Poland (Polish. Polska), the official name is the
Republic of Poland (Polish. Rzeczpospolita Polska) - a state in
Central Europe. According to the results of 2015, the population is
38 623 221 people, the territory - 312 679 km². It takes forty-third
place in the world in terms of population and sixty-ninth in
The capital is Warsaw. The official language is
Unitary state, parliamentary republic. It is
subdivided into 16 voivodships.
Located in the center of
Europe. It is washed in the north by the Baltic Sea. It has a land
border with Russia (Kaliningrad region), Lithuania, Belarus,
Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany.
majority of believers (about 87% of the population) profess
Catholicism, which makes Poland the country with the largest
Catholic population in Central Europe.
Travel Destinations in Poland
Bialowieza National Park is one of the last
places in Europe where you can see large population of
surviving European bison.
Biebrza National Park
Biebrza National Park is a nature reserve in Podlaskie
Voivodeship in North- East Poland. It covers a biosphere of wetlands and
marches along a Biebrza river.
Cracow is one of the largest Polish town that
played an important role in Polish history.
Dunajec River Gorge
Dunajec River Gorge is a picturesque valley in
the Pieniny Mountains in Cracow District.
Historic Polish town of Lublin is one of the
largest and most beautiful cities in Poland.
Niedzica Castle is a historic medieval fortress
in Nowy Targ County. It was constructed in 1320- 26 on a rock
cliff overlooking Czorsztyn Lake.
Impressive natural geological formation known as
a Paradise Cave was inhabited by first human hunters since
Pieskowa Skala Castle
Pieskowa Skala Castle is a former royal residence constructed
for Casimir the Grea in the 14th century. It stands on a strategic Pieskowa
Słowiński National Park
Słowiński National Park is a nature reserve
situated in Pomeranian Voivodeship
in Poland. It covers an area of 186 sq km
Tenczyn Castle or Teczynski Castle is a medieval citadel situated in a
village Rudno, Kraków County in Poland. It was
constructed in 1319 by a Polish aristocratic Tęczyński
Treblinka Extermination Camp in modern day Poland is
one of the most famous and largest concentration camps in the Third
Warsaw is the largest city in Poland with a population of 1.7
million. It is also the capital of the country.
Wieliczka Salt Mine is famous for its
giant halls, passageways and a Christian chapel that were cut in the ancient
Wilanow Palace is a former
royal residence situated on the South- East outskirts of Warsaw. It
is surrounded by a vast beautiful Wilanow Park.
Wolf's Lair is an abandoned military headquarters for
the high command of the Third Reich. It is one of the most famous of
At the beginning of our era in Poland, the fact of
the residence of the Germanic tribes of Skirs and Lugievs is known.
Then they were replaced by the Goths of the Velbar culture. In the
middle of the 1st millennium south of Poland, the Alans and Turkic
tribal associations controlled. The Crimean Goths are unprovenly
associated with the Baltic Velbar culture. At the end of the 1st
millennium, such tribes were known on the territory of Poland as
Western glades (from them the name of the country), Lendzyans (from
them the name of the Poles from their neighbors: “Poles”),
Kuyavians, Pomeranians, Mazovans, Wieslans, Slzes (in Silesia), etc.
D. Gradually, on the basis of large tribal principalities,
proto-state associations arise; Of these principalities, the
principalities were the Principality of Wislans in present-day
Lesser Poland (the Krakow region) and glades in Greater Poland (the
Gniezno Poland (877–1320)
In 877, after
the conquest of Lesser Poland by Great Moravia, the center of the
formation of the Polish state remained Great Poland, whose capital
was the city of Gniezno. The first known ruler of Poland was the
Great Poland Prince Meshko I of the Piast clan (960–992); in 966 he
adopted Christianity in the Western rite. Under his son - Boleslaw
the Brave - the Polish Principality reached the peak of power.
In 877, after the conquest of Lesser Poland by Great Moravia,
the center of the formation of the Polish state remained Great
Poland, whose capital was the city of Gniezno. The first known ruler
of Poland was the Great Poland Prince Meshko I of the Piast clan
(960–992); in 966 he adopted Christianity in the Western rite. Under
his son - Boleslaw the Brave - the Polish Principality reached the
peak of power.
In 1320, Kuyavsky Prince Vladislav Loketek
(1305–1333), having annexed Great Poland to his possessions, was
crowned in Krakow by the Polish king. From now on, Krakow becomes
the new capital of Poland. Under his successor Casimir III the Great
(1333–1370), Poland experienced its heyday. In 1349, Galicia was
annexed to Poland. In 1370, the king of Poland was the nephew of
Casimir - the king of Hungary, Louis (Lajos) I, from the Anjou
dynasty (1370–1382) - the first foreign king on the Polish throne.
Having no solid support in the country, he published the Kosice
Privilege in 1374, according to which magnates and gentry were
exempted from all duties, except military service and a small tax of
2 pennies from the land.
