August 1914 liberation of Kielce

On the morning of August 6, 1914, the very day Austria declared war on Russia, 144 badly equipped soldiers of the „First Cadre Company“ crossed the border from Galicia to Congress Poland. During the next weeks, they were joined by 2,000 Galician riflemen. In addition, they expected the predominantly Polish population to hail them as liberators from the „Russian yoke“ and to fill their ranks on their fifty miles‘ march on the regional capital Kielce. But the inhabitants of the towns and villages which the Polish soldiers passed through were hesitant, adopting a „wait and see“ attitude. Who knew when the Russian troops, which had hastily evacuated the area, would return with reinforcements? One legionnaire noted, disillusioned: “This wasn’t Cracow, this wasn’t Polish Galicia, this was Russia, and it was populated by a tribe that spoke Polish but felt Russian…[,] look[ing] with complete indifference at these madmen, who had not been asked to come here.”

—Jochen Böhler, Civil War in Central Europe, 1918-1921, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 39-40.

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