General Jozef Haller 1873-1960 (Part 2 of 2)
by Robert W. Postula
Founding of Haller’s Army aka Blue Army aka Polish Army in France
Once in Paris, (July 13, 1918), Haller was responsible for organizing the "Blue Army", named for their horizon-blue uniforms provided by France. He sent emissaries to several countries to enlist volunteers. Eight thousand prisoners of war of Polish origin were released and sent to France. Volunteers arrived in Poland, where they reinforced the Galician front in the war against Russia. Haller was ranked "General of Arms", the equivalent of a United States four-star general.
In the autumn of 1920 Haller commanded the northern front in the Battle of Warsaw during the Polish-Soviet War (1919-21). From 1920 to 1926, he was the inspector general of artillery and served as a member of the Polish War Council. In July 1926, Marshall Józef Pilsudski (1867-1935), who by this time took over the Polish government, forced Haller into retirement. Having long-standing political and religious differences with Pilsudski, Haller continually conspired with partisan organizations against him, and in February 1936, joined the Front Morges, and helped to consolidate an opposition against the Polish government. After Germany’s attack of Poland in 1939, Haller made his way to France, where he mobilized Polish forces for the government-in-exile.
The battles that Haller’s army participated in included the following: Barancza, Bohorodczany, Brzesc, Fitkow, Hwozd, Mielnike, Janów, Janowka, Kaniów, Kolomyja, Maksymiec, Maniawa, Mink Masowiecki, Mława, Moltkow, Myczynska, Nadwoma, Nasielsk, Niebytow, Pasieczna, Pniów, Przasnysz, Raczymin, Rafajlowa, Rudka, Silowicze, Sokołów, Solotwina, Stobychwa, Wielieko, Zarzecze, Zielona, and Zuraki.
Military decorations received by Józef Haller include the Virtuti Militari, French Military Cross with Palm, Commander of the Honor Legion. Bravery Cross (4 times), Grand Officer of the Crown of Italy, Knight of the White Eagle, and many others.
Both Haller’s father and his maternal grandfather were also in the military. His grandfather was a captain in the Polish army and in 1831 was awarded the Virtuti Militari Cross. His uncle’s brother. Stanisław Haller (1872-1940), started in the Austrian army and subsequently served in the Polish Army, attained the rank of general and also received the Virtuti Militari Cross. Stanisław was murdered by the NKWD (Narodnyj Komissariat Wnutriennich Dieł) at Starobielsk in April of 1940.
The Order Virtuti Militari (for Military Merit) was established in June 22, 1792, by King Stanisław August (Poniatowski) of Poland. It was the highest military decoration for gallantry that the Polish nation can bestow upon its soldiers in recognition for acts of heroism above and beyond the call of duty. It is awarded in one of four classes. The Virtuti Militari is equivalent to the American Medal of Honor, the German Pour le Mérite, or the British Victoria Cross, being the highest purely military award for gallantry. Józef also was a recipient.
After Military Life
From 1920 to 1927, Haller was a member of Poland’s Parliament (Sejm). He attacked Józef Pilsudski’s politics often. After the election of Gabriel Narutowicz as President of the Republic, hostile groups formed and pitted against him. After the May Coup of 1926 he was ordered into retirement. He co-organized the opposition party, the so-called Front Morges (a political coalition) and also in 1937 created the Labor Party. From 1940-1943 Józef Haller was the Minister of Education in the exile government of Władysław Sikorski.
Józef Haller died June 4, 1960 at the age of 87 in London, England. He was buried at the cemetery in Gunnersbury. On April 23, 1993, his remains were brought to rest in Poland. They were placed in a crypt at St. Agnes church in Kraków.
(Continued from Part 1 of 2)
This article appeared in the Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan's Journal, The Polish Eaglet, Fall 2001, pps. 80-81. It is reprinted here with permission from the family of Robert Postula and the PGSM. All surnames are in bold text as is customary in The Polish Eaglet articles.