In 1384, Jadwiga became the Queen of
Poland (according to Polish law - the king). The tycoons began to
look for Jadwig her husband, who could be a full-fledged Polish
monarch, and found such a person in the person of the Grand Duke of
Lithuania Jagiello (in the Polish pronunciation of Jagiello). In
1385, the Polish-Lithuanian Union was concluded in Kreva, according
to which Jagiello was baptized according to the Catholic rite,
introduced Catholicism as the state religion in Lithuania, married
Jadwig and entered the Polish throne under the name of Vladislav II.
Thus, in the East of Europe, a Polish-Lithuanian state arose. Under
Jagail, the infringement of the Orthodox population of the Russian
lands captured by the Poles began. Jagiello handed over to the
Catholics the Orthodox Cathedral in Przemysl which was built under
the Russian prince Volodar Rostislavovich, laying the foundation for
the catholicization and polonization of this city. The Orthodox
Metropolitan of Galitsky was taken away in favor of the Catholic
Archbishop of all his land holdings.
In 1410, the Battle of
Grunwald took place - the defeat of the Teutonic Order.
son of Jagiello Vladislav III (tsar. 1434-1444) became
simultaneously the king of Hungary and Poland, but died in the
battle with the Turks near Varna. After this, the Polish-Hungarian
union ceased, but the Polish-Lithuanian union was restored (which
was stopped), thanks to the election of the brother of Vladislav,
the Lithuanian prince Casimir Jagiellonchik, to the Polish throne
(Casimir IV, 1447-1492).
In 1454, according to the Neszaw
statutes, Poland turned into a republic, where the supreme power
belonged to the Sejm (Parliament).
Wars with the Teutonic
Order resumed. In 1466, in the Second Torun Peace, Poland annexed
Pomerania with Gdansk and gained access to the Baltic Sea. The son
of King Vladislav in 1471 became the king of the Czech Republic, and
since 1490 - and the king of Hungary.
In 1505, the Nihil novi law was passed, limiting
the king’s power in favor of the nobility. Since that time, the term
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth has become common with the Polish
system of government.
After the Mohach battle with the Turks,
when the Czech-Hungarian king Louis (Lajos) Jagiellon died, the
geopolitical situation changed dramatically in 1526: there was no
trace of the predominance of the Jagiellonian dynasty, the
territories south of Poland were divided between Turkey and Austria.
During the reign of the last Jagiellon, Sigismund II Augustus, the
Polish-Lithuanian union again had to face the strengthening of the
Moscow state, where Ivan IV the Terrible reigned. Since 1562, Russia
and the Polish-Lithuanian Union were drawn into a fierce, long and
devastating Livonian war for both sides.
Sigismund Augustus was childless, and as
he grew older, the question arose of the further fate of the
Polish-Lithuanian state, kept only by the unity of the dynasty. The
need to build it on new principles led to the conclusion of the
Union of Lublin (1569), according to which Poland formed a united
confederate state with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, headed by a
diet and a king chosen by him. The state went down in history as the
“Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth” (Polish Rzeczpospolita, copy from
the Latin res publica (“republic”), “common cause”; with respect to
the Polish state, it was first used in the 13th century by Vincent
After the death of Sigismund, the era of elected
kings began, in accordance with the new constitution. The Frenchman
Heinrich Valois (1572-1574) appeared on the throne and soon fled
back to France, while Ivan the Terrible again went on the offensive
in Livonia. The election of the Transylvanian prince Stephen Batory
in 1576 turned the situation in favor of the Polish-Lithuanian
Commonwealth: he returned the lost Polotsk (1579), then, in turn,
invaded Russia itself and besieged Pskov. Peace in the Pit-Zapolsky
(1582) restored the old border.
After the death of Batory in
1586, the Poles elected the Swedish king Sigismund III Waza;
however, he soon lost the Swedish throne because of his Catholic
fanaticism. Three important events are connected with his rule: the
transfer in 1596 of the capital from Krakow to Warsaw (coronations
were still held in Krakow); The Brest Union of the Orthodox and
Catholic churches (1596), ending traditional Polish tolerance and
creating the prerequisites for the Khmelnitsky uprising and Polish
intervention in Russia during the Time of Troubles.
intervention in Russia
The Polish magnates Mnisheki supported the
impostor False Dmitry and equipped him with an army of Zaporizhzhya
Cossacks and Polish volunteers. In 1604, the army of the impostor
invaded Russia, the cities and the armies sent to meet him swore
allegiance to the new tsar. In 1605, the impostor entered Moscow and
was crowned, but was soon killed.
The impostor promised the
Polish king Sigismund III, in return for help, to return Smolensk.
Under the pretext of these promises, Sigismund in 1610 begins a
siege of Smolensk. The army, sent to the rescue by the new tsar
Vasily Shuisky, was defeated by the hetman Zholkevsky at the Battle
of Klushin, after which the Poles approached Moscow, while the
troops of the new impostor False Dmitry II besieged her from the
other side. Shuisky was overthrown and subsequently extradited to
Zholkevsky. The Moscow boyars swore allegiance to the young son of
Sigismund, Vladislav, and then let the Polish garrison enter Moscow.
