The Home Army

The Home Army

Orzel_AK-244x300 Armia Krajowa


The Home Army (Armia Krajowa) was the official name for the Polish Armed Forces of the Polish Underground State operating on the territory of the Polish II Republic which were occupied by the Nazi Germany and the URSS.

It has its roots in the Service for Poland's Victory (Służba Zwycięstwu Polski) founded on September, 27 1939 and the Union of Armed Struggle (Związek Walki Zbrojnej) founded on November, 13 1939. It came into existence on  Feb, 14 1942 upon the order issued by gen.  Władysław Sikorski Commander in Chief Home Army – Armia Krajowa.

It was the most numerous, the longest lasting armed formation which also used the most diverse types of combat in occupied Europe. It was the underground Polish army. What made it so unusual was the fact that its aim was to fight for Poland’s independence above political and party prejudice.

It comprised Home Army (pol. Armia Krajowa) the units of National Military Organisation (Narodowa Organizacja Wojskowa) since 1942, Confederation of the Nation (Konfederacja Narodu) since 1943, a part of National Armed Forces (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne) since 1944, a part of Polish Farmers’ Battalions (Bataliony Chłopskie) since 1943 and People’s Guard (Gwardia Ludowa) since 1940.

Patryk Pleskot – W różnorodności siła. Pluralizm ideowy Armii Krajowej
w: Biuletyn informacyjny AK nr 2 (262) luty 2012, s. 25 – 29


polskie-panstwo-podziemne-300x215 Armia KrajowaIn between 1942-1945 soldiers of the Fighting Poland conducted 110 000 armed and sabotage actions, with 2,3 thousand aiming at transportation targets (1,3 thousand armed trains were derailed).

150 000 German soldiers, collaborationists and policemen were killed.

The Home Army Intelligence found out were was the construction site of V1 and V2 rockets on the Uznam Island.

The contribution of the Polish Intelligence services was described by Wilfred Dunderdale  – „a MI6 liaison officer (1940-1946) who said: “out of 45 770 intelligence reports sent from occupied Europe which were delivered to the Allies, 22 047 (48%) came from the Polish sources(…) Therefore, the Polish agents in Europe must have worked nonstop and despite all the perils that might have fallen over them and their families delivered a great amount of all sorts of data covering different themes.”

„(…) I express my appreciation of the Home Army for the effort made in the last year and I assure you that today we consider it the best organized and most efficient underground army in Europe

gen. Collin Gubbins (SOE) in a letter of May 1, 1943 to gen. Tadeusz Klimecki (Chief of Staff of the Commander-in-Chief)


Occupied Polish state had its government in London and Armed Forces which served within the Allied armies in the West. In the occupied country Polish underground courts would pass judgements which were executed by the Home Army soldiers. All through the war the underground teaching continued up to the university level. In the area of General Government there were ca. 2000 “underground” secondary schools. 10 000 students graduated university up to 1945. More than 1400 press titles were issued during the war not to mention books that were published with great effort. In 1943/44 total number of issued press titles in the underground amounted to ca. 250 000 newspapers and magazines, 65,500 prospectuses and 120 000 leaflets. There were also underground theatres as well as one might have participated in concerts and poetic meetings which were not “approved of” by the Occupants.


Marek Ney-Krwawicz – Fenomen Polskiego Państwa Podziemnego
w: Biuletyn informacyjny AK nr 1 (237)  styczeń 2010, s. 12 – 16


AK-pomnik-266x300 Armia Krajowa

pomnik Armii Krajowej i Polskiego Państwa Podziemnego w Warszawie

In the course of its actions the HA would create special sabotage units: (20-04-1940) Union of Retaliation - Związek Odwetu,  (sierpień 1940) Wachlarz (eng. folding fan), (maj 1942) Organisation for the Special Combat Actions OSAOn Jan,22 1943 Directorate of Diversion of the HA (KEDYW) was founded. It consisted of the Union of Retaliation, Wachlarz, Secret Military Organisation and the battlegroups of the Grey Ranks. In June 1943 the Agat was founded (acronym in Polish: anti-Gestapo) with Adam Borys “Pług” (one of the Silent and Unseen) as the head. In January the unit changed its name for Pegaz (acronym in Polish: against-Gestapo) and in June 1944 for Parasol (Polish word for umbrella).The unit took pride in spectacular actions eg. against Nazi dignitaries such as the assassination of Franz Kutschera (the Butcher of Warsaw).

