2008 | 6 | 157-175
Article title

POLITICAL AND MILITARY CONDITIONINGS OF DEMOBILISATION PROCESS OF POLISH CORPSES IN RUSSIA IN 1918 (Uwarunkowania polityczno-wojskowe procesu demobilizacji korpusów polskich w Rosji w 1918r.)

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The existence of the I Polish Corps was primarily endangered due to a series of actions undertaken by General Józef Dowbor-Musnicki against the Bolsheviks from 7th November 1917. Lack of possibility of coexistence with the Soviet Party impelled the Poles at the turn of January and February of 1918 to get in touch with Commander-in-Chief East (Oberbefehlshaber-Ost), General Max Hoffmann. In response,the German document defining conditions of possible cooperation was delivered to Babruysk. These conditions were very hard, for they contained, inter alia, a point, which stated that a recognition of German command's superior authority was demanded and a transfer of the Polish troops to the German military pay was assumed. In respect to the agreement, signed on 26th February in Babruysk, the corps were eventually recognised as de jure neutral formation and it was stated in the document that the name Polish Corps defined not only the I Polish Corps, but also all other formations, which were under command of General Dowbor-Musnicki. A real attitude of the German party toward the corps was revealed in Major von Wulffen's letter of 9th March 1918. General Dowbor-Musnicki learnt from the document that, after the peace treaty with Russia had been ratified, a gradual evacuation of the corps forces to the country should start. It was to concern a group of about a thousand soldiers a month and its final object was a total demobilisation of the corps. The demobilisation of the I Corps, imposed by the agreement of 21st May 1918, begun immediately and was run according to the General Erich von Falkenhayn's directives, included in an order by General Dowbor-Musnicki. Not all the high officers and soldiers of the corps reconciled themselves with the demobilisation and, a few hundred of them proceeded to Ukraine, to the Kuban River and to Murmansk in order to join smaller Polish troops formed there. Also at the turn of February and March of 1918 some other events occurred which had a definitive impact on further fates of the II and the III Polish Corps. The situation changed, inter alia, in relation to the incursion of German and Austro-Hungarian troops into Ukraine; it took place respectively on 18th and 28th February 1918. Military actions of Central Powers enforced immediate decisions concerning further fates of Polish troops, formed in Ukraine. Only two solutions seemed to be obvious. Commander of the formations, General Eugeniusz de Henning-Michaelis, could order an immediate march-out beyond the zone of influence of the Central Powers or try to secure the existence of the troops in the area of Ukraine, occupied by the forces of these Powers, by means of a political agreement. In the case of the II Polish Corps, the situation was additionally complicated by an issue of the Legions' II Brigade, which on 6th March 1918 reached the area of its quarters. A capitulation of the II Polish Corps after the defeat of Kaniv and demobilisation of the I Polish Corps were, in fact, a total elimination of the Polish military formations in Russia. Thus, in the middle of 1918 the over-year attempts to create Polish formation in East came to an and.
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  • Adam Miodowski, Bialystok (Poland), for postal address contact the journal editor
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Publication order reference
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