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Marshall Jozef Pilsudski

Marshal Josef Pilsudski, 1867-1935, is seen my many Poles as the greatest Polish statesman. After his return from exile in Siberia, where he had been sent for his involvement in a plot to kill the Russian Czar, Joseph Pilsudski became part of the struggle for Polish independence. This involvement involved organizing various anti-Russian militant groups, and commanding the Polish Legions between 1914 and 1917 under Austrian sponsorship. When the Central Powers demanded far more Polish troops Pilsudski refused to give his support and was imprisoned. On his release in 1917 he assumed command of the Polish armies, and proclaimed an independent Polish republic, which he headed. At the end of the First World War, under allied pressure, Pilsudski the position of Premier was given to the more conservative Ignace Jan Paderewski, a well-known pianist and composer. Pilsudski continued as chief of state. Pilsudski used force to expand the eastern frontier of Poland, which resulted in the inclusion of several million Ukrainians and White Russians into Poland. After a brief period of retirement he returned to overthrow the elected government by a coup in 1926, and as war minister exercised a virtual dictatorship until his death. Pilsudski ruled Poland as a military dictator with some of the features of fascist regimes in Germany and Italy. He was succeeded by another military man, Edward Rydz-Smigly, whom Pilsudski had chosen as his successor prior to his death.

Joseph Pilsudski

A photograph of one of the many statues of Josef Pilsudski, which have sprung up around Poland since 1990. This one is in the city of Szczecin in north west Poland.

 


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