The Home Army consisted mostly of volunteers and at its peak had 390 000 soldiers! It was bigger than Polish Army in 1939. It was an army without garrison. In 1944 there were 10,800 officers upon its command, most of them professional soldiers. At the command at different levels there were also civilians as with such numbers of soldiers there were many vacancies at the top level.

According to a classified British report as of Nov, 25 1941 there were 121 000 soldiers with 3,800 officers within the structures of the Union of Armed Struggle. Only 35,000 were armed…


Silent and Unseen

Armia_krajowa_struktury-256x300 Armia KrajowaThe Silent and Unseen who were sent to Poland were high level specialists who were trained in intelligence, diversion, sabotage and communications. They would take on responsibility at all levels of the Command, the Head of the HA included.

Polish authorities aimed at restoring independence and reconstructing the country within its borders as they were in August 1939 as well as joining the area if East Prussia, Gdansk, Pomerania and Opole’s region of Silesia to the Polish state.

The strategic objective of the Home Army was organizing a victorious national rising at the ending phase of the war. The tactic objectives included: intelligence, sabotage, diversion and repressive acts against the occupants. The Silent and Unseen were to play a substantial role in the preparation of the national rising in the country! They were to give support as for strategic and tactical objectives of the HA.

Although the Silent and Unseen did not cherish a formal status they have become forerunners of the contemporary special operations forces. Airborne actions that involve trained elite rangers and special forces constitute the key element of all strategies and military doctrines in the world nowadays.



Kazimierz Iranek-Osmecki – Charakter i oblicze polskiego podziemia wojskowego
Londyn 1951 r.  w: Biuletyn informacyjny AK  nr 2 (262) luty 2012, s. 14 – 24


Preparation for the national rising

The idea of a national armed rising that was to supersede the return of the Polish regular army on the Polish territory appeared as early as in November 1939. Gen. Sosnkowski’s Bureau was in charge of this project when the Polish Government operated still in France. The name of the bureau would camouflage the real Command of the Union of Armed Struggle which had gen. Sosnkowski at its Head.

powstanie-powszechne-227x350 Armia Krajowa

„Zasady walki powstańczej”, druk: Tajne Wojskowe Zakłady Wydawnicze KG AK, kwiecień 1943

In the last decade of December 1939 the first internal conference of the Union of Armed Struggle in Paris on the future national rising. Among others Col. Stanisław Sosabowskiwas one of the participants. On Dec, 30th 1939 Cpt. Jan Górski sent to gen. Sosnkowski the first report on creating air bridges with occupied Poland. He prepared a study on “The use of aircrafts for communications and transport to support the rising in Poland. Formation of airborne units ”. As there was no response to that, he sent it again on Jan, 21 1940.

Finally, on Feb, 14 1940 together with Cpt Maciej Kalenkiewicz they submitted a third report. Cpt. Jan Górski underlined that “the main objective of the Polish armed forces in France is the most effective and the most direct military duty for Poland. Airborne actions conducted by Polish soldiers operating in France would be a the best form of the support granted.”

In April 1940 Cpt. Kalenkiewicz worked on „The Plan to support and cover a possible rising in Poland”. In the last decade of April 1940 both capitaines were transferred to the office of gen. Sosnkowski where they were developing plans of airborne missions to support the rising in the country. In May they presented a memorandum on that subject.

On June 29, 1940 when the Command of the Union of Armed Struggle was dissolved, a part of its staff was transferred to the Independent Country Department (Samodzielny Wydział Krajowy) within the structures of the offices of the Commander in Chief. It was named due to security reasons Department VI and then a Special Department of the Commander in Chief’s HQ. On October 10 1940 Władysław Sikorski , the Commander in Chief of the Polish Armed Forces issued an order – L.408/III . The order revolves around the preparation of the Polish Armed Forces to the possibility of being airdropped to the country, to directly support the uprising..

On July, 17th 1940 the British Intelligence MI (R) sent a report to War Office on the short and long-term strategy for cooperation with Poles. It stated that there is a possibility to incite a rising in Poland and recommended a tight cooperation between the British intelligence services and the 2nd Department of the Commander in Chief’s HQ.

