Poland after World War II: history, population and domestic politics

History 2023

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Poland after World War II: history, population and domestic politics
Poland after World War II: history, population and domestic politics
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The history of Poland, like many states, is full of tragic events. External and internal wars, rebellions, divisions, desperate defense of their sovereignty. The mighty Rzeczpospolita, having appeared in the 16th century, disappears from the political map of the world for 123 years two centuries later. After foreign domination, its independence was restored through common efforts at the end of the First World War, on November 11, 1918.

However, after the Second World War, Poland again falls into the zone of influence of another country, this time the Soviet Union, where communism was the dominant political doctrine. The allied treaty concluded in 1945 marked the beginning of new relations between the two states.

Polish losses in World War II

After the perfidious attack of fascist Germany on September 1, 1939, Poland, taken up by the occupation of the Soviet troops from the eastern part, was erased from the political map in 27 days. It is from its defeat that the countdown of the Second World War begins, which entailed huge human casu alties.

Military actions thoroughly battered the earthPolish state and left behind a string of severe destruction and loss. The territories of Western Ukraine and Belarus were finally assigned to the USSR. In general, 20% of industrial facilities, 60% of medical institutions, more than 63% of educational and scientific institutions were destroyed, and Warsaw was razed to the ground. But the most important thing is the irreplaceable human losses.

Hundreds of thousands of residents were tortured by heavy forced labor in Nazi concentration camps. Particular cruelty fell on the Polish Jews, who were first rounded up in the ghetto, and after the Reich made a decision on the Jewish question in 1942, they were sent to the death camps. One of the bloodiest death camps was located near the city of Auschwitz, where more than 4 million people were tortured and killed.

Undoubtedly, a huge number of Poles died as a result of the Nazi regime, however, the Soviet leadership had a good hand in the destruction of the Polish elite and intelligentsia. Soviet repression was skillfully aimed at the economic exploitation of the Polish people.

new frontiers

New Frontiers

Territorial losses and new borders of Poland after the Second World War is a fairly large and controversial topic. And although officially the state was among the winners, only its coastal part and the lands of the southern territories remained from the pre-war regions. In compensation for the lost eastern regions, German territories joined Poland, which the propagandists called the “Returned Lands.”

According to the results of the signed friendship agreement 21April 1945, the Soviet Union transferred to Poland controlled German territories: part of West Prussia, part of East Pomerania, Silesia, the Free City of Danzig, East Brandenburg and the district of Szczetin. Thus, after the Second World War, the territory of Poland amounted to 312 thousand square meters. kilometers, despite the fact that until 1939 it was 388 thousand square meters. kilometers. The loss of the eastern regions was not fully compensated.

post-war Poland

Population

As a result of the German-Soviet agreement of 1939 on the division of Poland's borders, more than 12 million Polish citizens (including about 5 million ethnic Poles) ended up in the territories that passed to the Soviet Union. The new territorial borders of states have caused mass migration of peoples.

After World War II, Poland lost 17% of its population. In subsequent years, its migration policy was actively aimed at the mono-ethnic state and the return of Poles to their homeland. According to the signed agreement with the Soviet government on the mutual exchange of population in 1945, more than 1.8 million people repatriated to Poland. Jews were also among the repatriates, but the anti-Semitic sentiments of the post-war years provoked their mass emigration from the country. In 1956-1958, about 200 thousand more people were able to return from the Soviet Union.

It is also worth adding that about 500 thousand people from the Poles who fought on the side of the Allies, after the end of the war, refused to return to their homeland, where the Communists were in power.

Warsaw Poland 1948

Post-war government

The presence of the Red Army units in Poland successfully played in the transfer of power to the Polish communists. Representatives of the PPR (Polish Workers' Party), PPS (Polish Socialist Party) and PPK (Polish Peasant Party) at the end of the war formed a government of national unity, but the communists disbanded this coalition in 1947 and founded the state of people's democracy, which was later reflected in the adopted constitution dated 1952.

In January 1947, the first post-war elections to the Polish parliament (Sejm) were held, as a result of which, out of 444 seats, the communists got 382, ​​and the peasant party only 28. lines. And already in October 1947, activists of the opposition movements and some leaders of the Polish Peasant Party were forced to hide in the West due to persecution. These events gave rise to the "Stalinization" of Poland. And in December 1948, as a result of the merger of the Polish Workers' Party and the Polish Socialist Party, the Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP) was established, which later retained a monopoly on political power in the country.

Despite the introduction of a rather tough policy after the Second World War, waves of protest against the existing regime have repeatedly risen in Poland. The main reasons for the dissatisfaction of citizens were: low standard of living, infringement of personal freedom and civil rights, andalso the impossibility of political participation.

foreign policy of Poland

Polish foreign policy

Becoming one of the states controlled by the USSR, Poland lost the right to make any decisions in its foreign political relations. Its desire to participate in the North Atlantic structures and figure prominently among the states of Western civilization came true only with the collapse of the socialist bloc.

In 1949, Poland joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, which greatly contributed to the development of close ties with the states of the "new democracy". And in 1955, the Warsaw Treaty of Friendship was certified by Polish representatives, consisting of 8 participating countries, which, in fact, was a response to the entry of Germany into NATO. The Warsaw Pact was a military-political alliance led by the Soviet Union, confronting the NATO bloc.

One of Poland's most difficult tasks after World War II was to secure its western borders. Germany only in 1970 was able to agree with the inviolability of the western border of the Polish state. In Helsinki in 1975, at the Conference on Security and Cooperation of European States, the following was recognized: all borders erected after the war are inviolable.

post-war industry of Poland

Post-war economy

The first steps in the development of Poland after World War II begin with a three-year economic recovery plan approved by Warsaw and Moscow in 1947. In the same year wasan agreement was signed with the USSR on the supply of industrial equipment to Poland in the amount of about 500 million US dollars. As a result, by 1949 the output of industrial goods per capita increased by 2.5 times, and in comparison with the pre-war period, the economic return from their sale improved significantly. A reform also took place in agriculture: 814 thousand farms were created, about 6,070 thousand hectares of land became the property of peasants, and existing plots were increased.

In 1950-1955, with the scientific and financial assistance of the USSR, a stage of industrialization started in Poland, in which the main emphasis was on heavy industry and mechanical engineering. As a result, by 1955 the volume of production had multiplied by 2.5 times compared to the data of 1950, and the number of agricultural cooperatives had increased by 14.3 times.

economic development of post-war Poland

In conclusion

In short, after the Second World War, Poland was already a completely different country compared to the interwar period (1918-1939). The formation of a new balance of power in the international arena and the policy of the leading states determined by this, recognizing the division of Europe into zones of influence, where its Eastern part was left behind the Soviet Union, led to cardinal changes in Poland. The changes that took place affected the establishment of the communist regime in the country, which soon led to changes in the political system, foreign policy orientation, socio-economic orientation and territorial and demographic situation.

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