Sikorski, Władysław Eugeniusz

Władysław Eugeniusz Sikorski
Sikorski Sikorski
Given Name:
Władysław Eugeniusz Władysław Eugeniusz
Jméno v originále:
Original Name:
Władysław Eugeniusz Sikorski
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generál zbraní General of Arms
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Datum, místo narození:
Date and Place of Birth:
20.05.1881 Tuszów Narodowy
20.05.1881 Tuszów Narodowy
Datum, místo úmrtí:
Date and Place of Decease:
04.07.1943 Gibraltar
04.07.1943 Gibraltar
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ministr obrany
vrchní velitel a generální inspektor ozbrojených sil
ministerský předseda
Minister of Defence
Commander in Chief and General Inspector of the Armed Forces
Prime Minister of Poland
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Sikorski Sikorski
Given Name:
Władysław Eugeniusz Władysław Eugeniusz
Jméno v originále:
Original Name:
Władysław Eugeniusz Sikorski
Všeobecné vzdělání:
General Education:
DD.MM.1893-DD.MM.1897 gymnázium v Řešově
DD.MM.RRRR-DD.MM.1908 Polytechnika ve Lvově
DD.MM.1893-DD.MM.1897 gimnazjum in Rzeszów
DD.MM.RRRR-DD.MM.1908 Lwów Polytechnic
Vojenské vzdělání:
Military Education:
DD.MM.1906-DD.MM.RRRR rakouská vojenská akademie
DD.MM.1906-DD.MM.RRRR Austrian Military School
Důstojnické hodnosti:
Officer Ranks:
DD.MM.1906 podporučík
30.09.1914 podplukovník
DD.07.1916 plukovník
01.04.1920 brigádní generál
28.02.1921 divizní generál
24.12.1940 generálporučík
DD.MM.1906 second lieutenant
30.09.1914 lieutenant colonel
DD.07.1916 colonel
01.04.1920 brigade general
28.02.1921 divisional general
24.12.1940 Lieutenant General
Průběh vojenské služby:
Military Career:
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Lieutenant General Władysław Eugeniusz Sikorski

* 20.05.1881
+ 04.07.1943

Polish general, politician and statesman, President of the Polish Government in Exile. During the Soviet-Polish War (1919-1920) he proved to be an outstanding front-line general and, as a successful warrior, was appointed Chief of the General Staff in 1921. In late 1922 and early 1923 he was briefly Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. From 30 September 1939 he was Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile. Sikorski was killed in an air disaster near British Gibraltar. The "timing" of his death during the severe crisis between the Polish government-in-exile, the Allies and the USSR after the revelation of the Katyn massacre feeds various conspiracy theories to this day.

Youth and education
Sikorski was born into a non-wealthy family on May 20, 1881 in Tuszów Narodowy near Mielec in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1898-1902, he attended the teachers' seminary in Rzeszów, but his last class and his matriculation were already completed at the František Josef Gymnasium in Lwów. In 1902 he joined the department of bridge engineering at the Lviv Polytechnic, where he immediately became involved in patriotic associations. After graduation, with a diploma as an engineer of water structures, he was employed in the Halych administration, where he was engaged in the oil industry. In 1906, he volunteered for the Austro-Hungarian army for one year. At the military school in Sankt Pölten near Vienna he received his officer's diploma and became a second lieutenant in the reserve. In 1909 he married his fiancée Olga. Before the First World War he was one of the co-founders of several illegal organisations fighting for Polish independence. From 1908, together with Kazimierz Sosnkowski, he was behind the founding of the Union of Active Struggle (Związek Walki Czynnej), whose main goal was to organize an armed uprising against the Russian Empire. In 1910, Sikorski was one of the founders of the Riflemen's Union. During this period, Sikorski became a close associate and military advisor of Józef Piłsudski.

