Place:Poland


NamePoland
Alt namesPolensource: Cassell's German Dictionary (1982) p 1288; Rand McNally Atlas (1994) I-137
Polish People's Republicsource: Encyclopædia Britannica (1988) IX, 552-554
Polognesource: Cassell's French Dictionary (1981) p 390; Rand McNally Atlas (1994) I-137
Poloniasource: Cassell's Spanish Dictionary (1978) p 929; Rand McNally Atlas (1994) I-137
Polskasource: Getty Vocabulary Program
Polska Rzeczpospolitasource: Britannica Book of the Year (1992) p 682
Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowasource: Cambridge World Gazetteer (1990) p 512-514
Republic of Polandsource: Wikipedia
Rzeczpospolita Polskasource: Britannica Book of the Year (1993) p 694
TypeNation
Coordinates52°N 20°E
Contained Places
Commonwealth voivodship
Bełz ( - 1795 )
Bracławskie ( 1569 - 1795 )
Brześć Kujawski ( - 1795 )
Brześć Litewski ( - 1795 )
Chełmińskie ( - 1795 )
Czernihów ( 1635 - 1795 )
Dorpat ( 1598 - 1620 )
Gnieźnieńskie ( 1768 - 1795 )
Inowrocław ( - 1795 )
Kalisz ( 1314 - 1998 )
Kijów ( 1569 - 1795 )
Kraków ( - 1998 )
Livonian ( 1620 - 1772 )
Lubelskie ( 1474 - )
Malbork ( 1454 - 1795 )
Mińsk ( 1413 - 1795 )
Mścisław ( - 1795 )
Nowogródek ( - 1939 )
Parnawskie ( 1598 - 1620 )
Podlaskie ( 1513 - )
Podolskie ( - 1795 )
Pomorze ( 1294 - )
Poznań ( 1300 - 1998 )
Połockie ( 1569 - 1795 )
Płock ( - 1998 )
Rawa ( - 1795 )
Ruthenian ( 1366 - 1772 )
Sandomierz ( - 1795 )
Sieradz ( 1569 - 1998 )
Smoleńsk ( - 1795 )
Trakai ( - 1795 )
Wenden ( 1598 - 1772 )
Witebskie ( - 1795 )
Wołyń ( 1569 - 1939 )
Łęczyca ( - 1795 )
Congress governorate
Halicz
Kalisz ( 1314 - 1998 )
Kielce ( 1921 - 1998 )
Kraków ( - 1998 )
Lubelskie ( 1474 - )
Lwów ( 1918 - 1939 )
Mazowsze
Podlaskie ( 1513 - )
Radom ( 1844 - 1998 )
Siedlce ( 1867 - 1998 )
Suwałki ( 1867 - 1998 )
Warszawa ( 1844 - 1998 )
County
Lubawa
Historical province
Grodno ( 1917 - )
Suvalki
Volyn′ ( 1569 - 1795 )
Inhabited place
Białystok ( 1921 - 1998 )
Brodsack ( 1314 - 1772 )
Dobrianychi ( 1340 - 1772 )
Elbląg ( 1466 - 1772 )
Heubuden ( - 1772 )
Jakubowice
Jazdowice
Klodnia
Kobrin ( 1921 - 1939 )
Kozielno ( 1945 - 2017 )
Kucze Wielkie
Kunzendorf ( - 1772 )
Ladekopp ( 1772 - )
Lakendorf ( - 1772 )
Orlikowo
Podolin ( 1412 - 1772 )
Saatzig
Stoltmany
Zeyersvorderkampen ( - 1772 )
Modern voivodship
Biala Podlaska ( 1975 - 1998 )
Bielsko ( 1975 - 1998 )
Bydgoszcz ( 1919 - 1998 )
Chelm ( 1975 - 1998 )
Ciechanów ( 1975 - 1998 )
Częstochowa ( 1975 - 1998 )
Dolnoślaskie ( 1999 - )
Elbląg ( 1975 - 1998 )
Gdańsk ( - 1998 )
Gorzów ( 1975 - 1998 )
Jelenia Góra ( 1975 - 1998 )
Kalisz ( 1314 - 1998 )
Katowice ( 1946 - 1998 )
Kielce ( 1921 - 1998 )
Konin ( 1975 - 1998 )
Koszalin ( - 1998 )
Kraków ( - 1998 )
Krosno ( 1975 - 1998 )
Kujawsko-Pomorskie ( 1999 - )
Legnica ( 1975 - 1998 )
