Reconstruction and Modern Times

The restructuring of "Łucznik" into two separate companies - civilian and military - was a turning point in the history of the factory. The accompanying bankruptcy put its assets in the hands of a receiver who began selling them to satisfy the claims of creditors. This greatly affected the fate of the sewing machine manufacturing company, which, operating under the name "Aspa Electro," increasingly struggled to stay competitive in the market. As a result, the trademark "Łucznik" was sold to a private investor. Although machines bearing that name continued to be sold, their production became less and less connected to Radom.The fate of the company responsible for production for the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs took a different path. On June 30, 2000, before the declaration of bankruptcy, Zakłady Metalowe "Łucznik" and the Industrial Development Agency formed a company called Fabryka Broni "Łucznik" – Radom. This name was a clear testament to a return to the traditions dating back to the interwar period. Two years later, the company became part of the "Bumar" Group, established by the Council of Ministers, which aimed to rebuild Poland's military potential.The reconstruction process, which involved significant financial investments, was prepared for the long term. For the Radom-based factory, the choice of a location to continue weapon production was a crucial factor determining its success. Although Fabryka Broni purchased historical facilities and land from the receiver in autumn 2004, their continued use became increasingly problematic due to the inability to provide adequate security. This led to the decision to build a completely new facility. In August 2012, the Industrial Development Agency and the "Bumar" Group signed an investment agreement, laying the foundation for the construction in the Tarnobrzeg Special Economic Zone "Euro-Park Wisłosan," which benefited from significant tax incentives. The investment project began in November of that year and was ceremoniously opened on July 1, 2014. With an investment exceeding 100 million PLN, a complex of buildings was created, including production halls, laboratories, and a shooting range, widely regarded as the most modern facility of its kind in Europe. The construction involved the acquisition of a modern machine park and the implementation of new production technologies. This allowed the factory to offer a wide range of products, strengthening its position as a global firearms manufacturer.The foundation of its production remains the wz. 96 "Beryl" carbine and the "Mini Beryl" carbine, which are standard equipment for Polish soldiers. They are produced in Radom in numerous variants, including those with optical, night vision, and collimator sights. These weapons are continuously modified, resulting in the development of the "Beryl" wz. 2004 and the introduction of a version with an adjustable stock, a semi-transparent plastic magazine, ergonomic pistol grip and foregrip, enlarged manipulator levers, and a set of universal mounting rails in 2009. In addition to the Polish Armed Forces, a relatively small quantity of "Beryl" carbines is also used by the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In 2015, Nigeria purchased a batch of 1,000 units.The constant and highly dynamic changes in the battlefield observed worldwide led the government to initiate studies on the future individual combat system called "Tytan" to provide Polish soldiers with the best possible equipment. As part of this initiative, Fabryka Broni "Łucznik" in Radom and the Special Construction Department of the Institute of Armament Technology at the Faculty of Military Mechatronics of the Military University of Technology in Warsaw began developing a construction called MSBS (Modułowy System Broni Strzeleckiej - Modular Small Arms System), which, in the future, is expected to complement and eventually replace the "Beryl." The idea behind the MSBS is to create a carbine in two versions - a traditional one and a bullpup design - with common components including the bolt chamber, barrel, and breech. This entirely Polish design allows for quick configuration changes depending on the soldier's needs, transforming it into a grenade launcher, light machine gun, or a carbine with enhanced accuracy. The competition for a "common" name for the MSBS, conducted in one of the specialized shooting magazines, was won by the proposal "Radon" (sometimes also referred to as "Rawat"). The carbine received very high ratings from users. In 2014, Fabryka Broni in Radom prepared a special extended series of the carbine with a bayonet, which was provided to soldiers of the Representative Battalion of the Polish Armed Forces.In addition to carbines, Fabryka Broni "Łucznik" – Radom also offers two submachine guns - PM-98 and PM-06 - intended for equipping heavy combat vehicle crews, reconnaissance units, as well as counterterrorism and police groups.They are characterized by lightness, reliability in challenging operating conditions, and solutions that allow for the installation of a laser target indicator or halogen flashlight. The PR-15 "Ragun" semi-automatic pistol is a personal weapon designed for soldiers and officers of the State Police, Prison Service, Border Guard, and other formations. It is intended for combat and self-defense at short distances (up to 50 m) and stands out for its low weight, small dimensions, good maneuverability, and a high level of safety. Its effectiveness can be enhanced by adding tactical lighting or a laser target indicator. The standard service weapon for police officers is the P-99 "Walther" semi-automatic pistol, which has also been adopted by uniformed services and personal security personnel. It was designed in Germany and after acquiring the license, it was first assembled and then produced, including a modified version called "Rad," in Radom. It gained recognition thanks to its high level of safety, the ability to quickly fire the first shot, and a large magazine capacity. The PPS pistol also has similar advantages.The range of products from factory is completed by firearms intended exclusively for the civilian market. The first place in this category is occupied by the "Radom-Sport" rifle, which is produced in two versions, featuring a long range and high shooting accuracy. The BRS 00 FX kit, which uses paint-filled projectiles instead of live ammunition, is also intended for training and sports purposes.The described offer of the Radom plant has established its position as a well-established global firearms manufacturer for a long time. Its financial condition is improving year by year, which translates into an increase in employment. The most significant manifestation of the expansion of the Radom Weapons Factory was the establishment of a company in the United States, which aims to sell its products on the American civilian market and potentially supply the military and law enforcement agencies. The results of these efforts will certainly be evident in the near future.Dr. Sebastian Piątkowski