World War I
After the outbreak of World War I, in August 1914 Piłsudski was appointed plenipotentiary commissioner of the virtually non-existent Polish national government in Halych. At the moment of the formation of the Polish National Committee, Sikorski is the head of its military department and is in charge of, among other things, the organization of the Polish Legions. In September of the same year, Sikorski is promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and becomes head of the NCO school. At the beginning of the First World War, the cooperation between Sikorski and Piłsudski, the commander of the 1st Legionary Regiment, develops very well, but as time passes their ideological conflict over the concept of the future state grows. They disagreed on the question of conscription into the legions and also had different views on the role of Austria-Hungary in the solution of the Polish question. The mutual rivalry between the two politicians in the competition for influence in Polish circles fighting for independence also certainly weighed on their relations. During the First World War, Władysław Sikorski took command of the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Legion in addition to his position on the National Committee. In February 1918 he is interned by the Austrian authorities for his solidarity with the 2nd Brigade, which defected to the Russian side. In November, after his release, he organizes individual Polish units from his headquarters in Przemysl and forms them into units of the new Polish Army. In 1918, after independence, he took part in the Polish army fighting with the Ukrainians in the territory of Halych. During these battles, his efforts to pacify the national conflicts between the various groups living in this territory are highlighted.

Russian-Polish War
In 1919-1921, he demonstrated his military skills to the fullest, commanding Polish divisions fighting the Bolsheviks. He played an important role during the Battle of Warsaw. In 1920 he received a nomination for brigadier general. After the end of combat operations, General Sikorski continued to devote himself to military work and was Chief of the General Staff from 1921 to 1922.

Interwar period
In 1922, after the assassination of President Gabriel Narutowicz, Sikorski held the post of Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior from 16 December. His government's actions led to a calming of the social mood and stabilization of the political situation in Poland.
After a temporary calming of the situation, political disagreements and tensions in parliament began to grow again, which Sikorski's government was unable to resist and was forced to resign on 26 May 1923.

After several months of medical leave, General Sikorski took up the post of Minister of Military Affairs from 1923 to 1924. Sikorski's career was halted by Marshal Piłsudski's coup d'état in May 1926. During his dictatorial regime, Sikorski's mutual disagreements with Piłsudski and other leaders of the country deepened again. He then held no government position, had to leave the army and became one of Piłsudski's most determined opponents. In the following years he spent a lot of time in his beloved France, where he did theoretical work for the army and wrote several scientific publications.

World War II
With the threat of war imminent, Sikorski returned to Poland and in April 1939 published an article on Hitler's ambitions for world domination and his threat to the world. This prediction, and his request for a posting in the army where he could make full use of his command experience, were not heeded. When the German army invaded Poland in September, this able commander had no military or other position. In this situation, during the September campaign, he left his homeland via Romania and as early as 28 September took up work in France to create a Polish army abroad. On 30 September 1939, he was appointed President of the Polish government-in-exile and, following the resignation of Marshal Rydz-Śmigle in November 1939, he also took up the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces and Minister of Defence.

Sikorski was given the daunting task of forming a functional government outside the homeland and, more importantly, of organizing a new combat-ready Polish army from the more than 80,000,000 Polish soldiers who had managed to escape from their homeland. In 1940, the Independent Brigade of Carpathian Rifles took part in the fighting at Narvik, and two other Polish divisions took part in the battles to defend France. Other units were still being formed both on French territory and in Syria, where Poles who had managed to escape from their occupied homeland were still arriving. A Francophile, Sikorski believed to the end in the military strength of France and the will of the French people to fight, so her quick defeat was a great disappointment to him. After the surrender of France and the transfer of the government to London, Sikorski continued the same work in Great Britain. Together with the government, he managed to evacuate some 30,000 Polish soldiers to the British Isles - the basis of the new army. Many of these soldiers later received special training from the British S.O.E. - Special Operations Executive - and were then sent back to their homeland to serve as instructors in the growing resistance movement, mainly in the ranks of the Home Army (AK). The latter was regarded as the army of the government-in-exile in London and recognised General Sikorski as its commander-in-chief.
Sikorski's other difficult tasks included establishing good relations with the Allies. He acted as the main advocate of Poland's interests at the diplomatic level and sought to re-establish Polish-Soviet diplomatic relations.

