1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Poland
POLAND (see 21.902). The partition of Poland was the one great crime of the 18th century for which no redress was afforded by the settlement of Europe after the Napoleonic wars, and it eventually proved one of the causes of the World War in 1914, though the Poles had become apparently more or less reconciled by that date to working out their destiny under Russia, Prussia and Austria. In the earlier article their history has been sketched up to 1863, but it is necessary here to make some brief reference to former times as well as to give the outlines of its development from then up to 1914.
Russian Poland.—“The insurrection of 1863,” says Stanislaus Kosmian, “helped the greatest enemy of Poland and the Polish cause to success. On the ruins of the Polish revolution rose . . . the system of Russification in the Empire of the Tsar.” Under the new name of the Governments of the Vistula the Polish provinces formerly known as “Congress Poland” or the “Kingdom of Poland” were placed in the hands of military governors whose duty it was to suppress every tendency towards Nationalism and to ensure complete subservience to Russia. Russian became the official language of the country and it was enforced in all public business. In 1869 it was adopted as the official language of higher and secondary education and in 1885 the use of the Russian language became compulsory in the primary schools. The publication of articles in Polish was forbidden and the teaching of the language was punished by fine and imprisonment. In 1876 Russification was extended to the courts of justice and Polish officials were replaced by Russians. It cannot however be said that the policy was consistently enforced; it was for instance mitigated under Count Berg who succeeded Milyutin in 1867 and devoted himself to conciliating Polish society, and again by Count Schuvalof and Prince Imeritinsky, successors to the Draconian Gen. Gurko who reigned from 1883 to 1894. Roman Catholicism was, however, from the first recognized as “the backbone of Polish Nationalism” and consistently attacked. At the outset the monasteries were closed, the ecclesiastical lands confiscated and the Union with Rome assailed by compelling Uniates to become Catholics. This religious persecution was carried on with very slight intermittence until 1905, when religious freedom was first permitted.
The most interesting feature in the process of Russification, however, was the attempt made to break the power of the old historic families and bring the peasants into close union with Russia. The emancipation of the peasants which had been urged before the revolution was effected by the Ukases of 1864. Each peasant, whatever his tenure had been, and the mass of the landless became freeholders, which was a constant cause of class friction, and they were allowed to retain their right of free access to the forests and pastures of the landlord. To the landlords compensation was given in the form of Treasury Bonds so that they might have a lasting interest in the maintenance and solvency of the Russian Empire. Village affairs were placed in the hands of a Commune (Gromada) consisting entirely of peasants, who from ignorance and inexperience soon fell under the influence and mastery of the officials; while the landlords were represented in the organization of the district.
The basic idea of the system was the accentuation of class divisions, for it was hoped thus to create a class independent of, and antagonistic to, the Polish landlord and bound by ties of gratitude to Russia. These hopes were not realized for it was these peasant communes which provided centres for the educational movement at the end of the century and foci for the spread of the idea of Polish nationality.
From the emancipation of the serfs can further be traced the economic changes which took place in the latter half of the 19th century. By the splitting-up into small parcels of the large estates an ever increasing class of peasant proprietors was instituted because the small freeholders, who included in their numbers members of the smaller gentry or Schlachta, as well as the former serfs, desired to increase their holdings and found themselves more and more able to pay the prices demanded by the landlords. Though the kingdom of Poland was and remains essentially an agricultural country, a great industrial change has also taken place. Whereas in 1863 the towns were still in a primitive state of development, by the end of the century great industrial centres had appeared. Competition with Russian industry was a different thing to competition with German industry, especially under the protection of the Russian tariff wall. Hence the growth of a strong middle class in which the Jews took a considerable part, some of the leading Jewish families even marrying into and being received as part of Polish society in Warsaw. The economic development became a strong bond of union with Russia and Polish textiles penetrated through the empire as far as Turkestan.
The practical exclusion of the Poles from the Russian army and administration threw back the abler and more ambitious of the upper classes among them on other employment, and strengthened this middle class and brought a new influence to bear on national life in Congress Poland. Hence practical economic reform improvement became the order of the day and the habit of theorizing on the subject of political independence fell into the background. But these improvements again could not long avoid a political aspect and hence the formation of Socialist and Democratic associations.
These Socialist societies, however, had always a Nationalist tendency because capital was largely in German and Jewish hands. The most noteworthy was the National Democratic party which came into existence before the end of the century, after several earlier revolutionary societies had failed, and set to work by means of private educational efforts to oppose Russification and definitely awaken the spirit of nationality. During the troubles which succeeded the Russo-Japanese War this party, under the leadership of M. Dmowski, formed “the army of the national movement” and in the First Duma held an important and in the Second a controlling position, but its influence was diminished by the reduction of the membership at the election of the Third Parliament. Outside Russia an important movement took place in 1908, thanks to the rise of the Neo Slav party, which aimed at effecting a reconciliation between Russia and Poland, and this platform was adopted at Pan Slav Congress held at Prague in 1908, for it was felt that the Poles would be the first victims of a victorious advance of Germany, now the most dangerous enemy (it was held) of the Polish cause.
The Russian Government was, however, recovering from the blows of the revolution of 1905 and unwilling to consider the grant of autonomy for Poland, and in the Duma even the support of the Constitutional Democrats was withdrawn when the Polish Club in the Austrian Reichsrat encouraged in 1908 the incorporation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Habsburg dominions. The failure of its plans caused the break-up of the National Democratic party. Its place was taken by Socialist societies antagonistic to Russia. Hence at the outbreak of the World War feeling in Russian Poland was divided.
Prussian Poland.—The Congress of Vienna in 1815 had stipulated that the Poles should receive “a representation and national institutions.” In the duchy of Posen the national rights of the Poles were recognized and for some years the policy adopted by Prussia was one of conciliation rather than oppression, while the needs of the country, such as those as to education and communications and the emancipation of serfs, were efficiently provided for. It was not till 1830 that any system of Germanization was introduced and even that was enforced with no great severity for the twenty years after 1851. But when Bismarck was able to turn his attention from Austria and France to Poland he found that under the mild rule that had prevailed the Poles had been able to develop a national movement which had indeed a parliamentary group in Berlin and had to be reckoned with in the Reichstag, but the strength of which lay in societies such as that founded by Marcinkowski in 1842 which had brought an educated class of Polish doctors, lawyers, merchants and tradespeople into existence. By means of propaganda this movement had increased rapidly to a position more formidable than that previously engineered by the historic families and was in fact “undermining the foundations of the Prussian State.” As a counter-stroke to an organization which he realized was strengthened and to some extent led by the priests, Bismarck in 1872 undertook the Kulturkampf, hoping thereby to crush out the growing conception of Polish nationality. The Archbishop of Gnesen- Posen, the chief leader of the Roman Catholic party, was imprisoned, the liberty of the pulpit was denied, the use of the Polish language was prohibited in the schools and attempts were made to forbid its use at public meetings. The Kulturkampf was continued till 1885 and in spite of its failures Bismarck's policy seemed assured of success when Dinder was appointed Archbishop of Gnesen and the onslaught of the schools began.
The history of Prussian Poland in later years turns to a great extent upon the economic question. The industrial development of Germany had brought about a great immigration of Polish labourers to work as agriculturists in eastern Germany and as miners in Westphalia. Bismarck descried danger here and after unsuccessfully trying to prevent it by expelling the immigrants essayed to counteract it by further Germanization of Poland. The appointment of the Land Commission in 1886 with £5,000,000 to buy land from Poles in Posen and W. Prussia and sell it to German colonists was the first step in the policy of German colonization which was pursued till the outbreak of the war. It is true that under Caprivi the severity of the anti-Polish policy was relaxed, but under Prince Hohenlohe it was reinforced and in 1894 the Ostmarken Verein was founded to obtain the trade of the eastern provinces exclusively for Germans and undermine the Polish element. Under Count Bulow the culminating point was reached in 1908 when the compulsory expropriation bill was passed with the bill prohibiting the use of Polish at ordinary public meetings. More colonists were now introduced and the sale of their land to Poles was forbidden. There were signs all through of the failure of this policy, such as the strike of the school children in 1906 against the use of the German language in religious instruction, and these signs were multiplied in the economic sphere. For here the Poles, acting on the principle that they would be masters when they were “better, more educated and richer than the Germans,” had definitely set themselves to the task of defeating the Germans economically. The land that was bought for colonists was poor land and bought at high prices. The German colonists were boycotted to such an extent that they were forced to withdraw or become Polonized and the Polish position actually seemed to grow stronger as the legislation became more severe. The incorruptible Prussian official, the inexorable Prussian schoolmaster and the brutal Prussian drill sergeant had disciplined a talented people hitherto uncultured and rendered them capable of organizing and acting for themselves. By means of their cooperative societies which dealt with agriculture, finance, industry and commerce they obtained complete control of the resources of the country to the exclusion of the Germans and the Jews. They also founded unions of landowners, social, athletic and political associations. The heads of all these societies before the war formed a sort of secret Cabinet which exercised the chief power in Prussian Poland with a preponderating influence in the local Press, with power to control the supply of immigrant labour and secretly direct the boycott both of Ger- mans and of Jews. In fact when victory came the assumption of political supremacy was not the first but the last step to complete independence.
