Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Maczek, Stanislaw (1892–1994)

Polish army general and commander of the 1st Polish Armored Division in 1944 and 1945. Born on 31 March 1892 in Szczerzec near L'viv (Lvov) (in today's Poland), Stanislaw Maczek served during World War I as an infantry officer of the Austrian-Hungarian army, mostly on the Italian Front. In November 1918, he joined the armed forces of the newly formed Polish Republic. He first served as commander of the Special Storm Battalion on the Volhynian Front.

After the 1919–1920 Russo-Polish War, Maczek commanded a battalion of the 26th Infantry Regiment stationed in L'viv. Following studies at the Staff College in Warsaw in 1923, he served as intelligence officer of the L'viv military district. Between 1927 and 1938, he commanded various infantry units.

In 1938, when Marshal Edward Rydz-Smigly began to modernize the Polish army, Maczek was put in charge of the first of the two armored brigades. The training of his brigade was barely finished when Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. Maczek's units did what they could against overwhelming German armored strength on the southern sector of the front. When the Soviet Union also invaded Poland from the rear, on 17 September, and the struggle on two fronts became hopeless, Maczek decided to cross over with his brigade to Hungary; there, he and the bulk of his brigade were interned. Thanks to the friendly attitude of the Hungarian authorities, most of the personnel of the brigade managed to reach France by 1940, where General Wladyslaw Sikorski was forming a new Polish army. Maczek's brigade was ready just in time to take part in the May–June campaign for France.

After the French capitulation in June 1940, most of Maczek's officers and men escaped to Britain, where Maczek was put in charge of re-creating his unit; by 1942, it became the 1st Polish Armored Division. Maczek commanded his unit in the campaign across western Europe, in 1944 and 1945. His division was instrumental in closing the Falaise-Argentan gap. After that, as a part of 21st Army Group, commanded by Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, the division continued its victorious march through northern France, Belgium, Holland, and northwestern Germany, until the end of the war in May 1945.

After the demobilization, Maczek settled in Edinburgh, Scotland. He published his memoirs, Od podwody do czolga (From a cart to a tank), in 1961. Maczek died in Edinburgh on 11 December 1994.

M. K. Dziewanowski


Further Reading
Dziewanowski, M. K. Poland in the 20th Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 1977.; Dziewanowski, M. K. War at Any Price: World War II in Europe, 1939–1945. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1991.; Garlinski, Józef. Poland in the Second World War. London: Macmillan, 1985.; Maczek, Stanislaw. Od podwody do czolga (From a cart to a tank). London: Veritas, 1961.
 

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