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Text Box: Chapter 31

 "About Jozef Haller"

by Edward Ligocki


Chapter 31 Page 291


     After General Haller took command, he started to create the Army with full energy. To begin with, he sent special emissaries to several countries, namely the United States and Siberia. He sent Mr. Okulicz-Kazarayn, Lieutenant Sierocinski and Lieutenant Zakrzewski; to Italy Major Leon Radziwill, Captain Dienstl-Dombrowa, Captain Wilhelm Hoerl, and Lieutenant Lagodzinski.


     Senator Grabski like many others was for the Army, and wanted to go to Siberia as well. General Haller was against the idea on the grounds that the Senator would be of more use in Paris. Piltz and Wielowieyski were trying it, nevertheless, against the General's opinion. However, Dmowski, who returned from Washington, stopped the Senator's departure and sent Grabski to Poland. Upon Dmowski's return, a characteristic moment was noticed in the National Committee that unlike other

members of the Committee, he and General Haller agreed to accept Pilsudski; also characteristic was Dmowski's saying, upon Haller's objections, "being a realist - all these political groups are relics." When asked by Mr. Wielowieyski about national democracy Dmowski said: Yes, it should be reorganized, we have to create something new in Poland.


      The National Committee was trying to get to France as many Poles as possible because the Prime Minister of Italy did not like the idea of creating a Polish Army there. Soon 8,000 war prisoners of Polish origin were transferred to France. It created concern in France expressed by Marshal Petain. General Haller had the idea of creating six divisions of the Polish Army. In the summer of 1918 there was already enough equipment to furnish two divisions. There were some difficulties, but the General intervened with the Chief of the Coalition Armies - Marshal Foch - and was able to organize a third division. The General was asking to be permitted to organize these divisions in the same fashion as the French divisions.

Gradually, things were worked out with the Italian government, and over 30,000 soldiers, most of them prisoners from Austrian concentration camps, were transferred to La Mandria di Chivasso in Naples and Santa Maria Vettere in Turin. The Polish Army was enthusiastically welcomed by Italian society. It is also

necessary to mention the efforts of the honorary council of Poland in Turin, Mr. Attilio Begey, Towanski's former friend. In creating the Polish Army in Italy, Senator Jan Zamorski, at that time a member of the Inter-Allies Commission to "Commando Supreme," deserved a special credit.


      Mr. Konstanti Skirmuntt, a member of the National Committee in Rome, and the Chief of the Polish Press office and Mr. Maciej Loret, were carrying propaganda for the "Commando Supreme," to Polish POW camps, and to the German and Austrian Armies at the battle fields. Also, active on the Polish side were

Captain Schubert Antoni, Capt. Jan Osuchowski, Lt. Adam Miszke, Maj. Skowronek, Maj. Witkowski, Capt. Keller, Capt. Makomaski, and Capt. Golachowski. On the Italian side: General Etna, General Rho, 2 corps, Col. Zanghieri, 2 camps in

LaMandria, Col. Granati, and Col. Pasta. Of the civilians, should be mentioned, attorney Attilio Begey, Senators Scialoja, di San Martino, di Brazza, di Prampero, Fassa, Bava; Deputies (members of Parliament;) Gallini, Arca, Aguelli, Cottafari, Tasca, Amici, Pacetti, Barzilai, Celesia, Artoni, Ciriani, Molina. Kulczycki (Italian), Canepa, Commodore Giordano, Franco Caburi, Polish Civilians Jasinski, Kociemski, Rajkiewicz, and Olszewski, now the Polish Counsel in Milan.