The success of the Poles of Prussia may have been one of the elements which led Pilsudski to put his money on the wrong horse at the beginning of the World War, believing that Germany would be obliged to make of Poland a buffer State against the eternal menace of the Russian Empire.
Austrian Poland.—The lot of the Poles in the Austrian Empire with its purely non-national basis was preferable to that under Prussia or Russia. In the former they had by fighting obtained a tolerable position. In the latter the severities were intermittent and could be mitigated by bribery. In Austria there was always a certain amount of bonhomie or Gemütlichkeit which made official harshness tolerable. The history, however, of Austrian Poland from 1863 to 1914 can be understood only by reference to certain governing facts, namely the imperialist opportunism of the monarchy and the racial problem presented by the rise of the Ruthenian movement in Galicia.
During the years immediately following the revolution of 1863, the Galician Poles, under the influence of bitter disillusionment, resolved to concentrate all their efforts not on recovering political unity with the boundaries of 1772, but on preserving and strengthening national unity within the Austrian Monarchy. German culture and the German language constituted the unifying and predominant force in the Habsburg Monarchy, but after the war of 1866 and under the constitution of 1867 Austrian Germans had to look for allies amongst the other nationalities. The Poles had to decide whether they would support the aims of the Federalist party with its disruptive tendencies or whether they would favour the German element and adhere to the Vienna Government. They followed the latter course and promised loyalty in return for practical concessions. Having 57 votes in the Reichsrat they were able to secure useful privileges for Galicia. In 1867 they obtained a special minister for Galicia in the Austrian Cabinet; a separate board for Galician education; the use of the Polish language in secondary schools; the use of Ruthenian being restricted to elementary schools; the use of Polish instead of German in administration and the law courts. In the following year Polish became the official language for the university of Cracow, whilst a year later it was enacted that Poles alone should be teachers in the universities of Cracow and Lemberg. From 1877 onwards the “Polish Club” in the Reichsrat became a governmental party and used all its influence to build up piecemeal the fabric of Polish autonomy in Galicia. On the whole the Poles did not use their power well. By the establishment of an academy of science at Cracow they did indeed encourage learning, but they did nothing to improve the economic condition of the people. The peasants remained ignorant and thetowns were neglected. No Polish middle class was created and hence the Jewish element predominated in trade and commerce. Galicia was rapidly Polonized but only at the expense of the Germans and the Ruthenians, and on their oppression of these last the history of Austrian Poland up to and after the war to a great extent depends.
The Ruthenians have been described by Prof. Alison Phillips as a compact body of 30,000,000 occupying the country “from the north-eastern district of Hungary across the Carpathians and E. Galicia” and eastwards as far as the Dnieper. They were then ruled partly by Russia and partly by Austria, but have always been claimed by the Russians as part of their race. Indeed little doubt was expressed on the subject till a movement was started about the middle of the 19th century by certain Ruthenian scholars, who set out to prove they had a right to a separate national existence. The real impetus of the movement was economic and arose from the discontent of the peasant with the oppression of their Russian and Polish landlords. It was some 20 years before the importance of the danger of the movement was realized. From the Polish point of view it was dangerous because it challenged their supremacy in “the annexed provinces” in Podolia, Volhynia and Eastern Galicia. From the Russian point of view it was disastrous because it threatened to break up the Russian Empire. In Galicia, where in addition to the language the Greek Uniat Church formed a strong bond of union, the movement prospered in spite of the Polish efforts to suppress it, which were at first supported by the Austrian Government. This support continued as long as Austria desired good relations with Russia, that is until in 1884 it was desired to weaken the Russian colossus. Then concessions were made to the Ukrainians and the result was that in 1891 Ukrainophil deputies appeared in the Reichsrat with the development of an Ukrainian State within the monarchy inscribed on their banner. This policy had the effect of promoting a reconciliation between Russia and the Galician Poles, who thought it better that the Galician Ruthenes should be absorbed by Russia than that a Ruthene State should be set up at the expense of both Russians and Poles. To retain their ascendancy, therefore, the Poles proceeded to encourage the Russophil Ruthenians, with the result that the latter were successful in 1907 in the election which followed the establishment of universal suffrage in the Austrian half of the Dual Monarchy.
In 1908 the Neo Slav Congress definitely declared that Russian Neo Slavs and Poles should act in conjunction to suppress the movement, a decision which met with no approval from the Austrian Government because Russia and later Austria were then at daggers-drawn in the Balkans and a new viceroy was appointed in Galicia who was definitely anti-Russian. The culminating point was reached in 1914, when it was discovered that the Ukrainian party was and had been for ten years past in close touch with the Prussian Ostmark Verein which was opposed to everything Polish. The Galician Poles had realized the complete subservience of Austria to the German Emperor and this produced a great change in their attitude to the Habsburgs, so much so, that the murder of the Archduke was received with almost indecent expressions of satisfaction, because to him was ascribed the success of the Ukraine movement in 1913.
Poland During the World War.—Thus the declaration of war in 1914 found the Poles with no definite national policy. The various political parties were united in that they had one common end in view, the restoration of an independent Poland, but their opinions were divided as to the means of attaining this end. In Galicia the majority of the Poles were pro-Austrian. In Russian Poland the National Democrats, under the leadership of M. Dmowski, were strongly in favour of working for an autonomous Poland under the Russian crown, and this policy seems to have been supported by the majority of the Russian Poles. In opposition to this party was a strong anti-Russian element, of which the most notable supporter was Pilsudski. Having been forced to flee from Russian Poland in 1907 Pilsudski had taken refuge in Galicia, where he had utilized the sokols (athletic clubs) and shooting clubs for the purpose of organizing an efficient military force to use against Russia in case of war. At the outbreak of war he mobilized his forces, as the Polish Legion, and, advancing across the border, seized Kielce. The actual military result was of no great importance, but “it soon became clear that his bold decisive action had powerfully impressed the national mind.”
On Aug. 14, in answer to the anti-Russian campaign which the Germans had been organizing in Warsaw, the Grand Duke Nicholas issued a proclamation announcing Russia's intention of establishing a united Poland “under the sceptre of the Russian emperor,” a Poland which was to be “free in faith, language and in self-government.” By the National Democrats this proclamation was welcomed as being the first stage towards the fulfilment of their aims. By the followers of Pilsudski, however, the proclamation was received with no favour: proposals for conciliation with Russia tended only to emphasize Polish divisions.
Polish resistance to the Russians took a political as well as a military form. On Aug. 16 two existing Polish organizations, the Confederation of Independent parties and the Polish Military chest (skarb), were merged in the Supreme National Council of Galicia, which contained representatives of all parties in the Galician Diet and Reichsrat. Though the National Council was formed with the object of offering political resistance to the Russians, it was not altogether in agreement with Pilsudski and his legionaries. It was inclined to be monarchical whilst Pilsudski was Socialist Republican. Accordingly the Council laid down the following regulations: The Polish legions were to form a separate Polish command but to be subject to the Austrian Army Command. The Polish language was to be used. Legionaries were to take the Austrian Landsturm oath and F. M. L. Durski, a Pole in the Austrian service, was placed in command. Pilsudski, having taken the oath under protest, was given the command of the first regiment.
