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Destruction of Kalisz 1914


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#1 PeterH

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 09:19 AM

Can this incident be verified from German sources?

http://en.wikipedia....ction_of_Kalisz

#2 Ladislav Krejča

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 09:28 PM

Yes this destruction was confirmed in german book Der Kamf grgrn Russland und Serbien from Wilhelm Conrad Gomoll, Lepzig 1916. German told that musted town punished because shooting on germans soldiers. Its very interesant book. Try read it.


With regard Ladislav

You find this book on side www.internet archive search

#3 Robert Dunlop

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 08:08 AM

Thanks, Ladislav. 'Im Kampf gegen Russland und Serbien' is available online here.

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#4 Ladislav Krejča

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 07:10 PM

I know this book and personaly think that it was momental cutt off of german comander


With regard Ladislav

#5 bob lembke

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 11:11 PM

Can this incident be verified from German sources?

<a href="http://en.wikipedia....tion_of_Kalisz" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia....n_of_Kalisz</a>


I have the history of Infanterie=Regiment Nr. 155, but I think that it is on a CD and I will have to dig it out. I can look up aspects of this in several ways. IR 155 was from Posen, but I will have to be convinced that it was not on its way to Belgium or France. With the exception of I. Armeekorps from the extreme east of East Prussia, almost all first-line troops from East Prussia were on their way west, leaving the defense of Prussia to second and third-rate units. But I may be wrong here.

A couple of questions. Where is this town? I am broadly familiar with this campaign, and I am surprised that the Germans entered Russia/Poland here, they were immediately on the defensive, and falling back on the various fronts in the east. If the town is close to the frontier they might have made a foray, but the German command knew that they were going to have to fall back into the interior of East Prussia and await the Russians on very disadvantaged terms. Or perhaps it was at Silesia.

I have looked at the German 1916 book cited, but the town is not mentioned in the table of contents, and the book has no index, like 98% of books of the era, and at almost 400 pages I do not intend to read broad sections of it looking for this. The table of contents is quite detailed, so since the table does not mention it the book may not discuss it at any length. I would like to verify what the book says. Does anyone know the page or section of the book where this is discussed?

The Wikipedia article several times mentioned that the population of the town dropped from 65,000 to 5000, implying that the population were driven out, or murdered, by the Germans. However, almost invariably in the German (later) invasion of Russia/Poland the Cossacks were tasked with driving the population deeper into Russia, and often burning their homes and other infrastructure. Typically the only people the Germans found were Jews, who often had bribed the Cossacks to leave them behind and not burn their homes. At this period most Jews and many Poles were happier to live under the Germans than under the enlightened Russians and the happy-go-lucky Cossacks, and this period was marked by extensive migration of Poles to the west and German-ruled areas. We should not look at this period of history through the lens of WW II.

Bob Lembke

#6 James A Pratt III

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 10:10 PM

There is a good book "A Whole Empire Walking" that deals with Russian WW I refuges. They had several million of them.

#7 bob lembke

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 04:51 PM

There was a Major Preusker in the Prussian Army, and in fact on May 6, 1914 he was the commander of II. Bataillon, Infanterie=Regiment Nr. 155. So presumably the regiment was there. However, I will dig out the regimental history and see what it says.

There was no Captain Keild in the Prussian Army in 1914, either as an active duty officer or as a reservist, nor any officer of that name. The name seems an odd one. However, again on May 6th, 1914 there was a Captain Keihl in the regiment, the CO of the 7th Company, so perhaps it was a misspelling of Keihl. From the text, the author of the Wikipedia piece does not seem to be a native speaker in either English or German.

There are aspects of the account that Peter linked to that are rather odd, to my mind.

Again, can anyone give me a clue as to where in the cited German book the town and this presumed event are mentioned? Ladislav?

Bob

#8 bob lembke

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 07:23 AM

Well, I just read the first 37 pages of the book. (It's almost 3 AM and no more for me at this time.) In one of the first pages the date August 1st was mentioned, in the context of peace-time life, then thru page 37 not a single date is mentioned. On page 24 the first units was mentioned, a division and a Army Group, but not by name, but by unit commander. (OK for Army Group, not great for the division) First fighting mentioned on page 33, but on page 14, no mention of fighting yet, but mentions Hindenburg and Ludendorff looking at their maps. But at this time, as far as the date can be guessed at, Ludendorff was fighting in Belgium, and Hindenburg was in retirement.

