100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF POLAND REGAINING INDEPENDENCE
2018 marks the jubilee year of the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its Independence.
On 11 November 1918, the dream of generations of Poles came true: the Polish state was reborn.
Following the partitions and 123 years of serfdom, Russification and Germanisation, after great uprisings, free Poland was reinstated on the map of the world. Regaining independence occurred due to devotion and heroism not only on battlefields, but also in the efforts to preserve the spiritual and material substance of the nation as well as in everyday endurance of Polish families.
In 1795, following the signing of Poland’s Constitution, the first in Europe, Poland went to war with neighbouring powers and was ultimately divided up into three partitions under Austrian, Russian and Prussian rule.
The first partition took place in 1772. In that year, after signing an agreement in Vienna, Russian, Prussian as well as Austrian troops invaded the commonwealth. As a result, Poland lost parts of its land, but still existed in Europe. After two decades, Russian and Prussian troops entered Poland again, taking over the remaining parts of the country.
In 1795, after an unsuccessful Polish uprising, the commonwealth suffered again. As a result of the third partition, Poland disappeared from the map of the world. For the next 123 years, Poland didn’t officially exist. Finally, on 11 November 1918, World War I came to an end and Poland regained its independence.
Independence Day is celebrated annually on 11 November. It became a national holiday in 1937 however throughout communist rule until 1989, the holiday was forbidden. It was reinstated in 1990 following the demise of communism.
In the difficult years of communism, a new hope for Poles arose when Karol Wojtyła (John Paul II) was chosen Pope in 1978. Two years later, in 1980, “Solidarity” was founded, being the first mass independent trade union in communist states. This reform movement, led by Lech Walesa, eventually broke Soviet control in Eastern Europe. The first elections of the Third Polish Republic were held in 1989 and the country entered a period of transition from a communist state to the capitalist economic system and liberal parliamentary democracy. A modern Polish state arose.
Poland has a constitution which was signed in 1997. The country is a member of NATO since 1999 and joined the European Union in 2004. After years of turbulent history, the Poland has finally found stability and a chance for growth in peace and liberty.