At first both the Austrians and the Germans distrusted the movement as they stood to lose should Pilsudski achieve the national independence for which he was working. Austria moreover was hostile to any idea of Polish union and to anything which might lead to increased autonomy in Galicia. Recruiting, therefore, was forbidden. Later the Germans, realizing that the strength of Russia would be decreased as the strength of the Polish legions was increased, allowed recruiting to take place among the Russian Poles.
The Galician situation, however, was somewhat changed by the Russian advance. On Sept. 2 Lemberg was taken by Russian troops and for the moment “the Austrian solution was at a discount.” The divisions among the Galician Poles became apparent. By some, who had ties of blood and religion with the Russians, the invasion was welcomed and the new rule accepted with alacrity. The most noticeable effect of the pro-Russian sympathy is to be found in the dissolution of the E. Galician Legion, which took place in Oct. and which caused an estrangement between the Conservatives of the National Committee and the E. Galician Conservatives. Bobrinsky was appointed governor of Lemberg, his policy being that of systematic Russification.
In 1915 the Polish situation was again changed by the military campaigns. On June 22 Lemberg was retaken from the Russians and on Aug. 5 the Germans entered Warsaw: thus German power was established in Russian Poland and Austrian power reestablished in Galicia. Among the Poles themselves, in 1915, party differences seemed to decrease. In Dec. the Radical Socialist elements formed a central national committee. It was composed of the Peasants' party; the Union of Workers; the Polish Socialist party and the Club of Polish Statehood (Studnicki). The aim of the league was to work for independence; it was dissolved in Feb. 1917.
By the beginning of 1916 the Polish Legion was well equipped and in June the brigades totalled 18,000. When the Polish independence parties at Warsaw asked for the nomination of Pilsudski as the commander-in-chief of a Polish army all the concessions previously granted by the Germans were withdrawn. Pilsudski then appealed to the Austrians. The Austrians' ideas with regard to Poland had undergone a slight change, and though suspicious of Pilsudski and his legionaries, the Government decided to encourage them in the hope that a union might be effected of the Polish kingdom and Galicia under Austrian protection. In July Pilsudski felt himself in a position to appeal for concessions regarding the substitution of Poles for Austrians as officers in the legion and for the use of the Polish uniform and colours. There was some delay in considering the question of these concessions and as a protest Pilsudski, together with other officers, retired. The Austrians did make and were prepared to adhere to certain concessions. They therefore negotiated with Pilsudski to withdraw his resignation. At this point, however, the German command interfered and Pilsudski was dismissed on the grounds of insubordination. In Oct. the legions were withdrawn from the front.
The Germans and Austrians were in the meantime trying to arrive at some satisfactory solution of the Polish question. The tendency of the Poles themselves was on the whole pro-Austrian, this tendency being strengthened by the union of the province of Chelm (Kholm) to Poland. The first solution proposed by the Germans was that of an independent Polish state under a Habsburg king. This state was to consist of Russian Poland, Galicia, and those parts of Posen where the Poles exceeded 65% of the population. This solution the Austrians would not accept. It was not clear how much of Poland the Germans were willing to give up, but it was clear that their sacrifice would not be so great as that of the Austrians who were to lose all Galicia. The solution proposed by the Austrians was that of a genuinely independent Poland consisting of Galicia and Russian Poland. This new Poland was to be a third co-equal state with Austria-Hungary. The German Chancellor then issued new proposals and after a Polish deputation had been sent to Berlin to discuss the terms an agreement was brought about and the result was the Decree of Independence of Nov. 5. By this decree the Polish districts “snatched from Russian power” were to form an independent state which was to have a hereditary monarchy and a constitution. The organization, training and command of the Polish army were to be settled by mutual agreement.
From the point of view of the Germans the Polish state was to be closely united to the Central Powers, “especially in military matters.” Their ultimate aim was to secure additional manpower against Russia. This settlement was not welcomed by Austria. She “had accepted unwillingly the German scheme as to Poland . . . but she hoped by her scheme of Galician autonomy so to embarrass the German settlement as to revive the Austrian solution which Berlin had rejected."
The independence of Poland was acknowledged on Dec. 20 by a joint Allied note and later in 1917 it was acknowledged by the Revolutionary Government in Russia.
The first attempt of the German Government to organize the new state was not successful. General von Beseler (primarily a savant and geographer), who as military governor held the chief power, issued a decree arranging for the election of 70 members of the Diet in the German sphere of occupation; eight members of the Council of State were to be chosen by these 70, whilst four others and the chairman were to be chosen by the governor-general; all resolutions of the Council of State were subject to the assent of the two governors-general. The unpopularity of this proposed organization was so great that certain modifications were introduced, and the following scheme adopted: the two Governments were to nominate immediately a council of 25, 15 from the German sphere and 10 from the Austrian; they were to elect their own chairman; they had power to regulate internal affairs and economic reconstruction and were to cooperate in the formation of a Polish army. The Council was composed eventually of 11 Conservatives, but no National Democrats, 8 of the Central party (pro-Austrians) and 6 of the Left (Socialists). It was liable to be over-ruled by von Beseler.
The powers of the Council were fairly extensive. “Education and justice were handed over to them practically without reserve; and for the first time for many years the native tongue was again heard in the schools and in the courts of law. Local representative bodies were called into being in the towns and in the country; and in Warsaw the municipality received control of all the public services, including police, prisons, posts (municipal), public sanitation and hygiene.” The finances were handed over to the Council “except in so far as the costs of the occupation” were concerned. A Minister of Political Affairs was appointed but he might hold official relations only with the Central Powers.
One of the first problems facing the new Council in 1917 was that of the economic reconstruction of the country. In his History of the War, John Buchan gives the following description of the condition of Poland under the German domination—“The German policy demanded a wholesale destruction and . . . Poland was methodically laid waste. . . . Only blackened ruins marked the site of villages, and since the German army ate up all supplies, famine stalked through the land. . . . The material damage can scarcely be estimated ... all labour and industry have been swept away.” In addition to the devastation, the currency was depreciated and the Customs, which might have provided revenue, were to go to Germany and Austria.
The Council was responsible for the drawing up of a constitution. A committee was formed in which all shades of opinion were represented. It was decided that a Ministry and a Senate should hold office until a genuine National Assembly could be established. As regards political matters the Council demanded that there should be a regent: that they should be given more control over local government: and that existing ordinances should be modified. These demands were not accepted by von Beseler.
The chief question which occupied the Council was that of the army. Pilsudski was attempting to raise a strong national army which would give the Council more chance of enforcing its decisions, but he was not prepared to raise it for German use.
The meeting of Council in which the political demands were formulated took place on May 1. Only unimportant concessions in education and justice were made, therefore on May 17 the Council suspended its functions, though through German intimidation it was forced to resume them on June 9. At the beginning of July three resolutions were passed: proposals for a regency, a Cabinet and a Senate were accepted; a military oath was to be taken exacting loyalty to the Central Powers and to the future king of Poland (thus excluding a republic); and a recruiting appeal was made. These resolutions proved the submission of the Council to Germany, and in protest Pilsudski and five of his supporters resigned.
After the passing of these resolutions on July 3 the Council was discredited. It had failed to cope satisfactorily with the economic crisis and it had failed to produce a practical settlement with regard to the army. As matters stood the army could be used against the Russians but not against the Austrians or the Germans. Finally the Council was discredited by the attitude of the Austrian Poles. The Government had delayed the grant of increased autonomy to Galicia and on May 28 the resentment of the Galician Poles culminated in a conference of Polish members of the Galician Diet and of the Austrian Reichsrat, in which they declared that “the desire of the Polish nation was to have restored an independent and united Poland with access to the sea.” On July 30 Polish discontent was further increased by the arrest of Pilsudski, and a month later the Council resigned.
After the failure of the Council a regency project was introduced. By this scheme there was to be a regency of three, a Cabinet and Premier and a Council of State. The Premier and the Council of State were to be chosen by the Regency Council subject to the approval of the Central Powers. The functions of the Polish authorities were limited to education, justice, public welfare, agriculture, and finance as far as it concerned the departments assigned to their care. They might legislate on matters handed over to them but the German and Austrian governors-general had the right of veto within a fortnight of the completion of the bill. The regency had no control over the army.
