Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rule?

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gebhk
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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by gebhk » 08 Apr 2021 11:49

Hi Futurist

De meritum (the topic being what the various minorities thought and not whether the Polish Government trusted them), I think you are asking a question that can't be answered.

Firstly there was no Russia during the interbellum. This is not just semantics - it is the fact that the Russian Empire had been replaced by the Soviet Union with its self-proclaimed internationalism and offer of a nested identity that proved attractive to many nationalists, particularly Ukrainian ones.

Secondly - one can't provide a uniform answer for all the groups you mention.

Thirdly - within each ethnic group, of what class and where?

Fourthly - within each group, what of individuals? As no reliable opinion polls (if such a thing exists) were carried out we will never know what the preponderance of opinion really was.

Fifthly - when? At every level opinion changed over the course of nearly 20 years. Undoubtedly the appeal of the Soviet state waned dramatically over this period, not least because of the widely publicised accounts of notable fellow travellers who had visited the Workers Paradise and found the reality did not match their rose-tinted preconceptions.

On a more personal level, the USSR under Stalin scored a spectacular propaganda own goal with regard to Polish servicemen who had deserted to the Union of Councils. Treated well in the early twenties, automatically offered posts in the Red Army, many had done well (though one suspects this may have proved ultimately fatal after 1936!)' However, with Stalin's paranoia growing, from the late 20s policy changed and rather than finding the Workers Paradise they had been promised, once they had been pumped for all the information possible, Polish deserters found themselves the subject of suspicion as infiltrators and sent to prisons and gulags. As a result, something like half the Polish servicemen who deserted to the Soviet Union made their way back to Poland (and we are not talking insignificant numbers here), among whom ethnic minorities were over-represented. Their experience cannot but have had a salutary impact on their immediate environment and the fact that having experienced the Soviet Union they preferred returning to Poland despite the likelihood of a three-year (I think, will have to check) prison sentence for desertion, spoke volumes in itself.

On an individual level, I am sure that even the most ardent nationalist whose blood flowed red and white, had a at least some particularly frustrating days when they came home and declared that they wished the Russians/Prussians/Austrians were still in charge - at least the flaming (....... fill in the blank as appropriate) ran on time!

In short, unless you can teleport yourself back in time and conduct a series of best-quality opinion polls among the ethnic minorities (accepting the reliability issues of ethnic minority definition and response validity), there is no way to answer these questions beyond idle speculation.

Bestest
K
Last edited by gebhk on 08 Apr 2021 19:30, edited 1 time in total.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by Sid Guttridge » 08 Apr 2021 12:20

Hi gebhk,

I am not sure I follow your Salisbury Plain analogy, so I will skip over it.

I know that others were posted out of area for national or skills reasons, but the effect and one intention of this was to consolidate Polish control over the army. This was part of the "need to unify the state.... that for over 100 years had been governed in very different ways with very different cultures in its three separate parts" and ran contrary to any local nationalist minority inclinations, as did "the effort to develop a unified military and national culture". One man's "unification of national culture" might be another man's "cultural genocide".

I have seen a breakdown of the national identity of the Czechoslovak officer corps in 1938, but I have never seen anything similar for Poland. Is there one?

I am not sure Unrug, on his own, is a very good illustration. Firstly, one swallow does not make a summer. Secondly, although his title was German, he was reportedly of partly Polish descent. Thirdly, he was in the navy, which was peripheral compared to the army. Fourthly, he was apparently already distrusted by the German Navy even during WWI, though I can't find out if this was because he already had Polish nationalist inclinations at the time. If Unrug was demonstrably typical, rather than an exception, he might be of some illustrative value, but was he? (In any case, thanks for drawing my attention to him. He is a very interesting character).

It always strikes me that mobilization was most likely to create minority national focuses within an army. While in peacetime minority conscripts could be broken up and posted to active formations all over the country, for speed of mobilization reservists were presumably called up into local formations and reserve formations could presumably largely be made up of local national minorities. How did the Polish mobilization and reserve formation system work?

