polish independence

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today in history »  The Constitution of 3 May 1791

The constitution (Polish: Konstytucja 3 maja) is considered one of the most important achievements in the history of Poland, despite being in effect for only a year, until the Russo-Polish War of 1792. The constitution was a milestone in the history of law and the rise of democracy. 

It has been called the second constitution in world history, following the 1788 ratification of the United States Constitution. The memory of the May 3 Constitution—recognized by political scientists as a very progressive document for its time—for generations helped keep alive Polish aspirations for an independent and just society, and continued to inform the efforts of its authors’ descendants. 

In Poland it is viewed as a national symbol, and the culmination of all that was good and enlightened in Polish history and culture. The 3rd May anniversary of its adoption has been observed as Poland’s most important civil holiday since Poland regained independence in 1918. Its importance for the Polish people has been compared to that of July 4 to the Americans.

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Polish nationalists mark Independence Day with a massive anti-migrant, anti-EU march

Up to 50,000 were on the march through Warsaw on Wednesday, November 11, with an anti-migrant, anti-EU message as they marked Independence Day dating back to the First World War. The march was organized by several far-right organizations under the slogan “Poland for Poles. Poles for Poland.”

Multiple anti-EU banners were present and at one point, demonstrators trampled and burned a European Union flag. “Yesterday it was Moscow, today it’s Brussels which takes away our freedom,” chanted a group of protesters.

Poland’s outgoing centrist government has agreed to accept the EU policy and welcome about 7,000 refugees from Syria and Eritrea, a plan that is so unpopular with many Poles. Multiple banners read “Not Welcome” and “Stop Islamisation”.

everything you need to know about polish history can be summed up by this little fact:

there is a national/religious song, in which there are two versions of the last verse depending on Poland’s political situation

so we either ask God to bless our fatherland or we ask him to return it to us

if i were to fullfil my old childhood dream and write a novel i would

  • write it about exactly the thing that i desperately wanted to read in high school, which is a 19th century polish realist novel centered around female characters
  • it would be in two parts about two generations of women who each participated (in many ways, obviously not many women were allowed to fight lmao) in november uprising and january uprising
  • ther would be lots of diversity: polish catholic noblewomen, butch lesbians i.e. maria konopnicka, jewish women (with lots of long paragraphs about their journey to define their relatonship with judaism and the jewish people, polishness and womanhood), peasant women, tatar women, ukrainian women, rromani women etc, and of course differing mentalities of women from the three partitions
  • lots of authentc historical characters, such as romuald traugutt, emilia plater, maria skłodowska-curie,  adam jerzy czartoryski, artur grottger and such
  • would probably include something about my local homeland, which is western greater poland (must have some scenes in the wolsztyn palace! the family who used to owned it participated in the january uprising, so it wouldn’t be that hard to manage + bits about local jewish community)
  • A CRITICAL APPROACH TO ROMANTIC POETRY, especially how it villainises and infantilises women and how detrimental it is to polish independence movement and society in general, because we were basically squandering half of our nation’s potential and energy, and in such difficult and desperate time?!
  • will probably add more
Respect the Slav

 I am Polish with a bit of Tatar blood. I strongly identify as Slavic and have genuine affection for any Slavic nation, but mostly I am Polish and so proud to be. I find it kind of hurtful how we are perceived in the Western nations and how we are depicted in mainstream media in America. I feel rejected both by the white community and the opressed community of People of color. Of course by no means Slavs are POC and by no means we have it as bad, but actually anyone who isn’t of Western European descend has it hard. Nevertheless we are painted with the same brush as those Western Europeans simply due to our race, but we’re not the same.

Have you ever notices the way Slavs are depicted in mainstream media in USA? Let’s start with the fact that you don’t really see other Slavic nations than Russians. I know that Russia is the big bad of the US generally, but not ever Russian is a villain or a villain-turned-hero. There are tons of amazing people. NOT EVERY RUSSIAN IS EVIL. Their authorities are evil, but the Russians are not. For example, look at the Russians in the MCU. First of all, we’ve got Natasha. As much as I love Scarlett Joahnsson and I am aware that she is of Polish descend, there are so many talented Russian actresses who could have got the role, yet as far as I’m concerned no actual Russian was even considered. Second thing is while Natasha is a Russian protagonist she despises Russia. Her homecountry is everything evil when it comes to the character. She doesn’t show young Slavs that being Slavic is cool. The rest of the Russians in the Universe are villains. Let’s start with Ivan Vanko. Again, Rourke is not Russian nd he doesn’t have ANY Russian or Slavic blood. The accent was terrible, the character was absolutely despising. While his motivation was weak it kind of made sense until the reveal that Anton Vanko was practically a leech. So yeah, evil runs in the Russian blood I guess. Russians in Captain America? Okay, I don’t have a fucking idea what went on there. The Russians captured Bucky and experimented on him, yet he’s a Hydra asset? Hydra was a Nazi organization and it makes no sense since the Soviets actually had a lot to do with defeating Nazis. Both were evil, but they’re not the fucking same. Actually Nazis hated Slavs almost as much as Jewish people and by the time “The First Avenger” takes place historically the Germans had already blocked Leningrad, so the Soviets would never work with them. Let’s take a look at “Arrow” now. We’ve got plenty of Russians here. Except they all are shady gangsters with good intentions only for themselves. Yeah, the brotherhood and severe loyalty in Bratva is depicted, but it’s still a criminal organization. Got to mention that they actually cast David Nykl who is Czech Canadian (so he’s Slavic) in the role of Anatoli, yet Kovar is played by a Swede. I’m in the supehero fandoms, so most of my examples come from there, but I guess you get the idea. I can’t recall many other Slavs with prominent roles in American mainstream media apart from Sophie and Oleg from Two Broke Girls and don’t even get me started on those. The Hollywood also didn’t care enough to cast somebody of the right ethnic background for the role of Nikola Tesla who was Serbian (so a Slav) with David Bowie playing him in “The Prestige” and Nicholas Hoult in the upcoming “The Current War”. Have you heard of the movie “The Zookeeper’s Wife”? It’s about the Żabiński family who hid Jews in the Warsaw Zoo during WWII. Yet the main roles of Polish people again went to actors with nothing Slavic about them.

