Józef Piłsudski

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Józef Piłsudski
Chief of State
In office
22nd November 1918 – 14th December 1922
Prime MinisterJędrzej Moraczewski

Ignacy Jan Paderewski Leopold Skulski Władysław Grabski Wincenty Witos Antoni Ponikowski Artur Śliwiński

Julian Nowak
Preceded byoffice estabilished
Succeeded byGabriel Narutowicz (as President of Poland)
Prime Minister of Poland
In office
2nd October 1926 – 27 June 1928
PresidentIgnacy Mościcki
DeputyKazimierz Bartel
Preceded byKazimierz Bartel
Succeeded byKazimierz Bartel
Personal details
Born5 December 1867
Zułów, near Wilno (Vilnius), Russian Empire
Died12 May 1935
Resting placeCracow
Political partyformerly Polish Socialist Party non-aligned
Spouse(s)Maria Koplewska (m. 1899, died 1921) Aleksandra Szczerbińska (m. 1921)
ChildrenJadwiga, Wanda
AwardsOrder of the White Eagle Virtuti Militari Virtuti Militari Polonia Restituta Polonia Restituta Polonia Restituta Cross of the Valorous Cross of the Valorous Cross of the Valorous Cross of the Valorous Cross of Merit Cross of Independence with Swords Star of Romania Order of the White Rose (Finland) Order of Saint Sava (Yugoslavia) Order of Merit (Hungary) Lacplesis Order (Latvia) Order of the Crown of Italy Order of the Rising Sun (Japan) Cross of Military Merit (Italy)
Military service
Nickname(s)Ziuk, Wiktor, Mieczysław, Komendant, Dziadek (Grandpa)
Branch/service Polish Legions
Polish Army
Years of service1914 – 1935
Rank Marshal of Poland
Battles/wars1905 Russian Revolution

World War 1 Polish-Soviet War

Polish-Ukrainian War

Józef Klemens Piłsudski (December 5, 1867 – May 12, 1935) was an important leader of Poland. He is seen in Poland as the father of the Polish state, since he declared Poland's independence at the end of World War 1.

From 1795 to 1918, Poland was not an independent country. The partitions of Poland divided it into three parts between Russia, Prussia (Germany) and Austria-Hungary. Piłsudski was born in the Russian part. The government tried to make Poles become Russian but Piłsudski was born in a noble family of patriots, that wanted Poland to be an own independent country.

In 1887 he got into trouble for helping people who tried to overthrow the Russian Tsar. For that he was sent to Siberia. When he came back from there he got more and more involved in politics.

Later Piłsudski became a soldier and wanted to make Poland independent again. At the beginning of World War I, people who agreed with Pilsudski helped Austria-Hungary, because they preferred it to Russia. Piłsudski created a Polish army in Austria called the Polish Legions. Piłsudski is famous for leading the I. Brigade of the Polish Legions.

When they stopped helping Austria-Hungary and Germany, Piłsudski was arrested. When the War was over, he was freed.

He came to Warsaw in November 1918 and helped to organize Poland, which now existed again after 123 of partition. Then, for a short time, he became its leader (not president but head of state). Gabriel Narutowicz became Poland's first president, but he was assassinated a few days later and Stanisław Wojciechowski became the next president. Piłsudski was shocked and left politics for a few years.

Poland's situation was not good and the politicians argued a lot. Many people, especially the soldiers, wanted Piłsudski back, so he told Wojciechowski to resign. When Wojciechowski said no, Piłsudki took over with the help of the Army. Parliament elected Ignacy Mościcki, Piłsudski's close friend to be the new president. . Together, they changed the Polish constitution and made other changes which made Poland stronger in the 1920s and 30s. Today, Piłsudski is remembered as a heroe. He has many statues and streets named after him.

Childhood and youth[change | change source]

Joseph Piłsudski, was born on 5 December 1867 in Zułowo in Lithuania, into a patriotic family. His father, Joseph Wincenty (1833-1902), had fought in the January 1863 Uprising against the Russian rule of Poland-Lithuania. His mother - Maria (1842-1884) - came from a famous family. He had a daughter, Jadwiga Piłsudska (1920-2014).

Piłsudski was a patriot since he was very young and often had problems with the Russian teachers in his school.

In his youth he got involved with Polish and Russian revolutionaries that planned to overthrow the Russian government and was sent to Siberia for helping them.

In Siberia he met many Polish Soldiers that fought for Independence in the 1863 uprising against Russia.

Early Political Life[change | change source]

After his return from Siberia, Piłsudski created the Polish Socialist Party, that wanted to bring Poland back. They also wanted workers to be treated fairly. He wrote newspapers for the party and reminded Polish workers of their old homeland.

His party had paramilitary organizations that made protests and uprisings against Russian officers and generals from time to time.

Piłsudski personally took part in the famous Bezdanny Raid, where Piłsudski and his friends took a lot of money from a train that belonged to the Tsar.

With the money Piłsudski bought weapons and started preparing for the coming World War. Piłsudski hoped that during the war Russia and Germany would fight against each other, giving Poland a chance to return.

World War 1[change | change source]

When World War 1 broke out, Piłsudski lead his armies on the side of Austria.

Piłsudski's Polish Legions won many battles for Austria and Germany against Russia and this made them respect Poland, allowing the existence of a Polish State in 1916.

Piłsudski's Brigade (I. Brigade) is also the subject of the famous Polish military song "My pierwsza brygada" which is the current anthem of the Polish military and very popular in Poland.

When Piłsudski decided that Poland must be indepenent from Germany too, he was arrested and brought to a fortress in Magdeburg, Germany in 1917. He was released at the end of the war in November 1918.

When Piłsudski returned to Poland, he was celebrated by masses of happy people. He was and is loved as a heroe in Poland to this day.

On 11. November Piłsudski declared that Poland is an independent country again, after 123 years of Poland not existing on the map.

Politics in Independent Poland[change | change source]

After Poland started to exist again, Piłsudski was the leader of Poland.

In Russia a revolution broke out during World War 1 that deposed the Tsar and later the government.

The new soviet Russia was communist and wanted to conquer Europe, included Poland.

When in the year 1920 the soviet red army was at the gates of Warsaw, Poland's capital, Piłsudski sent his soldiers to battle the red army and defeated them. This battle is celebrated in Poland every year.

After the war with Russia was over, Piłsudski gave his power to the new democratic government of Poland in 1922.

Unfortunately, the first president was killed only 2 days after he became president. Piłsudski was very disappointed and sad, so he left politics and spent time with his family in their house in Sulejówek (a part of Warsaw).

The new governments of Poland were very weak and Poland was becoming pooerer and poorer. Many people missed Piłsudski and wanted him to become the leader of Poland again.

When Piłsudski organized a demonstration in 1926 asking the President to resign, fights broke out between Piłsudski's supporters and the president's supporters.

Finally, Piłsudski won the fights and was the leader of Poland again. His friend, Ignacy Mościcki was elected president by the Polish parliament.

Piłsudski's government was called "Sanacja" which means "healing", because they wanted to heal Poland of its problems and bad situation.

Under Piłsudski life became better in Poland and after some years, Poland was a strong country in Europe again.

Unfortuantly, Józef Piłsudski died in 1935 because of cancer. He was succeeded by General Edward Rydz-Śmigły, a soldier that fought for Piłsudski during World War 1.