Central and Eastern Europe after the Polish-Soviet Treaty of Riga
|Signed||18 March 1921|
|Expiration||17 September 1939|
| Territorial evolution of Poland |
in the 20th century
The Peace of Riga, also known as the Treaty of Riga (Polish : Traktat Ryski), was signed in Riga on 18 March 1921, between Poland, Soviet Russia (acting also on behalf of Soviet Belarus) and Soviet Ukraine. The treaty ended the Polish–Soviet War.
Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 637,827 inhabitants (2018), it is also the largest city in the three Baltic states, home to one third of Latvia's population and one tenth of the three Baltic states' combined population. The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava river. Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies 1–10 m above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain.
The Second Polish Republic, commonly known as interwar Poland, refers to the country of Poland in the period between the First and Second World Wars (1918–1939). Officially known as the Republic of Poland, sometimes Commonwealth of Poland, the Polish state was re-established in 1918, in the aftermath of World War I. When, after several regional conflicts, the borders of the state were fixed in 1922, Poland's neighbours were Czechoslovakia, Germany, the Free City of Danzig, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and the Soviet Union. It had access to the Baltic Sea via a short strip of coastline either side of the city of Gdynia. Between March and August 1939, Poland also shared a border with the then-Hungarian governorate of Subcarpathia. The Second Republic ceased to exist in 1939, when Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic, marking the beginning of the European theatre of World War II.
The Soviet-Polish borders established by the treaty remained in force until the Second World War. They were later redrawn during the Yalta Conference and Potsdam Conference.
The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference and code-named the Argonaut Conference, held from 4 to 11 February 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union for the purpose of discussing Germany and Europe's postwar reorganization. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively. The conference convened near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, within the Livadia, Yusupov, and Vorontsov Palaces.
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 17 July to 2 August 1945. The participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, represented respectively by Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, and President Harry S. Truman.
World War I removed former imperial borders across Europe. In 1918, after the Russian Revolution had renounced Tsarist claims to Poland in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the war had ended with Germany's surrender, Poland was able to re-establish its independence after a century of foreign rule.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918 between the new Bolshevik government of Russia and the Central Powers, that ended Russia's participation in World War I. The treaty was signed at German-controlled Brest-Litovsk, after two months of negotiations. The treaty was agreed upon by the Russians to stop further invasion. According to the treaty, Soviet Russia defaulted on all of Imperial Russia's commitments to the Allies and eleven nations became independent in Eastern Europe and western Asia.
The Partitions of Poland were three partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that took place toward the end of the 18th century and ended the existence of the state, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland and Lithuania for 123 years. The partitions were conducted by Habsburg Austria, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Russian Empire, which divided up the Commonwealth lands among themselves progressively in the process of territorial seizures and annexations.
The Russian Civil War presented an opportunity for Poland under the leadership of Józef Piłsudski to regain parts of the tsarist territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which had been incorporated into the Russian Empire during the Partitions of Poland. Meanwhile, many in the Soviet leadership desired to respond to Piłsudski's moves into the Ukraine by using military force against Poland, which was seen by the Soviets as a land bridge to Western Europe and thus to extend the revolution westwards. The Polish–Soviet War ensued, culminating in the Polish victory in the Battle of Warsaw (1920), which made both sides receptive to ending the conflict. Further military setbacks after their defeat near Warsaw made the Soviets eager to begin peace treaty negotiations,and the Poles, pressured by the League of Nations, were also willing to negotiate after the Polish army had annexed most of the disputed territories in the war but was nearing exhaustion.
Józef Klemens Piłsudski, was a Polish statesman who served as the Chief of State (1918–22) and First Marshal of Poland. He was considered the de facto leader (1926–35) of the Second Polish Republic as the Minister of Military Affairs. From World War I he had great power in Polish politics and was a distinguished figure on the international scene. He is viewed as a father of the Second Polish Republic re-established in 1918, 123 years after the 1795 Partitions of Poland by Austria, Prussia and Russia.
The Polish–Soviet War was fought by the Second Polish Republic, Ukrainian People's Republic and the proto-Soviet Union over a region comparable to today's westernmost Ukraine and parts of modern Belarus.
The Battle of Warsaw refers to the decisive Polish victory in 1920 during the Polish–Soviet War. Poland, on the verge of total defeat, repulsed and defeated the Red Army.
