Polish Forces under Soviet Command (1943-45)
Several hundred thousand Poles did not escape with Anders Army to Iran in 1942.
In April 1943, following the Katyn dispute, the Soviets severed all diplomatic relations with the Polish Government-in-Exile.
At the same time, the Union of Polish Patriots, or ZPP, was created in Moscow. This was a communist puppet government led by Wanda Wasilewska.
In May 1943 the Soviets announced that a Polish Division was to be raised on Soviet soil under Red Army command.
The 1st Kosciuszko Infantry Division would be led by then Lieutenant Colonel Zygmunt Berling.
Polish nationals, deported from Kresy to the USSR and then forced to take Soviet citizenship, were recruited.
The training camp was at Sielce on the River Oka, recruits were given the Polish Army uniforms of 1939 and the oath included swearing brotherhood with the Red Army.
In August 1943 the Division was transformed into the Polish 1st Corps.
Most of the officers were Soviet and mixed throughout our troops were NKVD spies and informants.
The first combat of the Polish 1st Corps in the Eastern Front was in September 1943. It was a disaster with 30% casualties.
The corps continued to grow from liberated Poles who either volunteered or were conscripted into the Red Army.
In March 1944 the Corps became the 1st Polish Army, commanded by General Berling.
The 1st Polish Army fought under Rokossovsky’s 1st Byelorussian Front and in July 1944 they crossed the River Bug.
The Warsaw Uprising began on the 1st August but Stalin ordered the Red Army to halt on the other side of the Vistula.
A 2nd Polish Army took part in the Ukrainian Front operations, pushing southward into Czechoslovakia.
Over 2.5 million men formed the Red Army that pushed through Western Poland in early 1945 – and over 200,000 were Polish.
The 1st Polish Army were part of the Soviet force that successfully took Berlin in May 1945, thus ending WW2.
Over 60,000 Poles lost their lives fighting for the Red Army.
Soldier, First Polish Army (Berling’s Army)