In March 1941 Cpt. Jan Górski and Cpt. Cpt. Maciej Kalenkiewicz  submitted a strategic study: Uderzenie powierzchniowe [powietrznodesantowe] jako nowa forma walki zaczepnej.

The HQ of the HA declared in the document entitled: The rules of an insurgent fight” (Zasady walki powstańczej”):

“The rising has to be characterized by a long, precise preparation and a short, sudden, common and simultaneous strike which might prove successful within a few hours of the insurgent night thanks to a daring now-or-never attitude.”


Operational Report no. 54

AK-okregi-250x223 Armia KrajowaThe first plan of a popular rising, known as “Operational Report no. 54” was ciphered and sent to the HQ of the Commander in Chief in Feb 1941. When the report was being prepared Poland was occupied by Nazis and Soviets. When it reached the HQ, Germany attacked the USSR (June, 22 1941). The military cooperation which was initiated then between Great Britain and USSR was the reason why the plans on the popular rising in Poland were impeded and military help for the Home Army limited.

For some time, the Polish HQ was not conscious of the change that happened in the British priorities. To meet the requirements of the planned popular rising, a restructuring of the Polish air forces was prepared. There were plans to create 12 fighter and 4 bomber divisions till the end of 1942.

Orzel-WP-274x300 Armia Krajowa

The Eagle of the Polish Army

A vital part of the plan was to prepare 2-3 battalions of special units. Some of them were to be sent to Poland even before the popular rising. Among them:

  • Mining units to detonate roads, railways and plant explosives to destroy tanks
  • Special assault units to attack and take over airfields and its facilities
  • Partisan units trained in diversion to destroy enemy’s communication facilities and key military objects
  • Communications units to support an effective system to command the insurgent forces.

In the Operational Report no. 54 it is said that at least one paratroopers battalion was to be parachuted in 4 key regions as far as the scope of the rising is concerned. These were areas of the ethnic Polish origin which had well developed conspiracy structure: the area of General Government (without East Galicia), Zagłebie Dąbrowskie (Dąbrowa Górnicza Mine District), former Łodź Voivodship, the western part of the Białystok Voivodship, Płock region and the region of Brześć upon Bug. Taking over the area between Warsaw, Łódź, Cracow, Rzeszów and Lublin was deemed crucial for rising to be successful. At the same time focal points of the battle i.e. key targets were to be seized.


On Dec, 27 1941 Maj. Jan Górski noted in his diary:

“Our Polish plan to face the final battle against Germans was approved twice by the Commander in Chief and signed (orders 408/II ie. 40 oraz 841/III ie. 41.1 ), which meant that all resources were to be allocated for the rising purposes.

The orders above need a substantial effort to be executed. A question of a strategic nature arises which revolves around the choice of a united leadership and the best military forces we dispose of. Looking at the British-American effort the European campaign on the continent will play a most serious role. The way to conduct the above mentioned campaign is covered in the orders above. Till the very day one misses another perspective. Among those who see the solution in the Russian victory (…) there’s a despair that the orders were given but there is a vague idea about the actions”.

Unpublished source:  The family archive of Michał Górski.  We express our thanks for the Family to be so kind as to allow us to publish the above excerpts here.



raport-154-234x300 Armia Krajowa

The first page of a deciphered ‘Report No. 154’. SPP Archive

Operational Report No. 154

After the German aggression on Russia, the HA HQ prepared a modified plan of the rising, known as Operational Report No. 154. It was sent to London in September 1942 and it covered also requirements as for the air support for the possible rising action.

On 26, Feb 1943 the Head of the HQ of the Commander in Chief approved variant no.2 of the Plan for the Aerial Support for the Rising.

In March 1943 the Operational Report No. 154 was deciphered in the HQ of the Commander in Chief. At its basis a presentation was prepared which covered the key aspects of the plan.

After the tragic death of gen. Sikorski the preparations to support the rising from air continued at its pace. They were conducted in cooperation with the leaders of the HA. To the plans of the rising a plan of the reconstruction of the Polish Armed Forced was added.

