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political world

Poland 1914-1931

jan peczkis|Friday, September 30, 2011

The author begins with the situation facing the three parts of Partitioned Poland. He cites British Prime Minister Asquith (afterwards Earl of Oxford and Asquith). The Briton recounted the brutalities of the Prussians against the local Poles. Step-by-step, the Poles were not allowed to use the Polish language--eventually the children had to pray only in German. In 1902, more than half the Polish schoolchildren went on a strike that lasted nearly a whole year. Many of them were savagely beaten, and their parents faced arrest and imprisonment. (p. 69).

Poland 1914-1931 by Robert Machray
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This book has a great deal of detail on the political issues surrounding the resurrection of the Polish state in 1918. From then on, it centers on the political issues in interwar Poland. Machray has a lot to say about Pilsudski. The latter was descended from a princely Lithuanian family of Ginet. (p. 35).

In assessing Poland's Jews during WWI, the author writes: "During the War most of the Polish Jews were on the side of the Central Powers; indeed, many identified themselves with Germanism; others demanded national autonomy for Jewry in Poland." (p. 119).

Machray continues: "Before the Peace Conference met, Jews streamed to Paris from various centres in Europe and America to take whatever part in it that was open to them, and they began by making an intensive propaganda out of the stories, which had been given prominence in the Press, of pogroms perpetrated by Poles on Jews in Lwow [Lviv] in November, 1918. These stories proved to be grossly exaggerated...One journal put the number of Jewish victims at from 2,500 to 3,000! But until the truth was known it was widely believed that the Polish Government was organizing pogroms, and a formidable campaign was prosecuted by Jews in England, France and America against Poland on the score of this and other alleged outrages on Polish Jews." (pp. 119-120).

The 1918-1919 Ukrainian separatist war against Poland is described as follows: "On November 11 the larger part of Galicia was in the hands of the Ukrainians, thanks to Austrian and German connivance; during the night of October 31--November 1, 1918, they seized Lwow." (p. 98). Przemysl was occupied by the Ukrainians with Austrian support. (p. 101). Eventually, Pilsudski and his Polish forces won the territories back.

Poland's Ukrainians boycotted the 1922 elections but, by 1928, there was a complete turnaround: "The large Ukrainian participation in the 1928 elections appeared to indicate a better understanding between the Poles and Ukrainians." (p. 353). However, some diehard separatist organizations (UWO and OUN) launched a campaign of arsons and assassinations intended to destabilize Polish-Ukrainian relations, and, when the Polish government finally clamped down on them [the Pacification of 1930], some Ukrainians launched a propaganda campaign accusing Poles of heavy-handed repression. Machray comments: "Independent observers, including the Warsaw correspondent of THE TIMES, who investigated these accusations on the spot, came to the conclusion that they were greatly and deliberately exaggerated for political purposes. It was true that excessive zeal had led some minor officials to act in an extreme way, but they were few in number, and were punished by the Government. In any case, no Government in the world could deal very leniently with what was confessedly an openly subversive attack on its authority." (p. 407).

The author quotes Pewny, a Ukrainian deputy in the Seym (Polish Parliament), who maintained that Poles have no desire to denationalize the Ukrainians, and said that: "`Neither Ukrainian intellectuals nor the masses of the Ukrainian people support political parties which trouble Polish-Ukrainian relations and co-operate with foreign elements hostile to the Polish State.'" (pp. 407-408).

On another subject, Machray features the 1920 Polish-Soviet War in considerable detail. (pp. 141-173). Attempts to credit the French for the "Miracle on the Vistula" are false. In fact, the French participation in the battle was minimal, and none other than Weygand himself said that credit for the victory belonged to the Poles alone. (p. 14). Now consider the negotiations leading up to the Treaty of Riga: "But the Poles showed little or nothing of the Imperialism with which they had been accused, for their claim to territorial acquisition was studiously moderate, despite their great victories." (p. 182).
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