Behind the Scenes of the Greater Poland Uprising

The Polish Military Organisation of the Prussian Partition 1918-1919 (PMOPP)

Janusz Karwat

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THE POLISH MILITARY ORGANISATION OF THE PRUSSIAN PARTITION 1918-1919 (PMOPP) – an underground military organisation, the aim of which was to liberate the Polish lands from Prussian occupation. It was established in 1917, on the initiative of Wincenty Wierzejewski. Its first members were deserter scouts who had been hiding in Poznań. The number of its members grew considerably after announcing, in the summer of 1918, the mobilisation of men born in 1900. To protect the scouts’ organisation from repression, Wierzejewski separated military activity (Combat Organisation) from the scouts’ activity led by Henryk Śniegocki. The purpose of W. Wierzejewski as a commandant was to create a conspiratorial cadre organisation. Henryk Dembiński and Józef Dunst, who had been hiding in the Congress Kingdom, made contact with the Warsaw-based leaders of the Polish Military Organisation (PMO) through Priest Jan Mauersberger, a scout activist. In December 1917, more conspirators, such as Alfons Gorzelańczyk, Mieczysław Kucharski and Stanisław Saroszewski, were sent to Warsaw to get familiar with the rules of local conspiracy. On 15 February 1918, the first group of ten members of the PMOPP were sworn in in the building of the Poznań museum. As well as the above-mentioned deserters, the group also included: Józef Ratajczak, Roman Skoraszewski, Leonard Skowroński and Sylwester Węglarz. In the spring of 1918, more groups were sworn in. They were led by Bronisław Drwęski, Jan Kąkolewski, Franciszek Piechowski, Stanisław Powalisz and Bohdan Szeffer. Most of the conspirators were scouts who had previously trained in the German army. In the middle of 1918, the PMOPP had approximately 80 members. Stanisław Saroszewski became a recruitment instructor, setting up militias in Gniezno (Stefan Engler), Gostyń (Leon Włodarczak), Grodzisk Wielkopolski (Stanisław Józefowicz), Inowrocław (Jerzy Kwieciński), Jarocin (Wacław Szkudliński), Kościan (Franciszek Czaplicki), Kórnik (Marian Matelski), Szamotuły (Józef Kłos), Śrem (Aleksander Sobolewski) and Września (Piotr Jarociński). An important date for the organisation’s development was 2 August 1918, when an administrative organ, the so-called council of eleven, was founded. The decision was taken on further development of the organisation in garrison towns, among adolescents from gymnasiums, sports clubs and “Sokół”. The militias that joined the PMOPP were, among others, Stanisław Nogaj’s “Unia” and Stanisław Franciszczak’s “Czarni”; also contact was made with the organisation “Jedność” from the Jarocin garrison. Talks with Karol Rzepecki, leader of the Poznań branch of “Sokół”, were, however, unsuccessful. Other members of the PMOPP included soldiers serving in German units, such as: Marian Beym, employed in the mobilisation department of the General Command of the 5th Corps, Czesław Michalski, non-commissioned officer with the military draft office and Mieczysław Niewitecki who ran a sanitary office. Small, temporary warehouses of weapons, ammunition and military equipment were created, among others at 6 Kozia Street, 12 Szewska Street and on Dolna Wilda Street. According to verification documents owned by the Association of Greater Poland Insurgents, 160 people declared their membership in the PMOPP before 6 November 1918. In the autumn of 1918, Wierzejewski visited the PMO Supreme Command in Warsaw to discuss, with Adam Koc among others, the issue of releasing J. Piłsudski from Magdeburg. The task was entrusted to Józef Jęczkowiak and Stanisław Pluciński, who were in contact with Szczepan Piechocki and Stanisław Dąbrowski from the fortress guard unit. The plan was not carried out due to the outbreak of the revolution in Germany. When the revolution in Germany broke out, the members of the PMOPP started to form soldier councils in German units, taking partial control of unit commands and preparing for the occupation of these places. According to Wierzejewski’s arrangements, J. Jęczkowiak went to Warsaw to organise the Poles serving in the German army and from the territory of the Prussian Partition. After 10 November 1918, the PMOPP became even more active. Second Lieutenant Mieczysław Andrzejewski, who was in close cooperation with Second Lieutenant Mieczysław Paluch and Second Lieutenant Bohdan Hulewicz from the Military Division of the Central Citizens’ Committee (CCC), replaced Wierzejewski as Commandant. On 11 November, the leaders of the PMOPP held a stormy meeting in A. Fiedler’s flat at 12, Długa Street. The ones who wanted to start immediate military action included H. Beychler, A. Fiedler, Jan Kalinowski and R. Wilkanowicz. As a result of an intervention of the CCC's representatives (Priest Stanisław Adamski), the participants of the meeting reached a compromise, and the organisation was subordinated to Lieutenant M. Paluch from the Military Division of the CCC. The enthusiasm of the young members of the Polish Military Organisation added fire to the so-called “attack on the Town Hall” on 13 November. An armed demonstration of several dozen members of the PMOPP allowed the Organisation to gain advantages in the Executive Division of the Worker and Soldier Council. This gave the PMOPP an insight into military affairs in the area of the 5th Armed Corps. Hieronim Grzeszkowiak intercepted information on the possibility of forming security units (the Guard and Security Service - GSS) in the pay of the Germans. The PMOPP organised and ran conscription offices (8) for this formation. Efforts were undertaken to make the units look more German by enlisting Poles under changed German names. In November 1918, two companies composed of members of the PMOPP and “Sokół”, barracked in the forts of Pritwitz (Sergeant Stefan Grodzki) and Rauch (Sergeant Edmund Krause), comprising approximately 500 members, were formed. On 5 December, on the initiative of M. Andrzejewski, the decision was made to form a company of navy soldiers at the PMOPP (Sergeant Adam Białoszyński) which was accommodated in the western part of the barracks of the 47th infantry regiment. By the end of December 1918, there were nine GSS companies, jointly composed of nearly 2000 soldiers. Members of the PMO carried out several attacks on patrols and military warehouses, e.g. occupying warehouses with weapons behind the Kalisz Gate (12 November) and Rycerska Street, the Uniforms Office in Jeżyce (15 November), removing gold from of the Poznań branch of the Reich's Bank (approx. 1 billion marks) and stealing operational and mobilisation-related files from the Command of the 5th Army Corps and giving them to the Ministry of Military Affairs in Warsaw.

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