After the victorious Battle of Britain, Sikorski holds in high regard the fighter pilots of the Polish squadrons who contributed greatly to this victory. Just as the authority of the Polish troops grew among the Allies, so did the influence and authority of their commander-in-chief. Sikorski became the most important Churchill ally among the other exiled heads of government. On June 22, 1941, the German army invaded the Soviet Union. This attack caused an immediate change in the political situation in Europe and forced a response from Sikorski's government. Władysław Sikorski, as a realistic politician and a loyal ally of Great Britain, understood how serious the changes in Allied relations had become with this attack and was forced to adapt to these changes. The Sikorski-Majsky agreement scrapped the German-Soviet agreements and became the basis for cooperation between Poland and the USSR. The agreement included an "amnesty" for Polish citizens imprisoned after Soviet aggression on USSR territory. The agreement opened up the possibility of improving conditions for tens of thousands of Poles exported to the USSR.

Sikorski's political opponents would never forgive this act. The agreement did not meet with understanding in many Polish military and political circles because it did not contain a specific entry on the return of Poland's 1939 eastern border. Opponents of the treaty were fundamentally opposed to any agreement with a state that had participated in the aggression against Poland together with III. Reich, and Sikorski's efforts to improve Polish-Soviet relations were seen as a betrayal of Poland's national interests.

In December 1941, General Sikorski visited Moscow to sign a declaration of friendship and mutual cooperation between the governments of the USSR and Poland. During the meeting, he raises the issue of the 14,000 missing officers. He receives only a vague reply that it is possible that they are in camps beyond the Arctic Circle, where telegrams ordering their release have not yet arrived. Stalin even replied that they might have fled to Mongolia or Manchuria. Sikorski and Anders stressed that it was impossible for such a large number of people to move several thousand kilometers without being noticed. The Soviets were further presented with the theory that they had been handed over to the Germans and were on German territory. Thanks to the domestic resistance in Poland, these theories were verified and refuted. Thus, Sikorski never received a direct answer from the Soviet Union as to the whereabouts of these officers.

In 1942, mutual Polish-Soviet relations began to deteriorate further. This was associated with new Soviet territorial claims to Poland's eastern regions and also with the evacuation of part of Anders' Polish Army and thousands of Middle Eastern civilians to Iraq and Iran. In mid-April 1943, several mass graves were discovered in the Katyn forest near Smolensk, and in them the bodies of four and a half thousand executed Polish officers, bringing to light the truth about one of the greatest war crimes in modern history. Germany made perfect propaganda use of its discovery. The entire world public, including Sikorski's government-in-exile in London, learned in this shocking way where thousands of officers captured by the Red Army, missing since 1940, had gone. Shortly thereafter, Poland approached the International Red Cross to request an international commission to review Katyn the matter. The Soviet Union's response was to announce the severance of diplomatic relations with the Polish government-in-exile. However, this was only a pretext for the termination of relations, because from late 1942, Stalin had been gradually preparing the rise of pro-Soviet Poles, who were organized in the Union of Polish Patriots in Moscow. These moves were politically directed against the Sikorski government and were to become the basis for the creation of a power centre subordinate to Moscow in post-war Poland. The Western allies (especially Great Britain) sought to settle the Polish-Soviet dispute, demanding, among other things, the reconstitution of the Sikorski government and the removal of those critical of the USSR. This was the result of behind-the-scenes negotiations during which Stalin, in secret dispatches to the Allies, accused the Sikorski government of colluding with Hitler and violating the Allied treaties with the USSR.

