Edward Rydz Śmigły

Edward Rydz Śmigły (* 11. March 1886 in Brzeżany with Tarnopol in Galizien, † 2. December 1941 in Warsaw) was a Polish politician, marshal of Poland, painter and poet.

Marshal Rydz Śmigły (around 1938)

table of contents


early years until 1914

Edward Rydz, as he was actually called (śmigły - the fast one - was an alias, which it in different conspiratorial associations of the time 1914 ago used and later attached to its surname), was son of Austrian-Hungarian career noncommissioned officer Tomasz Rydz († 1888) and its wife Maria Babiak († 1896 at the age of 29 years), thus a rarity in the Polish officer corps of the 2. Republic, where most officers of noble or largecivil origin were. Early abandoned, Edward was educated by mütterlichen grandparents and after their dying the family of the city physician in Brzeżany Dr. Uranowicz. It visited the High School in its place of birth and put 1905 down the Matura - exams with honor.

Edward Rydz, "Winterlandschaft", Öl auf Leinwand (undatiert)
Edward Rydz, “winter landscape”, oil on canvas (undated)

actually wanted to become Rydz painter and studied first philosophy and history of art at the Krakauer university and then painting with Leon Wyczółkowski and Teodor Axentowicz at the Krakauer academy of the beautiful arts. In the year 1907 it studied painting in Munich, Nuremberg and Vienna, later, in the years 1910 - it received officer training to 1911 as one year's one in famous Austrian 4. Regiment high and German master and terminated it with honor as a wo1. One suggested to him remaining as career officers in the army it rejected it however.

K. u. k. Regiment Hoch-und Deutschmeister (um 1911)
K. and. k. Regiment Hoch-und German master (over 1911)

in the years 1907 and 1908 was Rydz in different conspiratorial socialist and national associations actively. After the creation of k.u.k.Behörden certified “contactor federation” (” Strzelec “) Rydz, after the completion of the training as an officer “contactors”, became the commander of two practical training year courses (1912 and 1913), and in the latter year to the boss of the federation district Lemberg. At the same time, in the year 1912, he took the study at the academy of the beautiful arts under the line of professor Józef Pankiewicz and still terminated it before the outbreak of the war. One praised its gift in the landscape and haven guessing painting and prophesied to him large future as a painter.

first world war and war against the Bolsheviks (1914-1921)

in July 1914 occurred Rydz as a second lieutenant the Austrian-Hungarian army, became one month later it the Piłsudski - putting ions shifts, where he in famous, from Piłsudski befehligten first brigade served, in which it gradually commander of battalion, commander of the 1. Regiment and deputy of the brigade boss became. As a commander of the 3. Battalion participated it with honor in many heavy fights against the Russians in the area Weichsel . The military historian Juliusz Kaden Bandrowski wrote over him: “The third battalion is as it were the guard of the first brigade. Where Śmigły attacks, there must always be a positive result. Where it keeps house, there is order ". 1914 were already promoted Rydz to major , 1915 to the lieutenant colonel and 1916 to the Colonel.

In the July of the yearly 1917 the Legionäre refused the oath on the two emperors of the Central Powers as allied one of the again-created State of regency kingdom Poland; the governor general Hans von Beseler let the putting ions dissolve and intern the soldiers. After a short detention Rydz Śmigły of Piłsudski, which was arrested in Magdeburg, at the beginning of of 1918 the chief commander of the war organization Polska Organizacja Wojskowa (POW) was appointed. When it drove to such in September 1918 to Kiew, where it negotiated about the recruitment that Poland in the Ukraine for the POW, and where he was its future wife , Marta Zaleska, the courier of the POW, became acquainted with. In the October of the yearly 1918 it drove to Lublin to a secret conference of the farmer party PSL and the socialist party PPS, to which it submitted the project of the establishment of an independent republican-democratic Polish state with provisional seat in this city. To 6. /7. November of the same yearly was appointed Rydz first Lubliner government so mentioned by the socialist leader Ignacy Daszyński as a war Minister in the rank of a major general in its (second was the communist under Bolesław Bierut in 1944), to 11. November 1918 power at Piłsudski handed over. As Ministers it began to use the double name Rydz Śmigły.

During the Polish-Soviet war 1919-1921 was Rydz commander of the military districts Warsaw and Lublin. During the Polish attack on Wilna (1919) he was commander of the 1. Infantry division of the putting ions and zerschmetterte the Red Army in the apron of Wilna. To 8. August 1919 it conquered Minsk, one month later advanced it up to the Düna and occupied a suburb of Dünaburg. To 30. Decembers became he a commander of a group of operations, those from two Polish and two lettischen regiments existed and conquered at the 3. January 1920 Dünaburg. The commander in chief of the lettischen armed forces appointed, conquered it within a short time completely live country. It received for it medals the Virtuti Militari and the highest lettische military honor, the bear dead medal. After it Rydz was promoted short to division general (two-star general). Later, during the Kiew - campaign, he befehligte a group of attacks, from the 1. and 7. Infantry division and the 1. Brigade of the Kavallerie existed. Rydz brought the 12. Division of the Red Army a total defeat and occupied to 7. May 1920 Kiew, had to vacate it however on Piłsudskis instruction soon, because the bulk of the Polish army was in the retreat direction homeland.

