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Piłsudski, Józef (1867–1935)

Amy Linch


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A leader of Polish revolutionary activity against tsarist Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Pilsudski was almost single-handedly responsible for the reunification of Poland after its 123 years of partition. He began his career as a socialist and was a leader of the national insurrection in 1905, during which he trained and directed the combat forces of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS). In the wake of the failed attempt to liberate Poland from Russian domination, he developed an army of revolutionaries that was 10,000 strong by the outbreak of World War I. His political and military maneuvering during the war set the stage for Poland's recognition as an independent state. He was chief of state (1918–22) and commander of the armed forces (1919–21) of Poland's Second Republic. He withdrew from politics in 1923 in the face of political opposition, only to return to power in a coup d'etat two years later (1926–35). Throughout his career as an activist and statesman he sought to break up the Russian empire and achieve independence for all captive Central and Eastern European nations. Pilsudski was born in Zulów (Zalavas, Lithuania) to an impoverished Polonized Lithuanian noble family ( szlachta ) during the period of intense Russification and military occupation that followed the failed national insurrection of 1863–4. As a child he was captivated by the romantic ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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