Musician and Socialist General Buried Hatchet For Country's Good
How Poland Was Saved
Musician and Socialist General Buried Hatchet For Country's Good
PADEREWSKI—-Pilsudski—Poland ! The story of these three P’s—how Paderewski and Pilsudski sank their differences for the sake of another P— patriotism—is told by Dr. Vernon Kellogg, Hoover’s right-hand man in Belgian Relief Work, in World’s Work:
Poland under Russia, Austria, and Germany was really always Poland ; the Polish national spirit has always existed. And there have always been Polish patriots, active in the measure possible to them, to lead forlorn hopes and seci'et enterprises against the oppressor. It depended on where the patriot lived, and his own personal experience of feeling whether the particular oppressor to be resisted was Russian, Austrian, or German. It is fair to say that there has been genei'al Polish belief that Austria was less oppressively the oppressor than either of the others. But under all three, Poles were not free men.
Josef Pilsudski always believed that Russia was the Great Oppressor; there is no doubt that she was the oppressor on the grandest scale, for she had many more Poles under her control than had either Germany or Austria. Pilsudski believed that Russia was the greatest enemy of Poland—and acted on that belief. How he acted before the war came is not exactly public information; but I am assured that he acted. He might perhaps justly have been called a Nihilist, if by that name we mean a man not only willing but eager to kill a Czar on sight—and who is always trying, in one way or another, to get the sight.
But anyway, Pilsudski’s opportunity came with the war. He could fight in the open against Russia and he could get other Poles to fight with him. He organized the Polish legions of the Austrian army. Russia forced some Poles to fight in her armies; Germany did the same. But more Poles fought with the Austrians than with either of the other countries. And Pilsudski was their leader. It is more than px-obable that he saw, with his eyes of patriot and enthusiast, these Polish legions as the nucleus of the futxxre Polish army which should fight any country, even Austria, for Polish freedom.
When the war ended it was only natural that the leader of the principal body of Polish soldiers, and the man who had always been the leader of Polish attempts against the Great Oppx*essor; should become the first head of new Poland. So Pilsudski became Chief of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish army.
But Pilsudski was a Socialist; an extreme Socialist. And he gathered about him a Cabinet of Socialists, some of them also extreme Socialists. In his Cabinet of eighteen ministers, ten, including the Prime Minister, belonged to the Socialist and Peasants parties, one was a Radical, one was a Polish Progressive, one, the Minister of Public Health, a Conservative, and five confessed to no particular political affiliations and held themselves aloof from the Government’s political programme. Incidentally, these five included the ablest men in the Cabinet, while among the Socialist and Peasants party representatives were several notoriously incompetent—if not worse. It was not a strong Cabinet, nor one fitted to inspire among the Allies much confidence in the stability and political character of the new Polish Government.
Pilsudski himself is a patriot, a good soldier, a man of much shrewdness and native capacity. Withal he has individual color and rather an attractive personality. Despite a serious mien, plain face, and bristling roached hair, he has a quick smile and eyes of such a kindly twinkling when one dares lightness of speecli that one leaves an audience with him with the impression of having had a pleasant conversation with a man of swift intelligence and a sense of humor.
But the Allies could not recognize the Pilsudski Government. Indeed, not even all of Poland did. Posen and Galicia held themselves apart; the Pilsudski Government was really only a Socialist Government of what had been Russian Poland. Yet Pilsudski himself was the logical choice for head of the Government. What to do? What really was done?
The thing of importance for new Poland that happened was the arrival of Paderewski, the second P. The Polish National Committee, seated in Paris, and the Club of Parties, the strongest national organization in new Poland, had already tried to come to some understanding with General Pilsudski as to the representation and form of organization which the new Government of reunited and fx*ee Poland should have. A delegate from the Paris Committee came to Warsaw, held conferences with the leaders of the various parties and, finally, at the end of December, presented to Pilsudski a project for the reorganization of the Cabinet. But nothing changed. Matters rested, until the thing of importance, the coming in December of Paderewski from America to Danzig, thence to Posen, and finally to Warsaw really happened. Then matters rapidly changed.
Now to have a fair understanding of the situation produced by the coming of Paderewski, it is necessary first of all to forget that which most of us think of immediately and exclusively in connection with tlxe name of Paderewski; that is, that it is the name of the first piano
player of his day and one of the great artists in music of all days, and to recall that this man, this “simple citizen who received in Posen a triumphal reception such as is usually i*eserved for crowned heads”—as a leading Bei'lin newspaper expressed it, in bitter surprise—had all’eady revealed himself in America as a great patriot and a natux*al inspirer and leader of men. Paderewski had been the central figure in the important efforts made all through the war by the four million Poles in America to aid in all nossible ways their countrymen in Poland. The sending of great sums of money for their relief and the organization and sending ovex* of the Polish legions recruited in America to fight with the Fx*ench Army was largely the results of Paderewski’s inspiration and untiring effoi’ts.
Paderewski came to Danzig on a British cruiser. With him was Colonel Wade, head of the British Political Mission, whose other two members were moving toward Poland by way of Switzerland. The shortest way from Danzig is not by way of Posen, but for sufficient reasons Paderewski and Colonel Wade started for Warsaw by this slightly x'oundabout way. The result was the “triumphal entry” into Posen of the “simple citizen” so bitterly referred to by the Vossische Zeitung.