Sigismund did not want to let his son go to Moscow and baptize him
in Orthodoxy (as was assumed under the terms of the agreement), but
tried to rule Moscow personally through Alexander Gonsevsky, who led
the Polish garrison in Moscow after the departure of Zholkevsky. The
result was the unification of the former "Tushino thieves" -
Cossacks with the nobles of Shuisky against the Poles (early 1611)
and their joint campaign against Moscow, supported by the uprising
in Moscow itself, which the Poles were able to suppress only by
setting fire to the city.
The siege of Moscow by the first
militia was unsuccessful due to contradictions in its ranks. The
campaign of the second militia led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry
Pozharsky put the Poles in a critical position. Sigismund, who took
Smolensk, dismissed his army, unable to contain it. On November 1,
1612 (according to the new style), the militia took Kitay Gorod, the
Poles took refuge in the Kremlin. On November 5, the Poles signed a
surrender, releasing Moscow boyars and other noblemen from the
Kremlin, and surrendered the next day.
In 1617, Vladislav,
who continued to bear the title of Grand Duke of Moscow, invaded
Russia, trying to take possession of the “legitimate” throne,
reached Moscow, but could not take it. According to the Deuli
Armistice, the Commonwealth received Smolensk and Seversky land.
Vladislav retained the title of Grand Duke of Moscow. At the end of
the ceasefire, Russia unsuccessfully tried to return Smolensk, but
after the defeat under its walls in 1633 according to the
Polyanovsky peace, it recognized Smolensk for Poland, and Vladislav
refused the Moscow title.
The beginning of state disasters
Vladislav IV as king did not allow the Commonwealth to take part in
the Thirty Years' War, adhered to religious tolerance and carried
out military reform. Unsuccessfully sought to strengthen royal
power, opposing the magnates. The reign of Vladislav IV was the last
stable era in the history of royal Poland.
At the same time,
in the sixteenth century, rapid polonization took place, followed by
the transition to Catholicism of the Western Russian gentry, for a
long time the transition was spontaneous and voluntary, caused by
status superiority. By the end of the 16th century, the
Ukrainian-Belarusian Orthodox peasantry was ruled by the Catholic
polonized nobility. This situation, along with the strengthening of
the counter-reformation and the influence of the Jesuits, gave rise
to the desire to translate "slaves" into Catholicism. The result of
the oppression of the Orthodox is an increase in tension and,
ultimately, a catastrophic uprising for the Commonwealth of Bohdan
Khmelnytsky, which began in 1648. In 1654, Russian troops invaded
Poland; the following year - the Swedes who occupied Warsaw, King
Jan II Casimir fled to Silesia - anarchy began, known in Poland as
In 1657, Poland renounced sovereign rights to East
Prussia. The Swedes could not stay in Poland due to the outbreak of
guerrilla warfare. On the other hand, part of the Cossack foremen,
frightened by the influence of the Moscow governors, recoiled from
Moscow and tried again to establish relations with the Commonwealth,
thanks to which the Poles returned Belarus and the Right-Bank
Ukraine. According to the Andrusovsky truce (1667), Poland lost Kiev
and all areas east of the Dnieper.
The short reign
of the young Vishnevetsky was not very successful; Poland lost the
war against the Ottoman Empire, which occupied Podolia and forced
the surrender of the Kamenets fortress. Jan III Sobieski carried out
a radical reform in the armament and organization of the army. Under
his command, a coalition of Christian powers inflicted a crushing
defeat on the Turks in the battle of Vienna on September 12, 1683
and halted the advance of the Ottoman Empire to Europe.
reign of Jan Sobieski was the last brilliant episode in the history
of the Commonwealth, then the steady decline begins. In 1697, the
King of Poland was elected Saxon Elector Augustus II the Strong, who
opened the era of Saxon kings. His plans for the return of Livonia
ended in the Northern War, during which Charles XII of Sweden swept
into Poland, defeated August II, occupied Warsaw and established his
creed Stanislav Leshchinsky on the Polish throne. In 1709, Peter I
expelled the Swedes and their protege from Poland and restored
Augustus the Strong to the throne. A country deprived of internal
resources, having no tax service, no customs, no regular army, or
any capable central government - was henceforth doomed to serve as a
toy for strong neighbors. After the death of Augustus the Strong in
1733, a “war for the Polish inheritance” broke out, during which the
Saxons and Russians expelled Stanislav Leschinsky, supported by the
French, from the country and seated the new Saxon Elector, Augustus
III (1734-1763), on the Polish throne.
At the end of the
reign of Augustus III came the era of the Seven Years War, when
Poland turned into a battlefield between Prussia and its opponents.
Frederick II of Prussia was already the bearer of the idea of the
partition of Poland, but his defeat in the war postponed this
project. In 1764, under the Russian pressure, the little-known and
less powerful Stanislav Augustus Ponyatovsky was elected king of
Poland. In fact, a Russian protectorate was established over Poland.
