Russo-Polish Relations 1855-1964

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  • Russo-Polish relations - Tsars
    • Context
      • By 1855 Poland was firmly under Russian control although had a long history of attempting to break away
      • After decades of repression the Polish grew hopeful that Alexander IIs reformist attitude might improve their situation
      • Independence had been achieved with the Napolenic invasions when a polish state and monarchy was set up however this collapsed in 1815
    • Polish revolt (1863)
      • Marquis Alekisander Wielopolski was appointed Polish Prime Minister in 1862 and accepted Russian rule but attempted to introduce liberal reforms such as Christian and Jewish equality
        • Staunch nationalists viewed him as a Tsarist lapdog and in reality his push for reform was done only with Russian approval
      • The swell of nationalism and dissatisfaction at the leadership led to mass demonstrations and assassination attempts on Wielopolski
      • From Jan 1863 to spring 1864 there was wide scale rebellion against the Polish government
        • There were no military confrontations as the rebels threatened stability with guerrilla tactics
      • The rebel leader Dabrowski was an officer trained and deployed by the Russian army - however the nationalist movement did not gain enough peasant support and by mid 1864 the Russian gov had regained control and leaders were executed
    • Milyutin Plan
      • Milyutin believed in order to stop a repeat of the revolt Poland had to be fully integrated into the Russian state
      • He argued Polish gentry had to be purged as they lost control of the countryside - Wielopolski fled and direct control was imposed under the MP
        • Rural district councils similar to Zemstva's set up
        • Hundreds of Polish nobility were exiled to Siberia and their estates transferred to incoming Russians
        • Polish serfs were emancipated and gained the rights to their alloted land - paid for through a taxation system all had to pay (no redemption dues)
    • Long Term Tsarist Relations
      • Poland had lost all autonomy becoming a Vistula region of Russia
        • The Catholic Church was not allowed to communicate with the Vatican
        • Russian became the official language of administration and was taught in schools
      • By the 1890s Poland had become an industrial hub and a Polish proletariat with an enthusiasm for Marxism emerged
        • In 1892 the Polish Socialist Parys creation predated the Social Democrats (became Bolsheviks)
      • The Miyutin Plan succeeded in diminishing nationalism as difficult nobility were exiled and peasants were economically better off
  • War and Revolution 1918-21
    • Russo Polish Relations - Communists
      • Inter-War Years 1920-39
        • German expansionist policies became clear and their non aggression treaty with Poland was seen by Stalin as a means to allow a German invasion of Russia and so he removed his own non-aggression treaty
        • Because Stalin was left out of the Munich agreement (1938) he felt the West was conspiring to allow a Nazi invasion of Russia and so signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact dooming Poland to invasion
        • However Hitler had a clear lebensraum agenda and if Poland allowed an invasion through its territory they might never  leave
      • Impact of WW2
        • Nazi-Soviet Pact led to a souring of relations
        • In April 1943 Nazis found the graves of 4000 Polish officers in the Katyn Forest each corpse had its hands behind its back and a bullet through the head - likely the NKVD's work
        • The gov in exil pushed for a Red Cross investigation which let to Soviet accusations of their collaboration with Germany and the termination of relations
        • This was followed in 1944 with the Red Army allowing the Nazis to crush the Warsaw Uprising and the establishment of the Lublin Committee
      • Yalta and Potsdam
        • At Yalta it was agreed the Russo-Polish frontier would be the Curzon line and the whole of Poland would be backed by Lublin
        • At Potsdam the Western border was semi-agreed to be the Oder-Neisse line
        • In 1948 the Communists were the only party and those who questioned the move away from democracy e.g. the Church were imprisoned
        • By 1952 it had been physically sealed off and new concentration camps had been created at Mielcin for dissenters
      • Khrushchev
        • Brutal response to strikes led to the fall of a Stalinist gov in 1956 and Gomulka taking over
        • Despite the row over WP membership and the mobilisation of Red Army troops relations improved after 1956
          • Peasants were allowed to leave collective farms and the Catholic church could teach religion in schools
    • Poland gained independence under the TBL and German surrender
    • The Civil War brought their new independence under threat as the Red Army began to advance into its lost territory
      • Lenin was not welcomed in the way he though he would be and the Red Army was halted at Warsaw and pushed back
        • On October 16th 1920 with the Red Army needing to consolidate their Russian victory they signed an armistice and Polish independence was confirmed
          • Lenin believed that by invading Poland he could 'free the workers from their tyranny' and lay a platform for communist revolutions  in Western Europe


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