Such was the position of the Polish Government at the beginning of 1918. The German domination seemed more complete than it had ever been before. In 1916 the Poles could extract concessions from the Germans in view of the fact that their help was needed against the Russians. That help was no longer necessary, therefore concessions were no longer forthcoming.
When the negotiations opened at Brest Litovsk the Polish Government asked the Central Powers to admit its representatives. In spite of “weighty declarations” made at Berlin the demand was ignored and the Poles were excluded from the conference. On Feb. 9 the Treaty of Brest Litovsk was signed. As far as Poland was concerned the important clause of the Treaty was that which ceded Chelm to the Ukraine. On Aug. 17 1917 the Provisional Government of Russia had recognized Ukrainian autonomy. The Ukrainian state was composed roughly of the following territory: the western parts of the Governments of Lublin and Grodno, and the whole of the Governments of Kiev, Poltava, Kherson, Volhynia, Kharkov, Podolia, Yekaterinoslav, and Chernigov and excluded the Austrian Ukraine. On Nov. 20 1917 the Ukraine declared itself to be a republic and on Jan. 11 1918 the delegates of the Ukrainian Republic were formally recognized at Brest by the Central Powers. The territory of Chelm, which was ceded to the Ukraine at this Treaty, had been handed over to Poland by Austria only in June 1916, but its ownership had been disputed for many years and it had already before been in the possession of the Poles.
As a protest against the lack of consideration shown them at Brest the Cabinet, under Kuchazewski, resigned and the Poles issued a formal protest against the violation of their rights. This, however, made little difference to the German policy, which demanded that Poland should “completely give over all those greater hopes which might be inconvenient to Germany.” This policy was emphasized later in the year when Adml. von Hintze in a speech to the Reichstag proposed an economic union with Poland on the basis of a Customs union or Zollverein, that is to say on the basis of free trade between Poland and Germany.
In April the Poles made a statement of their programme at the Congress at Rome. They declared their aim to be “Reunion into one independent state of all the Polish lands, including those which the Central Empires are refusing to restore to Poland and those which they are bestowing as largess on their vassals.” It was not, however, until the autumn that it seemed possible for them to achieve the end at which they were aiming. In Oct. it became clear that the union of the Poles no longer depended on the wishes of Vienna and Berlin, but rather on the will of the Polish people. In the same month a national Polish Diet was convoked, and in Austria all the Polish parties left the Reichsrat and formed the National Council in Cracow, until there should be “a freely elected Parliament of a United and Independent Poland.” On Nov. 10 Pilsudski, having been released from Germany, arrived in Warsaw and the Council of Regency proclaimed that the German occupation had ceased to exist.
After the Armistice.—The predominating figure in the evolution of the new Polish state was that of Pilsudski, who, on the abdication of the Council of Regency, took the Government of the country into his hands and succeeded in overcoming the internal and external dangers which faced the country after the German collapse.
Pilsudski was by birth a Lithuanian Pole. In 1885 as a student of medicine at Kharkov University he became connected with the Socialist movement and three years later was banished for complicity in the attempt on the life of Alexander III. though in reality he had been strongly opposed to the plot. In 1893 he returned to Poland and became one of the chief founders of the Polish Socialist party in Russian Poland. The aim of this party was the independence of Poland. In 1900 he was arrested on account of his socialistic writings but he escaped to London, after simulating madness, and two years later returned to Poland. At this time he and his associates “adhered to Socialism because they recognized in it the only powerful revolutionary and democratic force of our time and their supreme aim was, by revolutionary means to win Polish Independence.”
In about 1904 Socialism in Poland became a wide popular movement. Pilsudski was responsible for organizing the military element in the new party. Primarily this took the form of the “Fighting Organization” but later systematic military instruction was given by means of Rifle Clubs, with the object of establishing a force which would be used in armed revolution against Tsarist Russia. The war gave them their chance and at its outset they fought against Russia, for “the fight against Tsardom had become to them a second nature.” In 1915, however, Pilsudski stopped recruiting for his Legions, his aim being not to raise an army which was to be used for the purposes of Germany and Austria, but one which would ultimately become the army of an independent Poland. With this object in view Pilsudski created the “Polish military organization.” This organization was carried on secretly and was concerned chiefly with spreading propaganda in favour of a struggle for a Poland independent both of Russia and of the Central Powers. In 1916 after conflict with the Austrian commanders Pilsudski sent in his resignation. The Austrians refused to allow his resignation but when he withdrew his brigade from the front without any previous warning, the Germans insisted upon his dismissal.
After the declaration of Polish independence Pilsudski was called upon to help in the formation of a Polish army, but this he refused to do, on the principle that a Polish army must not be formed without a true Polish national Government to direct it. In the summer of 1917 he demanded concessions from the Germans, and, in view of the feeble attitude taken up by his colleagues, he withdrew from the Council, at the same time ordering his followers in the Legions to refuse to take the oath. As a result about four-fifths of the Legion were disbanded. He was arrested subsequently by the Germans and imprisoned at Magdeburg. During his imprisonment the Polish military organization continued to develop secretly and when Pilsudski was released by the German Revolution in Nov. 1918 this organization formed the basis of the Polish army.
When Pilsudski returned to Poland in Nov. he found the country confronted with serious dangers. There was no effective Government, the Council of Regency having been dependent upon German control; the anarchy in Russia threatened to spread into Poland, and finally the danger was augmented by the 30,000rebel German troops which were still in the country. On Nov. 14 the Council of Regency abdicated, leaving the supreme power in Pilsudski's hands. His first work was to establish an army on the foundations laid by the Polish military organization. Through the prompt formation of the army the danger from the German troops was removed and the Bolsheviks were temporarily held back. Pilsudski's next work was to constitute a Government. “Only a Left government,” it was well said, “with a programme of constructive democratic reform, could retain authority in the State. Pilsudski therefore formed the Labour Government of M. Moraczewski, and so forced the Left in this critical hour to undertake positive work instead of fruitless opposition and chaotic revolt.”
At the end of 1918, therefore, Pilsudski had become the head of the Polish State. The fundamental principle which underlay his policy throughout this period was that of pushing on the Polish State in the “path of modern organic social and political life.” He realized that it was social reconstruction, not social unrest, which would consolidate the new state and enable it to hold its own against the anarchic elements which threatened its existence. In the New Europe in June 1920 Pilsudski's achievements were thus described: “Socialist, agitator and Leader: Brigadier-General in the Austrian Army: Head of the Polish State: the changes are kaleidoscopic. He has now undoubtedly ranged behind him the great majority of the Polish people, including some of his old enemies, the National Democrats; and this success is one of the greatest tests of his ability, because Poland contains at least a score of political parties.”
The first political event of importance in 1919 was the formation of a new Cabinet under M. Paderewski. At the beginning of the year there had been elements of discord between the Government at Warsaw and the Polish National Council which had been formed during the war in Paris, and of which M. Paderewski was the most prominent member. At the beginning of Jan., however, an agreement was made and when M. Moraczewski resigned his office as Premier, Paderewski succeeded him. The chief difficulties which faced the new Cabinet were that of the Bolshevik advance and the economic condition of the country of which the worst feature was famine.
At the beginning of Feb. a general election for a Constituent Assembly was held, and resulted in a victory for the non-Socialist parties, supporting Paderewski. The actual figures are reported to have been: Ministerial party 400, Socialists 80, and Jews 15.
In the summer of 1919 Paderewski, as Premier, was responsible for laying the Treaties of Peace before the Polish Parliament. The terms concerning Poland were briefly as follows:—Poland received the larger part of Posen and part of W. Prussia. A plebiscite was to determine the settlement of Masuria and Upper Silesia. Danzig was to be a free city under the protection of the League of Nations. This city was to be included within the Polish customs frontiers and its foreign relations and the protection of its citizens abroad were to be entrusted to Poland. “Poland also received the right of freely using and of developing and improving all water-ways, docks, and wharfs within the territory of the free city; and the control and administration of the Vistula river, and, subject to some restrictions, of the railway, postal and telegraph systems of Danzig.” The actual details were to be settled later by a treaty between Poland and the free city. A provisional boundary was laid down between Poland and Russia, roughly corresponding to the course of the Vistula. In addition to these territorial changes, it was agreed to embody in “a treaty with the Allied and Associated Powers such provisions as may be deemed necessary by the Powers to protect the interests of inhabitants of Poland who differ from the majority of the population in race, language or religion,” and also “such provisions as they may deem necessary to protect freedom of transit and equitable treatment of the commerce of other nations.”
