Feature History – Polish-Soviet War

Feature History – Polish-Soviet War


Today we’re going to talk about when Poland
won its independence. Won its independence from Russia,
from Russia in the 20th century, From Russia in the 20th century through the
means of conventional warfare. There we go, thank you. Hello and welcome to Feature History, featuring
the Polish-Soviet War, a war that came immediately after the war to end all wars. Ironic, isn’t
it? In fact, a lot of conflicts didn’t even
wait for the great war to end before starting. The Russian revolution, the rise of the Bolsheviks,
and the period of a very confusing Eastern European map all started in about 1917. Of
course, it wasn’t just Russians getting in on the fun, it was a whole Slavic salad
of conflict, and for this episode we’re shining the spotlight on our beloved friends,
brothers, and plumbers; the Polish. Let’s go back to the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth,
which was a state that existed from 1569 to, spoilers, 1795. As well as being a mouthful
to say the commonwealth was a fairly serious regional power, hell, in the 17th century
it almost annexed Russia. But as said, it came to an end as it had weakened
further and further until it was partitioned by three empires; Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
Their sovereignty had been eliminated, however their culture never died. Polish nationalism
would be a genuine concern for a long time. Skipping to the First World War; Germany,
Austria-Hungary, and Russia, and also the rest of the world went to war. A plethora
of fighting, dying, and destruction was suffered by the Polish as the empires engaged a back
and forth across the region. It was frustrating, sure, but the Polish nationalists saw it as
an opportunity for independence. The statesman, Józef Piłsudski, proposed
that the Polish would have to be active in the war, fighting for an empire so that empire
would fight for them, which empire though? Well, y’know – yeah, that wasn’t so clear. Germany and Austria-Hungary gave a shot at
winning Polish loyalty, as they seriously needed it. From 1915 Germany had been pushing
itself as the liberators of the Polish suffering Russian subjugation; because Germany would
never subjugate the Polish. In 1916 the two empires, after talks with
the esteemed Pilsudski and a Polish delegation, created the Kingdom of Poland, which even
had a constitution, but no pesky sort of government or borders. The former would spawn in 1917, but Pilsudski
foresaw Germany’s defeat and urged all Polish troops to not swear any oath, leading to his
resignation and arrest. Regardless, through his actions the chance of Polish independence
started to look more like a sure-thing, though of course Poland wasn’t just a part of Germany
and Austria-Hungary, but also Russia, who too saw its own fair share of the woes of
war. In the Tsardom of Russia things had been going
tits up for Nicholas II since 1905. Constantly urged to reform or resign, he’d constantly
respond with cracks downs and middle fingers. The World War turned unrest to crisis, and
the Tsar’s days dwindled alongside every moment the war continued. In February 1917
a women’s protest would turn into a worker’s protest, which turned into an army mutiny,
which turned into a riot, eventually turning into the Tsar’s abdication. The power of rule had been passed from Romanov
to Revolution. The seat of power rested in Petrograd, formerly
known as St Petersburg before it was decided that German shit don’t fly here. The State
Duma, or national assembly, set up a provisional government, but given circumstance, their
power was in fact shared with Petrograd’s Soviet, or council. The Duma would continue the war, which wasn’t
a great idea as people began to flock to the smaller Bolshevik party, whose leader, Vladimir
Lenin, on top of promising to stop the war promised the redistribution of land, destruction
of the bourgeoisie, transfer of power to the local soviets, and a bloody and brutal revolution. To make a long story a little shorter, October
1917 saw the Bolsheviks and their Red Army seize Petrograd in the name of revolution,
forcing Russia’s descent into all out civil war. Well hello there Feature History Guy.
My lord! Is that THE Indy Neidell from THE Great War channel, which you can find at www.youtube.com/TheGreatWar,
and enjoy new videos every monday, thursday AND saturday?
Uh…yeah. I came over here to tell your viewers that if they’re enjoying learning all about
the Polish-Soviet War and the Russian Revolution that over on our channel we have a new video
about the Bloody Baron, who forged his own interesting tale in the conflict all the way
on the other end of Russia. Well that sounds just marvelous, I think I’ll
be watching that myself Also… where did my eyes go?
Ah, don’t mention it! Glad to have had you on!
I can’t see. Jeez, what a nerd As the First World War came to a close the
map of central and eastern europe changed drastically. Many smaller nations had seen
a chance to break away from foreign powers, and the US president Woodrow Wilson made special
note on Polish independence in his 14 points presented at Versailles. The Second Polish Republic was birthed with
Marshal Józef Piłsudski at the helm. This new state though was a tad smaller than maybe
it should’ve been, the Greater Polish Uprising in 1918 saw insurgents attack the weakened
Germany and pressure Versailles to grant them an expanded Western border. The Eastern border however? well those writing
the treaty must’ve skipped the question and forgot to come back to it. The Bolshevik-controlled
Soviet Russia viewed states like Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania as just
temporary breakways, Lenin was confident they’d come back for them, just as soon as the White
Army in Russia had been defeated. Not only was this dispute a matter of de jure
claims, but Lenin saw Poland as the bridge to Germany, and if the revolution was to continue
it was important the German socialist movement united with the Bolsheviks to create a communist