I could rant more on this, but I actually want to mention one more thing. Dear People of Color, as I said we are not opressed like you, but please do not paint us with the same brush as those actually responsible for all the awful things that happened in America to your ancestors. And I am talking as A POLISH PERSON here. Specifically Polish person. We are not your enemy. We never colonised Americas. We never had slaves there. While your ancestors were slaves (actually the term “slave” derives from the word “Slav”, because Slavic people were often kept as slaves in Arab Spain in ninth century), mine were living in a non-existent country since it was literally stolen away from us by Prussia, Russia and Austria. For 123 years there was no independent Poland, Polish culture was opressed and depolonization was crazy. Yet we managed to survive. We fought for our freedom. One of our national heroes is actually also a national hero in US. His name is Tadeusz Kościuszko. If you haven’t heard of him, you’re missing out. He was a prominent figure in American Revolution. There’s actually a story that while he was in Philadephia, the leader of Little Turtle came to him and Tadeusz gave him guns with guide to use them against anyone who would want to conquer Little Turtle. Then he came back to Poland to fight for his own country which was being torn apart by their neighbours.

There’s also the story about Poles in Haiti. Let me start things of with saying that many Poles viewed Napoleon as a way to regain freedom. It kind of worked since the Kingdom of Poland came to existance, but don’t think it was any kind of independent coutry. It still belonged to Russia. Napoleon exploited the Poles in his army, seriously. He didn’t actually give a damn about us. So he sent them to help subdue the Haitian Revolution. As you may or may not know, the revolution was successful. Want to hear the story of the Poles’ role? Well, it’s simple. When they arrived there and saw that the Haitians fight for their freedom just like the Polish, they decided to actually help them. Not immediately, but it didn’t take them much time. They saw the Revolution as paralell to the Polish situation back then. Jean-Jacques Dessalines called the Poles (AND I’M LITERALLY QUOTING HIM THERE): “the White Neg***s of Europe” with was actually regarded a great honour. The Poles who fought there aquired Haitian citizenship and you can still find their descendants on Haiti. 

And the WWII. Oh, the WWII. It all started in Poland which was still weak. We actually existed as an independent country for only 20 years when Hitler attacked us. It’s no mystery that our allies (Great Britain and France) didn’t give a damn about us and didn’t help Poland at all. I could talk and talk about the Poles in the WWII, because our role was HUGE. Let me just say that Poland was the only country were hiding Jews was punished by death, yet so many Polish people (count in my greatgrandparents) still did it. Of course not every Pole was a saint back then and some actually did horrible things, but majority of Poles really helped the Jews. Just check which country has the most citizens who got the honorific of Righteous Among the Nations. (Spoiler Alert: it’s Poland) Poland is actually the only country and Germany conquered back then where they couldn’t form a SS force, because most of us would rather die than fight for the Nazis. A Pole, Jan Karski, risked his life when he was smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto to gather information. Actually when he reported those to Western leaders, they pretty much didn’t give a shit. Polish officer Witold Pilecki voluteered to go to Auschwitz to gain information on the camp. And please, NEVER say “Polish death camps”. The death camps were never Polish. They were on our territory which was taken from us by force.  Poles also fought in Britain (Polish pilots in Battle of England anyone?) and in other parts of the world. After the war ended no one gave a shit. Roosevelt and Churchill easily sold us to Soviets, so we actually became dependent on Russia yet again. We regained our independance in 1989 and were actually the first nation to break the communist regime. 

We’re no saints and the country is a mess right now. There are tons of rasist, homophobic and sexist people among us, but a lot of Poles actually fought for basic human rights for everyone, for freedom, for justice. We may be a mess, but if the times are hard, we’ll come together and fight for ourselves and for each of you, because in the end we’re all people, we all deserve the same treatment and opportunities. 

