War Stories from WWI and WWII from Newspapers

Terrific Battle With Bayonets

New York Times Feb. 11, 1915, p.2

 Petrograd. Feb. 10 – Details of a dramatic and desperately contested fight in the Carpathian Mountains, in which the bayonet charges are described as most ferocious and without precedent in history, reached Petrograd today.

According to these reports, repeated attacks on the part of the German troops were finally repulsed by the Russians, and the German dead lay in great numbers in front of the Russian positions. The losses are described as enormous, and unquestionably the fighting was waged with the utmost ferocity by Germans and Russians alike.

The scene of the fighting was at Baligrod, which is thirty miles south of Sanok in Galicia. German troops were present in considerable numbers. It is stated semi-officially by the Russian Staff that the Hungarian forces of the Carpathians have been augmented by 300,000 Germans and that the German officers are now definitely directing the Carpathian movement.

The German plan in so far as it can be observed here, now seems to be to abandon gradually their aggressive on the Bzura and in the Vistula region and to transfer their troops to points where there is greater opportunity of piercing the Russian defensive. The fighting in the Carpathians would appear to be a part of this procedure.

Concentrating their forces on the night of  February 7, the Germans early the following morning began what doubtless rapidly developed into one of the fiercest attacks in the history of the Carpathian campaign. With their first line almost totally annihilated, the Germans pushed forward their second line under the support of heavy artillery, and were successful in gaining a strategic elevation. But from this position they were almost immediately driven back by a Russian bayonet charge. Attack and counter-attack followed each other in rapid succession, and toward evening the Germans, in great numbers, seemed to be in permanent possession of the heights.

Then a general counter-attack by the Russians resulted in two hours of hand-to-hand fighting which left the snow-clad hillsides strewn with dead. After a most stubborn resistance the German regiments finally were definitely driven out. A Russian officer claims personally to have counted upward of 1,000 German dead before the Russian positions on the hill. He describes this engagement as typical of the battles which are occurring daily in the Carpathian Mountains.


Austria - Official Reports of War Operations

New York Times Mar. 5, 1915

Vienna- On the Biala River, southeast of Zakliczyn, the Russians were repulsed yesterday after a sanguinary battle. On both sides of the Latorza Valley an on the heights north of Cisna, battles continue both day and night.

Everywhere, where our troops are gaining ground, the enemy repeatedly attempts counter-attacks, which are always repulsed. This was especially so on the Baligrod Road, where the Russians attacked during a heavy fall of snow with strong forces. The attack was stopped by our artillery fire, which inflicted heavy loses.

On the other parts of the front there has been no essential changes. Before Przemysl calm prevails.


Austria - Official Reports of War Operations

New York Times Mar. 13, 1915, p2

Vienna- The positions of our troops, newly won in Russian Poland and Western Galicia, have been strengthened. The enemy's attacks are no longer repeated.

Near Inowiodz, on the Pilica River, east of Tomaszow, in Poland, our artillery yesterday after a brief but vigorous action silenced several hostile batteries.

In the Carpathians, after a bitter fight, we captured a place on the road between Cisna and Baligrod and the adjacent heights were cleared of the enemy during a heavy snowstorm. In the western neighboring sector a strong hostile attack failed. On the remainder of the front in the Carpathians, as well as in Southeast Galicia, no particular events occurred owing to the heavy snowstorm, which lasted all day.

North of Czernowitz, in Bukowina, the situation is quiet.

Unimportant skirmishes have taken place at some points on the Montenegrin frontier.

Article 7 – No Title

     New York Times Mar. 14, 1915,  p.3

Washington – March 13. The repulse of a Russian attack inth the vicinity of Cisna, in the Carpathians, and the capture of a town were reported to the Austro-Hungarian Embassy here late today in a message from Vienna.

"Our positions recently gained in Russian Poland and West Galicia wer made secure," the message says. "At Inowiodz several of the enemy batteries were silenced."

"A town on the road Cisna-Baligrod was taken by assault. The adjacent territory was evacuated by the enemy. Strong counter-attacks of the enemy ion neighboring sections failed. On the other front, on account of violent snowstorms nothing of importance has happened."

The following message was received at the Embassy later:

"Fights along the road from Cisna to Baligrod in the Carpathians continue. Yesterday violently disputed heights were taken by us, and more than 1,200 Russian prisoners were taken, among them several officers. Russian counter attacks in the night time against our positions were repulsed with great losses.

"Today five Archdukes in the military academy were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Among them two have already seen service as Ensigns."


Austria- Official Reports of War Operations

New York Times Mar. 14, 1915, p2

Vienna – Fighting in the Carpathians, on the road from Cisna to Baligrod continues. A height for which we had been fighting for some days , came into our possession yesterday. Our troops blew up part of the enemy's position and took over 1,200 officers and men prisoners. A Russian counter-attack against this position and adjacent heights was repulsed with sever losses.


