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Poland And The Great War (1914 1918)

1816 words - 8 pages

Poland and the Great War (1914-1918)World War One or 'The Great War' as it became known, was caused due to an array of events. One of the main causes of the war was the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian thrown; the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie on the 28th of June in 1914. Not long after the two had been shot, the shooter, Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian student was arrested. Princip was believed to be linked to The Black Hand, a Serbian terrorist organization. Little did many know how much damage this single man had caused. The powers of the world including Germany, France, Great Britain and Russia were about to erupt with conflict; but within these countries ...view middle of the document...

Within this circumstance was a benefit for Poland giving them the political leverage needed. The Poles were in this position due to both sides offering pledges of concessions and future freedom in exchange for Polish recruits and their loyalty for the war efforts. Considering the fact that the Austrians wanted to incorporate congressional Poland into their territory of Galicia which allowed nationalist organizations to form in this area. The Russians believed in the Polish right to autonomy and consequently let the Polish National Committee form; this committee gave its support to Russia. Shortly after in 1916, the Central Powers declared Poland a new kingdom, although this new kingdom did include a small part of the old common wealth (Lukowski 14). Both sides were trying to gain advantages and more support for the war; offers of loyalty and promises of more men were key assets to the major powers of Europe.At the beginning of 1914, the newly invigorated Polish political scene combined with cataclysmic events on the European continent to offer both new hope and grave threats to the Polish people. Poland had originally been an independent kingdom but by the late 18th century it had been divided up between Russia, Austria-Hungary and Germany. In 1914, Roman Dmowski, the main leader of the Polish nationalist movement, believed the best way to achieve a unified and independent Poland was to support the Triple Entente against the Triple Alliance. Jozef Pilsudski, a nationalist leader based in Galicia, disagreed and saw Russia as the main enemy. Pilsudski began building a private army that he hoped would enable Poland to fight for its independence from Russia. The issue of Polish self-rule started to gain more urgency as the war went into a long stalemate. Roman Dmowski was an advocate for Polish freedom. He spent the years during the war in Western Europe were he hoped to persuade the Allies to unify the Polish lands under Russian rule. He thought this could be the first step toward achieving liberty for Poland. Polish liberal tradition has generally been considered weak or even nonexistent. On the other hand, there have been arguments that the nineteenth-century Poland inherited a strong liberal tradition from the nobility-based democracy, and that in the mid-nineteenth century, liberalism was a dominant trend in Polish intellectual life, even if it rarely appeared in its pure form and did not create political movements separating liberal aims from patriotic ones (Janowski 58). Pilsudski, another advocate for Polish self rule had a different approach on reaching the goal. Although both of these leaders had many of the same ideals, the two had conflicting thoughts and plans. As Pilsudski had predicted, the war ruined all three of the major partitioners. Therefore he formed Polish legions to help the Central Powers to defeat Russia (Lukowski 19). This was the first step he took for independence for Poland.Germany was trying hard to gain Polish...

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