An attempt to assess information value of the Division II of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces Archives in the context of possible description of military, economic and social situation of USSR in 1921-1939

Archiwa - Kancelarie - Zbiory. 2012;0(3(5)/):55-94 DOI 10.12775/AKZ.2012.002


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Journal Title: Archiwa - Kancelarie - Zbiory

ISSN: 1895-9075 (Print); 2544-5685 (Online)

Publisher: Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń

Society/Institution: Institute of History and Archival Science, NCU in Toruń

LCC Subject Category: Auxiliary sciences of history | Bibliography. Library science. Information resources

Country of publisher: Poland

Language of fulltext: Lithuanian, Belarusian, English, Russian, Slovak, Czech, German, Polish, Ukrainian

Full-text formats available: PDF



Aleksander Smoliński (Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 40 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Virtually throughout the whole period of 1921-1939 the political relations between Poland and USSR could be characterized by far-reaching distrust. This meant that both countries led against each other a large-scale intelligence. Polish armed forces military intelligence was mainly led by Division II of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces. Its aim was to identify and assess, as understood in wider context, Soviet military capabilities, especially the Workers and Peasants Red Army forces, as well as the Soviet communication system and capabilities of the military industry and industry which could have potential of supporting military efforts of the state and its armed forces. No less important task of the officers and employees of the Division II of the General Staff was to protect its own military capability against the Soviet military intelligence penetration. Author of this article undertook the analysis of the quantity, content and information value of the remaining archives of the Division II presently spread across several state archives in Poland, as well as archives abroad. These documents are crucial in understanding the extent and impact of its intelligence activities in years 1921-1939 targeting the USSR. Author's deliberations and conclusions were mainly formulated based on the most significant, most comprehensive and most valuable archival units of that collection currently held in Poland in the Central Military Archives and the New Records Archives, as well as archives of this creator which are part of archival collections in the Russian State Military Archive in Moscow, which also incorporated the former Storage Centre, Historical-Documentary Collection. Author's painstaking study shows, that it is difficult to overestimate the value of Division II archives when conducting research on Soviet threat to Poland in the interwar period. Similar, it is also difficult to assess the Soviet military capabilities at this time, and their various phenomena of economic, social and political nature, which occurred in the former USSR. Therefore, this archival collection may be a significant and valuable source of information for Soviet research. To this day we have preserved many records from different units of the Division II that may be considered very interesting and valuable research material. This material could considerably enhance our understanding of the level of knowledge of the Polish state on matters regarding Soviet Union in the years 1921-1939. From a research point of view, it is important that these documents do not relate exclusively to the military matters, even though dominant, but they provide description of all aspects of political, social and economic life of the country.