National Democracy

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This article is about a Polish political movement. For the Italian party, see National Democracy (Italy). For the Spanish party, see National Democracy (Spain). For the Swedish party, see National Democrats (Sweden). For the major wing in Ukraine's parliament, see Political parties in Ukraine#Major parties and political camps.
National Democracy
Leader Roman Dmowski
Founded 1886
Dissolved 1947
Headquarters Warsaw, Poland
Ideology Polish nationalism
National conservatism[1]
Politics of Poland
Political parties
Herb Polski.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

National Democracy (Polish: Narodowa Demokracja, also known from its abbreviation ND as "Endecja") was a Polish political movement active from the second half of the 19th century under the foreign partitions of the country until the end of the Second Polish Republic.[7] It ceased to exist after the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland of 1939. In its long history, National Democracy went through several stages of development.[7] Created with the intention of promoting the fight for Poland's sovereignty against the repressive imperial regimes, the movement acquired its right-wing nationalist character following the return to independence.[7] A founder and principal ideologue was Roman Dmowski. Other ideological fathers of the movement were Zygmunt Balicki and Jan Ludwik Popławski.[8]

The National Democracy's main stronghold was Greater Poland (western Poland), where much of the movement's early impetus derived from efforts to counter Imperial Germany's policy of Germanizing its Polish territorial holdings. Subsequently a focus of National Democracy interest was countering Polish-Jewish economic competition with Catholic Poles. Party supporters were mostly ethnic-Polish intelligentsia, bourgeoisie, middle class and youth.

During the interbellum Second Republic, National Democracy was a strong advocate for Polonization of the country's German minority and of the non-Polish (chiefly Ukrainian and Belarusian) populations of Poland's eastern Kresy. With the end of World War II, the National Democracy movement effectively ceased to exist.


The origins of the ND can be traced to the 1864 failure of the January 1863 Uprising and to the era of Polish Positivism. After that Uprising – the last in a series of 19th-century Polish uprisings – had been bloodily crushed by Poland's partitioners, the new generation of Polish patriots and politicians concluded that Poland's independence would not be won on the battlefield but through education and culture.

In 1886 the secret Polish League (Liga Polska) was founded, in 1893 renamed National League (Liga Narodowa). From 1895 the League published a newspaper, Przegląd Wszechpolski (The All-Polish Review), and from 1897 it had an official political party, the National-Democratic Party (Stronnictwo Narodowo-Demokratyczne). Unlike the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), the ND advocated peaceful negotiations. Influenced by Roman Dmowski's radical nationalist and social-Darwinist ideas, National Democrats turned against other nationalities within the Polish lands, most notably the Jews; anti-Semitism became a key element of ND ideology.[9]

During World War I, while PPS, under the influence of Józef Piłsudski, supported the Central Powers against Russia (the Polish Legions), the ND first allied itself with the Russian Empire (supporting the creation of the Puławy Legion) and later with the Western Powers (supporting the Polish Blue Army in France). At war's end, many ND politicians enjoyed much more influence abroad than in Poland. This allowed them to share power with Piłsudski, who had much more support in the military than they did. Still, due to their support abroad, ND politicians such as Dmowski and Ignacy Paderewski were able to gain backing for some Polish demands at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and in the Treaty of Versailles.

Second Republic[edit]

In the newly independent Second Polish Republic, the ND was represented first by the Popular National Union (Związek Ludowo-Narodowy), a conservative political party advocating the parliamentary political means. After Piłsudski's May 1926 Coup d'État, the ND found itself in constant opposition to his Sanation regime. The tightening control of opposition parties and authoritarian tendencies of Sanation regime, led to the gradual radicalization of the ND movement. In December 1926, the Camp of Great Poland (Obóz Wielkiej Polski) was created as an extra-parliamentary organization to fight the Sanation movement. The youth faction of the Camp of Great Poland gradually took control over the whole organization, and from 1931 the camp quickly radicalized and adopted some militaristic elements.[10]

In 1928 the National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe) was founded, as a successor party to the Popular National Union. In the beginning, the new party adopted the same political line as its predecessor.[11] After the delegalization of the Camp of Great Poland, radicalized youth entered the National Party. The ideologic clash between the old and new generation of National Democrats culminated at the party convention in 1935, where the young activists were elected to the leading party positions.[12] In 1936-1939 the personal changes within the party continued, and the young generation totally dominated the party. Old generation of National Democrats, disagreeing with the new course, exited active politics or left the party at all. A chief characteristic of ND policies was their emphasis on Polonization of minorities: ND politicians such as Dmowski and Stanisław Grabski contributed to the failure of Piłsudski's proposed Międzymorze federation and of the alliance with the Ukrainian leader Symon Petlura, and to the alienation of Poland's ethnic minorities.

Simultaneously the ND emphasized its anti-Semitic program, aimed at excluding Jews from Polish social and economic life and ultimately at pushing them to emigration from Poland.[13] Antisemitic actions and incidents – boycotts, demonstrations, even attacks – organized or inspired by National Democrats occurred during the 1930s. The most notorious actions were taken by a splinter group of radical young former NDs who formed the fascist-inspired National Radical Camp (Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny).[14]

World War II[edit]

During World War II, the ND became part of a coalition which formed the Polish Government in Exile. It was closely linked with the National Armed Forces (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne), an underground organization which became a part of the Polish resistance movement. ND armed organizations fought not only against Nazi Germany but also against the Soviet Union. Both occupying forces regarded members of the movement as their mortal enemy, and its leaders were killed in mass executions, in concentration camps and in the Katyń massacre. Among those killed are:

Righteous among the Nations[edit]

After the war[edit]

After the war, when Poland found itself controlled by Polish communists and the Soviet Union, most remaining NDs either emigrated to the West or continued an ultimately futile struggle against the Soviet occupation. Others joined the new regime – most notably, the ONR-Falanga leader Bolesław Piasecki, who co-organized a regime-controlled Catholic movement.

