SECURING THE BORDERS OF A YOUNG STATE
Rebuilding after the partitions, the Polish state faced the difficult task of securing its borders. As early as October 1918, preliminary steps were taken by establishing the Economic and Military Guard. Its main goal in the first post-war months was to stop the mass export of food products. Due to organizational and logistical difficulties, it failed to cope with the tasks set before it.
This situation forced the authorities of the newly reborn Republic of Poland to rethink the concept of the border protection system. As a result of the work, it was decided to establish a new formation – the Border Guard. When looking for a proper organizational model for it, the solutions applied by the former partitioning states were taken into account. The creators of the Polish border protection system decided to use the knowledge and experience of Polish soldiers and officers serving in the border formations of Austria-Hungary, Russia and Germany. Taking into account the political situation at the time, the unregulated and uncertain fate of Poland’s borders, the Ministry of Military Affairs decided on the Russian model of border protection. Forming border services based on the models of a military organization gave a greater chance of effectively securing the country’s interests in economic as well as politico-military terms.
The first legal act regulating the process of creating a new formation, as well as defining its goals, was the Provisional Decree on the creation of the Border Guard, published in the Journal of Laws on December 18, 1918. Under it, a new border formation was created from the military units delegated to the Ministry of Supply. . The issues of military and sanitary protection were regulated by separate provisions and regulations developed in the same year by the Ministry of Military Affairs in agreement with the Treasury and Provision Ministries.
An inter-ministerial commission appointed for this purpose, attended by the head of the Ministry of Military Affairs, Colonel Wroczyński, Minister of Provision Minkiewicz, representative of the Ministry of Treasury, Dr. Korta, Col. Małyszko, Col. in military matters – the Ministry of Military Affairs, the tasks performed – the Ministry of Supplies. Under the regulations, the formation was financed from the budget of the Ministry of Military Affairs and at any time, depending on the needs of the Supreme Command of the Polish Army, could be used in military actions. In matters of the organizational and full-time structure of the Border Guard, the decisions were made by the Chief of the General Staff …
In the first years of the reborn Polish State, relations on the eastern border were in a state of constant boiling. People demoralized by a long war, heated social and national relations, all this made the service of the formation responsible for border protection extremely difficult. From 1919, the protection of the border was carried out successively by: border gunners until 1920, then sentry battalions, which were transformed into customs battalions, and by 1924 the State Police (the so-called border companies). the scale of the soviet diversion. There were numerous robberies on farms, villages, manors, towns, terror and smuggling flourished, buildings were consumed by fires, and there were even attacks on trains. As Juliusz Ulrych wrote in 1925: “The Soviets took the intention to seize, already in times of peace, the eastern areas of the Commonwealth as their foreground for the fight, where the sphere of influence of the Russian statehood would dominate the sphere of influence of the Commonwealth. Hence the enormous activity of diversion. Preparations for the organization of large-scale communist eggs and conscious support for the hidden in various forms “banditism”. The peak of criminal activity falls in the summer and fall of 1924. At that time, a bandit attack took place on the town of Wiszniew in the Wołożyn district, carried out on the night of 18/19 July by a group of about 30 armed people – including machine guns. During the several-hour raid, the town was completely robbed and the plundered property was taken across the eastern border. During the skirmish, the commander of the district police in Wołożyn was killed. carried out by a detachment of 150 people, consisting of 4 platoons, each of which, in addition to equipment with rifles and grenades, had 3 machine guns. Each attacker had 130 rounds. Several captured bandits testified that they were trained for this purpose in Minsk by Soviet officers Subsequent actions were carried out in Volhynia (…) The robbers with a herd of the best mounts escaped beyond the eastern border with impunity. A bold train robbery was carried out near Lunin, in which Stanisław Downarowicz, the voivode of Polesie, Bishop Łoziński, senator Koniecouch and the commander of the district police were riding. Train passengers were robbed, and the gang leader handed the train manager a receipt signed: “Ataman Trofim Kalinienko, Timkovichy Headquarters, September 24, 1924”. Most of the bandits escaped from the Polish pursuit to the Soviet side, the rest scattered on Polish territory. (…)
THE SOVIET BORDER PROTECTION SERVICE
One of the most important, from the point of view of the interests of the Second Polish Republic, tasks of the Border Forces of the USSR was their intelligence activities. It was concentrated within the Secret-Operational Section, constituting a special department of the Border Forces command, conducting shallow offensive intelligence, counterintelligence, as well as broadly understood activities in the field of public security, whose tasks included the fight against counter-revolution, smuggling, economic crimes and loyalty control. soldiers and local people. Border checkpoints and detention centers were also subordinated to the Secret Operational Section.
One of the most important tasks of the Secret – Operational Section was to control the border zone in Poland in terms of information. This activity consisted in collecting data on PEC units, their location, organization, job structure, mobilization plans as well as supplies and personnel. The section also conducted reconnaissance activities in relation to military units stationed near the border and intelligence activities regarding the entirety of political, economic and social relations in Poland, paying particular attention to the functioning of the administration and police authorities.
The section also conducted an offensive interview. Its purpose was, first of all, to decipher the espionage activity carried out against the USSR by neighboring countries in order to combat it effectively on its own territory, but also to massively demoralize the border population in neighboring countries. In this activity, minority issues, the poverty of the local population and their dissatisfaction with some economic or political measures taken by local and central authorities were used. Thus, attempts were made to prepare a fertile ground for sabotage actions in times of peace and subversive actions during the war, and to make it difficult for intelligence bodies of other countries to recruit agents or associates, while making it easier for themselves to obtain collaborators for the intended activities on the enemy’s territory.
The activities undertaken by the Secret-Operational Section as part of the shallow offensive intelligence understood in this way were carried out in the immediate vicinity of the border, not exceeding a fifty-kilometer wide strip.
In this situation, in the face of increasing banditry and bolder attempts to penetrate the border areas by the Soviet services, in 1924 it was decided to establish the Border Protection Corps …