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The White Eagle of Poland

The White Eagle of Poland
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Title: The White Eagle of Poland
Release Date: 2019-02-18
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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{i}

THE WHITE EAGLE OF POLAND
{ii}E. F. BENSON

BY E. F. BENSON
THE WHITE EAGLE OF POLAND
CRESCENT AND IRON CROSS
THE FREAKS OF MAYFAIR
THE TORTOISE
MICHAEL
THE OAKLEYITES
DAVID BLAIZE
ARUNDEL
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
NEW YORK

{iii}


THE WHITE EAGLE
OF POLAND


 
BY
E. F. BENSON
AUTHOR OF “CRESCENT AND IRON CROSS,”
“THE FREAKS OF MAYFAIR,”
ETC.


NEW YORK
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
{iv}
COPYRIGHT, 1919,
BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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PREFACE

This book is divided into two parts, the first of which is mainlyconcerned with the reconstruction of a Polish State after the victoriousclose of our war against the Central Empires, a policy to which theGovernments of the Powers of the Entente, including America, haverepeatedly given expression both in independent and in joint utterances.In this part an attempt is made to set forth how Poland will form anindispensable link in the cordon of free states which will for all timeprevent Germany from penetrating Eastwards at will, absorbing thecountries through which she eats her way until she lays hands on Egyptand India, and there follows on the disintegration of the British Empireher domination of the world.

To avert this, it is necessary that, among other provisions, there shallbe established a powerful Polish State, living in harmony with Russia(in whatever form Russia will emerge from chaos) and constituting apermanent barrier against the Teutonic power on its West. It is vital tothe peace of the world for which the Entente is fight{vi}ing that Poland,once split up by the partitions, should be reunited and independentagain, and thus the aim of the Entente is identical with the aspirationsof Polish patriots. It is safe to say that no more gigantic andcomplicated question has ever arisen in international politics, but itis hoped that the reader may find in this part of the book somestatement of the problem which will enable him to realize what theGerman menace Eastwards means, and how it may be checked.

Chapter II of this part of the book deals with the partitions of Polandwhich took place at the end of the 18th century, so that the reader mayunderstand not only how such a restoration of Poland is necessary forthe peace of the world, but how the Polish nation, on the grounds thatnationalities have a right to separate and independent existence, claimsthe fulfilment of one of the avowed aims of the Entente, and therighting of an intolerable injustice.

Part II deals with the internal conditions of the Russian Kingdom ofPoland from the outbreak of the war in August, 1914, down to (roughly)the end of February, 1918, and is mainly based on such information ashas reached England from Polish, German, Austrian and Russian sources.Accounts of the happenings there since the coun{vii}try has been occupied bythe enemy are sometimes conflicting, for information derived from Polishsources does not invariably tally with the German or Austrian view of aquestion, but, as a rule, subsequent news has disentangled the truth.

These sections and those dealing with the various proposed “solutions”of the Polish question as set forth by the occupying powers, will, it isfeared, be found difficult to follow, and while craving indulgence forany failure to present the case lucidly, the writer ventures to remindhis readers that, where a question is in itself complicated, no lucidityof treatment can make it easy of comprehension. All he has hoped toavoid is confusion.

Statistics with regard to the populations of Poland, Lithuania, etc.,are, since the country has been in the enemy’s hands, difficult toverify, and in most cases the figures given are pre-war figures, whichmust be taken as being only approximately true.

Two maps will be found at the end of the book. By consulting the firstof these the reader will realize the extent of the ancient republic ofPoland before the partitions, and the nationalities of which it wascomposed: the second represents Poland as it was in 1914, when shared upbetween Germany, Austria and Russia.{viii}

Finally my best thanks are due to the officials of various Governmentdepartments and to the representatives of the Polish National Committeein London and Paris for the information with which they have sogenerously furnished me. Without that it would have been impossible topresent, however faintly, the main lines of what is perhaps the mostintricate problem that will arise when the Powers of the Entente are atlength completely victorious over the Central Empires.

E. F. Benson.
{ix}

CONTENTS

PART I
THE RECONSTRUCTION OF POLAND
CHAPTER PAGE
IPoland and Mittel-Europa13
IIPoland Under the Partitions34
IIIPoland and the Entente54
IVPoland’s Place in New Europe118
PART II
THE GERMAN OCCUPATION OF POLAND
IThe Russian Proclamation135
IIThe First Year of the German Occupation152
IIIAttempted Solutions170
IVPolish Independence (Made in Germany)188
V(i) The Polish Legions216
(ii) Further Independence of Poland229

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PART I
THE RECONSTRUCTION OF POLAND

