History of Polish Intelligence Services - 1918–21

1918–21

Immediately upon achieving independence in 1918, Poland established armed forces. Reflecting the influence of the French Military Mission to Poland, the Polish General Staff was divided into divisions entrusted with specific tasks:

  1. Oddział I (Division I) – Organization and mobilization;
  2. Oddział II (Division II) – Intelligence and counterintelligence;
  3. Oddziału III (Division III) – Training and operations;
  4. Oddział IV (Division IV) – Quartermaster.

Division II (colloquially, "Dwójka," "Two") was formed in October 1918, even before Poland had declared her independence. Initially called the "General Staff Information Department," Division II was divided into sections (sekcje):

  • Sekcja I – Reconnaissance and close intelligence;
  • Sekcja II
    • IIa (East) – Offensive intelligence for Bolshevik Russia, Lithuania, the Belarusian People's Republic, Ukraine and Galicia;
    • IIb (West) – Offensive intelligence for Austria, Germany, France and the United Kingdom;
  • Sekcja III – General intelligence and surveillance abroad (East and West);
  • Sekcja IV – Preparation of a front-line bulletin;
  • Sekcja V – Contacts with military and civilian authorities;
  • Sekcja VI – Contacts with attachés in Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Moscow and Kiev;
  • Sekcja VII – Ciphers (i.e., cryptology).

An extensive network of domestic and foreign informants developed rapidly. This was due to Poland's poor economic situation, itself the result of over a century of foreign occupation. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Poland's economic and political situation had forced hundreds of thousands to emigrate. With the advent of Polish independence, many émigrés offered their services to Polish intelligence agencies. Others Poles who had been living in the former Russian Empire and were now making their way home through war-torn Russia, provided priceless intelligence on the logistics, order of battle and status of the parties in the Russian Civil War.

In Western Europe (especially in Germany, France and Belgium) the Polish diaspora often formed the backbone of heavy industry; some one million people of Polish descent lived in the Ruhr Valley alone. Many of these provided intelligence on industrial production and economic conditions.

After the outbreak of the Polish-Soviet War in early 1919, intelligence from the east proved vital to Poland's survival against a far superior enemy. A separate organization was formed within Polish Intelligence, taking over most intelligence duties for the duration of the war. This was a Biuro Wywiadowcze (Intelligence Bureau) comprising seven departments:

  1. Organisation;
  2. Offensive Intelligence "A";
  3. Offensive Intelligence "B";
  4. Offensive Intelligence "C";
  5. Defensive Intelligence;
  6. Internal propaganda;
  7. Counterintelligence.

The fourth department, Offensive Intelligence "C", became the most developed because it carried out all the duties connected with "front-line" reconnaissance and intelligence, as well as "long-range" intelligence and surveillance in countries surrounding Bolshevik Russia, including Siberia (still in the hands of the White Russians), Turkey, Persia, China, Mongolia and Japan.

The third department, Offensive Intelligence "B," controlled an intelligence network in European Russia.

Additional intelligence was obtained from Russian defectors and prisoners of war who crossed the Polish lines in their thousands, especially after the 1920 Battle of Warsaw.

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