The Civil Administration of Eastern Territories (1919–1920)

The Reasons for the Failure of Piłsudski’s Federation Idea

by Joanna Gierowska-Kałłaur (Author)
©2022 Monographs IV, 580 Pages
Open Access


Between 1919 and 1920, the eastern territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were temporarily administered by the Civic Management of Eastern Territories, established by Józef Piłsudski. The residents of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania were to determine their future governance. Piłsudski placed the Civic Management outside the structures of the Polish government, while his opponents from the Polish nationalist wing wanted to suborn it to the government in Warsaw. Based on hitherto unknown archival documents, the author describes the reasons for the failure of Piłsudski’s federation idea, both on the Polish side, as well as errors by Belarusian leaders and the policy of the Lithuanian state.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Background
  • ‘Special policy’ pursued by Germany in the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s territory in Lithuania
  • German policy in the western part of the former Poland-Lithuania
  • German policy in the eastern part of the former Poland-Lithuania
  • In Byelorussia
  • Warsaw’s view of the Entente’s politics
  • The situation in Warsaw
  • The Polish community’s activities in the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania prior to the establishment of the ZCZW
  • Two programmes regarding the Eastern Territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as reflected in Polish political thought
  • Poles of Vilnius and the centre of power alternative to the Chief of State
  • Territorial scope
  • Activity of the Ministers of the Treasury in the revived Poland in 1918–20
  • 1. Władysław Byrka (17th November 1918 to 16th January 1919)
  • 2. Józef Englich (16th January 1919 to 4th April 1919)
  • 3. Stanisław Karpiński (4th April 1919 to 31st July 1919)
  • 4. Leon Biliński (31st July 1919 to 27th Nov. 1919)
  • 5. Władysław Grabski (14th December 1919 to 24th November 1921)
  • Preparatory works aimed at regulating Poland’s Eastern policies
  • Overview of the ZCZW’s activities, by stage
  • First period (8th February 1919–22nd April 1919)
  • Second period (22nd April 1919–10th October 1919)
  • Third period (10th October 1919 to 25th October 1919)
  • Fourth period (25th November 1919–17th January 1920)
  • Fifth period (17th January 1920 to 1st June 1920)
  • Sixth period (1st June 1920 to 9th September 1920)
  • A collective portrait of senior ZCZW staff employed at the Commissariat, Branch Office, and districts
  • Personal characteristics
  • 22nd April to 10th October 1919
  • After 10th October 1919
  • The efforts and labours of the ZCZW’s Conscription-and-Enlistment Department in the Districts of Vilnius, Brześć Litewski, and Minsk
  • Background
  • 10th February to 23rd May 1919
  • 23rd May 1919 to 25th November 1919
  • Legislative Sejm’s session of 25th November 1919
  • After 25th November 1919
  • 22nd April to 25th November 1919
  • 25th November 1919 to February 1920
  • Maciej Glogier’s mission to the area of the plebiscite announced in the Proclamation to the residents of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania, February 1920
  • March 1920 and afterwards
  • Under Władysław Lichtarowicz’s term-of-office (ended October 1919)
  • Under Łucjan Zarzecki’s term-of-office (October 1919 to September 1920)
  • Staffing the department in charge of ethnic/national affairs
  • Daily practices and routines in the Districts of Vilnius and Brześć Litewski (Western Byelorussia)
  • Daily practices and routines in the District of Minsk (Eastern Byelorussia)
  • General assumptions of Polish policies and their determinants between February and August 1919
  • The Kowno/Kaunas issue
  • General premises of Polish policy and its determinants in September to December 1919
  • The Lithuanian trump card
  • The Byelorussian trump card
  • General assumptions behind Polish policy and its determinants in 1920
  • The Byelorussian trump card
  • The Lithuanian trump card
  • The Volhynian District: its emergence and activities
  • Daily practices and routines under the ZCZW
  • Daily practices and routines after the establishment of the Commissariat for the Lands of Volhynia and the Podolian Front
  • Postscript

←9 | 10→←10 | 11→


This study seeks to discuss one of the major aspects (in my view) of the Eastern policies pursued by Poland as a re-emerging state after the First World War, confronted with the federation-oriented policy of Józef Piłsudski, the then-Chief of State, and the differing viewpoints of his opponents. This book explores the approaches adopted in relation to the actions taken by Poland in the Eastern territories not only by Germany, which had been on the losing side in WWI, but also by the victorious Entente powers. The collapse of Russia made them face a range of interwoven problems that their political elites had not previously contemplated, and thus lacked the necessary tools, let alone the essential knowledge, to effectively shape the new political reality. The interests of Russia, the notable absentee, and its increasingly active new rulers at the Kremlin, also played a crucial role. In this context, the actions of the newest entities on the world map and subjects of the events in question, i.e. Lithuania, Byelorussia, and Ukraine, was of lesser significance, although not negligible, either.