Austria- Official Reports of War Operations

New York Times Apr. 4, 1915, p3

Vienna – Since yesterday in the Eastern Beskid range engagements have taken place only in the Upper Laborcza Valley and on the heights south of Virawa.

Fresh Russian reinforcements forced our exposed troops fighting on both sides of Cisna and Berechny Gorne to retreat somewhat.

An attack on our positions north of Uzsok Pass was repulsed after a sanguinary engagement.

It has been ascertained that all the Russian divisions, which were before Przemysl are now actually on the Carpathian front.

In Southwest Galicia only artillery duels have taken place.

After Successful fighting of April 1 calm now prevails on our positions between the Dniester and Pruth Rivers.




New York Times, Apr 5, 1915, pg. 3

The battle in the Carpathians is not  yet decided, but all advantages now lie with Russia. Every report from both Petrograd and Vienna marks an advantage. Russia is pouring men; seemingly without end, into the firing line and even the Austrian reports seem to reflect a feeling of discouragement over the endless stream of Russian reinforcements. The Russians apparently are in definite control of every one of the mountain passes from Az. Polyanka to and including Lupkow. This involves control of a railroad and its main branch. which is an absolute essential to Russian success. This road begins at Cisna and runs west across the mountains to Vidrany, near the Lupkow pass. At the village of Lupkow a branch runs north  through the pass and, following the line of the Ostawa River, taps the road running south from Przemysl. The importance of the control of this road is indicated by the Austrian statement that all the Russian troops that were engaged in the siege of Przymysl have been identified on the Carpathian front. Many of them have been formed south of the Carpathians. The only way for them to have reached there is by means of the railroad through Lupkow.

Vienna official reports also admit first that the Austrian troops have retreated from Cisna, and later that they have withdrawn from the Beskid region. Cisna is the most easterly point of the railroad mentioned above, and completes the Russian control of the line. The Austrian retreat from the Beskid range can only mean a general giving way of the entire Austrian line from Bartfeld to Solinka, a village about five miles southwest of Cisna.  On this section of their front, therefore, which is about forty miles long, the Russians have been successful. And success here means the control of all the heights on the Beskid range, the highest range in the Southern Carpathians. This part of the Russian line, therefore, now holds the same advantage of terrain formerly held by the Austrians. From now on they will be fighting down the slopes against a retreating enemy-not up the slopes against an enemy strongly posted and well fortified.

                North of Uzsok Pass (along the valley of the San River, the Austrians forces are holding their ground and their position is rapidly becoming as dangerous as was  the position of the Russian right wing some days ago. Consider first the relative strength of Russian and Austrian forces from Solinka to Bartfeld;  which is the same thing along the Beskld range. Since the Russians by what Vienna. admits was a largely superior force, were enabled to force an Austrian retreat along the line, they must now still have a numerically stronger force opposing the Austrian line. Now that the Russians have reached the heights, a. much smaller number of troops than it took to achieve this success will be sufficient to hold in check the Austrian line, especially since  the Austrians have already been partially defeated . This will leave available for operations elsewhere a strong Russian force which has just known victory. The railroad line through Uzsok Pass, which is the one line of Austrian communications, is but a two days' march even over mountainous country from Solinka. This line will now be open to attack or the Austrian forces in the pass can be taken in the rear.

                It may be reasonably expected, therefore, that before the week has passed the Russians will be over the Carpathians and ready to sweep into the plains below. Even if these operations were taking place in an open country three-quarters of a line cannot retreat without shortly afterward involving the remaining quarter.

The Russians, also according to Vienna reports, are moving down the valley of the Laborc River. Even without shifting any of their forces eastward, the Russians may be able to force the retreat of the Austrian army defending Uzsok Pass. The further south they are able to push the Austrian left,  the more exposed will be its right. It seems now to be but a question of time-not a question of the ultimate outcome.

The Austro-German invasion of Bessarabia is apparently but a part of the action in the Carpathians. Its object was doubtless to create a diversion of sufficient strength to relieve the pressure on the passes. Russia, however, was able to meet it without weakening her force to the west, and, according to, latest Petrograd reports, has effectuaIly stopped the invaders. It was also assumed,  in all probability, that as Bessarabia is directly on the Rumanian border, whereas the fighting in the Carpathians is over 150 miles distant, a victory for the Germanic allies in Bessarabia would offset, in Rumanian eyes, a possible Russian victory at the more distant point, and so prevent Rumania from entering the war. Both objects, however, seem to have been defeated by the Russian successes on both fronts.