Peace talks began in Minsk on 17 August 1920, but as the Polish counter-offensive drew near, the talks were moved to Riga, and resumed on 21 September.The Soviets proposed two solutions, the first on 21 September and the second on 28 September. The Polish delegation made a counter-offer on 2 October. Three days later the Soviets offered amendments to the Polish offer, which Poland accepted. An armistice was signed on 12 October and went into effect on 18 October 1920. The chief negotiators were Jan Dąbski for Poland and Adolph Joffe for the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. The Soviet side insisted, successfully, on excluding non-communist Ukrainian representatives from the negotiations.
Minsk is the capital and largest city of Belarus, situated on the Svislač and the Nyamiha Rivers. As the national capital, Minsk has a special administrative status in Belarus and is the administrative centre of Minsk Region (voblasć) and Minsk District (rajon). The population in January 2018 was 1,982,444, making Minsk the 11th most populous city in Europe. Minsk is the administrative capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and seat of its Executive Secretary.
A counter-offensive is the term used by the military to describe large-scale, usually strategic offensive operations by forces that had successfully halted the enemy's offensive, while occupying defensive positions.
An armistice is a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, since it may constitute only a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace. It is derived from the Latin arma, meaning "arms" and -stitium, meaning "a stopping".
Due to their military setbacks, the Soviet delegation offered Poland substantial territorial concessions in the contested border areas. However, to many observers, it looked like the Polish side was conducting the Riga talks as if Poland had lost the war. The Polish delegation was dominated by members of the National Democrat movement, who were Piłsudski's political opponents.The National Democrats did not want non-Polish minorities in the reborn Polish state to constitute more than one third of the overall population, and were therefore prepared to accept a Polish-Soviet border which was substantially to the west of what was being offered by the Soviet side, even though this would leave hundreds of thousands of people who were ethnically Polish on the Soviet side of the border.
This decision was also motivated by political objectives. The National Democrats' base of public support was among Poles in central and western Poland. In the east of the country and in the disputed borderlands, support for the National Democrats was greatly outweighed by support for Piłsudski (and in the countryside outside of the cities, Poles were outnumbered by Ukrainians or Belarusians in these areas). So a border too far to the east was not just against the National Democrats' ideological objective of minimising the minority population of Poland, but would also be an electoral disadvantage to them.War-weary public opinion in Poland also favoured an end to the negotiations and both sides remained under pressure from the League of Nations to reach a deal.
A special parliamentary delegation consisting of six members of the Polish Sejm held a vote on whether to accept the Soviets' far-reaching concessions, which would leave Minsk on the Polish side of the border. Pressured by the National Democrat ideologue, Stanisław Grabski, the 100 km of extra territory was rejected, a victory for the nationalist doctrine and a stark defeat for Piłsudski's federalism.
Regardless, the peace negotiations dragged on for months due to Soviet reluctance to sign. However, the matter became more urgent for the Soviet leadership as it had to deal with increased internal unrest towards the end of 1920, which led to the Tambov Rebellion and later the Kronstadt rebellion against the Soviet authorities. As a result of this situation, Lenin ordered the Soviet plenipotentiaries to finalise the peace treaty with Poland.The Peace of Riga was signed on 18 March 1921, partitioning the disputed territories in Belarus and Ukraine between Poland and the RSFSR, and ending the conflict.
The Treaty consisted of 26 articles.Poland was to receive monetary compensation (30 million rubles in gold) for its economic input into the Russian Empire during the Partitions of Poland. Under Article 14 Poland was also to receive railway materials (locomotives, rolling stock, etc.) with a value of 29 million gold roubles. Russia was to surrender works of art and other Polish national treasures acquired from Polish territories after 1772 (such as the Jagiellonian tapestries and the Załuski Library). Both sides renounced claims to war compensation. Article 3 stipulated that border issues between Poland and Lithuania would be settled by those states.
TREATY OF PEACE BETWEEN POLAND, RUSSIA AND THE UKRAINE Riga, March 18, 1921 Article 3. Russia and the Ukraine abandon all rights and claims to the territories situated to the west of the frontier laid down by Article 2 of the present Treaty. Poland, on the other hand, abandons in favour of the Ukraine and of White Ruthenia all rights and claims to the territory situated to the east of this frontier.
