Originally Posted by Zeitgeist
Wrong. At the end of WWII, Polish boundaries were redrawn to now incorporate formerly German territories, of which Wroclaw (Breslau), was a part. Apparently, Warsaw and Krakow were always Polish. The Russkies carved up the Eastern portions
I love this "always" part.
Anger at Russian interference led to a Polish uprising called the Confederacy of Bar between 1768 and 1772. However the Russians eventually crushed the rebellion.
The great powers, Russia, Prussia and Austria then decided to help themselves to Polish territory. Prussia took Pomerania (northern Poland) cutting Poland off from the sea. Austria took Galicia. Russia took what is now eastern Belarus.
The shock of losing much of their territory galvanised the Poles into action. They reformed education and the army. They also reformed their government. The Four Years Sejm (1788-1792) created a new constitution for Poland in 1791.
However in 1793 there was a second partition. Russia and Prussia took more Polish territory. The 1791 constitution was annulled.
In 1794 the Poles rebelled but they were crushed by the Prussians and Russians.
Finally in 1795 Prussia, Russia and Austria divided the last part of Poland between them. The Polish king abdicated and the Polish state ceased to exist.
In 1807 Napoleon turned some of the Polish territories into the Duchy of Warsaw, a French satellite state. In 1812 almost 100,000 Poles fought with Napoleon against Russia.
19th Century Poland
At the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the great European powers divided up the continent. Poland was divided between Prussia, Russia and Austria. Prussia took the western and northern part of Poland while Russia took the centre and east. Austria kept Galicia.
The great powers were not willing to restore Polish independence. Instead they created a semi-independent Poland. The Russian part of Poland was made into the Kingdom of Poland. The Tsar was the monarch but his powers were limited and the kingdom had its own government and army.
However the Poles were dissatisfied and in 1830 rebellion broke out. Some Polish soldiers attempted to assassinate the Tsar's brother and the Polish Diet (parliament) declared the Tsar deposed. However the Russian army invaded and by September 1831 the Polish army was defeated.
Afterwards the Tsar suspended the Polish constitution and ruled by decree. The Polish army was disbanded. As a result of the repression many Poles emigrated to France or North America.
The Poles rebelled again in 1863. The rebellion lasted for 18 months but it was eventually crushed. Afterwards the Kingdom of Poland was dissolved and the area was renamed the 'Vistula Provinces'. Russian was made the official language of government and the Poles were forced to use it in schools - part of a policy to suppress Polish culture. On the other hand the Tsar abolished serfdom.
Meanwhile the Prussians tried to suppress Polish culture in the western part of the country but they could not. Polish culture flourished in the late 19th century and the Poles formed political movements including the Nationalist League, the Christian Democrats and the Polish Socialist Party.
20th Century Poland
Poland eventually regained its freedom after the First World War. In 1916 the Germans conquered the Russian held parts of Poland.
To curry favour with the Poles the Germans promised to form a Polish kingdom after the war.
Meanwhile polish General Jozef Pilsudski (1867-1935) led a Polish force in the war against the Russians. However Pilsudski fell out with the Germans and in 1917 was interned. He was released just before the Germans surrendered on 11 November 1918.
Meanwhile in January 1918 US President Wilson made clear his support for an independent Poland after the war.
On 11 November 1918, the day of the German surrender the Poles took charge of their country and the German troops were expelled. On 14 November 1918 Pilsudski became provisional head of state. In January 1919 a constitutional assembly was elected. A new constitution was published in 1921.
After the war the allies decided that Poland should have access to the sea. They gave Poland a strip of land called the Polish corridor, which cut through Germany. It meant that East Prussia was cut off from the rest of Germany. Danzig (Gdansk) was made an independent city state.
Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. The Poles fought valiantly but on 17 September the Russians invaded from the east. (The Russians and the Germans had already secretly agreed to divide Poland between them). The Polish position was hopeless but the Poles continued to fight both the Germans and the Russians. Warsaw fell on 27 September 1939 and all resistance ceased by 5 October.
Some Polish soldiers and airman escaped through Hungary and Rumania to France and some Polish warships escaped to join the British navy. A Polish army was reformed in France and by the Spring of 1940 it had almost 200,000 men. (The Poles also fought in the Norwegian campaign in May 1940). After the fall of France in June 1940 Polish airmen played a major role in the Battle of Britain.
Meanwhile parts of Poland were absorbed into Germany. The rest of German occupied Poland was organised under a General Government. The Russian occupied parts of Poland were absorbed into the Soviet Union.
A Brief History of Poland