First fighting mentioned on pages 33 to 37; writing in first person, seems like the author is with a German artillery battery.

No officer below the rank of division commander is named, other officers mentioned, like at the battery, are identified by their first initial, like "Oberleutnant D..... ". Already about page 30, before any fighting is mentioned, the temperature of Minus 5 to minus 8 degrees Centigrade is, hardly August weather.

In short, no dates, no names, no units mentioned, and clearly the text is scrambled chronologically, matters from different periods over a range of several months are clearly jumbled together.

There are German and Polish place-names, however. No mention of Kalisz, but an early passing mention of a "Kalisch", perhaps the same town in German. (Most Polish place-names seem to be spelled in Polish.) No mention of any events, just the place-name mentioned with others, context unclear, but certainly nothing mentioned that happened there. Just looked in a 1376 page Webster's Geographic Dictionary, and neither, nor anything like it, is mentioned.

So far the nature of this book makes it useless as a source of military history, as you are not sure what month a mentioned event took place is, no dates, no names, no units. Perhaps the book will change.

Anyone know where Kalisz/Kalisch is mentioned in the book? The chronology is so jumbled that I will have to read for a while more before I can drop the effort.

Bob

#9 bob lembke

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 08:02 AM

Can this incident be verified from German sources?

<a href="http://en.wikipedia....tion_of_Kalisz" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia....n_of_Kalisz</a>


Peter;

I have studied in detail the mobilization of Prussian active duty regiments at the outbreak of the war, from detailed sources, including a detailed manuscript diary of a sergeant that I bought; also other regiments.

They generally used 2-3 days to prepare for travel to the front; the process included paperwork, equipment, and bringing in of reservists to fill up the ranks, etc. Then you had the well-known scenes of the troops marching out of the caserne through the crowds marching off to the train station.

The Wikipedia account has German patrols from IR 155 walking into Kalisz at 1400 hours of August 2nd, soon followed some hours later by larger formations of the regiment. It is true that the II. Bataillon of IR 155 was garrisoned in Ostrowo, now the Polish Ostrow Wielkopolski. Looking at Google Maps, the two towns are 30 km apart.

August 2 was the first day of mobilization. It seems inconceivable that formations of IR 155 left the caserne on the day of mobilization and walked 30 km, crossing the Russian border, and arrived at Kalisz at 1400 hours. If they had marched down a good road there would have been border guards and perhaps troops, if they had gone cross-country to avoid border guards/troops they would have gotten there three days later.

Also the behavior of the German troops on arriving at the town is not easily believable. It is the first day of a world war, elements of a crack active duty Prussian unit cross into Russia and push in quickly, and then they seperate into ethnic German and ethnic Polish groups, and the ethnic Poles walk off to go drinking with the locals. Would the NCOs and officers stand for this? My father's Prussian Guard unit had many ethnic Poles in its ranks; my father said that they were excellent soldiers. If they were a mere patrol, a fraction of a company, and were deep into Russia/Poland, there was a high probability that they might be visited by Cossacks or other Russian cavalry. Off to the beer gardens? I don't think so.

This is a detail, but it suggests that the Wikipedia account may not be reliable, at least in detail.

I seem to be falling into my frequent role as "Devil's Avocate".

Bob

#10 bob lembke

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 08:28 AM

Peter;

As an aside, in 1916 my father saved the life of a lieutenant of Infanterie=Reginent Nr. 155 at Verdun. A shell fragment from a 75 had taken off the lieutenant's hand (It was dangling by a tendon.) My father grabbed him and whipped a tournquet about his wrist and took him, under fire, to the rear, where he turned him over to a medic. As the officer later wrote (he had described my father, but didn't know his name): "He looked at my hand, and cut it off with his "marmalade knife". I was given a shot of brandy, and I felt better. Then into an automobile for the hospital, and an operation." Minutes later my father and his Flamm-Trupp performed a flame-thrower attack, and another French 75 shell exploded among them, wounding the entire Trupp. My father was the worst wounded, so the other men, all wounded, had to leave him in a French dugout in no-man's-land, where he lay for three days before being found, having had a wierd experience with French soldiers in the interval. I have a letter that my father wrote from hospital to his father, describing the event and naming the lieutenant and adding "155".