Today's Poland[edit]

Since the fall of communism, when Poland became once again a democratically governed country, several political parties have sought to re-establish some ND traditions; their adherents prefer to call themselves the "national movement" (ruch narodowy). The only significant party that declared itself a successor to the ND was the League of Polish Families (Liga Polskich Rodzin)[citation needed], founded in 2001 by Roman Giertych, grandson of Jędrzej Giertych, pre-war ND politician; it received 8% of the parliamentary vote in 2001, rising to 16% in 2004, then failing to receive the necessary 5% of the vote in 2007 and losing all of its parliamentary seats.

Polish national-democratic and nationalist association with legal personality is also Camp of Great Poland. The association was established on March 28, 2003, as a response of the National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe; SN) Youth Section to the deletion of the party from the national registry.[17] In February 17, 2012 the OWP was registered in the National Registrar of Companies and Legal Entities (Krajowy Rejestr Sądowy; KRS),[18] gaining legal personality.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michlic, Joanna Beata (2006). "Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present". University of Nebraska Press. p. 60 
  2. ^ Beyrau, Dietrich (1993). "Anti-Semitism and Jews in Poland, 1918-1939". Hostages of Modernization: Studies on Modern Antisemitism 1870-1933/39 - Austria, Hungary, Poland, Russia (de Gruyter): 1087 
  3. ^ Naimark, Norman M. (2010). The Killing Fields of the "East": Three Hundred Years of Mass Killing in the Borderlands of Russia and Poland. Nation, Nationalitäten und Nationalismus im östlichen Europa (University of Vienna, Lit Verlag). p. 185. 
  4. ^ Michlic, Joanna Beata (2006). "Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present". University of Nebraska Press. pp. 1, 76 
  5. ^ Stachura, Peter D. (2004). "Poland, 1918-1945: An Interpretive and Documentary History of the Second Republic". Routledge. p. viii 
  6. ^ Chodakiewicz, Marek Jan (2004). "Between Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland, 1939-1947". Lexington Books. p. 41 
  7. ^ a b c Michał Szukała interview with Aleksander Hall (2014-08-05). "Dziedzictwo Narodowej Demokracji. W 150. rocznicę urodzin Romana Dmowskiego – rozmowa z Aleksandrem Hallem" (in Polish). 2013 © Muzeum Historii Polski (Museum of Poland's History). Retrieved 15 August 2014. Podzielam pogląd Wiesława Chrzanowskiego, który był moim zdaniem najwybitniejszym kontynuatorem endecji, który uważał, że Narodowa Demokracja należy do przeszłości, ponieważ wypełniła z powodzeniem swoje najważniejsze zadanie polegające na stworzeniu nowoczesnego narodu obejmującego wszystkie warstwy społeczne. Podobnie jak swoje misje wypełniły kształtujące się w tej samej epoce ruch ludowy, czy patriotyczny nurt PPS nadający świadomość narodową warstwie robotniczej. — Aleksander Hall, dissident under communism, minister during Solidarity years, member of Parliament Sejm, recipient of the Order of the White Eagle (Poland). 
  8. ^ Davies 2005, 40.
  9. ^ Jerzy Lukowski; W. H. Zawadzki (2001). A Concise History of Poland: Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki. Cambridge University Press. pp. 173–174. ISBN 978-0-521-55917-1. Retrieved 22 December 2012. Hardly surprisingly, anti-Semitism became a key element in the ND ideology 
  10. ^ Kawalec, Krzysztof (1989). Narodowa Demokracja wobec faszyzmu 1922-1939: Ze studiów nad dziejami myśli politycznej obozu narodowego. Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy. p. 115. ISBN 83-06-01728-5. 
  11. ^ Terej, Jerzy Janusz (1979). Rzeczywistość i polityka: Ze studiów nad dziejami najnowszymi Narodowej Demokracji (2nd ed.). Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza. p. 18. OCLC 7972621. 
  12. ^ Terej, Jerzy Janusz (1979). Rzeczywistość i polityka: Ze studiów nad dziejami najnowszymi Narodowej Demokracji (2nd ed.). Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza. p. 28. OCLC 7972621. 
  13. ^ André Gerrits, Dirk Jan Wolffram (2005). Political Democracy and Ethnic Diversity in Modern European History. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4976-3. 
  14. ^ Jerzy Lukowski; W. H. Zawadzki (2001). A Concise History of Poland: Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki. Cambridge University Press. pp. 217–18. ISBN 978-0-521-55917-1. Retrieved 22 December 2012. The appeal of fascism and of anti-Semitism was most pronounced among young radical NDs, who in 1934 formed the National Radical Camp (ONR), from which emerged the distinctly totalitarian ONR-Falanga under Bolesław Piasecki. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ [3] Polish Club Online – Wywiad z Przewodniczącym Obozu Wielkiej Polski – Dawidem Berezicki
  18. ^ [4] Official KRS Website


Further reading[edit]