The terrain of Poland consists mostly of rolling mountains and leveled planes. There was a vast empire of Poland that once existed across most of central Europe, but it was mostly due to the foreign invaders and their conquests of Poland one after the other which brought decline to Poland and an end to its existence as a separate and independent nation. Therefore the economy and political structure of Poland was greatly destroyed especially during 1900s. Then the World War 11(1939-1945) shattered what was left in Poland.
Poland which is basically an agricultural country soon began to develop into Industrial country when after the wars its poor agrarian population began shifting to towns and urban cities for jobs in industries and factories. There was also significant ethnic homogeneity to be seen throughout Poland especially after World War 11 as a result of Polands boundary treaty with the Soviet Union and the immigration of German-speaking people. But the vast majority of population were entirely Polish-speaking and affiliated to Roman Catholic Church.
But during 1946s, by a shear stroke of bad luck, the Poles were thrust into communism and the entire nation became a communist country. The ruling communist party formed its government and imposed restrictions on the freedom of speech and action of its people. The communist regime continued to govern until 1989, when non-communists won elections in the parliament. Eventually the freedom was restored to Poland and her people got rid of the communist yoke in the year 1990. The economy structure of Poland too was transformed to a private enterprise system.
And in 1999, Poland became a member of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), a military defense pact among Western nations. Kwasniewski was again elected as president in 2000, and the Democratic Left Alliance also secured majority of seats in the parliamentary elections of 2001. Soon after that a coalition government of the Peasant Party and the Ruling Party was formed. And it was sometimes later in 2004 that Poland became the member of the EU (European Union). (Janusz, n. p. ) Brief Account of Polands Decline in History Despite advances made by Poland in 1300s, signs of her decline had started in the mid 1500s.
Polands economy and parliament were shattered because of costly wars among its nobles and rulers resulting into losing of much of its territory to Ukraine and the Baltic province to Sweden during 1600s. The weakened Poland thus was partitioned in 1772, 1793 and 1795 successively by its neighbors, Austria, Russia and Prussia, the emerging and leading powers of contemporary Europe. Then Poles joined the French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte to fight back their lost territories. The latter fought back Prussian Poland and named it Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1807.
Russia tried to crush Polish culture by imposing Russian language but the people of Poland under Prussian influence not only adopted German language but also formed German Empire in 1871. After World War 1 (1914-1918), by virtue of the treaty of Versailles in 1919, Poland regained much of its annexed territory from Germany, so also went all out to settle its boundaries with Russia. Russia, who was offended, waged a war against Poland (1919 to 1920). The war ended with a treaty of Riga giving back Poland some of its territories annexed by Russia.
By 1930s Poland had reestablished its government and developed its economy. But she was soon posed with threats from the emerging military might of Germany and the Soviet Union simultaneously from opposite sides. In early1939, Adolph Hitler demanded that Danzig be handed over to Germany and that she may be allowed a free passage to Pomerania in the east without any restrictions. This was not accepted by the Poles, so the latter made an alliance with the UK & France in 1921, by which Poland was to be protected by these two powers in case of threat from a foreign power.
But Adolph Hitler attacked Poland on the 1st of September. Thus the World War 11 erupted when the UK and France under pledge to protect Poland, declared war on Germany. (Janusz, n. p. ) The Chronology in Polands Invasion by Germany The chronology depicting salient events in Germanys invasion of Poland include: a) Adolph Hitler annexed the native states of Austria and Sudetenland in 1938, and invaded the Czech part of Czechoslovakia the next year. b) Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 -. The invasion of Poland forced Britain and France, to declare war on Germany because they had pledged to protect Poland.
This caused the World War II to begin. c) Great Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939. d) The United States proclaimed her neutrality on 5 September 1939. e) The US President declared limited national emergency on 8, September 1939. f) Later in September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east and Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union g) All Polish forces surrendered to German Army on 6, October 1939. h) Congress passed a bill of law allowing the sale of weapons and military arsenal across the warring nations on 4, November 1939.
i) The Soviet Union attacked Finland on 30 November 1939. The former also captured the Baltic States and northern Romania in 1940. (Europes Changing Borders, n. p. ) The Background History A new facet to international politics was added when Adolph Hitler acceded to power in 1939. Initially he was held back because of Germanys isolation and its non-interference policy into the committee of nations. Also he needed time to put Germanys shattered economy back on rails. He took hasty and short-cut steps to complete this phase the same year.
The signs of new dimensions in German policy began to be demonstrated through Hitlers drastic and revolutionary acts like the Rome-Berlin Axis, the condemnation of the Locarno treaties; the re-occupation of Rhineland, and the pact of anti-Comintern with Japan. The expediency in Hitlers initial strategy involved the target-achieving through threats instead of physically going to war. This was sufficiently shown in the unopposed annexation of Austria and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938, and which prove his new policy to be right. Therefore Hitler expected the same to happen while annexing Poland.