Leszno ( 1975 - 1998 )
Lubelskie ( 1474 - )
Lubuskie ( 1999 - )
Mazowsze
Małopolskie ( 1999 - )
Nowy S̜acz ( 1975 - 1998 )
Olsztyn ( 1975 - 1998 )
Opolskie ( 1946 - )
Ostrołęka ( 1975 - 1998 )
Piotrków ( 1975 - 1998 )
Piła ( 1975 - 1998 )
Podkarpackie ( 1999 - )
Podlaskie ( 1513 - )
Pomorze ( 1294 - )
Poznań ( 1300 - 1998 )
Przemyśl ( 1975 - 1998 )
Płock ( - 1998 )
Radom ( 1844 - 1998 )
Rzeszów ( 1945 - 1998 )
Siedlce ( 1867 - 1998 )
Sieradz ( 1569 - 1998 )
Suwałki ( 1867 - 1998 )
Szczecin ( 1945 - 1998 )
Słupsk ( 1975 - 1998 )
Tarnobrzeg ( 1975 - 1998 )
Tarnów ( 1975 - 1998 )
Toruń ( 1975 - 1998 )
Warmińsko-Mazurskie ( 1999 - )
Warszawa ( 1844 - 1998 )
Wałbrzych ( 1975 - 1998 )
Wielkopolskie ( 1999 - )
Wrocław ( 1945 - 1998 )
Włocławek ( 1975 - 1998 )
Zachodniopomorskie ( 1999 - )
Zamość ( 1975 - 1998 )
Zielona Góra ( 1945 - 1998 )
Łomża ( 1975 - 1998 )
Łódź ( 1919 - 1999 )
Ślaskie ( 1945 - 1999 )
Świętokrzyskie ( 1999 - )
Mosern voivodship
Skierniewice ( 1975 - 1998 )
Peoople's republic voivodship
Gdańsk ( - 1998 )
People's republic voivodship
Bydgoszcz ( 1919 - 1998 )
Katowice ( 1946 - 1998 )
Kielce ( 1921 - 1998 )
Koszalin ( - 1998 )
Kraków ( - 1998 )
Lubelskie ( 1474 - )
Olsztyn ( 1975 - 1998 )
Opolskie ( 1946 - )
Poznań ( 1300 - 1998 )
Rzeszów ( 1945 - 1998 )
Szczecin ( 1945 - 1998 )
Warszawa ( 1844 - 1998 )
Zielona Góra ( 1945 - 1998 )
Łódź ( 1919 - 1999 )
People's reupblic voivodship
Wrocław ( 1945 - 1998 )
Province
Grodno ( 1917 - )
Region
Black Ruthenia
Central Lithuania
Chełmno Land
Curzon Line
Druck
Ducal Prussia
Eastern Pomerania
Galicia
Grand Duchy of Poznań
Greater Poland
Izjaslawl
Kaszuby
Kresy
Lusatia
Masuria
Middle Pomerania
Podhale
Podlasie Region
Pomesania
Pommerellen
Red Ruthenia
Royal Prussia
Ruthenia
Sanok Land
Spiš
Sudovia
Upper Silesia
Vilnius region
Zaolzie
Śląsk
Second repbulic voivodship
Wileńskie ( 1922 - 1939 )
Second republic voivodship
Kielce ( 1921 - 1998 )
Kraków ( - 1998 )
Lubelskie ( 1474 - )
Lwów ( 1918 - 1939 )
Nowogródek ( - 1939 )
Poleskie ( 1921 - 1939 )
Pomorze ( 1294 - )
Poznań ( 1300 - 1998 )
Stanisławów ( 1920 - 1939 )
Tarnopol ( 1920 - 1939 )
Warszawa ( 1844 - 1998 )
Wołyń ( 1569 - 1939 )
Łódź ( 1919 - 1999 )
Ślaskie ( 1945 - 1999 )
Unknown
Koniecki
Kucze Male
Samogita
Wartheland ( - )
Vernichtungslager (nazi germany)
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Sobibor
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Poland ( ), officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of , and has a largely temperate seasonal climate.[1] With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union.[1] Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania to the north, Belarus and Ukraine to the east, Slovakia and Czech Republic, to the south, and Germany to the west.

The establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to AD 966, when Mieszko I,[2] ruler of the realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin. This union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest (about ) and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.

More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million Polish citizens, including 90% of the country's Jews, perished in the war. In 1947, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland reestablished itself as a presidential democratic republic.

Poland is a developed market and regional power. It has the eighth largest and one of the most dynamic economies in the European Union,[3] simultaneously achieving a very high rank on the Human Development Index.[4] Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central Europe. Poland is a developed country, which maintains a high-income economy[5] along with very high standards of living, life quality,[6] safety, education, and economic freedom. Poland has a developed school educational system. The country provides free university education, state-funded social security, and a universal health care system for all citizens. Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 14 of which are cultural.[7] Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, and the Visegrád Group.

Contents

How places in Poland are organized

Poland has a complicated history.

  • From 1569-1795 it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. We call the subdivisions during that time commonwealth voivodships.
  • From 1815-1914 it was known as Congress Poland. We call the subdivisions during that time congress governorates.
  • From 1918-1939 it was known as the Second Polish Republic. We call the subdivisions during that time second republic voivodships. This is the time period from which we specify the title of the Place page.
  • From 1945-1989 it was known as the People's Republic of Poland.
    • We call the subdivisions from 1945-1975 People's republic voivodships.
    • We call the subdivisions from 1975-1998, and the ones that replaced them in 1999, "modern voivodships".

The Family History Library Catalog lists some places in Poland according to their second republic voivodships and others according to their people's republic voivodships. We follow their lead and title Polish place pages according to their (1918-1939) second republic voivodship (preferred) or people's republic voivodship if known. Include "Also located in" links to the voivodships for other time periods if known.

All places in Poland

Further information on historical place organization in Poland

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Prehistory and protohistory

Early Bronze Age in Poland begun around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in approximately 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became particularly prominent. The most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement (now reconstructed as an open-air museum), dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.

Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Sarmatian, Slavic, Baltic, and Germanic tribes. Also, recent archeological findings in the Kujawy region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland. These were most likely expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented. The Slavic tribes who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was Slavic paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman Church. However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s.

Piast dynasty

Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first historically documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects. The bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave, continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of Gniezno and created the metropolis of Gniezno and the dioceses of Kraków, Kołobrzeg, and Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer.


In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the German march into Poland. The significance of the event was documented by Gallus Anonymus in his 1118 chronicle. In 1138, Poland fragmented into several smaller duchies when Bolesław divided his lands among his sons. In 1226, Konrad I of Masovia, one of the regional Piast dukes, invited the Teutonic Knights to help him fight the Baltic Prussian pagans; a decision that led to centuries of warfare with the Knights. In 1264, the Statute of Kalisz or the General Charter of Jewish Liberties introduced numerous right for the Jews in Poland, leading to a nearly autonomous "nation within a nation".

In the middle of the 13th century, the Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty (Henry I the Bearded and Henry II the Pious, ruled 1238–41) nearly succeeded in uniting the Polish lands, but the Mongols invaded the country from the east and defeated the combined Polish forces at the Battle of Legnica where Duke Henry II the Pious died. In 1320, after a number of earlier unsuccessful attempts by regional rulers at uniting the Polish dukedoms, Władysław I consolidated his power, took the throne and became the first king of a reunified Poland. His son, Casimir III (reigned 1333–70), has a reputation as one of the greatest Polish kings, and gained wide recognition for improving the country's infrastructure. He also extended royal protection to Jews, and encouraged their immigration to Poland.[8] Casimir III realized that the nation needed a class of educated people, especially lawyers, who could codify the country's laws and administer the courts and offices. His efforts to create an institution of higher learning in Poland were finally rewarded when Pope Urban V granted him permission to open the University of Kraków.


The Golden Liberty of the nobles began to develop under Casimir's rule, when in return for their military support, the king made a series of concessions to the nobility, and establishing their legal status as superior to that of the townsmen. When Casimir the Great died in 1370, leaving no legitimate male heir, the Piast dynasty came to an end.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, Poland became a destination for German, Flemish and to a lesser extent Walloon, Danish and Scottish migrants. Also, Jews and Armenians began to settle and flourish in Poland during this era (see History of the Jews in Poland and Armenians in Poland).

The Black Death, a plague that ravaged Europe from 1347 to 1351 did not significantly affect Poland, and the country was spared from a major outbreak of the disease.[9] The reason for this was the decision of Casimir the Great to quarantine the nation's borders.

