Colonel Zygmunt Zieliński’s dream has come true. We remember the figure of a legionnaire associated with Kozienice

August 1 marks the 165th anniversary of the birth of Lieutenant General Zygmunt Zieliński. A figure that many residents of Kozienice know is the commander of the Polish Legion Group stationed in Kozienice in 1915-1916 with the rank of colonel.

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The figure of General Zygmunt Zieliński was recalled by Marek Gozder of the Piłsudski Union of the Republic of Poland, Branch in Kozienice, in an extensive article, which we publish in its entirety.

Zygmunt Zielinski born in 1858, he was the son of a January Uprising rebel, he took the desire for Polish independence from home. He saw the application of this idea in self-development and readiness, which is why he joined the Austrian army. He reached the rank of colonel.

In 1911, Zygmunt Zieliński retired. The outbreak of the First World War presented an opportunity to regain independence, the colonel volunteered to join the Polish Legion. In less than a month he organized and took command of a five thousandth regiment.

The 2nd Legion Regiment went to the Carpathian front, fighting at Rafajłowa, Zielona, ​​and bleeding at Mołotkowa. In winter, the regiment fought on Bukovina, attacked in the spring towards Volhynia.

The accusations against Rokitna later went down in history. In this battle, despite his age, Colonel Zieliński fought at the forefront. Unfortunately, it did not affect his health.

In 1915, Zygmunt Zieliński became commander of the Polish Legion Group. This group stationed in Kozienice was tasked with preparing and forming convalescing newly recruits as well as those returning from the hospital to new legion units. Over time, the Group’s duties expanded to include the training of artillery and cavalry personnel and other ad hoc duties.

After the general’s death in 1925, the Krakow daily “Czas” published his personal letters from various periods of service. One of his letters concerns service in Kozienice, it is a valuable record not only of our city, but also of an overview of history and of the general himself.

Kozienice, November 18, 1915
My comrades!
Several times in gloomy moments I read your letter, which brought me back into balance, but for almost a month I did not dare to answer. I don’t want to send you nasty messages overnight. I expect change. I sit here in a group for 2.5 months, I work from 8 am to 7 pm, with a two hour break during the day, and what have I done? Few, very few. A little over 1000 people I send a month, maybe 300 new people. The recruiting apparatus in the Kingdom consisted of 24 officers, as many non-commissioned officers and 4 times as many privates, and the results were poor. Officers should be the best choice agitator material by military department. Everything is ready, just not recruiting. It consisted of many things, such as the passivity of the citizens, formerly imposed by national democracies, the indolence to act naturally, fear of the future, disbelief in the victory of the central powers, hatred of Germany, fear of taxes after the war, accustomed to whajja, freedom unlimitedly through bribes contrary to the autocracy of the Moscow government.

These are general reasons, the classes of the population are again having their arguments, so that the workers from below having withdrawn from politics after the last revolution, he thinks about bread, which generally does not exist because of the absolute export to Germany. The peasant is supported and indulged and instigated by government commissioners against the courts, and supported against the crime of usury, for prosperity only, conservative, uneducated, illiterate and afraid of change, a priest kept by bishops with legality, a petty intelligentsia deported, a nobles on the farm for fear of good luck if something went wrong.

The Austrian government, replaced by officers, was almost passive towards the Legion. Recently, very few pro-independence parties have reported that they are not joining the ranks of the legions, they are agitating against us. There is also a gang in the country, devoted directly to Muscovites, and they threaten with the dark news that Muscovites are winning at the front.

In my heart, when I left you from Rarancza, I dreamed that I would create a brigade and lead it. I have not abandoned this thought, but the prospects are slim if the foundations do not change fundamentally. It was really dawn, but there would be no bright and hot sun from this dawn. I intend to put the three existing brigades on a war footing, and then organize a fourth. In this country there are many parties, but each has almost no members, a dozen at a time, no more.

At this time, a conservative party will be formed, consisting of nobles, clergy and others. What will happen, God knows, but in the meantime I’m afraid you won’t be wasted in poverty at the front in the winter and fighting, the losses in the ranks are terrible… Here is a small snapshot of the hardships piling up for conscription into the Legion .

I got a heart defect in the front, more and more noticeable. A quick five-minute movement holding your breath. What will happen next, I don’t know, and I want to endure to the end, which I can’t see. My staff consists of new people. They want and work, but apart from Jakubowski, there are few ideas, and here you have to act.

My home is fine, my family is healthy, my son released from the army is coming to the Legion. One thing only comforts me, compared to a year ago when I was in Zielona,​​I am now in Kozienice, 80 km from Warsaw. Last year in the school grounds, today in the palace of the tsar’s maid, equerry, general Wonlarlarski, on donation from the tsar’s general from 1831, Dhena.

This is my satisfaction, my pride and at the same time my hope that I will end up in free Warsaw. This thought is my dream, in moments of despair it lifts my spirits. And now I want to express my admiration to you and my other colleagues that you are still standing, and I ask you to endure to the end. That’s definitely better. I shake your hand. Hello and fame!

Your old Zielinski

The Legion group in Kozienice consisted of 2,500 to 3,500 troops, which in a town of about 10,000 had a huge positive impact on its finances and functioning. Therefore, at the end of 1916, the people regretfully said goodbye to the legionnaires leaving for Dęblin.

The Legion group was the beginning of the Polish Army’s later structure. Colonel Zieliński was fully aware of this and organized in Kozienice not only recruiting, but also the first Polish training division, hospital and court-martial in many years. In 1918, promoted to general, he fought for Lviv and Przemyśl. The following years in free Poland, despite illness, the general devoted himself to organizational work for the army. In 1919, he assumed command of the Poznań District, where he formed three divisions. He defended Poland against the Bolsheviks in 1920, successfully commanding the 3rd Army at the critical moment of the Battle of Warsaw, blocking Budionny’s cavalry towards Lublin.

In 1922, with the rank of Lieutenant General, Zygmunt Zieliński retired after 42 years of military service. He fell ill and died on Easter 1925. In his will, the general asked for a simple funeral, as he noted, he did not want people to be distracted from his work, he wanted to be buried among the legionnaires. He asked and thanked the soldiers who were about to sing “Sleep my friend in a dark grave”.

Simplicity and devotion to God and the Motherland, as the legionnaire’s chaplain, Father Jaroński, said in his sermon, won over everyone, regardless of their political views and beliefs, the young soldier especially respected him for his fatherly treatment. The funeral in Krakow became a patriotic manifestation, the general rested by ringing the bells at the Rakowicki cemetery among the graves of the fallen legionnaires of Rokitna.

And most importantly, colonel and later general Zygmunt Zieliński’s dream of an independent Warsaw and an independent Poland came true, in 1920 he participated in the victory march over the Bolsheviks on Castle Square. Let’s remember in Kozienice about General Zygmunt Zieliński. Hi Him and Fame! And like the general, let’s end on an optimistic note – Definitely better.

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