Poniatowski was an educated and intelligent man, but he lacked the
political will sufficient to act in such a difficult environment.
The actual protectorate of Russia was expressed, in particular,
in the fact that Russia, with the support of Prussia, forced
Stanislav to solve the "dissident question" - to equalize the rights
of Orthodox and Protestants with Catholics. The king was also forced
to cancel the reforms he had begun; Catherine proclaimed herself the
guarantor of the Libero Veto. The nobility's response was the “Bars
Confederation” (1768), which launched a guerrilla war against the
Russian troops. Soon the uprising was crushed and the rebels were
exiled to Siberia; for their part, Austria and Prussia, jealously
watching the approval of Russia in Poland and taking advantage of
its difficulties in the war with Turkey, demanded their share.
In 1772, the first division of the Commonwealth took
place between Prussia, Austria and Russia, according to which
Galicia went to Austria, West Prussia to Prussia, and the eastern
part of Belarus (Gomel, Mogilev, Vitebsk, Dvinsk) to Russia.
The gloomy years following the first section gave way to a new
social upsurge in the late 1780s. In 1787, a new Russo-Turkish war
began, the Russian occupation forces were withdrawn from Poland. In
1788, the Four-Year Diet began work, setting itself the task of
implementing fundamental reforms that could renew the country. A
constitution was developed that was supposed to eliminate the
pernicious principle of “liberum veto”, curb gentry anarchy,
mitigate serf social inequality, introduce the foundations of civil
society and establish a strong and capable centralized power. The
Constitution of May 3 (1791) became one of the first constitutions
in the world.
Dissatisfied with the abolition of the "golden
liberties" the magnates in search of support went to St. Petersburg
and agreed on Russian intervention. To justify the intervention,
they compiled an act of confederation, actually in St. Petersburg,
but falsely labeled Targovitsa - the estate of one of the
confederates, as a result of which the confederation was called
Empress Catherine II sent troops to Poland. A
fierce struggle began among the adherents of the new constitution
against the Confederates and the Russian army. After the victory of
the Russian troops, the constitution was repealed, the dictatorship
of the Targovitsa Confederates was established; at the same time,
Prussian troops entered Poland, and the Second Partition between
Prussia and Russia (1793) of the lands of the Commonwealth was made.
A diet was convened in Grodno at which the restoration of the
previous constitution was proclaimed; Warsaw and several other
cities were occupied by Russian garrisons; the Polish army was
In March 1794, the national liberation
uprising of Kosciuszko began. Kociuszko, proclaimed “leader of the
uprising” in Krakow, defeated the Russian detachment at Racławice
and moved to Warsaw, where the rebel population destroyed the
Russian garrison; Vilna was busy. In summer, the rebels withstood
the siege of Warsaw by Russian-Prussian troops. However, in the
fall, the rebels suffered a series of crushing defeats. The lack of
support for the uprising by the Belarusian and Ukrainian populations
was revealed. Kociuszko was defeated at Matsejovice and captured,
the suburb of Warsaw Prague was stormed by Suvorov; Warsaw
surrendered. After this, the third section occurred (under an
agreement concluded between Russia, Prussia and Austria in 1795) and
Poland as a state ceased to exist.
The period of lack of
For more than a century, Poland did not
have its own statehood, Polish lands were part of other states:
Russia, Prussia (and later the German Empire) and Austria
Duchy of Warsaw (1807-1813)
Napoleon, having defeated Prussia, from the part of the Polish lands
belonging to it created the Duchy of Warsaw, vassal to France.
Russia recognized this principality, headed by the Saxon king
Friedrich Augustus, devoted to Napoleon, and received the Bialystok
region. In 1809, after the victorious war with Austria (in which the
Poles also participated), Little Poland and Krakow were annexed to
the Duchy of Warsaw.
The 5th corps of the Great Army
consisted of 3 Polish divisions and light cavalry: the 16th division
(Zayonchek), the 17th division (Dombrowski), the 18th division
The next partition of Poland took place in the
years 1814-1815 at the Vienna Congress between Austria, Prussia and
Russia. Most of the former Duchy of Warsaw was transferred to
Russia, Poznan was transferred to Prussia, Krakow was declared a
“free city”. The Vienna Congress declared granting autonomy to the
Polish lands in all three parts, but in fact this was done only in
Russia, where, to a large extent, on the initiative of Emperor
Alexander I, known for his liberal aspirations, the constitutional
Kingdom of Poland was formed.
Kingdom of Poland (1815-1915)
November 27, 1815, Poland, as part of Russia, received its own
constitution, linking Poland and Russia with a personal union and
allowing Poland to choose a diet, its own government and have its
own army. First, the old comrade-in-arms of Kosciuszko, General
Joseph Zayonchek, was appointed viceroy of Poland, then the brother
of the Russian emperor, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich. The
constitution, relatively liberal at first, was later limited. Legal
opposition appeared in the Polish Sejm, secret political societies
In November 1830, the “November” uprising broke out in
Warsaw, after the suppression of which in 1831, Nicholas I repealed
the constitution granted to Poland in 1815. National liberation
uprisings took place in 1846 in Poznan (were crushed by Prussia). In
the same year there was an uprising in Krakow, as a result of which
(with the consent of Nicholas I) the city went to Austria.