The clauses concerning Danzig, and the plebiscites for Masuria and Upper Silesia could not fail to be met with disfavour in Poland as the territories were claimed as being Polish either historically or ethnographically. Moreover, the Poles resented the suggestion that they would oppress the national minorities in the country, and felt that the inclusion of this clause was unnecessary. In spite of these objections, the Peace Treaty was passed by the Parliament on Aug. 1 by 285 votes to 41.
At the end of Nov. a bill was drafted with proposals for a new constitution. It was proposed:—that the vote should be given to all citizens of both sexes over 21; that the National Assembly should be elected every four years; that there should be a bicameral form of Government, the Senate being quite small; that the President should be elected every seven years and that his powers should be considerable. The actual constitution was not finally drawn up, however, until March 1921.
In Dec. a political crisis took place, resulting in the resignation of M. Paderewski. It was decided by the Allied and Associated Powers that Eastern Galicia should be given autonomy for 25 years under the protection of Poland, after which settlement was to be made by plebiscite. Although the majority of the inhabitants of Eastern Galicia were Ruthenians the Poles claimed the territory and this decision of the Powers caused an outcry in Warsaw. Paderewski's explanations carried no conviction and he was forced to resign. On Dec. 15 it was announced that M. Skulski would form a Ministry.
During 1919 the Poles, with Gen. Pilsudski as their commander-in-chief, were engaged in three wars. Two of them, with the Ukrainians and the Czechoslovaks, were not of great importance. Hostilities were started with the Ukrainians on account of the disputed territories in Galicia. At the beginning of the following year a settlement was made after which the Poles and the Ukrainians joined forces to fight the Bolsheviks. The dispute with the Czechoslovaks was also on the subject of disputed territory. The duchy of Teschen, though small, is valuable because of its coking-coal and thriving industries, and for this reason both Poles and Czechs were anxious to possess it. In the summer of 1920 the dispute was settled by a decision of the Coun- cil of Ambassadors, which awarded to the Czechs the whole mining region and the chief railway running through the territory. As a result the town of Teschen is cut in two.
The third and most important war was that with the Bolsheviks. The war was caused by the German troops evacuating the eastern territories in a way which was contrary to agreement and which allowed the Bolsheviks to occupy the territory before the Polish troops could be brought up. The local population in the occupied zones appealed to the Poles for aid and, as a further advance seemed imminent, the Poles were forced to fight. The Poles have been accused of entering into this war with the Bolsheviks with imperialistic and aggressive aims. It seems clear, however, that this was not the case. The Polish army was small and was engaged in hostilities elsewhere and the financial and industrial condition of the country was such that unnecessary war would not be undertaken.
The policy of the Allies throughout 1919 was vacillating. At first direct military intervention was attempted but was given up. Later ammunition and war materials were sent to Denikin and Kolchak. Finally the “barbed-wire” policy was suggested, in which Poland was to play a leading part among the states which were to act as a barrier round Russia. This policy, however, lasted only 28 days.
In the autumn the Bolsheviks were prepared to make peace, on Poland's terms, and an armistice was suggested. M. Paderewski was advised by the Allied Powers to refuse these terms and to continue fighting. By the end of the year no further negotiations had been proposed.
During 1920 Poland “served as the centre of the resistance to the spread of Bolshevism,” and her political history is very much bound up with her military history. In the spring there were some more peace negotiations, but as before these came to nothing. On April 27 a strong Polish offensive was begun, chiefly to the S. of the Pripet marshes. The Poles advanced rapidly, capturing guns and war material, and on May 8 they entered Kiev. The Bolsheviks, owing to the defeat of Kolchak and Denikin, were now able to concentrate all their forces against Poland and in May opened a counter-offensive campaign. There was serious fighting between the Dnieper and Dvina and the Poles were forced to retreat.
In June a change of Government took place, a non-party Government being formed by M. Grabski. In view of the continued retreat of the Poles the Premier was sent to the Spa Conference to ask for help from the Allied Powers. In July Lord Curzon, as representative of the British Government, proposed negotiations on the basis of the acceptance of the provisional boundary laid down by the Peace Conference, corresponding roughly to the boundary of the Governments of the Vistula. On July 20 these terms were refused by the Bolsheviks.
In Warsaw another change took place in the Government, a War Cabinet being formed, which consisted of M. Witos, M. Daszynski, M. Grabski, M. Skulski, with Prince Sapieha as Foreign Minister. The policy of the new Cabinet was “to defend the full independence of the Polish Republic and conclude a just and lasting peace.”
The Bolshevik advance had, in the meantime, been steadily continuing and by Aug. 14 they were within 12 m. of Warsaw. Even if Warsaw had fallen it is possible that the Poles might have made a successful resistance, based upon the western province of Posen, which is in many respects the most important province of the new state. The end of July and the beginning of Aug. saw further attempts for peace. On July 30 Polish officers were allowed to cross the Russian lines to conclude an armistice but they were forced to return with nothing accomplished as they were not authorized to sign the preliminaries of peace with which the Bolsheviks presented them. At the beginning of Aug. a peace conference at Minsk was arranged. As made known to Mr. Lloyd George the chief terms proposed by the Bolsheviks were: the reduction of the Polish army to 50,000, together with a small civic militia; the surrender by the Poles of all arms and war materials with the exception of those necessary for the reduced army; and the demobilization of all war industries.
Owing to Russian procrastination the peace conference was not held until Aug. 17, by which date the military situation had changed with remarkable rapidity. The Russians had advanced too fast and too far and were not prepared for any sudden counter-offensive. When Gen. Pilsudski, therefore, organized a general counter-attack the Bolshevik armies collapsed and retreated in disorder. By Aug. 21 the Poles had entered Brest Litovsk.
When, on Aug. 17, the conference opened at Minsk it was discovered that there was a difference between the terms actually offered by the Bolsheviks and those previously transmitted to Mr. Lloyd George. The terms relating to the civic militia were considerably enlarged. It was in reality to take the form of a force of armed trades-unionists, 200,000 strong and organized after the regular Soviet pattern. In short it was an attempt to foist Bolshevism on to Poland. The military situation, however, made it impossible for the Russians to enforce their terms.
In Sept. negotiations were moved to Riga, where on Oct. 12 the final treaty was signed. In the N. Poland obtained direct access to Lettland on the Dvina above Dvinsk. The Poles obtained Baranovichi, Pinsk, Kovel, Rovno and the whole extent of the Baranovichi–Rovno railway. With these boundaries the area of the new state is about 148,000 sq. m., and the population about 30 millions, but of this no accurate estimate can be yet formed. Poland ranks as the sixth state of Europe in size and population, and is by far the most important of the new states which the war has produced in eastern Europe.
In addition to the war with the Bolsheviks Poland was concerned with other foreign affairs. The treaty between Poland and Danzig was signed in 1921 but in the meantime there was “an unhappy amount of friction between the Poles, the Germans of Danzig and the British High Commissioner representing the League of Nations.” The Poles in Danzig were frequently mobbed and in the summer of 1920, during the crisis in the Bolshevik war, guns and war material sent from the Allied Powers were held up in the port by the people of Danzig.
After Sept. 1920 there was friction with Lithuania. When the Bolsheviks retreated from Vilna both the Poles and the Lithuanians claimed the city, the Poles on the grounds of the language and population, the Lithuanians on the grounds of historical tradition. The Lithuanians at first took possession of Vilna but later Zeligowski with an army of White Russians turned out the Lithuanians and established an independent Polish Government.
The Jewish Question.—One of the most important questions to be considered by the new Polish State is that of the Jews. Numerically they form roughly one-seventh of the population. In Warsaw a third of the population are Jews: in many provincial towns four out of every five inhabitants are Jews and in some nine out of ten, and of these the vast majority are Eastern Jews who in language, religion and customs differ from the population. Their language is Yiddish, a Middle-High German dialect; for the purposes of writing, Hebrew characters are used. Their dress is peculiar to themselves and their unclean habits and low standards of conduct “are neither European nor modern.” The Western Jew is the more civilized type which is generally found in western Europe, speaking the language and conforming to the habits of Western civilization.