Russia has also assumed the offensive in the north near the East Prussian frontier, probably with the idea of taking advantage of the fact that the Germans were compelled to weaken their forces either along this or the Warsaw  front in order to send help to the Austrians in the south. This offense has not yet assumed large proportions, but it will be watched with interest.




Russians Pushing On to Heads of Two Railroads Leading Southward


Austrian Mountain Base Taken, with Great Stock of War Munitions and Provisions.


German Official Report Shows Czar's Forces Have Made Substantial Advance in Poland.

New York Times, April 6, 1915 , p.1

             LONDON, Tuesday. April 6.- The attention of the public for the time being is directed toward the great struggle for the Carpathians passes, where the Russians apparently are making very steady progress despite the obstinate resistant offered by the Austrian and German troops.

The Russians are on the Hungarian side of both the Dukla and Lupkow Passes, and, with the aid of continual reinforcements, are gaining the heights which dominate Uzsok Pass. Even the Austrian Qffiicial report admits that fighting is now taking place in the Laborcza Valley, which is south of Lupkow Pass, while the Russians announce the capture of Cisna, an important station on the Galician side Of the high mountail1S between Lupkow and Uzsok Passes, where they captured a great stock of war munitions and provisions.

The Russians also are advancing from Dukla Pass on Bartfeld, which is at the head of the line of railway running south into Hungary, and fighting not far from Mezo Laborcz, another important railroad head. On Saturday and Sunday they captured in the Carpathians upward of 3,000 prisoners. They claim further success in Bukowina, and the capture of another thousand prisoners, but the Austrians assert that they repulsed Russian force which attempted to cross the Dniester River.

The Russians are making progress in Northern Poland, a German official report telling of the repulse of a Russian attack on Mariampol, which is considerably west of the region which a few days ago was in the possession of the Germans.



New York Times Apr 14, 1915; pg.3

 For the first time in some weeks the Germans have initiated an offensive movement. The objective is, as so many times before, the railroad from Warsaw to Petrograd, which runs through Grodno, the base of operations of the Russian line, near the East Prussian border. The point of attack, has been the little town of Ossowetz, which some time ago so ably withstood the bombardment of the German 42-centimeter guns. The importance of Ossowetz to the German campaign in this section may be seen from a study of the general plan of the recent German offense against the Niemen line. This plan involved an advance of three large German bodies against the Russian line between the Niemen and the Narew Rivers. The idea seems to have been to pierce the left wing of this line between Ostrolenlta and New Georgievsk.

The principal points of interest in the Russian fortified line between the Niemen and the Vlstula are Kovno, which is directly on the Niemen at the bend where it turns south; Grodno, which is about eighty miles south of Kovno and at which the Niemen crosses the Warsaw-Petrograd Railway; Ossowetz, southwest of Grodno, on the Bobr River, and Lomza, Ostrolenka, Pultusk, and New Georgievsk, the latter being strong fortified towns along the valley of the Narew River. The Russian line along the East Prusslan frontier is, it must be remembered, solely a defensive line, defending the railroad. Therefore, the elements of this line must be looked at from the standpoint of their defensive value. This will show the value of Ossowetz to the Russian line and ipso facto the importance to the Germans of its capture.

            The Niemen River at Kovno is very much the same type of stream as the Lower Missouri, wide, sluggish and carrying a great volume of water. It is, therefore, a considerable obstacle itself and forms an excellent part of the general defensive line. Grodno, being on the railroad which is the main Russian objective, cannot therefore play any direct part in this defensive line. It is, in fact, the principal base from which this line operates.

Near Grodno rises the Bobr River, on which Ossowetz is located. This river, which is small, flows through a wide marsh, which is crossed by only one railway. At this crossing is Ossowetz. The Bobr River flows south for about twenty miles below Ossowetz, through this wide marsh for the whole distance and finally empties into the Narew. Ossoweiz, then, is one of the strongest features of the Russian defensive line.

                To depart for a moment from this new German attack against Ossowetz, consider the present situation in the Carpathians, which seems to be coordinate part of the German offense in the north.

The Russian attack on the passes seems to be temporarily at least, checked. The Czar's troops appear to hold Dukla and Lupkow Passes. Possibly Rostock Pass is also in their possession. This pass, to which reference is frequently made, is between Lupkow and Uzsok. It is twenty miles west of Uzsok, thirteen miles east of Lupkow, and six miles south of Cisna. The town Orosz Ruszka is directly in Rostock Pass. It is of minor importance, however, as it is nothing more than a wagon road through the mountains. But Uzsok, the most important of all the passes in the East Beskids, is still held by the Austro-German forces, in spite of Russia's heavy and continuous attacks. Russia must take this pass in order to be able to invade Hungary.