After the death of Nicholas I, the liberation movement rose with
renewed vigor, which was now divided into two hostile camps: the
"red" (democrats and socialists) and the "white" (aristocrats). The
general requirement was the restoration of the constitution of 1815.
In the fall of 1861, martial law was introduced to end riots in
Poland. The liberal grand duke Konstantin Nikolaevich, appointed
governor, could not cope with the situation. It was decided to
declare a recruitment and send to the soldiers the previously
designated "unreliable" young people on special lists. The set, in
turn, served as a signal for the massive "January Uprising" of 1863.
The uprising was crushed, and a military regime was established in
the Kingdom of Poland. The January uprising led Alexander II to
deprive the rebellious gentry of social support and to carry out
peasant reform - in 1864, a Decree was passed on the device of the
peasants of the Kingdom of Poland, which eliminated the remnants of
serfdom, and the peasants were endowed with land. The suppression of
the January uprising gave an impetus to the development of a policy
of liquidating the autonomy of the kingdom of Poland and closer
integration of Poland into the Russian Empire.
The accession to the Russian throne of Nicholas II
revived hopes for liberalization of Russia's policy towards Poland.
In 1897, the emperor visited Warsaw, where he agreed to the
establishment of the Polytechnic University and the installation of
a monument to Mickiewicz.
In 1897, on the basis of the
National League, the National Democratic Party of Poland was
created, which, although its strategic goal was to restore Poland’s
independence, fought primarily against Russification laws and the
restoration of Poland’s autonomy. The National Democratic Party soon
became the leading political force in the Kingdom of Poland and took
part in the activities of the Russian State Duma (Polish Colo
During the Revolution of 1905-1907, revolutionary
actions also took place in the Kingdom of Poland in Russia. The
Polish Socialist Party of Jozef Pilsudski, who organized a series of
strikes and strikes at the industrial enterprises of the Kingdom of
Poland, gained great influence. During the Russo-Japanese War of
1904-1905, Pilsudski visited Japan, where he tried to finance the
uprising in Poland and organize Polish legions to participate in the
war against Russia. The National Democrats Roman Dmowski opposed
this. Nevertheless, Pilsudsky managed to secure the support of Japan
in the purchase of weapons: back in 1904 he created the Polish
Socialist Party's Battle Organization, which over the next years
carried out several dozen terrorist attacks and attacks on Russian
institutions and organizations, of which the Bezdan robbery of 1908
is most famous of the year. Only in 1906, 336 Russian officials and
military personnel were killed by Pilsudski militants.
lands as part of Prussia and Austria
Intensive Germanization was
carried out on the Polish lands as part of Prussia, Polish schools
were closed. In 1848, Russia helped Prussia crush the Poznan
uprising. In 1863, both powers concluded the Alvensleben Convention
on helping each other in the fight against the Polish national
The position of the Poles on the lands within
Austria was somewhat better. In 1861, the provincial Sejm of Galicia
was created to solve the problems of the local life of the province,
in which the Poles dominated; schools, institutions and courts have
used the Polish language; and Jagiellonian (in Krakow) and Lviv
universities became all-Polish cultural centers.
World War I
After the outbreak of World War I, on August 14, 1914, after victory
in the war, Nicholas II promised to unite the Kingdom of Poland with
the Polish lands, which will be taken from Germany and
Austria-Hungary, into an autonomous state within the Russian Empire.
The war created a situation in which the Poles, Russian
subjects, fought against the Poles who served in the
Austro-Hungarian and German armies. The pro-Russian National
Democratic Party of Poland, led by Roman Dmowski, considered Germany
the main enemy of Poland, its supporters considered it necessary to
unite all Polish lands under Russian control with the status of
autonomy within the Russian Empire. Anti-Russian supporters of the
Polish Socialist Party (PPS) believed that the path to Poland’s
independence was through Russia's defeat in the war. A few years
before the outbreak of World War I, PPS leader Jozef Pilsudski began
military training for Polish youth in Austro-Hungarian Galicia.
After the outbreak of war, he formed the Polish legions as part of
the Austro-Hungarian army.
In 1915, the territory of Russian
Poland was occupied by Germany and Austria-Hungary. On November 5,
1916, the German and Austro-Hungarian emperors published a manifesto
on the creation of an independent Kingdom of Poland in the Russian
part of Poland. Due to the absence of the king, his authority was
exercised by the Regency Council.
After the February
revolution in Russia, the Provisional Government of Russia on March
16 (29), 1917 announced that it would contribute to the creation of
the Polish state on all lands inhabited by most Poles, subject to
the conclusion of a “free military alliance” with Russia.