W 1943, po przełomie stalingradzkim na froncie wschodnim, w sytuacji pogarszania się stosunków radziecko – polskich, w tym wobec ujawnienia w kwietniu 1943 grobów polskich oficerów w Katyniu, kwestionowania granicy wschodniej przez ZSRR, dowództwo AK sygnalizowało potrzebę zmiany koncepcji powstania. Miałoby ono być przeprowadzane strefami, poczynając od wschodu. Wyodrębniono dwie strefy: od Wilna po Lwów oraz na terenach od linii Białystok – Brześć – Bug – San, na których wybuch powstania miał być zależny od wkraczania wojsk sowieckich.

See: Marek Ney-Krwawicz – Organizacja prac nad powstaniem powszechnym w kraju w Sztabie Naczelnego Wodza na obczyźnie. Zarys problemu, Kwartalnik Historyczny, Warszawa 1995 (tom 102, nr 2-3 s. 197-208, ISSN 0023-5903):


Instructions for the country

October 26, 1943 the government of R.P. led by the Commander-in-Chief, adopted the "Instruction for the Country", which envisaged two alternatives for the uprising:

  • The Polish government, after agreeing with the Allies, comes to the conclusion that it is necessary to give the order to the uprising ", its main goal is to" take control of the largest possible area of the Republic of Poland, as a basis for restoring the sovereignty of the Polish State on Polish soil and recreating the Armed Forces in the country "
  • in the event of disagreement with the Allies, in the event of the collapse of the German front, summoning the Country"for increased sabotage and subversive action against Germany. This action, however, is then only of a political-demostational and protective character "„.

In the "Instructions" it was assumed that:

  • in the event of establishing diplomatic relations with the USSR, the government was to reveal the Polish underground administration, recreate the Polish Armed Forces and cooperate with the Soviets. In the case of "restoring (...) the state of unlawful incorporation"in the eastern territories [the incorporation of the whole of Poland was not planned - ed. RMZ] the government was to file a protest "at the United Nations ".„.;
  • in the absence of diplomatic relations with the USSR, the entry of Soviet troops was to be preceded by armed protests against Germany. In the event of Soviet arrests of "representatives of the underground movement" and repressions against Poles, underground organizations had "go to self-defense action".„.

In both of the above-mentioned cases it was stipulated that "active demonstrations [read: armed - ed. RMZ} should be limited to the necessary acts of self-defense ”.

The Instruction "also envisaged a rather surreal variant of the" German-Soviet agreement ", naively recommending -"The National authorities and the Armed Forces in the country go deeper underground, suspend military operations, except for the most necessary acts of self-defense, and await further decisions of the Government, reserving their forces for the final uprising when the Allied Armies approach.„.

It was also noted that "the postulate to transport our parachute troops to Poland may be upheld as right, although it is only a detail that does not significantly affect the conditions for starting the uprising".


The Commander-in-Chief and the Country Manual of October 26, 1943
in: documents of the Staff of the Supreme Commander and the Ministry of Military Affairs / MON
source: Polish Institute and the gen. Sikorski, reference number A.XII.1 / 39 pp. 8-10



Operation Tempest

Akcja-Burza-297x300 Armia KrajowaThe order issued on Nov, 20 1943 by the Commander in Chief of the HA is on the execution of the Operation Tempestwhich meant a military action of the HA against Germans conducted directly before the Red Army marches onto the pre-war Polish territory. According to the order the HA units were to attack German forces in diverse sabotage actions, transportation lines aimed at first. Neither military action against Soviets was allowed unless in self-defense.

The Home Army was to welcome the entering Red Army units according to the above order.“ The local Polish commander together with administrative civil authorities member are asked to reveal themselves at the Soviet forces and respond to their demands”.„.

Operation Tempest lasted since the Red Army crossed the pre-war Polish border on Jan,4 1944 till January 1945. It embraced ca. 100 thousand Polish soldiers and officers. For more information go to Operation Tempest.

1944-lipiec-walki-Lwow-300x227 Armia Krajowa

Battle for Lviv ,1944

Russians would behave according to their politics. Soviet security forces – NKVD and counter-intelligence Smiersh would arrest and disarm Polish troops. Polish soldiers were executed (eg. Rozryszcz, Przebraż, Łozów, Antonówka) or incorporated to Berling’s Army. The HA officers were sent deep into Russia.

