140 years ago, on May 20, 1881, Wadysław Sikorski was born – a general of nobility in the Polish army, the prime minister of the Polish government-in-exile and commander-in-chief of the Polish Armed Forces in 1939-1943.
He studied at the Teachers College in Rzeszów, then at the Gymnasium in Lviv, from which he graduated in 1902. He then studied at the College of Engineering at Lviv Polytechnic, where he obtained an engineering diploma. During his studies, he participated in the activities of independent organizations. He was one of the founders of the Association for Active Combat founded in 1908, being a member of its main council. He was also one of the main organizers of the Riflemen Association in Eastern Galicia. In turn, in 1912, as a representative of the Polish Progressive Party, he joined the Provisional Committee of the Confederate Independence Parties, where he was the Commissioner of the Military Administration.
After the outbreak of World War I, he was appointed by Józef Piłsudski Military Commissar of Galicia, representing the national government. However, after the establishment of the Supreme National Committee, on August 17, 1914, Sikorsky took over the position of head of the military administration of the NKN.
In the middle of 1915, when the forces of the central powers occupied the Kingdom of Poland, Sikorsky took a firm position on the necessity of expanding the Polish armies based on volunteers from the kingdom. This became one of the reasons for his conflict with Piłsudski, who believed that expanding armies should be based on the clear position of Germany and Austria on the Polish issue.
After the law was promulgated on November 5, 1916, Sikorsky participated in the Austro-German negotiations on the creation of the Polish Armed Forces. In March 1917, he was appointed by General Job. Hans von Bessler, head of the National Employment Inspectorate, and after the so-called Sworn Crisis in July 1917, he headed the Auxiliary Polish Corps Reconstruction Center in Puljeev.
In February 1918, he was arrested by the Austrian authorities at a prisoner of war camp in Dolvalva, Hungary. The reason for his arrest was his issuance of an order approving the mutiny of the Second Corps Brigade, which, given the unfavorable provisions of the Treaty of Brest, which the Central Powers signed with the Ukrainian People’s Republic in February 1918 under the command of a colonel. . Joseph Haller went to the Russian side near Rarańcza. In April 1918, he was released from detention and went to Lviv, where since October, on the authority of the Regency Council, he organized units of the Polish army in Malopolska.
On October 30, 1918, the Sikorsky Regency Council appointed Chief of Staff of the Polish Army to Galicia and Silesia. After arriving in Przemel, he was surprised by the outbreak of the Polish-Ukrainian armed conflict. To avoid capture, he took command of the defense of the western part of the city, and then went to Krakow to organize aid to Lviv and Przemel.
From January 1919, he also commanded an independent operations group in battles with the Ukrainians in eastern Lesser Poland. In August 1919, he became commander of the 9th Infantry Division and the Poliska Group, and on February 26, 1920, he commanded the Auxiliary Offensive Operation in Ukraine prepared by Piłsudski, and led to the capture of Mozyrz and Kalenkowicz on March 5.
During the Soviet offensive that began in July 1920, he fought to preserve Brest. On August 11, 1920, he became commander of the 5th Army. As its leader, he carried out a counterattack on Nasielsk and Ciechanów, effectively linking the forces of the 15th and 3rd Red Army from 15 August, and his actions greatly contributed to the victory of the Polish offensive from the River Wieprz.
At the end of August 1920, he took command of the Third Army, which he successfully fought with him in Volhynia and Polisi, occupying, among other things, Pinsk. He also participated in the final stage of the fighting on the Belarusian – Lithuanian front.
In December 1922, he was appointed Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, and he held these positions until May 26, 1923. At that time, Marshal Pisudsky wrote about him as follows: ambitious. It is extremely easy to engage with the people who use them skillfully and purposefully. A very good organizer, able to divide the work quickly, and easily assess the capabilities of people, as long as it is not blocked by a private citizen, which is what he tends strongly and strongly to. He knows and loves order and thanks to his agility he can easily handle almost any situation. […] He lacks a greater military education, because in this regard he is satisfied with small, superficial views on the matter. However, he has a good operational eye, and he has the ability to take risks, he is suitable for senior leadership. […] It would be easy to lead an army. He is a man familiar with the state’s relations and powers, and he is also suitable as chief of staff of the commander in chief, who handles general operations, and as minister of military affairs in wartime. “
Then, from November 1923 to February 1924, General Sikorsky was the Inspector General of the Infantry, and then, until November 1924, Minister of Military Affairs in the Władysław Grabski government.
