General Wladyslaw Anders

Born in The Russian Empire

General Wladyslaw Anders (11 August 1892 – 12 May 1970) was a Polish Army General who later in life became a politician as well as a member of the Polish Government In Exile (London).

He was born 60 miles west of Warsaw in Krosniewice, Blonie. At this time, due to the partitions of Poland, he was born technically in a part of the Russian empire.

Polish-Russian Upbringing

Baptised as a Protestant in a Polish church, Anders went to a technical school in Warsaw. Upon graduating, Anders entered the Russian Imperial Army in World War 1.

This is the fascinating bit, his upbringing was essentially Polish, he ends up fighting in the Russian Army, but, wait for it....when Poland gained independence again in 1918, he then joins the Polish Army. So, he switches sides.

This is born out by the fact that in 1919, as part of the Polish Army, he commands the 15th Poznań Uhlans Regimentand fighting the Russians in the Polish-Soviet war of 1919.

Serving 2 Masters

He enrolled in the Russian Military School for reserve officers and served in the 1st Krechowiecki Lancers Regiment which was part of the Russian army.

In November 1918 Poland regained independence and a new Polish Army was created. General Anders went on to command the 15th Poznań Uhlans Regiment of the Polish Army.

This Polish-Russian connection is likely one of the factors that would later see him in 1941/42 commanding the Polish Army In Exile In Russia.

Capture And Imprisonment

In 1939 General Anders is commanding the Nowogródzka Cavalry Brigade during the invasion of Poland by Germany. When he heard about the Soviet invasion of Poland, General Anders retreated to towards Lwow in the South of Poland, heading for Romania or Hungary.

Many Poles were similarly heading for Romania for safety, in order to escape both the Germans and the Russians.

However, Anders is wounded and on the 29th September 1939 the Russians captured General Anders and jailed him in Lwow. On 29th February 1940 they transferred him to Lubyanka prison in Moscow where he was interrogated, tortured and heavily urged to join the Russian Army.

Sikorski Maisky Agreement

Once the Germans invaded Russia during their Operation Barbarossa and in direct contravention of the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement, Britain came into the arena.

Britain signed an agreement with Russia called the "Sikorski Mayski agreement" . The agreement was named after it's 2 founders: The Polish Prime Minister Wladyslaw Sikorski and the Soviet Ambassador Ivan Mayski.

The agreement came into existence due to Stalins concerns over Germanys invasion of the Soviet Union.

Stalin sought assistance from other nations including the UK and in return agreed to null the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement.

Therefore, all Poles were no longer "guilty" of anti-bolshevism etc and were "pardoned" for the previous crime (that is to say, the crime of being a pole).

It was called an "amnesty" and all poles including General Anders would be released from captivity.

Stalin Repurposes Polish Prisoners

One of the leveraging factors in the Sikorski-Mayski agreement was no doubt the ability for Stalin to now utilise the military might of the Polish soldiers in partnership with the Red Army, to fight the Germans, currently in exile in the Soviet Union.

Besides, the Germans were now Russia's common enemy. Just previously the Poles had been Stalin and Hitlers common enemy and they had fought them together under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

Now with Germany breaking that pact, Stalin turns charlatan and adopts his former enemies, the Poles, to fight with his Red Army against the Germans.

One of the leveraging factors in the Sikorski-Mayski agreement was no doubt the ability for Stalin to now utilise the military might of the Polish soldiers in partnership with the Red Army, to fight the Germans, currently in exile in the Soviet Union.

They would need a leader to command them, who better than Anders? He was known to the Russians, having fought in their army and was seen to have the commanding personality that would be required.

General Anders Release

Following Operation Barbarossa (Germany's invasion of Russia), General Anders then became a very useful pawn in a game that was to see him lead over 200,000 Polish soldiers imprisoned in Russia out of captivity and through Persia to freedom.

General Anders was released from his prison and a certain death sentence, given a meal and a shower and told he was to now command a "Polish Army In Exile" to fight for Russia against German invasion.

Our Interest In General Anders

Our interest in Anders lies in the Russian-Polish military experiences he had and how these were used later on by Russia for the formation of a Polish Army (In Russia) protecting Russia by fighting invading Germans.

It is therefore appropriate that this web section, called "Hope" commences with an overview of General Anders.