Lucjan Żeligowski

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Lucjan Żeligowski

Lucjan Żeligowski (born October 17, 1865 in Nyaswisch , Russian Empire , † July 9, 1947 in London ) was a Polish general . He took part in the Russo-Japanese War , the Russian Civil War , the First World War , the Polish-Soviet War and the Second World War. He became famous as the head of state of the short-lived republic of Central Lithuania .


After successfully completing his training at an officers' school, Żeligowski joined the Russian army in 1885 and served in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/05.

During the First World War he commanded a rifle regiment with the rank of lieutenant colonel . After the February Revolution , he played a key role in building a Polish army in Russia . In the newly created army, he was initially placed under an infantry regiment. However, he was quickly promoted and given command of a brigade . In 1918 he began to set up a Polish association in the Kuban area , from which he finally formed the 4th Polish Rifle Division. This unit fought together with the associations of the Russian general Denikin in the Russian civil war against the Bolsheviks . In October 1918 he was appointed commander in chief of all Polish associations fighting on the side of the whites in the Russian civil war .

After Denikin's final defeat by the Bolsheviks and the outbreak of the Polish-Soviet War, Żeligowski had to withdraw with his troops to Bessarabia . There he participated in securing the Romanian border against attacks by the Bolsheviks. In April 1919 his division was withdrawn to Poland, where it was incorporated into the regular Polish army .

As a personal friend of Józef Piłsudskis , the commander in chief of the Polish army in the Polish-Soviet war, Żeligowski was soon promoted to general. He was also appointed commander of the entire Lithuanian-Belarusian front. He was assigned an operational unit, which mainly consisted of the units brought with them from Bessarabia and former partisans . The operation unit named after Żeligowski was mainly deployed in the area of Polesia and Pinsk . During the Battle of Warsaw , Żeligowski was assigned to the 3rd Polish Army and participated in the pursuit of the defeated Bolsheviks and in the Battle of the Nyemen .

In Lithuania

In October 1920, Żeligowski, as he was born on the territory of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania , was entrusted with command of the first Lithuanian-Belarusian infantry division. This consisted mainly of volunteers and partisans who came from the area of ​​today's Lithuania and Belarus. With this troop Żeligowski occupied the city of Vilnius in Lithuania in a coup on October 12, 1920 . The next day he proclaimed the independent republic of Central Lithuania with the capital Vilnius. He ruled this structure initially as a military dictator , but then gave his power to an elected parliament , which immediately decided to annex Central Lithuania to Poland.

1921 to 1947

After the Anschluss, Żeligowski was promoted to lieutenant general and as such continued his service in the Polish army. He served as Army Inspector and Commander of the Warsaw Military District. In 1925 he finally became Polish Minister of Defense . On the occasion of the May coup of Piłsudski in May 1926, he lost his ministerial post briefly, but was quickly reappointed defense minister. Soon after, however, he gave up his office and retired to his family's seat in Andrzejewo near Vilna.

In 1930 Żeligowski published his memories of the Polish-Soviet War in a book entitled The War of 1920: Memories and Thoughts ( Wojna w roku 1920. Wspomnienia i rozważania ). During this time he also published a large number of articles on armed conflicts in the early 20th century in various Polish daily newspapers. From 1935 to 1939 he was an elected member of the Polish Sejm .

Immediately after the raid of the German Wehrmacht in Poland on September 1, 1939, Żeligowski reported as a volunteer with the Polish army. However, because of his advanced age of 74 years and his poor health, he was not accepted. But he served as an advisor to the commander of the Polish southern front. In the wake of the Polish defeat, Żeligowski escaped capture by the Germans and the Soviets by fleeing into exile in France . There he joined the Polish government in exile and had to flee to London after the conquest of France by the Wehrmacht in 1940.

After the end of the war, Żeligowski announced that he would soon return to Poland. This did not happen because he died suddenly on July 9, 1947 in exile in London. His body was transferred to Warsaw. As an honorary citizen of the city, he was buried in the Powązki cemetery .



  • Marianna Butenschön: Lithuania. Page 179 CHBeck, 2002, ISBN 3406447899 , ISBN 9783406447891 , page 179
  • Hirsz Abramowicz, Eva Zeitlin Dobkin, Dina Abramowicz, Jeffrey Shandler, David E. Fishman, Yivo Institute for Jewish Research: Profiles of a lost world: memoirs of East European Jewish life before World War II. Wayne State University Press, 1999, ISBN 0814327842 , ISBN 9780814327845 , page 272
  • Michael Palij: The Ukrainian-Polish defensive alliance, 1919-1921: an aspect of the Ukrainian revolution. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 1995, ISBN 1895571057 , ISBN 9781895571059 , page 44
  • Marek Tarczyński, Andrzej Bartnik: Bitwa Warszawska 13-28 VIII 1920: documenty operacyjne. Rytm, 1995, ISBN 8386678372 , ISBN 9788386678372 , page 133
  • Wacław Jędrzejewicz, Józef Piłsudski, Janusz Cisek: Kalendarium życia Józefa Piłsudskiego, 1867-1935: 1918-1926. Oficyna wydawnicza Rytm, 1998, p. 411
  • Stanisław Arnold: Historia Polski, Part 2. Państwowe Wydawn. Naukowe, 1957, ISBN 8301038659 , ISBN 9788301038656 , page 108
  • Władysław Kolatorski: Bitwa pod Radzyminem w 1920 roku. Tow. Przyjaciół Radzymina, 1995, ISBN 8390266911 , ISBN 9788390266916 , page 51

Web links

Commons : Lucjan Żeligowski  - album with pictures, videos and audio files