Polish-Soviet War

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Polish defences with a machine gun position near Miłosna, in the village of Janki, August 1920.

The Polish-Soviet War (14 February 1919 – 18 October 1920), also known as the Polish-Bolshevik War, was an armed conflict fought primarily between the Second Polish Republic and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in the aftermath of World War I, on territories formerly held by the Russian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The war was the result of conflicting expansionist attempts.


  • If Charles Martel had not checked the Saracen conquest at the Battle of Tours, the interpretation of the Koran would be taught at the schools of Oxford, and her pupils might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet. Had Pilsudski failed to arrest the advance of the Soviet Bolshevik Army at the Battle of Warsaw, not only would Christianity have experienced a dangerous reverse, but the very existence of Western civilisation would have been imperilled. The Battle of Warsaw saved Central and most parts of Europe from a more subversive danger – the fanatical tyranny of the Communist Soviet. All of Europe at this time, after World War I, was in ruin, and a strong conqueror could have imposed a tyrannical system from Russia in the East to France, and possible Britain in the west. The army that had marched on Warsaw was over a million strong and was nearing the gates of Warsaw when the Polish Cavalry attacked at the Bolshevik hind-quarter. The Bolsheviks were so surprised by a viable and active military response to their sure victory that the Bolshevik army in shock routed and fled in complete disarray. The Polish western boundary stood until 1939 and World War II. On the essential point, there can be little room for doubt; had the Soviet forces overcome Polish resistance… Bolshevism would have spread throughout Central Europe and might well have penetrated the whole continent.
  • (this war) largely determined the course of European history for the next twenty years or more.[...] Unavowedly and almost unconsciously, Soviet leaders abandoned the cause of international revolution.
  • That was the time when everyone in Germany, including the blackest reactionaries and monarchists, declared that the Bolsheviks would be their salvation.
  • (this war allows us) ...to probe Europe with the bayonets of the Red Army.
  • We must direct all our attention to preparing and strengthening the Western Front. A new slogan must be announced: Prepare for war against Poland.
  • Lenin’s great disappointment with spreading Communism abroad occurred in the summer of 1920. In April of that year, Poland, eager to forestall the reemergence of a strong and imperialist Russia, had made common cause with Ukrainian nationalists and invaded the Soviet Ukraine with the aim of detaching it from Russia. The invasion failed to ignite an uprising in the Ukraine, and the Polish armies soon found themselves in full retreat. As the Red Army approached the borders of ethnic Poland, the Politburo, the directing organ of the Communist Party, had to decide whether to stop or to continue advancing westward. Opinions were divided but Lenin insisted on offensive operations, and as by now was always the case, he had his way. He felt certain that both Germany and England were ripe for revolution, which the appearance of Communist armed forces on their borders would help ignite. In the summer of 1920, the Red Army, accompanied by Soviet commissars of Polish origin, entered Poland. It broadcast appeals calling on Polish workers and peasants to seize properties of the bourgeois and landlords—slogans that had proven very effective in Russia. But the Poles of all classes rallied to defend newly won Polish sovereignty. In the battle for Warsaw, one of the decisive battles of modern history, they repulsed and scattered the Communist army. Lenin could not conceal his bitterness at this outcome.
  • To the West! Over the corpse of White Poland lies the road to world-wide conflagration. March on Vilno, Minsk, Warsaw!

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