By mid-1943, General Sikorski, observing the deteriorating position of his government and thus of Polish affairs, must have come to the conclusion that the Western Allies were marginalizing Poland's role and would hardly stand up to defend its interests - moreover, at a time when the main burden of the struggle against Germany lay on the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, he did not lose hope for the normalization of Polish-Soviet relations and counted on the support of the United States, where he went to negotiate with President Roosevelt. It was the importance of these negotiations that he often stressed during his inspection tour of Anders' army in the Middle East in late May 1943. One of the other reasons for this inspection was the fierce campaign waged in officer circles (including Anders) against his person. The Prime Minister's critics categorically rejected any compromise agreements with the Soviet Union. Sikorski conducted countless interviews with officers at units in Iran, Lebanon and Palestine. He also met with Polish diplomats accredited in the region. After the inspection, he was satisfied with the situation in the military units, however, he counted on the recall of some officers from Anders' entourage.

04.07.1943 - death in Gibraltar
On 3 July, a Consolidated Liberator(AL 523) with Sikorsky and his entourage took off from Cairo for Gibraltar, where the delegation stopped on its return from an inspection tour of the Middle East before continuing on to England. At 23:07 on the night of 4 July 1943, Sikorsky's aircraft crashed into the sea 16 seconds after take-off from Gibraltar airfield. In addition to the general and his chief of staff, the general's daughter and seven other members of his entourage were killed in the wreckage. Only one person survived the crash - Czech pilot Eduard Prchal. The cause of the crash was considered by the investigating commission to be a blockage of the elevator.

* The circumstances of the crash and the resulting speculations on Sikorski's death can be found in the forthcoming article "The Gibraltar Disaster"

The General's remains were transported on 10 July 1943, aboard the Polish destroyer ORP Orkan, to the English port of Plymouth. After a funeral ceremony in London, Władysław Sikorski was buried in the Polish Airmen's Cemetery in Newark. As a final farewell, his widow threw a handful of Polish soil into the grave. It was his wish, here, among his soldiers, to await his return to a free homeland. After the exhumation in 1993, the remains were taken to Warsaw and from there they were transported to Krakow on 17 September 1993, where they were deposited in the crypt of St Leonard in the Royal Castle of Wawel. Władysław Sikorski was awarded the Order of the White Eagle(in memoriam), the Virtuti Militari 2nd and 5th Classes, the Polonia Restituta 1st and 3rd Classes, and received the Krzyż Walecznych four times.

Roman Wapiński, Władysław Sikorski, Warsaw 1978, ISBN 83-214-0296-8
Tadeusz A. Kisielewski, Assassination. The trail of killers of General Sikorski, Poznań 2005,
ISBN 83-7301-767-4
Wacław Subotkin, Tragiczny Lot Generała Sikorskiego (The Tragic Flight of General Sikorski), Fakty i Dokumenty (Facts and Documents), Szczecin 1986, ISBN 83-03-01274-6

Sikorski, Władysław Eugeniusz - První spojenci Winston Churchill, Władysław Sikorski a Charles de Gaulle.

První spojenci Winston Churchill, Władysław Sikorski a Charles de Gaulle.

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Památníček na na varšavském vojenském hřbitově (Cmentarz Wojskowy na Powązkach).

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Katafalk gen. Sikorskiego v královské hrobce na krakovském zámku Wawel.
Sikorski, Władysław Eugeniusz - zdroj:
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Generał broni Władysław Eugeniusz SIKORSKI (20 May 1881 - 4 Jul 1943)

1918 - 1919: Quartermaster, East Army
1919: Commander of Operations Group Bartatow
1919 - 1920: C.O. 9. Infantry Division
1920: Promoted to Generał brygady
1920: C-in-C, 5. Army
1920: C-in-C, 3. Army
1921: Promoted to Generał dywizji
1921: Chief of the General Staff
1922 - 1923: Minister of the Interior
1923 - 1924: Inspector-General of Infantry
1924 - 1925: Minister of War
1925 - 1928: G.O.C. VI. Corps District
1928 - 1939: Unassigned; at the disposal of the Minister of War
1939 - 1943: Commander-in-Chief (in exile) of the Army
1939 - 1943: Minister of War (in exile)
1939 - 1943: Prime Minister (in exile) of Poland
1940: Promoted to Generał broni

Principal sources:
Generalicja Polska (I & II), by Henryk P. Kosk
Andris J. Kursietis, personal archives
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