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The Armia Krajowa (the Home Army, literally translated as the Country's Army), abbreviated "AK", was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej (Union for Armed Struggle). Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces. It was loyal to the Polish government in exile and constituted the armed wing of what became known as the "Polish Underground State". Estimates of its membership in 1944 range from 200,000 to 600,000, with the most common number being 400,000; that figure would make it not only the largest Polish underground resistance movement but one of the two largest in Europe during World War II.[a] It was disbanded on January 20, 1945, when Polish territory had been mostly cleared of German forces by the advancing Soviet Red Army. The AK's primary resistance operations were the sabotage of German activities, including transports headed for the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union. The AK also fought several full-scale battles against the Germans, particularly in 1943 and 1944 during Operation Tempest. They tied down significant German forces, diverting much-needed supplies, while trying to support the Soviet military. The most widely known AK operation was the failed Warsaw Uprising. The AK also defended Polish civilians against atrocities committed by non-German military organizations, such as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Lithuanian Security Police. Due to its ties with the Polish government in exile, the Armia Krajowa was viewed by the Soviet Union as a major obstacle to its takeover of the country. There was increasing conflict between AK and Soviet forces both during and after the war. Considered a model of heroic resistance in modern Poland, Armia Krajowa has occasionally been the subject of controversy. It was portrayed more critically in the Soviet Union (which saw the Underground State as an enemy) and some post-Soviet states (primarily Lithuania and Ukraine, where military groups who cooperated with Germans against the Soviets also clashed with the Polish resistance).
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights. In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. Text by Steve Smith.