise Poland.

Although the Home Army had been wound up, the need for a resistance organisation was as strong as ever.

The last leader of the Freedom and Independence movement, Lt. Col. ukasz Ciepliski, was executed on March 1, 1951.Public domain

Freedom and Independence was established by Colonel Jan Rzepecki as a continuation of the Home Army, which was dissolved in January 1945.

The difference, though, was that it was to have a civil not a military character. Its objectives were resistance but without war and sabotage. The forces that it had at its disposal were only to be used in self-defence.

Its objective was to take advantage of the democratic elections promised at Yalta Conference in February 1945.

Following an offer of amnesty by the communist authorities, many members of Freedom and Independence handed themselves in, only to be put on show trials. Many were executed.PAP

Dr. Wojciech Frazik from the Branch Office of Historical Research of the Institute of National Remembrance in Krakw said: In the summer of 1945, the only chance for regaining independence was seen in free and democratic elections, which were provided for by the Yalta agreements.

They were supposed to decide what the political system would be in Poland and who would hold power. The commanders of the former underground decided that this chance should be seized and the action should be changed from armed combat to political struggle.

First president of Freedom and Independence, Franciszek Niepoklczyck was arrested on 22 October 1946 by the Polish secret police and during his show trial was sentenced to death. This was later changed to life imprisonment. He died in 1974 at the age of 73, after being released in 1956.Public domain

Under the slogan We Will Not Allow Elections to be Falsified, the organisation collected information about the situation in Poland.

They informed Polish society, the Polish authorities in exile and also people around the world about the situation in Poland under the Communist system.

All this was supposed to lead to free and democratic elections. In view of the actions of the Polish communists and the Soviet Union, it had no chance of succeeding.

Since 2011, March 1 has been a National Day of Remembrance for both the organisation and others who have collectively become known as the Cursed Soldiers.Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Despite the decision of Freedom and Independence to move from armed conflict to political activity, the terror being carried out by Polish communists and the NKVD in the first post-war years forced the commanders of units to carry out armed operations.

In 1945-46, the association had over 30,000 members. Partisan units attacked prisons and militia stations, fought the army and liquidated people cooperating with the communist authorities, treating these actions as a defence against terror.

The association came to an end in the winter of 1947 and 1948 following the arrest by the Communist security service of its leadership. After a show trial they were sentenced to death on October 14, 1950.

Executions were carried out at the Mokotw prison in Warsaw.Rafa Guz/PAP

The sentences were carried out on March 1 the next year in Mokotow prison in Warsaw. ukasz Ciepliski, Mieczysaw Kawalec, Jzef Batory, Adam Lazarowicz, Franciszek Baej, Karol Chmiel and Jzef Rzepka were all shot in the back of the head.

The next day the corpses were placed in coffins and taken away from the prison. To this day, nobody knows where they were buried.

Since 2011, the date of their murders has been a National Day of Remembrance for both the organisation and others who have collectively become known as the Cursed Soldiers.

Sergeant Jzef Franczak was the last Freedom and Independence soldier to be captured after he remained in hiding until 1963.Public domain

After the removal of the leadership, the security service took control of Freedom and Independence by covertly installing its agents as leaders. For the next four years, the security services used this cover to break up underground groups in Poland and in migr circles.

Although Freedom and Independence was a civilian organisation, it was managed to a great degree by officers from the Home Army and around 60,000 soldiers served in its ranks up to the amnesty of February 1947 under which underground soldiers could reveal themselves without fear of arrest.

Many, though, remained underground. Most of them were eventually arrested and sentenced to death by military courts. They were secretly buried in anonymous death pits.

In 2016, the remains of Leon Taraszkiewicz, commander of Freedom and Independence in the Lublin region, were found. He was given a proper burial in 2017.Wojciech Pacewicz/PAP

The last Freedom and Independence soldier to be captured remained in hiding until October 21, 1963.

Sergeant Jzef Franczak was taken after being denounced by a relative of his lover.

His body, desecrated and decapitated, was found on the grounds of Lublin Medical University in March 2015.

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Freedom and Independence group formed to combat Soviet terror founded 75 years ago today - The First News

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