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History of Poland 1939–1945
Wachlarz (Polish pronunciation: [ˈvaxlaʂ], folding fan) was a Polish World War II resistance organization formed by the Armia Krajowa for sabotage duties behind the German Eastern Front, outside of the Polish borders. Its commanders were Lt.Col. Jan Włodarkiewicz (until 1942) and Lt.Col. Adam Remigiusz Grocholski
Originally formed in 1941, shortly after the outbreak of the Nazi-Soviet war, the organization was subordinate to Związek Walki Zbrojnej and bore the cryptnonym 18, later changed to 27. The final name, Wachlarz, was a result of the subdivision of the organization onto several branches, each trying to spread its influence from certain portions of the Polish border deep into the Soviet territory. There were five different sectors of Wachlarz, each acting independently and formed along several main supply lines of the German war machine:
- Równedisambiguation needed-Zhytomir-Kiev
- Brześć nad Bugiem-Pińsk-Homel
The main aim of the organization was to prepare reconnaissance, intelligence, sabotage and diversion between the Eastern Front and the pre-war Polish borders, from the Baltic Sea to southern Ukraine. By cutting the supply lines and disruptung troop movement, the organization was to be prepared to cut the German lines during the planned all-national uprising. The aim was to separate the German army from its supply depots and allow for the Polish underground forces to liberate Poland while the Germans in the USSR are crushed both from the east and the west.
Initially the unit was formed of officers of the Tajna Armia Polska organization, incorporated into the ZWZ in 1941. After its formation, the Armia Krajowa took the command over Wachlarz. Although at its height the organization had roughly 1000 highly-trained members, most of whom were trained in commando warfare as the Cichociemni and after 1942 it carried over more than 100 major acts of sabotage, including the destruction of over 30 major supply depots, its effectiveness was seriously hindered by both the Gestapo and the Soviet partisans. The most notable success was cutting all railway lines leading to and from Minsk in May 1942 and a similar action in Brześć in August of the same year. Between December 1942 and February of the following year a large part of the 4th sector was arrested by the Gestapo. They were liberated from the Pińsk prison by a successful action by Jan Piwnik.
Before March 1943 all units of Wachlarz were incorporated into the KeDyw organization.
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