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In the fight for survival

The political, economic, and social transformations that began in Poland with the so-called Round Table Agreements and parliamentary elections held in June 1989 completely changed the life of our country. Along with clearly positive phenomena, they brought a number of negatives, among which the following stood out: a rise in unemployment, widespread impoverishment, and the radicalization of social moods. Tragic fate befell many state-owned industrial plants, including the Radom-based "Walter," which were unable to cope with the realities of the market economy. Despite the first indications in 1987 that the economic situation of the plant was not the best, they were treated as temporary difficulties. The problems concerned low-quality raw materials, unreliability of cooperators, and, especially, a constant shortage of foreign currencies to purchase necessary parts. The real collapse occurred two years later, due to rampant inflation, growing unemployment, and mass impoverishment of society. The need to spend increasing amounts of money on food led to a drastic decline in interest from buyers in luxury items, including sewing and writing machines. The average Polish family simply became too poor to afford such an expense. As a result, the products of the Radom-based plant piled up in stores, unable to find buyers. Simultaneously, the ongoing disintegration of the Soviet Union and the changes taking place in its satellite states meant that "Walter" permanently lost many markets where it had been present for many years.Many people living in Radom, especially those employed in the discussed plant, believed that it would continue to function as a producer of both military and civilian equipment. After the removal of Eng. Andrzej Korbecki from the position of the CEO in 1990, it became increasingly common to believe that civilian production had to be taken over by civilian companies. The specter of unemployment led to a mass exodus of the workforce. In 1990 alone, over 2,100 people said goodbye to their jobs here, of which as many as 1,800 decided to take early retirement. Among them were many excellent professionals with extensive experience. The symbol of the end of an era was the deprivation of the plant's long-time patron, Gen. Karol Świerczewski "Walter." Since November 1990, it started operating under the official name "Łucznik" Metal Works in Radom.The pessimistic moods deepened even further when the plant management, looking for savings, began to divest itself of investments that had recently been a pride of the city but were now seen as unnecessary ballast. The Plant Cultural Center was liquidated, and its building was sold. Funding for the "Broń" Club was denied, and social activities for the workforce were minimized. Although the money thus saved allowed the plant to survive, it could not affect the policies of the state authorities, who drastically reduced orders for the "Tantal," "Glauberyt," and "Wanad" firearms. Although they constituted standard equipment of the Polish Army, many politicians of the time were fascinated by the idea of Poland joining NATO. The expected necessity of adapting Polish weapons to NATO ammunition, coupled with the belief that there was no point in supporting domestic industry since the army's entire demand could be met through imports, resulted in a complete denial of the idea of the country's defense, which had been shaped by the authorities of the Second Polish Republic in the interwar period. This was accompanied by an embargo on arms trade with Iraq, Libya, and Yugoslavia due to the wars and support for terrorism, countries that had recently been important recipients of Radom products.The series of events that brought Radom into the headlines of newspapers across Europe during this period was the so-called rifle affair. It began at the end of 1991 when the finalization of the sale of 40,000 AKMS rifles, intended for a customer in the Philippines, commenced. However, the deputy director of "Łucznik," Eng. Rajmund Szwonder, who piloted this venture with full knowledge and acceptance of the state authorities, was arrested on German territory. It turned out that the offer to purchase weapons was a provocation by American intelligence agencies, and the Poles were accused of intending to sell the rifles produced in Radom to a customer in Iraq. The detainees were placed in a deportation center and were to be transported to the United States to stand trial there. In Radom, these events were unequivocally considered a German-American operation aimed at destroying a competitor in the arms trade. Although there were expectations of a sharp reaction from Polish diplomatic services to the unlawful actions of the allies, nothing of the sort happened. In this situation, a special committee was established in Radom, which began to raise funds, inform the international public about the whole affair, and organize protests in front of the US and German embassies in Warsaw. These actions contributed to the release of the director, who was welcomed with applause at the Okęcie airport in March 1993. For many people, the events confirmed rumors that Radom would never produce weapons again and that the survival of the plant could only be ensured through civilian production.Since 1989, the management of "Łucznik" has made dramatic attempts to expand the sales of products from the Radom plant in Poland, where trade, including industrial goods, shifted to bazaars and open-air markets. Although special companies were established to boost sales, they did not achieve significant success. It was rightly predicted that the era of typewriters was coming to an end as they would soon be completely replaced by computers. In this situation, the future of civilian production was seen only in sewing machines. However, the implementation and introduction of new models proved to be very difficult. Cooperation with the German company "Dürkopp-Adler," the Belarusian concern "Planar," and the Ukrainian association "Pismasz" ended in failure. While machines from Radom continued to be exported to the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Canada, as well as exotic countries like Laos, Venezuela, Indonesia, and Thailand, the scale of this sales was too small to sustain the plant.Another interesting attempt to acquire new customers in the civilian market was the production of the "Radom-Hunter" hunting rifle, which was a civilian version of the AKM rifle. Despite its attractive appearance and modern features, it did not gain the approval of hunters due to its loud trigger (which frightened game) and its rapid rate of fire, making it impractical for hunting (many considered the use of such weapons during hunts unethical).The consequence of these events was an uncertain future and rapidly increasing indebtedness of the plant. A completely new chapter in its history was supposed to be opened at the turn of 1993 and 1994 with its transformation into a single-shareholder company owned by the State Treasury. The operation aimed to eliminate debt, find investors, modernize production technologies and machinery, and municipalize the "Broń" stadium, two kindergartens, and several residential buildings. However, independent factors related to the political crisis in the country prevented the restructuring from taking place. In October 1994, "Łucznik" officially became a joint-stock company and was removed from the register of state enterprises.In the midst of deepening stagnation, the next attempt to shape the future of "Łucznik" was made only in 1995. A new plan for the company was developed, but this time it was not a restructuring plan but a rescue plan. It involved dividing the company into 16 small, independent commercial law companies, each focusing on a relatively narrow sphere of activity or production. However, this plan was also not implemented. In the following years, the plant languished, reducing employment and increasing its debt. It is worth noting that work on new weapon designs continued. They proved to be an asset that yielded results in the following decades.It was only in 1999 that the Polish Parliament (Sejm) passed the long-awaited Act on the Restructuring of the Country's Defense Industrial Potential. Based on this act, the Radom plant implemented long-prepared procedures. The foundation of these procedures was the official separation of the plant into two companies, each dealing with separate spheres of production. The first one was the "Łucznik" Metal Works in Radom, exclusively producing firearms. It entered the 21st century with a wide and attractive range of products, with the main position being occupied by the "Beryl" wz. 96 assault rifle. It was designed to be compatible with additional equipment such as scopes, night vision devices, and laser pointers. The design also allowed for launching various types of detachable grenades, including anti-tank, incendiary, smoke, and illumination grenades, at distances up to 300 meters. Its modification for special reconnaissance units and heavy equipment crews was the "Mini Beryl" automatic carbine.The second important product of "Łucznik" was the "Glauberyt" wz. 98 "Para" submachine gun, which was a modified version of the wz. 84 firearm. The modifications were based on user feedback. The Radom plant also offered three pistols. The most important of them was the "Mag" wz. 95, 98, and 98c. It was easy to operate and disassemble for cleaning and maintenance. Unfortunately, it did not win the competition to become the standard firearm for Polish soldiers. The P-83 "Wanad" pistol also received high ratings from users and was considered a self-defense weapon for close combat. Its modification (P-83G) was designed for gas cartridges and had a special attachment for firing signal rockets. Additionally, the P-99 pistol, developed in cooperation with the company "Walther," met all German requirements for a police pistol.The second company established as part of the mentioned restructuring was the officially established "Łucznik" Sewing Machine Works in June 1999. Its product range included several models of sewing machines and a pressing station, intended for tailoring and laundry companies. The company operated its own store in Warsaw and had a network of authorized resellers. Within a year, it was able to sell approximately 25,000 machines in Poland and export 40,000 more, primarily to Germany. Although these numbers may seem large, they placed production on the brink of profitability.To ensure the efficient functioning and production continuity of both mentioned companies, several additional service companies using the name "Łucznik" were established. These included the mechanical works in Zwolen, the foundry, as well as the tooling and repair service.The final step of the restructuring process, enabling the reduction of the huge debt amounting to 168 million PLN, was the bankruptcy of the plant. It was declared on November 13, 2000. This day marked the end of the "Łucznik" history in the form that had made it one of the most important employers in Radom for decades and a significant contributor to the broader history of the city.Dr. Sebastian Piątkowski

