On August 13-15, we celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw, i.e. the decisive clash between Polish and Bolshevik troops. The battle took place on the outskirts of Warsaw in 1920. The Soviets were beaten and had to retreat. Poland defended its young independence. It also saved Europe from the nightmare of Bolshevism. This battle is referred to as the eighteenth, decisive battle in the history of the world.
November 11, 1918 was a day of victory for Poland – we regained independence. However, the peace did not last long, as already seven days later the leader of Bolshevik Russia, Vladimir Lenin, gave the order to start Operation “Vistula”. Poland was a tactical target for the Russians. The Russian Bolsheviks counted on the support of the communists, who were trying to cause a revolution in Germany and in the countries that emerged as a result of the disintegration of Austria-Hungary.
The Soviets used the truce to prepare for the invasion
The fight began in February 1919 and lasted until October. It was interrupted by three months of peace talks. However, it was only a “smoke screen” for the actual intentions of the Russians, who at that time were making plans to invade Poland. The Bolsheviks deceitfully used the time of the armistice. The Red Army managed to inflict heavy losses on the troops of the “white general”, Anton Denikin. He was the commander of the anti-communist “white army” that fought against the Bolshevik option during the Russian Civil War in 1917-1923.
There is no doubt that if we wrested from the hands of the Polish bourgeoisie its bourgeois gentry army, then the revolution of the working class in Poland would become a fact. And this fire would not have been contained by Polish walls. Like a raging torrent, it would spread all over Western Europe. This experience of revolution from the outside will not be forgotten by the Red Army. And should the European bourgeoisie ever challenge us to a new struggle, the Red Army will be able to defeat them and support and spread the revolution in Europe.
The second step on the part of the Russian army was to force the Ukrainian leader Semen Petliura to withdraw from Polish territory. In April 1920, the Polish government concluded an agreement with Petlura – in exchange for Ukraine’s recognition of Poland’s rights to Eastern Lesser Poland (especially to Lviv), Poland recognized the government of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. A joint military convention was also signed.
“Warsaw will be awakened by the thunder of cannons” – wrote “Kurjer Warszawski” in the issue of August 15, 1920. The city was preparing for battle. The Red Army was approaching the capital, and although it was greatly depleted by the resistance put up by the Polish army along the way, it was still dangerous. No one had any doubts that the most important battle of the Polish-Bolshevik war would take place near Warsaw.
The Poles enter, the Soviets attack
On May 7, 1920, Polish-Ukrainian forces entered Kiev. In this situation, the Red Army launched an offensive led by Mikhail Tukhachevsky, one of the most talented Soviet commanders. Tukhachevsky’s determined attack was aimed at capturing Warsaw, while Semyon Budyonny’s cavalry army attacked the Poles in the Lwów region, and Gaj-Khan’s cavalry corps was to take over northern Mazovia in order to surround and finally defeat the Polish forces.
Forecasts for Poland were not positive. The capital seemed indefensible. However, while the Red Army was gathering forces for the final battle, the Poles regrouped their troops. Marshal Józef Piłsudski already in the first half of July planned to lead to a great battle.
In the crucial moments of August 1920, despite the earlier huge losses, the size of the Polish army exceeded 900,000 soldiers.
Pogrom near Osowiec, Białystok and Kolno
The Battle of Warsaw took place on the outskirts of Warsaw, on August 13-15, 1920. It was fought in accordance with the operational plan, which was developed by the chief of the general staff, General Tadeusz Rozwadowski, Colonel Tadeusz Piskor and Captain Bronisław Regulski, based on the general concept of Józef Piłsudski.
The moment of death of Fr. Skorupki is a turning point in the battle of Ossów and in the history of the war of 1920. Until then, Poles were fleeing from the Bolsheviks, since then the Bolsheviks have been fleeing from Poles.
On August 15, the 203rd Cavalry Regiment in Kalisz captured the headquarters of the 4th Soviet Army in Ciechanów. It was one of the strategically most important moments of this battle. Together with the staff, the Polish army took over the office of the Russian army, warehouses and one of the radio stations, which was the center of communication with the command in Minsk. On the same day, fierce battles between Polish troops and the Red Army took place, among others, at Radzymin, Ossów and Zielonka. In the end, Polish soldiers, at the cost of great losses, held Radzymin and other towns, throwing the Bolsheviks far from their positions.
The final defeat of the Bolsheviks was suffered at Osowiec, Białystok and Kolno. The Battle of Warsaw claimed the lives of 4.5 thousand Polish soldiers. The number of those killed in the ranks of the Red Army is not known. Many Soviet soldiers were taken prisoner by the Polish and interned by the Germans.
In the Polish-Bolshevik war, American airmen from the 7th Fighter Squadron of Tadeusz Kosciuszko. One of its great heroes was the later Hollywood producer Merian C. Cooper, creator and producer of the original hit “King Kong”.
The victory at Warsaw saved Europe
The “Miracle on the Vistula”, as this battle is usually called, was considered the 18th breakthrough battle in world history, primarily because it stopped the invasion of the Bolshevik revolution on Western Europe. It was a spectacular, historic victory that guaranteed Europe’s freedom from Soviet propaganda. And at the same time one of the most important victories in the entire history of Poland
The documents of the Central Military Archives revealed in August 2005 show that already in September 1919 the Bolshevik ciphers were broken by Lieutenant Jan Kowalewski. Thanks to this, the Poles knew the plans and orders of the Soviet side and were able to take advantage of it. They also disrupted enemy communications at the crucial moment. They retuned one of Warsaw’s radio stations to a Soviet frequency and for two days tapped out fragments of the Bible in Morse code.
Main photo source: Central Military Archives, public domain, Wikipedia