Maintaining a Piłsudskiite Independence Day, 1939–45

M. B. B. Biskupski

in Independence Day

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199658817
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744235 | DOI:
Maintaining a Piłsudskiite Independence Day, 1939–45

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During German and Russian occupation celebration of November 11th was forbidden and punishment for any attempt was severe indeed. In London, the Polish Government in Exile, led by Sikorski, a long-time opponent of Piłsudski, tried to de-emphasize November 11th and remove Piłsudskiite elements from its celebrations. Even songs traditionally sung on the occasion were either forbidden or actively discouraged. This attempt was widely resented in the army where there existed a cult of Piłsudski. November 11th regained some of its previous attention after Sikorski's death in July 1943 when Gen. Sosnkowski, a close comrade of Piłsudski's, came to head the Polish armed forces. This proved a brief episode because he was removed from office under British pressure in 1944. Piłsudskiites in exile were unable to contest the gradual diminution of November 11th because their regime bore the obloquy of a lost war and no leader emerged to replace Piłsudski. They were scattered and bereft. November 11th was in danger of being jettisoned as the national holiday. Its only power lay in inertia, and the sad fact that the Poles no longer had anything positive to celebrate. When the Russians moved into eastern Poland they initially treated the 11th with conspicuous respect, even trying to link it with the November 7th celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution as a kind of extended independence celebration. This toleration proved short-lived and by 1945 November 11th was effectively banned and July 22nd, the date the Lublin Committee declared its existence was proffered as the new national holiday. It never gained much support.

Keywords: Sikorski; Sosnkowski; Anders; Piłsudski; Ak; World War II; government-in-exile; Lublin Committee; Stalin; Union of Polish Patriots; PRL

Chapter.  11833 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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