People faithful to Poland! The strangest of dictators…

The photo on the front of the article shows the stones at the site of Traugutt’s execution and the patriots accompanying him in battle and death.

Autor: Jolanta V. Miarka

One of those real heroes we dream about today!

Romuald Traugutt aka „Michał Czarnecki” (born on January 16 in Szostaków, died hanged by the invader on August 5, 1864 in Warsaw.

He was one of the most beautiful people in our history. One of those real heroes we dream about today. And one of the strangest at the same time.

A professional officer who wanted to avoid the fate of an insurgent at all costs – let alone his dictator! His life was marked by warmth and personal tragedies. In the years 1859-1860, within a few months, his two twin children, his grandmother who raised him after his mother’s death, and his wife Anna died. „Only blow, and I would be gone (…) I do not advise any doctors, because all my sufferings – only God is a doctor in heaven” – he wrote to his friend. After these experiences, he even wanted to enter a convent, but eventually resigned from military service, he returned to his homeland in Polesie and here he decided on a new marriage with the granddaughter of Tadeusz Kościuszko’s brother, Antonina. Loving Poland, guided by mysterious force, as if against himself, he decides to do something with incalculable consequences.

He is prepared for anything. He knows that participation in the uprising, and especially taking the helm of the National Government, will end – if the uprising fails – with his martyrdom. When the Russians came to arrest him at night in a Warsaw apartment at Smolna Street, he said: „That’s it …”.

I am not writing here about the course of the January Uprising, which broke out on January 22, 1863 in the Kingdom of Poland and February 1, 1863 in Lithuania, and lasted until the fall of 1864, covered the lands, the Kingdom of Poland and the so-called lands taken away, because I believe that most Poles know that it was yet another uprising of the Polish nation for dignity and freedom, and the direct cause of the January Uprising was the so-called branka, that is, forced conscription to the tsarist army. The recruits were to serve in the tsarist army for 25 years. Therefore, on January 16, 1863, the Provisional National Government was created, which issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency throughout the country, recommending the self-defense of conscripts and the focus of the nation around the national power.

I am writing about a Man – Romuald Traugutt – the last dictator of the January Uprising, who, as one historian wrote – „saved the moral greatness of the January Uprising”.

Primate Stefan Wyszyński prayed for making him the patron saint of Poland, because „he taught us to connect the love of the Fatherland with the love of God and serve the Fatherland in God’s way.” „With his power of will, his ability to govern, he was able to sustain the uprising, and that during the most difficult, winter months,” wrote Józef Piłsudski about Traugutt.

Our Polish heroes !

Traugutt’s ancestors came from Germany, and he himself, a subject of the Tsar, served in the Russian army, fighting against Hungarians who dreamed of freedom. Military service has accompanied the Trauguttas for generations. The first person to settle on Polish soil was an officer in the guard of King Augustus II the Strong. Romuald’s grandfather fought as an officer in the Kościuszko Uprising. „However, my father was a modest tenant of the village of Szostaków. Romuald was also born there. Mom did not remember, she died when she was two years old. My grandmother, Justyna Błocka, took up education”. She instilled in her grandson not only a commitment to order, diligence, but above all a passionate faith and love for the Fatherland …

Due to the significant disproportion of the forces of the fighting parties, the uprising took the form of a guerrilla war. 1229 scattered skirmishes and smaller battles were fought, including 956 in Congress Poland, 236 in Lithuania, and the rest in Belarus and Ukraine.Polish troops avoided a battle that could end in a total failure of the uprising. A total of about 200,000 people served in the insurgent armies, but at the same time about 30,000 soldiers took part in the fighting. About 10 thousand were killed.

NO help from abroad that was hoped for, especially from France, came. The Western powers confined themselves to issuing very general diplomatic declarations, considering the Polish insurrection as an internal affair of the Russian Empire. The activities of the Russian investigative commissions soon led to the breakup of the insurgent organization.