The lieutenant survived the war and wrote an account of the incident in the history of IR 155. I have a photo of him with other officers in 1918, hiding the stump of his right arm behind his back, probably not to "spook" family and girlfriends of the other officers. My father's wound kept him out of fighting for 18 months (he finally tricked his way to the front, and was wounded twice again for his efforts), and I have a piece of his left arm bone taken out by the surgeons and given to him in hospital. The arm spit bone for over 10 years.

Very OT, but hopefully entertaining.

Bob

#11 bob lembke

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 03:07 PM

Well, I read another chapter, and also had to again go thru what I had already read, due to how the e-book seems to work, so I had a chance to double-check some items I saw on the first read.

The mention of August 1, 1914 was on page 1; this being the last date mentioned so far. Also, on page 46, and the lowest-rank German officer mentioned was a Generalleutnant. A Generalmajor was mentioned only by his initial.

Wheras the first 32 pages of the book is rather useless blather, the author (I will do a search on him) now is describing a visit to the front that he made, in which he joined a field-artillery (I think) battery, seems to be his first visit to the front; the forword suggests that he eventually made many visits to several fronts, including Bulgaria. The discussion now is detailed and interesting, but again no units (except for "2nd Battery"), no names, and after reading carefully no clear description of where he was, but however the name of a few Polish villages are mentioned. This first visit to the front is where he discusses the temperature possibly falling to minus five and minus eight degrees, and the text is more focused on repeated details of the ovens used in Slavic lands for heating as well as cooking, seemingly always burning (He was of course living with the officers), and constant mention of the straw that the officers brought into the house, so that they could burrow into it to sleep. I have similar letters from my grand-father, describing living in Poland, and he was describing conditions in early January 1915.

So clearly the author first visited the front in Winter 1914/15, so we cannot expect an eyewitness description of events in Kalisz from him, and at least so far his descriptions are worthless when he was not there, unless you favor military history with some place names, but no dates, names, units, or even weapons. To date the text does not mention any specific weapon (artillery pieces are mentioned, but only called "gun"), and his 14 page description of a visit to and living with an artillery battery we do not even know if it was heavy or field artillery, but for some reasons I suspect field artillery, but I have not the slightest clue as to if it is a howitzer battery or a cannon battery.

Bob

#12 bob lembke

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 04:20 PM

Well, I may have found it. Was "Kalisch" in German "Kalisz" in Polish? The army the writer is with (in early December) is headed toward Lotz. Ladislav, your Polish geography must be better than mine. This Kalisch seems to have a river and bridge. (I have to look at that more carefully. But he was describing the klopping of large horses' hooves pulling supply wagons over a bridge.) As the Germans marched thru the Jews had stalls selling cake and tea to the troops, the latter for about two phennig a cup, the German soldiers welcoming something warm in the stomach, the Poles stood and watched these transactions. The mention of the date (December 7th??) is the first since page 1.

If this is identified as our "Kalisz" I will further and more carefully translate this multi-page passage. The author does give vivid descriptions of matters when he is there physically, the other text is blather, to my mind, or at least not useful for purposes of military history.

Has everyone lost interest in this thread? Why have I put 2-3 hours of my life into this?

Bob

#13 bob lembke

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 04:57 PM

It seems to be it, after the application of Google Maps. Lotz is about 50-55 miles to the east of Kalisz/Kalisch. And the River Wodna goes thru the city center and a canal is on the outskirts. The main road now crossing the river is Aleja Wojska Polskiego, but it passes a distance to the west of the city center, the bridge mentioned in the book is probably one of a couple at the city center, one of which probably carried the then main road from Ostrowo - Kalisz - Lotz, and which very likely passed thru the main market of the town.

Anyone?

I will, perhaps tonight, read the author's passage about Kalisz/Kalisch, which is about 3-4 pages long, and report what I find. I will also look in the correct volume of the German official history, not to expect to find self-reporting of shooting civilians, but to see if the IR 155 had pushed into Kalisz within hours of the start of the war. Also the regimental history.

