The Battle of Warsaw

In 1919 Jozef Pilsudski launched a pre-emptive military strike against the growing might of the Soviet Union - his ambition being to establish a Federation of allied states in Central Europe in order to block Soviet imperialistic ambition.

In alliance with Ukrainian Hetman Symon Petlura the Poles took Kiev but in the early Summer of 1920 they were rolled back almost to Warsaw by a massive red army onslaught organised by Leon Trotsky and led by Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevski. Sure of victory the Soviets pledged to carry the Revolution across Europe to "water our horses on the Rhine".

Abroad the Polish cause was generally regarded as completely hopeless.

However, Polish forces fell back onto a defensive line based on Warsaw and the River Vistula.

On August 15th, against all the odds, Jozef Pilsudski launched a daring and imaginative counter attack which headed North East from an initial position to the South of Warsaw.

This devastating attack, carried out by forces under General Edward Smigly-Rydz, took the Red Army completely off guard and led to the complete disintegration of the Russian front.

Fierce resistance to the West and North West of Warsaw by forces commanded by General Wladyslaw Sikorski also contributed greatly to the Polish victory.

With subsequent Polish victories in the Autumn the "Miracle on the Vistula" cemented Poland's borders and independence for the next twenty years and was described by a British writer as one of the, "decisive battles of the Western World".

August 15th is now celebrated as "Soldiers Day" with full military ceremonial in Warsaw. In Britain Polish Communities mark the occasion with the usual readings, poetry, songs, drama, and performance.

"The Miracle On The Vistula"

Soldiers Day in Warsaw 1999

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