Jagiellon dynasty

The Jagiellon dynasty spanned the late Middle Ages and early Modern Era of Polish history. Beginning with the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiełło), the Jagiellon dynasty (1386–1572) formed the Polish–Lithuanian union. The partnership brought vast Lithuania-controlled Rus' areas into Poland's sphere of influence and proved beneficial for the Poles and Lithuanians, who coexisted and cooperated in one of the largest political entities in Europe for the next four centuries. In the Baltic Sea region the struggle of Poland and Lithuania with the Teutonic Knights continued and culminated in the Battle of Grunwald (1410), where a combined Polish-Lithuanian army inflicted a decisive victory against them.[10] In 1466, after the Thirteen Years' War, King Casimir IV Jagiellon gave royal consent to the Peace of Thorn, which created the future Duchy of Prussia, a Polish vassal. The Jagiellon dynasty at one point also established dynastic control over the kingdoms of Bohemia (1471 onwards) and Hungary.[11][12] In the south, Poland confronted the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Tatars (by whom they were attacked on 75 separate occasions between 1474 and 1569),[13] and in the east helped Lithuania fight the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Some historians estimate that Crimean Tatar slave-raiding cost Poland-Lithuania one million of its population between the years of 1494 and 1694.[14]


Poland was developing as a feudal state, with a predominantly agricultural economy and an increasingly powerful landed nobility. The Nihil novi act adopted by the Polish Sejm (parliament) in 1505, transferred most of the legislative power from the monarch to the Sejm, an event which marked the beginning of the period known as "Golden Liberty", when the state was ruled by the "free and equal" Polish nobility. Protestant Reformation movements made deep inroads into Polish Christianity, which resulted in the establishment of policies promoting religious tolerance, unique in Europe at that time.[15] This tolerance allowed the country to avoid most of the religious turmoil that spread over Europe during the 16th century.

The European Renaissance evoked in late Jagiellon Poland (kings Sigismund I the Old and Sigismund II Augustus) a sense of urgency in the need to promote a cultural awakening, and during this period Polish culture and the nation's economy flourished. In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus a Polish astronomer from Toruń, published his epochal work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), and thereby became the first proponent of a predictive mathematical model confirming the heliocentric theory, which became the accepted basic model for the practice of modern astronomy. Another major figure associated with the era is the classicist poet Jan Kochanowski.[16]

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The 1569 Union of Lublin established the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a more closely unified federal state with an elective monarchy, but which was governed largely by the nobility, through a system of local assemblies with a central parliament. The Warsaw Confederation (1573) guaranteed religious freedom for the Polish nobility (Szlachta) and townsmen (Mieszczanie). However, the peasants (Chłopi) were still subject to severe limitations imposed on them by the nobility.[17] The establishment of the Commonwealth coincided with a period of stability and prosperity in Poland, with the union thereafter becoming a European power and a major cultural entity, occupying approximately one million square kilometers of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as an agent for the dissemination of Western culture through Polonization into areas of modern-day Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus and Western Russia.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Poland suffered from a number of dynastic crises during the reigns of the Vasa kings Sigismund III and Władysław IV and found itself engaged in major conflicts with Russia, Sweden and the Ottoman Empire, as well as a series of minor Cossack uprisings.[18] In 1610, a Polish army under command Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski seized Moscow after winning the Battle of Klushino. In 1611, the Tsar of Russia paid homage to the King of Poland.


After the signing of Truce of Deulino, Poland had in the years 1618–1621 an area of about .

From the middle of the 17th century, the nobles' democracy, suffering from internal disorder, gradually declined, thereby leaving the once powerful Commonwealth vulnerable to foreign intervention. Starting in 1648, the Cossack Khmelnytsky Uprising engulfed the south and east, eventually leaving Ukraine divided, with the eastern part, lost by the Commonwealth, becoming a dependency of the Tsardom of Russia. This was followed by the 'Deluge', a Swedish invasion of Poland, which marched through the Polish heartlands and ruined the country's population, culture and infrastructure—around four million of Poland's eleven million inhabitants died in famines and epidemics throughout the 17th century.[19] However, under John III Sobieski the Commonwealth's military prowess was re-established, and in 1683 Polish forces played a major role in the Battle of Vienna against the Ottoman Army, commanded by Kara Mustafa, the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.