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The Power and Its Decline

In December 1970, after the massacre of workers on the coast, a team led by Edward Gierek came to power in the country. He introduced a policy based on accelerating the country's economic development and significantly raising the living standards of its inhabitants. In addition to wage increases, increased housing construction, and the "freezing" of prices for food and industrial goods at a low, artificially set level, there was also noticeable openness of the Polish industry to the Western world - the purchase of licenses and efforts to increase the export of its own products. Although official propaganda claimed that the country's economic development was based on its own profits, in reality, a significant portion of it was financed by loans from the West. The need to repay these loans led to a gigantic economic crisis and social protests, culminating in the emergence of "Solidarity." A completely new chapter in the country's history was opened when martial law was introduced in December 1981. Almost the entire following decade was shaped by its realities.All these transformations, presented in a nutshell, had an impact on the functioning of "Walter." In the early 1970s, it entered a period of very serious investments. They included the construction of a galvanizing plant, a phosphating plant, forging facilities, a precision casting foundry, finished goods warehouses, as well as two new factories - a typewriter factory (later also a sewing machine factory) in the Gołębiów district of Radom and a branch plant in Zwolen. From 1971 to 1975, production was expanded and modernized, the machine economy was organized, and a number of devices were purchased. The forced incorporation of the plant into the "Predom" Household Equipment Industry Union had relatively little significance for its operation. As a result of this move, in May 1972, it received a new name: "Predom-Lucznik" Metal Works named after Gen. Walter in Radom. Two years earlier, a change was made in the position of the director, with the role being entrusted to Engineer Marian Błoński. During martial law, in the autumn of 1982, another name change was introduced: "Lucznik" Metal Works named after Gen. Walter in Radom. Three years later, Engineer Andrzej Korbecki was appointed as the CEO.Similar to previous decades, the functioning of "Walter" was based on the production of weapons. The Radom plant specialized in one model, namely the AKM assault rifle, which was a modernized version of the basic "Kalashnikov." Design changes in Radom included the trigger mechanism and the use of a new bayonet, marked with the symbol 6H4. As we know, "Walter" produced standard AKMs with a wooden stock and AKMS carbines with a folding metal stock. There is no precise data available on the scale of this production, except for very general statements that its peak occurred in 1978-1979.The designers from "Walter" also actively participated in the "Tantal" project, which aimed to create a Polish, improved version of the AKM. After a period of suspension, the project was resumed in 1981. Despite the use of interesting solutions, the initial reviews of the weapon were negative, primarily due to its large dimensions. After design changes, including the shortening of the bolt chamber and adapting the weapon to standard AKM magazines, the "Tantal" entered serial production. The PM-84 submachine gun, known as the "Glauberyt," had much more success. Development work on it began in the 1970s in three separate design teams. Their goal was to create a weapon that would replace the increasingly outdated "Rak" submachine gun. In this competition, the team consisting of engineers from Radom - Ryszard Chełmicki, Janusz Chętkiewicz, and Stanisław Brix - emerged as the winners, defeating, among others, the designers from the Military Institute of Armament Technology in Zielonka. They developed a weapon intended for armored vehicle crews, reconnaissance units, special services, and the police. What was completely new was that the "Glauberyt" was made from thermally treated sheet metal. After relatively short tests, this pistol was included in the armament of the People's Army of Poland. The engineers from "Walter," Ryszard Chełmicki and Marian Gryszkiewicz, also achieved great success in constructing the P-83 "Wanad" pistol, which was an improved version of the widely used "Czak" pistol in the military and other uniformed services. In the 1980s, it was introduced as standard equipment in the military and uniformed services.Although the scale of production of individual types of weapons is unknown, official documents stated that from 1979 to 1983, the Radom plant produced 80,000 units of weapons annually. In addition to this, special products were produced in short series for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the maritime rescue services - tear gas launchers, smoke candles, and rescue ropes.Similar to previous years, military production was accompanied by civilian production. It was focused on two groups of products - sewing machines and typewriters. The production of sewing machines was an area where the employees of the Radom plant already had extensive experience. In the early 1970s, the work of the designers was based on systematically modernizing the "Lucznik" machines and introducing new models to the market. However, the real breakthrough for the plant came with the signing of a licensing and cooperation agreement with the American company "Singer" in 1973. "Singer" was one of the world's most renowned sewing machine manufacturers. The agreement, valid for several years, allowed for the production of at least two models of "Singer" machines in Radom and their free sale worldwide. To meet the requirements of this production, a completely new, modern production facility was built from scratch in the Gołębiów district. The adopted assumptions envisioned an annual production of 520,000 machines there. "Singer" machines were almost exclusively directed for export to Western countries, while "Lucznik" machines were for the domestic market and so-called countries of people's democracy.At the same time, the management of the plant decided to open a branch in Zwolen, located thirty kilometers away from Radom, and also build a new plant there from scratch. Initially, the plan was to produce only simple sewing machine parts, but over time and with the increasing qualifications of the staff, the product range was expanded. The production of "Łucznik" and "Singer" machines brought both widespread recognition and significant financial profits to the Radom plant. By the late 1970s, the annual production volume reached 260,000 and 140,000 units for both types respectively. Despite the challenges posed by the growing economic crisis in the country, the production was maintained at a high level. Machines from Radom were exported to Belgium, France, the United States, and even distant countries such as Japan, Jamaica, Togo, and Senegal.In the early 1970s, a new category of products, typewriters, was added to the "Walter" offer. Their production was based on a licensing agreement with the Swedish company "Facit." Based on this agreement, the "Łucznik" typewriter model 660 was developed and subsequently produced in three variants. The favorable location and modern equipment of the plant in Gołębiów allowed for the production of 32,000 "Łucznik" typewriters in Radom in 1973, which became a standard piece of equipment in Polish offices. As the only place in Poland where typewriters were manufactured, their production steadily grew, reaching around 30,000 units annually. The product range was expanded to include portable typewriters and modern electric machines. Over time, in the 1980s, typewriter production was almost exclusively focused on exports. They were exported to nearly 40 countries, primarily in the Arab world, with fonts adapted to local alphabets.In addition to sewing machines and typewriters, the "Walter" plant also produced electric presses, pneumatic components, and for a period of time, gas and electric stoves. The production of pneumatic firearms, intended for civilian markets, also played a significant role. The production of sport rifles was maintained at a level of 12,000 units per year, with exports to Sweden, Norway, Canada, and Australia. However, due to the inability to break into global markets with their products, plans for mass production of hunting weapons were abandoned.The expansion of the plant in the early 1970s led to an increase in the workforce. Although there is no certainty, it is estimated that the number of employees reached approximately 12,000 men and women. However, the ongoing mechanization and modernization of technological processes resulted in a reduction in the workforce to around 10,000 employees by the mid-1970s.Repressions following the events of the "Radom June" had a significant impact on the workforce's situation at the "Walter" plant. On the morning of June 25, 1976, in response to the previous evening's televised speech by the Prime Minister announcing radical increases in food prices, the women employed at the plant did not show up for the first shift. Soon, the strike spread throughout the entire plant, and the management was unable to calm the crowd. After some time, the workers left the factory halls and headed to the headquarters of the Provincial Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR). They were joined by employees from other companies who also participated in the protest. After several hours of waiting for a decision from Warsaw regarding the withdrawal of price increases, the crowd stormed the committee building. The building, from which the red flag was torn down, was set on fire. Demonstrators took control of the city center, where numerous criminal acts, including looting and theft of attractive goods from stores, took place. In the afternoon, the protest was pacified by the authorities, but many participants faced brutal repressions. The "health paths" became a symbol of these repressions, as detainees were forced to pass through lines of militia functionaries who would strike each of the demonstrators dozens of times with rubber batons. Numerous employees of "Walter" who participated in the protest faced trials and disciplinary dismissals. Although the scale of these dismissals remains unknown to this day, it is widely believed that around 940 people, including 360 employed in metalworking plants, lost their jobs in Radom. They were issued a "wolf ticket," effectively preventing them from finding employment in any other state-owned enterprise. It is noteworthy that when "Solidarity" established a rehabilitation committee in the plant in 1981, as many as 1,500 employees who had experienced repression after the June protest came forward.The economic crisis that became apparent to the public in 1980 and continued to escalate had a very negative impact on the "Walter" workforce. Cases of abandoning work became increasingly common, with even highly experienced workers leaving to work in private craft workshops and other companies. This was mainly due to relatively low wages. These phenomena, combined with the retirement of the oldest members of the workforce, led to a serious labor shortage in the plant. For example, in 1983, over 1,200 employees left under various circumstances, while the number of newly hired employees was less than 1,000. This problem could not be overcome, and even in 1988, there were nearly 400 vacant positions waiting for applicants that could not be filled. In this situation, the management of "Walter" tried to encourage employees to stay and take up work through social initiatives. Efforts were made to allocate housing for the staff, as well as support individual construction projects. The employees of the plant and their families enjoyed exceptional privileges in Radom, such as access to comprehensive and professional medical care, as well as numerous opportunities for recreational and holiday activities. Similarly, to previous decades, several social organizations operated within "Walter" during this period, with the most popular including the League of Defense of the Country, the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society, and the Club of Honorary Blood Donors. The activities of the Plant Cultural Center, which housed the "Łucznik" Song and Dance Ensemble, renowned throughout the country and beyond, as well as the highly awarded "Zarys" Art Photography Club, garnered widespread recognition. Many people also took an interest in the activities of the "Broń" Radom Workers' Sports Club, for which a sports hall on Narutowicza Street was built despite numerous difficulties. The club achieved its greatest successes in boxing, track cycling, and football. Another characteristic of "Broń" was the development of table tennis, which was becoming increasingly popular in the country and was exceptional in the region. Additionally, the Radom Shooting Sports Club "Walter," established in 1976, represented high standards.