Bob

#14 bob lembke

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 07:12 PM

Well, I found it (really) The author only occasionally mentions place-names, often does so in a misleading way, mixing together the names of Polish towns and provinces, as he drove up the German/Russian border, sometimes in Germany, then in Poland, and the tea-stand scene I mentioned above was in a later city that he passed through, as was the mention of crowds of Poles and Jews interacting (or not) with the German soldiers. His description of Kalisz is on pages 59 to 62. He was there in early December, ans mentions the fighting and destruction in the first paragraph, which is a bit convoluted, and which I will translate more carefully later. The description of the fighting is about a sentence long, stating that as German troops marched through the town they were fired on from the houses by "Freischaerler", a term which historically meant "irregular volunteers", and more recently has become a term for "guerrilla fighters", which to me is much the same thing. The author stated that the fighting required the use of heavy artillery fire, which wrecked a lot of buildings. The term "judicial process" was also mentioned. No date for these events were mentioned, no units involved, no casualty figures. A later passage made more mention of the damage, but in a sense unclear on a quick read.

This is a curious event. I know of no other incident of this sort in the Eastern theatre of war. It did not make a lot of sense to the Germans to wreck towns there. In Belgium there was a tradition of franc tireur fighting, and due to the large Belgian arms industry and the many thousands of home small-arms workshops the Belgian citizenry had large numbers of sporting and military arms literally in their homes. I would have been convinced that the Russian occupiers allowed the ethnic Poles to possess large quantities of military-grade or even sporting arms and ammunition in an urban setting.

Is there anything special about Kalisz? A different population (Russians?), a lot of arms about for some reason? Interestingly, in Liege, the scene of severe urban fighting and destruction in Belgium, some Belgian sources blame the fighting starting due to an uprising of Russian foreign students at the University. (Or was that Louvain? I can check.) I have the strong impression that, in in balance, ethnic Poles prefered the Germans to the delights of Russian rule, and in this period there was a large migration of ethnic Poles out of the Russian-ruled areas into German-ruled areas, I think on a scale of several million people.

Could this have been started by the decisions of a single Russian company or battalion commander? In Belgium some of the assumptions of civilian firing on German troops seem to have been caused by the adoption of irregular modes of fighting by regular Belgian forces, including a number of special units formed specifically to infiltrate German-occupied areas and conduct attacks and sabotage. This is from a Belgian source.

One useful line of research would to look up the German casualties of the period in the German Verlustlisten, or "casualty lists", which, ironically, are appearing on the Internet due to the efforts of a Polish research library. These were presumably very accurate, and were publicly published in newspapers and the like, and have a good reputation; it is most unlikely that the authorities would have created an uproar by posting in the papers the names of non-existent casualties to create a cover-up in the opening weeks of the war. A US researcher has been using these for years, he posts here, and has never mentioned anything like such a manipulation.

If there was 15 German dead and 45 wounded in this town on the supposed day, there was some serious fighting; if there were a few or none, we have a different picture. I have never used these, and they are not easy to use, seemingly. Some Belgian sources repeatedly claim significant German losses in urban fighting as being caused by first-rate German units, in occupied towns, all getting drunk, marching about town at night, opening fire on each other, killing large number of each other, and sometimes killing their high-ranking commanding officers, and then drunkenly rampaging and shooting civilians in reprisal. Some (to my mind) propaganda sources claim that this happened time and time again. I think the Wilkipedia citation raises this possibility.

We can also look more closely at the Wikipedia source and make a further decision as to its overall reliability. Of course revealed fabrications in the post would not prove the untruth of the overall incident, but would suggest more caution. There are a number of curious assertions in the Wikipedia article on first read, some of which I have not mentioned.

Anyone up for more work on this? Or has everyone lost interest? It seems very likely that something very unusual happened in this town.

Ladislav, are there any existing Polish civil records of mortality? I am interested in some similar types of records, and have recently found out that some record types that I have long have thought destroyed still exist, and in some cases even transferred from Polish to German custody.

Bob

#15 bob lembke

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 07:45 PM

Here I go again!

