|Born||11 Mar 1886|
|Died||2 Dec 1941|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseEdward Rydz (later Rydz-Śmigły) was born in the village of Łapszyn near Brzeżany, Tarnopol Voivodship, Galicia, to a non-commissioned officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He was orphaned at the age of thirteen. He went on to study philosophy and history of art at Jagiellonian University in KrakÃ³w, then studied art in KrakÃ³w, Vienna, and Munich. In 1910, he enrolled in the reserve officer's academy in Vienna, but declined a commission in the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Army. In 1912, he took part in the founding of the paramilitary Riflemen's Association (Związek Strzelecki) in Poland.
ww2dbaseIn Jul 1914, Rydz was drafted into the Austrian Army, then in the next month transferred to the Polish Legions. He fought against Russians in Southern Vistula valiantly, but his unit was disbanded and its men imprisoned in 1917 after the unit's refusal to swear allegiance to Austrian authorities. Rydz, however, was not imprisoned due to health reasons. He returned to Poland, adopted a nom de guerre Rydz-Śmigły, and led the Polish Military Organization. In Oct 1918, he joined the socialist government of Ignacy Daszyński in Lublin as the Minister of War. In the following month, the government submitted to JÃ³zef Piłsudski's government, and became a general in the Polish Army. In this role, he became a famed leader of the Polish-Bolshevik War, and was awarded the position of Inspector General of the Polish Army in the Vilna district and later Warsaw. In 1926, he participated in Piłsudski's successful coup d'etat. On 13 May 1935, after Piłsudski's death, Rydz became the Inspector General of the Polish Armed Forces. On 10 Nov 1936, he was named Marshal of Poland. At this time, he legally changed his name to his former nom de guerre Rydz-Śmigły. He served rather obediently under President Ignacy Mościcki, but the gap between the two men increased gradually.
ww2dbaseAt the eve of the Germany invasion of 1939, Rydz-Śmigły claimed that he had foreseen all the signs of invasion. Even if he did, however, he had too little time to prepare the defenses. As commander of all Polish forces, he fought the German forces the best he could, while he evacuated Warsaw of its civilians. To his disappointment, reinforcements from Britain and France never came. On 17 Sep 1939, Russian forces began their invasion from the east. Attacked from both sides, Rydz-Śmigły ordered a withdraw southward toward Romania, where he was interned. While interned in Romania, his leadership role was assumed by his political opponent Władysław Sikorski, but Rydz-Śmigły continued to organize Polish resistance against German occupation. On 10 Dec 1940, he escaped his imprisonment and fled into Hungary. Upon learning this news, Sikorski issued an order for Rydz-Śmigły's arrest and transport to Britain. Rydz-Śmigły, now known by his alias Adam Zawisza, returned to Poland in 30 Oct 1941 to take part in the Polish resistance as a common soldier. Before he made any significant contributions, however, he died of heart failure in Dec 1941.
Last Major Revision: Mar 2006
Edward Rydz-Śmigły Timeline
|11 Mar 1886||Edward Rydz-Śmigły was born.|
|2 Dec 1941||Edward Rydz-Śmigły passed away.|
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