At a time when chaos seems to be gushing everywhere, it’s nice to think about historical occasions when destruction and evil were defeated.
In fact, it’s more than nice; it’s useful. Why? Because if it happened before, it can happen again. Yes, history is a great resource, as it provides a treasure-trove of examples of what worked in the past—as well as, of course, what did not work. One can learn from both.
One positive precedent is the “Miracle on the Vistula,” when the people of Poland, defending their capital city of Warsaw, repelled the advancing Soviet Red Army.
In fact, the centennial of the battle, fought from August 12 to August 25, 1920, is coming up soon. The Polish government, and Poles everywhere, plan a commemoration; there’s already a video featuring the actor Liam Neeson. Indeed, tourists are encouraged to come and celebrate “a major milestone in Polish history as it saved Poland’s newly regained independence . . . also one of the most important battles in history since the Polish victory over the Soviets stopped the spread of communism to Europe.”
The events of that era were complex, of course, and are subject to multiple interpretations, and so it takes some effort to tease out the precise parallels to today.
Yet this much, for sure, is true: In the aftermath of World War I, four great empires collapsed—German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman—and seven new nations were established, or, we might say, re-established. One of these was Poland, which had been partitioned out of existence by its neighbors in the late 18th century.
Interestingly, even as the Polish nation had disappeared, even as Russian satraps ruled in Warsaw, Polish nationalism grew stronger. And so, during World War I, a submerged Poland saw its chance to re-emerge, as the Russians, Germans, and Austro-Hungarians (as well as other combatant countries) fought each other to exhaustion.
The big break came in 1917, when the Russian tsarist government collapsed, soon to be replaced by Lenin’s Bolsheviks. Civil war erupted in Russia—and that was Poland’s opportunity for liberation.
Led by soldier-statesman Józef Piłsudski (1867-1935), Poland declared its independence on November 11, 1918, the same day that an armistice was achieved in the overall war.
Yet if all was now quiet on the Western front, on the Eastern front—actually, on many fronts—violent turmoil persisted. So even as Russia was convulsed in civil war, just about every other country in Eastern Europe reeled in convulsion, too, regarding its borders, its political regime, or both.
Moreover, in those days, beyond the rivalries of nationalism, communism was a specter haunting Europe. Hungary, for instance, was afflicted by a communist government for a few months in 1919. And Germany, too, suffered from a short-lived communist regime in its province of Bavaria. In fact, communists were taking to the streets, or even to the barricades, in virtually every country in Europe.
Via:: American Conservative
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