This is appreciated by both Russia and the Germanic allies. And not only that. To withdraw now after eighty days of the hardest fighting of the war, fighting into which Russia has thrown every available resource, would be the most serious setback the Triple Entente could have at the present time. It would not only completely nullify the military advantage of the capture of Przemysl, but would vastly heighten the morale of Germany, and, what is of much greater moment, of Austria, and would correspondingly lower the morale of Russia, would depress the Allies in the west, and would, for some time at least, negative any idea Italy and Rumania might have of entering the war on the side of the Allies.

Appreciating this, Russia, finding herself checked by the great influx of German and Austrian reinforcements, would naturally seek to add additional reinforcements, drawing from other parts of her line. The renewal of the German offensive against the Niemen line in the north, being coincidental with the check of the Russians in the south, naturally therefore, would give rise to the supposition that the Germans are determined to put Russia in a position where no additions to the Carpathian forces can with safety be made at the expense of her northern line. A month ago it was Russia who was preventing, by an offensive move against East Prussia, German assistance from reaching Austria in the south. By this latest move Germany has completely reversed the situation.



Catholics Accuse Poles

Hierarchy, Now in Session, Hears of Outrages Against Ruthenians.

New York Times September 28, 1919

 Washington. Sept. 27—Protests against the internment of the Ruthenian primate, Archbishop Szeptycky; the imprisonment of 260 Ukrainian priests in the Lemberg jail; upward of 300 elsewhere in Eastern Galicia by Poles, and the closing of nearly all of the Ukrainian Catholic Churches by the Polish military authorities, were made to a memorial submitted to the American Catholic Hierarchy, in [plenary session at the Catholic University here, by the Ruthenian Catholic diocese in the United States. The American Hierarchy was petitioned to intercede with the Holy See.

Outrages in East Galicia by the Poles against Ruthenian Catholics were cited in the memorial. At Stryj, Ukrainian press and many prominent Ukrainian patriots were arrested, throw in prison and some shot down by the Polish troops without trial, it was declared. At Bortne, a priest was shot while at the altar celebrating Mass, the church desecrated and the people driven out in terror. Five hundred churches were closed by the Poles and 100 burned . At Stanislav many Ukrainians were shot to death, and Jews shared the same fate.

"The real reason which actuates the Poles in their antagonism toward the Ukrainians," says the memorial, "is their determination, even through the exercise of the most extreme measures, is to deprive the Ukrainians of East Galicia of their national character and to extend imperialistic sway by taking from the Ukrainian population the land which is rightfully theirs."



By The United Press

New York Times, Sep 16, 1944; pg. 1


 Foe Backing Toward Vistula as Russians Take 11 Towns in Outflanking Thrust

LONDON, Saturday, Sept. 16 - Russian and Polish troops drove retreating German forces back toward the Vistula River on a fourteen-mile front north of captured Praga, Warsaw's eastern suburb, yesterday while hundreds of Soviet big guns opened up on the Polish capital in preparation for a mighty assault to liberate the city.

Marshal Konstantin K. Rokossovsky's First White Russian Army, with Polish units fighting side by side with the Red Army under the Polish-born commander, captured eleven towns and settlements- each a minor fortress- as they advanced in a thrust to throw the last German from the triangle between the Bug and Vistula Rivers and to outflank the city to the city to the northwest.

More than 8,000 German officers and men were killed in four days of fighting for Praga, Moscow's war bulletins revealed early today.

General Bor reported that Soviet guns were relentlessly pounding the German garrison within Warsaw and said that the Danzig railroad station and other strategic military points in the capital were under continuous bombardment.

Hundreds of Soviet planes, some of which were supp1ying Bor's patriot forces, were lashing the German defenders, and a Soviet front-line dispatch said the Russians entrenched on the east bank of the Vistula in Praga could hardly distinguish Warsaw's contours as huge columns of smoke and flame enveloped the capital.

While the battle for Warsaw raged-a battle described as perhaps the fiercest and most costly since Stalingrad-the Germans reported that the Red Army had begun a massive new three-way offensive to seize Riga, capital of Latvia.

The Germans, fortifying themselves on heights, in the streets of villages, on the banks of marshy streams and on rail embankments, were putting up a grim battle north of Praga as Marshal Rokossovsky's troops battled to consolidate their northern flanks before attempting to take Warsaw.

 Red Army Near Nowy Dvor

             Two miles north of Praga, Russian troops that won Bialolenka had crossed all but two or a series of small streams running between the Bug and the Vistula, and Red Army forces that seized Aleksandrow and Stanislawow to the north were fourteen miles east of Nowy Dvor.

Nowy Dvor, seventeen miles northwest of Praga, is at the confluence of the Vistula and Bug. A communique from General Bor reported that the Germans were retreating in disorder toward Nowy Dvor and Modlin, on the north bank of the Vistula opposite Nowy Dvor.