Cheers,

Sid.

gebhk
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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by gebhk » 08 Apr 2021 15:00

intention of this was to consolidate Polish control over the army.
Again I think you are overegging the nationalist issue. The main conflicts (and they were serious ones) in the nascent Polish Armed Forces were not national but partitional on the one hand (Kaiserites vs KuKites and both vs the 'Orthdoxians') and based on military lineage on the other (Legionnaries vs - well, pretty much everyone else) Thus the intention wasn't to consolidate 'Polish' control over the army but to consolidate control of the army full stop. It had little to do with national identity issues. I'm sorry but as a military man yourself, you must accept that there is no place in an army (or even the state) for maintaining differences of 'national culture" when they involve things like choosing which side of the road to drive on, which gauge of railway track is to be used and which military code of conduct is to be followed.

Alas, I can't recall seeing a national breakdown of the officer corps albeit such data no doubt existed (whether it survived the war is another matter of course). My knowledge on the subject is sketchy to say the least, but, as I recall, in 1919 the government passed an act which limited officer status to persons of Polish nationality. This, it seems, was mainly aimed at eliminating Jewish officers from the corps and was, at the very least, an own goal as far as international reputation goes. However, clearly, this I can only presume related to self-declared nationality given the many officers of non-Polish nationality (such as Unruh) who remained or joined subsequently.

I am not sure how long this nonsense remained status quo, however the presidential decree of 12/3/37 revising the regulations relating to Officer military service appears to have nothing to say on the subject, other than an officer must be a citizen of the Polish State with an unblemished past whose physical and psychological fitness satisfied the relevant military medical commissions. Exceptionally non-citizens could be employed as contract officers. Off course, the reality was that to be considered for officer training, you first had to be accepted and this involved passing a verification process (or security clearance as it would be called nowadays, I have my grandfather's stashed away somewhere) and no doubt being of non-Polish nationality would have made the other hoops more difficult to jump. I have no doubt therefore that Poles were over-represented in the officer corps, but to what extent I do not know. There were of course many other skewing factors, not least the fact that the areas with the greatest concentrations of minorities coincided with the most backward parts of the country and officers had to, at least, be able to read and write. This, at least partially, explains why Germans made up a disproportionally large contribution to the non-Polish contingent in the WP officer corps.

The reason I brought up Unruh, was to demonstrate that foreign origins were not an absolute bar to a career in the Polish Armed Forces, one is quite sufficient for the purpose and does not need to be 'typical' (although quite a few such examples can be found). The fact of his German origins is not random in my selection of example - it does seem to be the case that the German minority was treated with much less suspicion than the others with, as it turns out, little justification - quite the reverse in fact, it would seem.

You will find all the answers on the subject of peacetime and wartime recruitment in Wolyn's topic which I mentioned in my previous entry. In short, yes you are quite right that the percentage of local men would increase during mobilisation, albeit not as much as in most other armies because of the disproportionally high percentage of active divisions in the Polish peacetime OdeB. As you correctly surmise, reservists who had completed their military service (usually in a different part of the country) would be re-assigned to their local mobilisation centre on completion of their training and (depending on their specialty) would most likely be assigned to the nearest unit requiring their skills. However distribution would be uneven. Basic sub-units which existed in peacetime (say rifle companies) would remain predominantly composed of non-regional national servicemen and just swelled somewhat - mainly in the area of support services such as wagon-drivers, cooks, tailors and bottle washers. Units which did not exist in peacetime (such as, say, regimental scout platoons) could be composed almost entirely of local reservists.

Bestest
K

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by Sid Guttridge » 08 Apr 2021 16:37

Hi gebhk,

I think you may have been a little too selective in quoting me.

I did not just write, "intention of this was to consolidate Polish control over the army."

What I actually wrote was "..... one intention of this was to consolidate Polish control over the army."

I can find no reference to KuKites, Kaiserites or Orthodoxians in this context. I presume this refers to those Poles who had been under Austrian, Prussian and Russian rule for the previous 140 years. Were they not Polish factions? What role did the new national minorities play in this debate over the future orientation of the Polish Army? Any?

