Second Polish Republic

Republic of Poland
Rzeczpospolita Polska
1918–1939
Anthem: "Mazurek Dąbrowskiego"
(English: "Poland Is Not Yet Lost")
Second Polish Republic in 1930
Second Polish Republic in 1930
CapitalWarsaw
52°14′N 21°1′E / 52°14′N 21°1′E / 52.233; 21.017
Common languagesOfficial:
Polish
Religion 1931 census
Majority:
64.8% Roman Catholicism
Minorities:
11.8% Eastern Orthodox
10.5% Greek Catholic
9.8% Jewish
2.6% Protestant
0.5% Other Christian
0.02% Other
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional republic (1918-1935)
Unitary presidential constitutional (1935-1939)
President 
• 1918–1922
Józef Piłsudskia
• 1922
Gabriel Narutowicz
• 1922–1926
Stanisław Wojciechowski
• 1926–1939
Ignacy Mościcki
Prime Minister 
• 1918–1919 (first)
Jędrzej Moraczewski
• 1936–1939 (last)
Felicjan S. Składkowski
LegislatureSejm
• Upper chamber
Senate
• Lower chamber
Sejm
Historical eraInterwar period
• End of World War I
11 November 1918
28 June 1919
18 March 1921
1 September 1939
17 September 1939
28 September 1939
6 October 1939
Area
1921387,000 km2 (149,000 sq mi)
1931388,634 km2 (150,052 sq mi)
1938389,720 km2 (150,470 sq mi)
Population
• 1921
27,177,000
• 1931
32,107,000
• 1938
34,849,000
CurrencyMarka (until 1924)
Złoty (after 1924)
ISO 3166 codePL
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Poland
German Empire
Russian SFSR
Republic of Zakopane
Ukrainian PR
West Ukrainian NR
Komancza Republic
Lemko-Rusyn Republic
Galician SSR
Galicia and Lodomeria
Republic of Tarnobrzeg
Central Lithuania
Belarusian DR
Nazi Germany
Military Administration
Soviet Union
Lithuania
Slovak Republic
Polish Underground State
Polish-govt in exile
Today part of Poland
 Lithuania
 Slovakia
 Czech Republic
 Belarus
 Ukraine

The Second Polish Republic, commonly known as interwar Poland, refers to the country of Poland in the period between the First and Second World Wars (1918–1939). Officially known as the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska), the Polish state was re-established in 1918, in the aftermath of World War I. When, after several regional conflicts, the borders of the state were fixed in 1922, Poland's neighbours were Czechoslovakia, Germany, the Free City of Danzig, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and the Soviet Union. It had access to the Baltic Sea via a short strip of coastline either side of the city of Gdynia. Between March and August 1939, Poland also shared a border with the then-Hungarian governorate of Subcarpathia. The Second Republic ceased to exist in 1939, when Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic, marking the beginning of World War II in Europe.

In 1938, the Second Republic was the sixth largest country in Europe. According to the 1921 census, the number of inhabitants was 27.2 million. By 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, this had grown to an estimated 35.1 million. Almost a third of population came from minority groups: 13.9% Ukrainians; 10% Jews; 3.1% Belarusians; 2.3% Germans and 3.4% Czechs and Lithuanians. At the same time, a significant number of ethnic Poles lived outside the country's borders.

The political conditions of the Second Republic were heavily influenced by the aftermath of World War I, numerous conflicts with neighbouring states (Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, the Soviet Union) and the emergence of Nazi Germany.

The Second Republic maintained moderate economic development. The cultural hubs of interwar Poland – Warsaw, Kraków, Poznań, Wilno and Lwów – became major European cities and the sites of internationally acclaimed universities and other institutions of higher education.

