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Poland Destinations Travel Guide




Language: Polish

Currency: Zloty (PLN)

Calling Code: 48




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 territory.

The capital is Warsaw. The official language is Polish.

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.

The 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


Białowieża National Park


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.

Łazienki Palace




Historic Polish town of Lublin is one of the largest and most beautiful cities in Poland.

Niedzica Castle


Niedzica Castle is a historic medieval fortress in Nowy Targ County. It was constructed in 1320- 26 on a rock cliff overlooking Czorsztyn Lake.

Paradise Cave


Impressive natural geological formation known as a Paradise Cave was inhabited by first human hunters since prehistoric times.

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 Cliff.

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


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 family.


Treblinka Extermination Camp in modern day Poland is one of the most famous and largest concentration camps in the Third Reich.


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


Wieliczka Salt Mine is famous for its giant halls, passageways and a Christian chapel that were cut in the ancient salt deposits.

Wilanów Palace


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

Wolf's Lair is an abandoned military headquarters for the high command of the Third Reich. It is one of the most famous of Fuhrer headquarters.






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 Poznan region).

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.

The 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.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1795)
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 Kadlubek).


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.

Polish 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 the "Flood".


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.

The 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 Targovitskaya.


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 sharply reduced.

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 statehood (1795-1918)
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 (subsequently Austria-Hungary).

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 (Knyazhevich).

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 arose.

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 faction).

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.

Polish 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 movement.

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 Haller.

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 country.

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 ZUNR.

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)
On January 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 Czechoslovakia.

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.

In 1921, 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 Seimas.

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 were introduced.


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.

January 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.

On 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 Germany .

The Second World War
On September 1, 1939, troops of the Third Reich invaded Poland. By September 16, the Germans reached the Osovets-Bialystok-Belsk-Kamenetz-Litovsk-Wlodawa-Vladimir-Volynsky-Zamost-Lvov-Sambir 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 capitulated.

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 Poland (1944-1989)
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.

The Allies, 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.