It appears that only Unrug's title was wholly German. He himself seems to have been of mixed German-Polish family background. He wasn't a German, but somebody of mixed origins with a choice to make as to nationality. He emphatically chose Polish.

I will look up Wolyn's topic.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. I am not a military man. I am just somebody who was in a second rate unit for a couple of years in a small war four decades ago. You are essentially conversing with a civilian with a not necessarily relevant, brief period of military service in a low intensity, lost and probably wrong cause in the dim and distant past who has read quite a lot of books since. Please forgive the occasional attack of nostalgia.

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wm
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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by wm » 08 Apr 2021 17:53

gebhk wrote:
06 Apr 2021 13:50
WM
Where do these figures for KOP nationality limits come from? AFAIK they were never set officially, at least at the outset. In the 'recreated KOP' in 1939 up to 20% of the cavalry and engineering KOP unit personnel were German.
it's here.

gebhk
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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by gebhk » 08 Apr 2021 18:34

What I actually wrote was "..... one intention of this was to consolidate Polish control over the army."
Accepted, but it doesn't change my point which is that there was no issue of Polish control; the issue was of administrative control; that is of the ability of central military authorities to impose uniform ways of 'doing things' which they considered best practice in the face of opposition from officers and men brought up with the Russian, Austrian, German, Legionary, Hallerite, Wielkopolska, Silesian, etc, etc ways of doing things. Any national issues were mainly coincidental - that is related by geography.
What role did the new national minorities play in this debate over the future orientation of the Polish Army? Any?
Very little beyond considerations of religious and cultural observances - that is my point. The issue in the army wasn't ethnic origins but different cultural and military backgrounds. While even such basics as speaking the same language could not be assured, it goes further than that. Having conducted field exercises with youth organisations in my misspent youth I became acutely aware how difficult it is to co-ordinate things when not everyone understands the 'shorthand' that develops. Instructions which were easily understood by 'my guys' were a mystery to chaps from other units in my own organisation, let alone other organisations; chaos sometimes ensued. In civilian life such things are (in hindsight!) just amusing - in combat could well have proved deadly. Simply mixing units up was the quickest and simplest means to achieving a better level of mutual understanding and reducing resistance to change.

You talk about 'cultural genocide' - I 'm afraid that not all cultural phenomena deserve to survive - such as poor levels of personal hygiene, poor dietary habits and illiteracy. If the army could do something to help reduce such cultural manifestations (and it did), then I am all for it. In fact many if not most conscripts from the East enjoyed this aspect of their national service which exposed them to modern life and entertainment. Many who had a negative attitude to the Polish State in general nevertheless had a high opinion of the Army as a result of their service in it; an interesting contradiction.

I've never delved into von Unruh / Unrug's biography so don't know much. AFAIK his mother (nee von Bunau) was Saxon German through and through while his father a Prussian general from a Prussian baronial family with some Polish roots though how widespread and how far back they were, I don't know. It is, according to some, his father who taught (or tried to teach at any rate) the young Joseph the basics of Polish language and brought him up in a multicultural (German- Polish) tradition at home. It seems that, for whatever reasons, the young Unruh embraced his Polish heritage such as it was, from an early age though I have the impression that he only made the definitive break with his German side in 1939, in disgust at the behaviour of the Nazis: he is quoted as saying 'I forgot the German language on 1st September 1939'. As you say, a very interesting man, above all of unshakeable principles. Offered a comfortable pension by the British he refused as 'his' men were not offered the same and instead chose (at the age of 62!) to work first as a dockyard navvy and later a lorry driver. As a totally irrelevant trivium, Christophe Unrug, the late admiral's grandson, is currently maire of Montresor, the town in which Joseph and Zofia (Joseph's wife) were buried until their remains were exhumed and returned to Poland in 2018.
You are essentially conversing with a civilian with a not necessarily relevant, brief period of military service in a low intensity, lost and probably wrong cause
You are grossly underselling the value of your experience! I think your experience of precisely this sort of messy conflict is all the more valuable in the context of this discussion.

HI WM

Thanks, I found it this time around.

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