An Interesting Colorization, with Exotic Firearms!

Here’s a colorized picture of Polish Resistance fighters, in this case, fighting against the Nazi occupation. (Some survivors would fight on against the Soviet occupation for years, but the Soviets, willing to be crueler than the Nazis, defeated them in the end).

polish resisters marina amaralThe troops wear the white over red armband of the Armija Krajowa, Home Army, which under the Geneva Convention marks them as lawful combatants (not that their enemies cared). The man at left carries a Polish Radom VIS vz. 35 pistol, a 9mm that has some Browning DNA and some unique features of its own. The Germans kept it in production (and simplified it) during the war, and like the Czech CZ  27 police pistol, the bulk of production during the pistol’s entire history was Nazi production.

The man at center has a resistance-made submachine gun, the Błyskawica.

We’ve mentioned that SMG in passing before but we’re not sure we’ve gone into depth on it. Ian has, or rather published an article by Leszek Ehrenfeicht, who has. Essentially, Błyskawica was a simple, open-bolt SMG designed by novice gun designers, but trained engineers, Wacław Zawrotny (VAHT-swahv Za-VROT-nee) and Seweryn Wielanier(SEV-er-een Vee-LAN-ee-air). As Leszek recounts, it borrowed features from both Sten (whose barrels and magazines it shared) and MP40 (which inspired the dual action springs and the groove-relieved bolt, as well as the folding stock, although all of those were much simplified in the Polish firearm).

You can quibble with some of Ms Amaral’s color decisions, especially in the men’s camo jackets, but you have to be pleased at the job she has done overall.

Better yet, have a look at how she did it. Here’s a video of Brazilian artist Marina Amaral colorizing it! (Hat tip, the Daily Mail).

If you ever wondered whether all SF weapons men have a sort of mind-meld, as we were preparing this post, Our Traveling Reporter (who has sent in several great things we haven’t had time to post) sent us another link to the same picture.

Here’s what he sent us:

Warsaw insurgents Henryk Ożarek “Henio” (left) holding a Vis wz.35 Pistolet and Tadeusz Przybyszewski “Roma” (right) firing a Błyskawica submachine gun, from “Anna” Company of the “Gustav” Battalion fighting on Kredytowej-Królewska Street. 3 October 1944. The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 — a heroic and tragic 63-day struggle to liberate Warsaw from Nazi/German occupation. Undertaken by the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK), the Polish resistance movement, at the time Allied troops were breaking through the Normandy defences and the Red Army was standing at the line of the Vistula River. Warsaw could have been one of the first European capitals liberated; however, various military and political miscalculations, as well as global politics — played among Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) — turned the dice against it. (www.warsawuprising.com)

According to a Polish-language website about the Uprising, both of the pictured resisters survived the war as captives of the Nazis, beneficiaries of Bór-Komarowski’s negotiated deal (and of the Wehrmacht honoring the deal). “Henio” was a junior lieutenant who survived captivity in Oflag XIB’s “Zweilager” (satellite camp) at Bergen-Belsen [recorded here as a Stalag] to pass on in Warsaw in 1991, and the SMG-firing “Roma,” an enlisted man whom the database records as using the noms de guerre “Topór” and “Przemyski,” survived captivity in Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf and would pass away in Łódź in 1979.  (Oflags were prison camps for officer Prisoners of War, and Stalags were for other-ranks POWs).

The Warsaw Uprising saw considerable casualties — on both sides:

Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass executions. Jews being harboured by Poles were exposed by German house-to-house clearances and mass evictions of entire neighbourhoods. German casualties totalled over 8,000 soldiers killed and missing, and 9,000 wounded. During the urban combat approximately 25% of Warsaw’s buildings were destroyed. Following the surrender of Polish forces, German troops systematically levelled another 35% of the city block by block. Together with earlier damage suffered in the 1939 invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the course of the events in the Eastern Front forced the Germans to abandon the city. (History of the Second World War, B. H. Liddell Hart)

The USAAF, RAF, RSAF and Free Polish Air Force flew several supply missions to the resisters, but the Soviets, who were hoping their former allies, the Nazis, would rid them of these uppity Poles, would not allow allied aircraft to recover in Soviet-held territory.

7 thoughts on “An Interesting Colorization, with Exotic Firearms!

  1. Joe

    Thanks for posting this. I had seen this picture on another website but couldn’t quite ID the subgun. It’s nice to know I correctly identified the Radom pistol.

  2. morokko

    Here is another example of submachine gun made during wartime in clandestine polish workshop. While the Błyskawica was influenced by the sten (and there existed also underground exact copies of that british wonder – named “polsten”), the “Bechowiec 1” was inspired by semiautomatic pistols. The maker – Henryk Strąpoć, born 1922, codename “Mewa” (pol. Seagull ) was member of Peasants Battalions and as a self taught gunsmith ran a workshop repairing firearms recovered after lost September 1939 campaign and also making grenades. At the time Strąpoć, who was blacksmith by trade, reportedly never had a chance to examine real submachine gun – those were almost non existent in pre war polish army ( MORS military smg was a waporware in 1939, and polish police in metropolitan units had only few thompsons and suomis ) and even german police and paramilitary forces occupying rural areas of our country had them in really short supply). Here is the link to english article by Leszek Erenfeicht from forgottenweapons website https://www.forgottenweapons.com/polish-beha-resistance-smg/

  3. Tom Stone

    Here’s to Chet Dey, one of two survivors of a very large Catholic family who walked to Spain in 1939-1940, joined the Free Polish Air Force and flew as a Navigator until the end of the War before coming to the States and becoming an American Citizen.

  4. Steven Johnson

    What was the RSAF?

    Sweden and Switzerland were neutral, and Switzerland doesn’t have a king anyway. Ditto Spain.

    I know we had a lot of co-belligerents in WW2, but whose air force was the RSAF?

    Scotland? No, can’t be.

    Slovenia? Slovakia? Both in Nazi territory and not independent anyway.

    Sicily? Sardinia? No way …

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