Aleksander Waszkiewicz

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Major General Aleksander Waszkiewicz (Russian: Александр Вашкевич, often transliterated as Vashkevich; 1901–1945) was a Soviet military officer of Polish descent.[1] He served in the Red Army as commander of the 793rd Rifle Regiment during 1942–1944 and later as Deputy Commander of the 116th Rifle Division in 1944. Transferred to Polish LWP in 1944 and assigned as commander of the 5th Infantry Division of the LWP. He died in the Battle of Bautzen (1945). According to some sources, he was captured and tortured before his death.[2]

Biography[edit]

Born 15 August 1901 in Białowieża, then in Russian Empire, Waszkiewicz received only basic education before joining the Red Army in 1919.[3] Serving with the 27th Rifle Division, between October 1919 and April 1920 he graduated from a heavy machine gun course.[3] During the Polish-Soviet War he managed to evade captivity following his division's destruction at Kobryn. Between 1922 and 1924 he studied at the Smolensk Military Academy and was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant.[3]

He spent the remainder of the 1920s as an infantry platoon commanding officer in various Red Army regiments.[3] Gradually rising through the ranks, in 1934 he was promoted to the rank of regimental chief of staff.[3] Considered to be a promising NCO, in 1938 Waszkiewicz was sent to the Moscow-based Frunze Military Academy where he served as both a student and head of teaching department. He graduated in 1942.[3]

On 15 August 1942 Waszkiewicz became the commanding officer of front-line 793rd Rifle Regiment of the 213th Rifle Division (Reformed).[3] Between 2 and 15 February 1943 he commanded the 182nd Mountain Rifle Regiment of the 68th Mountain Rifle Division and on 22 June 1943 he became the commanding officer of the 797 Rifle Regiment of the 232nd Rifle Division (Reformed).[3] He served in that capacity until 23 July 1944, when Waszkiewicz was promoted to the rank of Colonel and became the deputy commander of the 116th Rifle Division (Reformed).[3]

In September 1944 Waszkiewicz, a Soviet officer of Polish descent, was attached to the Soviet-controlled People's Army of Poland as the first commanding officer of the newly formed 5th Infantry Division.[3] On 3 November 1944 he was promoted to the rank of generał brygady ("brigadier general") by the communist State National Council.[3] With his 5th Division, Waszkiewicz took part in the ill-fated Lusatian Offensive and the Battle of Bautzen in April 1945.[3] In the course of the battle the division suffered severe casualties and on 21 April 1945 its headquarters was surrounded by a German counter-attack in the village of Tauer.[3] His corpse was discovered in a forest near Stiftswiese near Hohendubrau only on 4 May 1945.[3] He was buried with military honours at Warsaw's Powązki Military Cemetery and promoted posthumously to the rank of Major General of the USSR.[3]

He received the status of the Hero of the Soviet Union on 28 October 1943 for his actions during the crossing of the Dneper earlier that year.[1] He also received the Gold Star, Order of Lenin and the Virtuti Militari (posthumously).[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Aleksander A. Maslov; David M. Glantz (30 September 1998). Fallen Soviet generals: Soviet general officers killed in battle, 1941–1945. Psychology Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-7146-4790-6. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Solak, Andrzej (May 2005). "Budziszyn 1945 –zapomniana bitwa". Myśl Polska, Nr 18-19 (1–8 May 2005). Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p (Polish) Maciej Szczurowski, Dowódcy Wojska Polskiego na froncie wschodnim 1943-1945. Słownik biograficzny, Oficyna Wydawnicza "Ajaks", Pruszków 1996, 2nd edition, ISBN 83-87103-08-X