Article 4. Each of the Contracting Parties mutually undertakes to respect in every way the political sovereignty of the other Party, to abstain from interference in its internal affairs, and particularly to refrain from all agitation, propaganda or interference of any kind, and not to encourage any such movement.
Article 6 created citizenship options for persons on either side of the new border.Article 7 consisted of a mutual guarantee that all nationalities would be permitted "free intellectual development, the use of their national language, and the exercise of their religion."
The Allied Powers were initially reluctant to recognise the treaty, which had been concluded without their participation. km east of that line. French support led to its recognition in March 1923 by France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan, followed by the US in April.Their postwar conferences had supported the Curzon Line as the Polish-Russian border, and Poland's territorial gains in the treaty lay about 250
In Poland, the Peace of Riga was met with criticism from the very beginning. Some characterised the treaty as short-sighted and argued that much of what Poland had gained during the Polish-Soviet war was lost during the peace negotiations. Józef Piłsudski had participated in the Riga negotiations only as an observer, and called the resulting treaty "an act of cowardice".Piłsudski felt the agreement was a shameless and short-sighted political calculation, with Poland abandoning its Ukrainian allies. On 15 May 1921, he apologised to Ukrainian soldiers during his visit to the internment camp at Kalisz. The treaty substantially contributed to the failure of his plan to create a Polish-led Intermarium federation of Eastern European countries, as portions of the territory proposed for the federation were ceded to the Soviets.
Lenin also considered the treaty unsatisfactory, as it forced him to put aside his plans for exporting the Soviet revolution to the West.
The Belarusian and Ukrainian independence movements saw the treaty as a setback.Four million Ukrainians and over one million Belarusians lived within areas ceded to Poland; in one estimate, only 15% of the population was ethnically Polish. The Ukrainian People's Republic led by Symon Petliura had been allied with Poland under the Treaty of Warsaw, which was abrogated by the Peace of Riga. The new treaty violated Poland's military alliance with the UPR, which had explicitly prohibited a separate peace. In doing so, it worsened relations between Poland and those Ukrainians who had supported Petliura. These supporters felt Ukraine had been betrayed by its Polish ally, a feeling that would be exploited by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and contribute to the growing tensions and eventual anti-Polish massacres in the 1930s and the 1940s. By the end of 1921, the majority of Poland-allied Ukrainian, Belarusian and White Russian forces had either been annihilated by Soviet forces or crossed the border into Poland and laid down their arms.
According to Belarusian historian Andrew Savchenko, Poland's new eastern border was "military indefensible and economically unviable" and a source of growing ethnic tensions, as the resulting minorities in Poland were too large to be ignored or assimilated and too small to win their desired autonomy.
While the Peace of Riga led to a two-decade stabilisation of Soviet-Polish relations, conflict was renewed with the Soviet invasion of Poland during World War II. The treaty was subsequently overridden after a decision by war's Allied powers to change Poland's borders once again and transfer the populations.
In the view of some foreign observers, the treaty's incorporation of significant minority populations into Poland led to seemingly insurmountable challenges, because the newly formed organizations such as OUN engaged in terror and sabotage actions across ethnically mixed areas to inflame conflict in the region.Nevertheless, many groups representing national minorities welcomed Piłsudski's return to power in 1926 providing opportunities to play a role in the Polish government.
The populations separated from Poland by the new Polish-Soviet border experienced different fate from their fellow citizens. Ethnic Poles left within Soviet borders were subjected to discrimination and property confiscation.Most of them (at least 111,000) were summarily killed in the NKVD operation in 1937/38, genocide preceding ones perpetrated during WW2, or exiled to different regions of the Soviet Union.
Belarusians and Ukrainians, having failed to create their own states, were subjects of extermination in the Soviet Union, e.g. during Holodomorand Great Purge (of which Poles were also victims). Belarusians and Ukrainians living on the Polish side of the border were subjected to Polonization; which contributed to the rise of Ukrainian nationalist organisations and the adoption of terrorist tactics by Ukrainian extremists.