Dug up my history of IR 155 on CD, and it seems to be the second half of an about 500 page history, this CD covering March 1917 to the end of the war. However, it has the death roll of the regiment at the end of the book, and in August 1914 there were seven dead in Company 5, out of about 195-200 for the war. This record is almost certianly very complete. This supposedly was the company in the fighting.

On August 31, one dead.
on the 24th, one dead.
on the 22nd, four dead. on the 12th, one dead,
and, on August 3rd, one dead, Reservist Stanislaw Woczikowaki. Clearly an ethnic Pole.

While doing this, I noticed one dead in the 6th Company, a ensign or officer candidate, also with an ethnic Polish last name (not as certain as the above), and with a Catholic first name.

So the regiment did have some fighting on at least August 3rd, and it would have had to be on the Russian Front. Unfortunately no place of death is listed. But a Verlustlisten search would be very useful. I may have another IR 155 CD with the other half. I will look.

Bob

#16 bob lembke

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 01:59 AM

Well, I found my first CD with the first part of the IR 155 history, and it had a five page chapter on the "events" in Kalisz, with a lot of information, pages 59-63. Additionally, my reading about the first several days in the front of the book answered some of my questions that I had posed earlier.

First of all, in late July 1914 the regiment was together and at an exercise facility for training exercises for the whole regiment. So it was unusually well prepared for immediate deployment. Additionally, I remember that regiments close to Germany's borders were kept at an especially high state of readiness, and much more fully manned than units in the interior, which were the several that I studied, including several in Berlin.

However, on August 3 (not August 2 as iin the Wikipedia article, which clearly was impossible), the 2nd Battalion was sent toward Kalisz (there seem to have been a lot of concern about protecting railroad infrastructure), while the rest of the regiment went back to barracks and was made ready for action, including waiting for some troops, probably reservists, from Dortmund, who arrived on August 6th. (Possibly the regiment kept one battalion, the 2nd, at a higher state of readiness and manning than the others.) On August 7th the regiment was declared "mobile", or ready for field deployment. But the II. Battalion had already gotten involved in fighting in Kalisz.

The discussion was complex and detailed, and I just read it once, with minimal use of the dictionary (I had important business at "City Hall", and instead I stayed home and worked on this, and did not even leave the house), but here is my impression, with a few notes literally written on the back of an envelope. The Polish/Russian forces involved in the events included a group of 500 to 800 Russian reservists (described as mostly ethnic Poles), uniformed but not initially armed, small groups af armed Russian soldiers in civil clothes, a column of about 1000 Russians spotted east of the city, not apparent if they ever reached it, and some armed civilians, of whome in the course of the fighting some number, perhaps several dozen, were captured in several engagements with arms and were shot. Additionally, during the fighting two squadrons of Cossacks entered the town, and I think drove away some German infantry attempting to guard the train station.

However, the regular garrison of the city, which included a Russian Dragoon regiment, had left toward the east, managing to take some supplies with them.

First a patrol of 12 men and a sergeant of 7th Co., 155 IR arrived about midnight (I don't think that they went drinking with the Poles!), Then the entire 7th Company entered the town after midnight, and a while later the battalion machine gun company. More troops arrived the next morning, inclusing some Landswehr, and a few Ulans. Fighting started developing about 1030 hours the next morning. The main fighting was three seperate surprise attacks on troops of three different German formations. One, on the arriving troops of 155 IR, resulted in six men dead and two officers and 22 men wounded, mostly severely. Another ambush, on Landwehr Regiment Nr. 7, resulted on three dead and 49 wounded. The third attack was not detailed, neither the unit nor the casualties.

During this fighting, the nearby Field Artillery Regiment Nr. 56, in the area, set up some batteries on a hill 2 km from the town and ended up shelling it heavily, causing considerable damage. But it seems that several days later, reviewing the repeated attacks on the Germans by both somewhat irregular military groups and by some armed civilians, it was decided to burn down in reprisal a section of the town where the fighting occurred.

Again, if someone wanted to invest a month or two they could get to the bottom of at least some of this with a study of the Verlusten reports covering this fighting, and tabulating the German losses from those medical records, which were developed and published at the time and almost certainly were not "cooked" for political and propaganda purposes.

