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On the 105th anniversary of Poland regaining independence (II). Józef Piłsudski – Kresy24.pl – Wschodnia Gazeta Codzienna


Commander Józef Piłsudski, around 1917
Authors’ Collections

Leader of the Polish Socialist Party; creator of the PPS Combat Organization, the Polish Military Organization and the Polish Legions; Chief of State, Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland, Minister of Military Affairs, Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army, First Marshal of Poland.

Józef Klemens Piłsudski was born on December 5, 1867 in Zułów near Vilnius. Initially, he received his education at his family home, then continued his education at the 1st Vilnius Junior High School. In 1885, he was admitted to medical studies in Kharkov, where he began to work in underground student organizations. Due to his connections with the socialist-revolutionary movement Narodnaya Volya, he was expelled from the university after a year, and in 1887 he was arrested and exiled to Siberia for 5 years. After returning to Vilnius, he joined the Polish Socialist Party, becoming a member of the Central Workers’ Committee and editor-in-chief of “Robotnik”. In 1899, he was arrested again and imprisoned in the Warsaw Citadel. As a result of simulating madness, he was transferred to a hospital in St. Petersburg, from where he managed to escape with the help of a Polish doctor. From then on, he put a lot of effort into organizing the Polish Legions.

In 1906, he headed the PPS-Revolutionary Faction, and in 1912, the Riflemen’s Union and the strictly secretive Polish Military Organization. At the outbreak of World War I, based on, among others, “Strzelec” and Polish Rifle Teams, the 1st Cadre Company was established. After the Polish Legions entered the Congress Kingdom, Piłsudski declared himself the commander of the Polish troops, subordinate to the National Government established in Warsaw. In December 1916, he became a member of the Military Commission of the Provisional Council of State. After the oath crisis, he was interned in Magdeburg, where he stayed until November 1918.

Marshal Józef Piłsudski with the Grand Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari, painting. Stanisław Zawadzki, 1934
Krzysztof Filipow, Order Virtuti Militari, Białystok 1992, p. 39

When he returned to Warsaw, he was entrusted with the function of Temporary Chief of State; from then on he held supreme power in Poland. He handed over this power to the President of the Republic of Poland, Gabriel Narutowicz, and withdrew from political life. He stayed in Sulejówek until May 1926, when he carried out the so-called May coup, forcing the resignation of the President of the Republic of Poland, Stanisław Wojciechowski, and the Prime Minister, Wincenty Witos. This began the Sanation government; During this time, he was Minister of Military Affairs and served as Prime Minister twice.

Józef Piłsudski’s literary output (including all speeches, proclamations, orders, letters, interviews, etc.) was twice collected by the Józef Piłsudski Institute Dedicated to the Study of the Modern History of Poland. For the first time (in the form of 8 volumes published in 1930–1931, supplemented by three in 1930–1936) – these were Writings – Speeches – Orders. In the years 1937–1938, the institute published supplemented and critically reviewed works Collective writings of Józef Piłsudski. The latter work was reissued as a reprint in 1989.

Józef Piłsudski died on May 12, 1935. The ceremonial funeral was a tribute paid by the Polish nation to the Marshal. He was buried in the crypt of St. Leonard in the Wawel Cathedral. It was Piłsudski’s heart’s wish that he was buried in his mother’s grave, in the Rossa cemetery in Vilnius.

Marshal Józef Piłsudski, 1930s
Authors’ Collections

Józef Piłsudski was married twice. He married Maria Juszkiewiczowa for the first time on July 15, 1899. Especially for her, he changed his religion and became a Lutheran. In 1906, he started a relationship with Aleksandra Szczerbińska, whom he married on October 25, 1921. From his second marriage he had two daughters – Jadwiga and Wanda.

He was decorated with, among others: the Order of the White Eagle, the Grand Ribbon of the Order of “Polonia Restituta”, the Grand Cross, the Knight’s Cross and the Silver Cross of the Military Order of “Virtuti Militari”, the Cross of Independence with Swords.

“I am a soldier. I love soldiering and I was the one whom fate allowed in the great world war, when great, huge countries threw millions of people, billions of money, all the splendor of modern technology on the card, who was fortunate enough not to die in the name of Poland in this crowd, because I “he built a poor, tiny house of a Polish soldier and erected and hung the Polish banner over it.”

Józef Piłsudski, speech in Lublin, January 11, 1920

Propaganda poster Józef Piłsudski, designed by Władysław Skoczylas (woodcut), published by the General Inspectorate of the Volunteer Army, Warsaw, 1920.
Polish Army Museum (Warsaw)


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