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Leading Plant in the Country

In 1950, Poland began implementing the 6-Year Plan, developed by communist economists. It aimed to rapidly and extensively industrialize the country on the model of the Soviet Union, primarily focusing on the expansion of heavy and metal industries. The plan predicted that industrial production in Poland would increase by at least 85% over six years, and agricultural production by at least 35%. The construction of the Nowa Huta metallurgical complex became a symbol of the plan itself and the ambitious actions undertaken by the communist authorities. Although the Radom factory was not among the primary plants included in the plan, the authorities decided on its expansion. The opening of a new chapter was emphasized by a change in the factory's name. Starting from December 31, 1951, it operated as the General Walter Metal Works in Radom, under the supervision of the Ministry of Heavy Industry (previously overseen by the Ministry of Industry and Trade). This was accompanied by significant personnel changes. The previous director, Marian Poniatowski, who had made significant contributions to the post-war reconstruction of the plant, decided to focus on scientific work. He was succeeded by other engineers, who changed after short periods. The situation stabilized in 1953 when the position of CEO was assumed by engineer Kazimierz Jackowski. As the future would reveal, he would hold this position for the next few decades until engineer Marian Sopa took over as the director of "Walter" in 1966.According to official data, from 1951 to 1954, "Walter" received approximately 250 million PLN for expansion. The majority of these funds were allocated for the construction of new factory halls and the purchase of new machinery and equipment. This significantly strengthened the plant's production potential. As we know today, within the framework of these arrangements, it was intended to become the largest producer of weapons in the country, supplying not only the People's Polish Army but also the armies of the so-called People's Democracies. Against this backdrop, the production of the "Mosin" wz. 44 rifles began in Radom at the end of 1949. This was a Soviet weapon that had been introduced into mass use in the Red Army towards the end of World War II. The data available in documents—although the precision is unknown—indicate that the plant was capable of producing 30,000 units of this rifle annually. In the following year, the Radom plant started production of the complete "Pepesza" (previously only barrels were manufactured), which continued to be popular among soldiers and uniformed services. Although the potential scale of its production was 25,000 units per year, the "Pepesza" was already considered an outdated weapon. It was replaced by the PPS submachine gun, produced in Radom since 1951. In 1952, the production of the DP light machine gun, colloquially known as the "Degtyaryov," began at "Walter," with a production volume of 2,500 units per year. In the same year, the DT version of this machine gun, intended for tank installation, also started production. After some time, in 1955, the production of an improved version of this machine gun, designated as the DTM, began.It is generally accepted that the peak of weapon production at the Radom "Walter" plant occurred between 1950 and 1953. To this day, no statistical data on the number of rifles produced are known. The weapons produced in Radom, which accounted for nearly 70% of the plant's global production, were counted annually in tens of thousands of units. However, after a period of enormous prosperity, a noticeable crisis arose as the "Mosin" rifles and PSS pistols gradually phased out of army equipment. The prospect of severely reducing military production put the future of the plant in question. The turning point came in 1955 when the so-called People's Democracies formed the Warsaw Pact, an official military alliance. It was understood that complete standardization of military equipment and reliance on the AK-47 rifle, popularly known as the "Kalashnikov," would be the foundation of this alliance. The first units of this weapon (with wooden and folding metal stocks) left the "Walter" warehouses in 1957. According to the available documents, while 20,300 units of this rifle were planned for production in that year, the production volume was expected to reach nearly 120,000 units in 1958, and 200,000 units in 1960, remaining at that level in subsequent years.Focusing on mass production of "Kalashnikovs" did not mean that the production of other types of weapons was abandoned at "Walter". For a relatively short period, from 1958 to 1962, a modified version of the "Degtyaryov" light machine gun was produced in the halls of the Radom plant, followed by the RPD wz. 44 light machine gun, known in the People's Polish Army as a light machine gum (RKM) model “D”.Its projected scale for the Radom plant included 1,500 units in 1957 and a systematic increase to 5,500 units in 1960. Documents from the late 1960s at "Walter" also mention plans to produce the Soviet ZU-2 machine gun (better known as KPW) for anti-armored vehicle combat, as well as a modified version for anti-aircraft use. Production was scheduled to start in 1958, initially with 200 units per year, and increase to 900 units within the following two years.Although "Walter" primarily produced Soviet weapons, the plant's excellent reputation within the country was demonstrated by the fact that it was chosen to implement projects for new pistols developed by Polish designers. These included the "Vir" wz. 57 pistol (prepared by the team of Prof. Piotr Wilniewczyc and Eng. Stanisław Rojek) and a pistol designed by Eng. Ryszard Białostocki. However, none of them entered mass production. In contrast, implementation work on the P-64 pistol, popularly known as the "Czak," progressed differently. It was developed by a team of designers from the Small Arms Division of the Central Artillery Testing Ground in Zielonka. It became the first post-war Polish pistol produced in series and gained the status of the official service weapon for uniformed services, replacing the old Soviet "TT" in the process. Serial production of the P-64 pistol began in Radom in 1964, but its exact scale remains unknown.At the same time, the "non-catalog production" of the Radom plant expanded to include another type of weapon: the PM-63 "Rak" submachine gun, developed by a team of specialists from the Warsaw University of Technology led by Prof. Piotr Wilniewczyc. Production of the "Rak" most likely began in Radom in 1965.Military production was accompanied by civilian production, based on sewing machines. At a certain point, it became a priority for the plant and was developed by a team of designers led by Eng. Bogusław Białczak. Starting in 1957, the "Łucznik" sewing machines were produced in Radom in numerous models, intended for both industrial plants and private customers. Continuously improved, they achieved enormous market success. In total, between 1954 and 1960, 38,300 industrial machines, 574,600 household straight-stitch machines, and 11,900 household zigzag machines were produced in Radom. A significant portion of these machines was sold outside of Poland. In 1960, the Machine Design Center for Sewing Machines was established in Radom, as a recognition of the competence of "Walter" employees. Soon, Radom's "Łucznik" became one of the world's largest sewing machine manufacturers. By 1969, the annual value of their production exceeded 560 million PLN, with domestic sales of household machines contributing 520 million PLN. By that year, it was revealed that over the past two decades, the plant had produced 2 million machines, with nearly half of them exported. In addition to the People's Democracies (Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, etc.), they were exported to countries such as West Germany, Greece, Turkey, Chile, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, and even in small batches to the United States and Canada."Walter" also gained recognition for other products aimed at civilian consumers, including wrench sets, automotive parts, simple welding machines, refrigeration compressors, door locks, and "Łucznik" padlocks, which were sold domestically and exported to Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, and Egypt, among other countries. Single-shot sporting rifles also found numerous buyers within and beyond the country's borders.The increase in production was accompanied by an increase in employment. In 1966, "Walter" employed over 9,800 people, including 5,400 production workers, 2,600 auxiliary workers, 250 service workers, 1,200 engineering and technical staff, and 400 administrative office staff. Efforts to enhance the qualifications of the workforce led to the establishment of a technical school for working individuals in 1961, followed by a vocational school for juveniles (with specialties including lathe operator, miller, and fitter) and a vocational school for working individuals in the subsequent years. The plant suffered from a significant shortage of engineering personnel. Efforts were made to build the workforce by maintaining regular contact with technical universities and supporting the development of the Higher Engineering School in Radom, with the hope that the institution would educate subsequent generations of workers for the local industry.Another attraction to retain employees and strengthen their connection to the workplace was the social care provided by the plant's management, strongly supported by the state and party authorities. Efforts were made to secure as many housing units as possible, and childcare centers and kindergartens were developed. The plant organized recreational colonies and employee leisure activities, eventually building its own recreational base. The workforce was also systematically affiliated with the party. Numerous social organizations operated within the plant, including the Club of Honorary Blood Donors and the Association of Engineers and Technicians, Mechanics Division (in the 1960s, its members built and donated a heart resuscitation device to the Radom hospital). Many employees became involved with the Cultural Center of the Metal Works, established in 1952, which hosted theater, dance, recitation, and variety groups, a brass band, and several children's ensembles. The plant also published its own biweekly magazine called "Życie Załogi" (The Life of the Staff).Sport remained an important sphere of the plant's life. In 1956, a decision was made to revert the "Stal" club back to its pre-war name, "Broń," and expand and professionalize its sports activities to some extent. The most renowned section of "Broń" was the boxing team, with Kazimierz Paździor as the unquestionable star. He won the European Championship title in 1957 and the gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Other successful disciplines included track and field cycling, soccer, competitive shooting, and tennis.Dr. Sebastian Piątkowski