So what I wanted to say by this rant? I wanted to kindly ask POC not to paint every white person with the same brush and to not think that we’re the same as your opressors. We are not your enemy, we never were. I wanted to kindly ask opressed POC not to erase the beautiful Slavic cultures by saying that “white people have no culture”. I get you’re angry with your opressors, I can fully understand it, but it is hurtful for me as a person who doesn’t really identify with the Western culture.  I wanted to demand Western white people for more respect towards other cultures, also those of other ethnic groups of your own race. Slavs are the biggest white ethnic group in Europe, yet they are neglected and stereotyped. 

Greta Garbo, as Countess Marie Walewska, reads in Conquest, 1937. Photograph by Clarence Sinclair Bull.

Marie, a Polish countess, is dispatched by her country to meet with Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (Charles Boyer). Marie has been encouraged to press for Polish independence by whatever means possible–and though no one comes out and says as much, it is understood that she will offer herself sexually to the promiscuous Napoleon.

At the very corner of this old map is a country I long for. It is the country of apples, hills, lazy rivers, sour wine, and love. Unfortunately a huge spider has spun its web over it, and with sticky saliva has closed the toll gates of dreams” wrote the Polish writer, Zbigniew Herbert. Today, this country is free, independent and stronger than ever! HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY POLAND!

Two British Airborne troopers dug in near Oosterbeek, Holland on 18th September 1944, showing the woodland fought in on the western side of the British perimeter.

By September 1944, Allied forces had successfully broken out of their Normandy beachhead and pursued shattered German forces across northern France and Belgium. Field Marshal Montgomery proposed a bold plan to head north through the Dutch Gelderland, bypassing the German Siegfried line defenses and opening a route into the German industrial heartland of the Ruhr. Initially proposed as a British and Polish operation codenamed Comet, the plan was soon expanded to involve most of the First Allied Airborne Army in what would be the biggest airborne assault in history reinforced by a ground advance into the Netherlands, codenamed Market Garden.

Montgomery’s plan involved dropping the U.S. 101st Airborne Division to capture key bridges around Eindhoven, the 82nd Airborne Division to secure key crossings around Nijmegen, and the British 1st Airborne Division, with the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade attached, to capture three bridges across the Rhine at Arnhem. The British Second Army, led by XXX Corps would advance up the “Airborne corridor”, securing the Airborne Division’s positions and crossing the Rhine within two days. If successful the plan would open the door to Germany and hopefully force an end to the war in Europe by the end of the year.

The fierce battle went on for 9 days with both sides making advances and retreats before an eventual full retreat by allied forces.
The Allies’ failure to secure a bridge over the Lower Rhine spelled the end of Market Garden. While all other objectives had been achieved, the failure to secure the Arnhem road bridge over the Rhine meant that the operation failed in its ultimate objective. Field Marshal Montgomery claimed that the operation was 90% successful and the Allies did possess a deep salient into German occupied territory that was quickly reinforced, however the losses were catastrophic for the British airborne, something it would never recover from during the remainder of the war.

Allied Airborne Unit losses:

British 1st Airborne
8,969 - Total troops involved.
1,174 - Killed in action or died of wounds.
5,903 - Captured or missing.
1,892 - Safely withdrawn.

British Glider Pilot Regiment
1,262 - Total troops involved.
219 - Killed in action or died of wounds.
511 - Captured or missing.
532 - Safely withdrawn.

Polish Brigade
1,689 - Total troops involved.
92 - Killed in action or died of wounds.
111 - Captured or missing.
1,486 - Safely withdrawn.

German casualty figures are less complete than those of the Allies, and official figures have never been released. A signal possibly sent by II SS Panzer Corps on 27 September listed 3,300 casualties (1,300 killed and 2,000 injured) around Arnhem and Oosterbeek.

Photograph taken by Army Film and Photographic Unit
Smith D M (Sgt)
(© IWM BU 1143)

(Colourised by Paul Reynolds)

First Meeting of Provisional Polish Government in Warsaw

A picture from the inaugural meeting.

January 14 1917, WarsawIn November, the Germans and Austrians had promised that Poland would become independent after the war.  Even while the war was still ongoing, however, a Provisional Council of State was set up, and held its first meeting on January 14.  Its 25 members (15 appointed by the Germans and 10 by the Austrians) were Polish notables who were willing to cooperate with the Central Powers for Polish independence.  For now, the Council was purely advisory, but it began to draw up draft legislation for after the war and privately advocated for Polish matters to the German and Austrian governments.  Its military affairs department, led by Josef Piłsudski, also had responsibility for recruiting Polish volunteers to help the Central Powers with the war effort–which was the main reason Hindenburg & Ludendorff had tolerated the creation of a Polish government in the first place.

Today in 1916: Turks Escape British Trap on Wadi River
Today in 1915: Turkish Army Begins March on Suez Canal