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2008 | 4 | 101-113

Article title

THE GENDARMERIE IN WESTERN GALICIA AT THE ONSET OF INDEPENDENCE (1918-1919) (Zandarmeria w Galicji Zachodniej w poczatkach niepodleglosci (1918-1919).

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Prior to the outbreak of the First World War the Austrian gendarmerie was a well-organised and efficient structure. The situation started to change in 1914 when numerous experienced gendarmes were sent to the front, and some perished in battle. Their place was often taken by inexperienced successors: in the case of Galicia, the newcomers were unfamiliar with the local conditions and the Polish language. During the early days of November 1918 part of the gendarmerie outposts in Western Galicia for all practical purposes ceased to exist, and some were liquidated by groups of the local population by resorting to drastic measures - assaults and even murders. Certain outposts were no longer active since the gendarmes left for their places of origin. During the first weeks of independence decisions concerning the functioning of the gendarmerie were made by the Polish Liquidation Commission and the military authorities in Cracow; from December 1918 an increasing role was played by the government in Warsaw and the supreme army command. On 5 November the Polish Liquidation Commission replaced the gendarmerie with a security guard. Commanders of the guard in particular counties were appointed together with the Cracow-based army command. The establishment of the guard structures encountered considerable obstacles. The counties experienced difficulties with recruiting suitable candidates, and if this actually did happen, then the next problem was obtaining uniforms and weapons. More detailed decisions concerning the functioning of the guard were made at a session of the Polish Liquidation Commission on 22 November in a document on 'The provisional organisation of the security guard in Galicia'. The guard was envisaged as a formation organised in a military fashion and with a double dependence. On the one hand, it was to be headed by the political authorities, and on the other - its supervisors included the military. In an order issued on 7 December the General Staff of the Polish Army corrected the principles of the functioning of this formation, whose name was changed to gendarmerie. It must be added that the gendarmerie managed to successfully tackle part of the 'plague' of certain crimes, especially thefts. Despite efforts, a radical improvement of security, however, proved impossible.







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  • Marek Przenioslo, Uniwersytet Humanistyczno-Przyrodniczy w Kielcach, Instytut Historii, ul. Lesna 16, 25-509 Kielce, Poland


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Publication order reference


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