Jozef Pilsudski in Minsk. 1919 year
"Crusade" of the West against Russia. No one in Poland removed the slogan on the return of the borders of 1772. The Polish lords wanted to plunge Europe into a big war again. The First World War returned to Poland statehood, part of the former lands of the Commonwealth. Therefore, Warsaw believed that a new big war in Europe would give Poland the territories it claimed.
After three sections of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772, 1793 and 1795), which were caused by the complete decomposition of the pansko-gentry elite, Polish statehood was liquidated. The Poles lived on the territory of three empires: the Austrian. German and Russian. In World War I, all these powers were defeated and were divided by Western democracies - England, the USA and France. The Entente in November 1918 separated the Polish regions from the fallen Austro-Hungarian and German, and united them with the Kingdom of Poland, a region that before the war belonged to Russia, but was then occupied by German troops.
In December 1919, the Entente Supreme Council determined the eastern border of the Polish Republic (Second Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) according to the so-called. "Curzon line" (named after the Minister for Foreign Affairs of England, Lord Curzon). This line passed where the eastern border of Poland is now located approximately. This line as a whole corresponded to the ethnographic principle: to the west of it there were lands with a predominance of the Polish population, to the east - territories with a predominance of non-Polish (Lithuanian, West-Russian) population. But historical the border of the Kingdom of Poland and Russia passed on average 100 km west of the Curzon line, so some ancient Russian cities remained in Poland (Przemysl, Kholm, Yaroslavl, etc.).
The New Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was surrounded by the lands of the newly defeated empires and their debris, which headed for "independence". Therefore, Warsaw turned a blind eye to the proposal of the Entente and tried to capture as much as possible, to recreate its empire "from sea to sea" (about the Baltic to the Black Sea). The Poles got access to the Baltic Sea: the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 transferred to Poland most of the German province of Posen (Poznan), part of West Prussia, part of Pomerania, which gave the country access to the Baltic. Danzig (Gdansk) received the status of a “free city”, but the Poles claimed it until the defeat of Germany in 1939. In addition, the Poles seized from the Germans part of Silesia (Eastern Upper Silesia).
The Poles seized part of the Cieszyn region from Czechoslovakia. In October 1920, Polish troops chopped off part of Lithuania with the capital, the city of Vilnius (Vilnius). But most of all, the Polish elite hoped to profit in the east, where Russia was torn by the Time of Troubles. In 1919, the Polish army defeated the Western Ukrainian People's Republic (ZUNR) and occupied Galicia. In 1923, the League of Nations recognized the entry of Galician lands into Poland.
Poland "from sea to sea" at the expense of Russian lands
In early 1919, Poland launched a war with Soviet Russia (Creating the Second Polish Commonwealth) The goal was the borders of the Commonwealth of 1772. Polish troops without any problems occupied a significant part of Lithuania, Belarus and Little Russia (Ukraine). The Poles used the opportunity - the best forces of the Red Army were connected by the struggle with the White Guards. Then Warsaw temporarily stopped the offensive. The Polish government did not want the White Army to win with its slogan "united and indivisible Russia." The months-long negotiations in Taganrog between Denikin and Pilsudski’s representative General Karnitsky ended to no avail. This was a major mistake of the Polish elite, which showed its limitations. The simultaneous blow of the powerful Polish army, which was supported by the Entente, and the army of Denikin, could lead to the fall of the Soviet Republic or to a sharp reduction in its territory. In addition, the Polish leader Pilsudski underestimated the Red Army, believed that the Polish army itself could enter Moscow without the White Guards.
The Soviet-Polish negotiations also did not lead to success. Both sides used the truce to prepare a new round of confrontation. In 1920, the Polish army resumed the offensive. In spring, the Poles achieved new successes in Belarus and Lesser Russia, and took Kiev. However, the Red Army regrouped forces, tightened reserves and launched a powerful counterattack. In June, the 1st Budenny Cavalry Army recaptured Kiev. Polish troops tried to counterattack, but were defeated. In July 1920, the red Western Front under the leadership of Tukhachevsky again went on the offensive. The Poles quickly retreated, losing previously captured lands and cities. In a short period of time, the Red Army advanced more than 600 km: July 10, Polish troops left Bobruisk, July 11 - Minsk, July 14 - Vilno. On July 26, in the region of Bialystok, Soviet troops crossed directly into Polish territory. On August 1, Brest was given almost without resistance to the Reds.
A quick victory turned his head. In their revolutionary romanticism, the Bolsheviks lost a sense of proportion. The Temporary Revolutionary Committee of Poland (Polrevkom) was established in Smolensk, which was to assume full power after the capture of Warsaw and the overthrow of Pilsudski. This was officially announced on August 1, 1920 in Bialystok. The committee was headed by Julian Markhlevsky. Lenin and Trotsky were sure that when the Red Army entered Poland a proletarian rebellion would break out and Poland would become socialist. Then the revolution will be completed in Germany, which will lead to the victory of the Soviets throughout Europe. Only Stalin tried to sober up the Soviet government with calls to stop on the Curzon line and make peace with Warsaw.
However, Moscow decided to continue the offensive. It ended in defeat. The Red Army lost the August battle for Warsaw. Hopes for the support of the Polish proletariat did not materialize. The troops were tired of the previous battles, the communications of the Red Army were stretched, the rear was not fixed. The enemy was underestimated. The Polish army, on the contrary, had a strong rear, the front line was reduced, which allowed the Poles to concentrate on the defense of the capital. It may be that the Red Army had a chance of success, but the factor played by Tukhachevsky. The Soviet Western Front was commanded by Tukhachevsky, an extremely ambitious commander, an adventurer who dreamed of the glory of Napoleon. The Com Front has sprayed the armies of the Western Front, sending them in diverging directions.
