The Agitation and Propaganda Activity of Polish Communists in the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic in 1918-1920
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It is estimated that the number of Poles living in Russia at the end of the first world war totalled about 3 million. They included long-settled inhabitants, i. a. exiles and their families, as well as prisoners and students attending Russian schools of high learning. The majority was composed of wartime refugees who had been evacuated during the first stage of the war. The number of Poles serving in the Soviet Army is approximated at about 600 000. An important group was composed of prisoners of war - Poles from the Central Powers armies, interned in camps situated primarily in Siberia. The presented article discusses Polish radical groups as well as those increasingly extremist Poles who in the confrontation between the Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik camps decidedly supported the former. Polish communists in Russia, including such key activists as Julian Marchlewski, Feliks Dzierzynski (Felix Dzerzhinsky) and Feliks Kon, regarding the victory of the revolution in Russia, Poland and the world as more important than the struggle for Polish independence. Moreover, similarly to the Kremlin authorities, they considered the birth of an independent Republic of Poland in 1918 to be a threat, despite the fact that officially they propagated the right to national self-determination. Following the example of the Bolshevik leaders, the Polish communists proclaimed the necessity of establishing a 'Polish Soviet Republic'. During the Polish-Soviet war of 1919-1920, and particularly at the time of the Red Army onslaught against Warsaw (August 1920), the Bolsheviks made an attempt at implementing those concepts. The establishment in Bialystok of the so-called Polrevcom was an attempt at installing Soviet authority. The ephemeral committee came to an end after the Polish victory at the battle of Warsaw. Polish communists in Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine conducted a lively propaganda and agitation campaign addressed both to Polish soldiers and the civilian population. By resorting to the press, leaflets, posters and meetings, they tried to win over their readers and listeners to the concept of a 'Red Poland'. Even after the Polish-Soviet hostilities came to an end, they continued to indoctrinate Polish prisoners of war interned in Russia. Soviet wartime propaganda as well as its part - the propaganda conducted by the Polish communists - failed to meet the expectations of Lenin and his comrades. Polish and Soviet authors alike admit that the endeavours of the propagandists ended in a fiasco.
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