history Eastern_Europe  POLAND  



by Krystyna Kostka


"The justice of history has decided, that the rebuilding of an independent Poland, will be forever tied to the name of an individual, whose soul appeared and formed in the darkest times and most difficult period of the Polish nation."1



This soul belonged to the person of Jozef Pilsudski. He was born on the fifth of December in 1867, at a time when the Polish state did not exist as such, and had not existed for many years. It simply represented the constant wish of a nation that was tragically split into three parts, occupied by the Russians, Prussians, and Austro-Hungarians who valiantly attempted to make the Polish nation disappear. This nation however, refused, possessing a spirit that let itself be known through numerous uprisings, a fascinating culture and most importantly through its people. Jozef Pilsudski is best described as the embodiment of this spirit, an individual whose selfless, dogged determination was responsible for rallying whatever was left of a national identity, partially crushed by enemy occupants. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, shortages of supplies, money, and sometimes even the opposition of his own people, he created the Legions. These fought during the First World War, publicly on the side of the occupants, but privately for themselves, hopeful that their efforts would culminate in the creation of an independent Poland at the end of the war. A Poland created for the people and by them.2



 Even after this goal was accomplished in 1918, Jozef Pilsudski remained politically active,  but usually was never directly in power, preferring instead to influence the political world from the outside. Throughout his life he attempted to guide a Poland, uncertain of its present and future. This uncertainty could primarily be observed in the internal political situation which had by the middle of the 1920's deteriorated into two opposing parties. The first was represented by Roman Dmowski and his national- democrats and the second was represented by Pilsudski and his national- socialists. This internal strife was perhaps the normal behavior of a fledgling democracy but it opposed the very principles that Pilsudski believed. He felt all people should work together for the good of the country under the auspices of one party, thus abandoning personal ambitions. His enemies felt that this showed authoritarian tendencies on the part of Pilsudski. It is important to realize, however, that there is really no evidence on which to base this claim as Pilsudski never used his influence to achieve either personal power or material gain.3


Jozef Pilsudski died in 1935, long before the internal struggles of the new democracy had ended, and long before his independent Poland was again occupied, this time by the Soviet Union. Poland owes a great debt to this selfless individual, a man who dedicated his talent, intellect and very life to the advancement of his country.4


1 Waclaw Sieroszewski, MARSZALEK JOZEF PILSUDSKI (Warszawa: Dom Ksiazki Polskiej, 1935),

2 Rom Landare, PILSUDSKI AND POLAND (New York: The Dial Press, 1929).

3 Rom Landare, 1929.

4 Waclaw Sieroszewski, 1935.







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