3 June 1881|
Grodno, Russian Empire
|Died||8 September 1967
|Years of service||1903 - 1947|
|Commands held||Polish 1st Legions Infantry Division
1st Cavalry Division
|Awards||Order of Virtuti Militari, Commander's Cross;
Order of Polonia Restituta Commander's Cross with Star;
Order of the Cross of Grunwald II class;
Cross of Valour;
Gold Cross of Merit;
Grand officier de la Légion d'honneur;
Order of Lāčplēsis II class
Juliusz Karol Wilhelm Józef Rómmel (born 3 June 1881 in Grodno - died 8 September 1967 in Warsaw) was a Polish military commander and a general of the Polish Army. During the Polish-Bolshevik War, he gained great fame for achieving a decisive victory in the Battle of Komarów, the largest cavalry engagement of the 20th century. A commander of two Polish armies during the Polish Defensive War of 1939, Rómmel was one of the most controversial of the generals to serve during that conflict. He was also a distant relative of the future German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
Early military career
Rómmel graduated from the Konstantin's Artillery School in St. Petersburg in 1903. He served in the Russian Army and reached the rank of colonel. During the Great War, he served as the commanding officer of the 1st Artillery Brigade. In 1917, he was transferred to the Polish II Corps being formed in the area of Ukraine and became one of its organizers. During the Russian Civil War, he commanded the Polish Light Brigade, a part of General Zeligowski's 4th Rifle Division. Interned by Austria-Hungary, in 1918 he joined the Polish Army.
The Polish-Bolshevik War
Initially a commanding officer of the 1st Legions Infantry Division, during the Polish-Bolshevik War, he created and commanded the 1st Cavalry Division. In that post, he won a striking victory against Semyon Budyonny in the Battle of Komarów on 30 August 1920, in which Budyonny lost an estimated 4,000 men. Rómmel's victory in the largest cavalry battle in the 20th century later added to his popularity and fame in Poland. In September 1920, he also fought with distinction in the ranks of Haller's Operational Group of Sikorski's 3rd Army during the Battle of the Niemen River.
After the war, in 1922, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and continued serving in the army in various command posts. He continued to command his wartime unit until 1924. Then, between 1926 and, 1939 he was an army inspector in the General Inspectorate of the Armed Forces. In 1928, he was promoted to the rank of general dywizji (major general).
World War II and retirement
In March 1939, he was given command of the Łódź Army, a Polish tactical group that was to link the southern and northern flanks of the Polish Army during the probable war with Germany. He positioned his forces close to the border with Germany. When the Polish Defensive War finally broke out on 1 September 1939, this proved to be a fatal move. Without any natural defences, Rómmel's army was easily outmanouevred and cut out from the rest of the Polish forces, without much chance to act as a pivot of the Polish defences or even withdraw.
Under still uncertain circumstances, Rómmel and his staff were separated from his army and headed for Warsaw, arriving on the night of 7–8 September. The Commander-in-Chief, Edward Rydz-Śmigły, (then in Brześć), gave him command over all the Polish forces in the ad hoc Warsaw Army, which included the Warsaw Defense Force under General Walerian Czuma and the Modlin Fortress defense force under General Wiktor Thommée. Rydz-Śmigły gave him a signed order to "..defend the city as long as ammunition and food lasts, to hold as many of the enemy forces as possible." He signed all the proclamations to the civilian population, as well as the final act of capitulation of Warsaw on 28 September. Before the surrender, Rómmel authorized Gen. Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski to create the Służba Zwycięstwu Polski.
He spent the rest of the war interned in German POW camps, among them Oflag IV-B Koenigstein, and the the final years of the war in Oflag VII-A Murnau. Liberated by the US 12th Armored Division in April 1945, he was not welcome in the Polish II Corps and decided to return to Poland. Because of that, he was praised by communist propaganda as a war hero. He was also awarded with the Commander's Cross of Virtuti Militari.
Honours and awards
Order of the Virtuti Militari, Commander's Cross
Order of the Virtuti Militari, Golden Cross
Order of the Virtuti Militari, Silver Cross
Order of Polonia Restituta, Commander's Cross with Star
Order of Polonia Restituta, Commander's Cross
Order of the Cross of Grunwald II class
Cross of Valour, IV award
Cross of Valour, I award
Gold Cross of Merit
Grand officier de la Légion d'honneur
Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur
Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur
Order of Lāčplēsis II class
- Eger, Christopher (16 October 2007), The Combat Record of the Konarmia: The Soviet Red Army's Cavalry 1918-1923, [hqqp://www.suite101.com/content/the-combat-record-of-the-konarmia-a33490] suite101.com
- Lerski, Jerzy Jan (a.k.a George J.) (1996), Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945 (1st ed.), Westport, US-CT: Greenwood Press, p. 515, ISBN 0-313-26007-9
- LoneSentry (2004), Speed is the Password: The Story of the 12th Armored Division, LoneSentry.com
- Seidner, Stanley S. (1978), Marshal Edward Śmigły-Rydz: Rydz and the Defense of Poland, New York
- [Władysław] (1984), 1859 dni Warszawy (English: 1859 days in Warsaw) (2nd ed.), Warszawa: Znak, ISBN 83-7006-152-4
- Kryska-Karski, Tadeusz; Żurakowski, Stanisław (1991) [London, Nakładem autorów, 1976], Generałowie Polski niepodległej (English: Generals of Polish Independence), Warszawa: Editions Spotkania, OCLC 24935744
- Rómmel, Juliusz (1958), Za honor i ojczyznę. Wspomnienia dowódcy armii "Łódź" i "Warszawa" (English: For Honor and Fatherland. Memories of the Commander of Armies "Łódź" and "Warsaw"), Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Iskry
- Stańczyk, Henryk (2004), Warszawa we wrześniu 1939 roku (English: Warsaw in September 1939), Warszawa: Rytm
- [Paweł Piotr] (2001), Kampania 1939 roku (English: Military Campaign in 1939), Warszawa: KAW, ISBN 83-88072-53-6
- Biography of Gen Rómmel