One cannot but pay tribute to the creator of the new Poland, Jozef Pilsudski - he knew how to select subordinates. Three of them, together with the "brigadier" and "head of state", became the authors of one of the brilliant, but very unexpected for them, victory in the final operation of the Soviet-Polish war of 1920 ("Miracle on the Vistula").
A native of Galicia, the son of a sergeant of the Austro-Hungarian army from the provincial Brezhan, an orphan from the age of 8, he lived not the longest, but an amazing life. He was only 22 years old when he joined the militant organization of the socialists of Pilsudski. And at 50, Edward Rydz-Smigly became a marshal and the Polish commander-in-chief.
Even outwardly, the youngest of Pilsudski's friends, by the time he was matured, had changed almost beyond recognition. Instead of a brave shooter with graceful mustache, a brutal warrior is looking at us from later photos - a commander, behind whom there is only victory and glory.
The nickname Smigly, which means nimble, dexterous, and at the same time - a redhead, he, apparently, received a reason in his youth and made her his second surname. The circumstances of his death, after being demoted to corporal and sentenced to death by President Sikorsky, are still shrouded in mystery.
Many are ready to almost pray for this officially recognized successor of Pilsudski, but most ruthlessly criticize Rydz for 1939. However, in 1920 he showed himself to be a true hero.
It was the Middle Front of Rydza-Smigly that included three divisions that attacked from the banks of the Vepsh into the flank and rear of Tukhachevsky. It was Rydza's front that almost surrounded the First Horse Cavalry and prevented the fall of Lvov, which could well become a turning point in the whole war. Therefore, Rydz's appointment to a high post in the new Polish army was entirely justified.
He still served in the Habsburg army, participated in the world war as part of the legions. Completed all battles and all command posts. By the time independence was returned to his homeland, Rydz was a brigade general and commandant of the Polish military organization, the forerunner of the army. Pilsudski, taking the leadership of the new Commonwealth into his own hands, immediately gave the post of Minister of War to Rydzu.
At least such an episode testifies to Rydz's tough and intolerant character. When the First Cavalry Army in the spring of 1920 went on a raid on the Polish rear, the Third Army left Kiev, and its commander Edward Rydz-Smigly personally gave the order to finally blow up a unique engineering structure - the Nikolaev chain bridge.
In the battle on the Vistula, Rydz-Smigly made full use of the fact that Tukhachevsky, despite warnings from the chairman of the RVSR L. D. Trotsky and commander-in-chief S. S. Kamenev, monstrously stretched his front. In addition, the Southwestern Front never fulfilled Kamenev's order to transfer the First Cavalry from Lvov to Warsaw.
The pace of the offensive of the Middle Front of Rydza-Smigly could be envied by the most mobile armies. He did not allow the majority of Soviet divisions to escape from the defeat, although Red Russia was still not defeated. After the conclusion of peace, General Rydz held a number of high posts, and when, under the leadership of Pilsudski, the coup of 1926 was successful, he became the chief inspector of the army.
With the death of Piłsudski, Rydz followed in his footsteps. Not holding the presidency, remaining only an inspector, he turned into a de facto dictator of the new Rzeczpospolita, which caused a quarrel with most of the old "shooters" and "legionnaires", and above all with General Sikorsky.
Rydz-Smigly never concealed his readiness to cooperate with Germany against the Soviets, so September 1939 was a terrible blow for him. It was from his lips that a confession came out that
"With Germany we will only lose freedom, Russia will take our soul away."
The Marshal personally vetoed the passage of Soviet troops through Polish territory to help Czechoslovakia back in 1938, when there was no trace of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. But the Polish-German non-aggression pact was already in force.
The defeat of the Polish army, which, due to a passion for cavalry attacks against tank Many called the operetta columns, forced Rydza to make unexpected decisions. He gave the order to retreat to the borders with Romania and Poland, without engaging in battle with the Soviet troops, which on September 17 entered the territory of Western Ukraine and Belarus.
