Builders find stash of WWII weapons during renovation of historic house
A stash of weapons associated with WWII’s legendary Peasant Battalions (Bataliony Chlopskie) has been uncovered during the restoration of the historic Folk House in the village of Markowa.
The discovery, described as “sensational”, was made in the attic of the building where workers found, among other things, a dozen machine guns and two hand grenades.
Police spokesman Wojciech Gruca said: “Workers from the renovation company found, among other things, 13 machine guns and two grenades in the attic of the building.
“Sappers have been at the site since morning on Friday and are securing the unexploded ordnance.
“They will also check the remaining rooms of the building.”
IPN vice-president Mateusz Szpytma, who comes from Markowa, said: “Sensational! A sizable arsenal of World War II weapons was found in my hometown of Markowa.
“In my opinion, the weapons and ammunition found were probably hidden there in 1946, when local activists, including the peasant Michal Ulma, a former commander of the Peasant Battalions with the nom-de-guerre “Stone”, were rebuilding the Folk House from the damage caused by a fire in 1941.”
The Peasant Battalions were a wartime underground armed organisation of the Polish peasant movement numbering around 170,000 men.
They operated in the General Government and Greater Poland to defend the Polish countryside against German terror and exploitation.
After the Home Army, it was the largest Polish underground armed formation, with 70 partisan detachments and about 400 special detachments carrying out sabotage and combat actions.
Szpytma added that similar arsenals have been found at least twice in Markowa's past.
He said: “On 22 December 1944, in the house of Bronisław Nycz, a Home Army soldier, following a detailed search, five Security Office officers found, among other things, 3,500 German cartridges, 20 grenades, 330 rounds of PPSZ ammunition, 6 magazines for the RKM, 1 magazine for PPSZ machine gun, 96 Soviet rifle cartridges and 3 rocket cartridges.”
The place of the discovery in the Markowa Folk House is a short walk from the home and now museum dedicated to the Ulma family.
Józef and Wiktoria Ulma with seven children were a Polish Catholic family who during the German occupation attempted to rescue Polish Jewish families by hiding them in their own home during the Holocaust.
They and their children were summarily executed on 24 March 1944 for doing so.