Europe. So a freshly independent Poland was already
threatened with annexation, again. That didn’t sit well with Pilsudski. So as the Russian
Civil War dragged and the Red Army was bogged down, it seemed better to start now rather
than later, and the Polish Army made its first offensive in February, 1919. This initial and disorganised offensive saw
some victories and stalemates, being a slow but steady advance eastward. If this was to
be a serious war some work had to be done. A diplomatic effort was swiftly undertaken.
Pilsudski dreamed of a federation of friendly states revolved around Poland. The supportive
Romania and Hungary agreed to send Poland arms, but for a military alliance Poland only
managed to befriend Ukraine, or what was left of it after the Soviets had shown up there. Diplomacy wasn’t the only struggle, logistics
called, and god was she ugly. The infrastructure and army of Poland was almost like it had
been built by 3 different empires. What Poland did have though was spirit, and y’know that
actually did count for something. In early 1920 the Polish and Ukrainians began
a southern offensive against the Red Army. Pilsudski claimed it was in effort to restore
the Ukrainian state, but the fact of the matter was this alliance was purely temporary; the
Polish and Ukrainians hated one another. They took some easy victories, entering the
abandoned Kiev by May, 1920. However around this same time the civil war had begun to
wrap up, Lenin believed it was the end of the Red Army’s defensive war, and now it
was time to begin an offensive one. Leon Trotsky, his Commissar of Military Affairs, disagreed
with a westward charge so soon, but tough shit, it was his job to get it done. The front, from the Soviet perspective, was
to be split between a northern Polish one, and a southern Ukrainian one. Trotsky’s
job was to coordinate this joint-offensive between, for the sake of simplicity, let’s
say, Mikhail Tukhachevsky in the north, and Joseph Stalin in the south. Facing a now organised, outnumbering and direct
opponent, a string of Red Army victories forced the Polish into retreat as the Soviets aimed
to, in Tukhachevsky’s words “move onward to Berlin over the corpse of Poland.” Poland’s only effective resistance was their
ability to intercept Soviet orders, using this and their legendary cavalry they harassed
the enemy in a guerilla-like fashion. Panic looked to grip Polish resistance however,
and Pilsudski only managed to pull in the reins at the almost final moment – as the
Red Army drew nearer and nearer to Warsaw. Now the French, UK, and US looked to support
Poland in small ways, now seeing the threat of the Soviet advance. The Polish people also
prepared to throw everything they had at the enemy, because everyone armed with anything
was going to fight. At the same time it seemed there was an issue
in the Soviet side, because as Tukhachevsky prepared for battle, Stalin’s army was still
in the south besieging Lwów, he was determined to take the glory of having seized the city,
and against orders continued the siege. Stalin may’ve sabotaged the battle for Warsaw before
it began. Regardless though Tukhachevsky still had a
reasonable chance of taking the capital, and so Pilsudski looked to employ an audacious
plan. Interestingly the Red Army would intercept this, and thought it was so silly that it
was just an attempt to deceive them, dismissing it. Once the battle commenced every Polish person,
and even some not Polish people, gave it their all in the defense of the city. Pilsudski
had set up his army almost stupidly close the enemy’s south, and so when he caught
the Red Army off guard and launched a counterattack the offensive was completely disrupted and
the army routed. The Polish took a decisive and important victory. It wasn’t enough to route the Red Army though,
it had to be destroyed. The legendary Polish cavalry took on the attackers of Lwow, in
what would be the last cavalry battle in history, the Battle of Komarów. The Soviet cavalry,
ten times in number, were decisively defeated. Destroying the once feared Red Army as an
effective fighting force. At this time Trotsky was attempting to sue
for peace, presumably telling Lenin ‘I told you so’.The Polish continued to chase Tukhachevsky’s
army, leading to one last battle where Poland took one last victory. After that both sides
were deeply exhausted and Pilsudski, under the pressure of the west as well, accepted
the request to negotiate. The Peace of Riga was signed in March, 1921.
The Polish stuffed their faces in the treaty, and did a brilliant job screwing over the
Ukrainians, as Ukraine was split between the Soviets and Poland. Pilsudski himself was only able to observe,
and denounced the peace as an “act of cowardice”. It permanently destroyed Poland’s relations
with neighbouring states and made for a ticking time-bomb between the Soviets and Polish. The new eastern border was militarily indefensible
and economically unviable, and this put a real dampener on their victory. Poland did achieve something a little less
superficial though. In the defense of Warsaw, not only had they gate kept their country,
but also the rest of Europe from the spread of communism, causing the Bolsheviks to shelve
the idea of a war for communism. They had also affirmed themselves as a new,
strong and independent Poland. One the world had not witnessed in centuries. And yes, the
Second Republic did end in 1939 and they spent much time as a Soviet republic, but that was
reversible, if they had fallen in 1920? Well, who’s to say what would’ve happened. And truly it is for the best Poland stood
tall, as without that how could I have wasted an entire month playing Witcher 3? Remember to check out the Great War’s video
on the Bloody Baron, Ungern Sternberg, I’ll probably have linked it in front of your face
right about now. And also big thank to the Patrons, David Kendle, Thomas Kerley, Your
Mum, Anal_Scrubs, and all the other ones. And that’s it, I’ll be back, probably
2022, with the next episode. Ciao

