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Poland (Polish: Polska), officially the Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; Austria-Hungary to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea, Danzig and East Prussia, to the north.
Poland was established has an independent state after the Polish National Independence War (1919-1921) on the former territories of the Russian Empire and Germany. During World War I, the Imperial German Army occupied the future territory of Poland and installed puppet local government councils. The Polish Legions where formed has breakaway from the Austro-Hungarian Army by the Germans. In March 1919 on the surrender of Germany, most of the members of the Polish Legions refused to swear allegiance to the emperor and were interned. Several successful mutinies establish them has independent army forces. The uprising of Warsaw (May 1920) marks the beginning of the Polish National Independence War and the creation the Polish Volunteer Army is formed. Later both forces (Polish Legions and Polish Volunteer Army) are organized into the Polish National Army.
The Red Army, composed of Russian and Belorussian forces advance in Polish territory with the intention of establishing a socialist republic. The Battle of Warsaw lasted less then a week before polish forces re-occupied the city and pushed back the red army. The Polish Volunteer Army besides confronting the Red Army it also had to deal with German Army in retreat and defending positions in German lands. The Polish occupation of the Prussian provinces of West Prussia, Posen and Silesia marked the end of the western campaign.
In May 1920 it is proclaimed the Republic by the Polish National Council (PRN). At the same time Polish Revolutionary Committee (Polrewkom) in Białystok proclaims the People's Republic of Poland. Once the Treaty of Versailles was signed and established the frontiers to the West, the PRN ordered Polish National Army recover the territories under rule of the Polrewkom. Having to deal with the White Forces, the revolutionary government of Russia signed a truced (August 1921) provisionally established the border of Belarus and Poland. The war with socialist Russia and Belarus and downfall of Polrewkom created an anti-left coalition and sentiment.
The Treaty of Versailles (1920), besides recognizing the independence of Poland and German-Polish borders in the Baltic region. It established the access and use of the port of Danzig. The recognition of the Belarussian and Lithuanian minorities within the State.
State of Poland
The political powers have being several times re-organized. On its War of Independence several local authorities meet to form the Polish National Council (PRN) has a supreme political authority of a re-established Poland. In Białystok, left wing revolutionaries with the help of the Red Army established a Polish Revolutionary Committee (Polrewkom). The Polrewkom proclaimed the short lived People's Republic of Poland (1920-1921).
The Polish National Council (PRN) functioned has the executive and legislative power. Besides proclaiming the Republic, it called and organized the elections of the Constituent Assembly. This body provisionally approved the Constitutional Act of 1921 and finally redacts the Constitution of 1922.
The public powers of the republic are organized in:
- President of the Republic, who is Head of State is elected by a joint session of the National Assembly for a seven year term. He appoints all high public authorities and names the Prime Ministers and the rest of ministers.
- The Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, head the Government. They are named by the President and are responsible before the Senate and Seym.
- The legislative power resides in a bicameral National Assembly. The Senate is elected in districts representing the voivodeships (provinces). The Seym is elected every five years, by proportional representation.
- The Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority, with a Supreme Administrative Court and a Supreme Administrative Court.
Poland has a multi-party system, and the political spectrum follows a left–right distinction.
- National Democracy (Polish: Narodowa Demokracja, ND or Endecja) is a right-wing nationalist and conservative political movement, represented by the National-Democratic Party (Stronnictwo Narodowo-Demokratyczne, SND), and its sister organizations in Danzig, East Prussia and Austria-Hungary's former state of West Galicia. The platform of the National Democracy is to reunite all Polish territories under one rule, Polonization of minorities, advocates Anti-semitism and anti-Germanism.
- Agrarianism, by the Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL). The party program calls for a land reform and the abolition of folwark, state interventionism in agriculture. Its main support and activist come from peasant organizations and agricultural cooperatives.
- Christian democracy represented by the Christian Civic Union (Unia Chrześcijańsko Obywatelska, UChO). The UChO was the result of the merger of several Christian parties and some members of the PSL.
- Liberalism is represented by Democratic Bloc (Blok Demokratyczny BD). The BD is an electoral alliance of several liberal, social-liberal, conservative liberal, progressive and centrist groups and parties, several political groups of ethnic minorities (Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, Belorussians and Lithuanians) and the Bloc of National Minorities. The later the most important political alliance of these ethnic groups.
