Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chapter 8 - Battle And Retreat: Part 1 - Introduction

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

As October 1914 ended, the Russian Army’s Northern Command—which included the Second Army and Terechoff’s irregular cavalry intelligence group—faced the Germans across the frontier of East Prussia and across central Poland towards Germany. Meanwhile, the armies of the Russian Southern Command were keeping up pressure on the Austrians and moving deeper into Galicia (Austrian Poland). Despite large numbers of Russian casualties and Russian prisoners taken, Russia still remained a threat. And despite their tactical successes in East Prussia and elsewhere, the Germans had taken tremendous losses themselves. As did the Austrians, who could not claim much tactical success against the Russians so far. Such were the circumstances on the Eastern Front as Stavka (the Russian Army General Staff) and its Northern Command, prepared for an invasion of Germany which would include the Second Army. They planned to start with the capture of Silesia, the southwestern section of partitioned Poland that Prussia had annexed more than a century before.
"EasternFront1914a" by Department of Military Art and Engineering, at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) - West Point web site at: Licensed under Public domain via Викисклада -
Eastern Front, Poland 1914 by September 26
Whatever successes Korzybski and his unit may have had, their activities constituted only a small part of the Russian intelligence and counter-intelligence effort, which remained on the whole quite pathetic. Via poorly-coded, intercepted Russian radio transmissions, the Germans had gotten vital information on Russian invasion plans. In the beginning of November, they began shifting by rail a quarter million men of their Ninth Army from Silesia—where they kept a remnant of defenders—to Thorn in West Prussia. From Thorn, the Ninth army looked southeast into Russian Poland toward Lodz, Plock and Warsaw. Hoping to catch the outer right flank of the advancing Russian armies, they prepared their own invasion, which began on November 11 and took Russian forces by surprise. Within a week they had driven back Russian positions at least 100 miles, all the way to the outskirts of Lodz, though Warsaw still felt no immediate threat.

As it happened, Korzybski and Zorowski had been in Plock—located on a high cliff overlooking the Vistula, about 60 miles west-northwest of Warsaw and 70 miles north of Lodz—for at least a week before it fell to the Germans. Terechoff had sent them there to meet some of their agents and to try to get some agents across the Vistula. There were already German patrols around, and Korzybski couldn’t get anyone across. The Germans had not yet appeared in the city but were expected to occupy it in a day or two. The Russian army and civil administration were making an orderly retreat.

By Rommullus (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Płock - the Tumskie Hill over the Vistula River (25 April, 2009) 
"Płock, Tumskie Hill" by Rommullus - Own work.
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons,_Tumskie_Hill.jpg

In the meantime, Korzybski and Zurowski were organizing Poles in the town to provide help and information to their intelligence unit after the retreat. They got up to leave their nice hotel while it was still dark. Russian troops had completely cleared out and the two of them, as far as they knew, were the last remaining representatives of the Russian army. They expected the Germans to be coming in at any time. They should have gone too, but had heard that some German deserters nearby wanted to surrender. So, like fools, they rode out onto the German side, searching for the deserters whom they wanted to take as prisoners.

They ended up in a forest, stumbling around on their horses in the dark—falling into holes and getting bruised and scratched for their efforts. Finally, at daybreak they got to a small clearing and came upon a German cavalry reconnaissance patrol of a half dozen men. They stopped a few hundred yards away. Should they attack? The Germans stopped too, looking across at the two Poles. After a pause, the German lieutenant saluted them. Korzybski and Zorowski saluted back, turned their horses around (as did the Germans) and rode out of Plock and onto Russian territory as fast as they could go. (1)

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
1. Korzybski 1947, p. 116–120.

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