- This article is about the 1918 battle. See also battle of Rarańcza (1915).
Battle of Rarańcza Part of the Eastern Front (World War I) Date February 15–16, 1918 Location Near Rarańcza (Redkovtsy), Bukovina Result Polish victory Belligerents Polish Legionnaires Austria-Hungary Commanders and leaders Józef Haller de Hallenburg
Unknown Strength over 2,000 Unknown Casualties and losses Heavy or 16 dead and 900 captive Unknown
The Brest-Litovsk Treaty, which was being negotiated on February 9, 1918, did not appear to benefit the idea of a nation state for Poland. This treaty, signed between the Central Powers (including Austria-Hungary) and the Ukrainian Soviet Republic on February 9, 1918, transferred the province of Chełm to the Ukrainian state. Poles, meanwhile, believed that the town of Chełm and surrounding lands should be under Polish control.
The Polish forces, part of the Austro-Hungarian Army stationed on the border of Bessarabia, were increasingly restless. They were relatively spread out throughout the region over a frontline 250 km in length. They consisted of the Polish Auxiliary Corps (known as the II Brigade of Polish Legionnaires up till the recent oath crisis), as well as some additional Polish units. The Poles, having received the information about the treaty on February 12, and expecting, in the aftermath of the treaty further weakening of the Polish units, decided on the February 14 to join forces with the Polish First Army Corps in Russia by crossing the Austrian-Russian front lines. Only a few, including general Michał Zieliński, proposed taking no action, however even Zieliński unofficially supported the mutiny.
Polish units, mostly the 2nd and 3rd Regiment under the command of Józef Haller de Hallenburg, attempted to break through the Austrian lines on February 15 to 16, 1918. Austrian forces were ordered to stop them, and fighting ensued in several places (while in others Austrian units withdrew). The main Polish units broke through the Austro-Hungarian Army near a town called Rarańcza, located in Bukovina, but the rear units with wagons were stopped by an armored train, and eventually disarmed and arrested.
The Legionnaires won the battle, but estimates of their losses vary: according to historian Jerzy Lerski they suffered "great losses", but Gawlik states there were only 16 casualties, while over 900 soldiers of the Auxiliary Corps and other Polish soldiers from other formations - about 4,000 total - were arrested). 86 officers and NCOs were later put to trial by the Austro-Hungarian government, but Charles I of Austro-Hungary ordered the trial to be stopped, and a few weeks later Austro-Hungary was no more.
Some (according to Gawlik, about 1,600) of Hallenburg's troops were able to make it through the front lines into already abandoned Russian trenches, and on March 5 were absorbed into the Polish Second Corps, whilst many were captured and imprisoned by the Austrians. The remaining troops under general Hallenburg would be defeated in May by the Germans in the battle of Kaniów.
- Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. 497. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=FPxhOu_n1VYC&pg=PA497&lpg=PA497&dq=Battle+of+Rara%C5%84cza&source=web&ots=qdeCDSzCf4&sig=fqrr6Wr3FaZWOEx_14nUeuEddEc&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result.
- (Polish) Piotr Galik, Chwalebna zdrada: Rarańcza 1918
- The Cambridge History of Poland. 474. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=As43AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA474&dq=Battle+of+Rara%C5%84cza&as_brr=3#PPA474,M1.
- Spencer Tucker, Laura Matysek Wood, Justin D. Murphy, The European Powers in the First World War: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, 1996, ISBN 0-8153-3351-X, Google Print, p.332
- Lerski, George. J. Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26007-9. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=FPxhOu_n1VYC&pg=PA497&lpg=PA497&dq=Battle+of+Rara%C5%84cza&source=web&ots=qdeCDSzCf4&sig=fqrr6Wr3FaZWOEx_14nUeuEddEc&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result#PPP1,M1.
- Reddaway, W.F.; J.H. Penson, O. Halecki. The Cambridge History of Poland. Cambridge University Press. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=As43AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA474&dq=Battle+of+Rara%C5%84cza&as_brr=3#PPP1,M1.
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