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Poland–Czechoslovakia war
Part of Polish–Czechoslovak border conflicts
Map of plebiscite area.jpg
The historic map of the borders of Cieszyn Silesia from 1920
Date January 23 – January 30, 1919
Location Cieszyn Silesia
Result Stalemate, Czechoslovakia annexes Zaolzie
Belligerents
Flag of Bohemia.svg Czechoslovakia Poland Second Polish Republic
Commanders
Josef Šnejdárek Franciszek Latinik
Casualties and losses
44-53 killed
124 injured
92 killed
855 injured

The Poland–Czechoslovakia war, also known mostly in Czech sources as the Seven-day war (Czech: Sedmidenní válka) was a military confrontation between Czechoslovakia and Poland over the territory of Cieszyn Silesia in 1919.

Czechoslovak units attacked the Polish part of Cieszyn Silesia primarily to prevent the elections to the Polish Sejm in the contested territory.[1] The attack was halted under pressure from the Entente. The result of the war was the new demarcation line, which expanded the territory controlled by Czechoslovakia. It led to the division of the region of Cieszyn Silesia in July 1920, and left a substantial Polish minority in Czechoslovakia in the region later called Zaolzie. The division of Cieszyn Silesia did not satisfy Poland and led to the Polish annexation of Zaolzie in 1938.

Contents

Background

During the final years of World War I, Polish and Czechoslovak diplomats met to hammer out a common border between the two new countries. By the time the armistice was declared, most of the border was worked out except for three small politically sensitive areas with both Polish and Czechoslovak residents.

The Cieszyn Silesia or the Duchy of Cieszyn (German: Teschen and Czech: Těšín) was a small area in south-eastern Silesia. The last Austrian census of 1910 showed that it was predominantly Polish in three districts (Cieszyn, Bielsko, and Frysztat) and mainly Czech in the fourth district of Frýdek.[2] The chief importance of Cieszyn Silesia was the rich coal basin around Karviná and the valuable Košice-Bohumín Railway line which linked Czech lands with Slovakia. Furthermore in north-western Cieszyn Silesia the railroad junction of Bohumín served as a crossroad for international transport and communications.[3]

Forces

The Czechoslovak side was led by Josef Šnejdárek. Czechoslovak military forces had been formed from the 21st Shooting Regiment legionnaires from France on the strength of three battalions, the 54th flag infantry of Olomouc, the banner of the 93rd regiment infantry of Fryštát, volunteers from the Bohumín and volunteers from Orlová. The operations of the Czechoslovak forces were joined by other local volunteers, formed in the National Guard with a strength of approximately 5,000 men. From the north-west of Slovakia came the main force that was sent to support the 35th Legionary Regiment from Italy, led by the Italian Colonel Graselli and later reinforced with the Shooting Legion Regiment from Italy. During the war the Czechoslovak army was reinforced by the newly formed 2nd Brigade with a strength of six battalions, with the support of two artillery batteries, and one cavalry squadron.

The Czechoslovak army was further strengthened by a regiment of infantry from Prague, the 3rd Battalion regiment of infantry, the 93rd Battalion regiment and five battalions of volunteers.

Polish forces under the command of Franciszek Latinik were weaker than the Czechoslovak forces. At the end of World War I, Poland was fighting in border disputes with all its neighbors, and during the war with Czechoslovakia the main force was committed to the fighting in Eastern Galicia with the Ukrainians.[4] The Polish army had a strength of five battalions, with the aid of four riding crews and artillery batteries. The guns also had approximately 550 members of the gendarmerie and around 6,500 local Polish volunteers. Polish forces were reinforced during the war.

Battle

On 23 January 1919 at 11:00 in Cieszyn Silesia Polish commander Franciszek Latinik and Czechoslovak officer Josef Šnejdárek met with a group of officers, consisting of English, French, Italian and U.S. representatives (at the request of the Czechoslovak party). The Polish side was given an ultimatum, that they evacuate the area to the Biała River in less than two hours. After the expiry of this period the Czechoslovak army started its operations at 13:00 following its operational guidelines to seize Bohumín and Karviná. From the east, at the same time, an attack was launched by the Italian legionnaire unit. The Czechoslovak army moved forward, and took Bohumín (at 16:00), Orlova and Karviná. Cieszyn Silesia was occupied without a fight on 27 January 1919. Polish troops retreated to the river Vistula.

