Military Review

Our business is red and white. Russian Odyssey of the 1st Polish Corps

Our business is red and white. Russian Odyssey of the 1st Polish Corps

You may not be a Pole

When General V. Ivashkevich, who had just headed the 3rd division, admitted to the commander of the 1st Corps of the Polish Army I. Dovbor-Musnitsky that he did not like the Poles very much, he, to his surprise, did not hear any objections. The leaders of the future Polish army were very weakly connected with Poland in general, especially since the country itself, formally gained independence from the hands of Russia, remained under Austro-German occupation.

Many generals and officers simply fled to the Polish units from the revolution and did not even have to know the Polish language. The formation of independent national units in the Russian army, which had gone rather sluggish before the February Revolution, was not immediately approved by the Provisional Government.

General I. Dovbor-Musnitsky with the headquarters of the 1st corps.

Many Polish officers considered the separation of a separate army in the midst of decisive battles “dangerous political fuss”, beneficial only to the Germans. The soldiers were much more interested in one way or another to return to their homeland than to continue to fight for Russia or "make a world revolution."

General Dovbor-Musnitsky, who fell to head the 1st Polish Corps, we remember mainly from the Soviet-Polish war of 1920. The future first red commander-in-chief I. Vacetis, who was the commander of the Latvian riflemen in 1917, believed that Dovbor's military talents were very average, and his character was ambitious and oppressive. Nevertheless, thanks in large part to the excellent characteristics of such colleagues as A. Denikin, it was he who was preferred to other Polish generals.

General Dovbor-Musnitsky at the parade

Dovbor-Musnitsky had every chance to become a Polish dictator or to be on the other side of the front even earlier, but relations with the Bolsheviks did not work out. Most likely because Pilsudsky was much prettier than Dzerzhinsky, but more on that below.

However, the “whites" didn’t work out either, and all the Polish commanders did, and in 1920 Wrangel did not get any real support from the Poles. And not because the “head” of the new state, Y. Pilsudski, had a very rich revolutionary past. What is more important is that both he and his comrades-in-arms were not at all pleased with the prospect of cooperation with those Russians who were ready to seriously take up the reconstruction of the "united and indivisible Russian empire." Let it be in the form of a republic, not the Romanov monarchy or any other dynasty.

The first attempt to drag the Poles to the side of the counter-revolution was made back in the days of the Kornilov rebellion, but no documentary evidence of negotiations between General Dovbor-Musnitsky and the Supreme Commander was found.

The matter was limited to moving to Mogilev, where the Russian Headquarters was located, two infantry regiments weakened to 700 people and the relocation of a lantern regiment at Korosten and Rogachev stations. And that was all that the duty officer from the Kornilov headquarters managed to achieve from the representative of the so-called Nachpol in the 1st Corps of Lieutenant Colonel Yasinsky.

Contact Nachpol

The Nachpol, as the Supreme Polish Military Committee, which was created in the first days of the revolution, was abbreviated, is an informal structure very characteristic of that era. It was created after the 1st All-Russian Congress of Polish Servicemen under the chairmanship of the Minsk lawyer Vladislav Rachkevich, who during the Second World War will become the Polish president in exile.

Rachkevich’s lawyer from the chairmen of Nachpol “has grown” to the Polish president in exile

However, the spectacular name was not supported by real powers. Nachpol engaged in the formation of Polish units, but turned out to be nothing more than a representative body of Polish military personnel. The Russian headquarters quickly suppressed all claims of Nachpol functionaries for the role of the headquarters of the future Polish Army.

By the end of August, the Dovbor corps was not only “raw”, but also small in number, and this despite the fact that after a rather strict “sweeping”, the corps was based on personnel from the 1st Polish Rifle Division. Some Polish historians are ready to associate staff cleaning in the ranks of shooters with almost every tenth shootings, but in reality this practice became widespread later - not only among Trotsky, but also among whites.

By the summer of 1917, the shooters were in fact the only combat-ready Polish unit, although they nearly "got" the revolution from the Russian regiments. During the June offensive, the 1st Infantry proved to be so bad that Commander-in-Chief A. Brusilov ordered its disbandment, noting that

"The division consists of skins, hiding behind loud phrases about the need to protect the Polish forces as a frame of the future Polish army."

However, the German counterattack quickly cured the Poles, and they fought heroically under Krekhovtsy. The Ulan regiment was even renamed the Cavalry Shock Krekhovetsky. Nevertheless, in August, almost four thousand officers and soldiers, either unreliable or simply not knowing the Polish language, were removed from the 7th division.

