Poland, 1918-1945: An Interpretive and Documentary History of the Second Republic

By Peter D. Stachura | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

The evidence presented in this study demonstrates without any doubt that the Second Republic, far from being a failure as so many historians have claimed since the end of the Second World War, was, when all relevant factors and perspectives are duly taken into account, a rather remarkable success during the years from 1918 until 1939. This verdict is based not simply on the already acknowledged cultural brilliance, intellectual vigour and educational advances of the interwar era. There were, in addition, a host of other conspicuous achievements in a variety of spheres.

In defiance of the most inauspicious circumstances, the republic managed to defend and then consolidate its independent status in the early 1920s, for which the Polish Army's stunning victory over the Soviet Bolsheviks in 1920 was the exhilarating inspiration. The victory not only kept at bay the menace of revolutionary Bolshevisn for a generation and thwarted incipient German imperialist aggression, but also instilled in the hearts and minds of ethnic Poles a new self-belief and confidence in the future of their country. A deep-seated sense of national consciousness, pride and patriotism was the enduring legacy of that triumph.

The economy, ravaged by the exploitative policies of the partitionist powers and the destructive impact of the First World War, lacked substantial material resources for investment, and then had to withstand the crises of hyperinflation and the Depression. None the less, comparatively significant progress was recorded. While agriculture continued to suffer from the serious problems of under-mechanisation, low productivity and over-population, the introduction by the government of the ambitious Central Industrial Region in 1936 showed the way ahead. In the brief time before the war, it had already begun to realise, thanks to astute management and a clear sense of purpose, some of Poland's industrial potential, with concomitant consequences for the standard of living of the general population. It goes without saying, of course, that what the economy needed most of all was a prolonged period of stability, which it

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Poland, 1918-1945: An Interpretive and Documentary History of the Second Republic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations and Glossary viii
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Independence Regained 6
  • 2 - Consolidation 28
  • 3 - Society and the Economy 45
  • 4 - Politics 59
  • 5 - The Ethnic Minorities 79
  • 6 - Culture and Education 101
  • 7 - Foreign Policy 111
  • 8 - Occupation and Resistance 130
  • 9 - The Jewish Holocaust and the Poles 144
  • 10 - Defeat in Victory 161
  • Conclusion 182
  • Bibliography 188
  • Appendix I 201
  • Appendix II 208
  • Index 211
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