CHAPTER I
Poland and Mittel-Europa

At the beginning of the war it is probable that few people of averageeducation had any very accurate idea even of the place which the Kingdomof Poland occupies on the map of Europe, and to the English mind it butbelonged to that nebulous system of geographical expressions such asBohemia, Galicia or Serbia, indefinite, shadowy states towards the Eastof Europe, concerning which it was necessary to consult an atlas. Fewerstill knew anything about its past history or its present condition,beyond, perhaps, that it was connected with Russia, since they mildlyremembered that the Tsar of all the Russias was also King of Poland,much as the German Emperor was also King of Prussia. And fewest of alleven among{14} the skilled and well-informed augurs of political omens sawor guessed that before the war was over Poland would have acquired sohuge a significance as it, and the problems connected with it, implyto-day. For to-day the majority of far-seeing and large-mindedstatesmen, both in England and the Allied countries, are perfectly wellaware that the eventual solution of the question of Poland, which atpresent is in joint German and Austrian occupation, will supply a fairand adequate criterion as to which group of belligerents may beconsidered to have won the European war. Germany knows that no less wellthan we, and though her armies might be beaten in the field, and thoughshe might be compelled to accept a peace without other annexations,coupled with the retrocession of Alsace and Lorraine to France, with therestoration of Belgium and the re-establishment of Serbia, if she couldmake an arrangement about Poland and the problems of her eastwardexpansion which are bound up with it satisfactory to her own statesmen,she would be entitled to consider herself at any rate undefeated. Forthe economic and political victory she would have won would fullycompensate for a disaster to her arms, and in ten years or less shecould be the aggressor in another war which would in all{15} probabilityleave her mistress of the world. This may sound an exaggerated menace,but it is in truth a sober and considered statement of fact, for thepolicy known as the Mittel-Europa policy would have achieved a signalvictory of supreme importance which would be certain to lead to furthersuccess and the ultimate realization of its complete aims. Intimatelybound up with the destiny of Poland is that of Bohemia: this does not,however, except marginally, fall within the scope of this book.

Broadly speaking, there are two parties in Germany which by differentmethods seek the attainment of world-power. They are in harmony witheach other in that each cordially approves of the other’s policy as anauxiliary of its own. The Pan-German party seek the expansion of theGerman Empire and the overthrow of the British primarily by conquest andannexation westward, while the Mittel-Europa party (with Hindenburg tohelp) seek the same expansion and the same overthrow by an easterlyprogression. Thus the Pan-Germans proclaim as a sine-qua-non ofpeace-terms the retention of Antwerp and of Alsace and Lorraine by theCentral Powers (in other words, Germany), and the reduction of Belgium,under the guise of a German-protected autonomy, to the{16} position of aGerman province. The Mittel-Europa party, on the other hand, aim at theexpansion and extension of German “spheres of interest” (or whatevermeiosis they care to adopt as synonymous with the simpler word“conquest”) eastward, hoping to bring about the realisation of the same“far-off event” by the direct menace to Egypt and India. Already theyhave achieved much, and not only is it necessary for the prosperity andeven the existence of the British Empire that their work in thisdirection should be checked, but much that they have done must certainlybe undone again before security against universal German domination canreturn to the world. As Mr. L. B. Namier has admirably said: “The oldcontinental dream of Napoleon—an overland route into Asia—has becomethe cardinal issue of the war.”[1]

This expansion of Germany eastwards by means of “peaceful penetration”had made great strides before the outbreak of the European war, as theevents of the war soon discovered for us. The chaos and annihilation ofRussia as a Power, for instance, has not been due solely to thesocialistic upheaval which finally produced its impotence, and indeedthat upheaval itself was largely brought{17} about by the peacefulpenetration of German gold. But apart from that, German intrigue and thedisintegrating acid of German influence had already eaten the sap out ofthe Empire of the Tsars, and the fall of the Imperial family, the fallof Kerensky, and the complete anarchy produced by the Bolsheviks wereall as much due to German machinations as to the inherent instability ofthat ricketty colossus, the Russian Empire. In Russia, Germany’sprogramme, in accordance with the policy of Mittel-Europa, has been tosow the seeds of self-destruction in foreign fields, and when that cropwas reaped to fertilize them afresh with vigorous Teutonic grain. Astrong efficient Russia would always have been a barrier to herprogress; for Russia, mistress of herself and her millions, andcompetent to develop her inexhaustible riches of men and material, wouldhave been fatal to Germany’s unlimited expansion eastwards. Whether orno she has made a huge miscalculation, and in helping to create theanarchy of Bolshevism has raised a Frankenstein monster which she isunable to control, and which may penetrate to the heart of Germanyherself, whither the Russian legions were unable to force a way, is aquestion that is now troubling the shrewdest brains in{18} Berlin, and islikely to trouble them more before they have framed a reassuring answer.

A strong Russia, then, was the last thing that Germany desired, for shecould not possibly hope to use the strength and stability of Russia forher own ends, and therefore Russia’s strength was a barrier to heradvance. But (still tracing the policy of the Mittel-Europa party) hermethod with regard to Turkey was precisely the opposite to her Russianprogramme. The sick man (to adopt Lord Aberdeen’s obsolete andmisleading phrase) could never seriously threaten the advance of herplans, and while the rest of the European powers were propping up thethrone of Abdul-Hamid and, subsequently, the Camorra of the Young Turks,for fear of the confusion and quarrelling that would follow on thedisintegration of the Turkish Empire, Germany, with a livelier foresightand an experter medical skill, was, as it were, transfusing her ownblood into the veins of the patient. What she wanted was not a weakTurkey, but a strong Turkey who should be hers, and from the earliestdays of

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