Once Vilnus was taken over by Soviets and Poles (ca/ 5,500 HA soldiers), Polish commanders were invited to negotiate. However they were all arrested and sent to the USSR. There was a roundup for soldiers who were sent to the camp in Miedniki and those who opposed being sent to Berling’s Army were deported to the USSR (Kaluga region). Similar beheviour of the NKVD was observed as for the soldiers of the Lviv region. In Lublin area 3 divisions of the HA that were heading for Warsaw together with the Red army were encircled by Soviets and disarmed. The HA soldiers were deported to Siberia with 2,7 00 incarcerated in Majdanek, a former Nazi camp. Paid their price as well the Silent and Unseen

In total, Soviet security forces, mainly NKVD imprisoned in prisons and camps ca. 50 000 HA soldiers who were involved in the Operation TempestCivilians who lived in the Borderlands did not escape the Soviet terror, a dozen thousand were murdered. 35 000 of Vilnus Polish inhabitants were deported.


Warsaw Uprising

Powstanie-Warszawskie-flaga-300x188 Armia KrajowaThe Warsaw Risins was one of the most important events in the modern history of Poland. Warsaw Uprising It started on  Aug, 1 1944 at. 17.oo, and lasted 63 days till, Oct, 2 1944. Polish insurgents were asked to leave the city till October 3, 1944 after midnight ceasefire. Until October 5, 1944, compact insurgent units were leaving the city captive.

The rising covered many of the left river bank districts of Warsaw, a small portion of the right river bank districts, the Kampinos Forest and Legionowo. It involded 50 thousand soldiers of the Home Army (pol. Armia Krajowa)and a few thousand soldiers of NSZ, AL, ZWM, KB, PALforces. 16 000 are declared to have died, 20 000 wounded and 15 000 taken prisoner.

Due to military operations, harsh everyday conditions, mass executions and massacres ca. 150-200 thousand civilians got killed. Ca. 500 – 550 tys. inhabitants of Warsaw and Warsaw area were forced to leave their houses, with 150 000 sent to concentration and labour camps in the Third Reich.

The 25% of the architectural substance of the left river bank Warsaw was demolished as a result of the military actions. Further 30% was destroyed due to planned demolition of the capital of Poland. It all adds up to the total 84% of material losses as for the material substance of Warsaw (left river bank) in the course of war and 65% as for the whole city of Warsaw. According to the report “Wartime losses of Warsaw” issued in 2004 the material losses amounted to ca. 18,2 bn zloty (1939 PLN rate) ie. 45,3 bn dollars (current USD rate).

The Warsaw Rising was one of the greatest and most ferocious urban battles of the WWII. It is often compared to Stalingrad. More information – hereThere were 95 Silent and Unseen, 18 Unseen in the Warsaw Rising, 18 were killed. Till today there are discussions as for the decision to start the Rising.

Once the Rising started the Red Army stopped its march in the Warsaw frontline. The USSR did not offer any help for insurgents. As for the support on behalf of the allies – the US and the UK – it was very limited.


The Commander in Chief of the HA, gen. Stefan Grot-Rowecki was convinced of the malevolent Soviet intentions towards Poland and Poles. He urged they should be opposed before they entered the territory of the 2nd Republic of Poland. Unfortunately such plans were impeded by the approach of the western allies who cared for their interests and were fed by the Soviet propaganda.

Tadeusz M. Płużański - Warsaw Uprising
w: Biuletyn informacyjny AK nr 7-8 (195-196) lipiec – sierpień 2006, s. 9 – 13



Marek Ney-Krwawicz – Armia Krajowa w strukturach Polskiego Państwa Podziemnego
w: Biuletyn informacyjny AK nr 2 (262) luty 2012, s. 7 – 10

The Trial of the Sixteen

proces-szesnastu-300x213 Armia KrajowaA puppet‘Temporary Government’composed by Stalin was approved by the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Since Feb, 1 1945 it installed its administration (calling to office new heads of regions, powiats etc) on the territory that fell in the Soviet hands once the Germans were chased away. In between 4-11 February 1945 the leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition - Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosvelt and Józef Stalin met at a conference in Jalta at the Potocki Palace in Livadia on the Crimea. During this meeting further referred to as the Jalta Conference , the annexation of the Polish lands - Kresy to the USSR was agreed upon. The USSR was to veil upon Poland and 1/3 territory of Germany (Thüringen, Saxony, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg and a part of Pomerania). As the Borderlands were taken over by the USSR, Poland was granted the territory of Lubuskie region, Western Pomerania, East Prussia, Silesia and the Free City of Gdańsk.

