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Remembered Today:

East Prussia 1918-19


MelPack

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Hello

I was in Poznan last week and I thought that there might be some interest in a few photos that I took of the Polish Uprising in East Prussia:

Regards

Mel

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Mel.

THanks for the pictures. Can you give a potted history of this event - I know nothing about it?

Neil

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Apologies to all for the oversizing of the photos. I wrongly assumed that the new system automatically resized. :blink:

Neil

There is a useful but very brief summary on Wikipedia. In effect, the Allies were committed to the recreation of an independent Poland under Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points but the frontiers of the new state had yet to be defined thereby creating a vacuum for the issue to be determined by force of arms.

The defeat of the Germany Army on the Western Front in the autumn of 1918 ignited Polish hopes for a sovereign Poland and Poles began serious preparations for an uprising after the Kaiser's abdication on 9 November 1918, which saw the end of the German monarchy, which would be replaced by the Weimar Republic.

The uprising broke out on on 27 December 1918 in Poznań after a patriotic speech by Ignacy Paderewski, a famous Polish pianist.

The uprising forces consisted of members of the Polish Military Organization of the Prussian Partition, who started to form the Straż Obywatelska (Citizen's Guard), later renamed as Straż Ludowa (People's Guard) and many volunteers — mainly veterans of World War I. The ruling body was the Naczelna Rada Ludowa (High Peoples' Council) — at the beginning members of the Council were against the uprising, but supported it a few days later: unofficially 3 January 1919; officially 8 and 9 January 1919 — and the military commanders: Captain Stanisław Taczak (promoted to major, temporary commander 28 December 1918 – 8 January 1919) and later General Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki.

The timing of the uprising was fortuitous, as between October 1918 and the first months of 1919, internal conflict had weakened Germany, with soldiers and sailors rebelling against the monarchy and its hawkish generals. Demoralised by the signing of an armistice on November 11, 1918, Germany was embroiled in the German Revolution.

By 15 January 1919, the rebellious Polish forces managed to take control of most of the Province of Posen, and engaged in heavy fighting with the regular German army and the forces of the Grenzschutz, up until the renewal of the truce between the Entente and Germany on 16 February, which affected the Wielkopolska or Posen Province part of the front line. Skirmishes continued, however, until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.

Many of the Wielkopolska insurgents also took part in the 1919 - 1921 uprisings in Silesia.

Regards

Mel

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A slightly more detailed account from www.inyourpocket.com

Since the Third Partition of 1795 Poland had effectively ceased to be a country, wiped off the map and carved between Imperial Russia, Prussia and Habsburg Austria. Poznań enjoyed brief freedom in 1806, when Napoleon’s conquering troops marched eastwards, liberating much of Poland and placing the city under the independent jurisdiction of the Duchy of Warsaw. But Napoleon’s military disaster on the plains of Russia was to prove just years way, resulting in the 1815 Congress of Vienna which saw Poznań once more delivered back into Prussian hands. There it was to remain for over a century. With Europe reeling after years of war, Germany in collapse and Russia plunged into revolutionary the people of Poznań, overwhelmingly Polish, could sense independence was round the corner, but there remained one crucial sticking point: German stubbornness to relinquish the Wielkopolska region. Woodrow Wilson’s plans for an independent Poland had failed to set any boundaries, and while Warsaw was back in the hands of a Polish government Poznań was still answerable to Berlin. Something had to give. Ever since the Kaiser’s abdication on November 9, 1918, the native Poznonian’s had been plotting an uprising, even going so far as to create a government in waiting. Positions in local government and industry were forcibly seized by Poles and the countdown was on for outright war. Following weeks of tension the fuse was finally lit on December 27. Historical accounts of how the Uprising started vary; some sources claim it was the shooting of Francizek Ratajczak on the steps of the police headquarters that started the initial fighting, though most point to a stirring speech given by the pianist and patriot Ignacy Jan Paderewski on the balcony of what was then the Bazar Hotel. While addressing the Polish crowd assembled below a German counter-demonstration passed by – within moments shots had been fired and the Uprising had begun. Historians disagree on which side started the hostilities, but either way there was no turning back the clock. Within hours Polish forces had captured the train station and post office, while elsewhere in the region other towns rose up in rebellion upon hearing the news. Under the temporary charge of Stanisław Taczak the Polish forces followed up with numerous swift successes against a German army mentally and physically shattered from four years of world war. In Poznań the Fort Winiary in the Cytadela Park was captured, while a German regiment of Grenadiers voluntarily left the city having given up their arms. Elsewhere towns like Kórnik, Ostrów Wielkopolski and Mogilno were liberated though several counter attacks suggested a stiffening in German resolve. Fighting continued into the New Year, with Poznań’s Ławica Airport falling into the insurgents hands without a single aircraft being damaged, and within days Polish pilots launched a bombing mission on military targets in Frankfurt Oder. By January the situation was out of hand. To save the region from a descent into anarchy the government in waiting (christened NRL) took charge of all civil and military issues, conscripting all men born between 1897 and 1899 into military service. Taking their oaths of allegiance in what is today (B-2) pl. Wolnośći, the Polish troops continued to march into increasingly fierce battles with their German counterparts. Up until February ceasefire talks had repeatedly stalled, amid (unproven) accusations of Polish brutality towards civilians, and ludicrous demands that Poles pay reparations for damage during the fighting. Thankfully, peace was just around the corner, thanks in no small part to French intervention. February 14, 1919 saw the beginning of international peace talks, and within two days the French delegation had persuaded the Germans to sign an extension of the Allied-German armistice, this time including the Wielkopolska front. Sporadic fighting continued for the next few days, but to all intents and purposes, Poznań, and with it Wielkopolska, was liberated. In the months that followed Wielkopolska was absorbed into Poland, with Polish returned as the official language, and German street signs removed by law – with failure to comply resulting in a two year prison stretch.

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Mel, I will be in Warsaw and province of Posen (Poznan)from 11-20 June. Do you have any tips for me what to see/ what to visit WW1 related?

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Hello Egbert

Thanks for the link.

There is a fair amount to see. The Citadel is worth a visit with a range of militaria on display in the museum. On the entry slopes to the Citadel park there is a CWGC graveyard with about 180 WW1 graves of those that died as prisoners of war and a couple of hundred WW2 graves mostly of Allied air crews but also of the escapees who were executed as per the film The Great Escape. The CWGC graveyard is located amidst the graves of the Red Army and Polish Militia that took Poznan in February 1945 and the workers killed in the uprising of June 1956 (the prelude to the Hungarian Revolution).

There is also a small Wielkopolska 1918-19 Museum on the central square with some interesting exhibits.

Hindenberg was born in Poznan (Posen) but it would take some detective work to identify the location.

All in all, it is a pleasant place for a short visit and is steeped in history if you take the time to ferret it out.

Regards

Mel

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Thanx Mel for your information about Posen.

As you can imagine my main interest is my Grandparents home town Gnesen (Gniezno) close to Posen (see my signature link). In preparation I have researched all the relevant locations and I am dying for "Then & Now" comparison to include the places they lived and the IR 49 barracks. I know they are still there......

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