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Northern Group of Forces

Review of the 6th Soviet Guards Vitebsk-Novgorod Mechanised Division, Northern Group of Forces, in Borne Sulinowo, Poland.

The Northern Group of Forces was the military formation of the Soviet Army stationed in Poland from the end of Second World War in 1945 until 1993 when they were withdrawn in the aftermath of the fall of Soviet Union. Although officially considered Polish allies under the Warsaw Pact treaty, they were seen by most Poles as a Soviet occupation force.[1]


  • History 1
  • Structure 2
    • Post War 2.1
    • Mid 1950s 2.2
    • 1980s and Early 1990s 2.3
  • Personnel 3
    • Soviet 3.1
    • Polish 3.2
  • Aftermath 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7
  • Further reading 8


The Soviet forces entered Poland as they were advancing towards Germany in the course of the Red Army Byelorussian Strategic Offensive Operation (Summer 1944). Following the Vistula-Oder offensives (early 1945), the entire Polish territory was cleared from Nazi occupation by Soviet forces. While formal Polish sovereignty was almost immediately restored, the territory of Poland fell under de facto Soviet control as the Soviet military and security forces acted to ensure that Poland would be ruled by the Soviet-installed communist puppet government of Poland.

As the war ended, the structure of the Soviet military was reorganized from a war-time to the peace-time establishment. Directive No. 11097 of 10 June 1945 created several new formations, known as Groups of Forces, equivalent to military districts, but used for command and administration of Soviet forces outside the Soviet Union itself. One of those new formations, at that time 300,000-400,000 strong, was to be stationed in Poland. It was mostly based on the 2nd Belorussian Front of General Konstantin Rokossovsky (formerly stationed around Mecklenburg and Brandenburg).[2][3][4] With the exception of Szczecin (Stettin), which fell under the operational territory of the Western Group of Forces, the Northern Group of Forces was located entirely within the territory of Poland.

The Polish communist government, which largely owed its existence to the Soviets (see Polish Committee of National Liberation, Polish people's referendum, 1946, Polish legislative election, 1947),[1] signed several agreements with the Soviet Union regulating the status and purpose of the Soviet troops.

In the early years, the Soviet forces aided Polish Communists in establishing their government and combating anti-communist and nationalist resistance, such as the Polish war reparations from the former eastern territories of Germany attached to Poland after World War II (the so-called Recovered Territories) to the Soviet Union;[1][5][6][7] those actions, often involving complete stripping down of industrial facilities, sometimes also took place in the traditional Polish territories. This caused tensions between the Soviets and the Polish government, which intended to use the resources of those territories to rebuild Poland.[1][5]

By 1949 the Soviet Union had concluded twenty-year bilateral treaties of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance with Poland and several other countries, which usually granted the Soviet Union rights to a continued military presence on their territory.[8] The Polish government, however, had no operational control over the Soviet forces.[4] On December 17, 1956, as one of the agreements of the [13]

The Northern Group of Forces had several objectives. With the beginning of the [13] Soviet forces were mobilized and actually advanced on Warsaw during Polish October in 1956, and there were threats that they could be similarly used before the martial law in Poland was introduced to stem the progress of the Solidarity movement in 1980.[4] All of the objectives of the Northern Group were shared with the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany in the German Democratic Republic and to a lesser extent with the two Groups with a shorter history: the Central Group of Forces in Czechoslovakia (from 1968 on) and the Southern Group of Forces in Hungary and (only until 1958) Romania.

The presence of Soviet forces on Polish territory caused several problems, in addition to the war reparations issue. Although not supported by the Soviet High Command, excesses by individual soldiers of the Red Army led to mounting tensions between Soviet forces and the Polish population.[14][15] Contemporary archives contained many reports of mugging, burglary, rape and murder attributed to Soviet soldiers in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War;[16] even

  • Północna Grupa Wojsk Armii Radzieckiej w Polsce w latach 1945-1956. Okupant w roli sojusznika, Czasy Nowożytne, t. VI, Wyd. Fundacja „Pomerania” i Fundacja Uniwersytecka KUL, Toruń 1999, p. 37-115
  • Mariusz Lesław Krogulski, Okupacja w imię sojuszu, VON BOROWIECKY, 2001, ISBN 83-87689-40-8

