Thursday, 21 July 2011
CASE 327 - The history of Poland
The History of Poland is rooted in the arrival of the Slavs, who gave rise to permanent settlement and historic development on Polish lands. During the Piast dynasty Christianity was adopted in 966 and medieval monarchy established. The Jagiellon dynasty period brought close ties with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, cultural development and territorial expansion, culminating in the establishment of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569.
The Commonwealth in its early phase constituted a continuation of the Jagiellon prosperity. From the mid-17th century, the huge state entered a period of decline caused by devastating wars and deterioration of the country's system of government. Significant internal reforms were introduced during the later part of the 18th century, but the reform process was not allowed to run its course, as the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy through a series of invasions and partitions terminated the Commonwealth's independent existence in 1795.
From then until 1918 there was no independent Polish state. The Poles had engaged intermittently in armed resistance until 1864. After the failure of the last uprising, the nation preserved its identity through educational uplift and the program called "organic work" to modernize the economy and society. The opportunity for freedom appeared only after World War I, when the partitioning imperial powers were defeated by war and revolution.
The Second Polish Republic was established and existed from 1918 to 1939. It was destroyed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union by their Invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II. Millions of Polish citizens perished in the course of the Nazi occupation. The Polish government in exile kept functioning and through the many Polish military formations on the western and eastern fronts the Poles contributed to the Allied victory. Nazi Germany's forces were compelled to retreat from Poland as the Soviet Red Army advanced, which led to the creation of the People's Republic of Poland.
The country's geographic location was shifted to the west and Poland existed as a Soviet satellite state. Poland largely lost its traditional multi-ethnic character and the communist system was imposed. By the late 1980s Solidarity, a Polish reform movement, became crucial in causing a peaceful transition from a communist state to the capitalist system and parliamentary democracy. This process resulted in the creation of the modern Polish state.