1 Reply Latest reply on Nov 23, 2020 11:37 AM by Sylvia Naylor

    Seeking information about Polish Guard Companies

    Grzegorz Rudnicki Newbie

      I am the grandson of the Warsaw Insurgent (1944), Corporal Cadet Zdzisław Rudnicki, fox coat of arms (born on May 5, 1907 in Warsaw, died on December 18, 1979 in Tarnowskie Góry). I am looking for any information about his stay at the Polish Military Center No. 136 in Braunschweig in the years 1945-1946, in the British occupation zone of Germany, where he probably served in the Polish Guard Companies with the American occupation troops. Grandfather was a prisoner of the Stalag XI A POW camp near the villages of Altengrabow and Dörnitz, in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. He was given a prisoner-of-war number 46225.


      In June 1944, he was assigned to the 1st Motorized Cavalry Regiment of the Home Army. On the day of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, i.e. on August 1, he could not reach the main regiment due to the interruption of communication, so he was assigned to platoon 202, 1st officer squad in Żoliborz, and with this unit he participated in the Uprising until its end. Platoon 202 was part of the "Żaglowiec" group, the 2nd District "Żywiciel" (Żoliborz) of the Warsaw District of the Home Army. There, ZR received the pseudonym LIS. On August 7, 1944, he joined the Warsaw Uprising.


      According to a copy of a POW card, confirmed with a seal and signature of M.Sc. second-lieutenant Erwin Rojek, Adjutant of the Polish Military Center in Brunswick, ZR, upon arrival at the camp, had only a civilian coat with him. If he had any documents, they were surely picked up by German soldiers who were carrying out personal searches of POWs arriving at the camp.


      According to the ZR documents, he was not in Stalag XI A all the time. He was also supposed to be sent to work outside the camp. The documents mention a job in a sugar factory in the city of Wegeleben (about 100 km from the camp), also in Saxony-Anhalt. He was to start working in the sugar factory on October 12, 1944, i.e. less than two weeks after arriving at the camp. According to documents, his stay in the camp ended on April 11, 1945.


      On May 3, 1945, a reconnaissance detachment of the 329th US Infantry Regiment was arrived at the camp. A transport consisting of trucks also arrived, the Americans began the immediate evacuation of prisoners of the Western coalition. Despite earlier arrangements made by the "allies" to leave in the camp, among others, Poles, already in the first transport, about 200 soldiers of the Warsaw Uprising went to Magdeburg. On May 4, the Soviets entered the camp. In the evening a red flag began to fly at the camp gate. Perhaps you have some photographic material from the revival of the Stalag XI camp by the American army on May 3, 1945?


      After the liberation of the ZR camp, he was sent, under previously unknown circumstances, to the Military Center No. 136 in Braunschweig [approx. 130 km from the camp], 4th Company, 3rd Platoon. Probably, although it is not entirely certain, at that time (not earlier than May 1945) the ZR joined the Polish Guard Companies, or Polish Guard Forces, called Polish Labor Service.


      In July 1946 he was still in Braunschweig, Germany. I was able to get to the verification documents from the Study of Underground Poland in London. My grandfather's biography, typewritten on July 4, 1946, has also been preserved. This is the last known document written by the United Nations before his return to Poland. However, I do not have data on my grandfather's stay in Braunschweig and any possible participation in the activities of the Polish Guard Companies.


      Three photos of Zdzisław Rudnicki in uniform have survived. These photos were analyzed by Professor Andrzej Suchcic from the Polish Institute and the General Sikorski Museum in London. According to prof. Suchcitz, in one of the photos you can see the uniform of a soldier of the 2nd Polish Corps, but unfortunately it is invisible what is under the Poland badge, and above the marks of the rank of an officer cadet corporal. However, in the next photo there is a border on the sleeve that was not typical of the 2nd Corps, so it could have been some kind of guard company. The uniform was actually a British uniform with the Poland badge and it was worn in the 2nd Corps (also known as the Anders Army), so the British guard companies could also have similar ones. The American ones, on the other hand, were black. In one photo, Z.R. he is without a degree, and in the photo with a friend he already has a degree. It has reportedly happened that different uniforms were worn for the photo session. In Germany, Poles also had their representation in the British zone. It was 1DP and SBS and their troops were on guard duty, their uniforms were also British, but with different patches. The II Corps was basically not in Germany, it was transported to Great Britain from Italy, but some people moved to Italy after the liberation and vice versa, and then someone could end up in a guard company in some occupation zone.


      Do you have any information or a list of soldiers, former Warsaw Insurgents who were in these Guard Companies or any mention of Zdzisław Rudnicki, group photos from Brunswick or Lübeck? Perhaps you have a collection of photos from that period, where there were guard units made up of Polish soldiers, former prisoners of war. If you need to add or explain something, I can help. Thanks in advance for taking on my case.


      Zdzisław Rudnicki ca. 1945-1946

        • Re: Seeking information about Polish Guard Companies
          Sylvia Naylor Scout

          Dear Mr. Rudnicki,


          Thank you for posting your inquiry on History Hub!


          Polish citizens who served with the U.S. Army during World War II and during the occupation of Germany and who were not officially inducted into the American Army were considered civilian employees by the U.S. Government. Official Personnel Files (OPFs) and medical information for individuals who worked for the U.S. government in a civilian capacity prior to 1952 are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). Please contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.gov and include the full name used during Federal employment, date of birth, Social Security Number (if applicable), name and location of the  employing Federal agency, beginning and ending dates of Federal Service. For more information, the web site is https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/archival-programs/civilian-personnel-archival/index.html.


          In addition, there may be rosters of Guard units as well as other types of units employing Poles in the early postwar era at RL-SL. Please contact RL-Sl for assistance.


          Further, we searched the National Archives Catalog for any records on Stalag XI and located 88 file units in various record groups that may be of interest to you. Please note that many of the records have been digitized and may be viewed using the Catalog. For access to non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.


          Lastly, photographs of various U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps activities dating from 1940 to 2007 are in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Still Picture (RDSS). Please contact RDSS via email at stillpix@nara.gov and their web site is https://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/photographs-dc.html.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RL-SL, RDT2, and RDSS. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          For the information about the Polish Military Center No. 136 in Braunschweig during 1945-1946 located in the British occupation zone of Germany, we suggest you contact The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, United Kingdom.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!