According to this detailed account, the Germans seemed to have about 100 casualties in a day's fighting, which is quite a butcher's bill for this sort of fighting against irregular forces. This is an unusual if not unique event for the East Front, and it still is not clear to me why this occurred, which did not serve anyone's purposes. It might have been a single energetic officer, who decided to organize a defense, even though the regular Russian forces had left. (Or maybe the Germans just decided to kill a lot of people and blow up a lot of city, although why they would decide to do so is a mystery to me.)

I don't intend to spend more time on this, but if someone REALLY wanted it I could probably print off the relevant pages of the IR 155 history and e-mail them. (I presently have a printer problem and might not be able to do that immediately.) Or you could buy the two CDs from that Patrick Schallert lad in Germany, who sells them for 5 Euros a pop. (If you do that you can find in it the picture of the lieutenant that my father saved at Verdun, with {or without} his missing hand.)

Is everyone on holiday is Spain? This is my tenth consecutive post, with no one contributing or commenting.

Bob

#17 TRAJAN

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 05:58 AM

Well, I am neither on holiday nor in Spain, and have been following your work when I can. Excellent research!

Trajan

#18 bob lembke

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 07:42 AM

Well, I am neither on holiday nor in Spain, and have been following your work when I can. Excellent research!

Trajan


Merhaba, Trajan!

Thank you for your kind words. I was feeling like I was reluctantly giving a three-hour address to an empty hall.

Allaha ismarladik,

Bob

#19 TRAJAN

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 08:02 AM

GŁn aydın!

... I was feeling like I was reluctantly giving a three-hour address to an empty hall.... Bob


And DO I know that feeling! I usually teach 9 hours a week, and, well, sometimes it does feel like it is an empty hall! But seriously, I and no doubt others have been following your long trek through this story about Kalisz with great interest, and it takes a guy like you, with a serious interest in the Axis side of things and with access to the literature and documents to get the whole story straight! Looking forward to the next installment(s)!

Best,

Trajan

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 08:58 AM

Bob please take note that from 1795 until 1918 there was no such country like Poland. The country belonged since then to either Imperial Russia, Imperial Germany and KuK Austria-Hungary. The ethnic Poles were either Russian, German or Austrian-Hungarian nationalities and served with their armies. So Kalisz was Russia during the time in question. Poles fought on the Russian side and the German side as an integral part of their formations.

#21 bob lembke

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 10:47 AM

Refreshed by Trajan's encouragement, I will, as promised, look in the relevant volume of the official history series Der Weltkrieg 1914 bis 1918, Zweiter Band (The World War 1914 to 1918, Second Volume). This series of 14 standard volumes and a few specialized volumes, such as one on the railroads and one on the economy, covers the entire war, although Volumes 13 and 14, covering 1917 and 1918 (the latter "published" in 1944!) are almost unobtainable. Volume One covers the opening of the war on the Western Front. The Second Volume is entitled "The Liberation of East Prussia".

There are two or three other series of "official histories" covering WW I from the German side, but they generally cover individual battles in much greater detail, but due to this they do not come close to covering the entire war. As you might expect from this, Der Weltkrieg mentions Kalisz, but only briefly.

On page 44 there is "sketch-map 1", showing the East Front from the Baltic States to Romania on a map of about 6" by 4", so the map is quite large scale. (This term is commonly and perhaps usually mis-used; a map of 1:25,000 is "small-scale", a map of 1:250,000 is "large-scale", or at least it was in the US Army in the 1960s.) The map shows the situation as of August 10, 1914. It indicates few towns, but "Kalisch" is shown, roughly 10 km from the border. In this sector the bulk of the Russian Army is shown to be over 100 miles to the east. The map indicated that Kalisz was garrisoned, but no unit was indicated. (All that I know of was the Dragoon regiment which moved out and whose caserne was occupied by a MG company from IR 155.) The closest Russian unit indicated was the Russian 14th Cavalry Division, over 50 km to the SSE, whose symbol was about 40 km from the border. The map does not indicate a German advance into Russia/Poland at the sector of our interest. (This sector forms a salient into German and A-H territory, and if the Russians had placed major forces close to the border they would be in peril of an enveloping attack from the north-west and the south-east.)

