National Independence Day

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This article is about national day in Poland. For other uses, see List of national independence days.
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 the restoration of a Polish state—Second Polish Republic—in 1918 after 123 years of partition 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 restoration of Poland's independence was gradual. The 11 November date chosen is the one on which Józef Piłsudski assumed control of Poland.[1][2] The holiday was constituted in 1937 and was celebrated only twice before World War II. After the war, the communist authorities of the People's Republic removed Independence Day from the calendar,[3] though reclamation of independence continued to be celebrated informally on 11 November. The holiday was officially replaced by the National Day of Poland's Revival, celebrated on the 22 July anniversary of the PKWN Manifesto. As Poland emerged from Soviet-influenced communism in 1989, the original holiday—on its original November 11 date—was restored.

The date corresponds to the date of other countries' Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, or Veteran's Day. All of these holidays and Polish Independence Day are indirectly related because they all emerged from the circumstances at the end of World War I. In other countries, holidays were established in the spirit of grief and horror at the enormous human cost of the war, and they mark the sacrifices of those who fought. For Poland, however, the tragedy of the war was tempered by what had been accomplished at its end: the restoration of a sovereign Polish state that had been lost entirely in the partitions of Poland, after 123 years of struggle.[4] The Polish holiday is therefore simultaneously a celebration of the reemergence of a Polish state and a commemoration of those who fought for it.

Crucial to restoring independence was the defeat in the war of all three of the occupying powers. Russia was plunged into the confusion of revolution and civil war, Austria-Hungary disintegrated and went into decline, and the German Reich bowed to pressure from the forces of the Entente.[5] For Poles, this was a unique opportunity to reclaim their independence. Following the defeat of the occupying forces, the Poles seized military and civil power, building the foundations of their future state. On October 28, 1918 the Polish Liquidation Commission was formed in Kraków. The Commission seized power from 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 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 the country's future head of state, Józef Piłsudski, returned to Poland after incarceration by the Germans. His 10 November arrival in Warsaw was enthusiastically met by the population of the capital and saw the mass disarmament of the occupying forces across the whole of Poland. Piłsudski assumed authority on 11 November, forming a new centralized government and soon calling parliamentary elections.

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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9][10] Official Facebook page of the march has about 68.000 "likes".[11]

Sometimes the march is accompanied with politically motivated clashes.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The beginning of independence" (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. ^ Further information can be can also be found in sources cited in the articles linked to here, as well as in standard resources on Polish history, such as Norman Davies (1984). Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press. .
  5. ^ Henryk Zieliński (1984). "The collapse of occupiers authority in Polish territories (...)". History of Poland 1918-1939 (in Polish). Warsaw: Polish Scientific Publishers PWN. pp. 84–88. ISBN 83-01-03866-7. 
  6. ^ "Calendar of independence 1918-1919" (in Polish). Museum of Józef Piłsudski in Sulejówek. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Independence March: Information in English
  8. ^ Independence March: Support committee
  9. ^ March of Independence with president
  10. ^ President will lead the March of Independence
  11. ^ Facebook: Independence March
  12. ^ Poland Independence Day march turns violent

Historical bibliography[edit]