2nd Polish Army Corps General Wladyslaw Anders,
A Lithuanian from Zemaitijai

Free and abbreviated translation by Vytautas J.Sliupas, P.E. Jan.

The following story appeared in the Lithuanian language weekly VORUTA, Dec. 18, 1999:


At the start of World War II Polish Army general Vladislovas Anders was in charge of the Naugardukas cavalry brigade. When the Red Army entered Vilnius district, he was interned and shipped to the USSR. When in 1941 Polish émigré government premier gen. V.Sikorski signed an agreement with USSR, gen. Anders was released from internment and charged with organizing Polish Army in USSR, which later became an Army Corps and fought with the Allies in the West. After the War general did not return to Poland but remained in the West. He was a strong anti-Communist.

Until now very few people in Poland have even heard that this well known Polish military leader was a Lithuanian from Zemaitija.

The Lithuanian daily Draugas of Chicago, in its June 9, 1970, Nr. 134 issue, published a story by Bishop V. Brizgys: “About Gen. Anders Lithuanian Origin” in which the author revealed a story heard from the General himself:

“In 1952 early June there was an Eucharist Congress in Barcelona. Some forty-five Lithuanians attended. From England came General V. Anders with a group of Polish officers and the flag of their Corps.

One morning, while gathering for a Mass in the square, I was approached by Archbishop Joseph Gawlina, with whom I was acquainted from earlier meetings in Rome, and by Graf Potocki, the Ambassador of Free Poland to Madrid, whom I also had met earlier in 1951. They suggested I meet with general Anders who was here in the square with his officers.

After greetings the two of us remained together for a good hour, because the Eucharist Congress was always one to two hours late. We spoke in French. I asked him if there was any truth in the rumor, which I heard from several of his soldiers, that he could speak Lithuanian.

The General very simply and openly told me that he was born in Zemaitija, Lithuania (I believe around Kelme, but cannot be sure today - V.B.), and that his true name was Andriejauskas. At home they spoke only Zemaitiskai. In the British Zone of Germany, later in Britain, now I do not know where, lives his brother who only speaks Lithuanian since he does not know any Polish.

“In 1914 as Adriejauskas he served in the Russian Czar’s cavalry regiment in Zaliakalnis, Kaunas. When World War I started his regiment was sent to East Prussia. In 1915 he was moved to Russia and during the Revolution he was in Siberia. There various national groups started organizing their own military units. With many other fellow Lithuanians he joined the Polish brigade, and was successful in reaching Poland. That way he became a member of the Polish Army. Later he changed his name from Andriejauskas to Anders. Admitted that even now he could speak the Zemaiciu dialect of Western Lithuania, but did not have any opportunity to learn the true Lithuanian which is generally spoken today. These were the words of General V. Anders.

“Where and when he went to schools I did not learn as we were interrupted by the Mass. Second and the final time we met was in 1965 at the funeral of Archbishop J. Gawlinka, during the Vatican II Conference, Fifth Session. Archbishop J.Gawlinka was the principal Chaplain of the Free Poland Army, who left Poland in 1939 and lived in Rome. For that reason gen. Anders came to his funeral. Archbishop Gawlinka was well known to the Lithuanians of Rome, was very friendly towards us, thus there were many Lithuanians at his funeral. After the Mass in Rome, in the Basilica of Twelve Apostles, his body was taken to the Monte Cassino Polish Military Cemetery. Later, there was buried General V.Anders-Andriejauskas”.

Bishop V. Brizgys was not the first to reveal the Lithuanian origin of V.Anders. In the 1953 issue of Lietuviu Enciklopedija vol.1, p.162it is stated that: “Anders (formerly Andrzejewski) Vladislovas was born in 1892 in Lithuania…” It is interesting to note that during the World War II even his close associates officers did not know his true nationality. As an example, his former adjutant J.Klimkowski claims that: “General Anders was a son of a German nobleman, educated in Russian schools…”

From his book I was Gen. Anders’s Adjutant, Russian Language, Moscow, 1991, p. 98


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