100 Comments on "Feature History – Polish-Soviet War"


  1. "When poles won their independence from Russia" they were independent at the moment, they just wanted Polish-lithuanian commonwealth to come back and basically grab some land while russians in trouble (not the first time they did that)

    Reply

  2. kinda wish they lost
    sure the poles would take the bullet but a communist Germany isnt a Fascist one

    Reply

  3. Anyone else noticing the Battlefield 1 soundtrack in the background when Russia comes up?

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  4. 1 Declare a war on a country torn apart by civil war and interventions (by 14 countries if counting Poland)
    2 be pushed back to the capital but win (though its a standard slavic tactics, so no questions here)
    ????
    Everyone loves you, so heroic

    Reply

  5. All good, but after the Second World War Poland was never a part of the Soviet Union. Definitely under a strong communist influence and a part of the eastern, communist block, but independent country, not 'Russian republic'.

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  6. Warszawa, the only city that have not fallen 100% into the enemies hands in the last two World Wars. That says alot about the polish people.

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  7. I’d like the steak, medium well, and… ooooo I’ll have that Slavic salad of conflict… lite ranch please, got a bikini to fit into

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  8. Does anyone else spot the slightly racist comments he make on these videos but not actually mind because the videos are good?😂

    Reply

  9. Do dziś ja nie lubię Rosjanów. Tylko Polacy to rozumieją co to znaczy naprawdę być wolnym państwem.

    Reply

  10. 5:35 Thank you very much dear sir for using true Belarusian flag instead of the flag of current president
    Edit: 10:48 goddammit you even played theme from Witcher 3 on background

    Reply

  11. A very good video, I have only one remark, Poland didn't become a soviet republic (weren't a part of the soviet union) but "only" a satellite communist state

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  12. 1919- 1921: 🇷🇺🔫🇵🇱🇺🇦
    Now: 🇵🇱🤝🇺🇦🤝🇷🇺
    1939:🇵🇱🔫🇷🇺🇩🇪

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  13. Anyone armed with anything? Probably bakers with there rock hard bread throwing it at the red army.

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  14. >In the 17th century it almost annexed Russia
    I mean it kind of did, the Polish king became Czar of Russia for a few years

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  15. NAhhh I am not a fan of the pols..they are the ones that wash my bathroom.

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  16. 11:00 We should remember that Poland never was a soviet republic, Poland was a sovereign state with strong soviet influance.

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  17. Pretty cool you are playing the witcher music, seems fitting as CD projekt red and the writer of the witcher books are both polish.