Pages 47-48 states: "The protection of the Upper Silesian indistrial zone was now to be brought forward onto Russian soil. On August 3rd Tschenstochau (RGL note: a border town over 50 km to the south-south-east, about 15 km from the border) and Kalisch were occupied by the VI. and V. Army Corps for defense of the border. The troops to be used for doing this that were determined to be deployed in the West were quickly replaced by part of the Landwehr Corps." IR 155 was part of the V. Army Corps. What this means is that the initial limited advance into Russia, for the purpose of taking up defensive positions on favorable terrain within Russia, and to occupy the transportation nodes of Kalisz and the other occupied town, to limit the Russian ability to manuver in this sector, perhaps for an attack. In all of the description of these events in several sources I have seen no mention of the other formations of V. Army Corps; perhaps they were on their way to France, and within a day of 7th Company entering Kalisz (and being attacked, according to the history of IR 155), formations of Landwehr Regiment Nr. 7 entered Kalisz on their heels, and (supposedly) being attacked in turn.

At a higher strategic level the Germans knew that, due to the so-called Schlieffen Plan, the bulk of the German forces, including almost all first-rate units, were attacking in the west to attain a quick victory, and that relatively weak forces, mostly second- and third-rate units, were in place to defend the eastern border, and that it was understood that the Russians were going to mount a major attack against East Prussia. In the sector of our interest, it made no sense for either the Germans or the Russians to mount an offensive in this sector.

Final mention of Kalisz on page 49, bottom. "On the other hand, in Tschenstochau and to a greater extent in Kalisch there occurred heavy-casualty causing attacks of the inhabitants -- possibly induced by Russian agents -- on German Landwehr troops. Strong measures were the consequence."

The unit history of IR 155 mentioned that the Russians widely publicised the fighting and losses in Kalisz, and in fact that when a German officer with the same name as the Major Prushker (I think I have his name wrong - the CO of II. Battalion, IR 155) was captured elsewhere, crowds appeared calling out for the "murderer of Kalisz". As Russian policy was, and had been for at least 100 years (as in Napoleon's invasion of Russia), to force the population to flee and to destroy infrastructure such as housing, and engineering such an event and publicizing the damage and casualties would be a useful assist to the efforts of the Cossacks to this end. Viewed in the (speculative) light, this "incident" was much more useful to the Russians than it was to the Germans.

My grand-father, shortly before or after the end of the war, in Berlin, was visited by a friend he had made in Russian Poland or possibly western Russia in 1915 during the invasion. Once rich, he was penny-less, and my grand-father took him in and gave him a room in his house. Some months later, still in winter, there was a knock at the door, and there was a man standing there, looking like a beggar or something, dressed in a wild-looking bulky leather coat, asking for the Russian/Polish gentleman. He was the overseer of the Pole's (?) estate, and when the revolution came he buried the man's jewels and pretended to be a communist. The crazy coat was sable, three layers thick, turned inside-out, with the skins showing. The overseer went into my grandfather's poolroom and took out a leather pouch, and poured a heap of jems on the pool table, and suddenly the Pole/Russian was very rich. The overseer had bribed his way west by breakng off the gold and platinum settings and exchanging them for transportation and safety, retaining the stones. Thje man offered my grand-father his pick of the jems, for taking him in, when he was penny-less. My grand-father refused, but finally accepted a giant natural pearl, which he had made into a stick-pin for his tie. He wore it in alternate days with a stick-pin with a small cultivated pearl; a cynic, he delighted in how people verbally admired the small artificial pearl pin, but never mentioned the giant natural pearl, which they assumed was a piece of plastic or some other junk.

Bob

#22 bob lembke

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 11:21 AM

Bob please take note that from 1795 until 1918 there was no such country like Poland. The country belonged since then to either Imperial Russia, Imperial Germany and KuK Austria-Hungary. The ethnic Poles were either Russian, German or Austrian-Hungarian nationalities and served with their armies. So Kalisz was Russia during the time in question. Poles fought on the Russian side and the German side as an integral part of their formations.