A traitor in the immediate vicinity

The active underground activity was interrupted by the arrest by the Russian police on the night of April 10-11, 1864. The mishap was the result of a betrayal in the dictator’s immediate circle. It was committed by Artur Goldman, a Pole of Jewish origin, secretary of the Treasury Department of the National Government. Goldman, arrested in mid-March in the investigation on April 9, denounced Traugutt, giving a description and a false name.

… The fate of Poland – wrote prof. Halecki – the fate of Traugutt’s homeland In fact, it was already doomed when France, England and Austria, whose intervention she had hoped for, managed to send the Tsar in June 1863 diplomatic notes pleading for Poles. How did they gain popular sympathy again, in particular Napoleon III and Pius IX – opponents of the uprising …

How do we, today’s Poles, know this blood-curdling coldness of the Western world, convinced of the necessity of balanced and pragmatic actions? Today, moreover, actions are completely subject to the agreement of supposedly democratic procedures, in fact contrary to any morality, and determined by the decisions of secret, supra-state bodies. The theater of the spectacular „diplomatic notes”, cold-calculated half-gestures, half-words, slight contortions of lips and shrugs when talking about the lonely struggle of Poles has been with us for over two hundred years. ” (quoted from Dariusz in „Knight of the Great Cause”).

This is how Traugutt describes his day in prison. In addition to praying and meditating, he spends time doing manual work:

„I absolutely want to knead your head in bread. (…) I found a very pleasant job, because in this way I have you, my Angel, still present in my imagination … I prayed more as usual, I entrusted you to God and the Holy Mother, asking you to be your consolation, hope and refreshment. I would talk to you endlessly, but I have to finish, so I will only add that I love you, as long as it is in human power … You always liked to repeat it to you, my beloved … I press you once again with my children to my heart. Your husband, Romuald Traugutt ”.

As a deeply religious man, Traugutt wrote a farewell letter to his wife the night before his execution, in which we read, among others: “Now I know that I believe in God and love Him. I know that I am going to Him! After all, you also believe in Him; so do not feel sorry for me, because I am not dying, but I exchange worse life for the better ”.

I am Traugutt!

 And already in the morning, at At 10.00 AM along with four companions (Polish patriots Rafał Krajewski, Józef Toczyski, Roman Żuliński and Jan Jeziorański were executed along with him) Traugutt stood on the slopes of the Citadel. When the question was asked which of the five convicts who stood under the gallows was Traugutt, he held up both hands in which he was holding the cross and exclaimed in a strangely loud voice: I am Traugutt! Before standing on the wooden steps under the gallows, he placed in the hands of the confessor the last memento of his wife and children, their photograph from 1862, placed in a wallet case, with which he never parted.

He heard from afar the voice of 30,000 people from Warsaw who came to support spiritually the last dictator of the January Uprising in his last journey by singing the supplication: „Holy God, Holy Mighty”. The singing drowned out the triumphant sounds of the Russian military band playing a waltz on the “Slopes of Manchuria”. Traugutt was the first to be executed. He was only 38 years old!


On May 3, 1919, for the first time in free Poland, Poles could celebrate their independence and commemorate the adoption of the first constitution in Europe. Marshal Józef Piłsudski chose the slopes of the Citadel and the Traugutt Cross as the place of the celebrations.

Plowed memory: The manor house in Szostaków (Brzeg district, near Grodno), where Traugutt was born, was destroyed together with the park in 1951. Before the war, there was the Traugutt Museum here. In this place, on the edge of the village, there is a forest. On the boulder that marks the foundations of the manor house, there is not even a trace of the inscription it commemorates. After Traugutt was executed, the property in Ostrów was taken over by the Russians. The forest was cut down, the ground was parceled out.

Jolanta V. Miarka

The article for our magazine was prepared by Jolanta V. Miarka

Source: Ewa Polak-Pałkiewicz and Dariusz “Knights of the Great Cause”/ Sunday /Niedziela / Wikipedia / own materials / Translation into English by the editors

From the editor

The author, born in Wroclaw, an economist by education, a passionate traveler – likes to share travel impressions, describe them and meet interesting people. She lives abroad, but Poland is her true and only homeland. He collaborates with Nasze Pismo / bimonthly magazine / and – as well as other Catholic, independence and patriotic magazines.


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