Sobieski's reign marked the end of the nation's golden era. Finding itself subjected to almost constant warfare and suffering enormous population losses as well as massive damage to its economy, the Commonwealth fell into decline. The government became ineffective as a result of large-scale internal conflicts (e.g. Lubomirski Rebellion against John II Casimir and rebellious confederations) and corrupted legislative processes. The nobility fell under the control of a handful of magnats, and this, compounded with two relatively weak kings of the Saxon Wettin dynasty, Augustus II and Augustus III, as well as the rise of Russia and Prussia after the Great Northern War only served to worsen the Commonwealth's plight. Despite this The Commonwealth-Saxony personal union gave rise to the emergence of the Commonwealth's first reform movement, and laid the foundations for the Polish Enlightenment.[20]

During the later part of the 18th century, the Commonwealth made attempts to implement fundamental internal reforms; with the second half of the century bringing a much improved economy, significant population growth and far-reaching progress in the areas of education, intellectual life, art, and especially toward the end of the period, evolution of the social and political system. The most populous capital city of Warsaw replaced Gdańsk (Danzig) as the leading centre of commerce, and the role of the more prosperous townsmen increased.

Partitions

The royal election of 1764 resulted in the elevation of Stanisław II August (a Polish aristocrat connected to the Czartoryski family faction of magnates) to the monarchy. However, as a one-time personal admirer of Empress Catherine II of Russia, the new king spent much of his reign torn between his desire to implement reforms necessary to save his nation, and his perceived necessity to remain in a political relationship with his Russian sponsor. This led to the formation of the 1768 Bar Confederation, a szlachta rebellion directed against the Polish king and his Russian sponsors, which aimed to preserve Poland's independence and the szlachta's traditional privileges. Attempts at reform provoked the union's neighbours, and in 1772 the First Partition of the Commonwealth by Prussia, Russia and Austria took place; an act which the "Partition Sejm", under considerable duress, eventually "ratified" fait accompli.[21] Disregarding this loss, in 1773 the king established the Commission of National Education, the first government education authority in Europe. Corporal punishment of children was officially prohibited in 1783.


The Great Sejm convened by Stanisław II August in 1788 successfully adopted the 3 May Constitution, the first set of modern supreme national laws in Europe. However, this document, accused by detractors of harbouring revolutionary sympathies, generated strong opposition from the Commonwealth's nobles and conservatives as well as from Catherine II, who, determined to prevent the rebirth of a strong Commonwealth set about planning the final dismemberment of the Polish-Lithuanian state. Russia was aided in achieving its goal when the Targowica Confederation, an organisation of Polish nobles, appealed to the Empress for help. In May 1792, Russian forces crossed the Commonwealth's frontier, thus beginning the Polish-Russian War.

The defensive war fought by the Poles ended prematurely when the King, convinced of the futility of resistance, capitulated and joined the Targowica Confederation. The Confederation then took over the government. Russia and Prussia, fearing the mere existence of a Polish state, arranged for, and in 1793 executed, the Second Partition of the Commonwealth, which left the country deprived of so much territory that it was practically incapable of independent existence. Eventually, in 1795, following the failed Kościuszko Uprising, the Commonwealth was partitioned one last time by all three of its more powerful neighbours, and with this, effectively ceased to exist.[22]

Era of insurrections

Poles rebelled several times against the partitioners, particularly near the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. An unsuccessful attempt at defending Poland's sovereignty took place in 1794 during the Kościuszko Uprising, where a popular and distinguished general Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who had several years earlier served under Washington in the American Revolutionary War, led Polish insurrectionists against numerically superior Russian forces. Despite the victory at the Battle of Racławice, his ultimate defeat ended Poland's independent existence for 123 years.


In 1807, Napoleon I of France temporarily recreated a Polish state as the satellite Duchy of Warsaw, after a successful Greater Poland Uprising of 1806 against Prussian rule. But, after the failed Napoleonic Wars, Poland was again split between the victorious powers at the Congress of Vienna of 1815. The eastern part was ruled by the Russian tsar as Congress Poland, which had a very liberal constitution. However, over time the Russian monarch reduced Polish freedoms, and Russia annexed the country in virtually all but name. Meanwhile, the Prussian controlled territory of Poland came under increased Germanization. Thus, in the 19th century, only Austrian-ruled Galicia, and particularly the Free City of Kraków, allowed free Polish culture to flourish.

Throughout the period of the partitions, political and cultural repression of the Polish nation led to the organisation of a number of uprisings against the authorities of the occupying Russian, Prussian and Austrian governments. In 1830, the November Uprising began in Warsaw when, led by Lieutenant Piotr Wysocki, young non-commissioned officers at the Officer Cadet School in Warsaw revolted. They were joined by large segments of Polish society, and together forced Warsaw's Russian garrison to withdraw north of the city.


