Did Poland Beat Russia in a War?
If you have been looking into history then you have probably noticed that Poland was once thought to have beaten Russia in a war. The question of whether or not this really happened is a controversial subject. Here is a brief summary of how the Polish-Russian War of 1919-20 came about.
Russo-Polish War (1919-20)
The Russo-Polish War (1919-20) was a war fought between Poland and Soviet Russia. It was one of the bloodiest and most ferocious conflicts in early 20th-century Europe. It was also a result of the Polish nationalism that arose after the end of World War I.
The conflict began in February 1919 when the Polish Army swung east to attack the Reds. Russian resistance was broken by a Polish counterattack in Belarus, and the Polish army gained a significant amount of territory. In the end, the Polish-Ukrainian alliance managed to retake Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.
After the victory, a provisional Polish Red government was formed. Julian Marchlewski, a Polish Communist, led the group, which had significant support. Eventually, a peace treaty was signed.
A Soviet-sponsored government ruled over the “liberated” Poland, a term used by the Soviets to describe their occupation of Poland. The government’s leaders included Feliks Kon, Julian Marchlewski, and Feliks Dzerzhinsky.
A major battle was fought on the Vistula. A combined Polish-Ukrainian offensive captured Kiev on May 7th. This was the first step in the war’s decisive outcome.
Battle of Warsaw
The Battle of Warsaw was the most important moment in the history of Europe. Polish and Russian soldiers fought on the battlefront.
The Red Army, led by General Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky, began a campaign in the north. Tukhachevsky, a 27-year-old former tsarist lieutenant, was considered a military genius. His main strategy was to strike the rear of the Polish army.
In mid-August, the Russians fought their way to within 13 kilometers of Warsaw. Poles, meanwhile, were enraged. They seized over 50,000 prisoners.
As a result of the Polish counter-offensive, thousands of Poles fled into East Prussia. Despite their losses, the Poles were able to win the battle.
The Polish victory was a huge defeat for the global revolution cause. It prompted French and British high-powered military missions to arrive in Warsaw on July 25.
Pilsudski and the Poles had no choice but to fight Bolshevik Russia. They lacked any reserves. However, Pilsudski’s bold counter-offensive defeated Tukhachevsky’s forces and forced the Russians to abandon Warsaw.
Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 between the Allied and associated powers and Germany. It was a significant agreement that had serious consequences. By its terms, the German army was reduced in size.
In addition, the territories of Alsace-Lorraine and Lorraine were returned to France. The treaty also included a “War Guilt Clause” that required Germany to pay for all material damages incurred during the war.
After the Treaty of Versailles, German reparations reached 132 billion gold Reichsmarks, or approximately $33 billion today. A number of prominent economists were critical of the deal, arguing that reparations were an unnecessary and counterproductive measure.
The treaty created a new nation, Poland, out of parts of the former German empire. Poland was viewed with suspicion by the competing nations, especially Belarus.
While the Germans accepted the treaty, they were furious. They saw it as a diktat that imposed too harsh a burden on them. Although Germany eventually paid in full, many saw the treaty as an unwise move.
Soviet-sponsored government for “liberated” Poland had to flee back to Moscow
When the Soviets took over Poland in 1940, the Polish government in exile in London was still working to reorganize the country. But Stalin had no interest in meeting the demands of the Polish government. He was determined to rule Poland regardless of the wishes of the Polish people.
Stalin agreed to collaborate with the Polish government in exile, but he made no effort to meet the Soviet’s demand to reestablish a Polish puppet government in Moscow. The eastern frontiers of Poland would have been at risk if such a puppet government had been established.
As the war dragged on, the Soviets began to impose a policy of terror on the population. Many died due to lack of food and medical care. Other victims were forced to leave their homes. Some Jews were sent to Siberian labor camps.
Thousands of Poles were also forced to flee to Soviet Union. Some of them could remain in their ceded areas, while others headed to larger Jewish settlements.
- Battle of Warsaw, Polish government, Polish-Russian War
- Alexander Rekeda