Background

After more than a century of Partitions between the Austrian, the Prussian, and the Russian imperial powers, Poland re-emerged as a sovereign state at the end of the First World War in Europe in 1917-1918.[1][2][3] The victorious Allies of World War I confirmed the rebirth of Poland in the Treaty of Versailles of June 1919. It was one of the great stories of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.[4] Poland solidified its independence in a series of border wars fought by the newly formed Polish Army from 1918 to 1921.[5] The extent of the eastern half of the interwar territory of Poland was settled diplomatically in 1922 and internationally recognized by the League of Nations.[6][7]

End of World War I

In the course of World War I (1914-1918), Germany gradually gained overall dominance on the Eastern Front as the Imperial Russian Army fell back. German and Austro-Hungarian armies seized the Russian-ruled part of what became Poland. In a failed attempt to resolve the Polish question as quickly as possible, Berlin set up a German puppet state on 5 November 1916, with a governing Provisional Council of State and (from 15 October 1917) a Regency Council (Rada Regencyjna Królestwa Polskiego). The Council administered the country under German auspices (see also Mitteleuropa), pending the election of a king. A month before Germany surrendered on 11 November 1918 and the war ended, the Regency Council had dissolved the Council of State, and announced its intention to restore Polish independence (7 October 1918).[citation needed] With the notable exception of the Marxist-oriented Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), most Polish political parties supported this move. On 23 October the Regency Council appointed a new government under Józef Świeżyński and began conscription into the Polish Army.[8]

Formation of the Republic

Second Polish Republic between 1921 and 1939 (light beige), including the Eastern Borderlands (Kresy)

In 1918–1919, over 100 workers' councils sprang up on Polish territories;[9] on 5 November 1918, in Lublin, the first Soviet of Delegates was established. On 6 November socialists proclaimed the Republic of Tarnobrzeg at Tarnobrzeg in Austrian Galicia. The same day the Socialist, Ignacy Daszyński, set up a Provisional People's Government of the Republic of Poland (Tymczasowy Rząd Ludowy Republiki Polskiej) in Lublin. On Sunday, 10 November at 7 a.m., Józef Piłsudski, newly freed from 16 months in a German prison in Magdeburg, returned by train to Warsaw. Piłsudski, together with Colonel Kazimierz Sosnkowski, was greeted at Warsaw's railway station by Regent Zdzisław Lubomirski and by Colonel Adam Koc. Next day, due to his popularity and support from most political parties, the Regency Council appointed Piłsudski as Commander in Chief of the Polish Armed Forces. On 14 November, the Council dissolved itself and transferred all its authority to Piłsudski as Chief of State (Naczelnik Państwa). After consultation with Piłsudski, Daszyński's government dissolved itself and a new government formed under Jędrzej Moraczewski. In 1918 Italy became the first country in Europe to recognise Poland's renewed sovereignty.[10]

Polish defences at Miłosna, during the decisive battle of Warsaw, August 1920.

Centers of government that formed at that time in Galicia (formerly Austrian-ruled southern Poland) included the National Council of the Principality of Cieszyn (established in November 1918), the Republic of Zakopane and the Polish Liquidation Committee (28 October). Soon afterward, the Polish–Ukrainian War broke out in Lwów (1 November 1918) between forces of the Military Committee of Ukrainians and the Polish irregular units made up of students known as the Lwów Eaglets, who were later supported by the Polish Army (see Battle of Lwów (1918), Battle of Przemyśl (1918)). Meanwhile, in western Poland, another war of national liberation began under the banner of the Greater Poland Uprising (1918–19). In January 1919 Czechoslovakian forces attacked Polish units in the area of Zaolzie (see Polish–Czechoslovak War). Soon afterwards the Polish–Lithuanian War (ca 1919-1920) began, and in August 1919 Polish-speaking residents of Upper Silesia initiated a series of three Silesian Uprisings. The most critical military conflict of that period, however, the Polish–Soviet War (1919-1921), ended in a decisive Polish victory.[11] In 1919 the Warsaw government suppressed the Republic of Tarnobrzeg and the workers' councils.

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Польская Рэспубліка (1918—1939)
Bahasa Indonesia: Republik Kedua Polandia
Bahasa Melayu: Republik Poland Kedua
Simple English: Second Polish Republic
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Druga Poljska Republika