Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

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Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

Postby Futurist » 23 Oct 2017 04:22

What were Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War?

In other words, what exactly did Poland want if it would have managed to achieve a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in this war?

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Re: Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

Postby henryk » 23 Oct 2017 19:31

There were two opposing Polish aims, that of Pilsudski, and that of National Democracy leader Roman Dmowski.
See the thread:
Pilsudski, Poland, and the Central European Union
viewtopic.php?f=111&t=192843&hilit=pilsudski
Pilsudski envisioned a Central European Union, which included the western non-ethnic Russian territories. Dmowski's position:
Pilsudski's concept was opposed within Poland itself, where National Democracy leader Roman Dmowski[32][33] argued for an ethnically purer Poland in which minorities would be Polonized.[34][35] Many Polish politicians, including Dmowski, opposed the idea of a multicultural federation, preferring instead to work for a unitary Polish nation-state.

Dmowski won out, asking the Russians for less than they were willing to offer. Polamd did achieve a decisive vicory in the war.

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Re: Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

Postby wm » 24 Oct 2017 22:27

According to the newest biography of Piłsudski the war aims of that war were: destruction of the Red Army, and creation of a "bourgeois" Ukrainian state. In this he was grudgingly supported by the French, but opposed by the British - alarmed by the increase of France's power on the Continent.
His main goal was a severe and permanent weakening of the main Polish enemy - Russia (i.e. the driving force behind the partitions) by, hopefully, splitting her along national lines (similarly as it happened after the fall of communism).
The concept of the federation was embraced by Piłsudski opportunistically, because of "the Americans and their ideas", but he really had mainly Polish interests in mind.

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Re: Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

Postby henryk » 25 Oct 2017 20:21

https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~rwest/link-su ... et_War.htm
After the peace negotiations Poland did not maintain all the territories it had controlled at the end of hostilities. Due to their losses in and after the Battle of Warsaw, the Soviets offered the Polish peace delegation substantial territorial concessions in the contested borderland areas, closely resembling the border between the Russian Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth before the first partition of 1772. Polish resources were exhausted, however, and Polish public opinion was opposed to a prolongation of the war. The Polish government was also pressured by the League of Nations, and the negotiations were controlled by Dmowski's National Democrats: Piłsudski might have controlled the military, but parliament ( Sejm) was controlled by Dmowski, and the peace negotiations were of a political nature. National Democrats, like Stanisław Grabski, who earlier had resigned his post to protest the Polish–Ukrainian alliance and now wielded much influence over the Polish negotiators, cared little for Piłsudski's Międzymorze; this post-war situation proved a death blow to Piłsudski's dream of reviving the multicultural Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the form of the Międzymorze. More than one million Poles were abandoned in the SU, systematically persecuted by Soviet authorities because of political, economical and religious reasons (see the Polish operation of the NKVD).

The National Democrats in charge of the state also had few concerns about the fate of Ukrainians, and cared little that their political opponent, Piłsudski, felt honour-bound by his treaty obligations; his opponents did not hesitate to scrap the treaty. National Democrats wanted only the territory that they viewed as 'ethnically or historically Polish' or possible to polonize. Despite the Red Army's crushing defeat at Warsaw and the willingness of Soviet chief negotiator Adolf Joffe to concede almost all disputed territory, National Democrats ideology allowed the Soviets to regain certain territories. The Peace of Riga was signed on March 18, 1921, splitting the disputed territories in Belarus and Ukraine between Poland and Russia. The treaty, which Piłsudski called an act of cowardice, and for which he apologized to the Ukrainians, actually violated the terms of Poland's military alliance with Ukraine, which had explicitly prohibited a separate peace; Ukrainian allies of Poland suddenly found themselves interned by the Polish authorities. The internment worsened relations between Poland and its Ukrainian minority: those who supported Petliura felt that Ukraine had been betrayed by its Polish ally, a feeling that grew stronger due to the assimilationist policies of nationalist inter-war Poland towards its minorities. To a large degree, this inspired the growing tensions and eventual violence against Poles in the 1930s and 1940s.

The war and its aftermath also resulted in other controversies, such as situation of prisoners of war of both sides, treatment of the civilian population and behaviour of some commanders like Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz or Vadim Yakovlev. The Polish military successes in the autumn of 1920 allowed Poland to capture the Wilno (Vilnius) region, where a Polish-dominated Governance Committee of Central Lithuania (Komisja Rządząca Litwy Środkowej) was formed. A plebiscite was conducted, and the Wilno Sejm voted on February 20, 1922, for incorporation into Poland. This worsened Polish-Lithuanian relations for decades to come. However the loss of Vilnius might have safeguarded the very existence of the Lithuanian state in the interwar period. Despite an alliance with Soviets ( Soviet-Lithuanian Treaty of 1920) and the war with Poland, Lithuania was very close to being invaded by the Soviets in summer 1920 and having been forcibly converted into a socialist republic. It was only the Polish victory against the Soviets in the Polish-Soviet War (and the fact that the Poles did not object to some form of Lithuanian independence) that derailed the Soviet plans and gave Lithuania an experience of interwar independence.

