Der ruf May 1 42
Lessons from the recent past
Postwar Poland rose up to life again as a new, independent state due to the disintegration of the state apparatus of its rulers. If the German masses had not removed Wilhelm II and his generals from power in November 1918, the German occupier would have remained on Polish soil. And if the Russian masses had allowed for a restoration of the bourgeois regime, a tsarist general would have continued to rule in Warsaw's Belvedere.1
The Poland that rose up once again found mighty protectors in the capitalistic western states. French and English financial capital entrusted Poland with a mission: to be a bastion of capitalism in the East.2 When the hopes (and also the money…) that the Western states had placed in Denikin3 and the other White generals did not bring the desired results, Poland, with the help of worldwide capital, organized its march on Kiev.4 This march failed just as badly as all the other armed attempts at intervention against the young Soviet regime.
The Riga Peace Agreement5 between Poland and the Soviet Union did not place only purely Polish provinces—ethnographically speaking—at Poland's disposal, but also provinces that were inhabited by other national elements. In the Ukrainian and Belorussian provinces, the noble stratum was Polish, but the broad masses of workers and peasants were Ukrainian or Belorussian. The fact that Poland was initially built as a nationally mixed state, where national oppression became an organized component of the system of rule, led to sharp internal conflicts in Poland itself from the very beginning, and therefore constituted Poland's internal weakness.
The Riga Peace Agreement did not open a period of truly peaceful relations between Poland and the Soviet Union. Piłsudski6 later openly acknowledged that in the years 1924-25, after Lenin's death, he devised more or less concrete plans of aggression against the Soviet Union.
However, neither the means nor determination sufficed in order to realize these plans. And those giving orders in London or Paris, after their bitter experience with Denikin, Wrangel,7 and Kolchak,8 were not in a hurry to repeat, once again, an intervention scandal against the Soviet Union. It was therefore necessary to wait patiently and watch for the appropriate moment. Piłsudski, the embodiment of the Polish military spheres, rode up to power again and gradually reorganized the Polish state machine along military lines. The greatest part of the Polish state budget, not controlled by anyone, went for militaristic purposes. This most certainly would not have been a misfortune if the Polish army had prepared for resistance and struggle against a real assailant. Unfortunately, however, this was not the case. The target of Polish aggressive politics was the Soviet Union, precisely the state that had declared Poland's right to free self-determination in the year 1917. The Soviet Union, with its socialist outlook, could not have had and also did not have any aggressive intentions towards Poland.9 Not so the Polish ruling strata. The western borders of Poland were not fortified and remained without protection; the center of gravity of Polish military preparations was transferred to the East. In the decisive hour it turned out that the Polish army was not prepared for resistance against its true enemy.
When Hitler came to power in Germany, thanks to the assistance of international capital, the Polish masses suddenly sensed that the true danger threatened from the West—from Hitler's Germany. How then did the Polish ruling circles, the Polish government proceed? Contrary to the national interests of Poland, they formed close ties with aggressive Germany. All doors and gates were left open for Hitler's agents. With the participation of German capital, they set out to build the Central Industrial District (COP) in direct proximity to Germany, almost in the reach of German artillery in the conditions of a blitzkrieg.10
The direct executors of this particular political line were Beck11 and Rydz-Śmigły.12 It is difficult to find a similar example in Polish history of anti-Polish politics administered by Poles in power. Even a comparison with the famous Targowica Confederation13 does not hold up because its members needed 100 years in order to destroy a torn and weakened Poland, while Sanacja14 accomplished the same over the course of a few years...
Poland fell. It fell because the reactionary individuals in power, contrary to the interests of the broad masses, harnessed it to the chariot of fascism. The Polish people is now paying for these criminal politics—with a tremendous number of victims, with blood, and with slavery.
The history of the political sins of the Polish government is a sad history. We would remain silent about it, since now is not the time to touch on it in detail. If we have dwelled on it in passing, it is only because—in the words of the great Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz—when a man turns backward, he is given a strong impetus to leap forward.
In the current moment, the decisive leap is being prepared in the battle for Poland. The masses in Poland, recalling the tragic lessons and experiences from the years 1918-39, must not allow the old treason and old political crimes to repeat themselves.
The struggle for a strong, independent and free Poland goes on because until now, Poland has neither been free, nor independent, nor strong!