Over the course of the next seven months, Polish forces successfully defeated the Russian armies of Field Marshal Hans Karl von Diebitsch and a number of other Russian commanders; however, finding themselves in a position unsupported by any other foreign powers, save distant France and the newborn United States, and with Prussia and Austria refusing to allow the import of military supplies through their territories, the Poles accepted that the uprising was doomed to failure. Upon the surrender of Warsaw to General Ivan Paskievich, many Polish troops, feeling they could not go on, withdrew into Prussia and there laid down their arms. After the defeat, the semi-independent Congress Poland lost its constitution, army and legislative assembly, and was integrated more closely with the Russian Empire.

During the Spring of Nations (a series of revolutions which swept across Europe), Poles took up arms in the Greater Poland Uprising of 1848 to resist Prussian rule. Initially, the uprising manifested itself in the form of civil disobedience, but eventually turned into an armed struggle when the Prussian military was sent in to pacify the region. Eventually, after several battles the uprising was suppressed by the Prussians, and the Grand Duchy of Posen was more completely incorporated into Prussia.

In 1863, a new Polish uprising against Russian rule began. The January Uprising started out as a spontaneous protest by young Poles against conscription into the Imperial Russian Army. However, the insurrectionists, despite being joined by high-ranking Polish-Lithuanian officers and numerous politicians, were still severely outnumbered and lacking in foreign support. They were forced to resort to guerrilla warfare tactics and failed to win any major military victories. Afterwards no major uprising was witnessed in the Russian-controlled Congress Poland, and Poles resorted instead to fostering economic and cultural self-improvement.

Despite the political unrest experienced during the partitions, Poland did benefit from large-scale industrialisation and modernisation programs, instituted by the occupying powers, which helped it develop into a more economically coherent and viable entity. This was particularly true in Greater Poland, Silesia and Eastern Pomerania controlled by Prussia (later becoming a part of the German Empire); areas which eventually, thanks largely to the Greater Poland Uprising of 1918 and Silesian Uprisings, were reconstituted as a part of the Second Polish Republic, becoming the country's most prosperous regions.

Reconstruction

During World War I, all the Allies agreed on the reconstitution of Poland that United States President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed in Point 13 of his Fourteen Points. A total of 2 million Polish troops fought with the armies of the three occupying powers, and 450,000 died. Shortly after the armistice with Germany in November 1918, Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic (II Rzeczpospolita Polska). It reaffirmed its independence after a series of military conflicts, the most notable being the Polish–Soviet War (1919–21) when Poland inflicted a crushing defeat on the Red Army at the Battle of Warsaw, an event which is considered to have halted the advance of Communism into Europe and forced Vladimir Lenin to rethink his objective of achieving global socialism. The event is often referred to as the "Miracle at the Vistula".[23]


During this period, Poland successfully managed to fuse the territories of the three former partitioning powers into a cohesive nation state. Railways were restructured to direct traffic towards Warsaw instead of the former imperial capitals, a new network of national roads was gradually built up and a major seaport was opened on the Baltic Coast, so as to allow Polish exports and imports to bypass the politically charged Free City of Danzig.

The inter-war period heralded in a new era of Polish politics. Whilst Polish political activists had faced heavy censorship in the decades up until the First World War, the country now found itself trying to establish a new political tradition. For this reason, many exiled Polish activists, such as Ignacy Paderewski (who would later become prime minister) returned home to help; a significant number of them then went on to take key positions in the newly formed political and governmental structures. Tragedy struck in 1922 when Gabriel Narutowicz, inaugural holder of the presidency, was assassinated at the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw by painter and right-wing nationalist Eligiusz Niewiadomski.[24]

In 1926, a May coup, led by the hero of the Polish independence campaign Marshal Józef Piłsudski, turned rule of the Second Polish Republic over to the nonpartisan Sanacja (Healing) movement in an effort to prevent radical political organizations on both the left and the right from destabilizing the country. The movement functioned integrally until Piłsudski's death in 1935. Following Marshall Piłsudski's death, Sanation split into several competing factions. By the late 1930s, Poland's government had become increasingly rigid; with a number of radical political parties that threatened the stability of the country such as the Communist Party of Poland banned.

As a subsequent result of the Munich Agreement in 1938, Czechoslovakia ceded to Poland the small 350 sq mi Zaolzie region. The area was a point of contention between the Polish and Czechoslovak governments in the past and the two countries fought a brief seven-day war over it in 1919.

