Soviet-Polish Relations, 1917-1921, Volume 59

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Harvard University Press, 1969 - 403 pages
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Professor Wandycz has written the first monograph in the English language on the turbulent diplomatic and military relations between Poland and Soviet Russia during the critical years 1917-1921. Soviet Russia, rules in 1917 by the newly triumphant Bolsheviks, faced Poland, a nation that had just recovered independence after more than a century of oppression. The Bolsheviks feared their revolution would fail if confined to Russia alone; Poland lay directly in their path to the West and international conquest. The resulting controversy, ending with the Treaty of Riga in 1921, spans one of the most complicated and crucial periods in the long and tulmultuous history of Russian-Polish relations. Although this conflict of 1917-1921 was part of the immediate international struggle of revolution and counterrevolution, centuries of antagonism and war were characteristic of the earlier relations between the two countries. The current dispute went far deeper than a Communist-nonCommunist clash; the entire balance of power in Eastern Europe was at stake. Pilsudski's great plan was to push Russia back to its seventeenth-century borders, thus creating an important and powerful Poland. For the Bolsheviks, a successful march on Warsaw might initiate the destruction of the Versailles settlement and the European post-war system. Using recently published documents and Russian, Polish, English, and American archives, the author presents an objective and sophisticated picture of the complicated Soviet-Polish relations in this period. He is careful to examine these affairs in the light of the historical background of the two nations, for although many of these relations were newly esetablished, few were entirely divorced from the past. The first chapter dips back in time for a brief outline of the social and political events behind the deep antagonism of the two nations. Included is an examination of the basic disharmony between their civilizations, caused by the philosophical differences in their respective religions, Polish Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy. Chapter Two introduces political figures and theories and the development in the half century preceding the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The nine remaining chapters are devoted to the struggles between the two countries over the territorial, ideological, and socio-political problems that dominated their relations. The Peace Treaty of Riga, signed in March 1921, proved to be only a stalemate, the negative effects of which were more pronounced for Poland than Russia. As Mr. Wandycz concludes, " The former lost the chance of becoming a real power; the plans of the latter were merely delayed." -- from dust jacket.

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The Heritage of the Past
The Background
The Bolshevik Revolution

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