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Rebuilding Time

On January 16, 1945, after relatively short but intense fighting, Radom was occupied by the Red Army. Almost immediately after the end of the battles, members of the special Operational Group of the Ministry of Heavy Industry arrived in the city. Their task was to secure the property of local industrial plants and, in the long run, also participate in their reconstruction. On January 21, 1945, they organized a meeting in one of the residential blocks on Poniatowski Street, attended by former employees of the factory as well as representatives of military and civilian authorities. It was decided to establish a committee for the reconstruction of the Armament Factory and appoint engineer Marian Poniatowski as its director.Presumably, the next day, the members of the new management and their colleagues carried out an inspection of the factory premises. All of them were empty and devastated. Mines, explosives, and unexploded ordnance were scattered in many places, which were later cleared by sappers. However, the complete lack of machinery and equipment made it impossible to start any production. The factory's machine park began to be restored by confiscating machines and engines from private workshops and factories, which were useful for resuming the production cycle. The Radom plant was also supported by the loan of a certain amount of machinery and equipment from the ammunition factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna.However, the future existence of the arms factory was conditioned by the reclamation of its equipment from Germany, which had been taken to the headquarters of the "Steyr" concern and subsequently relocated to other locations. The work in this field started relatively late, in the spring of 1946, a year after the end of the war. It turned out that at least part of the Radom machine park ended up in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria, where thousands of prisoners were used for forced labor in the German armaments industry, including the "Steyr-Deimler-Puch" concern. Director Poniatowski and his colleagues delegated two labor crews for the transport of the machines. Thanks to the selflessness of the people involved and numerous bribes given to the occupying Russians in Austria, around 1,000 machines and equipment were successfully brought back to Radom during the reclamation operation, which took place from August 1946 to April 1947. Although this was only a modest part of the factory's machine park (the estimated number of machine tools at the Armament Factory in Radom at the time of the German evacuation was around 3,500), it provided hope for the future. However, the equipment was severely damaged, and significant investments were required to restore it to full functionality.Although official publications on the history of the factory (which operated for a long time under the name "Fabryka Broni in Radomiu" and, from September 15, 1948, under the name "Zjednoczone Zakłady Wyrobów Metalowych. Zakład Nr 1 w Radomiu") stated that it engaged exclusively in civilian production in the early post-war years, this is not true. Already in 1946, the production of the Soviet TT pistol, popularly known as the "Tetetka," became the basis of its activity. This pistol was the standard equipment of Red Army officers and Polish People's Army officers serving alongside them. In the same year, about 1,200 sets of "Tetetka" parts were manufactured in Radom using machines found and confiscated in the city, as well as machines borrowed from Skarżysko-Kamienna. Assembly of 360 pistols was also carried out. In 1946, Radom also produced nearly 300 barrels for the PPS-34 submachine gun, known as the "Pepesza." Military production based on pistols, submachine gun barrels, and spare parts continued in the following years. In 1948, it was expanded to include the production of signal pistols. At the same time, efforts were made to develop civilian production, primarily focusing on manufacturing spindles for textile machinery. This enabled an increase in employment, which reached 600 workers in 1946, nearly 2,000 in 1948, and around 4,000 in 1949.The cooperation of the Radom plant with the textile industry, considered strategic and crucial for the country's reconstruction, resulted in an extraordinary achievement in those days - the preparation of the production of the first Polish sewing machine. Without any foreign licenses, thanks to the efforts of the factory employees, production of the "Łucznik" LZ3 machine began in late 1948. It was not intended for private consumers but for clothing industry plants. The entire construction was prepared in Radom, including a special table, while the drive motors came from the factories in Bielsko-Biała. These machines were successfully produced until 1952.The early post-war years also brought efforts to involve workers in political life. Due to pre-war and occupation sympathies, the attitude of the workforce towards communist ideology was very reluctant. In 1949, only 400 factory workers, less than 10 percent of the total, belonged to the Polish United Workers' Party. To build sympathy for the leftist authorities, the factory management provided social care for the workers. The establishment of the factory clinic became an important event for the whole of Radom. In 1947, a kindergarten for workers' children was organized in a barrack on Traugutta Street, and a nursery on 1905-go Roku Street, which was later moved to a building on Kościuszki Street. Similarly to the interwar period, the management also sought to promote the cultural development of the workers and their families. Therefore, a club was established in the building of the former casino, which was transformed into the "Gen. Walter Metal Works Workers' Club" in 1948. Dance, recitation, and music groups were formed, and the brass band was reactivated. Several social organizations also found their headquarters in the club, including the revived sports club "Broń" (following the orders of the ministerial authorities, it changed its name to "Stal" in 1947), focusing on competition with teams from other metal industry plants.Dr. Sebastian Piątkowski