Further reading

  • Group of Soviet Forces in Poland Northern Group of Forces (NGF)
  • Partial order of battle in 1989
  • (Polish) Informacje ogólne związane z pobytem PGWAR w Polsce
  • (Polish) Mirosław Golon, Północna Grupa Wojsk Armii Radzieckiej w Polsce w latach 1945-1956. Okupant w roli sojusznika, 2004, Historicus - Portal Historyczny

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k (Polish) Mirosław Golon, Północna Grupa Wojsk Armii Radzieckiej w Polsce w latach 1945-1956. Okupant w roli sojusznika (Northern Group of Soviet Army Forces in Poland in the years 1945-1956. Occupant in the role of an ally), 2004, Historicus - Portal Historyczny (Historical Portal). An online initiative of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń and Polskie Towarzystwo Historyczne. Last accessed on 30 May 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i (Polish) Wyjście Sowietów, Polityka, 'Rok 1993', 27 stycznia 2007
  3. ^ Craig Crofoot, in a manuscript available at, says that the NGF was established by Order No. 11096 dated 29 May 1945 issued by the Headquarters of the Supreme High Command (Stavka VGK), and took effect on 10 June 1945
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Jerzy Domagała, Bratnia straż, Rzeczpospolita, 28.04.04 Nr 100. Retrieved on 15 June 2008
  5. ^ a b c d e f g (Polish)Drodzy towarzysze. Koszty pobytu Armii Radzieckiej w PRL Polityka. Pomocnik historyczny. Nr 1(6) - nr 4 (2589) z dnia 27-01-2007; s. 15
  8. ^ a b APPENDIX C: THE WARSAW PACT -- Soviet Union. US Library of Congress study.
  9. ^ "The Polish-Soviet Treaty of December 17, 1956 formalized for the first time a situation which had existed in fact since World War II.".
    Nish Jamgotch,Soviet-East European Dialogue: International Relations of a New Type?, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University, Google Print, p.64
  10. ^ David B. Michaels, International Privileges And Immunities: A Case for a Universal Statute, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1971, ISBN 90-247-5126-8, Google Print, p.144
  11. ^ a b c d e f (Polish) Borne Sulinowo - historia (history). Official municipal website of the town.
  12. ^ Jaromír Navrátil, The Prague Spring 1968: a national security archive documents reader, Central European University Press, 1998, ISBN 963-9116-15-7, Google Print, p.533
  13. ^ a b c Group of Soviet Forces in Poland Northern Group of Forces (NGF) at
  14. ^ Norman Davies, God's Playground, a History of Poland, Columbia University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-231-12819-3, Google Print, p.359
  15. ^ Richard C. Raack, Stalin's Drive to the West, 1938-1945: the origins of the Cold War, Stanford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-8047-2415-6, Google Print, p.90
  16. ^ Padraic Kenney, Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945-1950, Cornell University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-8014-3287-1, Google Print, p.155
  17. ^ Norman Davies, God's Playground, a History of Poland, Columbia University Press, 1982, ISBN 0-231-05352-5, Google Print, p.558
  18. ^ Paweł Piotrowski of the Institute of National Remembrance, Wrocław, writes that the report of Polish Secret Police notes that "in certain aspects" the resettlement brought about the associations with the Nazis' forced resettlement of Jews into ghettos; and for a time a rumour spread through Poland that the Soviets were massacring Polish population around Legnica; though no evidence of anyone being killed in the course of it has come to light. See cited article.
  19. ^ a b c d THE CATALOGUE OF ESTATES LEFT BY THE ARMY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION - The investment offer Retrieved on 15 June 2008
  20. ^ Komunikat po Radzie Ministrow - 24.01.1995 (official Polish government estimate from 1995)
  21. ^ International Experience and Expertise in Registration Investigation, Assessment, and Clean-Up of Contaminated Military Sites: Poland by Karl Wolfram Schäfer a.o. Retrieved on 15 June 2008


See also

In 1994 Polish government passed a legislation covering the use of the territories formerly used by the Soviet forces.[19] Most of those territories have been put on sale by the Polish government.[19] Some of the Soviet administered areas were subject to ecological contamination and pollution (by oil products, heavy metals, unexploded ordnance).[4][19][21] They were also damaged by years of disrepair and poor maintenance.[4]