The Eastern Jew is essentially a business or commercial man, but rarely a producer. He is usually a middleman or intermediary. In towns the majority of the shops are owned by Jews, but they are a race apart, hated and despised by the rest of the population, devoted to their religion, which is a primitive type of Judaism.
The Jews have been settled in Poland between 800 and 1,000 years so that they can hardly be considered “strangers” in the land, in fact the Slavs cannot be considered very much more native than they. It was not, however, until about 20 years ago that the present quarrel between the Jews and the Poles began. The Tsarist Government drove the Jews out of Russia but gave them exceptional advantages in Poland. These Litvaks (as they were called) openly professed themselves the partisans of Russia and founded the Jewish press which set to work openly to fight against Polish autonomy. The Poles attacked the Jews before the war by means of a national boycott, the only means by which one subject race could attack another. During and after the war the hostility to the Jews was increased by the fact that in the German occupation the Jew was the willing tool of the invader, and by the close connexion between the Jews and Bolshevism. The hostility to the Jew was marked in 1918 and 1910 by excesses in which some 200–300 have in fact been killed, but which have been enormously exaggerated by the Jewish press.
The following recommendations for the future treatment of the Jews in Poland were made by Sir Stuart Samuel in his report on his mission to Poland (Cmd. 674, 1920):—That the Polish Government be urged to carry out the clauses of the Minority Treaty of June 28 1919, in a spirit of sympathy with its Jewish subjects. That a genuine and not a “masked” equality be accorded to the Jewish population of Poland. That all outrages against the person and property of the subject, irrespective of race or religion, should be promptly punished and the names of the delinquents published. That the Jews in E. Galicia be restored to their official positions in the same manner as non-Jews have been. That no restrictions should be placed upon the number of Jews admitted to the universities. That a decree be published declaring boycotts illegal, and ordering all publications advocating boycott to be suspended. That all prisoners in internment camps be brought to immediate trial, and that humane treatment be assured to all interned prisoners. That facilities be afforded for the introduction of new industries into Poland with a view to converting a larger proportion of the Jewish population into producers. That the British Government should assist Jews wishing to emigrate from Poland by providing facilities to proceed to countries such as Palestine, Canada, S. Africa, Algeria and S. America, or any other country desiring to receive them. That banks be established possessing the confidence of the Jewish public, so that money might be deposited therein instead of being carried on the person or concealed in dwellings. Finally, that the desirability of a secretary who understands and speaks Yiddish being added to the staff of H.M. Legation at Warsaw be considered.
Capt. Peter Wright, in his very valuable and interesting report states (Cmd. 674, 1920, pp. 17–36) that the great majority of the poor Jews are of the Eastern type and extreme orthodoxy (Chassidin). They form an immense mass of squalid and helpless poverty and Capt. Wright's only recommendation is that the richer Jews should study the condition of the poor Jews who either trade as small middlemen, as hawkers or touts, or labour as unskilled, or almost unskilled, and fill the sweating dens as sweaters or sweated when they emigrate. They are driven into all sorts of illicit and fraudulent practices and in England, in the East End of London, too large a proportion of convictions for such offence can be laid to their account. They are unfit for the modern economic world for want of education and for Western society because of their habits and want of cleanliness. They are devoted to their strange old religion but as they grow rich their piety, as the Chief Rabbi told Capt. Wright, is destroyed by wealth and they take too little interest in their poorer brethren. No one who knows Poland can be surprised at the Polish attitude or the desire of the Poles to be rid of this corrupting influence.
Poland in 1921.—It was still impossible in the autumn of 1921 to make any final or definite statement with regard to the boundaries of Poland; as regards Lithuania the situation remained unsettled, and it was only in Oct. that a decision favourable to Poland in respect to Upper Silesia resulted from the award of the League of Nations (see Silesia).
Working on the principle of national rights it was attempted at the Peace Conference to make the boundaries of Poland conform to ethnographic divisions. A commission was appointed, under M. Cambon, which was to deal with the Polish question and submit drafted proposals to the Supreme Council. The first report of the commission concerned the western boundaries, the proposals being as follows: The larger part of Posen and Upper Silesia should be transferred to Poland, “leaving Germany the western, predominantly German-speaking districts of both territories.” According to the German census of 1910 the Poles formed about 65% of the population in the two areas ceded to Poland. In addition Poland was to be given “the central and eastern zones of the province of West Prussia, including both banks of the lower Vistula and Danzig,” though racially the latter was distinctly German. The settlement in the case of the district of Allenstein, that is to say the southern zone of E. Prussia, was to be referred to a plebiscite.
These proposals were not accepted without modification, as it was urged by Mr. Lloyd George that they were terms to which the Germans would never agree. In the first place a modification was made with regard to the territory round Marienwerder on the E. bank of the Vistula. Instead of being transferred to Poland outright this territory was to be subjected to a plebiscite. More important, however, was the change introduced in the matter of Danzig. It was decided that Danzig and the small adjacent district were to form a free city under the protection of the League of Nations. Poland received the right of freely using all the water-ways, docks and wharfs and was to have the control and administration of the Vistula river. Later a third modification was made with regard to Upper Silesia, when it was decided that in this territory too there should be a plebiscite.
The results of the plebiscite in the Marienwerder and Allenstein districts were in favour of Germany, a result which was largely due to the number of Germans who were imported into the territory. The plebiscite in Upper Silesia was likewise in favour of Germany as a whole, though in many districts there was an immense Polish majority.
The southern boundary of Poland is that of Galicia. In the N.E. the boundary between Poland and Lithuania was still unsettled in 1921 and the Poles were still in possession of Vilna, the capital of Lithuania.
With regard to the eastern boundary between Poland and Russia nothing definite could be settled at the Peace Conference as there was no recognized Russian Government with which to carry on negotiations. In order to facilitate the work of the Warsaw Government in organizing local administration in the part of Russian Poland which was certain to be ceded by Russia, a provisional eastern boundary was proposed which would include all the territory which might be regarded as having “an indisputably Polish ethnic majority.” All the territories to the W. of this line were to belong unconditionally to Poland, whilst the territories to the E. were to be settled by future negotiations with Russia. Roughly speaking this provisional boundary corresponded to the old boundary of the Governments of the Vistula. This provisional boundary has since become known as the “Curzon Line.” When the Poles appealed, in the summer of 1920, for help against the Bolsheviks an attempt was made by the British Government to secure peace. Lord Curzon, acting on behalf of the Government, proposed the acceptance of this line as the basis of the peace terms. The Poles being unwilling to sacrifice lands which were inhabited by an incontestably Polish population would not agree to this settlement and were later, at the Treaty of Riga, able to conclude peace with the Bolsheviks on more advantageous terms.
As finally settled at Riga on Oct. 12 1920 the line of the eastern boundary is as follows: Starting from the border of Latvia the line takes a south-easterly direction to Dzisna (Disna), thence S. passing very slightly to the W. of Dokszyce (Dokshitsi); it passes some 30 km. W. of Minsk and, farther S., 90–95 km. E. of Pinsk; it proceeds almost due S. and then slightly S.W. to Ostrog; for some 40 km. it continues in a south-westerly direction and then goes almost due S. again till it reaches the river Zbrucz; the boundary follows the line of this river until it reaches the Dniester, which separates Poland from Rumania.
Constitution.—Poland is a Republic. The legislative power is given to a Diet and a Senate, which are summoned, adjourned and dissolved by the President. The Diet is composed of paid members elected for five years, upon a system of proportional representation. Suffrage is universal—all who enjoy full civic rights and who are over 21 being qualified to vote, but, since voting is personal, soldiers on active service are excluded. Citizens over 25 are eligible for election to the Diet with the exception of members of the Civil Service, who cannot be elected for the district in which they hold office. The minimum age for voting in senatorial elections is 30, whilst no one under 40 is eligible for election.
Bills go to the Senate after being passed by the Diet and if no objection is raised within 30 days the bill becomes law. Amendments are considered and voted on by the Diet. With regard to finance—a budget is fixed each year for the following year; taxes and customs duties can be established only by law and a supreme court of control superintends the management of state finance.