                Moscow's war bulletins, telling how Praga was captured, said that Soviet and Polish troops that freed the suburb received an enthusiastic welcome. The tortured and starved citizens, Moscow said, gave great help to the liberators, women and girls risking their lives under fire to carry wounded Red Army and Polis troops from the battlefield.

                Meanwhile in southern Poland, Gen. Ivan Y. Petroff's Fourth Ukrainian Army extended its break-through of German lines in the Carpathian foothills before the Czechoslovak border. The break-through was widened to forty-three miles when Russian troops, despite as many as six Nazi counter-attacks, forced the San River and captured Lisko and the rail station of Uherce, eleven miles southeast of Sanok.

With Russian patrols reportedly striking into Czechoslovakia in the area of the Dukla Pass, the Red Army swung into position to surge to the Czechoslovak border at two more passes over the East Beskid Mountains.

Advancing seven miles, Petroff's forces took Plonna, eight miles from the border on the highway from Krasno through the Radoszyce Pass. Three miles south of Lisko other forces captured Hoczew and were advancing up the highway toward the Cisna Pass.

In Hungarian-annexed Transylvania another battle for mountain passes raged as Marshal Rodion Y. Malinovsky's Second Ukrainian  Army sealed the Nazi escape from the Tulghes Pass through the eastern Carpathians by capturing the key communications center of Toplita.

For the second straight night Soviet long-range bombers Thursday blasted Budapest, capital of jittery Hungary, and left at least thirty-five great fires blazing in the city's war industry areas. Direct hits were scored on a vital bridge over the Danube River, the Russians said.



Pushes Into Pass From Poland - Gains in Yugoslavia and Hungary Also Reported

By The Associated Press

New York Times, Sep 29, 1944, pg. l

LONDON, Friday, Sept. 29

            Russian troops fought their way nearly three miles inside Czechoslovakia yesterday through the Lupkow Pass from Poland, and Budapest said other mobile Russian forces attacking on a 100-mile front had punched out gains in southeastern Hungary.

Berlin also said that Russian troops had crossed from Rumania into Yugoslavia at a point east of Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital.

A communique broadcast from Moscow and recorded by the Soviet monitor included Vydran, a Czechoslovak rail station, in a list of thirty localities captured by Col. Gen. Ivan Petroff's Fourth Ukraine Army attacking in the east Beskid Mountains.

Lupkow, on the Polish side of the pass seven miles southeast of Vydran also was captured, and a Hungarian communique told of fighting in this area only forty-three miles from northern Hungary.

Enemy reports said Marshal Rodion Y. Malinovsky, commander of the combined Russian and Rumanian forces, was using thirty divisions, or upward of 300,000 men, in an offensive that has reached to within fifteen miles of Szeged, Hungary's second city, and to within 102 miles of Budapest.

One Stockholm dispatch, quoting the German-controlled Scandinavian Telegraph Bureau, said the Russians were more than thirty miles inside Hungary and were by-passing Szeged in their smash toward Budapest.

A hundred and fifty miles southeast of imperiled Szeged other Red Army troops had crossed the Danube River at Orsova and entered Yugoslavia, the German communique said. Orsova is 100 miles east of Belgrade, Yugoslav capital and at the top of the Iron Gate river passage.

On the sixtieth day of their fight inside ruined Warsaw, Polish patriots commanded by General Bor (Lieut. Gen.Tadeusz Komorowski) were forced out of the Mokotow district in the southern part of the Polish capital as Russian and German artillery dueled across the Vistula River barrier.

DNB,  German news agency, said 2,000 Poles surrendered to the Germans during the day and would be treated as prisoners of war.

March on Riga Pressed

In the north the Soviet Baltic armies converging on Riga captured fifty localities, including Lode, thirty-one miles northeast of the Latvian capital.

In Estonia Marshal Leonid A. Govoroff's Leningrad Army units captured 200 localities in cleaning out parts of the western coast. Virtsu, a port on the west coast, was among the places taken.

The Hungarian communique telling of the Russian invasion across that country's flat plains said Hungarian counter-attacks were in progress in and near Mako and Foeldeak, villages fifteen miles east of Szeged. Foeldeak is ten miles inside Hungary from the nearest part of the Rumanian frontier.

It said the Russians, who reached the Mako sector Wednesday, had not made any further ground gains toward Szeged, but that "heavy and fluctuating fighting" was going on at other points along a 100-mile front extending northeast of Mako to the outskirts of Oradea, strategic western Rumanian rail town near the Hungarian frontier.