The Red Army was stationed in Poland for 48 years; it is estimated that its stay cost the Polish state 62.6 billion złoty (in 1993 prices, approx. 3.5 billion US dollars, not counting items removed from Polish territory after World War II); however, the Polish government decided to waive any claims to ensure a quicker evacuation of Soviet troops.[4][5][20] The Soviets also claimed that any costs Poland incurred were balanced by the various aid (ex. infrastructure construction) provided over the years by the Soviet troops, as well as by the liberation from the Nazi occupation and later security.[4]


Representatives of Polish People's Army in the matter of stay of Soviet forces in Poland
  • December 1946 - July 1947: colonel Julian Tokarski
  • July 1947 - May 1949: colonel Wojciech Wilkoński
  • May 1949 - 1952: colonel Teodor Kusznierek
  • 1952 - 1957: colonel Jan Kogut
Delegates of Economical Committee of Council of Ministers
Representative of Polish Council of Ministers


Commanders of Northern Group of Forces



The Northern Group had nuclear weapons deployed in at least three bases[2][4] in Poland with some 178 nuclear assets, growing to 250 in the late 1980s.

The Northern Group had its own newspaper, the Znamia Pobiedy (Flag of Victory).

In 1990s, when the Group was preparing for leaving Poland, it had the strength of approximately 56,000 soldiers, with 600 tanks, 400 artillery pieces and 200 planes.[4]

Much later, after many reorganisations and reductions, the 6th Guards Motor Rifle Division and 20th Tank Division were the principal Soviet formations stationed in the Group in the 1980s and early 1990s.

1980s and Early 1990s

By 1955 the force had been reduced to the 18th, 26th, and 27th Rifle Divisions, the 20th Tank Division, and the 26th Mechanised Division - probably numbering no more than 100,000 troops.

Mid 1950s

This large number of formations was quickly reduced as the post war demobilisations took place.

Altogether the Northern Group of Forces had three ground and one air Armies, 4 tank corps (from July 1945 reorganized into tank divisions), 30 rifle divisions, 12 air divisions, 1 cavalry corps and 10 artillery divisions. The formation had a strength of around 300,000-400,000 soldiers stationed in Poland.

In the late 1940s the NGF's forces included:

The Group was headquartered in Legnica, Lower Silesia, where Soviet military took over 1/3 of the city as their extraterritorial enclave (although for six years the operational headquarters was in Świdnica).[2] Other major Soviet military bases were located in Bagicz, Białogard, Brzeg, Borne Sulinowo (one of the two largest), Burzykowo, Chojna, Dębice, Kęszyca Leśna, Kluczewo, Kłomino, Nowa Sól, Oława, Przemków-Trzebień (may refer to the same base as Strachów/Pstrąże), Strachów (now - deserted town shown as Pstrąże on maps), Świdnica, Świętoszów, Świnoujście (military harbor), Szprotawa, Wschowa, Żagań.[4][19] Those bases included 15 airfields, 1 large and 11 smaller ports,[4]

Post War


After the [13] but its military installations were still spread over about 700 square kilometres of Polish territory.[11] After a new treaty in late 1991 and May 1992, and Poland's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet agreed to withdraw military units by 1992 and support units by 1993.[4] Soviet troops begun leaving Poland, with the first group exiting in 1991. All troops left Poland by the end of 1993, the last leaving on 18 September.[2] Symbolically, Polish President Lech Wałęsa saw them off on 17 September, the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939.[2]

[4] On the other hand, Soviet units did also aid the locals with infrastructure projects, harvests, or during environmental disasters.[5][1] often refused to pay for municipal resources it consumed, particularly water, gas or electricity.[4] The Soviet army, which was subject to many financial privileges (reduced taxation, import tariffs, etc.),[4] Approximately 600 Polish citizens died over the years 1945-1993 in crimes or accidents for which the Soviet soldiers were responsible.[4] or by the low flying Soviet jets, training at night.[11] Later, Polish settlements in which Soviet garrisons were placed were inconvenienced in other ways, for example by being removed from all official maps[18]

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