Just a day after the invasion of the "Reds" Rydz-Smigly hastened to get out to Romania, from where he soon fled to Hungary. In October 1941, he contrived to return to occupied Warsaw, where he tried to fight the Germans.
However, this struggle sometimes took on very original forms. There is even evidence that he offered Anders' army, which was formed on Soviet territory, to strike in the rear of the Red Army (Treason of the Marshal of Poland).
In the Polish Army, the fugitive marshal was given a death sentence, it is believed that the same was done by General Sikorsky, who became the head of the government in exile, who did not get along very well with Anders' army. Be that as it may, it is officially accepted that Rydz-Smigly died on December 2, 1941 from a heart attack.
Józef Haller (more often he is not quite correctly called Haller), born near Krakow in 1873, graduated from the Vienna Military Technical Academy and served for a decade and a half in the 11th artillery regiment of the Habsburg army.
After retiring in the modest rank of captain, and this at 37 years old, Haller became carried away by liberal ideas and became a loyal supporter of Piłsudski, and with the outbreak of world war he enlisted in one of his legions. However, he did not forgive the Pilsudski coup of 1926, which ended the remnants of democracy in his homeland.
In August 1920, he, the commander of the Northern Front of the Polish Army, had to take on the main blow of Tukhachevsky's armies, which were rolling into Warsaw. He was also one of the founders of the regular army of the new Poland, and by no means on the basis of Pilsudski's legions.
Before the war, Haller had time to plunge into social activities, raised scouts and "falcons", even participated in the movement for cooperation. With the outbreak of the First World War, he did not have much choice - in the Polish legion of the Austrian army, he quickly became a colonel, fought in the Carpathians.
Under his command were a battalion, a regiment, a second brigade of legionnaires, and then the II Polish Corps, but only in independent Poland he was promoted to general.
The Brest-Litovsk Peace and the de facto independence of Poland prompted Jozef Haller to take action. He left Ukraine, reached Moscow without complications, and from there to Murmansk and went to France. There, the so-called "Blue" (according to the color of uniforms) army was already in full swing, headed by the French general Arshinar.
Up to 35 thousand Polish prisoners of war and more than 20 thousand American Poles were already enrolled in it, there were even people from the Russian expeditionary corps and ... from Brazil. Historians have the opinion that Haller was its first commander, although this is not entirely true, but his merits in the fact that she became the basis of the Polish armed forces, along with legionnaires and riflemen, cannot be denied.
Already in February 1918, with the light hand of Ignacy Paderewski, the famous pianist and composer, and also a diplomat, the Blue Army was under the control of the Polish National Committee - a kind of government in exile. In the end, the army, which reached six divisions, joined the ranks of the Polish armed forces of Piłsudski.
Haller's army was sent to Poland by the end of the summer of 1919, making no secret of the goal of opposing the advance of the Soviets to the West. However, the general also had to defend Lviv under the pressure of the Ukrainian Sich forces from the Galician army, which would later merge with the Red Army. By that time, Haller's army had no less than 70 thousand fighters, and the general himself became the commander of the Southwestern Front, which covered the border with Germany.
But in May, the general promptly returned to the east, where a little later he led the Northern Front. Prior to that, Haller had also managed to command in Pomerania, which the Poles almost took from the Germans even then. By the way, he led the spectacular ceremony of the "betrothal of Poland to the sea" in the town of Puck, in German - Putzig (A wedding with the sea: how Poland dreamed of becoming an empire).
The decisive battle near Warsaw, in which Haller's troops launched a counteroffensive, when no one believed in it, brought him not at all the glory that the general had the right to count on. Dithyrambs went exclusively to Pilsudski, well, if only to the Frenchman Weygand, but Haller could not complain about the absence of awards.
However, the orders did not cancel the main thing - the general of the division, Józef Haller, an experienced artilleryman, was appointed only as an artillery inspector. He immediately went to the Diet, from where he condemned the May Pilsudski putsch, for which he was immediately dismissed from the army.