In the last phase of the war, which ended as well known with the defeat of the Bolsheviks, Rydz commander of the southeast ones and the middle front, which constituted the right attack wing of the Polish army in the battle with Warsaw , was later befehligte he the 2. Front, which cut the retreat off of the Red Army Mikhail Tuchatschewskis. The Russians had to turn into to East Prussia, where them were interned.

from 1921 to 1939

Der zweite, kleinere Marschallstab des Rydz-Smigły
the second, smaller marshal staff of the Rydz Smigły

after the victorious war, from 1922 to 1926, concerned itself Rydz with the organization and the training of the army, among other things it drove in the year 1925 to France, in order to become acquainted with the organization of the French army more near. During the Piłsudski Putsches of May 1926 it belonged to the trailers of the marshal and sent a part of the Wilnaer garrison, in order to strengthen the Piłsudski troops in Warsaw. Rydz dressed high military offices at this time as a general inspector of the Wilnaer and Warsaw military district and in the year 1929 to the deputy of the marshal for all interests of the east was later nominated. One month after death Piłsudskis, to 13. May 1935 he was appointed in accordance with the last will of the deceased the lieutenant general and general inspector of the armed forces, and to 13. July of this yearly explained it the government as the “second person in the state after the president”. To 10. November 1936 it was promoted to marshal by Poland. As a marshal it began to use the name Śmigły Rydz.

10. November 1936, honour yard Warsaw king locks: Rydz receives the marshal staff from president Mościcki

as a marshal, with support of the officer corps, created it a second center of power in authoritarianly governed Poland: off now the circles of the governing divided into “people of the president” Ignacy Mościcki, or “group lock” (so mentioned after the residence of the president, the royal lock in Warsaw), and “people of the marshal”, which met in the Generalinspektorat of the armed forces. An independent and a mediator between the two groups was the minister of foreign affairs Colonel Józef Beck. The strange was that both groups in their struggle for power appointed themselves to the alleged intimate knowledge of the “intentions of the commander (Piłsudski)”, who had not left a political will. At the beginning of tried Rydz to draw the farmer party on its side when this failed, it turned and created themselves to the nationalistic youth the organization “federation of the young of Poland” (Związek Młodej pole ski) with the leader of the ultranationalistischen and anti-Semitic “Falange “, Jerzy Rutkowski at their point. There were rumors that he planned a coup d'etat, in order to actually tear whole power with support of the Ultrarechte. This caused large displeasure in the circles of the old Piłsudskigefährten, on which Rydz changed its tactics: it turned away from the nationalistic youth and tried to regain its influence in the circles of the old fighters. In the last years before the war it reconciled itself with Mościcki; almost friendly relations between the two statesmen developed.

In the year 1936 Rydz in co-operation with the general staff created a six-year plan of the modernization of the armed forces. One decided, the development of the antitank defense forces to promote the air defense and the heavy artillery. 1937 it met on the occasion of a hunt with Hermann Göring , which in relation to it stressed the readiness the Polish government to continue the Piłsudski politics of the reconciliation with the German Reich evaded however to Görings question whether Poland would be ready to step the Antikomintern pact. Starting from March 1939 Rydz saw the threat many clearer by Germany than the other members of the government, instructed a Teilmobilisation and a re-writing of the operation plan the “west”, there to Poland after the German occupation of remainder Czechoslovakia and creation of the German-friendly Slowakei was clasped by all sides. The time was not sufficient meanwhile, in order to prepare new operation plans. While the Muscovite negotiations in August 1939 he explained to the Western powers with deciveness the fact that Poland will not permit a Durchmarsch of the Soviet army to the west, since this does not guarantee “the active participation of the USSR in the possible war, and that Soviet troops, once in it in Poland, will never leave it ".

last years

at the 1. September 1939 was attacked Poland by the largeGerman realm. Rydz was anxious, which Polish defense up to the offensive war entrance of its western allied ones (that as well known never took place), to stabilize. To 9. Septembers shifted it headquarters from threatened Warsaw to Brest and later after Vladimir in Wolhynien. It showed large control and peace in the most difficult situations, was concerned however all too much with details and had no strategic basic idea. The words Piłsudskis of 1922 (in a characteristic of the Polish generals) had proven to be true: “in the operation work it shows a healthy and calm logic and a persistent energy. I recommend it as an army commander, am not however not surely, whether he possesses sufficient abilities, as a commander in chief in an argument between two states to function “.