The towns named along this front as the scene of bitter fighting were Mezohegyes, Kunagota, Gyula and Salonta. All of these are inside Hungary except the Rumanian town of Salonta, and in this latter area the Hungarians said their troops had been compelled to retreat.

     Hungarians Report Stand

            Budapest said reinforced Hungarians were able to throw back the Russians and Rumanians on the southern side of Oradea, the town through which one of the main German-Hungarian escape railways run from Transylvania. The other big rail center controlling traffic into Translyvania is Debrecen, thirty-five miles north of Oradea.

                In addition to moving into Czechoslovakia through the Lupkow Pass, the Russians and units under General Petroff were attacking on a 150-mile front along the frontier extending from the Dukla Pass in the west to the Tatar Pass at the southeastern tip of Ruthenia or the Carpatho-Ukraine. Hungarian bulletins told of fighting in those two passes.

The Russians captured Suolinka, nine miles southeast of Lupkow and on the Czech frontier near the Cisna Pass, and closed in on all sides of Uzok Pass farther southeast. In the latter area they seized Bukowiec, six miles northwest of Uzok; Tureczki, four miles on the north; Borynia, seven miles on the northeast, and Zawadka, twelve miles on the east.

Ahead of the Russians Partisan forces were adding to the enemy's difficulties. A Czechoslovak communique said violent fighting was raging for the coal-mining and industrial district from Handlova south to Horni Hamry. A patriot air force was effectively intervening in the ground battles, it said.



New York Times September 26, 1944, p.2

 South and southeast of the town of Sanok our troops, overcoming resistance and engineer obstacles of the enemy in mountainous wooded terrain, occupied in stubborn fighting more than fifty inhabited localities including Jablonki, Dolzyva, Krywe, Smerek, Wetlina, Berehy-Gorne, Smolnik and Loma.

In other sectors of the front there were reconnaissance patrolling and, in a number of points, fighting of local importance.

South of the town of Sanok fierce actions were in progress. Our troops dealt a strong blow to the Germans and occupied the inhabited locality of Jablonki. More than 400 enemy dead were left on the battlefield. Twenty guns, thirty machine guns and an ammunition dump have been captured from the Germans. Two hundred prisoners were taken.

Southeast of the town of Sanok, at the approaches of the Otryd Mountain ridge, units of X formation routed enemy Alpine detachments. Having mastered the ridge, our men crossed the River San and captured a number of inhabited localities. About a battalion of Hiterlites were wiped put in the fighting for these localities.



3,000 in Rebel Band Terrorize Galicia

Ukrainian Nationalists, German Deserters Led by SS Colonel Burn 3 Villages in a Night

New York Times, April 18, 1946

 SANOK, Poland, April 17 – A strong, well-organized and elusive band of Ukrainian nationalists and German deserters, estimated at more than 3,000 under the leadership of a German colonel, in a fortnight have succeeded in transforming this sector of the Carpathian foothills of old Galicia into a virtual partisan stronghold.

With the burning of three large villages on a single night two weeks ago, they have made 10,000 of this area's total pre-war population of 135,000 homeless and are resisting with complete success all efforts to quell what is tantamount to open insurrection. By burning an average of two bridges a day for the last three months, they have completely disrupted communications in this thickly populated but primitive backwoods country and have made it virtually impossible for security police and two Polish divisions to rout them out.

By stealing cattle and demanding tributes of a million zlotys [about $10,000] they appear capable of holding out indefinitely in their wooded hide-outs.

 Objected to Repatriation

 The Origin of the insurrection is more complex than obscure. It began when, under the repatriation agreements, the Ukrainians were to be shipped back to the Soviet Union and their farms given to Polish repatriates from what is now the Russian zone of former eastern Poland. Many refused to return and took to the hills. There, as nearly as the story can be pieced together, they met and were incited by small bands of armed German deserters, including officers familiar with the tricks of partisan warfare.

Gradually the small bands joined forces with a leader said by Polish officials to be a German SS [Elite Guard] colonel, which is plausible, since the Ukrainian SS was organized by the renegade General Pethuse, whom the Germans reportedly liquidated in 1943 after he served his purpose as the rallying point for the traditionally anti-communist Ukrainians.

The present insurrectionist leader is known by all – by peasants and officials alike – as "The Colonel." The band itself is known as the Banderowce, after one Colonel Banderowce, a Ukrainian who apparently became a legend in this part of the world for his fight with the Ukrainians against the Communists after the last war.

 Tribute Demanded

 The writer of this dispatch last week went to the heart of the bandit country, to the village of Bukowsko, where on the night of April 4 the bandits burned down all but eleven of the 400 houses and made more than 3,000 persons homeless. Our escort consisted of the refugee Mayor, now in Sanok and two squads of well-armed Security Police under the command of a nervous 20-year old second lieutenant.

