On December 27, we celebrate a public holiday – the National Day of the Victorious Greater Poland Uprising. The holiday commemorating the victorious uprising of Poles against the Germans in 1918–1919 falls on the anniversary of the outbreak of the insurrection.
“In tribute to the heroes – participants of the national uprising of 1918-1919, who liberated Greater Poland from German rule and annexed it to the reborn Republic of Poland” – says the preamble to the act, in which subsequent articles refer to the establishment of December 27 as the National Day of the Victorious Greater Poland Uprising as a state holiday.
The act, which was a legislative initiative of the president, was a response to the voices of community representatives, patriotic activists and local government authorities from Greater Poland. The idea of establishing a state holiday came together with: the Greater Poland Independence Museum, the Kórnickie Works Foundation, the National Museum in Poznań, the Poznań branch of the Institute of National Remembrance, the Society for the Remembrance of the Greater Poland Uprising 1918–1919 and the Association of Municipalities and Districts of Greater Poland.
The second such celebration
The Sejm adopted an act establishing a new public holiday on October 1, 2021, and on October 28, the Senate unanimously supported it. On November 23, in a historical place, i.e. in the former Hotel Bazar in Poznań, where Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the president of the Republic of Poland, lived just before the outbreak of the Greater Poland Uprising. Andrzej Duda signed the bill. “I am very happy that from this year this holiday will be permanently included in the official calendar of the Republic of Poland,” said the president when signing the act. As he then emphasized, “it is an act of specific, historical – perhaps it is a very big word – but simply justice towards the Greater Poland Uprising as an extremely important armed act of that time.
– First of all, it is a tribute to our heroic ancestors. Their contributions are enormous – during and after the uprising, during the Silesian Uprisings, and the Polish-Bolshevik war. The role of our heroes in rebuilding our homeland, which is being reborn after so many years of partition, is obvious and indisputable – said Tadeusz Musiał, president of the Society for the Remembrance of the Greater Poland Uprising of 1918–1919. – The second goal that guided us and the achievement of which the establishment of the holiday definitely advances is to disseminate knowledge about the Greater Poland Uprising and the importance of this uprising in the history of the reborn country. This knowledge, apart from Greater Poland, the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship and the Lubusz Voivodeship, is not, diplomatically speaking, common – he added.
The Greater Poland Uprising broke out on December 27, 1918 in Poznań. Its direct cause was the visit to this city of the outstanding pianist and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski. His arrival on December 26 was an opportunity to organize a patriotic demonstration. The next day, Poles gathered in front of the Bazar Hotel building. Germany they organized a counter march, and along the way its participants destroyed the headquarters of the Commissariat of the Supreme People’s Council – the legal Polish state authority, recognized by the Polish District Sejm. “Paderewski’s arrival triggered a series of events that could no longer be controlled. Moreover, there were no strong German units stationed in Greater Poland. In 1918, this province was far from the front line. At the beginning of the uprising, Polish insurgents had to face a relatively weak enemy.” – said Dr. Hab. Piotr Szlanta in an interview for PAP in 2018. Polish units of the Guard and Security Service and the People’s Guard were waiting in combat readiness. Before 17 the situation got out of control. The first shot was fired – the uprising broke out.
Initially, the Supreme People’s Council held talks with the Germans about maintaining peace. Ultimately, however, she nominated Stanisław Taczak as the temporary commander of the uprising.
During the first period of the uprising, by the end of the year, the Poles managed to capture most of Poznań. Ultimately, the city was liberated on January 6, 1919, when the Ławica airport was taken over. Several hundred planes fell into Polish hands. By mid-January, most of Greater Poland was liberated. At the end of January, the Germans launched an offensive on the northern front, and in mid-February they moved the headquarters of the high command to Kołobrzeg, which was supposed to indicate offensive plans against Greater Poland.
The Western Allies came to the aid of the Greater Poland insurgents in time and in February 1919 forced the German authorities to refrain from taking offensive actions against the insurgents. A demarcation line was then drawn, separating Polish and German units.
The insurgents’ gains were confirmed by the armistice in Trier signed between Germany and the Entente countries on February 16. According to his findings, the Greater Poland Front was recognized as the battle front of the Allied countries. The final victory was sealed by the Treaty of Versailles signed on June 28, 1919, as a result of which – with the exception of fragments – almost all of Greater Poland returned to Poland. The uprising was a success.
– Greater Poland was not as controversial an issue for the Entente countries as the statehood of Upper Silesia. These lands were perceived as unambiguously Polish. This position was supported by numerous geographers and ethnographers present at the conference. Only the nationality of the western and north-eastern parts of this province, inhabited by dense groups of Germans, could be discussed – said Dr. Hab. Piotr Szlanta.
“The uprising was really necessary in shaping Poland’s borders. It had no causative power under international law, it was only an expression of the will of the Polish society that lived in this area. It was a form of demonstration, indicating to the Western powers what the mood and point of view of the inhabitants were. Prussian partition” – said Dr. Marek Rezler, co-author and co-editor of the “Encyclopedia of the Greater Poland Uprising 1918–1919”, in an interview for PAP in 2018. However, the researcher noted that the final decision rested with the allied powers gathered at the peace conference in Paris. “However, if the uprising had not occurred, a plebiscite would most likely have been announced in these lands, which would have resulted in many districts of Greater Poland not becoming part of the borders of the Republic of Poland. This was the result of a very intense settlement policy conducted by Germany at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. If the plebiscite had been announced , then cities such as Leszno and Rawicz would certainly not belong to Poland – they were almost completely Germanized,” noted Dr. Rezler.
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