There were more Poles than Germans in the city of Posen, and in most of the town and country districts of the province of Posen. Tney welcomed Paderewski, the Polish patriot from America, not only by cheering him madly and following his carriage from station to hotel in great crowds, but by rising as a freed people and taking control of this ancient land of theirs. Paderewski arrived in Posen on December 26th, and in a week most of the nrovince of Posen was in Polish control. This was not accomplished by an advancing ai*my from Warsaw, but by the simple uprising of the scattered Poles in German Poland. By a consolidation of the various local uprisings a new' Western line of new Poland was established which has been the seat of continuous fighting of more or less serious kind ever since—that is, up to the date of this writing.
When Paderewski came on from Posen to Wax'saw the open places and streets about the station could not hold the hundred thousand people who welcomed him. The wildly enthusiastic crowd extended along the street all the way to the hotel. And not only for that day of arrival but for all the rest of the few days before he went on to Cracow, the welcoming continued. And in old Cracow, former seat and now burial place of the Polish kings, with whom in the crypts of the castle church lie the remains of Poland’s unforgettable Kosciusko, the welcoming of Poland’s modern patriot went on, and even more passionately and impressively than ever. And all this welcoming of Paderewski which General Pilsudski did not see or hear, he promptly heard about.
When Paderewski returned to Warsaw he began a series of conversations with the Socialist Chief of State which had for principal subject the px*essing necessity of a x-eorganization of the Government to the end not only of creating a better internal political situation but also of obtaining the confidence of the outside world, in particular of the Allies and America, so that Poland could obtain the formal recognition which was essential to the extending of aid to her starving people, her comatose industries, and her unarmed, unclothed, and unshod soldiers struggling against Ruthenians, Bolsheviki, and Germans.
Another thing that was attracting the attention of the public during this eight or ten days following the fourth of January was the presence of the American Food Mission. Some of the members of the mission weré in the uniform of officers of the American Army. That was interesting in itself. The mission was holding daily conferences with the Government ministers and officials especially concerned with the ravitaillement of Poland. The newspapers were reporting these conferences in much detail, and the ministers themselves were reporting them in more* detail and more authoritatively to the omet of State. One point in all the negotiations was emphasized. It was a suggestive point. It was plainly indicated that no food could come from America or the Allies on a wholesale scale if there was any serious danger that it could not be properly controlled, so that it could be kept out of the hands of speculators and prevented from leaking across the borders into Germany or Russia. This all meant that food relief—imperatively needed to keep Poland alive and free from that push of misery that meant revolution and Bolshevism—could only be hoped for in the presence of a Government so truly representative and so universally accepted by the people tnat it could be relied on by America and the Allies to keep order and maintain a safe control of the imported foodstuffs. The Food Mission concerned itself with no politics; it made its investigations of food conditions by talking with representatives of all Polish groups and classes, and personal observations of the conditions in markets, kitchens, diningrooms and soup-lines. It learned what it could concerning native production and food stocks on hand. And all of this was far from politics. But after all food and politics have had an inevitable and inseparable connection ever since the beginning of the war; and they have it still.
And all during the week of the coup d'état and food negotiations Paderewski was talking with Pilsudski. The second P was telling the first P that for the sake of the third P, new Poland, the Government bad to be reorganized. At the same time Paderewski openly disavowed and disapproved of all illegal and violent attempts to overthrow the existing Socialist Government. In one of the most eloquent and effective speeches I have ever heard, he called on the people of Poland to hold closely together, to work for the common good, and to use no violent means even for the sake of gaining a truly representative Government. The speech was made on the occasion of the bestowal on him of honorary citizenship in Warsaw and before an audience strongly opposed to the Pilsudski Government. The audience did not like the speech at first, but it had to like it before it ended. It was the call of pure patriotism to the national spirit. It was above politics, and for that reason it was the best of politics.
Paderewski proposed to Pilsudski that a National Commission be appointed to consist of twenty-five representatives from Posen, twenty-five from Galicia, and fifty from Russian Poland. Twentyfive of those from Russian Poland were to be Socialists, the other twenty-five to represent all the other parties. Pilsudski was first inclined to accept this, but later refused. He made a counter proposition that Paderewski should form a new Government. Paderewski refused. He was not going to be put into the position of seizing the Government or of having it handed him by the existing Government. Pilsudski then suggested doing nothing until the general elections, set for the end of January, should be held.
But this meant delay, and every day now was precious to new Poland, Paderewski urged the dangers of pror crastination ; Pilsudski himself is à patriot; he loves his country and hi& people. He saw the importance of a united front before the world. He knew that his Cabinet was not only non-representative but wreak. To make the story short the two Ps came to agreement for the sake of the third P, and the Coalition Government as it exists to-day, and as it has been recognized to-day by America and the Allies, was formed.
It is a Government not only Coalition as to politics, but representative as regards the three parts of Poland: Posen, Galicia, and old Russian Poland. And the ministers have been chosen each for special competency for the portfolio he holds. It is probably as fairly representative and as personally efficient a Government as Poland can produce. And it is the result of the statecraft and diplomacy of tht, greatest piano player in the world—whom we must forget as a piano player and remember as a statesman, an orator, and a patriot—and the good sense and shrewdness and patriotism of a one-time Nihilist and present extreme socialist.
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