In the face of the May 1926 coup, he took a wait-and-see attitude. “In previous opinions, the prevailing statement was that he was awaiting the conclusion of the fighting, and that he remained neutral. We know today that his official statements that he could not send troops to Warsaw because he had to guard the border with the Soviet Union were largely correct, but he did not speak out against Pisudski. Because of his disciplined behavior in May 1926, he was not fired from the army immediately after the May coup, but was not dismissed from his post until 1928 and transferred to the Minister of Military Affairs. He has been suspended since then, ”- told PAP Dr. Hab. Tadeusz P. Rutkowski from the University of Warsaw’s School of History.
During the interview with the PAP, the historian stated that Sikorsky, as a military man, even without classification, could not intervene politically. Conflicts between Piłsudski and Sikorski arose in the early 1920s, and in Piłsudski’s time, these conflicts are remembered. Sikorsky was not liked, but at the same time he was not expelled from the army, so he himself did not want to cross these borders, ” – noted the researcher.
However, at the end of the 1930s, Sikorsky became more involved in politics, and in 1936 he was one of the initiators of the creation of the Morges Front.
Until September 1939, he remained unassigned and, despite his efforts, failed to obtain a combat mission in the defensive war of 1939, across the Polish-Roman border on September 18, and arrived in Paris on September 24. There, on September 28, he was appointed commander of the Polish Armed Forces to be established in France, and two days later, President Wadysław Raczkiewicz appointed him Prime Minister and Minister of Military Affairs. On November 7, 1939, by presidential decree, the President appointed him to the position of Supreme Commander of the Polish Armed Forces.
In France, he organized units of the Polish army, numbering about 80,000 on the threshold of the French campaign. Soldiers. Sikorsky’s efforts were lost due to the surrender of France in June 1940. After the evacuation, he, the President and the government joined Great Britain again to organize the Polish army.
In July 1941, after the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, Sikorsky signed an agreement to restore relations between Poland and the Soviet Union, which made it possible to organize the Polish army on its territory. “Sikorsky’s attitude toward the Soviets was a product of Poland’s post-September 1939 position. However, in relations with the Soviets, one might notice a kind of softness + Sikorsky. Malicious says that he had the nature of an agent: during World War I he was an agent of Austria Hungary, then he became an agent To France, during World War II he was not able to maintain a hardline stance against the British, whom he treated with excessive confidence. In difficult situations, he succumbed to advice and pressure, and undoubtedly, when deciding on an agreement with the Soviets, he was under very strong British pressure “- he says Dr.. Tadeus B. Rutkovsky.
The Sikorsky-Miskie Agreement caused a serious crisis within the Polish government. The historian states that “the decision to reach an agreement with the Soviets was severely criticized, and there was a split in the government, and the president did not want to sign this agreement. Given the fact that this treaty was imposed and forced to a large extent by Sikorsky, it had negative consequences for him and for him.” His policies, as he became a hostage of the Soviet Union, on which the implementation of its rulings depends.
General Sikorsky died on July 4, 1943 in a plane crash near Gibraltar. After a state funeral in London, he was buried in the Polish Pilots Cemetery in Newark, near Nottingham. On September 17, 1993, his ashes were buried in the crypt of Saint. Leonard in the vault of Wawel Cathedral.
However, the circumstances of General Sikorsky’s death have not been fully explained to this day. “The examination available to date of the aircraft and the lack of tests for crew and passengers shortly after its crash gave rise to various hypotheses that cannot be fully verified at the present time. It is true that the coolest hypotheses have been verified, such as those indicating that a murder had occurred on board. The plane, and at the time of the crash, the passengers and crew were already dead.However, we do not know for sure if it was an accident, because there are many circumstances that interfere with it and undermine this possibility “- says Dr. Tadeus B. Rutkovsky.
The historian also noted the fact that during the war there were many circles and countries that Sikorsky upset. “The first suspect, of course, is the Soviet Union, because Sikorsky’s death greatly reduced the power of the Polish government – Sikorsky was well known, and he had personal relations with Churchill and other politicians. When he was prime minister, it was much more difficult for Western countries to make agreements. With the Soviet Union at the expense of Poland. The Soviet Union undoubtedly benefited most from Sikorsky’s death. It was also beneficial to the British themselves, because it facilitated a pro-Soviet policy that was inconsistent with Polish interests. Nevertheless, it is doubtful that the Soviets would actually have the ability to implement Such sabotage is in Gibraltar. ” Tadeus B. Rutkovsky.
Anna Kruszynska (PAP)
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