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Edward Rydz-Smigly
Rydz-Smigly
Historical Figure
Nationality: Poland
Date of Birth: 1886
Date of Death: 1941
Cause of Death: Heart Failure
Religion: Catholicism
Occupation: General, Politician, Resistance Fighter, Poet, Painter
Military Branch: Polish Army
Turtledove Appearances:
The War That Came Early
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references throughout (as "Edward Smigly-Rydz")
Edward Rydz-Smigly (Polish, Edward Rydz-Śmigly, also Edward Smigly-Rydz) (March 1886 – 2 December 1941) was a Polish military and political leader as well as a painter and poet. He served as General-Inspector of Poland's armed forces from 1935-1939. During that period, Rydz-Smigly was de facto leader of the country in a power-sharing arrangement with the President, Ignacy Mościcki.

Rydz-Smigly commanded the Polish military during the invasion and conquest of that country by Germany and the Soviet Union at the outset of World War II. On 18 September 1939, following the fall of his country, he entered Romania, where he was interned for slightly more than a year, during which time he renounced his command of the Polish military. In December 1940, he crossed from Romania into Hungary, and from there into Slovakia and then back into Poland, where he volunteered as a common soldier in the Polish resistance movement. He died of heart failure in Warsaw in December 1941.

Edward Rydz-Smigly in The War That Came EarlyEdit

Edward Smigly-Rydz was Marshal of Poland and de facto leader of the country when the Second World War broke out. Initially, Smigly-Rydz limited Poland's role in the war to annexing the Czechoslovakian town of Teschen.[1] However, in the closing days of 1938, the Soviet Union accused Smigly-Rydz of policies which discriminated against ethnic Byelorussians living in Polish territory,[2] thus giving itself a casus belli to attack Poland.[3] Rydz-Smigly requested and received military support from Germany, thus bringing Nazi and Soviet troops into direct contact with one another for the first time since the fall of Czechoslovakia.[4]

At Smigly-Rydz' direction, Polish forces worked closely with their German counterparts, which paid immediate dividends with the Polish capture of Wilno in the Spring of 1939.[5] Smigly-Rydz was personally targeted by Soviet propaganda throughout the fighting, which usually combined Smigly-Rydz and Adolf Hitler into one central "enemy".[6]

The war briefly turned against Poland in the closing days of 1939 as the Soviet Red Army made it to the outskirts of Warsaw.[7] However, that drive was successfully held by joint German-Polish forces well into 1940,[8] until Germany brokered an alliance with Britain and France.[9] The new coalition began a successful drive out of Poland and into Soviet territory.

The drive continued throughout 1940 and 1941, with Smolensk the ultimate goal. While the drive never reached Smolensk, as first Britain then France withdrew from the USSR and returned to war with Germany in 1941, the drive was deep enough that Warsaw was never threatened with invasion for the remainder of the war.

The war in Europe finally ended in 1944, when the Committee for the Salvation of the German Nation assassinated Hitler in April and immediately sued for peace. While Germany did attempt to repay Poland's loyalty through the peace process, Marshal Smigly-Rydz had no choice but to give in to Stalin's original demand and give up Wilno and its environs.[10]

On the other hand, while Germany had to give up other occupied countries, the 1938 dismemberment of Czechoslovakia remained in force, and Germany remained in possession of Bohemia and Moravia. By default, Poland kept Teschen.[11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Hitler's War, pg. 75, tpb.
  2. Ibid., pg. 194.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 196-199.
  4. Ibid., pg. 200.
  5. West and East, e.g, pg. 24.
  6. Ibid, e.g., pg. 191.
  7. Ibid., pg. 422.
  8. The Big Switch, pgs. 23-24.
  9. Ibid., pg. 238.
  10. Last Orders, pg. 344, HC.
  11. This isn't explicit, but it is a logical inference based on what we know about the peace agreement.
Military offices
(OTL)
Preceded by
Jozef Pilsudski
General Inspector of the Armed Forces of Poland
1935–1939
Succeeded by
Władysław Sikorski
Military offices
(The War That Came Early)
Preceded by
Jozef Pilsudski
General Inspector of the Armed Forces of Poland
1935-19??
Succeeded by
Incumbent at series' end, 1944

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