In France in August 1917, the Polish National
Committee (PNK) was created, headed by Roman Dmowski and Ignacy
Paderewski; there was formed the Polish "blue army" led by Jozef
On October 6, 1918, the Polish Regency Council
announced the creation of an independent Polish state, the
Provisional People’s Government of the Republic of Poland
(Tymczasowy Rząd Ludowy Republiki Polskiej) was created, and on
November 14, after the surrender of Germany and the collapse of
Austria-Hungary, he transferred all power to Jozef Pilsudski
At this time, an armed conflict arose between the
Polish formations and the forces of another newly formed state - the
Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR) in the territory of
Galicia, resulting in large-scale military operations that lasted
from November 1, 1918 to July 17, 1919 and ended with the defeat of
On December 27, 1918, the Poles of the German province
of Posen raised a Greater Poland uprising, after which until
mid-1919 the province became an independent state with its own
currency and army.
Polish Republic (1918-1939)
26, 1919, legislative elections were held, which were approved by
Jozef Pilsudski as head of state.
The Treaty of Versailles in
1919 transferred to Poland most of the German province of Posen, as
well as part of Pomerania, which gave the country access to the
Baltic Sea (Polish Corridor); Danzig (Gdansk) received the status of
a “free city”.
In Silesia in 1919-1921 there were three
uprisings of the Poles against the German authorities. In 1922,
after a referendum held in Upper Silesia, in which part of the
inhabitants (Poles) favored joining Poland, and some (Germans) chose
to live in Germany, the League of Nations considered it reasonable
to divide this region into parts, in accordance with the preferences
of the inhabitants . The eastern part formed the Silesian
Voivodeship autonomous in Poland.
January 1, 1918 declared
war on the Ukrainian People’s Republic, due to the Ukrainian side’s
refusal to transfer to Poland the Ukrainian-controlled territories
claimed by Poland. The Polish-Ukrainian war ended in the complete
defeat of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic. In 1919, the
Soviet-Polish war began, which was with varying success. In the
beginning, the Poles advanced deep into Belarus and Ukraine and
captured Minsk and Kiev. Then the Red Army launched a counterattack
and reached the Vistula, but they were not able to take the
well-fortified Lviv and Warsaw. A “miracle on the Vistula” happened
- the Red Army was defeated. In total, up to 200 thousand Red Army
soldiers were captured during Polish war, of which, according to
various estimates, up to 80 thousand died from hunger and disease.
The war was actually lost by Soviet Russia, and according to the
Riga Peace Treaty of 1921, the western part of the Ukrainian and
Belarusian lands went to Poland.
At the conference of
ambassadors on July 28, 1920, the southern border of Poland was
agreed. The Cieszyn region was divided between Poland and
In October 1920, Polish troops under the
command of General Zheligovsky captured part of Lithuania with the
city of Vilnius (Vilnius). The accession of this city to Poland was
approved on February 10, 1922 by the Vilnius Sejm.
the Legislative Diet adopted the constitution, according to which
the Diet became the legislative body, consisting of the Senate and
the Chamber of Deputies, elected on the basis of universal, equal
and direct suffrage by secret ballot, by citizens over 21 years of
age, without distinction of sex, religion and nationality, the head
of state - The President, elected by the Seimas and performing
representative functions, the executive body - the Council of
Ministers, appointed by the President and responsible for the
November 5, 1922 elections were held in the Sejm.
In 1926, after a coup in Poland, an authoritarian sanitation
regime was established, led by Jozef Pilsudski. In 1934, a camp was
created for opponents of the ruling regime in Beryoz Kartuzy, Brest
trial was held against the opposition, the Great Poland Camp
(Polish: Obóz Wielkiej Polski), as well as the National Radical Camp
were outlawed, restrictions on freedom of the press and assembly
On June 15, 1931, the USSR and Poland concluded
the Treaty of Friendship and Trade Cooperation. On January 25, 1932,
the USSR and Poland signed the Nonaggression Treaty.
26, 1934 Poland and Germany signed the Nonaggression Pact for a
period of 10 years. November 4, 1935 Poland and Germany signed the
Agreement on Economic Cooperation.
In April 1935, shortly
before the death of Pilsudski, a new Constitution was adopted in
Poland, which included the basic principles of Reorganization: a
strong centralized state with a presidential system of government.
In 1938 (after the Munich Agreement), Poland annexed the Cieszyn
region of Czechoslovakia.
On March 21, 1939, Germany demanded
that Poland hand over the free city of Danzig to it, join the
Anti-Comintern Pact and open the “Polish corridor” for it (created
after World War I to ensure Poland’s access to the Baltic Sea).
Poland rejected all the demands of Germany.
On March 28,
1939, Hitler tore the Nonaggression Pact with Poland. This happened
after taking Memel without a fight. After that, Poland wanted to
secure allied guarantees. Poland hoped for help from England.
However, Poland refused to enter into an alliance with her, France
and the USSR. England gave an oral guarantee for protection from
Germany. Upon learning of the English guarantees, Hitler became
furious and ordered the development of Operation Weiss.