- The Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna, PPS) is one of the most important Polish left-wing political parties from its inception and political representative of the Central Council of Trade Unions’ (CRZZ),
- The Polish Workers' Party (Polska Partia Robotnicza, PPR) a communist party is founded as a reconstitution of the Communist Workers Party of the People's Republic of Poland.
Poland is divided in Voivodeship (provinces), powiats (counties), gminas (communes) and gromadas. The capital of Warsaw had a status of an independent city-voivodeship.
At voivodeship the Voivod is appointed by the president, and subject to the Minister of the Interior. The Voivod was a representative government in the province. There is a provincial council that acts as a consultative and advisory body. A Provincial Department acts has an advisory body. At powiats (counties), a Starosta administers a county. He is appointed by the Minister of the Interior, and subject to the Voivod.
The majority of inhabitants lived in the countryside (75% in 1921), and their existence depended on land. Farmers made 65% of the population, while about 1% were landowners. In 1929, agricultural production made 65% of Poland's GNP. After 123 years of partitions, regions of the country were very unevenly developed. Lands of former German Empire were most advanced – in Greater Poland and Pomerelia, crops were on Western European level. The situation was much worse in former Congress Poland, Kresy, and former Galicia, where agriculture was most backward and primitive, with a large number of small farms, unable to succeed on both domestic and international market. Furthermore, another problem was overpopulation of the countryside, which resulted in chronic unemployment. Living conditions were so bad that in several regions, such as counties inhabited by the Hutsuls, there was permanent starvation.
Farmers rebelled against the government, and the situation began to change in the late 1930s, due to construction of several factories for the Central Industrial Region, which gave employment to thousands of countryside residents.
Poland is unofficially divided into two parts – better developed "Poland A" in the west, and eastern provinces, the underdeveloped "Poland B". Polish industry is concentrated in the west, mostly in Polish Upper Silesia, and the adjacent Lesser Poland's province of Zagłębie Dąbrowskie, where the bulk of coal mines and steel plants are located. Furthermore, heavy industry plants is located in Częstochowa (Huta Częstochowa, founded in 1896), Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski (Huta Ostrowiec, founded in 1837–1839), Stalowa Wola (brand new industrial city, which was built from scratch in 1937 – 1938), Chrzanów (Fablok, founded in 1919), Jaworzno, Trzebinia (oil refinery, opened in 1895), Łódź (the seat of Polish textile industry), Poznań (H. Cegielski – Poznań), Kraków and Warsaw (Ursus Factory). Further east, in Kresy, industrial centers are scarce, and limited to two major cities of the region – Lwów and Wilno (Elektrit). Besides coal mining, Poland also as deposits of oil in Borysław, Drohobycz, Jasło and Gorlice, potassium salt (TESP), and basalt (Janowa Dolina).
Apart from already-existing industrial areas, in the mid-1930s, an ambitious, state-sponsored project of Central Industrial Region (Centralny Okręg Przemysłowy, abbreviated COP) was started.
One of characteristic features of Polish economy is gradual nationalization of major plants. This is the case of Ursus Factory (Państwowe Zakłady Inżynieryjne), and several steelworks, such as Huta Pokój in Ruda Śląska – Nowy Bytom, Huta Królewska in Chorzów – Królewska Huta, Huta Laura in Siemianowice Śląskie, as well as Scheibler and Grohman Works in Łódź.
Since the 1920s there is a trade war with Germany and East Prussia, involving tariffs and restrictions.
The Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland (Siły Zbrojne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, abbreviated SZ RP), under the command of the Ministry of National Defense (Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej) are:
- Land Forces (Wojska Lądowe),
- Navy (Marynarka Wojenna),
- Polish Air Force (Siły Powietrzne)
The military–industrial complex is served by the State Aviation Works (Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze, PZL), the former Central Aviation Workshops (Centralne Warsztaty Lotnicze, CWL), State Armament Factories (Państwowe Wytwórnie Uzbrojenia, PWU) and National Engineering Works (Państwowe Zakłady Inżynieryjne, PZInż)
Public order is in charge of the Polish State Police (Policja Państwowa), Poland's national police force.