    Reply

  18. Show if stalin wasn't just an idiot sieging a city for too long and instead followed Tukhachevsky Enter of Berlin would have been approx 25 years later and communism spread would have been easier to accomplish? Great Joseph another time you prove you are a greedy jackass!

    Reply

  19. When people ask why are there United States troops in Poland ? I tell them this country has an iron will and should also be know as the land of the free and home of the brave !

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  20. I know it's late but Polish GROM (Silent Unseen) is one of my favourite special force in ww2 (SAS still numero uno)

    BTW Ela Thicc…

    Reply

  21. Fabulous information! Now….will someone….ANYone please do a video on the Russian Civil War with emphasis on the Americans fighting with the Whites? This event gets mentioned a lot and cited quite often but what I don't know about it could fill a small library. Just sayin….

    Reply

  22. It seem like the Polish People love being the heroes? they had earlier saved Europe from shitslam in the battle of Vienna in 1683, an then they saved it from the commies…way to go Poles!

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  23. Why do these presentations insist on describing Stalin as commanding any army? He was a commissar and Yegorov was the commander. Poor work.

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  24. Poland should win because nazis had destroyed there races now Poland got there life’s back.why did Russia wanna fight Poland Russia should be gone

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  25. To be fair, polish independence and a polish nation has been a declared goal of german nationalists throughout the 19th century, as a german nation state was only possible when at least one of the two dominant german states had no other ethnicities they would lose by joining a united german nation. The anger against the poles only started to grow after ww1 due to the landgrab, polish corridor and mistreatment of germans in the occupied territories (and a propaganda machine in the 30s which thrived of these circumstances). Prior to that german nationalists and liberals advocated and demanded an independent poland for the majority of the 19th century and were quite fond of the polish. Just because there was an escalation of hatred in the first half of the 20th century it doesn't mean that our relations or pictures of each other have always been negative. E.g. every german to this day knows the gratitude we owe the polish for coming to our aid at vienna. the annexation of poland prior the world wars was done by dynastic monarchies, who were used to ruling over multi ethnic subjects for centuries, not nation states. And i don't think it is too far fetched to say that germany had an interest in a moderately strong puffer state between us and the udssr in the early 20th century, just not one including german territories.

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  26. In Comments you can see battle between Polish kids with good intentions but small brains , ,,Poland gets invaded lolzlolz so weak '' people , and Russian trolls who think that communism is actually good system.

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  27. Long live Hungary for helping us in this war Polak węgier dwa bratanki i do szabli i do szklanki…

    Reply

  28. Great Britain, France, US all invade Russia and lose.   Of course that is why no one mentions this war.

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  29. Found your channel from The Great Wars channel. 👍😁😊
    This is a very informative well presented video. Polands history is quite fascinating and should be seen as more than a bridge in which Mother Russia and Father Germany can cross whenever they feel like having a spat, causing much carnage in the process. Poland was atleast free for a few golden years and Warsaw was one of the most affluent cities in Europe before WW2…. Oh World War fxxking two… 😓😨

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  30. The Polish were pretty astute to learn early what the Bolshevik movement was all about, death and destruction. Too bad we are a 100 years later and people still cry for communism.

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  31. Polish should let russians visit west countries like germany, france, england, italy, belgium and holland. In my opinion polish should do nothing at all, what about 1939 and 1945, west countries and usa made a gift for russians, poland.

    Reply

  32. Eeehm Wałęsa was secret soviet agent. There was no fight for independence in 80' this was mistiffication. Ugly true.

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  33. You know, stories like this show that Poland is NOT weak like most people think. They are able to fight and defend themselves when they have a reasonable chance. The only reason they failed to stop the Nazi invasion was because they were INCREDIBLY screwed over. To see what I mean, check out the videos on the defense of Poland by Extra Credits. But, yeah, Poland is totally underrated in history, and deserves more recognition.

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  34. Poland essentially dug its own grave and ended any illusions of an alliance between former Commonwealth nations by stabbing each one of them in the back. The shameless violation of a treaty by invasion of Vilnius, the betrayal of the Czechs and the Ukrainians. No wonder they were left alone after Hitler invaded. Lithuaniq, however, accepted thousands of Polish army refugees.

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  35. So europe gives a fuck about poles until russia is attacking, then poles defend europe and europe still gives a fuck… yeahhh

    Reply

  36. "A whole slavic salad of conflict.." I had to pause it, so i could stop laughing so hard, before continuing on lol.

    Reply

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