Before burning the village the bandits, who were well armed with German and Russian automatics and machine guns, had demanded 1,000,000 zlotys tribute, and the village had raised 300,000. On the night of the fire the villagers received scant warning a few hours before from a peasant that the bandits were coming, but had not had time to remove their cattle. Among those in Bukowsko was Andrew Kotalik, who in1924 returned to Poland from Jersey City, where he had worked as a boilermaker with the Lackawanna Railroad.

"From the war." He said in English, which he had not spoken in twenty years but which still had a Jersey accent, "we ain't had enough. From the Joimans we ain't had enough. Then them bandit fellas come and they boint down the houses and boint my horse and four sheepses. Excuse my English, I ain't spoken for so long. But can you folks do something for us folk?"

Aid from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration has not yet reached the bandit country, but Caritas organization has received and is distributing the first shipments of food, clothes and medicines.


Warsaw Confirms Warfare With 3 Underground Groups

Government Reports 2,483 Security Agents, Soldiers and Civilians Killed During Fighting

Soviet Army Target of Opposition

By Sydney Gruson

Special to the New York Times November 22, 1946

 Warsaw, Poland, November 24 – a bloody, fratricidal war is being waged between the Government and the underground in Poland. It probably will take 7,000 or more lives this year and there is no end in sight.

The Government disclosed to this correspondent today that the underground had killed Government agents and civilian supporters of the present regime at a rate of ten daily since the beginning of the year. Up to Oct. 15, 2,483 persons had been killed by the underground, including 668 security police agents and militia members, 630 men of the regular army and 1,185 civilians.

A relentless search through the forests, where the underground lives by day to attack at night, is carried on by the militia, the security police and the regular army. The Government says the underground's losses n the regular small pitched battles that occur have a far exceeded its own but there are no specific figures.

Almost every day the Warsaw press reports new trials of underground bands that inevitably end with death sentences. The country, which suffered terrible manpower losses during the war and the occupation, cannot afford this bloodletting but it seems to be inevitable for some time yet. Perhaps It will not end until this administration has become so firmly established that the underground will give up the one-sided struggle.

The underground's fight is equally against the Soviet Army in Poland, but no one except the Soviet Army command knows the toll it has taken in Russian troops. All Polish Government officials will say is that it has been considerable.

Three main groups compose organized Polish underground. There  are the WIN and the NSZ, which operate throughout the country, and the UPA [Ukrainian Partisans' Army] which has conducted a campaign of killing and burning in the southeastern section of Poland.

The WIN, which stands for "Liberty and Independence" and the NSZ, meaning "National Armed Forces," have much the same aims. The principal is one to overthrow the present regime but the NSZ also is strongly anti-Semitic. When members of the NSZ halt travelers on Poland's roads they ask two questions:

"Are you a communist? Are you a Jew?" If a man is either he dies.

The activities of the UPA have been centered recently in the areas of Lublin and Rzeczow, where in the last three months this organization has burned down more than ten villages. It is composed mainly of Ukrainians Nationalists who are opposed to Russian rule over the Ukraine as they are to Polish sovereignty there.

The Government believes that this will be the last winter that the organized underground can continue large scale resistance. It expects cold and hunger to drive many out of the forests in the next few months to concentrate afterward on political rather than armed opposition.

Although the Government repeatedly has said that it had the fight under control it recently had to impose a 7 P.M. to 6 A.M. curfew around Zakopane, a winter resort in the southern mountains because "security conditions leave much to be desired."



Poland Sentences Partisan Colonel

Jan Rzepecki Gets 8-year Jail Term—Wins Leniency After Aiding the Prosecution
Special to the New York Times
February 4, 1947 p.9

Warsaw, Feb. 3 – Col. Jan Rzepecki, who was the last chief of the Home Army appointed by the old Polish Government in London was sentenced today to eight years' imprisonment for having organized and led the WIN, one of the large Polish underground organizations, until his capture late last year.

Colonel Rzepecki was taken with half a dozen other officers of the central leadership of the WIN, who drew sentences ranging from short prison terms to death for one man.

The comparatively light sentence for the colonel, it is believed, was attributed to the cooperation he extended to investigating authorities after his capture and to the thoroughness of his confession of his mistakes.

The violence with which the underground and the Government forces fight each other was shown today in the press account of the recent incident in Sanok, southeastern Poland, where the Ukrainian Partisans' army operates.

            Government forces uncovered a Partisan hospital, surrounded it and called upon the personnel to surrender. Instead, they opened fire. Before the Government forces closed in, the Partisans killed the patients and committed suicide. Total casualties were fifteen.



