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Kazimierz Sosnkowski

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Title: Kazimierz Sosnkowski  
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Subject: Józef Piłsudski, 1939 in Poland, List of Polish people, NIE (resistance), Fundusz Obrony Morskiej
Collection: 1885 Births, 1969 Deaths, Burials at St. John's Archcathedral, Warsaw, Combat Organization of the Polish Socialist Party Members, Commanders of the Virtuti Militari, Golden Laurel of the Polish Academy of Literature, Grand Crosses of the Order of Polonia Restituta, Honorary Officers of the Order of the British Empire, Légion D'Honneur Recipients, Lviv Polytechnic Alumni, People from Warsaw, Polish Generals, Polish Nobility, Polish People of the Polish–soviet War, Polish Politicians, Recipients of the Cross of Independence with Swords, Recipients of the Cross of Liberty (Estonia), Recipients of the Cross of Valour (Poland) Four Times, Recipients of the Gold Cross of Merit (Poland), Recipients of the Military Order of the Cross of the Eagle, Class I, Recipients of the Order of the White Eagle (Poland)
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Kazimierz Sosnkowski

Kazimierz Sosnkowski
General Sosnkowski in the 1930s
General Inspector of the Armed Forces
In office
Preceded by Władysław Sikorski
Succeeded by Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski
Personal details
Born (1885-11-19)19 November 1885
Warsaw, partitioned Poland
Died 11 October 1969(1969-10-11) (aged 83)
Arundel, Quebec
Profession Architect and professional officer
Military service
Nickname(s) Baca, Godziemba, Józek
Years of service 1914 - 1944
Rank Generał broni LTG
Commands Polish Armed Forces
Battles/wars Polish-Soviet War
World War II

General Kazimierz Sosnkowski (Warsaw, 19 November 1885 – Arundel, Quebec, 11 October 1969) was a Polish nobleman, independence fighter, diplomat, architect, politician and a Polish Army general. An outstanding commander, an intellectual and an artist; Sosnkowski was a key figure in Poland’s twentieth century history. A lover of art, literature and philosophy, a linguist who knew Latin, Greek, English, French, German, Italian and Russian, Sosnkowski was truly a man of great skill and combat.[1]


  • Early years 1
  • World War I 2
  • Military and political career 3
    • 1920s and 1930s 3.1
    • Invasion of Poland 3.2
    • Post war 3.3
  • Private life 4
  • Prohibition of bacteriological weapons 5
  • Honours and awards 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8

Early years

Born in Kraków). After the Riflemen's Association was formed as a legal front, Sosnkowski became its Chief of Staff. In 1914 he finished his studies of architecture but the war prevented him to pass the final exams.[2]

World War I

Following the outbreak of the First World War Piłsudski formed the 1st Brigade of the Polish Legions, with Sosnkowski serving as his Chief of Staff and second-in-command. During the Oath crisis, when Piłsudski instructed the Polish Legion to refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Sosnkowski was arrested along with his commander and imprisoned in Magdeburg.[3]

After the end of the war he was released and became Deputy Minister for Military Affairs in the new Polish Second Republic, serving in that position during the Polish-Soviet War. Between 1920 and 1923 he was Minister for Military Affairs. Subsequently he served in a number of diplomatic roles, including a brief period as Polish Representative to the League of Nations. In 1925 he returned to active duty as Commander of the VII Corp District.[4]

Military and political career

Sosnkowski in 1926

1920s and 1930s

During the Polish Army. He also was the principal negotiator of the Polish-French treaty. In 1922 Marshal Piłsudski sent his confidential opinion to the President of Poland in which he declared that only Sosnkowski and Edward Rydz-Śmigły are capable of being the commander-in-chief in case of war. In 1925, as Polish Permanent Representative to the League of Nations, General Sosnkowski, initiated the adoption of the first international instrument addressing Biological Weapons of Mass Destruction. For unknown reasons he was not informed by Piłsudski about the plans of the 1926 coup. At this time Sosnkowski tried to commit suicide. After recuperation he returned to military service in 1927. Despite of the loosening of relations with Piłsudski it was he whom Piłsudski saw undoubtedly as his successor. In 1927 he was appointed to be the Inspector of "Army Podole" and in 1928 also of "Army Polesie". After Piłsudski’s death in 1935 Sosnkowski was sidetracked. In the Sanacja camp he was favoring a dialogue with opposition. This was rejected by President Ignacy Mościcki and Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły (possibly for ambitious reasons).

