Legions on the Battlefield
What was the situation for Poland at the outbreak of World War One?The beginning of World War One found Poland wiped off the map of Europe, following partitions by her neighbours Russia, Austria and Prussia at the end of the 18th century. The outbreak of war raised the hopes of many Poles for regaining long-awaited independence. Polish territory became the main scene of military operations carried out on the Eastern Front between Russia (fighting for the Allies) and Germany and Austria-Hungary (fighting for the Central Powers). Thousands of young Poles were conscripted on both sides of the conflict and this inevitably led to fratricidal slaughter.
What was the role of the Polish Legions?In August 1914 Józef Piłsudski, the most influential Polish politician of the time, formed the Polish Legions on the territory of the Austrian partition in Galicia. Under his leadership the first military formations began a struggle against Russia, which held the greater part of the Polish territory. The Polish Legions played a significant role in the campaign at the Eastern Front and Piłsudski was later credited with the rebirth of a free Poland. This book contains first-hand accounts of the battles that the Legion’s First Regiment fought during the early months of the war.
- Article by:
- David Stevenson
- Origins, outbreak and conclusions
World War One resulted in radical changes to national boundaries. Professor David Stevenson explains the changes that took place in Europe's political geography.