Campaign to Clear Border of Ukrainian Terrorists Follows Slaying of Army Chief

Special to The New York Times (March 30, 1947, p. 37)

        WARSAW, March 29—The Polish Army has begun an extensive search of the wooded and mountainous area of southeastern Poland where Col. Gen. Karol Swierczewski, Vice Minister of Defense, was assassinated by Ukrainian terrorists.

    The body of General Swierczewski, who was better known as General Walter, commander of the international Thirty-fifth Division of Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, was flown to Warsaw today. All members of the government were at the airport to meet it and thousands of the capital's inhabitants lined the route over which the coffin was driven at the head of a procession of 200 automobiles. Burial will be on Monday.

    General Swierczewski, a leading Communist, was ambushed while on an inspection trip to units of the Polis Army on the Russian border. In a short, fierce battle with a band from a Ukrainian partisan army, he and two of his soldiers were shot dead and the colonel commanding his bodyguard and three other soldiers were wounded.

    The Vice Minister, accompanied by General Wieckowski, commandant of the Cracow area, had inspected an infantry regiment in Baligrod in the morning. With three carloads of soldiers as a bodyguard, he began to drive to Cisna through territory in which was situated the headquarters of the UPA, a fiercely nationalist organization, operating on both sides of the Russo-Polish border and opposed equally to Russian or Polish rule there.

 No Word on Terrorists

    The ambush was carried out at 10 A.M. in a gorge. The Ukrainians poured several fusillades into the military cars almost before the bodyguard could answer. The band quickly retreated, the soldiers in pursuit. There was no information whether any terrorist fell or had been captured.

    Until recently the UPA had held the entire southeastern corner of Poland in terror by plundering and killing. As the country quieted down after the elections, the UPA's roving bands had stayed close to their mountain and forest retreats. The ambush was their first major action in some time. Only yesterday, before the news of the assignation reached the capital, a Foreign Office spokesman said "almost full security" had been reached on Polish roads.

    Unlike the NSZ and the WIN, Poland's other main underground organizations, which are primarily anti-communist, the UPA wages terrorist warfare indiscriminately against all non-Ukrainians in the southeast. It has a black record of murder, robbery and burning of villages since the liberation of Poland.

Called Top Military Leader

    General Swierczewski was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Although his official position was only Second Vice Minister, he was held by many observers here to be Poland's most important military man. He was born in Warsaw fifty years ago and, along with his family, was taken to Russia in 1915.

    He fought with the Red Army in the war of intervention after the revolution, and in 1920 was among the Red Army troops who suppressed the Ukrainian irredentist movement. In 1926 he was sent to the Frunze Academy in Moscow, the Russian general staff college. He came to international attention during the Spanish Civil War, in which he first commanded the Fourteenth [French] International Brigade.

    General Swierczewski became a founder of the Polish Army in Russia and resumed his Polish nationality by option to remain in Poland when the war against Germany had ended. He led the Polish Army to Dresden and then did a brief tour of duty with the Red Army during the fighting for the liberation of Czechoslovakia.

    President Boleslaw Bieryt and Premier Joseph Cyrankiewicz were among the leaders who paid tribute to this memory. He was termed "a fighter for freedom" and a Polish hero.

Note:  In 1945-47 the UPA units very intensively opposed the deportation of the Ukrainian population. In that action Captain Stepan"Khrin" Stebelskyi's  company was one of the most active. On March 28, 1947 in an ambush near the village of Tisna/Cisna, Poland, one platoon of his company commanded by "Hran'" killed the Polish Vice-Minister of Defense, Gen. Karol Swierczewski. "Khrin" became a legend with songs written about him and his famous company, which was composed entirely of the local Lemkos. Captain Stepan Stebelskyi ("Khrin", which means fresh ground horseradish), was the recipient of the highest UPA decoration, the Gold Cross of Military Valour First Class, died on November 9, 1949 between 2 and 3 p.m. in a skirmish, in Czechoslovakia near the village of Pogorzelice near Napajedlo, some 65 km. east of Brno. He is buried in grave No. 5, at the cemetery near the village church.


Polish Minister Slain by Assassins

Vice Defense Chief's Death is Laid to "Ukrainian Fascists" – Reds Get More Control
By Reuters

            Moscow, March 28 – The assassination of Col. Gen. Karl Swierczewski, Polish Vice Minister of National Defense, has been announced in Warsaw, Tass, the Soviet news agency, reported tonight.

            The Polish Ministry of Defense published the following official communiqué, Tass added: "On March 27 Col. Gen. Karl Swierczewski, Vice Minister of National Defense and hero of the battle of Missa Luzicka, was treacherously assassinated by Ukrainian Fascists near the town of Sanok"

            Sanok lies on the left bank of the River San, about ten miles from the Czechoslovak border.

            The General was known as "General Walter" when he fought with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War