August 23, 1939, Hitlerite Germany and the Soviet Union concluded a
non-aggression pact. According to the secret supplementary protocol
to the treaty, on the delimitation of the areas of mutual interests
in Eastern Europe in the event of a "territorial and political
reorganization", it was envisaged to include East Poland, Estonia,
Latvia, Finland and Bessarabia in the sphere of interests of the
USSR, Lithuania and Western Poland - in the sphere of interests of
The Second World War
On September 1, 1939,
troops of the Third Reich invaded Poland. By September 16, the
Germans reached the
line and approached a distance of 150-200 km to the Soviet-Polish
border. Warsaw was surrounded.
On September 17, Soviet troops
entered Poland and occupied Western Belarus and Ukraine. September
27, Warsaw fell and the Polish army actually stopped resistance. On
October 5, the last major Polish unit of General Kleeberg
The territorial division of Poland between the
USSR and Germany was completed on September 28, 1939 by the signing
of the Treaty of Friendship and the Border between the USSR and
Germany. As a result of the division of Polish territory between
Germany and the USSR, Soviet borders moved far to the west, and the
USSR began to border Germany and Lithuania. Initially, Germany
intended to turn Lithuania into its protectorate, but on September
25, during the Soviet-German contacts on the settlement of the
Polish problem, the USSR proposed to begin negotiations on Germany's
refusal of claims on Lithuania in exchange for the territory of the
Warsaw and Lublin voivodeships of Poland. On this day, the German
ambassador to the USSR, Count Schulenburg, sent a telegram to the
German Foreign Ministry, informing him that he had been summoned to
the Kremlin, where Stalin indicated this proposal as a subject of
future negotiations and added that if Germany agreed, “the Soviet
Union immediately "he will take up the solution of the problem of
the Baltic states in accordance with the protocol of August 23 and
expects full support from the German government in this matter."
During the next partition of Poland, the ethnically
predominantly non-Polish territories of Western Ukraine and Western
Belarus were annexed to the Ukrainian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR.
In the spring of 1940, employees of the NKVD of the USSR carried out
the Katyn execution - a mass execution of Polish citizens (mainly
captured officers of the Polish army).
Germany received ethnically Polish territories,
and those that were part of Prussia before the First World War
(Poznanschina, Pomerania) were directly included in Germany, a
significant part of the Polish population was expelled from there.
Until the end of 1944, about 450 thousand citizens of pre-war Poland
were called up to the German army, including some members of the
Polish underground, situations when someone escaped from
mobilization were extremely rare, in general it can be considered
that through the German army during the war About half a million
citizens of pre-war Poland passed. In the remaining territories,
called “Governor-General,” an occupation administration was
organized. In the former territories of Poland, completely occupied
by Germans, the Polish language was banned, the Polish press was
closed, almost the entire clergy was arrested, all Polish
universities and secondary schools were closed, Polish cultural
institutions were liquidated, and Polish intelligentsia and civil
servants were methodically destroyed. Poles lost about 2 million
people who were not military personnel, as well as 45% of doctors,
57% of lawyers, 40% of the faculty of universities, 30% of
engineers, 18% of priests, almost all journalists. It is believed
that during the Second World War, Poland lost more than 20% of its
population - about 6 million people.
During World War II, a
resistance movement was operating in Poland, consisting of
heterogeneous groups, often having opposite goals and reporting to
different leadership centers: the Craiova Army, which was led by the
Polish government in exile, which organized the Warsaw Uprising of
1944; Ludov Guard - military organization of the Polish Communist
Party; the Khlopsky Battalions created by the peasant party, etc .;
Jewish militant organizations also organized the Uprising in the
Warsaw Ghetto in April 1943.
July 30, 1941, after the German
attack, the USSR recognized the "London" government in exile; on
Soviet territory, military units subordinate to him were formed from
Polish citizens, withdrawn from the USSR in 1942 and subsequently
distinguished themselves in battles in Italy. On April 25, 1943, the
USSR broke off relations with the "London" government because of its
anti-Soviet position. After this, Stalin created from the remaining
Polish citizens in the USSR the 1st Infantry Division of the Polish
Army named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko under the command of Colonel
Zygmunt Berling, who had deserted Anders from the Polish army.
The instruction of the “London government” for the Home Army
developed on October 1, 1943 contained the following instructions in
case of the unauthorized “Polish government” of the entry of Soviet
troops into Poland: “The Polish government sends a protest to the
United Nations against violation of Polish sovereignty - as a result
of the Soviets entering the territory Poland without agreement with
the Polish government - while simultaneously declaring that the
country will not interact with the Soviets. The government at the
same time warns that in the event of the arrest of representatives
of the underground movement and any reprisals against Polish
citizens, the underground organizations will go over to
self-defense. ” The fallacy of the geopolitical concept of the
London government of Poland, built on anti-Sovietism, has created a
belief in the possibility, if not military, then geopolitical defeat
of the USSR. The Allies decided the cause of the eastern border of
Poland at the Tehran Conference. The commander-in-chief of the
Polish Armed Forces subordinate to the Polish émigré government,
armor general Kazimierz Sosnkowski believed in the prospect of a
third world war and the complete defeat of the USSR in this war.