As part of the tsarist army, the Polish legions did not have their own special form. In the photo - Pulawski Legion

The remaining contingent poured into the Dovbor-Musnitsky corps, which by the time of Kornilov’s speech was unlikely to account for much more than 10 thousand people. And this is with a three-division composition (in contrast to the Russian army corps, consisting of two divisions) and a full staff of 68 thousand people. And, it seems, just because of the small number of corps, the main reason for the Poles' passivity in those days was the same desire to "save personnel."

But its role was played by the slurred position of Nachpol in relation to rebellion and rebels. The left-wing part of the participants in the congress of military personnel, united in the Polish Revolutionary Military Club, initiated a search in the premises of Nachpol in the capital. 300 carabiners and lists of soldiers and officers sympathizing with the "left" were found, but Nachpol was widely condemned only as a possible ally of Kornilov.

It is characteristic that even members of the same party who were in Pilsudski prisoner in the Magdeburg Prison from the teaching staff opposed Nachpol, both from the “leftist” and the “faction”. However, the wave of anger subsided as soon as September 13, Dovbor-Musnitsky made a public statement about the neutrality of the 1st Corps. Then 700 Polish soldiers left the neighborhood of Mogilev.

Divorce from the Bolsheviks

By the time Lenin and his comrades-in-arms planned to take power and create a new, Soviet, albeit also “interim” government, the Dovbor-Musnitsky corps managed to get stronger to the point where the formation could really fight. However, he was still very far from full staff, and the predominance of officers and old soldiers was clearly excessive.

Despite the fact that in the first days after the coup the Bolsheviks sent precisely the Polish patrols to guard foreign embassies, a real revolutionary alliance did not work out. The 1st Corps was too far from Petrograd, but the Poles did not intervene in the events around Stavka in Mogilev, where Commander-in-Chief General N. Dukhonin was killed, and his place was completely unexpectedly taken “only” by Ensign N. Krylenko.

General Dukhonin - the last commander of the "old" Russian army

And in the revolutionary Petrograd Soviet, Dovbor-Musnitsky was not forgotten enough of the strange "neutrality" in the days of the Kornilov rebellion, and any actions and orders of the general were immediately checked for "counter-revolutionism". However, with regard to Nachpol, the position of the Bolsheviks and their allies was similar, in which a significant role was played by Yu. Unshlikht and F. Dzerzhinsky, who from February to October were not included in at least some significant national authority.

And this despite the fact that the same Pilsudsky, who fought for two years on the side of a common enemy, it was enough to be in Magdeburg prison to become the most authoritative politician on this side of the front. He was even elected honorary chairman of the 1st All-Russian Congress of Polish Military in Petrograd. Mandatory greetings to “Comrade Pilsudski” were regularly delivered by the press loyal to Poland and any event related in any way to national issues.

Y. Pilsudsky with legionaries, photo of 1915

The divorce, it seems, is final, happened already in the October days. It all started with the order of Dovbor-Musnitsky on building 81, with which the general tried to take charge of the Headquarters in Mogilev. Declaring the non-interference of the Poles "in the affairs of the domestic policy of Russia", the general ordered the troops "to take vigorous measures, not stopping before using weapons».

And since at the same time the commander demanded the release of the commander of the Western Front, General Baluev, who was arrested by the Bolsheviks, he was immediately enrolled in the counter-revolutionaries. Direct confrontation has been postponed, but after that the Reds could hardly count on any serious Polish contingent in the created workers and peasants army.

Among the Polish units, only the Belgorod regiment took an active part in the coup on the “left” side, having managed to repel the attempts of the Kornilovites to settle in Kharkov, Belgorod and at several railway stations in those provinces. However, anarchy and disorder still reigned in the regiment; he refused to join the Ukrainian forces led by V. Antonov-Ovseenko.

Autonomous swimming

After the Bolsheviks first concluded a truce with the Germans, which later led to the signing of the Brest Peace, the Dovbor-Musnitsky corps became very dangerous for them. Instead of collapse, he was rapidly gaining strength, reaching almost 30 thousand soldiers and officers. In addition, many began to consider the Poles as the only defense against commissars who had already embarked on the first repressions.