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War and Occupation

The aggression of Nazi Germany against Poland, which began on September 1, 1939, came as a great surprise to the people of Radom, including the workers of the Arms Factory. Prior to the outbreak of war, preparations were made to protect the factory from aerial attacks, as it was known that aviation would play a significant role in the conflict. Two anti-aircraft gun platoons with Bofors 40 mm guns were stationed on the factory premises, likely operated by specially trained employees. Many members of the staff, including officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers of the Polish Army, were issued mobilization cards instructing them to join their respective military units. This significantly disrupted the previous plans for the factory to continue operating at full capacity in support of the Polish army.While the factory operated relatively normally during the first days of the war, the increasing German air raids over Radom and reports from the areas affected by fighting indicated that the situation for Poles was deteriorating. The turning point likely came on September 4, 1939, when orders were received to evacuate the Arms Factory personnel to the right bank of the Vistula River, considered a stronghold where the aggressor could be halted. The factory workers were to make their way to the Lublin region and then proceed further east, ultimately reaching Łuck, the capital of the Wołyń Voivodeship, where they were to await further developments. It is presumed that the evacuation of the factory was led by engineer Kazimierz Ołdakowski. The exact number of workers who followed the evacuation procedures is unknown, but it is estimated to have been a group of several hundred people, primarily composed of members of the management, engineering staff, and foremen from various departments. Due to the impossibility of transporting machines and tools with the workers, they were left behind in Radom. However, the workers likely took some documents, including the technical documentation for rifles and pistols, with them. On September 5, 1939, the evacuation column crossed the bridge in Dęblin and continued deeper into the Lublin region. The anti-aircraft guns were also removed from the factory, leaving it completely defenseless. In Radom, a selected group of employees remained behind to guard the premises against fire and theft.On September 6, 1939, Radom was engulfed in what is known as the "evacuation panic," resulting in the factory buildings no longer being protected in any way. It is likely that the following day, the Germans bombed the factory, completely destroying, among other things, the machinery for stock processing. Theft, perpetrated by criminals, also caused significant losses. The stolen items primarily included office equipment, curtains and drapes, small furniture, metal components, and stored wood. Bicycles and pistols were also popular targets for thieves. When German forces entered Radom on September 8, 1939, the factory had been severely devastated and looted.Although it was uncertain whether the Germans would resume the factory's operations under the occupation, a decision on this matter was made quickly. It should be noted that the Mauser rifle remained the primary weapon of the German infantry, and the "Vis" pistol was also highly regarded by the Germans. German soldiers also used bicycles, which were also utilized by the Polish army. It was decided that the Steyr-Daimler-Puch joint-stock company based in Leipzig would take over the management of the factory. From that point on, the employees sent from Germany worked closely with the German command. As a result, the Arms Factory in Radom (Waffenfabrik in Radom) resumed production in the first weeks of 1940, reemploying a significant number of pre-war workers. However, the situation was different for the engineering and technical staff, as they were primarily replaced by newcomers from the Third Reich. The attempt to convince engineer Kazimierz Ołdakowski to return to work at the factory failed. When the Gestapo officers appeared at his Warsaw apartment in early 1940, he committed suicide by jumping out of the window.According to sources, the employment level of Polish workers in the factory was stabilized at around 3,500 people in 1940. As time went on, the military authorities demanded the continuous increase in production, necessitating the recruitment of new workers. In an effort to minimize costs, the factory resorted to using Jewish forced labor, obtained initially from the ghetto and later held in a camp built near the factory. According to data from the autumn of 1943, the factory workforce comprised just under 3,400 Poles, 1,100 Jews, 60 Germans, and 80 ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche).The production of rifles and pistols for the Wehrmacht and allied armies constituted the most important and extensive part of the factory's operations. In terms of weapon types, the production was identical to what the factory had supplied to the Polish Army before the war. The main role was played by the Mauser rifle. The factory produced almost all of the nearly 60 metal components of the rifle. The exception was barrels and stocks, which were manufactured in Germany, with final assembly taking place at the Steyr factory in Oberdonau. The same arrangement applied to the "Vis" pistol. Its production was resumed in Radom by the Germans, who manufactured almost all of the parts except for the barrels. The decision by the occupiers to adopt this approach was motivated by the fear that if complete firearms were produced in Poland, the resistance would seize the parts for their own clandestine assembly.The production of rifle and pistol components was highly efficient. For example, in late 1941, the factory produced 15,000 sets of rifle parts and 5,400 sets of "Vis" pistol parts per month. By autumn 1943, the monthly production levels were expected to stabilize at 21,000 sets of rifle parts and 10,500 sets of "Vis" pistol parts. The Germans also started the production of "Steyr" pistols in Radom. Additionally, the factory manufactured bicycles for the German army and established large workshops for the repair of mechanical vehicles.Significant production achievements were possible due to the policy of constant terror applied to the Polish workforce. Among the industrial plants operating in occupied Radom, the Arms Factory was notorious for subjecting its workers to the most difficult conditions. Every employee of the factory faced continuous harassment, insults, and abuse, as well as severe beatings. Any misconduct or even repeated tardiness could be deemed sabotage, leading to imprisonment in concentration camps. The Arms Factory in Radom also became a place of martyrdom for individuals of Jewish origin. In 1942, a forced labor commando was established in the Radom ghetto, and the surviving prisoners were subsequently placed in a labor camp constructed near the factory. In January 1944, this camp became a branch of the Majdanek concentration camp. The prisoners were forced to work on the production of weapons in two shifts, working 12 hours a day for 6 days a week. The German supervisors subjected them to violence, including severe beatings and even killings. The prisoners in the Jewish camp at the factory existed until the summer of 1944 when they were transferred to Auschwitz and then to forced labor camps in Germany.Many Polish workers at the factory became involved in underground activities, including the theft of rifle and pistol componentsThis was possible, among other things, by hiding a significant number of barrels for the "Vis" pistols in September 1939, which allowed for the assembly of complete pistols from stolen parts. The system of acquiring weapons, established by the soldiers of the Union of Armed Struggle - Home Army, worked almost perfectly for a long time. Unfortunately, on September 19, 1942, a group of conspirators intending to execute a death sentence on a Gestapo informant clashed with a patrol of the German gendarmerie at the railway station in Rożki. Two "Vis" pistols, stolen from the factory, fell into the hands of the Germans. As a result, the Germans conducted mass arrests in Radom, deciding to execute 50 individuals by hanging them at various locations in the city. On October 14, 1942, one of the gallows was set up on the lawn in front of the main building of the Arms Factory (from the side of Ciepła Street), where fifteen men were executed, including eleven employees of the factory. Many of their colleagues also perished in other executions, while others died in concentration camps. The sacrifice made by the factory's staff for their patriotic stance was significant.The Arms Factory in Radom operated under the discussed occupation conditions until the summer months of 1944. The arrival of the Eastern Front to the Vistula line prompted the Germans to initiate extensive evacuation efforts, primarily targeting entities involved in the war machinery. As a result, the Radom factory was completely devastated and stripped of its assets. Equipment was taken from the factory and loaded onto approximately 500 trucks and 480 railway wagons. The stolen items included the entire laboratory and technical equipment, all machining tools (estimated at around 3,500), raw materials, and the dismantled electrical, water supply, sewage, and foundry networks from the buildings. Consequently, the factory entered the post-war period in a state of complete ruin.Dr. Sebastian Piątkowski.

