The Second Department of Polish General Staff (Polish: Oddział II Sztabu Generalnego Wojska Polskiego, also called Dwojka) was a department of the Polish General Staff in the Second Polish Republic. It was responsible for military intelligence, counterintelligence, cryptography, analysys of foreign military forces and foreign affairs of the Polish Army. It existed from 1918 until 1939.
- Beginnings of military intelligence in the Second Polish Republic
- First Structures
- Expansion of the Department
- Territorial Structure
- Activities in the East
- Activities in the West
- Radio Intelligence
- Cooperation with Other Institutions
- Loss of Archives in September 1939
- Structure of the Second Department in August 1939
- Intelligence Department IIa
- Counter Intelligence Department IIb
- Intelligence Planning Department III
- Studies Department IV
- Cipher and Radio Intelligence Department
- Directors of the Second Department
Beginnings of military intelligence in the Second Polish Republic
First intelligence units were formed soon after the creation of the General Staff of the Polish Army (General Tadeusz Rozwadowski). In mid-October 1918, the Information Department of the General Staff, as it was called, was formed under Major Mieczysław Mackiewicz. It handled both offensive and defensive intelligence services, evidence and military ciphers. Until ca. 1921, Polish military used the word “defensive”, while describing intelligence. Due to various political events, changes in the organizational structure of the General Staff in the early 1920s were frequent.
At first, the Information Department was divided into seven sections:
Expansion of the Department
Following the victory in the Polish–Soviet War, in which Polish intelligence played a significant role, the Information Department was expanded and renamed into the Second Department of the Polish General Staff. It also was restructured, and divided into the following departments: I - Organizational, II - Offensive A, III - Offensive B, IV - Defensive, V - Foreign Propaganda, VI - Home.
During the Polish Soviet War and in the immediate postwar period, the Information Department had a well-developed network of informants and local units, reaching as far as China, Persia, Siberia and Japan. After the war, it was reorganized into peacetime structures:
The territorial structure of the Second Department of the Polish General Staff was divided into Independent Information Offices (Samodzielne Referaty Informacyjne, SRI), outposts, posts, branches. Also, its officers operated in Polish Army garrisons, and outposts of the Border Protection Corps.
Activities in the East
Following Polish–Soviet War, the Second Department formed its outposts in main cities of the Soviet Union: Moscow, Leningrad, Kharkov, Kiev and Tiflis. Furthermore, with support from the Border Protection Corps, it carried out several raids along the Polish–Soviet border, established in 1921. The purpose of these raids was to find information about Soviet military installations, also to enroll agents or informants. In the early 1920s, Polish services managed to convince an ethnic Pole, Bolesław Kontrym, who commanded Red Army’s 28th Rifle Brigade, to change sides. Kontrym crossed the border, and was soon employed by the Polish Police.
Activities in the West
Since 1919, the Department actively operated against Germany, with 30 outposts located there. The most important was the outpost in Berlin, called In.3. It was headed by Jerzy Sosnowski, who came there in the spring of 1926.
In 1924 – 27, Bydgoszcz office of the Department, commanded by Major Marian Steifer, successfully carried out Operation Cart (Operacja Wozek), during which German correspondence between Berlin and East Prussia was controlled.
In April 1939, the Independent Situational Office Germany (Samodzielny Referat Sytuacyjny Niemcy) was formed. This office gathered all kinds of information regarding the Third Reich, presenting daily and weekly reports to the Polish General Staff and the government. Since mid-June 1939, daily meetings took place at the office, with reports sent to Polish Commander-in-chief.
Before the war, radio intelligence was an important source of information. Polish cryptologists managed to break the codes of German Enigma machine. On July 25, 1939 in a forest near Pyry, Polish experts handed a copy of Enigma to French and British specialists in Pyry (see also Biuro Szyfrów).
Cooperation with Other Institutions
The Second Department cooperated with a number of both civilian and military institutions of the Second Polish Republic. Among them were Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Straż Graniczna, Border Protection Corps and others. Since 1932, it also concentrated some of its efforts on industrial espionage, after the formation of Polish Agency of Trade Information.
Loss of Archives in September 1939
During the 1939 Invasion of Poland, the Abwehr was extremely interested in the archives of the Department. As the Germans had failed to capture the documents of Czechoslovak military intelligence (in March 1939 they were transported by air to Britain), Admiral Wilhelm Canaris decided to form small groups of agents, which were attached to the frontline Wehrmacht units. Their task was to immediately seize all kinds of documents. Main group of such agents was commanded by Major Oskar Reile, Abwehr resident in the Free City of Danzig.
In Bydgoszcz, captured by the Germans on September 5, the agents immediately occupied offices of the local branch of the Department, headed by Jan Zychon. They failed to seize any documents, except for the business card of Zychon himself, left on a desk.
Warsaw capitulated on September 28, and a group of Abwehr agents immediately entered the office of the Department, located on Pilsudski Square. After opening over one hundred armoured wardrobes, they only came across a bunch of worthless German documents, such as train schedules, telephone directories, press articles and forms. Soon afterwards, however, one of the German agents, Captain Bulang, decided to check the so-called Legions Fort, located on Zakroczymska Street. To his surprise, he found there the documents of the Bydgoszcz office of the Department. They had been evacuated by Zychon, who abandoned all papers there.
Altogether, the documents filled six trucks. After initial selection and analysis, all were transported to Germany, and soon afterwards, first arrests of Polish agents took place. Most of the agents were beheaded. The analysys of the documents enabled the Germans to expose weaknesses within their own intelligence, and improve the procedures. As Walter Schellenberg later recalled, after the return from Warsaw, where he had taken part in the victory parade (October 5, 1939), he analyzed the captured documents for two days. In his opinion, the quantity and quality of the archives was astounding, especially the information about German war industry, gathered by Polish agents.
With Polish documents in hand, the Germans managed to arrest several agents, including an ethnic Pole, living in Germany, who was a manager in one of the factories. Altogether, over 100 people were arrested, most of them were executed. Among those executed was Paulina Tyszewska, secretary and lover of a high ranking Abwehr officer from Danzig. Another agent, Abwehr Colonel Gunther Rudloff, who had cooperated with Jerzy Sosnowski, committed suicide after arrest.