      The first Polish Volunteers detachment of 200 troops on Italian front, former Austrian POWs, mostlyofficers, was formed by Majkluczynski in March of 1918. Maj. Dienstl - Dabrows was the commander of La Mandria di Chivasso and Col. Petelenz was the commander of Stanta Maria Capua Vetere camps. The first draft to the army was on Nov. 5, and transfered to France on Dec. 25, 1918. There was a

banner named after (the Polish great poet of 19th century) Adam Mickiewicz, given to the regiment by the Chairman of the Pro Polonia Community, attorney Begey from Turin, on Nov. 3, 1918. Additional banners for the regiment named after Col. Garibaldi, was given by Millan; and for the third garrison named after Col. Francesco Nullo by his native town, Bergamo.


      Infantry and Artillery garrisons of 700 officers and 38,000 soldiers were organized. Pope Benedict XV gave the Polish Army banners with a White Eagle and the Virgin Mary on them, and a diploma, handwritten in Polish, with verses from the Knights Anthem, named (Bogu Rodzica) - God's Mother. These gifts were delivered to General Haller, in Paris, by Maj. Herel.


     Considering the fact that there were many Polish people living in Italy at the time, General Haller thought that it would be necessary for him to go to Rome, and to the main Polish camps near Turin and Naples. He had to face Polish opposition against this idea, and some were trying to convince Marshal Foch that it was inappropriate for the General to leave France while the Polish Army was being

organized. Hence, to Italy, the General sent General Castellaz, a Pole from the old Russian Army, recruited recently to the Polish Army. Despite opposition, the General visited Polish camps in Italy. He did not see the King nor the Pope, only visiting the Italian Government's Department of War. From the Italian side, General Rho visited General Haller. The history of the creation of the Polish Army in Italy as

well as in France, should be the subject of thorough study based on ordinal documents. This book is just an attempt to write General Haller's life story. It is not attempt to document the history of the Polish Army on foreign lands at that time. The History of Polish Army would require volumes of writing only on that

very subject.


      Up until July of 1918, there was just one garrison of gunners from the 1st division on the battle field. The next two divisions; artillery, cavalry, and sappers were in the organization stage. It was General Haller who was to complete the division's organization, create the next two, and think about the Army



      In the meantime, there were discussions in Paris as to whether the garrisons that were ready were supposed to be sent to the battle field or not. The National Committee, for reasons I will not discuss here, was definitely against sending them to battle. On the other hand General Haller thought it would be very important to have the Polish Army as one of the allies taking part in the decisive Battle of the Nations which began on the day of the national holiday of France, July 14th, 1918. (*Bastille Day - editor's note.) In this fashion, Poland would gain great political advantage, and definitely become one of the countries fighting against the Central Nations. It was also of great value in view of the oncoming peace conference.

Two Polish divisions went to battle at the Alsacian Front, under the command of, at first, Maj. Goluchowski and others, then under General Haller himself. General Haller was in close contact with Marshal Petain and eventually with Marshal Foch, the chief commander of the Allied Forces.

      The first time the General went to Foch's quarters at Senils, he was warmly and friendly welcomed. The Marshal was a short man, very self-conscious, and modestly dressed, which was distinguishing. He expressed himself emphatically, shortly and sometimes jovialy. The dinner Haller was invited to was simple and short. During the conversation which the Marshal and General Weygand and others had, one of the subjects was Russia and possibility of regaining influence in the East.


      "If you want to suffocate someone, you have to go for the throat," said General Haller.

      "Where is Russia's throat?"

      "Riga and Odessa, and for that you need the Navy to begin with."


      Marshal Foch though that it is possible to get to Petersburg through Murmansk. "The British have succeeded in wasting this plan already," answered General Haller. Fifth Division of Haller's Army was, at the time, already in Odessa. In general the relationship between the French and foreigners were easier than with Poles. This was noticeable, locally in Paris, but mostly over the border, as far as contacts with foreign organizations and Poland were concerned. For instance, there was information that a contact with Pilsudski was established through Switzerland. However, this contact did not work out. Lt. Moscicki, sent by General Haller to make the connection, disappeared without a trace.


