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Królestwo Polskie
Königreich Polen
Kingdom of Poland
client state of the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires

1916–1918
Capital Warsaw
Language(s) Polish, German
Government Monarchy
Regency Council Aleksander Kakowski
Zdzisław Lubomirski
Józef Ostrowski
Prime Minister
 - 1917-1918 Jan Kucharzewski
 - 1918 Antoni Ponikowski
 - 1918 Jan Kanty Steczkowski
 - 1918 Władysław Wróblewski
Historical era World War I
 - Proposed November 5, 1916
 - Disestablished November 29, 1918
Currency Russian rubel, Polish marka, Austro-Hungarian krone

The Kingdom of Poland, also informally called Regency Kingdom of Poland (Polish: Królestwo Regencyjne), was the state proposed by the Act of November 5, 1916 issued by Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary. It was to be created within the former Russian territory of Vistula Land (however with no defined borders) in 1916 and would exist as a client or puppet state[1] of the German Empire. The proposal never gained much support in Germany and in reality was aimed only at gaining a Polish Army for the Central Powers. It was succeeded by the Second Polish Republic.

Contents

Regents of the Kingdom (1916-1918)

The Regency Council never managed to elect a new monarch and never gained much significance, as its movements were inhibited by the German Governor General, Hans Hartwig von Beseler. On November 11, 1918 it ceded all responsibilities to Józef Piłsudski and dissolved itself three days later.

The Regents of Poland, from left to right: Dr. Ostrowski, Cardinal Kakowski, Prince Lubomirski, with some officers of Polish Armed Forces

Prime Ministers of the Regency Kingdom

Creation of the Kingdom

The declaration of the German and Habsburg emperors allowed the creation of the Regency Council (Polish: Rada Regencyjna) which was given limited administration over territories occupied by Germany and was to elect a new monarch. One early candidate was the Austrian Archduke Charles Stephen (Polish: Karol Stefan), whose two daughters were married to Polish aristocrats: prince Olgierd Czartoryski and Hieronim Radziwiłł. He spoke fluent Polish and resided in Żywiec in Galicia. The Archduke was more than willing to accept the crown, but as a member of Imperial House of Austria he needed permission from Kaiser und König Charles I, who hesitated, having planned to assume the Polish Crown himself. As the war progressed and Austro-Hungary became more and more dominated by the German Empire, the likelihood of an Austrian candidates reduced. Germans demanded that one of their own princes rule over the future puppet state.

The German language was instituted in the administration and judicial systems of the territory of former Congress Poland. It was only in educational and political institutions that had been banned by Russia after the Polish uprisings of 1830 and 1863 that the Polish language was to be tolerated. A Central Powers-supported army (German: Polnische Wehrmacht) was created to aid the German war effort, but recruitment actions (led by Colonel Władysław Sikorski) received scant support from Polish people and achieved negligible results: in the final stage of the Regency the army numbered just 5,000 men. The Kingdom had its own currency, the so-called Marka polska (Polish mark). A Constitution was drafted on 12 September 1917 defining a monarchy, a two-chambers-parliament, but no ministerial political responsibility.

Archduke Karl Stephan with his family (about 1895)
Ten Polish mark, 1917.

Latter state of the Kingdom

Although early plans called for Austro-Polish solution, they were abandoned in February in face of growing dependence of Austro-Hungary on Germany[2] Control over Polish economy and raw resources was to be in Germany hands. Germans would also be in total control over the Polish army. The borders of this "autonomous" Poland were to be changed in favour of Germany. German officials demanded the so-called "Polish Border Strip" which would lead to annexation of considerable parts of Polish territories that were part of Russian partition of Poland. By the end of 1916 Germany wanted to annex almost 30,000 square kilometers of Polish territory. These lands were to be settled by ethnic Germans, and so Polish and Jewish population was to be removed in ethnic cleansing[3] Such plans were also proposed by members of German minority in Poland in the area of Łódź, who protested the Act of November 5, and demanded in a letter to the German government annexation of western Poland by Germany as well as settlement of ethnic Germans in those areas.[4]

References

  1. ^ Regency Kingdom of Poland has been referred to as a puppet state by Norman Davies, Europe: A history, Google Print, p.910; Jerzy Lukowski, Hubert Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, Google Print, p.218; Piotr J. Wroblel, Chronology of Polish History, in Nation and History, Google Print, p. 454, Raymond Leslie Buell; Poland: Key to Europe, Google Print, p.68 ("[T]he Polish Kingdom... was merely a pawn [of Germany].")
  2. ^ Hein Erich Goemans, War and Punishment: The Causes of War Termination and the First World War,
    Princeton University Press, 2000, ISBN 0691049440, pp. 104-5
  3. ^ Keith Bullivant, Geoffrey J. Giles and Walter Pape, Germany and Eastern Europe: Cultural Identity and Cultural Differences,
    Rodopi, 1999, ISBN 9042006781, pp. 28-9
  4. ^ Aleksander Kraushar, Warszawa podczas okupacji niemieckiej 1915-1918, Lwów 1921, pp. 39

See also








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