A village of strategic importance

Złotniki Kujawskie is a village in north central Poland, lying approximately 9 miles north-west of Inowrocław and 16 miles south of Bydgoszcz, which in 1919, placed it in a strategically important position. It was here that one of the last of the battles of 11-12 January occurred as the insurgents attempted to rid the region of any organised German presence.

The Greater Poland Uprising from 27 December 1918 to 18 February 1919.

Greater Poland Uprising 1918-1919

Strike groups

The insurgent forces were located in Jaksice and had been organised into two strike groups:

Stanislaw Janowski and Stefan Meysner led the first strike group, which consisted of 345 insurgents armed with an array of weapons and a single, light machine gun. They were tasked with occupying positions west of the village between the Rucewo-Złotniki and Krężoły-Złotniki roads. They were ordered to attack any German defenders located at Zlotniki to drag them into the battle and then eliminate them.

The second strike group was commanded by Mieczysław Słabęcki, was made up of 290 insurgents and armed with three heavy machine guns. It was ordered to march to Gniewków, destroy the railway tracks that connected it to Bydgoszcz, cutting of any connection with the city and hampering any German attempts to send reinforcements.

The insurgents also set up outposts at Tuczno, Jaksice and Niszczewice to help guard against any German attempts to retaliate.


(Left to right)

Insurgent in the uniform of a German navy soldier, vicinity of Koźmin, early 1919.


Insurgent in a German coat, model 1915 and side cap, model 1910. December 1918 – early January 1919


Member of the People’s Guard, early 1919.

Uniforms and equipment of the Insurgents and the People’s Guard.

 Greater Poland Uprising 1918-1919

German forces

In Złotniki Kujawskie, the Germans could muster:

  • An infantry company of 150 soldiers,
  • A machine gun unit consisting of ten heavy and one light machine gun
  • A half-battery of field artillery consisting of 2 artillery pieces.

The German forces were under the command of a Second Lieutenant Eichenberg.

Polish scouts during the uprising.

Greater Poland Uprising 1918-1919


The battle for Złotniki Kujawskie commenced on 11 January and from the start, things did not go to plan for the insurgents. The second strike group was discovered by a German patrol which alerted the rest of the German forces, eliminating the element of surprise for the insurgents.

The first strike group was supposed to attack at 2:00 with the sounds of their assault acting as a signal for the second-strike group to commence their assault. However, the insurgents in the second group were unable to hear any sounds of battle, resulting in their attack starting 40 minutes late and a less organised manner.

As a result, the Germans were able to repulse this first attack, despite determined efforts from the Poles.

Polish troops during the uprising.

Greater Poland Uprising 1918-1919

With the assault behind schedule the insurgents were forced to adapt their plan, but in the confusion, moved around to the right flank of the second strike group who were already fighting and almost engaged them by mistake. Only the quick thinking of one of the insurgents - Józef Wichliński – prevented a tragic, friendly fire situation developing.

Despite these challenges, the Poles managed to capture the railways warehouse and dairy before them eventually taking control of nearly the whole village. The final building in German hands, the Railway station, was defended skilfully by the remaining Germans, despite repeated attacks by insurgents led by Second Lieutenant Pawel Cyms.

Eventually it took a final attack at 1:30 in the morning of 12 January to finally overcome the last German defences and liberate the village.


The insurgents captured 4 German officers and 80 soldiers who were led off into captivity. 2 artillery pieces, 1 mortar and 10 heavy machine guns were captured by the insurgents and added to their stock of weaponry. The insurgents suffered 3 dead and 31 wounded in the attack, reflecting the effectiveness of the German defence.

Further reading



Maps – source materials:


1) Cartography*:

Atlas ziem polskich, tom I, Wielkie Księstwo Poznańskie, Zygmunt Światopełk Słupski, Poznań 1911.

Wielkie Księstwo Poznańskie, 1 300 000, pod red. Józefa Górskiego, Poznań 1919.

Posen, 1 : 10 000, Pharus, Berlin 1911.

Plan miasta Poznania, 1 : 15 000, pod kier. Eugeniusza Romera, Lwów 1922.

Mapa Szczegółowa Polski, 1 : 25 000, WIG, Warszawa 1920 – 1929.

Mapa Taktyczna Polski, 1 : 100 000, WIG, Warszawa 1924 – 1939.

Messtischblatt, 1 : 25 000, Königlich Preussische Landesaufnahme, Berlin 1889 – 1919.

2) Bibliography**:

Powstanie Wielkopolskie 1919, Bogusław Polak, Warszawa 2015.

Śladami Powstania Wielkopolskiego, Paweł Anders., Poznań 2008.

Encyklopedia Powstania Wielkopolskiego, pod red. Janusza Karwata i Marka Rezlera, Poznań 2018.

Ziemia gnieźnieńska w Powstaniu Wielkopolskim 1918/1919, Janusz Karwat, Poznań 2018.

Bój o Szubin, Włodzimierz Lewandowski, Aleksander Załęski, Poznań 1937.

Gemeindelexikon fur die Regierungsbezirke Allenstein, Danzig, Marienwerder, Posen, Bromberg und Oppeln, Verlag des Koniglichen Statistischen Landesamts, Berlin 1912.