Even without prompting from Petrograd, the new front commanders, who later turned into the so-called “Western Curtain”, began to convulsively form the Polish revolutionary units. One of the Minsk right-wing newspapers snapped about this: "Nothing new - Poles versus Poles." By order of N. Krylenko, an attempt was made to arrest 19 members of Nachpol who were in Minsk, but only six managed to be sent to prison, and they soon escaped.

Warrant Officer Krylenko took the post of commander almost on his own initiative

The Polish commander Dovbor-Musnitsky didn’t even think about following the order of the Bolshevik commander-in-chief, Ensign N. Krylenko, who demanded that he obey the decisions of the Lenin Sovnarkom on democratization of the army. The general understood that this would lead to the collapse of the corps, and decided to wait for the convocation of the 2nd All-Russian Congress of Polish troops in Minsk. The congress gathered and not only supported the command of the corps, but also recognized Nachpol as "the supreme organ of the Polish military public." The public, but not the army.

The new command of the Western Front issued an order to the corps to take up positions on the Russian-German front, but in the end, with the help of the Poles, it was only possible to disperse away from Mogilev. Already on January 20 (7), 1918, another order came from Stavka - on disarmament and disbandment of the corps, but it remained only on paper.

The response to the disarmament order was the actual declaration of war on January 25 (12) and the attack by two regiments on Mogilev. The Poles in the morning of the same day with a fight took Zhlobin, but by the evening they were knocked out by the Red Guards. But the next day Rogachev took the 1st Infantry Division for a long time, there they even introduced a siege and announced the mobilization of the Poles.

The attack on Minsk also began, which was accompanied by the dispersal of the Soviets, the arrest of the Bolsheviks, anarchists and left Social Revolutionaries. The headquarters of the 1st Polish Division in Rogachev gathered such courage that they even announced the revival of the Polish state within the borders of 1772. The first attempts to stop the Poles hastily assembled by the revolutionary units failed, although in Molodechno, after a series of negotiations and skirmishes of the Poles, and a whole train eventually forced to surrender.

Still, there was no question of a full-scale war; negotiations were ongoing without interruption in a variety of forms. Meanwhile, the Soviet government, counting on the support of the population, gave the go-ahead for the massive expropriation of land and property. The Bolsheviks also went to direct terror, shooting Prince Svyatopolk-Mirsky as the main accomplice of the rebels, to which the Poles were not slow to respond with repressions against representatives of the new government.

The new "ally"

All this time, the active propaganda of the “Polish brothers” did not stop, many of which were not at all seduced by the prospect of a war with the Russians. The desertion from the corps, which was conceived as voluntary, was almost rampant, and many soldiers simply switched to red. In February 1918, a voluntary demobilization of soldiers of the Polish Corps was announced in Mogilev and Minsk, which was carried out by the Commission on Polish Affairs, which was created under the first Provisional Government.

In a matter of days, the Dovbor-Musnitsky corps lost almost half of the composition, and the Bolsheviks were already pulling up new forces, including the Latvian riflemen, led by the already mentioned I. Wacetis. A series of clashes without a real result ended with the signing of the Brest Peace, when Belarus tried to play independence, but the Germans became the real masters of the situation in the area of ​​the former Russian Headquarters.

General Dovbor-Musnitsky, who until recently called the Germans “the main threat to the Polish cause”, immediately signed an agreement with them. The Germans did not even think of interning the Polish military, and the corps was simply declared neutral in the Russo-German war. Moreover, almost all territories north of Polesie in the south-east of Belarus were transferred under Polish control. Only the Germans left the Brest-Gomel railway, and the lands from Brest to Gomel under the agreement of February 9 “lost” to independent Ukraine.

As early as March 14, 1918, General I. Dovbor-Musnitsky submitted to the Regency Council of the Kingdom of Poland. This kingdom was hastily created in 1916 by Austria and Germany in the occupied Polish lands that were part of the Russian Empire. Demobilization of the corps took only 10 days. And the general himself, who had once not made it difficult to study the Polish language, returned to command posts after the end of the World War and the declaration of independence of Poland. But already in the Polish army J. Pilsudski.
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  1. Insurgent
    Insurgent 29 March 2020 07: 34 New
    The new "ally"

    She knew the history of relations between Russia (USSR) and Poland, and other unions.

    1. maidan.izrailovich
      maidan.izrailovich 30 March 2020 13: 38 New
      She knew the history of relations between Russia (USSR) and Poland, and other unions.

