Strózówka War Cemetery: No 92

District III, Gorlice

Poland

 

    

 

 

Strózówka is a small village neighbouring to Gorlice. There are 6 cemeteries all in all, which have been located in various places of the village, reflecting main battlefields and positions of soldiers on May,2 in 1915.

Designer: Hans Mayr - German Lieutenant, architect and civil engineer, who was also artistic director and the chief designer in the whole District of Gorlice.

Description:

Beautifully situated on a hill about 1,5 km from the centre of Gorlice and 300 m from the main road to Euzna. There is a signpost and a dirt road that leads through a gorge to the object. The cemetery is surrounded with a concrete wall. It was renovated in 1993.

Burials:

98 unknown Russians in mass graves with iron Orthodox crosses.

 

Pictures courtesy of Andrzej Osiński, anyone who would like to find out more about the war cemeteries in Poland can email at:  andrzej_osinski@op.pl
 

 

There were thousands of the deceased, which remained on all the battlefields of Galicia. Most of them had been only temporarily buried, thus the intention of allied armies (Germany and Austro-Hungary) was to put the battlefields into order and to assure all soldiers a dignified burial.

 The Department of Wartime Graves at the Command of the Military Region in Cracow inaugurated its activity in the springtime of 1915. In the meantime it was also created a special Working Department of Wartime Graves attached to the Command of Fortress Cracow. In the summer of 1915, the Ministry of War in Vienna opened further eight departments in order to deal with wartime graves in Central and Eastern Galicia, as well as in other countries of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and in occupied terrain.

Galicia at that time was divided into three military regions: Western with its capital Cracow, Central ( Przemyśl ) and Eastern ( Lvov ). On 6 Mai 1915 Western Galicia was completely liberated from the Russians; then on June 22 the enemies retreated from Lvov. However Eastern Galicia remained the scene of battles until the very end of the war.

The Ministry of War in Vienna established departments dealing with wartime graves in these regions even in November 1915. Most of the planned cemeteries actually never came into being due to incessant armed operations and a lack of suitable staff.

The area of the Inspection of Wartime Graves in Przemyśl, for example, was three times as large as that of Cracow region and its staff much smaller. It is evident, that it was quite impossible to fulfil the planned task. And the Fortress in Przemyśl, as well as that region, was the greatest battlefield in the whole Galicia. Nevertheless hundreds temporary wooden cemetries were erected in the surroundings of Przemyśl and in the Carpathian Mountains until 1918. The majority of those objects sadly no longer exist.

So the main objects of our interest are West Galician cemeteries located in an area of 10.000 sq. km, including two provinces in southern Poland: Małopolska and Podkarpacie. The degree of concentration of the cemeteries in this terrain is uneven and strictly connected with the intensification of warfare in particular places. The largest number of them was situated along the front line on Mai 2, 1915 when the battle of Gorlice began.

A campaign to build cemeteries in wartime conditions, while bloody fights continued, was quite unique. There was also an awareness that similar objects had never been built on such a scale before. Another difficulty was lack of active service officers in the Department of Wartime Graves. Indeed it included only 1 - Major Rudolf Broch, one of the authors of large monograph about the whole project and its realisation, released in Vienna in 1918. Up until today the book entitled "Die Westgalizische Heldengräber", written by Broch together with Captain Hans Hauptmann has been still one of the main sources of information about this subject.

The rest of the staff of the Department composed of reserve officers and junior officers, who would represent all kinds of specialisation indispensable for the work. The chief designers of the cemeteries and simultaneously their authors represented different artistic tendencies and qualifications. Therefore they could enjoy considerable freedom of inspiration, which led to outstanding results. The entire task was considered to be realised in the convention of sacral-cemetery art and many simple objects was given not only monumental artistic composition but also an unrestrained space, which perfectly harmonised with the natural surroundings.

The significant number of cemeteries was established in accessible places, alongside roads or within villages. However there are many objects, which were situated among fields, in forests or on hills, sometimes very far from local roads and communities. In such cases only paved paths or concrete signposts, topped with an iron cross, showed the way.

The terrain was purchased or obtained as a gift and its area varied depending on place. The average size of one cemetery was ca. 500-1000 sq. m., although there are such necropolises as cemetery in Łużna - Pustki, which occupies 30.000 sq. m.

Western Galicia was divided into 10 cemetery regions, which included exactly 378 objects, while 22 next cemeteries are in region of Cracow and were previously under the supervision of the Cracow Fortress Command. Each region and each object was given its registration number. The numbers started from the south-east (No.1 in the district of Nowy Żmigród ) and ended up with No.400 in the north, near Cracow.

The majority of undertakings were carried out in the years 1916-1917. It was planned the whole work to be completed in 1919, but in November 1918 Emperor Charles I abdicated and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy ceased to exist. At that time however 95 % of the objects were finished. The actual number of soldiers buried in Western Galician cemeteries should be estimated at about 70.000 dead, from which over 90 % were soldiers of allied Austro-Hungarian and German armies. The overwhelming majority of those warriors lost their life during the battle of Gorlice, in the few days of May 1915.

The year 1919 opened a new chapter in the history of wartime cemeteries and graves as they remained under the protection of the independent Polish State. Then it followed inter-war period, when the condition of built objects was still satisfactory. Sadly, with time, most of them, particularly those equipped with wooden and sandstone elements started to deteriorate. WWII events brought fortunately only minor destruction to the cemeteries, although some objects with buried soldiers of Jewish nationality were completely devastated by Nazis. In some cases fatalities of a new European conflict (I mean German soldiers or officers) were buried between the dead from 1915.

The deterioration of all the places ensued after 1945. Because of political ground Western Galician cemeteries have not been the object of interest throughout almost the entire post-war time, up to the late 1980-s and they were mentioned only occasionally in specialist tourist publications or local museum guides. Untended plants,  vandalism and a lack of space for civilian burials completed the decay.

It was during the late 1980's that the State Service for the Protection of Historical Monuments in Poland decided to list the cemeteries in a register of historical monuments. Since 1989 tourist organisations, local governments and communal services more and more frequently have been carrying out repairs, inventory campaigns or the cleaning up of the objects.

In the early 1990-s a popular guideline about wartime cemeteries in Western Galicia by Roman Frodyma was published. It included actual description of survived objects, maps, plans and tourist advise how to reach them in the terrain. And it started a real interest of society as well as will to visit and to bring help to all these places.

Dozens of cemeteries were thoroughly renovated with the association of the Austrian Black Cross, a social organisation that helps to rescue heritage of history and culture. There are also unfortunately objects, which technical state has passed the critical point and their construction has been completely devastated. Some of them left only more or less precise traces, because the rescue campaign has been introduced too late or the good intention of local as well as conservation authorities is not accompanied by sufficient funds.

 

 Text by Andrzej Osiński

 

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