Vice News’ German team has a short documentary on the growth of private militias in Poland, non-state groupings that can legally organise and train their memberships in conventional and non-conventional warfare. Euroviews gave a good overview of the phenomenon back in April:
“During the last year, more and more Poles have turned to camouflage clothes and fake guns. They sign up for basic military training in their local paramilitary group.
The phenomenon is not new in Poland. During the Nazi Germans’ occupation, Poland had one of the biggest paramilitary movements in Europe but then the groups became smaller, almost not existent, when the communist rule made it illegal.
However, since 1989 the groups started to pop up again and especially during the recent months, they have gained a lot more attention both from the public and politicians.
In the last year the groups are said to have experienced a significant spike in membership, but how many new members exactly have signed up is difficult to say, as these groups are not required to register anywhere. They are so-called ‘underground movements’ which could give some association to the biggest paramilitary group, the Home Army, during WWII.
According to calculations from International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the number of paramilitary personnel in Poland was 22,050 in 2013, but only in the last two years the number increased to 74,300. According to General Boguslaw Pacek, an advisor to the Polish defence minister, there are about 120 different groups. Pacek has a estimation on 20 of these which is about 10,000 members.”
I first heard of the diverse militias in Poland back in 2010 and I still find their legality somewhat surprising. Of course the British had a legal militia, the UDA, carrying out gun and bomb attacks on behalf of the UK and its territorial and security interests for two decades so maybe such things are not so surprising after all.