11 August 1892|
Krośniewice-Błonie, Kingdom of Poland, Russian Empire
|Died||12 May 1970
|Years of service||1913-1946|
|Rank||Lt. General (Polish – Generał Broni)|
|Battles/wars||World War I, PBW, PDW, World War II, Monte Cassino|
Anders was born on 11 August 1892 to his Baltic-German father Albert Anders and his mother Elizabeth, born Tauchert, in the village of Krośniewice–Błonie, near Kutno which at that time was part of the Russian Empire (Partitions of Poland). He was baptized as a member of the Protestant Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Poland; but while being kept in Soviet prisons he made a promise that if he survived and regained strength in his legs (he was seriously injured) he would convert to Roman Catholicism. He did survive, and did indeed convert.
While an undergraduate at Riga Technical University Anders became a member of the Polish student fraternity Arkonia. As a young officer, he served Tsar Nicholas II in the 1st Krechowiecki Lancer's Regiment during World War I, later joining the Polish Army and again serving in cavalry as a commanding officer in 15th Poznań Uhlans Regiment.
Colonel Anders was chief of staff of the government forces during Piłsudski's May Coup of 1926 and was bitterly opposed to President Wojciechowski's decision to surrender to the rebels. Unlike the government's top commander Tadeusz Rozwadowski, he avoided persecution by the Sanation regime that assumed power after the coup.
Anders was in command of a cavalry brigade at the time of the outbreak of World War II. The Polish forces were no match for the larger and better equipped German Wehrmacht with their massive Blitzkrieg tactics and were forced to retreat to the east. During the fighting and retreat Anders was wounded a number of times. He was later taken prisoner by Soviet forces and was jailed, initially in Lviv (then Lwów) and later in Lubyanka prison in Moscow. During his imprisonment Anders was tortured.
Shortly after the attack on the Soviet Union by Germany on 22 June 1941, Anders was released by the Soviets with the aim of forming a Polish Army to fight alongside the Red Army. Continued friction with the Soviets over political issues as well as shortages of weapons, food and clothing, led to the eventual exodus of Anders' men – known as the Anders Army – together with a sizeable contingent of Polish civilians via the Persian Corridor into Iran, Iraq and Palestine. Here, Anders formed and led the 2nd Polish Corps, fighting alongside the Western Allies, while agitating for the release of Polish nationals still in the Soviet Union.
Anders was the commander of the 2nd Polish Corps in Italy 1943–1946, capturing Monte Cassino in the Battle of Monte Cassino.
After the war the Soviet-installed communist government in Poland in 1946 deprived him of Polish citizenship and of his military rank. Anders had, however, always been unwilling to return to a Soviet-dominated Poland where he probably would have been jailed and possibly executed, and remained in exile in Britain. He was prominent in the Polish Government in Exile in London and inspector-general of the Polish forces-in-exile.
After the war Anders wrote a book covering his thoughts and experiences. An Army in Exile was published originally by MacMillan & Co., London, in 1949. The book has been recently re-issued under the same title.
In 1948 he married the actress Irena Anders.
He died in London on 12 May 1970, where his body lay in state at the church of Andrzej Bobola, where many of his former soldiers and families came to pay their last respects. He was buried, in accordance with his wishes, amongst his fallen soldiers from the 2nd Polish Corps at the Polish War Cemetery at Monte Cassino in Italy.
After the collapse of Communist Poland in 1989, his citizenship and military rank were posthumously reinstated.
- Wound Decoration, 8 times
- Order of the White Eagle (posthumously) November 11, 1995 by Lech Walesa
- Virtuti Militari Commander's Cross, Officer's Cross, Golden Cross IV Class and Silver Cross V Class
- Polonia Restituta Commander's Cross and Officer's Cross
- Cross of Valour (Krzyż Walecznych) 4 times (3 times for the Polish-Soviet War and once for the Polish Defensive War of 1939)
- Cross of Independence
- Golden Cross of Merit with Swords, 4 times
- Medal Wojska Military Medal four times
- Commemorative Medal for War of 1919-1921
- Medal 10-lecia Odzyskania Niepodległości
- Medal 3 Maja
- Medal za Długoletnią Służbę (Long Service Medal)
- Krzyż Armii Krajowej (Cross of the Home Army)
- Krzyż Monte Cassino (Monte Cassino Commemorative Cross)
- Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro) 1st Class
- Croce di Guerra al Valore Militare
Knights of Malta
- Order of Homayoun 1st Class
Russia (Imperial Russia)
- Order of St. George IV class (1915)
- Order of St. Vladimir with Swords, IV class (1915)
- Order of St. Anna with Swords 2nd, 3rd (1918) and 4th class
- Order of Saint Stanislas with Swords 2nd and 3rd classes (1918)
United States of America
- Commander of the Order of St. Sava
|Commanding General of the Polish II Corps
|General Inspector of the Armed Forces
|Member of the Council of Three
Alongside: Tomasz Arciszewski, Edward Raczyński, Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, Roman Odzierzyński, Stanisław Mglej, Alfred Urbański