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Peak of Development

In May 1926, a coup d'état took place in Poland. Marshal Józef Piłsudski and officers of the Polish Army took power. This event had a tremendous impact on the functioning of the entire country, the army, and its support system, including the arms factories. In that same year, the decision was made to liquidate the Central Directorate of Military Factories, establishing in its place a holding company called the State Armament Works in Warsaw, which included the Radom plant, already known as the State Arms Factory in Radom (later officially shortened to Radom Arms Factory). This coincided with the implementation of regulations regarding the commercialization of state-owned industrial, commercial, and mining enterprises, giving them legal personality and allowing them to operate in the market similarly to private firms. These legislative changes also led to personnel changes. As a result, the first two builders of the factory, Engineer Andrzej Dowkontt and Lieutenant Colonel Stanisław Siczek, left their directorial positions, and on April 1, 1927, Engineer Kazimierz Ołdakowski became the new director of the Radom factory. Ołdakowski was a highly qualified specialist with extensive professional experience. As the future would show, he would lead the factory for the next several years until the outbreak of World War II. When Engineer Ołdakowski assumed the position of director, the Radom factory practically had all the buildings needed for production tasks. Since there was no need to construct new facilities, the focus was on expanding the accompanying infrastructure. Efforts were systematically made to remove temporary wooden structures from the factory area, and in the second half of the 1930s, additional work was carried out to protect the factory from potential enemy air operations. However, more significant challenges were associated with the directives from the military authorities, which required an increase in arms production. In the second half of the 1930s, the factory underwent several simulations of a wartime mode of operation, involving round-the-clock work at full production capacity. These exercises revealed many problems, particularly related to the cramped conditions of numerous buildings and their limited capacity. Consequently, the management developed plans to relocate some production departments in order to create larger usable areas. There were also plans for the construction of new facilities, such as a hall for bicycle production, a main office building with a spacious gas shelter, and a second shooting range. However, the outbreak of war most likely disrupted the finalization of these investments. The process of expansion and proper utilization of the factory buildings was accompanied by efforts to strengthen the machinery inventory. The State Armament Works had financial resources, including funds obtained through credit taken by the Polish authorities in France. These resources were used to purchase modern machines and equipment, especially lathes and machining tools. These purchases were made not only in Poland but also in France, Germany, Sweden, and the United States, primarily focusing on machine tools, grinders, broaching machines, furnaces, and a ten-ton strength-testing machine. Although these acquisitions significantly enhanced the factory's potential, they did not solve the serious issues concerning the machinery inventory. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, it was estimated that out of the 2,300 various machines and equipment owned by the factory, as many as 800 required immediate major repairs. The intensive use of machinery was linked to the development of both military and civilian production. In the early years of the factory's operation, the production was focused on the "Mauser" wz. 98 rifle, the primary weapon of the Polish infantry soldier. In 1928 alone, Radom produced 54,600 units of this rifle. Although the Radom "Mausers" were more expensive than those produced in the Rifle Factory in Warsaw, the Radom factory had a significant advantage that strengthened its position in the Polish arms market. They also produced bayonets for the "Mausers," which, besides Radom, were only manufactured in the "Perkun" factories in Krakow. When the factory's production stabilized and became smooth, surprising news reached Radom in 1931. The Ministry of Military Affairs decided to completely abandon the production of the "Mauser" wz. 98 rifle, replacing it with a modified version, the "Mauser" wz. 29. Although the need to modify the production process incurred significant costs, it came with a substantial compensation. By ministerial decision, the Radom Arms Factory became the sole producer of rifles for the Polish Army. This monopoly ensured that the production of "Mausers" – often referred to simply as "Radom rifles" by the soldiers – remained at a high level in the following years. In 1933, production reached 35,000 units, and in the record-breaking year of 1937, it reached as many as 65,200 units. The production of long firearms in Radom was significantly enriched in the mid-1930s. Once again, changes in tactical assumptions for infantry operations were made in the Polish Army's command circles. The concept of fighting at a considerable distance was reintroduced, requiring rifles with a greater range than those previously used. Thus, the simplest solution was chosen: the production of the old "Mauser" wz. 98 rifles, known from the period of World War I, was resumed after minor modifications and designated as the 98a. In 1936, the Radom Arms Factory produced 15,500 of these rifles, and in 1937, the number increased to 19,000.In addition to rifles of the "Mauser" system, the Radom factory also made significant contributions to the country with the production of handguns. In the early 1930s, they began producing a modified version of the Belgian revolver, the "Nagant" wz. 95, which was very popular in pre-revolutionary Russia and known there as the "Nagan". This revolver was issued to the state police and postal guards. However, the most famous handgun produced exclusively at the Radom Arms Factory during the interwar period was the 9mm "Vis" pistol. It was designed by engineers Piotr Wilniewczyc and Jan Skrzypiński, based on the American Colt M1911 pistol. The "Vis" stood out for its excellent proportions, accuracy, and reliability. Even today, it is considered by some experts to be one of the best pistols in military history. Shortly after the decision in 1935 that it would become the standard personal weapon for Polish Army officers, its production was set at 1,000 units per month. The overall contribution of the Radom Arms Factory to the armament of the Polish Army during the interwar period is impressive. According to Wojciech Nalberski's estimates, it is believed to be around 470,000 "Mauser" rifles and carbines, as well as over 30,000 "Vis" pistols. This includes additional production such as bayonets, ammunition pouches, belts, cleaning rods, gas cartridge pistols, etc. It is also worth noting that in Radom, experimental series of weapons developed by Polish designers were prepared but never entered mass production, including the pressure rifle, "Budzyński carbine," and the "Kuczyński carbine."In addition to military production, the civilian production sector was of great importance to the Radom factory. It mainly involved bicycles, which were in high demand in interwar Poland. After purchasing production documentation from two French companies in 1929 (as a basis for creating their own models), it was decided that the bicycles produced by the Radom Arms Factory would be named "Łucznik" (Archer), using a graphic symbol depicting a man shooting a bow, inspired by a watercolor painting by artist Władysław Skoczylas. It soon became evident that Radom's "Łucznik" bicycles achieved enormous success, not only on the Polish market but also worldwide. This is evidenced by the scale of their production, which reached over 5,800 units in 1931 and a remarkable 19,000 units in 1938. The factory produced bicycles in several models, including tricycles for children, two variants for teenagers, women's and men's touring bicycles, as well as road bikes, semi-racing bikes, sport bikes (known as "kolarki"), track bikes, mountain bikes, and military bikes. In addition to the domestic market, they were also exported to China, Chile, Brazil, Syria, Palestine, and India. The reputation of the "Łucznik" bicycles was confirmed by the awards they received at industrial exhibitions, such as the Great Gold Medal at the General National Exhibition in Warsaw in 1929 and the Gold Medal and "Grand Prix" award at the 3rd International Exhibition in Brussels in 1930.Aside from bicycles, the civilian production of the Radom factory also included other products, such as hunting shotguns, motorcycle handlebars for the "Sokół" brand, as well as numerous machines and equipment such as milling machines, grinders, revolvers, reamers, and drop hammers. The development of high-quality production was only possible thanks to a large and highly skilled workforce. In the early 1930s, the factory employed 2,500 people, and shortly before the outbreak of war, it had around 3,000 employees, including nearly 600 women. Obtaining a job there was a dream come true for many people for several reasons, the key one being the high wages. Employees with high qualifications were able to support themselves, their non-working spouses, and children at a good standard of living with their salaries alone. In economically troubled Radom, where unemployment was high, the factory workers' situation was the subject of widespread envy and built a living legend around the factory that still exists to this day. Furthermore, Director Ołdakowski and his colleagues consistently provided support and care for the expanding workforce. This included a range of initiatives that allowed employees and their families to make use of their free time and develop various interests and hobbies. A significant portion of the employees lived in the factory housing estate, which still exists today, albeit expanded, as the "Planty" Housing Estate.The worker apartments located there had an average area of 50 square meters and were equipped with running water, sewage systems, electricity, and gas. Since a significant portion of the workforce consisted of single men, the majority of the apartments were single-room units called "bachelor flat." Each unit consisted of a room, kitchen, alcove, pantry, and a separate toilet. Due to space-saving considerations (in order to accommodate as many workers as possible), many of the apartments did not have bathrooms. Instead, a factory bathhouse was built on the housing estate, which was available not only to the factory employees but also to their families. The streets of the housing estate were lined with trees and shrubs, with flowerbeds adding to the aesthetic appeal.The factory management's concern for the welfare of workers' children led to the establishment of a nursery school on the ground floor of one of the houses in the Planty estate. The nursery school provided care for 180 girls and boys. Additionally, in 1927, through collaboration between Director Ołdakowski and the school administration, the most modern primary school in Radom was built on a plot owned by the factory on Szkolna Street. The school was named after the tragically deceased President of Poland, Gabriel Narutowicz, and primarily enrolled the children of factory workers. Another significant investment made by the factory was the construction of spacious buildings for the State Technical Secondary School located at the intersection of Narutowicza and Kościuszki Streets. Within a short period, it gained a reputation as a well-equipped educational institution with a high level of teaching. According to the established plan, a significant number of its graduates were expected to form the new generation of the factory's staff. Students from not only Radom but also the most talented pupils from central Poland and even more distant areas were eager to attend the school.The coordination of social activities within the factory was entrusted to the Cultural and Educational Circle of the Radom Arms Factory, which was probably established in 1926. On November 11, 1931, it received a new headquarters - the building known as the gaming house located on Kościuszki Street. The building housed a theater and cinema hall, a gymnasium; several lecture halls, a library, a reading room, and a dining hall. The cultural and educational circle’s various sections, as well as other social organizations among the factory workers, found comfortable spaces within the building. Over the following years until September 1939, the workers' club of the arms factory remained one of the most important cultural venues in Radom. It hosted artistic events, lectures, presentations, and shows not only for the factory employees but also for the city residents who eagerly took advantage of the circle's offerings and the organizations based in the building. Among these organizations, the factory branch of the Polish Red Cross (PCK) stood out significantly. As membership in the PCK was mandatory for all factory employees, over 70% of PCK members in Radom and the Radom County were employed at the arms factory. It is worth noting that the director, Kazimierz Ołdakowski, was the only factory director to head a company organization. The members of the circle focused their efforts on organizing general rescue and chemical rescue courses, which led to the formation of well-trained, uniformed, and equipped rescue teams.Another mandatory organization for factory employees was the League of Air Defense and Antigas Protection (LOPP). Its factory branch had been operating since at least 1932, providing training on the neutralization of chemical attacks. In the same year, it established a meteorological station, likely the first in Radom's history. The LOPP members also made a significant contribution to the construction of an airport in Sadków near Radom. The arms factory employees were the first to actively promote not only the theory but also the practice of aviation sports. Through membership fees, grants from other social organizations, and the support of the factory management, they were able to purchase a training glider called "Wrona" and train their own instructor. However, the acquisition of the glider was not the end of the expenses, as it required the purchase of a car (used to tow the glider during takeoff) and the establishment of a repair workshop. Despite these challenges, the first flight of the LOPP factory branch's glider took place in April 1934 in Sadków. The factory's social and cultural life also involved collaboration with the Radom branch of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society, particularly in the preservation of museum exhibits. The Radom branch of the PTT had been established before Poland regained independence in 1918 and possessed a rich collection of historical artifacts, artworks, and documents. These collections were intended to form the foundation of Radom's first museum, accessible to all interested parties. However, due to significant local problems in interwar Radom, it was difficult to properly exhibit the collections, and there were even considerations of transferring them to local authorities. The director, Kazimierz Ołdakowski, and his colleagues came to the rescue. After preliminary discussions, the director joined the organization and was elected president of the branch in February 1929. As a result, a regional museum was established in one of the buildings in the Planty estate, officially opened on March 30, 1930.The director and his colleagues also placed great importance on nurturing artistic passions among the factory workers. Under the auspices of the cultural and educational circle, there was an orchestra, a men's choir, a mandolin ensemble, and a theater group. Another significant cultural landmark in Radom was the "Znicz" cinema, located in the workers' club building. Sports also enjoyed tremendous popularity among the workforce. The construction of a sports stadium on Narutowicza Street, funded by employee contributions and donations from the factory management, made it easier to engage in various sports disciplines. The stadium included a football field, a cycling track, a basketball court, a tennis court, and a shooting range. Eventually, plans were made to expand it further by adding a swimming pool. The cycling track was especially important, as it also facilitated the testing and promotion of "Łucznik" bicycles. Based on this, the factory's own sports club, "Broń," was established. It primarily focused on cycling, boxing, and football. Many athletes representing "Broń" achieved sports successes on the national stage.Dr. Sebastian Piątkowski