The Soviet Union, thwarted in 1921, would see its sphere of influence expand as a result of World War II. After establishing its control over the People's Republic of Poland, the Polish-Soviet border was moved westwards in 1945 to roughly coincide with the Curzon Line. This shift was accompanied by large population transfers which led to the expulsion of the Poles living east of the new border, and also moved most of the Ukrainian minority remaining in Poland to the former German territories that were ceded to Poland in compensation. The unified Belarusian and Ukrainian territories were fully incorporated into the USSR.
However, in 1989, Poland would regain its full sovereignty, and soon afterwards, with the fall of the Soviet Union, Belarus and Ukraine would go on to become independent nations.
Ja was przepraszam, panowie, ja was przepraszam – to miało być zupełnie inaczej
The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, also commonly referred to in English as Byelorussia, was a federal unit of the Soviet Union (USSR). It existed between 1920 and 1922, and from 1922 to 1991 as one of fifteen constituent republics of the USSR, with its own legislation from 1990 to 1991. The republic was ruled by the Communist Party of Byelorussia and was also referred to as Soviet Byelorussia by a number of historians.
The history of interwar Poland comprises the period from the re-recreation of the independent Polish state in 1918, until the joint Invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 at the onset of World War II. The two decades of Poland's sovereignty between the world wars are known as the Interbellum.
The history of the Curzon Line, with minor variations, goes back to the period following World War I. It was drawn for the first time by the Supreme War Council as the demarcation line between the newly emerging states, the Second Polish Republic and the Soviet Union. The proposal was put forward by British Foreign Secretary George Curzon, to serve as a diplomatic basis for the future border agreement, and in that form, it never materialized because the war went on.
The Republic of Central Lithuania or Middle Lithuania, or Central Lithuania, was a short-lived political entity, which did not gain international recognition. The republic was created in 1920 following the staged rebellion of soldiers of the 1st Lithuanian–Belarusian Infantry Division of the Polish Army under Lucjan Żeligowski, supported by the Polish air force, cavalry and artillery. Centered on the historical capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Vilna, for eighteen months the entity served as a buffer state between Poland, upon which it depended, and Lithuania, which claimed the area. After a variety of delays, a disputed election took place on January 8, 1922, and the territory was annexed to Poland.
Polonization is the acquisition or imposition of elements of Polish culture, in particular the Polish language. This was experienced in some historic periods by the non-Polish populations of territories controlled or substantially under the influence of Poland. As with other examples of cultural assimilation, it could either be voluntary or forced and is most visible in the case of territories where the Polish language or culture were dominant or where their adoption could result in increased prestige or social status, as was the case of the nobility of Ruthenia and Lithuania. To a certain extent Polonization was also administratively promoted by the authorities, particularly in the period following World War II.
The 1920 Kiev Offensive, sometimes considered to have started the Polish–Soviet War, was an attempt by the armed forces of the newly re-emerged Poland led by Józef Piłsudski, in alliance with the Ukrainian leader Symon Petliura, to seize the territories of modern-day Ukraine which fell under the Soviet control after the Bolshevik Revolution. The operation led to a Soviet counteroffensive resulting in the creation of the short-lived Galician Soviet Socialist Republic, and ended amicably with the formal Peace of Riga of 1921.
The Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic or Litbel (Lit-Bel) was a Soviet socialist republic that existed within the territories of modern Belarus and eastern Lithuania for approximately five months during 1919. It was created after the merger of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia. The republic was dissolved after the Polish Army took over its claimed territory of eastern Lithuania during the Polish–Soviet War.
The Polish–Lithuanian War was an armed conflict between newly independent Lithuania and Poland in the aftermath of World War I. The conflict primarily concerned territorial control of the Vilnius Region, including Vilnius, and the Suwałki Region, including the towns of Suwałki, Augustów, and Sejny. The conflict was largely shaped by the progress in the Polish–Soviet War and international efforts to mediate at the Conference of Ambassadors and later the League of Nations. There are major differences in Polish and Lithuanian historiography regarding treatment of the war. According to Lithuanian historians, the war was part of the Lithuanian Wars of Independence and spanned from spring 1919 to November 1920. According to Poland, the war included only fighting over the Suwałki Region in September–October 1920 and was part of the Polish–Soviet War.
