The Victors of a War that Was Not Theirs: First-World-War-Veterans in the Second Republic of Poland and Their European Peers
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This article’s aim is an analysis of the status of Polish veterans of the Great War in interwar period. Their position is discussed in a European context. The author underlines dichotomy between ex-servicemen from former Austro-Hungarian, German or Russian armies (constituting vast majority of the veterans in the Second Republic of Poland) and the ‘independence fighters’ (i.e. soldiers from the voluntary Polish formations like Legiony Polskie) in terms of their legal status and symbolic position. State privileged the group of former Piłsudski’s Legionnaires and other ‘independence fighters’. At the same time the majority of ‘ordinary’ veterans was offered little more than ‘compassion’. Unlike in Germany or France, First World War veterans did not form any important mass movement. The dominant position of the relatively small group of ‘Polish soldiers’ over masses of ‘soldiers-Poles’, similar to the position of former Czechoslovak legionaries, can be therefore treated as specific to the new states of East Central and Southeast Europe.
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