      There was no union there. You know the story very well.
      Union is when independent states (peoples) voluntarily unite to achieve a goal.
      In this case, Poland as a state did not exist. She was part of the Reich. And the fact that the Poles unexpectedly found themselves on the same side of the barricades with the Russians is "to blame" for the Germans.
  2. apro
    apro 29 March 2020 07: 51 New
    In general, for their money, the Russians themselves created a problem. And then the Bolsheviks decide ...
    1. 210ox
      210ox 29 March 2020 11: 12 New
      In fact, it was not the Russians who created the problems, but the ruling elite in February 17th, who decided to catch fish in troubled waters. And which subsequently received deservedly on the necks.
    2. iouris
      iouris 29 March 2020 12: 56 New
      There is such a historical political tradition.
      “Russia is a conquered power. She lost the titanic struggle. And to say “it was not Russia, but the Soviet Union” means to flee from reality. It was Russia, called the Soviet Union. She challenged the USA. She was defeated. Now there is no need to fuel illusions about the great power of Russia. It’s necessary to discourage such a way of thinking ... Russia will be fragmented and under guardianship. ”
      "A new world order with US hegemony is being created against Russia, at the expense of Russia and on the ruins of Russia."
      From the book “Choice. World domination or global leadership "(Moscow, International Relations, 2010 g., P. 127)
      Who is to blame is known. What to do? Recognize historical defeat. As noticed
      classic, "broken armies learn well" (although some broken armies take a long time to harness).
      1. apro
        apro 29 March 2020 13: 24 New
        It was interestingly said ... but the fact is that Russia defeated the USSR. It dissolved all progressive undertakings and nullified the Soviet civilization breakthrough.
        1. iouris
          iouris 29 March 2020 13: 40 New
          Quote: apro
          Russia defeated the USSR

          This is a very paradoxical conclusion, an oxymoron. I think we will understand for a long time that the USSR won there. The question is, is there enough historical time to go nowhere? Time will tell. Watch TV!
      2. 210ox
        210ox 29 March 2020 16: 16 New
        Yah? Do you give lectures at the drunk center?
        1. iouris
          iouris 29 March 2020 17: 02 New
          Quote: 210ox
          Do you give lectures at the drunk center?

          Apparently, yes.
  3. Aleksandr72
    Aleksandr72 29 March 2020 08: 20 New
    It is interesting that military units from ethnic Poles during the years of World War I formed on both sides of the front: in France they even formed an entire army under the command of Joseph Haller (or Haller, it doesn’t matter), which included 1 divisions and the first Polish tank regiment. And Jozef Pilsudski commanded the 5st Brigade of the Polish Legions as part of the imperial and royal army of Austria-Hungary. Then, after the declaration of independence of Poland, all these troops formed the new Polish Army, which by the way included the former 1th Division of General Zheligovsky, formerly part of the Denikin Volunteer Army. But all of their Poles who served in Russia, France, Austria-Hungary and Germany were united by one thing - frenzied Polish nationalism and Russophobia. From the very moment of the creation of an independent Polish state, this country successfully clashed with all its neighbors, no matter what their system was: the Poles fought with bourgeois Lithuania in 4, capturing Vilnius and occupying part of the Lithuanian lands, and with independent Ukraine , and with Soviet Russia. And this continued until August 2019, when Poland was defeated, and before that the Poles managed to grab the Teshinsky Territory from the Czechs.
    1. apro
      apro 29 March 2020 08: 30 New
      It is clear that everyone is not lazy ... formed military units from the Poles. But the goals were different Germans that would defeat the Russians and solve the Polish question in their favor in the future. French allies created Russian units to counterbalance the Russians in the Polish question. Why did the Russian form national units? with the involvement of a problem contingent. is it not a secret that the Polish attitude towards the Russians ... was it impossible to send the Poles to the imperial army?
      1. iouris
        iouris 29 March 2020 23: 01 New
        Quote: apro
        Poles could not be sent to the imperial army?

