Anglo diplomats surveyed the ruins of a fallen empire, and hatched a nefarious plan. They insisted on the creation of a militaristic right-wing pseudostate, with borders drawn up in a way that would be deliberately provocative to her neighbors.
The Second Polish Republic’s borders weren’t the result of British or French diplomats drawing lines on a map, like a lot of places in the Middle East. Poland’s borders back then were established by various means. In the west, it was mainly ethnic Polish-majority areas declaring that they’re joining the new Polish state, combined with a number of uprisings after the German Empire lost the First World War and surrendered. In the east and south, it was similar, but more fluid and violent.
A bit of background: before WW1, what would become Poland had for over a century been divided between three empires (not at all artificial pseudostates, somehow [/sarc]): The Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian empires. During that war, since the three empires had for the first time ended up on opposing sides of a major war, they made competing promises to the Polish population. Poles themselves fought on both sides: most in the German and Austro-Hungarian armies, others in the Russian one (and there were some Polish troops in France, too).
The unique turn of events that made the resurrection of an independent Poland possible was the fact that in 1917-18 all three empires that had divided it in the 18th century ended up losing the war, and two of them outright disintegrated. Thus, a sort of power vacuum was created, and many new independent states arose in central Europe, the largest of them being Poland.
No ‘nefarious’ British or American or whoever’s plan was needed. Poland’s independence was recognized in 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles, as a recognition of facts that had already existed on the ground.
Polish borders hadn’t yet stabilized at that time. They were finalized only in 1922, after the end of the Polish-Soviet war.
In regards to territories previously part of the German Empire (which inherited them from Prussia), Poland got Germany’s Polish-majority areas after a series of uprisings and one referendum.
There was the area of Greater Poland around the city of Poznań (Posen in German), which had a successful Polish uprising in 1919.
Poland also gained a small but economically very important area in part of Upper Silesia, after three uprisings there:
— the first one in 1919 was short-lived and crushed by the German Army, since Germany still hadn’t demilitarized at that point
— the second one in 1920 was the only one that was actually started by Germans, rather than Poles. See, the local Germans in the disputed Upper Silesia started some riots after the false news spread that the Soviet Red Army had succeeded in capturing Warsaw, Poland’s capital. In response, a new Polish uprising in Upper Silesia began.
— the Third Silesian Uprising in 1921 happened after the Upper Silesian plebiscite, which was a referendum where the locals had to choose whether to belong to Poland or Germany. The plebiscite was one of the clauses in the Versailles peace treaty. The majority of locals voted for Germany, which Poles of course weren’t happy with. Shortly after the plebiscite, the Third Uprising began, and it was better prepared and planned than the previous ones.
In the end, a commission of the League of Nations decided on how Upper Silesia would be partitioned. Germany got most of the territory, but only half of the population of the region. Poland got most of the considerable economic resources (mines and industry).
Next up — in regards to territories previously part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Poland got the Kingdom of Galicia (which was basically a province of the Austrian half of the Monarchy). Galicia was multiethnic: Poles were the absolute majority in the western part (main city there is Kraków), while Ukrainians were the majority in the eastern area (main city Lviv, now in Ukraine; however, back then, Poles were the majority in the city itself, which is named Lwów in Polish; the rest of eastern Galicia, however, was majority Ukrainian, with sizeable minorities of Poles and Jews).
Unfortunately, the Poles and the Ukrainians disagreed strongly on who should get eastern Galicia and Lviv. So they had a war in 1919.
The Jews in Lviv — making up fully a third of the city’s population — basically had an attitude of “We don’t care, whoever’s in charge is fine by us, just please let us live in peace, ok?” Unfortunately, when Polish forces drove out the Ukrainian ones in 1919, they behaved atrociously and conducted a pogrom against the local Jews and Ukrainians. So yeah :S
Then, in 1920, after the Poles mostly won and the Soviet Red Army moved into the rest of Ukraine, the Poles and Ukrainians had a sort of truce, and even a short-lived alliance.
