when it comes to Kalisz/Kalisch one has to remember that the initial, mysterious event involving the II/155 was only the beginning of the entire sad story. The problem is that after Preusker had pulled out, 3rd Landwehr Division entered (II/7th Landwehr, for that matter, on August 7th). Having been forewarned about perceived francs-tirreurs operating within the town, they were in their inexperience seeing them everywhere. The result - a perceived "ambush", firefight, taking and shooting hostages and so on and so forth. After that, the town centre was set alight.
Moreover - if we are to believe the history of the 133rd Landwehr Regiment, the III/137Ldw which crossed the town on August 14th, it has been "attacked by fanatical civilians or hidden Russian soldiers" and suffered 3 dead and 14 wounded in the firefight (p. 3). On that day the 37th Landwehr Regiment, also crossing the town, was ordered again to burn some buildings (regimental history, p. 17).
The Polish civilian witnesses questioned after the war uniformly claim that they all the Russian forces had pulled out after having burned the railway station, that they have not seen any armed civilian nor Russian soldier within the town, and, most importantly, Polish doctors from the local hospital claimed that all the wounded German soldiers treated were shot by German rifle bullets, not by shotgun pellets, as the German officers claimed.
The German official history only mentions the affair, saying that it is "possible" that Russian agents were involved (Bd. 2, p. 49) and that the there is no clear explanation of the event (Bd. 5, p. 421)
There are two interesting sidenotes to the Kalisz incident, but it is hard to tell if these are in any way connected.
on August 8th two civilians were shot in Czestochowa (Germ. Tschenstochau) by the troops of 55th Landwehr Regiment for alleged attakcs on German soldiers the day before.
On August 22nd Russian General Martos orered to shell Neidenburg for alleged attack of the civilian population on a Cossack patrol.
The whole Kalisz affair is but a sidenote in my forthcoming PhD about the German operation in the Vistula Curve, yet I have used the following mateiral:
- H. Reichert, Der Schwarze Lord. Unter Woyrsch durch Polen und Galizien, Zeulenroda 1929.
- Wynik dochodzen urzedowych w sprawie zburzenia miasta Kalisza przez Niemcow w roku 1914 (The results of the Official Enquiry to the destruction of the city of Kalisz by the Germans in 1914)
- J. Dabrowski, Katastrofa Kaliska (a testimony of a Polish historian who was present in Kalisz in August 1914)
- W. Heye, Geschichte des Landwehrkorps im Weltkriege 1914-1918, Breslau 1935.
- Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918, Vols. 2 and 5.
- M. Romsdtedt, Das Kgl. Sachs. Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 133, Dresden 1924
- F. Pfister, Geschichte des Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiemtns Nr. 37, Oldenburg-Berlin 1928.
- J. Pilsudski, Moje pierwsze boje, Warszawa 1925.
- W. Bortnowski, Ziemia lodzka w ogniu. 1 VIIII - 6 XII 1914, Lodz 1969. (somewhat biased)
- D. Showalter, Tannenberg. The Clash of Empires.
Since I have not obtaned the history of the 155th Infantry Regiment, as it did not take part in the fighting on the Eastern Front in 1914 (save Kalisz, if we might call it fighting), I would be very obliged if one could send me a copy of the relevant pages of the regimental history.
For me it is very probable that green (without combat experience, that is) soldiers led by officers taught to expect "francs-tirreurs" in captured areas have overreacted to a minor incident (like accidental weapon discharge or the like). See Thomas Weber's "Hitler's First War" for a description of the mechanism, which must have worked similarly in the West and in the East.
We need to bear in mind that after this initial incident nothing similar has occured - both during the operation of the Landwehrkorps in the Vistula Curve and during the offensives in October and November.
Perhaps it is of interest to note that my like-aged (60+) Polish neighbours have never heard of the 'Kalisz event' - even more proof to me that the Wikki article is a 'stirrer'.
That does not prove anything. Most Poles do not know about the Kalisz incident, because compared to the atrocities committed in Poland in 1939-1945 Kalisz pales into insignificance.