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Genesis and beginnings

The events that took place in November 1918, which brought about the restoration of independence to the Republic of Poland, initiated a long process of fighting for the borders of our country. The existence of Poland on the world map depended on possessing a numerous, well-trained, and equipped army. The situation of the Polish Army in the early years of independence was very difficult. It consisted of soldiers who had previously served in the Austro-Hungarian, German, and Russian armies, Józef Piłsudski's Polish Legions, General Józef Haller's Blue Army, and other formations. Trained under different regulations, they used various weapons with different calibers such as German "Mausers," Austrian "Mannlichers," Russian "Mosins," French "Lebels," British "Enfields," and so on. Difficulties in obtaining suitable ammunition and spare parts for rifles and revolvers became very challenging, especially during the fights against the Bolsheviks, whose defeat was made possible through the tremendous sacrifice of the society and the dedication of the army, whose potential was reinforced with weapons and ammunition purchased by the Polish authorities in France. In 1922, when the battles for the borders of the Republic of Poland had definitively ended, the military and civilian authorities began the process of standardizing the army's armament. Despite immense destruction and the country's very poor economic situation, the concept of equipping soldiers with weapons purchased from other countries was rejected. Instead, the decision was made to painstakingly build the Polish arms industry from scratch. The task of carrying out this operation was entrusted to the Central Directorate of Military Workshops, established in April of that year. Simultaneously, it was decided that the facilities producing weapons for the army would not be scattered throughout the country but concentrated in the so-called "triangle of security," an area that was out of reach for both German and Soviet aircraft. Its western border was defined by the railway line from Dęblin through Radom to Kielce, then along the Nida and Dunajec rivers to Nowy Sącz, Jasło, Sanok, and Przemyśl, and finally along the San and Vistula rivers back to Dęblin. Soon after, the Ministry of Military Affairs established a special commission whose task was to identify areas for the construction of new industrial plants. The members of the commission, conducting inspections of various towns, arrived in Radom in May 1922. The city was characterized by excellent transportation connections, had a power plant, large railway workshops, several private metalworking and foundry plants, as well as numerous craft workshops in the metal industry. Another significant factor was the presence of vocational schools capable of training skilled workers for the industry. The attention of the commission members quickly focused on the "Mariackie" estate, located in the southwestern part of the city and under the control of the State Treasury. Despite its small area (approximately 6 hectares), the estate had an excellent location, adjacent to the railway line. Considering all these factors, the commission recommended Radom as one of the cities where a large arms factory should be established. After the location was approved, two ministerial officials were sent to the city in December 1922 to oversee the construction of the new facility, temporarily referred to as the State Rifle and Mortar Factory in Radom. They were engineer Andrzej Dowkontt (a technologist originally from Petersburg with vast experience in creating a number of large industrial plants in the former Russian Empire) and Lieutenant Colonel Jan Siczek (who participated in the transfer of German armament factories in Gdańsk to the Polish authorities). Over the next few months, they supervised extensive construction works for the factory, already officially referred to as the State Arms Factory in Radom in official correspondence. These works included land surveying, concluding various agreements related to property matters, and establishing cooperation with the management of Polish State Railways and the local authorities in Radom. The entire investment area covered several hectares, located between Młodzianowska, Mariacka, and the railway tracks. It is worth emphasizing that the plan included not only the construction of factory buildings but also a residential complex for the staff. Construction of the first buildings began on the "Mariackie" estate in March 1923. In an impressive pace, various facilities were built, including a power plant, water tower, forge, joinery, and bathhouse. They were soon supplemented by the main building, boiler house and polishing room, bed frame processing building, and a shooting range. The factory management also constructed a large firewater reservoir, a special drainage channel (which involved deepening and regulating the Mleczna riverbed), and established new streets: Dowkontta, Słoneczna, and Szkolna, as well as financed the widening of Monopolowa and Bernardyńska streets. At the same time, construction of a residential complex was underway, including houses for engineers, foremen, and workers, with varying standards of equipment. Each of them had 3 or 4 floors, with walls made of bricks, concrete stairs with terracotta flooring, and rooms heated by tiled stoves. The standard also included sewage, gas heating, and electric lighting in the apartments. In Radom, which was populated by modern tenement houses and low-standard wooden buildings, these were undoubtedly the most modern residential buildings. Almost immediately after the first factory facilities were put into use, they began to be filled with machines. Most of them came from the German factory "Herman Knoppe Werke" in Gdańsk, which was previously involved in the production of "Mauser" rifles model 98, with which the German army was equipped. After repairs, removal of minor defects, cleaning, and laborious arrangement in individual halls, the Radom factory had 900 machines of various purposes in 1926. Their proper utilization was only possible due to the expertise of the assembled staff. In that year, it consisted of 800 people – half of whom were Radom locals, and the other half were newcomers from other cities such as Ostrowiec Kielecki, Starachowice, Warsaw, and Lublin. They were experienced workers in the metal industry, capable of passing on their knowledge to younger apprentices. Dr. Sebastian Piątkowski

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