World War II

World War II began with the Nazi German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, followed by the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September. On 28 September 1939 Warsaw fell. As agreed in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Poland was split into two zones, one occupied by Nazi Germany, the other by the Soviet Union. In 1939–41, the Soviets deported hundreds of thousands of Poles. The Soviet NKVD executed thousands of Polish prisoners of war (inter alia Katyn massacre) ahead of the Operation Barbarossa.[25] German planners had in November 1939 called for "the complete destruction" of all Poles and their fate, as well as many other Slavs, was outlined in genocidal Generalplan Ost.

In July 1939 the Polish Cipher Bureau had taught Britain and France how to crack German Enigma codes, which it had been doing since 1932 using mathematics and technology such as the Bomba and Zygalski sheets. In the Romanian Bridgehead operation, the code-breakers escaped with their reverse-engineered Enigma machines and enabled the Allied SIGINT war. Around 3500 Polish field agents provided the British secret service with 48% of all its reports from Europe, including preparation for Operation Torch and Operation Overlord, and military intelligence on: Operation Sonnenblume; Operation Barbarossa; Operation Edelweiss; German secret weapons; the chief of the Abwehr and Germany's "Final Solution".


Poland made the fourth-largest troop contribution in Europe and its troops served both the Polish Government in Exile in the west and Soviet leadership in the east. Polish troops played an important role in the Normandy, Italian and North African Campaigns and are particularly remembered for the Battle of Monte Cassino.[26][27] In the east, the Soviet-backed Polish 1st Army distinguished itself in the battles for Warsaw and Berlin.[28]

During the Battle of Britain Polish squadrons such as the No. 303 "Kościuszko" fighter squadron[29] achieved considerable success, and by the end of the war the exiled Polish Air Forces could claim 769 confirmed kills. The Polish Navy protected the Dunkirk evacuation and Atlantic convoys.[30]

The wartime resistance movement, and the Armia Krajowa (Home Army), fought against German occupation. It was one of the three largest resistance movements of the entire war, and encompassed a range of clandestine activities, which functioned as an underground state complete with degree-awarding universities and a court system.[31] The resistance was loyal to the exiled government and generally resented the idea of a communist Poland; for this reason, in the summer of 1944 it initiated Operation Tempest, of which the Warsaw Uprising that begun on 1 August 1944 is the best known operation.[32][28] The objective was to drive the Germans from the city and help with the larger fight against the Axis powers. Secondary motives were to liberate Warsaw before the Soviets, to underscore Polish sovereignty by empowering the Polish Underground State before the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control. A lack of Allied support and Stalin's reluctance to allow the 1st Army to help their fellow countrymen take the city led to the uprising's failure and subsequent planned destruction of the city.


Nazi forces under orders from Adolf Hitler set up six German extermination camps in occupied Poland, including Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz. The Germans transported Jews from across occupied Europe to murder them in the camps.


Germany killed 2.9 million Polish Jews, and 2.8 million ethnic Poles, including Polish academics, doctors, lawyers, nobility, priests and others. It is estimated that, of pre-war Poland's Jewry, approximately 90% were killed. Throughout the occupation, many members of the Armia Krajowa, supported by the Polish government in exile, and millions of ordinary Poles – at great risk to themselves and their families – engaged in rescuing Jews from the Nazi Germans. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the largest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. To date, 6,620 Poles have been awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel–more than any other nation.[33] Some estimates put the number of Poles involved in rescue efforts at up to 3 million, and credit Poles with sheltering up to 450,000 Jews.

Around 150,000 Polish civilians were killed by Soviets between 1939 and 1941 during the Soviet Union's occupation of eastern Poland (Kresy), and another estimated 100,000 Poles were killed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in the regions of Wołyń and Eastern Galicia between 1943 and 1944 in what became known as the Wołyń Massacres. The massacres were part of a vicious ethnic clensing campaign waged by Ukrainian nationalists against the local Polish population in the German-occupied territories of eastern Poland.

In 1945, Poland's borders were shifted westwards, resulting in considerable territorial losses. Over 2 million Polish inhabitants of Kresy were expelled along the Curzon Line by Stalin. The western border became the Oder-Neisse line. As a result, Poland's territory was reduced by 20%, or . The shift forced the migration of millions of other people, most of whom were Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Jews.[34] Of all the countries in the war, Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens: over 6 million perished – nearly one-fifth of Poland's population – half of them Polish Jews.[35][36] Over 90% of deaths were non-military in nature. Population numbers did not recover until the 1970s.

