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The ‘Grey Ranks’ (Polish:Szare Szeregi)

Article about: For those that are interested in the "Grey Ranks" (Polish Scouts) a new book will be available in June 2010 from SPP-PUMST. It is in Polish. Tucked in the back appendix of this boo

  1. #1

    Default The ‘Grey Ranks’ (Polish:Szare Szeregi)

    For those that are interested in the "Grey Ranks" (Polish Scouts) a new book will be available in June 2010 from SPP-PUMST. It is in Polish.

    Tucked in the back appendix of this book is a poignant 1944 letter from the "Grey Ranks" fighting in occupied Poland to their British scouting counterparts:

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    [A letter from ‘Pasieka’ (Polish Scout Association HQ.) from January of 1944 carried by the courier Jerzy Lerski ‘Jur’, who left Warsaw during the final days of January 1944 and reached London in April 1944. The letter was summarized for representatives of the British Scout Association on the 16th of May 1944.]

    Polish Scout Association HQ transmitted the following assessment of the world scouting movement’s situation by way of the Grey Ranks’ Chief Scout, with whom ‘Jur’ had three successive meetings:

    1. The ‘Grey Ranks’ (Szare Szeregi—Poland’s underground scout association) are conscious of their brotherly scouting ties with the world scouting movement. They believe that the scout associations of different countries form a family brought up on similar scouting principles. All national associations are responsible for the entire international scouting movement.

    2. The Movement emphasises that the educational ideal forming the basis of the Polish association’s activities derives from the law and oath formulated by Baden-Powell. The moral principles of scout training have come into especially sharp focus in the conditions of underground resistance work carried out by the Movement in Poland for almost five years now.

    3. The Polish Scout Association in great concern draws attention to the impending crisis of trust towards the Anglo-Saxon West. The young people of the conquered countries of East-Central Europe, and especially Poland, repose their hopes in Great Britain and the United States. These young people believed in both the truth and honesty of their statements. They believed that the principles of the ‘Atlantic Charter’, as well as President Roosevelt’s policy of the ‘four freedoms’, are universal, yet also essential guidelines for the present war’s aims. The statement concerning the defence of Christian principles of democracy in national and international life, mutual respect and the application of national laws and international justice are the same principles, in whose defence Poland began her solitary struggle against oppression and tyranny on the 1st of September 1939 and continues to do so still, together with the Allies. The recent signs of undoubted opportunism in world politics fill Poland’s young people with dread. The Polish Scout Association asks, therefore, its brothers and sisters, boy scouts and girl guides, whether they are aware of the existence of the dangerous extremes of cynicism. The Western World will thus no longer have the right, nor the ability to educate its future generations in these principles, which have hitherto been the basis of the education of young people. For if we recognise the right of oppression, if tactics and games, opportunism and a lack of moral courage are to defeat truth and justice, it will be impossible to base the future of education on the principles of Christian faith, Western European law and a universal sense of right and justice.

    4. The Polish underground scout association, suffering great and bloody sacrifices on a daily basis, inquires whether indeed the great moral capital, earned by fighting for the principles which were the basis of scout training, is to be squandered once and for all.

    You must understand that people are prepared to endure the greatest torture, they are prepared to die in battle, but they do not want to die in vain: they do not want to believe and will not believe that the struggle they have been conducting has been pointless; that its conclusion is to be the surrender of all that they were brought up in, have come to love and for which so many have already laid down their lives.

    Our generation, the generation of struggle and reared on the scouting principles of service to God, Country and one’s neighbour, is conscious that if the future of the world is to be decided by the strength and tyranny of some and the concomitant weakness and fearfulness of others, then our generation may well be the last which is prepared to fight and die in defence of those principles which form the basis of scout training. Cynical egoism and opportunism will put an end to the scouting movement and life will lose all meaning.

    5. The Scout Association in Poland has learnt of the British scouting associations’ preparations to bring post-war relief to the young people of the occupied countries. These preparations are very important and are proof of the international brotherhood of scouting.

    The Polish Scout Association believes that, despite the great significance of material assistance, its significance is secondary. Speak not and think not of ‘poor Poland’ needing material assistance. We want neither your pity nor your generosity. We are on the front line and a front-line soldier has no inferiority complex, needs no admiration, needs no pity. He simply wants his effort, his work and his struggle to be understood and not to have been in vain. He wants proof that you understand what the Polish Underground Scout Association is fighting for.

    Hence the Scout Association in Poland calls on you to inform the young people of Britain, and above all those in the scouting movement, of our steadfast struggle and of the hopes of Poland’s young people. Our Underground Association sends you the book Kamienie na szaniec [Stones on the Rampart], published in Warsaw in the summer of 1943 with the request that it be translated into English and distributed amongst the young people of Britain. The Chief Scout of the ‘Grey Ranks’ asks the British scouting authorities to take this publication under its patronage and to write a foreword to it."

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    Translation of Polish original from " HARCERZE SZARYCH SZEREGÓW" by JERZY JABRZEMSKI to be published in June 2010 by SPP-PUMST (Studium Polski PodziemnejSPP or The Polish Underground Movement (1939-1945) Study TrustPUMST), London
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    I have attached the cover

    The scouting badges are from the SPP-PUMST collection but are unfortunately not reproduced in the book but it does contain many other Szare Szeregi photographs in B&W. As always the proceeds go to funding the work of SPP-PUMST so they are most welcome of the supporting sales
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    Last edited by StefanM; 05-27-2010 at 07:46 AM.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  2. #2


    I have searched and been unable to find an English-language book about the Szare Szeregi. Is there one available?
    Thank you!

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    Not as such but there was the wartime produced book:

    Stones for the rampart : the story of two lads in the Polish underground movement
    Author: Aleksander Kamiński; Hugh Lyon; Artur Horowicz
    Publisher: London : Polish Boy Scouts' and Girl Guides' Association, 1945
    Series: Polish Boy Scouts' and Girl Guides' Library, vol. 12.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  4. #4


    Thank you, the book doesn't seem to be available anywhere for purchase on the internet but I'll keep a lookout for it. And the movie looks great!


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