Old Empire, Young Nation: The long struggle for a Polish nation

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Galicia's leading social class were Polish nobles or descendants of Rus' gentry who had become polonized in the past, whereas, in the eastern part of the province Ruthenians Ukrainians constituted the majority of the peasant population. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the local Ukrainians attempted to persuade the Austrians to divide Galicia into Western Polish and Eastern Ukrainian provinces.

These efforts were resisted and thwarted by those local Poles who feared losing control of Lviv and East Galicia. The Austrians eventually agreed in principle to divide the province of Galicia; in October the Austrian Emperor Karl I promised to do so once the war had ended. Due to the intervention of Archduke Wilhelm of Austria , who adopted a Ukrainian identity and considered himself a Ukrainian patriot, in October two regiments of mostly Ukrainian troops were garrisoned in Lemberg modern Lviv.

The Council announced the intention to unite the West Ukrainian lands into a single state. As the Poles were taking their own steps to take over Lviv and Eastern Galicia, Captain Dmytro Vitovsky of the Sich Riflemen led the group of young Ukrainian officers in a decisive action and during the night of October 31 — November 1, the Ukrainian military units took control over Lviv.

The timing of proclamation of the Republic caught the Polish ethnic population and administration by surprise. In Lviv the Ukrainian residents enthusiastically supported the proclamation, the city's significant Jewish minority accepted or remained neutral towards the Ukrainian proclamation, while the city's Polish majority was shocked to find themselves in a proclaimed Ukrainian state. Fighting between Ukrainian and Polish forces was concentrated around the declared Ukrainian capital of Lviv and the approaches to that city. In Lviv, the Ukrainian forces were opposed by local self-defence units formed mostly of World War I veterans, students and children.

However, skillful command, good tactics and high morale allowed Poles to resist the badly planned Ukrainian attacks. After two weeks of heavy fighting within Lviv, an armed unit under the command of Lt. The Ukrainians were repelled. Immediately after capturing the city, some in the local Jewish militia attacked Polish troops, [24] while at the same time elements of the Polish forces as well as common criminals looted the Jewish and Ukrainian quarters of the city , killing approximately civilians.

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This is unlikely as this French-trained and supported fighting force did not leave France and the Western Front until April , well after the rioting. On November 9 Polish forces attempted to seize the Drohobych oil fields by surprise but outnumbered by the Ukrainians, they were driven back. The Ukrainians would retain control over the oil fields until May The new state had its capital at Chernivtsi. In November—December , the Poles also advanced into Podlachia and Western Polesia , but were stopped in western Volhynia by the troops of gen.

As Polish units tried to seize control of the region, the forces of the Ukrainian People's Republic under Symon Petlura tried to recover the territory of Kholm Governorate already controlled by the Polish troops. According to Richard Pipes , the first major pogrom in this region took place in January in the town of Ovruch , where Jews were robbed and killed by regiments affiliated with Symon Petlura's Cossack ataman , Kozyr-Zyrka. Thanks to fast and effective mobilization in December , the Ukrainians possessed a large numerical advantage until February and pushed the Poles into defensive positions.

The city's inhabitants were deprived of water supply and electricity. Ukrainian forces continued to control most of eastern Galicia and were a threat to Lviv itself until May During this time, according to Italian and Polish reports, Ukrainian forces enjoyed high morale an Italian observer behind Galician lines stated that the Ukrainians were fighting with the "courage of the doomed" while many of the Polish soldiers, particularly from what had been Congress Poland , wanted to return home because they saw no reason to fight against Ruthenians over Ruthenian lands; the Polish forces were outnumbered by two to one and lacked ammunition.

Their forces had many more and better-trained officers resulting in a better disciplined and more mobile force; the Poles also enjoyed excellent intelligence and, due to their control of railroads behind their lines, were able to move their soldiers quite quickly. As a result, although the Poles had fewer total troops than did the Ukrainians, in particularly important battles they were able to bring in as many soldiers as did the Ukrainians. However, the Poles were able to quickly send relief troops and by December 17 the Ukrainians were forced back.

On December 27, bolstered by peasant troops sent to Galicia from Eastern Ukraine in the hopes that the Western Ukrainians would be able to form a disciplined force out of them, a general Ukrainian offensive against Lviv began. Lviv's defences held, and the eastern Ukrainian troops mutinied. Only a small number of troops together with Romer were able to break through to Lviv after suffering heavy losses.

Between January 11 and January 13, Polish forces attempted to dislodge Ukrainian troops besieging Lviv from the south while at the same time Ukrainian troops attempted another general assault on Lviv. Both efforts failed. In February , Polish troops attempting to capture Sambir were defeated by the Ukrainian defenders with heavy losses, although the poor mobility of the Ukrainian troops prevented them from taking advantage of this victory.