Post-war communism

At the insistence of Joseph Stalin, the Yalta Conference sanctioned the formation of a new provisional pro-Communist coalition government in Moscow, which ignored the Polish government-in-exile based in London; a move which angered many Poles who considered it a betrayal by the Allies. In 1944, Stalin had made guarantees to Churchill and Roosevelt that he would maintain Poland's sovereignty and allow democratic elections to take place. However, upon achieving victory in 1945, the elections organized by the occupying Soviet authorities were falsified and were used to provide a veneer of 'legitimacy' for Soviet hegemony over Polish affairs. The Soviet Union instituted a new communist government in Poland, analogous to much of the rest of the Eastern Bloc. As elsewhere in Communist Europe the Soviet occupation of Poland met with armed resistance from the outset which continued into the fifties.

Despite widespread objections, the new Polish government accepted the Soviet annexation of the pre-war eastern regions of Poland[37] (in particular the cities of Wilno and Lwów) and agreed to the permanent garrisoning of Red Army units on Poland's territory. Military alignment within the Warsaw Pact throughout the Cold War came about as a direct result of this change in Poland's political culture and in the European scene came to characterise the full-fledged integration of Poland into the brotherhood of communist nations.

The People's Republic of Poland (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa) was officially proclaimed in 1952. In 1956, after the death of Bolesław Bierut, the régime of Władysław Gomułka became temporarily more liberal, freeing many people from prison and expanding some personal freedoms. Collectivization in the Polish People's Republic failed. A similar situation repeated itself in the 1970s under Edward Gierek, but most of the time persecution of anti-communist opposition groups persisted. Despite this, Poland was at the time considered to be one of the least oppressive states of the Soviet Bloc.[38]

Labour turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity" ("Solidarność"), which over time became a political force. Despite persecution and imposition of martial law in 1981, it eroded the dominance of the Polish United Workers' Party and by 1989 had triumphed in Poland's first partially free and democratic parliamentary elections since the end of the Second World War. Lech Wałęsa, a Solidarity candidate, eventually won the presidency in 1990. The Solidarity movement heralded the collapse of communist regimes and parties across Europe.

1990s to present

A shock therapy programme, initiated by Leszek Balcerowicz in the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its socialist-style planned economy into a market economy. As with other post-communist countries, Poland suffered slumps in social and economic standards, but it became the first post-communist country to reach its pre-1989 GDP levels, which it achieved by 1995 largely thanks to its booming economy.[39][40]

Most visibly, there were numerous improvements in human rights, such as freedom of speech, internet freedom (no censorship), civil liberties (1st class) and political rights (1st class), as ranked by Freedom House non-governmental organization. In 1991, Poland became a member of the Visegrád Group and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance in 1999 along with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Poles then voted to join the European Union in a referendum in June 2003, with Poland becoming a full member on 1 May 2004. Poland joined the Schengen Area in 2007, as a result of which, the country's borders with other member states of the European Union have been dismantled, allowing for full freedom of movement within most of the EU.[41] In contrast to this, a section of Poland's eastern border now constitutes the external EU border with Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. That border has become increasingly well protected, and has led in part to the coining of the phrase 'Fortress Europe', in reference to the seeming 'impossibility' of gaining entry to the EU for citizens of the former Soviet Union.


In an effort to strengthen military cooperation with its neighbors, Poland set up the Visegrád Battlegroup with Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia, with a total of 3,000 troops ready for deployment. Also, in the east Poland created the LITPOLUKRBRIG battle groups with Lithuania and Ukraine. These battle groups will operate outside of NATO and within the European defense initiative framework.

On 10 April 2010, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, along with 89 other high-ranking Polish officials died in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia. The president's party was on their way to attend an annual service of commemoration for the victims of the Katyń massacre when the tragedy took place.

In 2011, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union responsible for the functioning of the Council was awarded to Poland. The same year parliamentary elections took place in both the Senate and the Sejm. They were won by the ruling Civic Platform. Poland joined European Space Agency in 2012, as well as organised the UEFA Euro 2012 (along with Ukraine). In 2013, Poland also became a member of the Development Assistance Committee. In 2014, the Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, was chosen to be President of the European Council, and resigned as prime minister. The 2015 elections were won by the opposition Law and Justice Party (PiS).

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