Dear Egbert;

I fully understand that. I am switching back and forth, for example with the German and Polish spellings of Kalisz/Kalisch, perhaps to indulge our Polish friend Ladislav, but probably the real result is that I am confusing some people, so your clarification is very helpful, and probably one that I should have made. The inhabitants of Kalisz were overwhelmingly ethnic Poles, I am sure, but of course were Russian subjects, the Germans reported a mass of about 500 to 800 Russian reservists, but that they were mostly ethnic Poles, the Russian Dragoons had pulled out, but there were some Cossacks in the area and even in the town. I am increasingly comfortable with the hypothesis of the Russians engineering this incident. There is a centuries-long tradition of the Russians manipulating the Polish nation.

The earlier book by the German cited as a source for this incident had an interesting event in the Winter of 1914/15 in the same general area, I think. The author was staying for a few days with the HQ of General Graf von Bredow, a division commander, and he was in the operations room (von Bredow was present), and one of the phones rang, being answered by the Chief of Staff, a General Staff captain. He spoke for a while. Hanging up, he said: "It was a Russian!", and explained that the caller stated that he was a staff officer elsewhere, and was asking specific questions, such as the exact location of the HQ of the neighboring army corps. However, he was speaking truly awful German with a very strong Baltic accent. Somehow the Russians had tapped into a German phone line. Of course at this time this front was only loosely held and organized.

Gruss aus Philadelphia,

Bob

#23 Ladislav Krejča

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 01:19 PM

Bob its a bit mistake I am not polish but czech. This is in this moment irrelevant. Sure I know book from year 1916 isnt perfect, but try read sience page 59. I mentioned only this book because this problem is there a bit explain. Yea I agree that habitant Rusisch-Polen (yea mostly jews) like Germans than wild Cossacs. Bob I agree too that WE CANT SEE ON WWI LIKE ON WWII. Its different problems. Every time was specific. This can be interesant discussion.

Gruss aus Brno


Ladislav

#24 bob lembke

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 02:35 PM

Dobry dan, Ladislav;

If I had to guess from your name, I would have guessed Czech before Polish, but due to your interest in the topic I assumed that you probably were Polish. I have almost no Czech or Polish, but I have fairly good but rusty Serbo-croatian (Serbsko-hrvatski) from many visits (22?) and living, working, and studying there. I only was in Czechoslovakia once, in 1969 (people were not very happy with the Russians then, either); I went to an underwater film festival in Trebich; the locals were astonished when I popped up.

Yes, I saw the passage on page 59, but since he was in Kalisz in December, I thought that he could not add from observation what happened there, as opposed to the damage, but he also mentions the guerrilla fighters, using the same term as the IR 155 unit history did. The book is actually quite good when he is describing things that he actually saw, despite the lack of names, unit designations, dates, etc. If I have the energy I may translate it, his description of the destruction is rather long. (I only taught myself to read German a few years ago, although I started to speak it when I worked in Ljubljana, Slovenija in 1967; as I had heard a fair amount before, it was easier to pick up some German rather than Slovene, which is really quite hard for a Slavic language. At that time most Slovene adults had good German.) Not being a native speaker, I have to work at it when I translate German. I only once translated a bit of Czech, written in Suetterlin, for a German militaria dealer, but my wife helped me.

I think he was at the German-Austrian crossing of the Danube in 1915; I will look at that part of the book later, as I and a friend are writing about that, and other uses of the 30.5 cm mortars and 42 cm howitzers in the war. Are there any traces of the 30.5 cm Moto=Moersern remaining in Brno?

Vala,

Bob

#25 marsyao

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 07:11 PM

Bob, Russian policy may or may not be " to force the population to flee and to destroy infrastructure such as housing, and engineering such an event and publicizing the damage and casualties", but keep in mind that war was just broke out, and Russian was planning to launch a big offensive into East Prussia. I do not think it makes any sense that they were behind some conspiracy to destroy a city under their own control at this moment. They may well have a motive to do such things when later the war turned against them and they were driven east by German army, but why in that early stage of war ?

By the way, since Franco-Prussian war, it was kind of tradition for Germany army to treat local population and their property very roughly because of attacks on the Germans by both somewhat irregular military groups and some armed civilians " , obviously, this kind of unlawful resistance was everywhere.



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