Haller immediately jumped into politics, merging his Haller Union with other workers' organizations into the Party of Labor. After in January 1934, by the way, five years earlier than the USSR, Poland signed a non-aggression pact with Germany ("Hitler-Pilsudski pact"), Jozef Haller wrote directly:
"Now there is no longer any doubt that there is a secret military treaty between Germany and Poland, directed against the USSR."
In 1940, Sikorsky, who also once did not get along with the dictator, headed the government in exile and invited Haller to the post of Minister of Education. The retired general did not return to his homeland, in England he lived to be 86 years old, never finishing his multivolume memoirs.
This French general, originally from Belgium, is considered to be the author of the brilliant plan for the defeat of Tukhachevsky's armies. There is even a version that it was Weygand who insisted that the main attack from the line of the Vepsh River be supported by a smaller flank attack on the Vkra River.
It is argued that Pilsudski and the front commanders believed that too deep a detour would allow the Reds to escape from the attack. In a sense, this version is supported by the studies of a number of Soviet specialists, for example, Melikov and Kakurin, who scrupulously analyze the possibilities of the withdrawal of Shuvaev's 4th Army and Guy's cavalry in other directions than along the Prussian and Lithuanian border.
Weygand's successful military career was promoted by rumors that he was the illegally born son of either a Belgian king or one of the Habsburgs. He was brought up in a Jewish family, but during the famous Dreyfus affair took a tough anti-Dreyfusar position.
He graduated from the famous Saint-Cyr, and met the world war as a 47-year-old colonel at the headquarters of General Foch. In 1916 he received a brigadier general for Verdun and from 1917 he became a member of the Supreme Military Council. In the rank of major general, it was Weygand who read the terms of the armistice to the Germans in the famous trailer in the Compiegne forest.
In 1920, Weygand was not directly subordinate to Pilsudski, he was the head of the French military mission in Poland and was forming a new Polish army. It turned out quite well, in terms of numbers at the beginning of the war, and then at its final stage, it significantly surpassed the forces of the Red Western and Southwestern Fronts.
In fact, Weygand played the role of chief of the personal staff of the Polish commander-in-chief, not burdened with office work. According to eyewitnesses, he repeatedly suggested repeating the Marne of 1914 on the Vistula, although a blow to the flank of Tukhachevsky literally suggested itself.
After Poland, Weygand went to Syria as High Commissioner of the French Republic in Syria and commander-in-chief in the Levant. But a year later, he received the quiet position of director of the Center for Military Research with the award of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor.
However, Weygand was still waiting for the post of chief of the French General Staff and member of the Supreme Military Council, from where he was sent to the inspector general for pro-Nazi sentiments. The general continued to draw closer to Marshal Petain and became one of the organizers of the notorious movement of the Kagulars, ready to cooperate with Hitler.
Back in 1931, General Weygand took the place of a member of the French Academy after the famous Marshal Joffre. He met World War II at the high post of commander-in-chief in the Eastern Mediterranean theater of operations.
When German troops invaded France, he replaced General Gamelin in "his" post of chief of staff and at the same time - commander-in-chief. He did not succeed in organizing a solid defense on the line of his name - German tanks broke through not only to Dunkirk, but also deep into France.
General Weygand immediately supported Marshal Petain in his desire to capitulate to Germany, for which, most likely, he received the rank of divisional general and the portfolio of Minister of National Defense in the Vichy government. After becoming governor-general and commander-in-chief in Algeria in 1941, Weygand tried to somehow resist the Nazis, but was arrested and even ended up in the Dachau concentration camp.
The allies freed the general, but on May 10, 1945, Weygand was arrested by the French, accusing him of collaborating with the Germans. The retired general was released only for health reasons, although later the Supreme Court dropped all charges against him.
Maxime Veygand died a very old man, having written by that time harsh comments on De Gaulle's memoirs and a three-volume "History French army ". He did not wait for the marshal's baton and, at the direction of the President of the Republic, General De Gaulle, did not even receive a mourning ceremony in the House of Invalids.