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|Josef Haller von Hallenberg was born on 13 August 1873 in the Galician town of Jurczyce, outside of Krakau. Haller studied in Vienna at the Technical Military Academy, and went to war in the Austrian Army. In 1916, he was appointed commander of the Second Brigade of the Polish Legion, led by Josef Pilsudski. Haller was appointed commander of the Polish Auxiliary Corps, replacing Stanislaus Graf von Szeptycki, who became military governor of the Austrian-administered Poland at Lublin.
By winter 1917-1918, Haller had seen plenty of action on the Eastern Front but saw no hope for the Kingdom of Poland under German control. Attempts to reorganise the Corps into the Polish National Army directly under German control caused Haller to revolt. The famous Charge of Rarancza on 15 February 1918 caused a sensation, but the Germans were able to surround the rebels and crush them. Haller escaped the trap and succeeded in fleeing to Moscow and then to Murmansk, where a ship took him all the way to France.
Haller got in touch with Roman Dmowski’s Polish National Committee in Paris, and he took command of the force of Polish volunteers called the “Blue Army,” named after the soldiers who wore blue uniforms. In the final two months of the war, General Jozef Haller commanded six divisions. Haller’s Army was shipped to Poland in early November 1918 and he was dispatched to fight the Ukrainian separatists in Eastern Galicia.
Josef Haller died in 1963.
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|Orders of Battle: January 1914
Immediately preceding the Battles for the Carpathians
Army Group Pflanzer-Baltin, GdK Karl von Pflanzer-Baltin
Polish Legion, FML Karl Trzaska-Durski
Haller Brig., GM Joszef Haller von Hallenberg
Haller kept the Pantyr Pass in Austrian hands through January and February, fighting in what could be described as the worst kind of terrain: snowy and windy at high elevation; at least there was a railway that terminated just before the hotly contested Pantyr Pass, which was too high and too little used. This railhead kept Haller’s advanced troops supplied well enough. When two fresh Corps arrived in the first week of February in the Wyszók and Tatar Passes on either side of Pantyr Pass, Haller was first to advance into Galicia, and was closest to Nadworna before the Russians brought an entire Corps of their 9. Army into action against Haller’s brigade. His forces withdrew in favour of Czibulka Corps and was put back into action more than 50 km east, on the road from Kolomea. [rev. 4/04]
|Haller and his staff on the Eastern Front shortly before his desertion, 1917.|