On February 14, Ukrainian forces began another assault on Lviv. By February 20, they were able to successfully cut off the rail links between Lviv and Przemysl, leaving Lviv surrounded and the Ukrainian forces in a good position to take the city. However, a French-led mission from the Entente arrived at the Ukrainian headquarters in February 22 and demanded that the Ukrainian cease hostilities under threat of breaking all diplomatic ties between the Entente and the Ukrainian government.

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On February 25 the Ukrainian military suspended its offensive. The Ukrainians would be supplied with half of the oil production. The proposal was accepted by the Poles. On March 5 Ukrainian artillery blew up the Polish forces' ammunition dump in Lviv; the resultant explosion caused a panic among Polish forces.

The Ukrainians, however, failed to take advantage of this. On January 6—11 of a small part of the Ukrainian Galician Army invaded Transcarpathia to spread pro-Ukrainian sentiments among residents the region was occupied by Hungarians and Czechoslovaks. Ukrainian troops fought with Czechoslovak and Hungarian local police. They succeeded in capturing some Hungarian-controlled Ukrainian settlements. After some clashes with Czechoslovaks, the Ukrainians retreated because Czechoslovakia instead of Ukrainian People's Republic was the only country that traded with the Western Ukrainian People's Republic and that supported it politically.

Further conflict with the Czechoslovak authorities would have led to the complete economical and political isolation of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic.

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This army, composed of Polish forces which had fought for the Entente on the Western front , [51] numbering 60, troops, [52] was well equipped by the Western allies and partially staffed with experienced French officers specifically in order to fight the Bolsheviks and not the forces of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic. Despite this, the Poles dispatched Haller's army against the Ukrainians in order to break the stalemate in eastern Galicia. The allies sent several telegrams ordering the Poles to halt their offensive as using of the French-equipped army against the Ukrainian specifically contradicted the conditions of the French help, but these were ignored, [53] with the Polish side arguing that Ukrainians were Bolshevik sympathizers.

This resulted in a loss of territory, ammunition and further isolation from the outside world. The Ukrainian lines were broken, mostly due to the withdrawal of the elite Sich Riflemen. On June 8, , the Ukrainian forces under the new command of Oleksander Hrekov , a former general in the Russian army, started a counter-offensive, and after three weeks advanced to Hnyla Lypa and the upper Stryi river, defeating five Polish divisions. Although the Polish forces had been forced to withdraw, they were able to prevent their forces from collapsing and avoided being encircled and captured.

Thus, in spite of their victories, the Ukrainian forces were unable to obtain significant amounts of arms and ammunition. They came to within two days' march of Lviv.

Old Empire, Young Nation

The successful Chortkiv offensive halted primarily because of a lack of arms — there were only 5—10 bullets for each Ukrainian soldier. This meant that they were unable to replenish their supply of arms and ammunition, and the resulting lack of supplies forced Hrekov to end his campaign. On June 28, the Polish offensive began. Short of ammunition and facing an enemy now twice its size, the Ukrainians were pushed back to the line of the river Zbruch by mid-July Although the Ukrainian infantry had run out of ammunition, its artillery had not.

This provided the Ukrainian forces with cover for an orderly retreat. Approximately , civilian refugees and 60, troops, 20, of whom were combat ready, were able to escape across the Zbruch River into Eastern Ukraine. The Polish and Ukrainian forces struggled on the diplomatic as well as military fronts both during and after the war. Shortly thereafter, Temujin killed his older half-brother and took over as head of the poverty-stricken household. At one point, he was captured and enslaved by the clan that had abandoned him, but he was eventually able to escape.

In Temujin married Borte, with whom he would have four sons and an unknown number of daughters. He launched a daring rescue of Borte after she too was kidnapped, and he soon began making alliances, building a reputation as a warrior and attracting a growing number of followers. Going against custom, Temujin put competent allies rather than relatives in key positions and executed the leaders of enemy tribes while incorporating the remaining members into his clan.


  • Bridging Generation Gaps.
  • Preparing For Your Next Negotiation.
  • The Struggle for Poland’s Future Is Playing Out on the Battlefield of History;
  • Poland from 1795 to 1939!
  • How I learnt to loathe England.

He ordered that all looting wait until after a complete victory had been won, and he organized his warriors into units of 10 without regard to kin. Though Temujin was an animist, his followers included Christians, Muslims and Buddhists.

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By he had vanquished all rivals, including his former best friend Jamuka. The following year, he called a meeting of representatives from every part of the territory and established a nation similar in size to modern Mongolia. Having united the steppe tribes, Genghis Khan ruled over some 1 million people.

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