To sum up: after WW1 ended, the Ukrainians in Galicia attempted to create a West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR), while most of the rest of today’s territory of Ukraine tried to form the Ukrainian people’s Republic (UPR). The WUPR was defeated and annexed by Poland, while the UPR, after a rather chaotic year, ended up losing to the Soviet Red Army and absorbed into the newly-formed USSR.
Also, there was a small and short war between Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1919 over some border areas.
As for the largest part of Poland, that which had been in the Russian Empire, it declared independence in 1918. By that time, the Russian Empire had imploded following the October Revolution, and civil war had set in. But Polish territories weren’t under Russian control anymore, anyway; they had been captured by the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary). However, with the Central Powers’ defeat and surrender, the Poles in that part of the country had no one stopping them from becoming independent.
However, Poland and Bolshevik Russia ended up on a collision course. Poland wanted to expand eastward; Russia wanted to help the communist revolutions in Germany and Hungary. Ukraine and Belarus were smack in the middle of all of this, and all the armies went back and forth over their territory.
The Poles took the initiative first, and even got as far as Kiev in 1920 (helped by the remnants of the UPR’s Ukrainian forces, which joined the Poles to survive). But, Poland wasn’t that strong, and the Soviet Red Army was not as weak as it seemed. In a stunning reversal, the Red Army stormed westward, steamrolling over the Polish forces and forcing them into full retreat. In May the Poles were in Kiev; but already in August, the Red Army arrived on the outskirts of Warsaw, and Poland seemed on the verge of defeat. Western diplomats were leaving Warsaw, and Polish civilians were taking up arms for a desperate last stand.
But this time, it was the Bolsheviks / Red Army who had overestimated and overextended themselves. To the surprise of everybody, the Polish counterattack succeeded, and the Reds were sent home packing.
The border ended up stabilizing on a vertical line going roughly from Vilnius in today’s Lithuania, through western belarus and western Ukraine. Poland got those areas through the peace treaty, and Soviet Russia got the areas east of that.
Once upon a time, stop me if you’ve heard this story before, Anglo diplomats surveyed the ruins of a fallen empire, and hatched a nefarious plan. They insisted on the creation of a militaristic right-wing pseudostate, with borders drawn up in a way that would be deliberately provocative to her neighbors.
So, as I said above, that’s a nope. Interwar Poland’s borders were a result of uprisings and wars (plus a couple of referendums), followed by peace treaties between Poland and its neighbors.
Also, Poland was initially a (flawed) parliamentary democracy, and only became a militaristic pseudo-dictatorship after a coup in 1926.
this weird artificial state […] Just creating this imaginary country was a weird and stupid idea
Every country is artificial and ‘imaginary’.
Also, yes, interwar Poland was not an ethnically homogeneous state — but neither were its imperial predecessors, and neither were many of its neighbors during the period between the two world wars. Poland and its borders weren’t an anomaly in central-eastern Europe.
Not to mention how the only preceding empire which had been anything even close to a homogeneous nation-state was the German Empire — and even it had its ethnic minorities, Poles being the largest one.
Even a small border dispute would immediately and inevitably erupt into a world war, and of course that’s exactly what happened.
Yeah, the same could be said for any number of countries in that region. *shrug*
But Ukraine is a volatile failed state filled with nazis and military-grade weapons.
Which would make it different from Russia… how?
This war has not caused a serious humanitarian crisis in Russia, but it is shaping up to be a serious problem for the West.
You haven’t been paying attention, have you? The Russian economy is already experiencing huge shocks, and it’ll only get worse. The rest of Europe, while it is getting hit somewhat by the sanctions they’re enforcing against Russia, can handle the blowback far better.
Russia has already made her demands; the dissolution of NATO weapons and infrastructure in Eastern Europe. That’s what they clearly stated many times so we have to assume that’s the overall goal of Operation Z.
And, as is the case with the rest of its initial war goals, Russia is failing at this one quite spectacularly.
If nothing goes seriously wrong, this might be remembered as Russia’s most brilliant maneuver since, well, WWII.
Keep dreaming, bro :D