The executive power is exercised by the President and a council of ministers who are responsible for his official actions. He is elected for seven years by the National Assembly, that is, the Diet and Senate acting together. Laws are to be signed by him and by the President of the Council and the minister concerned. The President has the supreme power in the army, except in time of war when the Minister for War is responsible for all military affairs. The President can declare war and make peace only with the consent of the Diet. He has the right of pardon.
For purposes of administration Poland is to be divided into palatinates, districts and urban and rural communes, these forming the units of local government. Economic autonomy is established by means of chambers of agriculture, commerce, industry, etc., which will together form the Supreme Economic Chamber of the Republic, the competence of which required further legislation.
Judges are nominated by the President whilst justices of the peace are popularly elected. Judges can be removed from office only in certain legal cases and following a judicial decision. All citizens are equal in the eyes of the law, protection of life, liberty and property being assured to all inhabitants. State protection is given to labour and insurance for unemployment, illness and accident is guaranteed. Roman Catholicism is the recognized religion of the country but others are allowed provided they are in accordance with the law.
Land must be cultivated from the point of view of public utility. The law is to decide to what extent citizens and independent associations may cultivate the land and exploit its mineral wealth, and in what cases the state may repurchase property to improve the value of its production.
Poland in 1921
Population.—It was still impossible in 1921 to give any accurate statistics with regard to the Polish population of Poland, etc., since the establishment of the new state. The following are the statistics of 1910.
| Kingdom of Poland||9,100,000|
| Lithuania and Ruthenia||2,438,000|
| Spioz Orava, etc.||200,000|
| Other provinces||36,000|
| W. Prussia||604,000|
| E. Prussia||286,000|
| Westphalia, etc.||580,000|
|Different countries of Europe||100,000|
| N. America||3,100,000|
| S. America||100,000|
| Other parts of the globe||30,000|
| Grand total||24,606,000|
Economic Development.—In considering the economic development of Poland the following territories are included: the kingdom of Poland, parts of E. and W. Prussia, Posnania, Silesia and Galicia.
Agriculture.—The majority of the people of these lands, with the exception of Silesia, were engaged in agriculture before the war; the percentage being 56·6 in the kingdom of Poland, 54·1 in Posnania, 49·9 in W. Prussia, whilst in Galicia there were 71 agriculturists per square kilometre.
Arable land predominated. The most important crops were rye, oats, barley, potatoes, wheat and sugar-beet. Agriculture was most highly developed in Prussian Poland where the latest agricultural implements and scientific manures were employed. The breeding of domestic animals, especially horses, showed distinct progress before the war. In the kingdom of Poland pig-breeding was particularly encouraged. Cattle and pigs were most numerous in Posnania and W. Prussia while in Galicia the horned stock were well up to the average for Austria in general.
Of the percentage of area under forest, there was in the kingdom of Poland in 1909 some 18%, in Galicia (1912) 25%, in Posnania 19%, W. Prussia 22% and in Upper Silesia 28%. In E. and W. Prussia more than half the forest area belonged to the state, in Posnania about a third, in Silesia only about 12 per cent.
The kingdom of Poland had 17 agricultural syndicates in 1909, for selling agricultural products and buying machinery, manures, etc., the most important of these being the Central Society of Agriculture, founded in 1907. These societies were most developed in Prussian Poland, particularly in Posnania, where in 1913 there were 388 Polish agricultural societies. There were also numerous cooperative societies. Galicia also possessed agricultural, cooperative and mutual insurance societies.
Minerals.—The most important production in Galicia was that of petroleum, which was estimated, in 1914, as being 3% of the world's output and 9% of that of Europe, including Russia. The petroleum industry has attracted an abundant flow of international capital and has thus been able to adopt every device for profitable exploitation.
The chief coal-fields are those of Silesia where the production in 1911 was some 36 million tons, while that of Galicia was 11, and that of Poland 53 million tons. Other notable mineral industries are those of iron, zinc and lead.
Manufacture.—Of industrial workers Upper Silesia possessed the largest number: 47·7% of its population were engaged in industry (1907). In the kingdom of Poland this proportion was only 15·4% (1897), in Galicia 8·8% (1900), Posnania 23·4%, W. Prussia 24·1% (1907). In the kingdom of Poland the most important industry was the textile, which occupied about 150,000 workers. Cotton manufactures were the most important, wool being second. Before the war this industry was handicapped by the high tariff charged by the Russian Government for the transport of raw material. Second in importance was the metallurgical industry, the most important manufactures being machinery, boilers, materials for bridge building, nails, wire and sheet iron. The manufacture of machinery was of considerable importance in Silesia but less developed in Galicia.
Of other industries that of the potato by-products is most important. More than a quarter of the potatoes produced in Posnania and the greater part of those of Galicia were used for the making of alcohol. Before the war the wood industry was in a poor condition owing to severe German importation duties on manufactured wood, but these duties encouraged the development of the saw-mill industry in Prussian Poland. The coastal fisheries of E. and W. Prussia are of considerable importance; likewise the pond fisheries in Poland, but fishing is generally only a subsidiary occupation.
The industry of Poland was very much influenced by the Jewish population. In the kingdom of Poland before the war nearly 15% of the population was Jewish and the following trades were more or less in their control: leather goods and the boot trade; stocking industry; manufacturing of the so-called “astrakan” caps; malt refuse breweries and small mead breweries; manufacture of paper tubes for cigarettes; and potato starch.
Towns.—The chief towns in the kingdom of Poland were Warsaw, Lodz and Sosnowice which had over 100,000 inhabitants. The principal towns of Galicia are Lemberg (206,000), Cracow (154,000), Przemysl (54,000) and Kolomea (44,000). In 1910 E. Prussia had five towns with a pop. of more than 20,000: Königsberg, Tilsit, Memel, Allenstein, Insterburg. There were in W. Prussia three towns with upwards of 20,000 inhabitants: Danzig, Thorn and Graudenz. In Posnania there is an unusual number of small towns, but there are only nine with more than 10,000 inhabitants; the most important are Posen (154,811 in 1910), Bromberg (70,000), Schneidemühl (27,504), Lissa (17,156). Silesia has seven towns with a pop. of more than 50,000: Breslau (537,000), Görlitz (86,000), Königshütte (72,000), Liegnitz (69,000), Beuthen (67,000), Gleiwitz (64,000) and Zabrze (59,000).
Commnunications.—Of the natural water-ways in Poland the Vistula is the most important. It has 21 tributaries, of which the total length, with that of the river itself, amounts to 7,770 kilometres. In 1864 a convention was made between Russia and Austria for the regulation of the course of the river; in Austria 64·47 % of the work was completed by 1909, in Poland 39·7 per cent. Thus in Poland the Vistula is almost impossible for regular steamer traffic.
The Niemen is navigable from about halfway between Grodno and Kovno to the Prussian frontier. The Pilitsa is navigable for rafts from a point near Novo Radomsk to its junction with the Vistula, so for a small portion of the year is the Bug from the point where it first touches Poland and likewise the Narew for a considerable distance. The Oder affords the products of Silesia an outlet not only to Stettin near its mouth, but also to Berlin and Hamburg with which it is connected by an extensive system of water-ways. The Dniester is used in Galicia only for rafting timber. The chief canals are the Dnieper–Bug Canal; the Augustowo Canal, uniting the Vistula to the Niemen through the Narew; and the Bromberg Canal, uniting the Brahe to the Netze and thus the Vistula to the Oder. Of these the latter is the only canal navigable for large boats and steamers. As regards railways, in 1912 the kingdom of Poland had 2·9 km. per sq. km., the Polish provinces of Prussia had 9·27 km. and Galicia (1911) 5·24 kilometres. As the railways were constructed for the most part from a strategical point of view, industry did not benefit so much from them as it might otherwise have done. The poor railway system between Russia and Danzig was one of the causes of the decline of the trade of that port.
Trade.—With regard to commerce the kingdom of Poland was closely attached to Russia by the protectionist system introduced in 1877 and this made trade with other countries difficult. The interchange of goods with Russia was about 21 times greater than that with other countries. The following were the chief exports: textiles, three-quarters of which went to Russia, though trade with countries further E., notably Persia and Mongolia, was increasing; clothing and boots, which found their chief markets in Russia; horses, poultry and eggs. The chief imports of the kingdom of Poland were: raw wool and cotton from overseas and from Russian Turkestan; iron ore and pig-iron from Russia; cattle from the steppes; and flour from Russia. In 1909 over 1·4 million q.m. of Russian flour was imported, this forming a formidable competitor to Polish milling thanks to special transport rates.
