Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Second Polish Republic Proclaimed ~ November 6, 1918

The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; from the creation of an independent Polish state in the aftermath of World War I, to the invasion of Poland in 1939 by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and the Slovak Republic, which marked the beginning of World War II.

When the borders of the state were fixed in 1922 after several regional conflicts, the Republic bordered Czechoslovakia, Germany, Free City of Danzig, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, and the Soviet Union, plus a tiny strip of the coastline of the Baltic Sea, around the city of Gdynia. Furthermore, in the period March 1939 – August 1939, Poland bordered then-Hungarian Carpathian Ruthenia. It had an area of 388 634 km² (sixth largest in Europe, in the fall of 1938, after the annexation of Zaolzie, the area grew to 389,720 km².), and 27.2 million inhabitants according to the 1921 census. In 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, it had an estimated 35.1 million inhabitants. Almost a third of these were of minority groups: 13.9% Ukrainians; 3.1% Belarusians; 8.6% Jews; 2.3% Germans; and 3.4% percent Czechs, Lithuanians and Russians).

The Second Polish Republic is often associated with times of great adversity, of troubles and of triumph. Having to deal with the economic difficulties and destruction of World War I, followed by the Soviet invasion during the Polish Soviet War, and then increasingly hostile neighbors such as Nazi Germany, the Republic managed not only to endure, but to expand. Lacking an overseas empire (see: Maritime and Colonial League), Poland nevertheless maintained a level of economic development and prosperity comparable to that of the West. The cultural hubs of Warsaw, Kraków, Poznań, Wilno and Lwów raised themselves to the level of major European cities. They were also the sites of internationally acclaimed universities and other institutions of higher education. By 1939 the Republic was becoming a major world player in politics and economics.

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Best wishes to my friends Magdalena in Warsaw and Adam K, originally from Warsaw, now residing in San Francisco!

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