When this wedding photo was taken, Poland had just reemerged as a nation-state after more than a century of nonexistence -- its territory carved-up between various European powers.
Meanwhile, Russia was wracked by a civil war sparked by Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik Revolution. In the country's west, no clear border divided the land held by Russia and by newly independent Poland.
Polish leader Josef Pilsudski noted the opportunity for a land grab in the east, where "there are doors that open and close, and it depends on who forces them open and how far."
After several skirmishes with Russian troops in the blurred border areas, Polish along with some nationalist Ukrainian fighters captured Kyiv in the spring of 1920. It was not a popular move. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George remarked, "The Poles are inclined to be arrogant and they will have to take care they don’t get their heads punched."
The capture of Kyiv by Poland angered many ordinary Russians who saw the city as a crucible of their culture.
Poland’s seizure of Kyiv was a gift for Russia's new communist rulers. With victory in the Russian Civil War looking assured for Lenin's forces, the Bolsheviks were plotting the spread of the "revolutionary fires" of communism to Western Europe, particularly to Germany.
The Polish advance on Kyiv had given the Russian communists exactly the pretext they needed.
Germany was in economic turmoil after World War I and, with the streets seething with unemployed soldiers and political extremists, a communist revolution there looked increasingly possible if Lenin's cavalry could clatter into German cities to help kick off a violent uprising.
The only thing standing between Russia and Germany was Poland.
On July 3, Red Army troops were told: "In the West the fate of world revolution is being decided. Over the corpse of white Poland lies the road to global conflagration. On our bayonets we will bring happiness and peace to the toiling masses of mankind."
Although the opposing armies had various modern weapons at their disposal including lumbering, unreliable tanks, the swiftly moving battlefronts meant cavalry was key, and much of the fighting resembled wars from another era.
A Polish horseman described watching one tense face-off between Polish and Bolshevik Cossack cavalry:
"A colorfully-dressed rider galloped out of the swarm of Cossacks on a magnificent black horse and, waving his sword above his head shouted: 'Well, my lords, I'm Cossack Kuzma Kruchkov. Who'll take me on?'
"At this, a murmur ran along the row of officers standing in front of the first lancers. 'Raciecki! Yes, Raciecki.' Captain Raciecki (the best swordsman in the regiment) passed his sword to his left hand to make the sign of the cross with his right and then began to move towards Kruchkov at a walk. Kruchkov sprang towards him at a gallop. Raciecki parried the first cut, aimed at his head, himself slashing fiercely to the right and down, cutting Kruchkov open from the collar to the waist. At this, a howl went up among the Cossacks and the whole lot turned tail as our regiment began to charge."
But despite dashing swordsmanship, the Poles were swiftly driven out of Kyiv by an energized mass of Russian fighters. One Polish soldier summed up the reversal of fortunes: "We ran all the way to Kyiv and we ran all the way back."
A "hypnosis of retreat" caught on among Polish fighters as Russians advanced deep into their territory, inflicting often gruesome deaths on captured Poles.
One fighter described the sense of vulnerability on the rapidly shifting battlefields: "One had to expect an attack from any [direction] and in consequence the fighting was bloodthirsty as you either won or you perished. Our men were just as cruel as the Bolsheviks. Human life lost all value."
One Pole described the sense of dread at the relentless advance of atheist communists toward Warsaw as "something like the kingdom of [the] Antichrist moving upon the whole Christian world."
On August 6, Polish forces planned a final stand at Warsaw as vast dust clouds from the advancing communist horsemen were spotted smudging the horizon, and panic swept over the city.
Polish fighters held some advantages -- they were able to decode much of the Russians' secret radio communications and were aided by Polish-American airmen who volunteered for vital reconnaissance flights.
One American pilot who volunteered for the Poles was Merian C. Cooper (above). After Cooper's plane was shot down he spent several months in Red Army captivity before escaping. He would later return to the United States to co-direct and produce the 1933 hit movie King Kong. It is Cooper himself depicted piloting the plane that finishes off King Kong in the film's final action sequence.
The Russians fought to within 13 kilometers of Warsaw in mid-August, but a daring battle plan and determined resistance from the Poles ended with the attacking army fleeing for their lives with Polish fighters in pursuit. Rumors of divine intervention in the unlikely victory led many to call the battle The Miracle On The Vistula -- named for the river that runs through Warsaw.
A video with maps showing the dramatic changes of territory during the Polish-Bolshevik Russia War.
Future French President Charles de Gaulle, who served as a military adviser during the war, wrote on August 17: "Our Poles have grown wings. The soldiers who were physically and morally exhausted only a week ago are now racing forward in leaps of 40 kilometers a day. Yes, it is victory! Complete, triumphant victory!"
After 10 days of heavy fighting outside Warsaw, the Poles had killed around 20,000 enemy fighters and captured more than 50,000. The Poles lost less than 5,000 of their own soldiers in the battle.
A peace treaty was eventually signed between Poland and Russia in early 1921, though many saw this as only a pause in the long struggle between the two countries. Within a few years Adolf Hitler's 1939 invasion of Poland offered the Soviet Union the opportunity to capture Polish territory once more.
But the Bolshevik dream of spreading violent communist revolutions to Western Europe was never realized.