Galicia was united to the fiscal territory of Austria in 1784 and her commercial interests were generally subordinate to the will of the more powerful states of the west. The principal customer of Galicia was Germany. In 1909 the exports of Galicia to Germany amounted to 10·6 million q.m.; the imports from Germany to 6 million q.m. The chief exports were salt and petroleum and wood. The chief imports were: textiles to the value of about 300 million francs; iron and iron goods from Germany; coal, of which 71 million q.m. was imported in 1908.
The industry of the Polish provinces of Prussia began to decline after they were assimilated to the German hinterland. On the other hand, the protective custom tariff acted beneficially on agriculture and the trade in provisions. The principal customers of Posnania were the other states and provinces of Germany. The chief exports were sugar, alcohol and cereals. There were exported annually from 1885–1908 250,000 q.m. of wheat, 2,000,000 q.m. of rye, 410,000 q.m. of barley and 210,000 q.m. of oats. The rye was sent to Bohemia, Austrian Silesia and the kingdom of Poland, rye meal to Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland and Finland. Except for the products of local agriculture and forestry these provinces were entirely dependent on outside sources.
Cooperative credit societies developed vigorously and by 1913 they had together over 75,000 members and deposits of over 202 million francs. The Cooperative Societies' Bank, founded in 1910, formed a financial centre for the societies. With regard to savings banks, by the end of 1912 there were in Galicia 53 banks withamounting to 336 million francs. In Prussian Poland cooperative societies were established on the principles of Schulze-Delitzsch and on the Raiffeisen system—after 1900 buying and selling societies were founded. The Polish credit institutions in Prussia, deriving their capital solely from Polish sources, had at disposal the sum of 498,631,000 francs.
The war left Poland in “a pitiable economic situation.” The country was devastated in the first years of the war and then its resources were drained by the German occupation. The mobilization of Polish industry depends on currency stability, improved transport conditions and an abundance of available coal. The following statistics show the number of industrial workers employed before the war and on Jan. 1 1920:—
|Jan. 1 1920||Per cent as|
|Wood||9,540||. .||. .|
It will be seen that the coal industry has, in spite of housing and provisioning difficulties, increased from the pre-war standard. The production of coal in Congress Poland and Galicia does not suffice to cover the requirements of the countries at present constituting the Polish State. The Reparations Committee assigned to Poland only 250,000 tons of coal per month from Silesia; and the Polish Coal Sub-Committee has granted a lump sum of 450,000 tons of coal. This lack of coal is one of the most serious hindrances to the reorganization of Polish industry.
The oil industry was not much devastated by the war, but for the first five months of 1919 the Boryslaw-Truskawiec basin and that of Bikhov were under Ukrainian administration, and oil had to be used instead of coal for working the shafts. In 1920 about half the textile industry had been mobilized and many factories started in Lodz and also in Czenstochowa, Kalisz and Bielsk. In 1919–20 the output of sugar scarcely amounted to 65% of the expected output, i.e. instead of 500,000 q.m. only 350,000 q.m. were produced. The iron foundries came to a standstill during the war and no plant was left without some essential part wanting. In July 1919 the first blast furnace started work and by the beginning of 1920 a few others were in working order. Steel production is hampered by lack of coal.
Finance.—The revenue of the Russian Treasury of the Kingdom of Poland in 1912 amounted to about 609 million francs and the expenditure amounted to about 371 million francs. From 1905 to 1912 inclusive, the excess of receipts over expenditure in the Kingdom amounted to 1,034 million francs. State officials administered the finance of 116 towns in the Kingdom of Poland. The revenue of Warsaw according to the budget of 1914 was 39 million francs. The rural communes possessed a limited autonomy. In Galicia the largest item contributed to the Austrian State was from the taxes on consumable articles and monopolies. The total receipts were 42·37 francs per inhabitant and the expenditure 26·90 francs per inhabitant. As regards the finance of Galicia as an autonomous province, in 1911 the expenditure amounted to 66 million francs, derived mainly from taxes on articles of consumption and provincial surtax on direct contributions. In the 74 autonomous districts the income amounted to 12 million francs, derived from the surtax on direct contributions and the tolls of the districts. The budget of Lemberg was over 11 million francs and that of Cracow nearly 9 million francs. In Prussian Poland the finance of the Empire was based on indirect contributions, customs yielding the largest return. In Prussia direct contributions played the most important part, the income tax producing 9 million francs in Posnania in 1911, and 7 million francs in W. Prussia. The total of the autonomous taxation of the province, districts and communes amounted to 24 francs 350. per head in Posnania and to 30 francs 01c. in W. Prussia.
In the Kingdom of Poland the chief bank was the State Bank. In 1914 there were 38 private branches accredited to it, five branches of Petrograd large banks and five branches of the Riga Bank of Commerce. In Galicia the most important were the Austro-Hungarian Bank, with 13 Galician branches and 20 branches of Vienna and Tchek Banks. Branches of the Reichsbank and of large German Banks protected the German element in Russian Poland. In addition to these there were joint stock banks for credit for short periods. In the Kingdom of Poland there were nine; the deposits amounted to over 296 million francs in 1914. In Galicia the Mortgage Bank was the largest joint stock bank, which in 1912 discounted bills of exchange for 178 million francs. In Prussian Poland the most important was the Bank of the Federation of Cooperative Societies, which had a capital of 29 million francs in 1916. Credit for long periods depended, in the Kingdom of Poland, on the Land Credit Society and the Peasants' Bank; in Galicia, on the Land Credit Society and the Commission of Rentengüter, and in Prussian Poland chiefly on cooperative credit societies.
Finally Poland was in a crippled condition financially. The mark which was at 40 to the pound sterling in 1919, touched a new low record on June 28, 1921—namely 6,400 to the pound, and after that fell for two days to 9,000 to the pound. This rate of exchange prevented Poland from trading internationally and consequently hindered her economic reconstruction. On July 30 the Polish budget for 1921, the first real balancing of expenditure and revenue produced by any Polish finance minister, was presented to the Diet and showed a deficit of 80,000,000,000 marks (the exchange on that day being about 8,000 to the £) for Russian and Austrian Poland without the Polish part of the Austrian duchy of Teschen. The former Prussian provinces which only came under the Ministry of Finance on Sept. 1 1921 have a surplus of 6,000,000,000 marks which reduces its national deficit to 14,000,000,000 marks.
The Ministry of War was responsible for 30 % of the expenditure, railways for 21 % of the expenditure and food supplies for some 10%. But it may be said that'the existing low rate of exchange gave no real indication of the prosperity of the country. Polish indebtedness was not great (about 6,600,000 at the exchange of July 30 1921), the productive capacity of the country was increasing, and the harvest prospects were excellent.
References.—The one indispensable introduction to things Polish for English readers is the little volume entitled Poland in the Home University Library by Prof. Alison Phillips. In that admirable summary there are but two lacunae. The Exodus to Paris after 1830 and the Jewish question are not adequately treated, but it
contains a good bibliography for beginners, to which there are only a few additions to be made:—Geoffrey Drage, “Pre-war Statistics of Poland and Lithuania,” published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (March 1918); Bruce Boswell, Poland and the Poles (1920); Ralph Butler, The New Eastern Europe (1919); Erasmus Pilz, Poland (1916); Askenazy, Danzig and Poland; Bass, The Peace Tangle (1921); Mandell House Seymour, What Really happened at Paris (1921); Pernot, L'épreuve de la Pologne; Report by Sir Stuart Samuel on his Mission to Poland (Cmd. 674), 1920.
- These figures indicate the volume and page number of the previous article.
- Nelson's History of the War, xviii., 123.
- Butler's The New Europe, p. 113.
- A law was passed by the Diet in 1919 providing that the state should buy land from the nobles and distribute it to the Polish peasantry. Owing to the want of money the law has hitherto been in suspense. The execution of this law might eventually fall under the Chamber of Agriculture.