In the period preceding the WW I, Polish society, subjected to the three partitioning powers, was torn with profound disputes concerning the side which the Poles were to support in case of a war between Russia, on one hand, and Germany and Austria, on the other. An essential role was also played by the awareness that the Poles would be forced to participate in fratricidal battles as the soldiers of the partitioners' armies. Military service of the Poles in those armies signified various grave hardships, but did not benefit the solution of the Polish question. This situation led to the pursuit of activities intent on creating independent Polish formations, preceded by the preparations made by the 'Strzelec' Unions, Polish 'Strzelec' Teams, Bartosz Teams and the 'Sokol' Gymnastic Society. The 'Strzelec' detachments, organised by Józef Pilsudski, were the first Polish armed formations participating in the WW I. On 22 August 1914 they became part of the Polish Legions, already organised under the auspices of the Chief National Committee which fought in the Kingdom of Poland , distinguished themselves during hazardous manoeuvres across Ulina Mala, took part in heavy fighting in the Podhale region, and in the Eastern Carpathian Mts. On the other hand the Polish volunteer formations in the Russian army (the so-called Gorczynski Legions) played a much smaller part, while the armed activity of the Polish Sokol movement in the United States became apparent in a later stage of the first world war.
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