National Independence Day

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National Independence Day
Narodowe Święto Niepodległości 2012 01.JPG
National Independence Day
Warsaw, Pilsudski Square
Observed by Poland
Significance To commemorate the recovery of a sovereign state by the Poles in 1918
Celebrations fireworks, family reunions, concerts, parades
Date November 11
Next time 11 November 2014 (2014-11-11)
Frequency annual
Military parade at the Pilsudski Square in Warsaw on the National Independence Day

National Independence Day (Polish: Narodowe Święto Niepodległości) is a national day in Poland celebrated on November 11 to commemorate the anniversary of resumption of independent Polish state – Second Polish Republic in 1918 after 123 years of partitions of Poland made by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire. It is a non-working day in Poland.

Significance of the date[edit]

The process of restoration of Poland's independence was gradual; the date chosen is the one on which Józef Piłsudski assumed control of Poland.[1][2] The Independence Day was constituted in 1937 and was celebrated only twice before World War II. In 1945 has been established the National Day of Poland's Revival, celebrated on 22 July, the anniversary of the PKWN Manifesto, and at the same time the Independence Day celebrated on 11 November was abolished.[3]

The sovereign Polish state, Second Polish Republic, was successfully recreated – after 146 years of hostile annexations and 123 years since the fall of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The autumn of 1918 marked the end of World War I and the defeat of all three occupiers – Russia was plunged into the confusion of revolution and civil war, the Austria-Hungary fell apart and went into decline and the German Reich bowed to pressure from the forces of the Entente.[4]

For Poles this was a unique opportunity to reclaim their independence. Following the defeat of the occupying forces, the Poles began to seize military and civil power, building the foundations of their future nation. On October 28, 1918 the Polish Liquidation Commission was formed in Kraków. The Commission began to seize power from the hands of the Austrians in Galicia and Cieszyn Silesia. A few days later they succeeded in disarming the Austrian forces using members of the secret Polish Military Organisation as well as legionnaires and young people. On November 1, 1918 fighting broke out in Lvov between the Poles and the Ukrainians who were mounting a rebellion of the West Ukrainian People's Republic.

On the nights of 6 and 7 November the Provisional Government of the People's Republic of Poland was formed in Lublin under the supervision of Ignacy Daszyński. The government was made up of representatives from the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), the Polish Social-Democratic Party (PPSD) and the Polish People's Party "Wyzwolenie" (Liberation). At the same time the Government troops disarmed the occupying forces in Lubelszczyzna and Kielecczyzna. It was at this point that Józef Pilsudski returned to Poland. He had been imprisoned since July 1917 by the Germans. On 10 November 1918 he arrived in Warsaw. His arrival was enthusiastically met by the population of the capital and saw the mass disarmament of the occupying forces across the whole of Poland.

On 11 November 1918 the secret departments of the Polish Military Organisation, demobilized soldiers, legionnaires and young people, disarmed the Germans in Warsaw and other Polish towns. The Regency Government appointed Józef Pilsudski Commander-in-Chief over the Polish Forces and three days later Pilsudski was given complete civil control. The day before he was also put in charge of the Provisional Government of the People's Republic of Poland in Lublin. Józef Pilsudski formed a new centralized government which on 21 November issued a manifesto announcing agricultural reforms and the nationalization of several branches of industry. He declared, however, that these measures would depend on the decision of the future legislative government. At the same time Józef Pilsudski brought in highly favourable conditions for the workers and called parliamentary elections.

On 22 November Józef Pilsudski was appointed Chief of State and together with the Prime Minister signed a decree about the provisional authorities of the Polish Republic. The Polish people had to fight bloody battles to preserve their regained independence. In Eastern Galicia there was a hard-fought battle with the Ukrainians and in the Eastern parts of Poland self-armed divisions fought with the Bolsheviks. Moreover, three uprisings were needed in Silesia before the Upper Silesia area was once again within Polish borders.

A turning point in the rebirth of the Republic was the Battle of Warsaw during the Polish-Soviet War in 1920 in which the Polish people fought to maintain independence.

To commemorate the formation of an independent centre of authority in reborn Poland, 11 November, the day when Józef Pilsudski took power, was officially recognized as a national holiday in 1937. However, since 1919 this day has been celebrated as the Day of Polish Independence. Since then it has been one of the most important celebrations for Poles both in Poland and abroad.

After World War II the authorities of the People's Republic removed Independence Day from the calendar but the reclamation of independence continued to be celebrated commonly on 11 November. In 1989 the 9th term of the Sejm restored the official holiday.

Calendar of events[edit]

  • 5 November 1916 – Act of November 5th was released in order to create the Regency Kingdom of Poland
  • 14 January 1917 – Provisional Council of State had started its activity
  • 12 November 1917 – Regency Council took over the head of state duties
  • 7 October 1918 – Regency Council announced Poland's independence
  • 23 October 1918 – government with the prime minister Józef Świeżyński was established, without approval by the German authorities
  • 1 November – branches of the Polish Military Organization began disarming German and Austrian soldiers
  • 6/7 November 1918 – in Lublin, Ignacy Daszyński established a Provisional Government of the People's Republic of Poland
  • 10 November 1918 – Józef Piłsudski came to Warsaw, previously released from prison in Magdeburg.
  • 11 November 1918 – Piłsudski was appointed Commander in Chief by the Regency Council and was entrusted with creating a national government for the restored Polish State.
  • 16 November – Józef Piłsudski signed a telegram notifying the creation of an independent Polish State. The telegram was sent by radio to the leaders of the superpowers and to all of the warring or neutral governments three days later with the use of equipment from the Warsaw Citadel, just after exiting the German troops.
  • 17 November – after the resignation of Ignacy Daszyński, Józef Piłsudski appointed Jędrzej Moraczewski as the prime minister.[5]

March of Independence[edit]

The March of Independence at Constitution Square, Warsaw 2011
Children participating in the National Independence Day celebrations, Gdańsk 2010

Starting in 2008, each year on 11 November in Warsaw is held "March of Independence" on the initiative of nationalist associations, such as National Radical Camp and All-Polish Youth.[6] This march involves various social and political environments – from the far-right to the centre-right – as well as labor unions and many Poles with their families. In 2010 there were around 3000 people on the march, in 2011 over 20.000 (both numbers according to the police statistics). Among many who officially support the march are war veterans, politicians, professional sportspeople, scholars, academics and even Catholic clergy.[7] Current president of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski (centre-right PO), announced in 2011 that he will lead the 2012 "March of Independence" if organizers would let him to do so. His offer was backed up by the ruling PO-PSL coalition, but turned down immediately by the nationalists themselves.[8][9] Official Facebook page of the march has about 68.000 "likes".[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The beginning of Independent" (in Polish). Museum of Józef Piłsudski in Sulejówek. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "The declaration of independence" (in Polish). Museum of Józef Piłsudski in Sulejówek. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "November 11 in non-sovereign, and sovereign Poland" (in Polish). Museum of Józef Piłsudski in Sulejówek. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Henryk Zieliński (1984). "The collapse of occupiers authority on Polish territories (...)". History of Poland 1918-1939 (in Polish). Warsaw: Polish Scientific Publishers PWN. pp. 84–88. ISBN 83-01-03866-7. 
  5. ^ "Calendar of independence 1918-1919" (in Polish). Museum of Józef Piłsudski in Sulejówek. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Independence March: Information in English
  7. ^ Independence March: Support committee
  8. ^ March of Independence with president
  9. ^ President will lead the March of Independence
  10. ^ Facebook: Independence March

Historical bibliography[edit]