At the turn of the century antagonisms between Tsarist Russia and allied Germany and Austria Hungary gave hope to the global conflict that would allow the Poles to achieve their autonomy, or even regain the independence. Seeing this, Józef Pi連udski ordered Kazimierz Sosnkowski to create an Association of Active Struggle, which was the basis for the paramilitary organization "Strzelec" (Cracow), and "Riflemen's Association" (Lviv). In the future they were to create the core of Polish Army. In 1912 Polish Military Treasury was founded, which patron was the Temporary Committee of Confederated Independence Groups. The command over the paramilitary troops was given to Józef Pi連udski. In 1914, the organization had 6,500 members, but on the eve of the war Pi連udski ordered the mobilization and concentration in Cracow. Hoping for an anti-Russian uprising in the Kingdom, he moved in the direction of Kielce, saying of the creation of the Polish Partisan National Government. This action had no effect and only because of the newly formed Supreme National Committee in Cracow, Pi連udski's troops were transformed into the Polish Legions, subjected however to the Austrian Oberkomando. (These troops were immediately sent to fight in the Eastern Carpathians). This meant a greater dependence to the Austrian authorities, but also gave improvements especially to those troops, which were in the Congress Poland. Armee-Oberkommando ordered to create two formations on 27th August, 1914: Eastern Legion under the command of Gen. Adam Pietraszkiewicz and Western Legion, led by the Austrian General Raymond Baczy雟ki. Both units were armed in a similar way. They consisted of two infantry regiments and two-three cavalry squadrons. Facing the invasion of Russian troops and the agitation of the National Democracy, majority of members left the ranks of Eastern Legions, and soon it was disbanded. Biggest part of the soldiers was drafted into the Austrian army, and some of them entered the ranks of the newly formed 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Polish Legions.
On 30th September, 1914, the core of newly creating 2nd Brigade was sent to the Eastern Carpathians, and Pi連udski's troops took part in the battles at Laski and Anielin at the same time. During the Russian offensive, Pi連udzki conducted (without the knowledge of the Austrian headquarters) a very dangerous maneuver, called Operation Ulina Ma豉, breaking a narrow "corridor" between the Austrian and Russian troops and reaching the city of Cracow. This maneuver was finished successfully. After this operation, this troops joined the right wing of the Austrian army fighting on Mszana Dolna, Limanowa, Marcinkowice and Nowy S帷z areas. This soldiers were the core of 1st Brigade of the Polish Legions on 19th December, 1914.
3rd Brigade was formed on 8th May, 1915. Polish Army was involved at that time in many major battles of First World War, including the battles near Konary and Jastków. At the beginning of 1916, Pi連udski decided to leave the Legion, claiming that the army is too obedient to the Austrian command. In July 1916, the Legions were involved in heavy fighting in Kostiuchnowka during the Russian offensive, suffering huge losses. At that time, Pi連udski made an official request for the resignation, that was given to him after a month. He was engaged in activities his already created Polish Military Organization, which was supposed to fight against the Central Powers, and to get the support of population of Congress Poland (Pi連udski had no support for his moves, due to his cooperation with the Austrians). On the beginning of July 1917, Pi連udski put forward an idea of conducting an open conflict with the leaders of Austria and Germany. The main tasks of Polish soldiers was those who fought in the Polish Legions under the Austrian command, but who didn't have the Austrian citizenship. Their task was to refuse the military oath prepared by Austrians, and that would have been an open rebellion against their command. On 9th July, 1917 the vast majority of 1st and 3rd Brigade refused to take the oath, and therefore they were interned in Beniaminowo (officers),υm瘸 and Szczypiorno (non-commissioned officers and other soldiers). The legionaries who took the oath, mainly of 2nd Brigade, were handed over to the Austrian commandment as Polish Auxiliary Corps. Soldiers coming from the Habsburg monarchy areas, were conscripted into the Austrian army. At the same time, the most important activists of Polish Military Organization were arrested in Congress Poland. (Congress Poland was controlled by the Central Powers). Pi連udski was arrested on the night of 21st/22nd July and finally imprisoned in the Magdeburg fortress, and he was released on 8th November, 1918.
Polish Auxiliary Corps crossed the Rara鎍za frontline under the leadership of Joseph Haller, to protest against the decisions of the Treaty of Brest (9th february,1918). The majority failed to break however and were interned in Marmaros-Sziget and Huszt camps. The leaders were judeged in Marmaros-Sziget. The soldiers operating in the Congress Poland remained in Polnische Wehrmacht (Polish Armed Forces), which in November 1918 was renamed to the Polish Army.
translation Katarzyna Prokopowicz