On Feb, 13 1945 the Prime Minister of Polish government in Exile Tomasz Arciszewski refuted the Jalta agreements. On Feb, 21 1945 the parliament of the Underground Poland – The Council of National Unityapproved of the Jalta agreements underlining that without participation and approval of the representatives of the Polish State its stipulations inflict severe and harmful conditions onto Poland.At the Jalta Conference the representatives of the world powers decided on the creation of a Temporary Government of National Unity in Warsaw and obliged it to organize free and general elections.

In such an unfavourable political situation the commanders of the HA accepted the Soviet “invitation to talk and meet.” It came out later that it was an operational game set by the NKVD gen. Ivan Sierov who was previously responsible for the Katyn Massacre and Stalinist crimes. The first invitation was sent to a Silent and Unseen gen. Leopold Okulicki who was the last Commander in Chief of the HA and the Head of NIE Organisationat the time. At the meeting on Feb, 21 1945 the Council of National Unity unanimously dissuaded him from accepting the invitation.On March, 4 1945 an initial meeting of the HA delegation with Sierov’s representative, Col. Konstantin Pimienowwas held. According to postwar study he was a counter-intelligence Smiersh officer, the head of the NKVD Operational Group in Radom. He gave his word of honour as for the “pure Soviet intentions”.

Proces_szesnastu_-_tablica_pamiątkowa-300x169 Armia Krajowa

A plaque. The villa where the Sixteen were detained in Pruszków

Meeting with Sierov was to take place on 28 march 1945 at Pęcicka 3 in Pruszków (now Armia Krajowa Street). On March, 27th 1945 the following representatives called up for the meeting: Jan Stanisław Jankowski, the Deputy PM of the Government in Exile, gen. Leopold Okulickithe last Commander in Chief of the HA, one of the Silent and Unseen and the Head of the NIE Organisation; Kazimierz Pużak (PPS „Wolność, Równość, Niepodległość”, the Head of the National Unity Council and Józef Stemler-DąbskiDąbski the Deputy Minister of the Information Department of the Government Delegation For Poland. On the next day they were joined by: Antoni Pajdak (PPS-WRN), Stanisław Jasiukowicz, Kazimierz Kobylański, Zbigniew Stypułkowski and Aleksander Zwierzyński (Stronnictwo Narodowe), Józef Chaciński and Franciszek Urbański  (Stronnictwo Pracy), Adam Bień, Kazimierz Bagiński and Stanisław Mierzwa (Stronnictwo Ludowe) also Eugeniusz Czarnowski and Stanisław Michałowski (Zjednoczenie Demokratyczne). The NKVD arrested all of them and deported to Okęcie airport the next day where they were sent to Moscow on a special flight. They were incarcerated at the NKVD Lubianka Prison.

At the show-trial of the Sixteen (June 18-21 1945) which was conducted contrary to the international law, 12 of them were sentenced and 3 acquitted. Antoni Pajdak was sentenced separately. The western powers accepted the stalinist sentences.

Silent and Unseen, gen. Leopold Okulicki , received the maximum penalty – 10 years of prison. He was incarcerated till December 24 1946 in cell no. 62 at the NKVD’s Lubianka Prison and murdered on that day.


One of the few to have a negative opinion on the trial was George Orwell

„Poles were accused of their fight to preserve the sovereignty of their country, opposing at the same time the puppet government which was imposed on them and staying faithful to the Government in Exile in London which was approved by the World countries apart from the USSR.”


Gen. Leopold Okulicki codename „Niedźwiadek” on trial in Moscow


Zobacz poniżej:  Andrzej Chmielarz – Moskiewski proces przywódców Polskiego Państwa Podziemnego,  biuletyn AK  marzec 2017:



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  • Proces szesnastu – (link do strony)
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Text translated from Polish to English by Aleksandra Duda.
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