Monday marks 103rd anniversary of Greater Poland Uprising

Monday marks the 103rd anniversary of the Greater Poland Uprising - one of the four victorious Polish insurrections. “Our generation, which, thanks to the courage of the insurgents, can live in the Polish Greater Poland, wants to express its gratitude,” Mariusz Błaszczak, the Minister of Defence, stressed.

One of Polish independence’s father died 80 years ago

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Greater Poland (currently “Wielkopolska” - one of Poland’s western provinces) was taken by Prussia, the predecessor of a unified Germany, as one of the partitions of Poland. Poles inhabiting this region protested against the Prussian and German policy of enforcing German culture and language but tried to achieve change with non-violent methods.

In late 1918, Germany loosened the policy on the occupied lands. Circumstances such as the country’s defeat in WWI, the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II and the general atmosphere of revolution encouraged people to begin their fight for freedom.

The spark that lit the uprising fire was the visit of the Polish pianist and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski to Poznań, Western Poland, on December 26, 1918, which was an opportunity for patriotic demonstration.

A day after his arrival, Poles started to gather in front of the Bazar Hotel in the city centre. The Germans responded with a counter-manifestation and destroyed the headquarters of the Supreme People’s Council, the legal Polish authority of the city of Poznań.

The uprising began before 5PM local time. By the end of the year, insurgents had liberated the majority of Poznań, and in January a large part of Wielkopolska was under their control.

In late January, Germany started their counteroffensive, aiming to attack not only Greater Poland, but also other parts of the country.

Polish intelligence acquired information about the German plans and notified the leaders of the Triple Entente. French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the leader of the alliance forces, threatened that should Germany attack Poles, the Triple Entente would take military steps in response.

On February 16, 1919, the treaty in Trier, Germany, was signed, prolonging the ceasefire between the Triple Entente and Germany. Marshal Foch asked for a point demanding the termination of the Polish-German conflict to be included. However, there was no specified date as to when this should come into force and the Germans continued to conduct military activities.

Finally, the Versailles Treaty, signed on June 28, 1919, returned nearly the whole area of Wielkopolska to the newly reborn Polish state.

Some historians say that without the insurrection, some parts of the region may have joined Germany. If the plebiscites had been organised, there may have been some areas which would have remained under strong German influence and affected by Germanising policies.

New public holiday in Poland announced

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“Our generation wants to express its gratitude”: Defence Minister

On Monday, Mariusz Błaszczak, the head of the Ministry of National Defence, paid tribute to the Heroes of Greater Poland.

“Years of work of many outstanding residents of Greater Poland, exceptional solidarity and a sense of national identity enabled the persistence of Polishness and the creation of a solid foundation for the future Uprising,” he stressed.

“Our generation, which, thanks to the courage of the insurgents, can live in the Polish Greater Poland, wants to express its gratitude,” the Minister emphasised.

New public holiday

At the request of the Polish President Andrzej Duda, approved by the Polish parliament earlier this year, December 27 became a new public holiday in Poland to commemorate the uprising.

“It is a certain act of historical justice towards the Greater Poland Uprising as a tremendously important military undertaking of those times,” the President stressed.