On 30 January 1919 Josef Šnejdárek received the order to cross the Vistula and ensure rail lines of Bohumín – Jablunkov. They crossed the river and Polish troops gave way to Skoczów, where they were able to stop the Czechoslovak advance. Šnejdárek stopped and retreated. Further Czechoslovak reinforcements arrived, which gave Šnejdárek an advantage over the Polish units. Czechoslovak army prepared for an attack on Skoczów on the assumption that there had been a collapse of the Polish defenses.

The attack on Skoczów did not succeed, and on 31 January 1919 the Czechoslovak army stopped the fighting due to pressure from the Entente. The Czechoslovak army withdrew to the new Green Line, established by the International Commission Agreement on the basis of the Czechoslovakia–Polish Treaty, concluded on 3 February 1919 in Paris.[5] The disputed territory was managed under international control. The final division of Cieszyn Silesia came in July 1920 as a result of the Spa Conference.

Footnotes

  1. ^ Gawrecká, 23, in particular the quotation of Dąbrowski: "Czesi uderzyli na nas kilka dni przed 26 stycznia 1919, w którym to dniu miały się odbyć wybory do Sejmu w Warszawie. Nie chcieli bowiem między innemi dopuścić do przeprowadzenia tych wyborów, któreby były wykazały bez wszelkiej presyi i agitacyi, że Śląsk jest polskim.".
  2. ^ Zahradnik 1992, 178-179.
  3. ^ Wandycz, Piotr S. France and her Eastern Allies, 1919-1925: French-Czechoslovak-Polish Relations from the Paris Peace Conference in Locarno (January 1, 1962 ed.). University of Minnesota Press; Minnesota Archive Editions edition. pp. 75, 158. ISBN 0816658862.  
  4. ^ "Ukraine after the Russian Revolution". mfa.gov.ua. 2009. http://www.mfa.gov.ua/usa/en/10956.htm. Retrieved 23 May 2009. "A Western Ukrainian People's Republic was also declared in Lviv on October 19, 1918. The ZUNR formally (and largely symbolically) joined the UNR"  
  5. ^ Pogonowski, Iwo Cyprian. Poland: A Historical Atlas (March 1989 ed.). Hippocrene Books; Revised edition. p. 321. ISBN 0870522825.  
    Feb. 3, 1919 Signing in Paris of Polish-Czech border agreement on the basis of the Nov. 5, 1918, ethnic division agreement.
    July 28, 1920 Allied ambassadors decision partitioning Cieszyn, Silesia, and leaving in Czechoslovakia a quarter of a million Poles in the strategic Moravian Gate...(leading to Poland from the south-west)

References

  • Davies, Norman. Polsko. Dějiny národa ve středu Evropy. Praha : Prostor, 2003. ISBN 80-7260-083-4.
  • Gawrecká, Marie (2004). Československé Slezsko mezi světovými válkami 1918-1938. Opava: Silesian University in Ostrava. ISBN 80-7248-233-5.  
  • Gawrecki, Dan. Studie o Těšínsku 15. Politické a národnostní poměry v Těšínském Slezsku 1918-1938. Český Těšín : Muzeum Těšínska, 1999. ISBN 80-902355-4-90.
  • Kolektiv autorů: Stonawa pamięta: 1919-1999, Interfon (1999), Těšín, ISBN 83-87308-18-8
  • Matroszová, Veronika. Českoslovenští legionáři, rodáci a občané okresu Karviná. Praha : Státní okresní archiv Karviná, 2005. ISBN 80-86388-32-8.
  • Žáček, Rudolf (2004). Dějiny Slezska v datech. Praha: Libri. ISBN 80-7277-172-8.  
  • Zahradnik, Stanisław; and Marek Ryczkowski (1992). Korzenie Zaolzia. Warszawa – Praga – Trzyniec: PAI-press. OCLC 177389723.  
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