He anticipated England and France to give way once again and being over-optimistic, he believed that the notorious Nazi-Soviet pact of August 23, 1939, would deter the Western powers from intervention. But this time Hitler miscalculated as his speculations proved wrong. (Barraclough, p132) The World War-11 & Fall of Poland On 23, August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a secret treaty by which Poland was to be partitioned and divided between them. By August 25, 1939, a pact of alliance between Poland and England had also concluded. Thus according to secret plans, Germany attacked Poland on the first of September 1939.
The United Kingdom and France then declared war on Germany. The U. S. S. R. invaded Poland on September 17. The Poles fought bravely, but were defeated within a month. Germany and the Soviet Union vide the secret clauses of the plan divided Poland between themselves. But in 1941, Germany attacked the U. S. S. R. and seized all of Poland. Shortly after the fall of Poland, a Polish government in Paris, which was formed in-exile, was shifted to London sometimes later. In several conflicts Polish forces joined Allied armed forces besides an underground Home Army, which was stationed inside Poland was meant to operate against the Germans.
When Germans attacked the USSR in 1941, the communist party in Poland also formed in-exile center in the Soviet republic. These underground movements of communist Poles, working directly under the soviet supreme command fought German troops on the eastern side. The Polish Communist Party was officially announced in 1942 with Wladyslaw Gomulka formally becoming the Party leader in 1943. The USSR troops invaded Poland in 1944 and started driving out the Germans. The same year an uprising against Germany was staged by the Home Agency in Warsaw.
But it was only two months later that the Home Agency was silenced and forced to surrender, and a Polish Committee of National Liberation was formed in Lublin. The Soviet Union did not show resentment in the formation of this the committee because all the members constituting the committee were entirely Communists like the provisional government of Poland. The Allies too acknowledged the Committee at Yalta conference in 1945 after it had agreed to include representatives of the non-communist groups as well as the representatives of the government of the London government-in-exile.
The Extermination of Polish Jews There were heavy casualties on the Poland side besides a widespread devastation and destruction. At the time when both the German troops and the USSR forces had occupied Poland, Warsaw was completely in ruins with millions of polish Jews extirpated within the extermination camps. Nearly half of six millions Poles who had perished between 1939 and 1945 were Jews. The Nazis of Germany finished off a large population of the Polish Jews by starvation and massacres in the notorious concentration camps like the one at Auschwitz.
About six million Poles were killed, and nearly 3 million were migrated to Germany for forced labor. Polish Jews suffered the worst fate in the history of mankind with a population of some 3,113,900 Jews were exterminated. Notwithstanding German repression, the Poles did not either halt or stop fighting for their independence. A movement called underground resistance was organized, and a government in-exile was established in France and London respectively. While those Poles who had been taken as prisoners of war by the Soviet Union were granted permission to form a group of soldiers i.
e. a corpse under Wladislaw Anders which was supposed to fight against the Allies. However other Polish units were organized in France and the United Kingdom separately. The Germans officially announced the disclosure of a mass grave of at least 11,000 Polish soldiers mostly officers that were killed by the Soviets in 1943. The discovery of the mass grave in the forests of Katyn triggered the breakout of fresh hostilities and fights between the Soviet Union and the Polish government in-exile. It was sometimes later in 1990 that the USSR government admitted the massacre of Polish troops.
The escalations were mounted and the crack was further broadened when the Soviet demanded the Curzon-Line to be the new border between the USSR and Poland. A new Polish government (provisional) had already been set up in July, 1944 at Lublin at the time when Soviet troops had made their entry into Poland. Also in October 1944, a Polish uprising at Warsaw, which was organized by the resistance movement, hitherto controlled by the London-based Polish government in-exile, was pinned down by the German troops while the USSR forces continued to be dormant in the outskirts of Warsaw.
It was in early 1945 that remnant German troops were ousted from Poland. Finally a treaty was signed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 between the allies and the Soviet Union. The new Lublin government under Mikolajczyk attained recognition from the United States and the Great Britain. By the virtue of the clauses of this pact at Yalta, the agreements that were reached upon included: 1. A new Soviet-Polish border was fixed a little east of the Curzon Line. 2. Poland was allotted to pay 15 percent of the German reparation charges to the USSR.
3. Upholding the agreements already made at the Potsdam Conference in July-Aug. , 1945, the parts of Prussia lying to the east of Neisse and Oder rivers and including Gdansk, and the southern parts of Eastern Prussia which covers a total area of 101,010 square kilometers (39,000 square miles), pending a general peace treaty, were placed under the control of Polish government 4. The deportation or eviction of German troops including the civilians from these parts of Poland mentioned in 3 above was granted sanction.