Fighting for Przemyśl in 1918

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See also Defense of Przemysl.

Fighting for Przemysl

Polish-Ukrainian war

The first page of the Ukrainian newspaper Volya, published in Przemyśl, reporting on the capture of the city by Ukrainian troops on November 4, 1918


November 3/4-12, 1918




Eastern Lesser Poland


Ukrainian Committee of Two’s decision to capture the city, Gen. Roja’s order to capture Przemyśl


victory of the Poles

Parties to the conflict

Second Polish Republic

Western Ukrainian People’s Republic


approx. 10 killed and 50 wounded

app. 10 killed and 50 wounded

no coordinates

Battles for Przemysl in 1918 – battles fought during the Polish-Ukrainian war from November 3/4 to 12, 1918 for the capture of Przemysl.


1 Background of events 2 Outbreak of fighting 3 Course of fighting 4 Decoration 5 Bibliography 6 External links

Background of events[edit | edit code].

Upon hearing of the appointment of a Pole – General Stanislaw Puchalski – as the military commander of Przemysl and his arrival on October 29, a Ukrainian conspiracy group – subordinate to the UHWK) from the reserve battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment, numbering about 600 Ukrainian soldiers and quartered in Zhuravitsa – decided to pre-empt his assumption of command and occupy the city. On October 30, 1918 at 6 a.m. the barracks were occupied and soldiers of non-Ukrainian origin were interned. Later, Zhurawica was occupied and waited for orders from the Ukrainian National Council. However, after General Puchalski threatened to send a Hungarian unit against the rebellious soldiers, URN representatives called a rally at which they announced that rumors of the fall of Austria were false and that the rebellion should be called off. The conspirators were unable to stop the Ukrainian soldiers, who simply dispersed to their homes. As a result, on November 1 there were no more Ukrainian soldiers in Zhuravitsa.

On the other hand, on the night of October 31-November 1, Polish guards garrisoned Przemyśl, and at 1 p.m. a delegation of the Polish Liquidation Commission (Aleksander Skarbek, Zygmunt Lasocki and MP Grzędzielewski) arrived in Przemyśl and, unable to get to Lvov, stopped in Przemyśl. In the afternoon, an order arrived from the Polish chief of staff from Warsaw – Gen. Tadeusz Rozwadowski – to appoint Gen. Puchalski as commander of all Polish forces in Galicia. However, it turned out that after robbing the warehouses, the soldiers of the Austrian regiments dispersed to their homes, as a result of which 28 soldiers from the 45 pp and a dozen volunteers remained under his command.

In the evening, Polish-Ukrainian negotiations began, in which representatives of the Ukrainian National Council participated from the Ukrainian side: Volodymyr Zahaykewych, Ivan Zolnir, Andriy Alyashevych and Volodymyr Demchuk, and from the Polish side Aleksander Skarbek, Zygmunt Lasocki, lawyers Tarnawski, Przyjemski, Blazewski and Lieberman. General Puchalski and Colonel Janda were observers.

As a result of the negotiations, a settlement was signed on November 2, declaring the transfer of power in the city to a nine-member mixed Polish-Jewish-Ukrainian commission, while order was to be guarded by a mixed Polish-Ukrainian-Jewish militia.

At the same time as the negotiations, a rally was held at the Ukrainian National House, which passed a vote of no confidence in the acting URN authorities and elected a new one, the Committee of Two, to which Lieutenant Ukarma was later co-opted. It was this Committee that decided to capture the city.

Outbreak of fighting[edit | edit code].

On the night of November 3-4, organized groups of Ukrainian volunteers from villages near Przemyśl, together with a 30-member detachment of former USS Legion soldiers, captured the right bank part of Przemyśl, interning the city’s commander, General Puchalski, along with a group of a dozen officers. However, the order to blow up the Przemyśl bridges, issued by the Ukrainian General Military Commissariat, was not carried out, which affected the further course of the entire Polish-Ukrainian war. According to various versions, either the chairman of the URN in Przemyśl, Dr. Teofil Kormosz, opposed it, or the sappers sent to Radymno to pick up the charges and fuses simply deserted. The only force that could threaten the Ukrainians at the time was the Jewish militia (more than 400 people), but they were neutralized by spreading news of a planned pogrom.

General Puchalski, not knowing that on the left bank of the San (Zasan) the Poles were organizing resistance under the command of Father Jozef Panas, ordered the Polish troops to stop fighting and withdraw from the city. However, the Polish groups fighting in Zasan disobeyed the order, occupying all of Zasan. On November 4, a truce was concluded, establishing the San River current as the demarcation line. In the truce, the Ukrainians pledged to give the Poles food supplies from Austro-Hungarian warehouses and released General Puchalski along with his officers.

On November 9, the “San” group (400 soldiers and 4 cannons), commanded by Major Julian Stachiewicz, which was to be the advance guard of the relief for Lvov, organized by General Boleslaw Roja, set out by train from Cracow to Przemysl. On the morning of November 10, preceded by an armored train, it reached Zurawica and then on foot to Zasan. The Polish command issued an ultimatum demanding the unconditional surrender of Przemysl, which was rejected by the Ukrainians.

Course of fighting[edit | edit code].

The star of Przemyśl

On November 11, at 12 o’clock, the Poles began shelling the right-bank part of Przemyśl with cannons. At the same time, the Ukrainians released two empty locomotives over the standing railroad bridge (not blowing the bridges was a serious mistake on their part) in order to block the tracks. The locomotive traveling on the track where the Polish armored train was standing derailed before it reached its destination, so the train could be used for the attack.

Simultaneously with the start of the artillery shelling, the Polish troops moved to attack. An armored train attacked over the railroad bridge, Lieutenant Zajączkowski’s group attacked over the footbridge, Capt. Henryk Krok-Paszkowski’s group attacked over the road bridge, and Chor. Tatara’s 2 driving platoons attacked by ford across the San and towards Kruhel Wielki.

By the evening, the Polish troops had captured the Main Railway Station and the old town up to the Market Square, Franciszkańska and Mickiewicz Streets, and fortified themselves in the captured positions. During the night, riots broke out in the Jewish quarter, located in the part of Przemyśl captured by the Polish army, over the looting of stores and apartments.

By 10 a.m. on November 12, the fighting had died down as Ukrainian forces withdrew in the direction of Chyrov. Losses on the Polish and Ukrainian sides were similar, amounting to about 10 dead and 50 wounded each.

Due to the Spanish flu epidemic, as well as the paucity of forces, Polish troops did not set out to relieve Lviv until November 19, 1918.

See also category: Participants in the battle for Przemyśl 1918 (Polish side).

Decoration[edit | edit code].

The Star of Przemysl decoration was registered and awarded for participation in the battles for Przemysl.

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