      Of special notice in the history of the National Committee and Polish Military Affairs was a relationship with Polish Americans. Polish Americans sacrificed much human life and money, which is not appropriately appreciated so far. One of those generous people was an American representative to the Committee, Physician-Major of the American Army, Dr. Fronczak. He came from Buffalo, where he was

the town's physician. He was a very sensitive person, trying to be very accurate, expressing himself honestly and openly to the point that it may be taken as indifference. He was not paid at his job and neither took a penny from the Committee while working with it. His points of view were based on his conscience, which was the reason why he was strongly against Mr. Pilitz, who once having his back against the wall, asked the General to intervene in conflicts on the issue of not letting Haller be present at the Armistice Conference.


      In general, the Americans were composed of two types: the first being sympathetic, open, simple, honest, and even naive, and the other type being businessmen. The first type of Americans was most common in Haller's Army and they left their fellow soldiers and superiors with the best memories of them. Because the United States was neutral in WW1, the first group of Polish Volunteers had to move to Canada for military education in the Toronto Academy. The first 23 volunteers going there got the nickname "Desperados." The school gave more than 4,000 officers to the war, and was run by Col. LePan, Maj. Bramfitt, and Maj. Joung. The Polish class instructors were Maj. Madill and Lt. Lewis.


      President Wilson said on January 2, of 1917: "The peace of the world depends on a united and independent Poland." The Polish Falcons opened the first academy in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania. The director was the chief of the Polish Falcons Union of America, Mr. Dziob. After him the school was taken by Lt. Sierocinski and trained in Toronto. The National Department of Poland created a military committee in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to be chaired by Dr. Starzynski. The recruitment effort was run by Lt. Sierocinski. The first Polish camp was at Fort Niagara. During the period of 16 months, Polish Americans gave Haller's Army 25,000 volunteers. Polish Americans were the first of Haller's Army who paid dues in blood to the homeland on the Battle field of Champaigne, France, a part of world history not to be forgotten. In this case, Polish literature had a lot to cover in order to tell the story of Polish American troops on the battle fields of Europe, and their sacrafices on the national altar despite the calumny of some factions of the press.


      Polish troops were formed in other parts of the world as well. From Brazil, a company lead by Capt. Malinowski came to join General Haller - from England Lt. Maron-Marwich - at the camp in Felthaem, came the first detachment containing POWs of German Army of Polish, Danish, and French (Alsacian) origin. Despite the distrust of the British, the first transport moved on Sept. 2, 1918 through London to

South Hampton, where the volunteers had to sign special obligation papers, and were shipped to Havre, and then on land to Sille le Guillaume to join Haller's Army.


      There was even another group of volunteers formed in Greece, but I do not know too much about it. The organization of the Polish Army was speeding up. At the moment of the collapse of German Front, there were five divisions of the Polish Army with artillery, cavalry, air force, motorpool, service personnel,

hospital attendants, and staff (command).


      Why General Hailer was not called as the Polish military expert to the Versailles Conference, while even Greece had its representative, I'm not going to write about; the same goes for the numerous reasons why Haller's Army waited months to be able to return to Poland while the sea transport of the Army to Gdansk Poland were organized.


      The facts are self explanatory.


      Transport of Haller's Army to Poland started in April through Germany. The Army headquarters were located in Krakow, Poland, and the divisions were located in a fortuitous manner. I am not going to mention the enthusiasm which the arrival of Haller's Army in Poland created, as well as the new hope in society and in Parliament. Forgetting the fact that Haller is a soldier, it is hard to expect for him to correct all unforgivable mistakes made in all aspects of society life. The Parliament was the one to do it, but at Haller's welcoming ceremony at the Warsaw's Polonia Hotel, by the representatives of parliament, the ones who were the backbone of political power, were not present.


Translated by Jacek Janscewski, Edited by Robert Tarwacki. (10/10/99)



"O Jozefie Hallerze" by Edward Elgoth Ligocki, Nakladem Obywatelskiego Obrony Panstwa, Warszawa, 1923

With special thanks to the Library of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences in America, New York, NY