Today, while I was reading yet more research for Scribbler, I ran across mention of this list. Being a curious girl, I looked it up.
In about 1942, the Polish Peasants’ Party distributed a list of ten commandments for those living under occupation and resisting. The list was so popular that it was printed in leaflets and Underground newspapers. Edited slightly for length, here is the complete list:
- Fight stubbornly for Poland’s independence.
- Build up the village organization to weaken German rule and to hearten the weak and temper the vehement.
- Build the organization to support a free and democratic Poland, with a freely elected parliament and an administration called to power by the people, with the peasant class as its foundation.
- Demand a righteous social reform, with the country’s economy based on cooperatives and the nationalization of industries.
- Serve your country honestly. Sabotage the occupiers’ requisitions. As a good Christian, do not permit the exploitation of your brother.
- Be unyielding, cunning, and wise when dealing with the occupiers. Keep your word, defend the nation’s dignity, and keep the organization’s secrets.
- Be merciless to traitors and provocateurs. Condemn servility and social relations with the enemy. Suppress unnecessary prattle and curiosity.
- Choose as your leaders strong and reliable people, generous and ready for any sacrifice. Do not let yourself be demoralized by the war.
- Be inexorable in demanding the most severe punishment of the occupiers for their rapaciousness and spirit of aggression. Demand that they be crushed.
- Have faith. Tell your neighbors that though the war may be long and may require tremendous sacrifices, the day of ultimate victory, of truth and justice will come, that an independent, democratic Poland will be reestablished.
Whenever I run across something like this (okay, track it down like the slightly obsessed writer I am), I always think about the effect words like this would have on their audience. It offers hope. It refers to sacrifice. Really, if I were living under occupation and read this, I’d be ready to go out there and sign up.
I like running across these little pieces of life during the war. The task of encouraging the people not to give up, to keep resisting even when it was hard and no help was coming, must have seemed overwhelming some days. But they kept printing the papers, even at great risk to their lives.