Invasion of Poland

After the German invasion of 1939 he proposed forming a group of armies in the regions of Warsaw, Poznań, Pomerania and Łódź. This was rejected by Rydz-Śmigły due to the lack of coordination in the region of Warsaw and Kutno, and eventually resulted in the Polish defeat at the river Bzura. On 10 September 1939 he was appointed commander of the group of the southern armies and conducted several victorious battles, however the Soviet invasion of 17 September has made it impossible to continue the war effort and Sosnkowski, disguised, crossed the Soviet occupied territory of Poland and through Hungary he arrived in France in October 1939. In November 1939 he was selected by President-in-exile Władysław Raczkiewicz as his successor (this was against the opinion of General Władysław Sikorski). He was also appointed the Commander of the Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ). In 1941, he resigned from the Polish Government in Exile protesting lack of specifics regarding Polish eastern borders. After the tragic death of General Sikorski in July of 1943, Sosnkowski officially became the Commander-in-Chief.

Stanisław Skalski with Kazimierz Sosnkowski and Air Marshal Arthur Coningham, 1943

He was against starting an insurrection in Warsaw but Prime Minister Stanisław Mikołajczyk prevailed and the insurrection started in August 1944. Sosnkowski then turned to the allies for help. When his propositions were rejected, Sosnkowski officially accused the Allies of breaking the peace treaties. Under the pressure from Winston Churchill Sosnkowski was demoted from the Commander-in-Chief position on 30 September 1944. In November 1944 he left Great Britain and went to Canada. Because of his unyielding attitude toward the Soviets, he was denied US and British visas until 1949.[5]

Post war

Between 1952-1954 he was active in achieving unification of the emigration groups and signing, in London, in 1954 the Act of National Unification. Toward the end of his life Sosnkowski enjoyed considerable respect among the Polish emigrants.

Following his death he was buried in France, however in 1992 his ashes were brought back to Poland and were interred inside St. John'’s Archcathedral in Warsaw.

Private life

Sosnkowski by Wojciech Kossak, 1939

Sosnkowski, over his career, used a number of noms de guerre, including "Baca" (Polish mountaineer term for "shepherd"), "Godziemba" (the name of his hereditary coat-of-arms), "Józek" (Polish slang for "Joseph"), "Ryszard" ("Richard"), "Szef" ("Chief").

Sosnkowski was married to Jadwiga Sosnkowska. They had five sons. Their five sons were Alexander, Peter, Anthony, John and Joseph. The last three lived in Canada whereas Alexander lived in the U.S. and Peter in the U.S. and France.

John died in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, on 25 April 2009; Anthony in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Canada, 26 June 2012; Joseph, in Victoria, B.C., 6 November 2011; Alexander in Quincy, Illinois, U.S.A., 30 March 2015.

Prohibition of bacteriological weapons

In 1925, the Polish Permanent Representative to the League of Nations, General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, initiated the adoption of the first international instrument addressing Biological weapons of Mass Destruction – the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of Poisonous Gases and Bacteriological Methods of Warfare.[6][7]

Honours and awards

Godziemba, Sosnkowski's hereditary coat-of-arms

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Croddy, Eric and Wirtz, James, Weapons of Mass Destruction, An Encyclopedia of Worldwide Policy, Technology and History.
  7. ^ Mierzejewski, Jerzy (July 2003). "General Kazimierz Sosnkowski: The Creator of the First International Prohibition of Bacteriological Weapon Usage" (PDF). FEMS Circular ( 
Military offices
Preceded by
Władysław Sikorski
General Inspector of the Armed Forces
Succeeded by
Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski
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