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Re: Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

Postby Steve » 25 Oct 2017 20:40

Towards the end of 1919 Pilsudski met with two British emissaries going to meet General Denikin and there is a British record of the meeting dated 19 December 1919. Pilsudski emphasised that he had no imperialist aims. Plebiscites in the east would be allowed as far back as the conference line including Brest-Litovsk. He hinted that he would pursue plans for an independent Ukraine and a Polish – Lithuanian – Belorussian federation.

I would guess that the conference line is the Curzon line or something close to it and why he only hinted about his plans is because he thought the British would not look favourably on them.

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Re: Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

Postby henryk » 26 Oct 2017 19:49

https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~rwest/link-su ... et_War.htm
In early March 1919, Polish units started an offensive, crossing the Neman River, taking Pinsk, and reaching the outskirts of Lida. Both the Soviet and Polish advances began around the same time in April (Polish forces started a major offensive on April 16), resulting in increasing numbers of troops arriving in the area. That month the Bolsheviks captured Grodno, but soon were pushed out by a Polish counteroffensive. Unable to accomplish their objectives and facing strengthening offensives from the White forces, the Red Army withdrew from their positions and reorganized. Soon the Polish-Soviet War would begin in earnest.

Polish forces continued a steady eastern advance. They took Lida on April 17 and Nowogródek on April 18, and recaptured Vilnius on April 19, driving the Litbel government from their proclaimed capital. On August 8, Polish forces took Minsk and on the 28th of that month they deployed tanks for the first time. After heavy fighting, the town of Babruysk near the Berezina River was captured. By October 2, Polish forces reached the Daugava river and secured the region from Desna to Daugavpils (Dyneburg).

Polish success continued until early 1920. Sporadic battles erupted between Polish forces and the Red Army, but the latter was preoccupied with the White counter-revolutionary forces and was steadily retreating on the entire western frontline, from Latvia in the north to Ukraine in the south. In early summer 1919, the White movement had gained the initiative, and its forces under the command of Anton Denikin were marching on Moscow. Piłsudski was aware that the Soviets were not friends of independent Poland, and considered the that war with Soviet Russia inevitable. He viewed their advance west as a major issue but also thought that he could get a better deal for Poland from the Bolsheviks than their Russian-civil-war contenders, as the White Russians - representative of the old Russian Empire, partitioner of Poland - were willing to accept only limited independence of Poland, likely in the borders similar to that of Congress Poland, and clearly objected to Ukrainian independence, crucial for Piłsudski's Międzymorze, while the Bolsheviks did proclaim the partitions null and void. Piłsudski thus speculated that Poland will be better of with the Bolsheviks, alienated from the Western powers, than with restored Russian Empire. By his refusal to join the attack on Lenin's struggling government, ignoring the strong pressure from the Entente, Piłsudski had likely saved the Bolshevik government in Summer–Fall 1919. He later wrote that in case of a White victory, in the east Poland could only gain the "ethnic border" at best (the Curzon line). At the same time Lenin offered Poles the territories of Minsk, Zhytomyr, Khmelnytskyi, in what was described as mini " Brest"; Polish military leader Kazimierz Sosnkowski wrote that the territorial proposals of the Bolsheviks were much better than what the Poles had wanted to achieve.

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Re: Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

Postby Futurist » 16 May 2018 05:22

Thanks for all of this information! :)

I think that I have a very good idea of where exactly the Soviets proposed the Polish-Soviet border to be. However, it would be nice to see a map of this if anyone could find one (specifically a map of the Soviet border proposal).

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Re: Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

Postby Futurist » 16 May 2018 05:23

wm wrote:The concept of the federation was embraced by Piłsudski opportunistically, because of "the Americans and their ideas", but he really had mainly Polish interests in mind.

So, Pilsudski would have preferred a multi-ethnic but unitary (as in, non-federal) Poland?

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Re: Poland's maximum war aims in the Soviet-Polish War

Postby henryk » 16 May 2018 19:27

https://universalcuriosity.wordpress.co ... nt-poland/
Territory captured by Poland east of the Treaty of Riga boundary.
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