Together with parts of the
Soviet army, the Berling army advanced to the borders of Poland. On
July 20, 1944, the Red Army crossed the Curzon Line, and the very
next day the Polish Committee for National Liberation (Lublin
Committee), led by the Communists, was created, taking over the
functions of the interim government with Soviet support. A decree
was adopted by the Regional People’s Rada on the unification of the
partisan Army of Ludova with the 1st Polish Army into a single
Polish Army, as well as a decree on the appointment of the High
Command of the Polish Army (General Michal имimerski was appointed
commander of the Polish Army). On July 26, 1944, the USSR government
and the Polish National Liberation Committee signed an agreement
recognizing the power of the PKNO in the liberated Polish territory,
the Soviet government recognized the PKNO as the only legal
authority in the country.
At the end of July, the question was allegedly
outlined whose power - London or Lublin will be established in
Poland. Parts of the Red Army approached Warsaw; On August 1, in
Warsaw, on the orders of the "London government", an uprising began,
led by the Border Army and led by General Bur-Komorowski, with the
goal of liberating Warsaw before the arrival of Soviet troops and to
prevent the Polish National Liberation Committee from coming to
power. Neither the Soviet government, nor the command of the Red
Army, nor the High Command of the Polish Army received any official
information about the preparation of the uprising in Warsaw, and
even more so requests for help to the rebels, coordination with the
advancing Soviet units was not organized. Meanwhile, the Germans
launched a counterattack near Warsaw, and Rokossovsky (a few hours
before the uprising in Warsaw) was forced to order the advancing 2nd
Panzer Division to go on the defensive. Stalin ignored the
Zhukov-Rokossovsky plan, which suggested a resumption of the
offensive after the regrouping, and after the appeal of Winston
Churchill, who supported the London government, he did not allow the
use of Soviet airfields to help the rebels. As a rule, supporters of
the position on the deliberate cessation of the Soviet offensive do
not rely on documentary evidence, referring to false documents
distributed by the Nazis during the uprising. The Germans brutally
crushed the rebellion. The Polish government in exile clearly showed
society its powerlessness, for the Poles the terrible collapse of
the uprising was a big shock.
The offensive of the Red Army
resumed on January 12, 1945; On January 17, Warsaw was liberated by
the 1st Army of the Polish Army, and by the beginning of February
almost all of Poland was liberated from fascist troops. The Polish
Workers' Party finally established itself in power, although for
this it was necessary to break the strong resistance of the rebel
groups of the Polish nationalist underground, consisting mainly of
former soldiers and officers of the Craiova Army, reaching the
degree of guerrilla warfare.
During the war in Poland, mass
killings of the Jewish population by Germans and participants in the
Polish nationalist underground took place. The last major Jewish
pogrom occurred in 1946 in Kielce and was attended by Polish police
and military. The Holocaust and the anti-Semitic atmosphere of the
postwar years caused a new round of emigration of Jews from Poland.
By the decision of the Berlin Conference of 1945, the western
border of Poland was established along the rivers Oder (Oder) and
Nysa-Luzhicka (Neisse), two-thirds of the territory of East Prussia
went to Poland. As a result of the conclusion of the Soviet-Polish
border treaty, the Bialystok region (from the BSSR) and the city of
Przemysl (from the Ukrainian SSR) departed to Poland. Poland
returned Czechoslovakia to the Tieszyn region, captured in 1938.
The extermination of Jews, the post-war eviction of Germans from
German lands annexed to Poland, as well as the establishment of new
borders with the USSR and the exchange of population with it, made
Poland an almost mono-ethnic state.
People's Republic of
Even before the end of the war in Europe, on
April 21, 1945, an Agreement on friendship, mutual assistance and
post-war cooperation between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
and the Polish Republic was signed in Moscow. The idea of
boycotting the results of World War II failed.
realizing that they would not succeed in insisting on the transfer
of power in Poland to the "London" government, at the Yalta
Conference they agreed on a compromise, according to which a
coalition government was formed on the basis of the Provisional
Government of the Republic of Poland with the inclusion of Polish
emigrant politicians who were no longer part of the Polish immigrant
government, which was to hold free elections. In the "Provisional
Government of National Unity", formed in June 1945 with the
participation of representatives of the USSR, USA and Great Britain
in accordance with the decisions of the heads of these states
adopted at the conference in Yalta and recognized by the Allies,
most of the portfolios (including all power ones) were in the hands
of left parties (PDP and PSP), therefore, already in the elections
held in January 1947, according to official figures, 80% received
the election block of the PDP and PSP (these parties were united in
1948 under the leadership of the ruling Polish United Workers Party
m. Boleslav Bierut). Moreover, in London until 1990, the Polish
"government in exile" continued to exist.