To 17. September broke in the Red Army into the Polish, since this date always missing east areas. Later the Polish government went one day over the last still open border crossing at the river Tscheremosch to Romania, where it required and received asylum. To 20. September issued its last instruction to Rydz to the entire army, and to 26. It left the commanders of the defense of Warsaw, to Septembers in its at all last instruction general Rómmel, knows that the capital was to defend itself, until the supplies of ammunition and food go out. On the next day it withdrew by means of a letter at the new president Władysław Raczkiewicz from the post of the commander in chief. For its transition to Romania he was criticized during the war and after him, he saw meanwhile the coming inevitable defeat and wanted nobody to leave, which could sign a surrender document of the Republic of Poland. For this reason he appointed also no successor as a commander in chief, for which he harvested still more criticism. Rydz had a promise of the Romanian king Carol I. received to get free escort to France became however after the transition to Tschernowitz and later in filter defiency guarantees interns. The French government refused on operation of his old intimate enemy and nunmehrigen exile prime minister, general Władysław Sikorski accepting it. Two years of the exile in Romania and Hungary (to 10. It fled December 1940 in lining to Hungary) should follow. The escape Rydz' to Hungary and rumors over its plans to return to Poland caused largest unrest with its adversary Sikorski, which wrote in a telegram the leader of the resistance in Warsaw, Grot Rowecki: “the Polish government would regard the stay of the marshal in Poland as sabotage of the work in the country. The marshal is to go immediately to a country of the British Imperiums “. In the Romanian and Hungarian exile Rydz created the plans of the establishment of a military resistance organization against the LV rule, which Piłsudski gesinnten on officers be based should, it developed however only in 1942, after its death.

Das Grab des Marschalls Rydz-Smigly in Warschau
The grave of the marshal Rydz Smigly in Warsaw

in October 1941 fled Rydz from Hungary, returned to lining to Warsaw and announced themselves as a simple soldier Adam Zawisza to the resistance movement. In this way, by degradierte itself, it wanted probably the dishonor of the escape to 18. Septembers 1939 pay for. It took up contact with the resistance under general Stefan Rowecki , however Powązki in Warsaw died was suddenly bestattet after only five weeks in Warsaw at heart failure and under the accepted name on the cemetery. Until 1991 the grave carried for this names. 1994 received it a new, impressive gravestone, which was donated by the population of Warsaw. In the same year a large park in Warsaw, once by the communists as “park of the culture and the recovery “, was put on in” marshal Edward Rydz Smigły park “unnamed.

The shape of the without a doubt very courageous and capable, but soldier Rydz luckless at the end, which was left in the year 1939 particularly of its western allied England and France with their Passivität on the west front of 1939 in the pass, is seen today (2005), after decades of slandering by communist historical writers in Poland, with new eyes. One sees it today as a Patrioten, all this for its country sacrificed and as one of the tragic heroes of national history.

Rydz was with Marta Zaleska geb. Thomas marries, which died 1951 with a car accident in Nice. The married couple remained childless.


military-scientific literature

  • Walka well bagnety (the bayonet fight), Lemberg 1914
  • W sprawie polskiej doktryny (the Polish military doctrine), Warsaw 1924;
  • Kawaleria w osłonie (the Kavallerie as colonial force), Warsaw 1925;
  • Rozkazy, Artykuły, Mowy (instructions, article, speeches), Warsaw 1936;
  • Wojna polsko niemiecka (Polish-German war), Budapest 1941;


  • poem collection Dążąc DO końca swoich dróg (striving for the end of the way), London 1989;

painting and diagram

Edward Rydz, "Alte Kirche in Zakopane", Ölgemälde (undatiert)
Edward Rydz, “old person church in Zakopane”, Ölgemälde (undated)
  • illustrations to the book Józef Piłsudskis “of the 22. January 1863 “, Lemberg 1920;
  • Participation in art exhibitions in Krakau (1916) and Warsaw (1917). Rydz issued several water colors and designs. During the internment in Romania it created also Ölgemälde. Most of its works are today verschollen.


  • Kazimierz Cepnik, Wódz Naczelny i Marszałek pole ski Edward Śmigły Rydz, Zycie i Czyny, Lemberg 1937;
  • Juliusz Kaden Bandrowski, Piłsudczycy, Auschwitz 1915;
  • Bohdan Wendorff, Towarzysze Komendanta, London 1950
  • Paweł Zaremba, Historia Dwudziestolecia 1918-1939, III., of Paris 1967

medal, honors and honour title

Polish medals and honors

medals of the white eagle, Komtur and knight medals of the Virtuti Militari, large cross, large officer and Komtur medals of the Polonia Restituta, Polish bravery cross (four times), Polish cross of independence with swords, honour cross of the Polish homeland army (postum].

Foreign medals and decorations

large cross, large officer and Komtur of the French Ehrenlegion, large cross Japanese medals of the coming up sun, large cross of the Yugoslav medals of the holy Sava and Serbian medal of the white eagle, large cross Hungarian earnings/service medals of the s, Italian war Distinguished Service Cross, lettischer bear dead medal, The Pulaski Medal (the USA), in addition estnische, lettische and Romanian bravery medals.

Honour title

honour doctor of the universities in Wilna and Warsaw and the technical university in Warsaw, honour citizen of numerous Polish cities.


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