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The years 1914-1939
Czwartek, 14 grudnia 2017 r.
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The history of Military Gendarmerie


The years 1914-1939

The history of Gendarmerie existing in the Polish Legions of the WWI can be divided into two periods. The first one began in 1914 and lasted until the second half of 1917, the other one – since the second half of 1917 until Poland became independent in the fall of 1918. During the first period there existed two separate, even unfriendly to each other organizations – the Gendarmerie of the Legions Command and the Gendarmerie of the 1st Brigade. This state of things lasted until the end of March 1917 when the independent Gendarmerie of the 1st Brigade was eliminated and remained only the Branch subordinated to the Field Gendarmerie Command at the Legions Command.

 

The entire new formation was located in Warsaw from March to August 1917. Next it was once again divided into two groups without any official relations. One group found its place at the Polnische Wermacht and the other one joined the Polish Reinforcement Corps of General Zygmunt Zieliński.

Within the Polish Legions the Gendarmerie elements were formed along with the general military units. This way  the efforts were made to oppose the assignment of  Austrian Gendarmerie to the forming of the Polish legions Gendarmerie under the approval from Vienna.

In Cracow, in August 1914  the mounted Field Gendarmerie was formed  for the Western Legion. Its commanding officer became cavalry master Robert Kunicki who introduced a self prepared set of regulations of the Field Gendarmerie of the Polih Legions. The new formation was assigned mainly the tasks connected with securing the army before the influence of the enemy`s intelligence, sabotage, maintaining the police order  in the areas of military conflicts, controlling the military law obedience.
The new formed branches did not have their own command and were dependent on the commanding officers of the units they were formed at. The change of the Gendarmerie structure became visible after the Oath Crisis in 1917. It was divided into two groups. One of them became subordinated to the Polnische Wehrmacht and the other one to the Polish Reinforcement Corps, subordinated to the Austrians. Those gendarmes serving within the Polnische Wehrmacht were given the name of  the General Branch of the Polish Field Gendarmerie and later in February 1818 the name was changed to the Polish Field Gendarmerie Command.

After Poland regained its independence, the Gendarmerie elements functioning at Polish military units were united which resulted in creating one formation. Pursuant to the Directive of the Ministry of Military Affairs dated April 1919 the Gendarmerie was excluded from the General Polish Armed Forces Command and as the Department of Gendarmerie it was subordinated to second assisstant secretary for the military affairs. Moreover, the new forms of developments of Gendarmerie were planned out. General Eugeniusz Dąbrowiecki was tasked to the reforms. He established the Gendarmerie Organizational utive Committee which mainly focused on:

  • Passing down the authority to the State Police as to civilian people;

  • Transferring the personnel whose excess was the result of  the Gendarmerie reorganization process;

  • Changing the contemporary units deployment after their proper reforming;

  • Publishing the regulations and instructions connected with the new tasks and official laws.

 

In the middle of  September 1919 after another reorganization, the already existing command structure was replaced with the Gendarmerie Inspectorate which was another attempt to place Gendarmerie in the Polish armed Forces structures. The next changes were introduced in February 1920 when the Gendarmerie Inspectorate was transformed into the separate Military Gendarmerie Command Structure. The newly formed Gendarmerie Central School in Grudziądz was subordinated to it.

 

The intensive military operations conducted by the armed forces in 1920 caused forming of  cordons in the eastern front, including the medical cordon.  Its task, apart from preventing transmitting contagious diseases, was blocking  the bolshevik propaganda and espionage. After the end of the operations the same units were used in forming the mobilization cordon. During the retreat of the Polish armed forces  due to the Red Army  offensive in the eastern front, in the summer of 1920 the Gendarmerie was to form four defensive cordons aimed at counteracting the deserters movements.

After the end of  the Polish-Russian military operations in 1921 Col Władysław Jaxa-Rożen became the Military Gendarmerie commanding officer. At the same time the official demobilization of the Polish Armed Forces being introduced since April 1921 disbanded the Field Gendarmerie and Military Gendarmerie Command, forming the 2nd Department of Gendarmerie.

In the beginnings of 1920s Gendarmerie was under a constant reorganizational process. The next directive concerning Gendarmerie specifying its competences, was introduced on April 10, 1926. It stated that Gendarmerie is the primal utive body of the command. It is expected to constitute the personnel of the Field Gendarmerie and its task is to train professional gendarmes and reserve gendarmes in a schooling battalion (theoretical aspects) and practically in the utive branch through the following:

  • Performing the military-police duties in time of peace and providing security to the staff of higher commands,

  • Performing the official orders of prosecutors and military tribunals,

  • Participating in civilian-administration entourages by assisting them.

This directive widened the already existing range of tasks of Gendarmerie which not only performed police like duties within the armed forces but also provided security to the staffs of higher commands, convoyed the accused, protected the detained and arrested soldiers.
After the May Coup d`Etat in 1926 and taking the position of the General Inspector of the Armed Forces and the Minister of Military Affairs by Józef Piłsudski the changes concerning the armed forces also affected Gendarmerie. Its personnel increased in number. The Castle Company was formed whose job was to protect the RP President and the formation of units protecting the armaments industry factories was announced. The prestige of the formation was gradually growing  since 1927 along with the establishing of the Gendarmerie Command which was subordinated to the second  assistant secretary for the military affairs and since 1931 to the first assistant secretary. Gendarmerie became independent again. The legal regulations (among them the Decree of  the RP President  on Gendarmerie) finally completed the reorganization process of the formation. 

After coming into effect of the April Constitution of Poland and the death of the Marshal the new changes affected Gendarmerie. They did not concern the dependence of the formation but the range of the activities of gendarmes  whose tasks covered:

  • Managing the officers and privates of the compulsory service;
  • Preparing the regulations and instructions concerning the course of service;
  • Cooperating with the chief of Personnel Office as to handling the personnel affairs of officers and non-commissioned officers;
  • Preparing the budget suggestions;
  • Cooperating with departments and commands providing supplies, armaments and equipment;
  • Cooperating with the General Staff in preparing the military tasks of the armed forces;
  • Ensuring regular trainings to the professional personnel and privates.

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