As a result, Pilsudski, who called this war a “comedy of mistakes”, inflicted a crushing defeat on Tukhachevsky’s troops (“Miracle on the Vistula”). The troops of the Western Front suffered heavy losses. This led to the fact that the Polish army was able to recapture part of the previously lost territories in the fall. Both sides were exhausted by the struggle and went to peace. On March 18, 1921 in Riga between Poland and the RSFSR (the delegation of which also represented the Byelorussian SSR) and the Ukrainian SSR, the Riga Peace Treaty was signed. Vast territories left for Poland - Western Ukraine and Western Belarus.
Polish troops enter Kiev. 1920 year
Having swallowed such a large production, Warsaw spent all the time before the Second World War to “digest” it. The Polish gentry, having appropriated the rights of a higher race, tried to colonize the West Russian and Lithuanian lands by the most brutal methods. Polish authorities tried to make up almost a third of the population. All Catholics and Uniates were considered Poles. “Dissidents” were subjected to persecution - this is what non-Catholics were called in Poland. Uniate churches were destroyed or turned into churches. Entire villages in Volyn became Polish.
Warsaw pursued a policy of "siege". Polish settlers, retired soldiers, members of their families, as well as civilian immigrants who, after the end of the war with Soviet Russia and later land allotments in the territories of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus with the aim of actively polonizing (polishing) the territories, were called besiegers. Despite the fact that Little Russian lands were already densely populated, Polish colonists here received allotments of the best lands and generous cash subsidies. The Polish authorities at one time gave the siege from 15 to 40 hectares of land. So in the period 1921 - 1939. About 300 thousand settlers moved from ethnic Polish lands to Belarus, and about 200 thousand people moved to Eastern Galicia and Volyn.
This led to the resistance of the West Russian population. In 1930, attacks on the homes of Polish landowners and besiegers in Ukraine became more frequent. In the summer of 1930 alone, 2200 Pole houses were burned in eastern Galicia. The authorities brought in troops, burned and looted about 800 villages. Over 2 thousand people were arrested, about a third received large prison sentences.
Since the beginning of the 1920s, Polish diplomats have created in the West the image of Poland as a barrier to Bolshevism, the defender of "enlightened Europe." In 1921, an alliance agreement was signed with France. True, the Poles once again completely forgot their own history and did not remember that although France was Poland’s traditional ally, it usually abandoned its “partner” at a dangerous moment. In addition to the period 1807 - 1812, when Napoleon fought with Russia.
The Polish elite could not give the country neither economic nor social reforms that led the people to prosperity in the 1920s and 1930s. As a result, only the old slogan remained: “From mozh to mozh” (“from sea to sea”). Nobody in Warsaw was going to forget about the return of the borders of 1772. The Polish lords wanted to plunge Europe into a big war again. The First World War returned to Poland statehood, part of the former lands of the Commonwealth. Therefore, Warsaw believed that a new big war in Europe would give Poland the territories it claimed.
The main conductor of this course to the war was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland in 1932-1939. Jozef Beck. After the death of Pilsudski in 1935, power in Poland fell into the hands of the ruling group of three people - Marshal Rydz-Smigly, President Mosczycki and Beck, while Beck actually determined Warsaw's foreign policy. Therefore, the Western press until September 1939, the Polish government called the Beck government.
Poland was not the main aggressor in Europe, but Pilsudski and the heirs of his political course were no worse and no better than Mussolini or Mannerheim. In Rome, they dreamed of restoring the greatness of the new Roman Empire, turning the Mediterranean into Italian, subjugating countries and peoples in the Balkans and in Africa. In Helsinki, they planned to create a “Great Finland” with Karelia, the Kola Peninsula, the Leningrad, Arkhangelsk and Arkhangelsk provinces (The myth of the aggression of the "criminal Stalinist regime" against the "peaceful" Finland; What prompted the USSR to start a war with Finland) In Warsaw, they dreamed of Ukraine.
Thus, in Warsaw, they still licked onto Russian lands. The Polish lords did not abandon their plans for the capture and colonization of Russian lands and access to the Black Sea. The Poles sought to capture most of the Ukrainian SSR. This until the Second World War predetermined the steadily bad relations between the USSR and Poland. And the hostility was Poland. Warsaw stubbornly rejected all Moscow’s attempts to establish good neighborly relations. Already in the early 1930s, the USSR had trade agreements with all countries of the world, only Poland refused to sign such an agreement, and only met the Russians in 1939, a few months before their death.
The Polish border was a dangerous destination. Here, in the 20s, skirmishes and skirmishes constantly took place. Various White Guard and Petliura detachments were based on the territory of the Polish Republic, which, with the complicity of the Polish authorities and the military, periodically attacked the territory of the RSFSR and the Ukrainian SSR. This forced the Soviet government to hold large forces in the Polish direction. At the same time, Soviet Russia, in view of its weakness, was extremely cautious in the 20s and 30s. Soviet border guards had very strict guidelines for restricting their use weapons on the border. The Poles behaved arrogantly like conquerors. It is not surprising that Moscow during this period considered Poland the most probable adversary in Europe (together with Germany) and was preparing for a defensive war.
Official visit of Polish Foreign Minister Jozef Beck to Berlin. 1935 year.
To be continued ...