Jozef Piludski: Patriot?
The First Marshal
The Early Years
To understand, and ultimately decide for yourself, we must look at Jozef's earliest years. Those experiences at a young age, and those things that happened to his family, can perhaps explain Jozef's tendencies and the way he thought. However, it should be noted, that this does not remove the burden of conscious choice from him, and many believe experience does not affect what we do, but rather, serves as a simple justification for why we do things.
Jozef was born the 5th of December, 1867, to Polish Nobility. At this point in time, Poland was a territory within the Russian Empire, and there were many cultural programs going on at the time, designed to spread the cultural influence of the Russian Empire (and its people). Jozef would recall a specific hatred for being forced to attend Russian schools, church, and all other cultural institutions. By the time of adulthood, he was fundamentally against Poland being a territory in the Russian Empire.
Jozef the Socialist?
It is hard to understand, but in his early years, Jozef became involved with the Socialist movement of Poland. One might be inclined to believe that this would have led to some alignment with the Communist movement with people in Russia. In truth, however, it seemed that Pilsudski's association with socialism was simply because in Imperial Russia, it was one of the few parties that advocated for Polish Independence, as advocated in his famous streetcar quote (link).
However, for his part, before declaring his non-partisan status, he moved that the new Polish state establish the eight-hour working day, public schools, and women's suffrage. These were all key policies advocated as absolutely necessary by the Socialist Party. However, any further moves towards socialism, the Party would have to decide and work towards themselves.
While Jozef may have been an advocate for social freedoms, ultimately he displayed his disdain for the democractic method by launching a coup. During 1926, the Government of Poland had begun to shift somewhat chaotically. Most of this was due to former coalitions splitting from one another, to the point that the party that was in office was probably not thought to be representative of the will of the people. However, it should be noted that the new regime was increasingly more authoritarian than the previous regime, and that the previous regime had no intention of seizing power indefinitely. However, Pilsudski cannot be called a fascist, as it is probable that the current government didn't reflect the current will of the majority, but can be called an authoritarian, because he was abandoning the principle of democracy (which is only ever truly tested and affirmed when something like this happens).
It should be noted that the Brest Trials immediately followed the Coup, where the defeated persons were put on trial and sentenced to moderate prison time. We may never know what crimes they were guilty of, but on the surface, it seems they were guilty of trying to preserve democratic tradition. This retaliatory act, possibly as a means to prevent a counter-coup, is probably the most telling of the autocratic tendencies of Pilsudski.
Pilsudski the Marshal
It is important to note, that Pilsudski was heavily invested in developing the military of Poland. This makes sense, as this state organ is necessary for the development and continued independence of a Free Polish State. However, it should be noted, that Pilsudski was rather belligerent with the use of the Army.
Specifically, with the Polish-Soviet War, the conflict actually began when Pilsudski pushed onto Eastern politics. He would then link up with Ukrainian forces fighting the Soviets at the time, and declare an alliance, with the goal of creating a free Ukrainian state. The War ended with a Polish 'Victory', in so much that Poland was not conquered by the Soviet Union, but the idea of a Free Ukrainian state was ended as well.
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