In the Polish–Soviet War of 1919-1921, Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine were in combat with the newly independent Second Polish Republic and the Ukrainian People's Republic. Both sides aimed to secure territory in the often disputed areas of today's Ukraine and parts of modern-day Belarus, in the context of the fluidity of borders in Central and Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War I and the breakdown of the Russian and German empires. The first clashes between the two sides occurred in February 1919, but full-scale war did not break out until the following year. Especially at first, neither Soviet Russia, embroiled in the Russian Civil War, nor Poland, still in the early stages of state building, were in a position to formulate and pursue clear and consistent war aims.
Vilnius Region is the territory in the present-day Lithuania and Belarus that was originally inhabited by ethnic Baltic tribes and was a part of Lithuania proper, but came under East Slavic and Polish cultural influences over time.
Western Belorussia or Western Belarus is a historical region of modern-day Belarus comprising the territory which belonged to the Second Polish Republic during the interwar period in accordance with the international peace treaties. Before the 1939 Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland it used to form the northern part of the Polish Kresy macroregion. Following the end of World War II in Europe the territory of Western Belorussia was ceded to the Soviet Union by the Allied Powers, while the city of Białystok with surroundings was returned to Poland. Until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 Western Belorussia formed a significant part of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR). Today, it constitutes the western part of the sovereign Republic of Belarus.
Operation Mińsk was a military offensive of the Polish Army resulting in the recapture of Minsk from the Bolsheviks around August 8, 1919. The victory allowed the Polish troops to advance further into the Russian-controlled Lithuania and Belarus, and thus present the Bolsheviks with a fait accompli by driving them out of the newly acquired territories. The main Polish attack was in the direction of Maladzechna, Minsk, and Polatsk along the railroad lines. On August 6 the Polish Army took over Slutsk, and Minsk two days later. The Polish control over the railway lines, prevented the Russians from bringing in reinforcements. By the end of August, the forces of Józef Piłsudski took over Barysau and Babruisk, and forced Lenin to return to the negotiating table. Operation Mińsk was considered critical for the confirmation of Polish presence in the Kresy macroregion at the time of the reconstitution of sovereign Poland. The negotiations however, failed, which led to the Soviet invasion of ethnic Poland in July 1920.
The Belarusian minority in Poland is composed of 47,000 people according to the Polish census of 2011. This number decreased in the last decades from over 300,000 due to an active process of assimilation. Most of them live in the Podlaskie Voivodeship.
The Treaty of Warsaw of April 1920 was a military-economical alliance between the Second Polish Republic, represented by Józef Piłsudski, and the Ukrainian People's Republic, represented by Symon Petliura, against Bolshevik Russia. The treaty was signed on 21 April 1920, with a military addendum on 24 April.
Żeligowski's Mutiny was a Polish military operation led by General Lucjan Żeligowski in October 1920, which resulted in the creation of the Republic of Central Lithuania. Polish Chief of State Józef Piłsudski had surreptitiously ordered Żeligowski to carry out the operation, and revealed the truth several years later. The area was formally annexed by Poland in 1922 and internationally recognized as Polish territory in 1923. Nevertheless, Lithuania continued to claim the Vilnius region.
The Polish population transfers in 1944–46 from the eastern half of prewar Poland, refer to the forced migrations of Poles toward the end – and in the aftermath – of World War II. These were the result of Soviet Union policy that was ratified by its Allies. Similarly the Soviet Union had enforced policy between 1939 and 1941, that targeted and expelled ethnic Poles residing in the Soviet zone of occupation following the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland. The second wave of expulsions resulted from the retaking of Poland by the Red Army during the Soviet counter-offensive. It took over territory for its republic of Ukraine, a shift that was ratified at the end of World War II by the Soviet Union's then Allies of the West.
The Suwałki Agreement, Treaty of Suvalkai, or Suwalki Treaty was an agreement signed in the town of Suwałki between Poland and Lithuania on October 7, 1920. It was registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on January 19, 1922. Both countries had re-established their independence in the aftermath of World War I and did not have well-defined borders. They waged the Polish–Lithuanian War over territorial disputes in the Suwałki and Vilnius Regions. At the end of September 1920, Polish forces defeated the Soviets at the Battle of the Niemen River, thus militarily securing the Suwałki Region and opening the possibility of an assault on the city of Vilnius (Wilno). Polish Chief of State, Józef Piłsudski, had planned to take over the city since mid-September in a false flag operation known as Żeligowski's Mutiny.