        If you know the history of Russia (your country), then it is easy to see that the "Poles" along with the "Germans" made a huge contribution to strengthening the power of the empire, to the development of Siberia, Central Asia, including being officers of the army and navy, who occupied high positions. And they were considered (and were) Russian subjects of the Catholic or Lutheran faith.
        In general, it should be borne in mind that an empire is created as a supranational supranational association of peoples, and nations arose only in the process of the formation of capitalism.
        The creation in the Russian army of the so-called national formations from peoples whose territories of residence were occupied by the Germans or were under the threat of occupation, speaks of two phenomena: the beginning of the collapse of the empire and the presence (at least among a significant part of the population of these "national outskirts") anti-German sentiment. First of all, this concerns Latvians and Estonians, who still remembered the oppression of the German landowners. However, in Polish society, pro-Russian anti-German sentiments existed at the beginning of the war.
        Subsequently, the national formations of the Russian army became the nucleus of the new "democratic" states created by the Entente on the ruins of the Russian Empire and Kerensky's "Russia of democratic choice."
  4. Olgovich
    Olgovich 29 March 2020 08: 34 New
    In the fight against United and Indivisible Russia, the Poles and the Bolsheviks were touchingly unanimous: during the Soviet-Polish war, they made TWICE armistice, which allowed the Bolsheviks to transfer huge forces from the Polish front that were DECISIVE to stop the Russian army from liberating Moscow from the Bolshevik invaders in 1919 g and to capture the Crimea in 1920
    1. apro
      apro 29 March 2020 08: 42 New
      It is clear that they fought ... it is not clear why the Russians created national units ... and why the Russians calmly looked when the Allies formed parts from the Poles.
      Poles wanted to be in one and indivisible? Russians could integrate Poles into ri?
      1. 210ox
        210ox 29 March 2020 12: 50 New
        What are you all-Russians, Russians ... The then elite-purishkevichs, Lviv, Kerensky. This is who should be in demand. With the then power, which provoked a crisis of power, and the other half, headed by the emperor, clumsily folded their hands.
        1. apro
          apro 29 March 2020 13: 21 New
          The guilty can always be found, destined, rewarded ... any nation is a civilizational path.
      2. Graz
        Graz 30 March 2020 07: 16 New
        Poles in Ri had to be integrated by mass deportation to Siberia and the Far East had to start immediately after Napoleon, 2 \ 3 had to be expelled and assimilated, and the remaining third should be kept in a black body without industry and education
      3. iouris
        iouris 30 March 2020 12: 33 New
        First of all, society is divided into classes. It is necessary to understand what social classes are.
        Social classes (social classes) are large groups of people that differ in their place in the historically defined system of social production, in their relation to the means of production, in their role in the social organization of labor, and therefore
        by the methods of obtaining and the size of the share of social wealth that they have (!).
        Modern nations arise in the era of the bourgeois mode of production.
        The "Russian army" did not exist by 1917. The soldiers were leaving the front for the village.
    2. tatra
      tatra 29 March 2020 09: 26 New
      In the struggle AGAINST the Soviet regime, FOR the dismemberment of Russia, the lack of servility of the invaders of Russia, the Bolsheviks' ENEMIES were united.
      And only also the enemies of the Bolsheviks who captured the USSR are united in your anti-Soviet with the Poles-Russophobes.
      1. Olgovich
        Olgovich 29 March 2020 12: 12 New
        Quote: tatra
        FOR the dismemberment of Russia, servility to the invaders of Russia by the interventionists, were one of the enemies of the Bolsheviks.

        1.Divided Russia into 46 states from 1917 to 1940 ENEMIES of the enemies of the Bolsheviks and today's borders of Russia-their "merit".

        2. The occupiers were given FOREVER a third countries in 1918 enemies of the enemies of the Bolsheviks.
        Returned -ANTANTA.

        It's just FACTS, not your NON-specific empty agitation.
        1. Kronos
          Kronos 29 March 2020 12: 57 New
          All Empires fell apart it's just facts
  5. Aleksandr72
    Aleksandr72 29 March 2020 08: 58 New
    Quote: Aleksandr72
    the Poles fought with bourgeois Lithuania in 2019, capturing Vilnius and occupying part of the Lithuanian lands.

    I apologize, of course, 1919.
  6. knn54
    knn54 29 March 2020 13: 12 New
    Pope John Paul || (Karol Wojtyła, former bishop from Krakow) he came to Germany for a visit and decided to go to a simple, cheap supermarket. He went in, bought what he wanted, goes out, and the supermarket director rushes towards him with a bunch of flowers. Dad (startled and surprised):
    - Tell me, these flowers to me, because I'm the Pope or am I your millionth customer?
    - Neither one nor the other, you are the first Pole who has not stolen anything from us !!
    1. iouris
      iouris 30 March 2020 12: 34 New
      If you want to speak, then speak on the topic, or publish in another place and at another time.