Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Rowecki, Stefan (1895–1944)

Polish army general who worked closely with underground forces in his country during World War II. Born in Piotrkowie Trybunalski, Poland, on 25 December 1895, Stefan Rowecki was an active member in Polish paramilitary organizations. During World War I, he served as a platoon and battalion commander in the 1st Legionary Brigade of the Polish Legions under General Józef Pilsudski and was wounded three times. In 1918, Rowecki accepted a commission in the Polish army and participated in the 1919–1921 Polish-Soviet War. He remained in the army for the rest of the interwar period, eventually attaining the rank of colonel. During this time, he held several key staff positions, including deputy chief of the Scientific Military Institute and chief of the Publishing Department of the army; in the latter post, he published several periodicals, including Street Fighting in 1928.

In June 1939, Rowecki commanded the Warsaw Armored-Motorized Brigade, charged with defense of the middle Vistula, but he could not organize it in time to defend effectively against the German invasion of 1 September. After Warsaw capitulated, he received orders from General Julisz Karol Rommel to lead the Sluzba Zwyciestwu Polski (Service for Victory in Poland, later renamed the Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej, or Union for Armed Struggle, and then the Armia Krajowa, or Home Army, in 1942)—an underground force created by the Polish government-in-exile to disrupt the occupying Germans. Rowecki unified nearly all underground elements in Poland under his Armia Krajowa and developed it into a powerful resistance movement. His successful coordination of sabotage, intelligence gathering, and disruption of German lines of communication and war production earned him the pseudonym "Grot" (Arrowhead) and promotion to brigadier general.

Rowecki kept underground operations sporadic while waiting for the occupying German forces to weaken before launching a full uprising. Gestapo agents arrested him on 30 June 1943, tortured him, and sent him to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He was murdered there on direct orders from Heinrich Himmler on the first day of the Warsaw Rising, 1 August 1944.

Bradford Wineman


Further Reading
Korbonski, Stefan. The Polish Underground State: A Guide to the Underground, 1939–1945. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1981.; Szarota, Tomasz. Stefan Rowecki. Warsaw: Panstewowe Wydawn, 1983.
 

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