In the first place, it is necessary to define the term ‘The Civil Administration of the Eastern Territories’ [Zarząd Cywilny Ziem Wschodnich (hereinafter referred to as the ‘ZCZW’)],1 as it is both ambiguous and capacious. The ‘ZCZW’ stood for an administrative unit established by the Polish Supreme Commander, Józef Piłsudski, in the territories of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania liberated (not ‘seized’ or ‘occupied’) by the Polish army. This office was brought into being at a particular moment: upon the restoration of independence, but before the boundaries of the reborn country were recognised internationally, in the hope of achieving a precise objective. The ZCZW can also serve as an example of the failure of a political and social concept that proved too modern for its time. Indeed, it reflects the internal Polish conflicts and the persistent dispute between the Chief of State and the Polish National Committee [Komitet Narodowy Polski (KNP)], which endured and was employed or harnessed in all political aspects ←11 | 12→of the Polish state and society in the years 1919–1920, including in the area of the Eastern Borderlands.

The ZCZW constitutes a symbol of the tragedy that affected the lands of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Its protagonists were the Chief of State, a large mass of officials, and social/political activists torn by conflicting feelings, as well as numerous other inhabitants of the territories under the jurisdiction of the Administration, whose establishment was first announced in the Proclamation to the Inhabitants of the Former Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

One factor of vital importance to understanding the reasons behind the failure of Józef Piłsudski’s Eastern Policy carried out in 1919 is to show how the ZCZW was structured and how it functioned, in the context of what was happening at that time, globally as well as locally. The structure of this book follows the structure of the drama that unfolded in the Parisian salons, in the corridors of the Sejm in Warsaw, and in the counties of the Eastern Territories, as the dispute over the shape of the country spilled from the political salons all the way down to the local communes.

All of the actors in these events faced inescapable choices. Their knowledge was limited, both for objective and subjective reasons. The Polish elites feared the new socio-political agenda and the masses who simply did not comprehend it; an agenda that was meant to provide refuge to all inhabitants of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania – not just the Poles – in the face of the tempest approaching from the East.

It seems that, in spite of all their complexity, the events which took place between 19th February 1919 (when the office of Civil Commissioner was established at the Military Administration of the Eastern Territories) and the late summer of 1920 (the dissolution of the ZCZW on 9th September) were largely influenced by one concrete mechanism. The former occupiers of these lands were very aware of this mechanism, and exploited it in line with their divide et impera strategy.

The concept that brought the ZCZW to life ended in fiasco for various reasons, both independent from and dependent on the Poles themselves. The aim of the present study is to provide factual evidence, largely unknown to date, and thus establish a causal link allowing a determination, to the extent possible, of how and in what ways these factors contributed to the ultimate failure of the project. The study is, moreover, a first attempt at identifying and describing the said mechanism on the basis of numerous specific examples from all the levels of the ZCZW’s structure.

Now I must make a methodological remark at this point. One consequential obstacle encountered by both the participants and witnesses of those events, and ←12 | 13→future scholars – including the author of this book – has been the fluidity of the terms used during that period. The same word could mean something different to different people. In 1923, Józef Piłsudski stated publicly that the term ‘federation’ proved too smart for the ‘weighty and apish granny’, which personified public opinion.2 This ascertainment leads to the conclusion that none of the terms such as ‘union’, ‘plebiscite’, ‘election’, ‘Poles’, ‘Jews’, ‘Byelorussians’, or even ‘army’/‘the military’, ‘Bolsheviks’, or ‘concentration camp’ ought not to be used without first being accurately defined.

As an experienced, long-standing archive documentalist at the Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, I have decided to employ a research method adapted to the physical condition and nature of the archival sources I came across in my research. The Old Prints and Manuscripts Section at the Capital-City-of-Warsaw Public Library contains a fond named ‘Zarząd Cywilny Ziem Wschodnich’, comprising approximately 24,000 folios. A meticulous reader of the sources contained in this fond will surely notice that the various materials in it have never constituted an orderly whole, and were hastily sorted out and discarded at some point. Incomplete materials from various periods, districts, (not all) departments, sections, inspectorates, starosties, counties, etc. have been arbitrarily interspersed. Most of these documents are copies or duplicates (including carbon copies), some are poorly legible drafts typewritten or handwritten on both sides – usually in Polish, but also in Byelorussian, Lithuanian, German, and French. The archives have twice undergone a hasty evacuation, in 1920 and then again in 1944; hence the chaotic layout of the documents, with minor exceptions. The work procedures of the officials and clerks might have left an imprint, too. The ZCZW’s offices functioned in an unrestrained manner; even the bookkeeping was done using different systems. Prolific typing errors by the registrars, missing dates and places of issue, and the common use of outdated receipt stamps were also frequent.

After the Second World War, the fond was divided into a total of 118 handwritten volumes of varying size.3 The aforesaid Warsaw Public Library collection also contains the personal documents of Jerzy Osmołowski, the ←13 | 14→Commissioner-General, which are referred to throughout this book.4 Following a three-year query, I was able to draw up a tentative inventory of the ZCZW fond, comprising extensive extracts and photocopies. This research provided a huge amount of material, which resulted in pointing the way for further research.

The material constituting the ZCZW fond at the Warsaw Public Library aroused virtually no interest for many years. Interestingly, Aleksy Deruga, author of the seminal work on Poland’s Eastern policy in the years 1918–1919, never came across these records.5 The memoirs of Jerzy Osmołowski, Commissioner-General of the ZCZW, donated to the National Library after 19546 were written years after the facts described therein, and in a radically different political situation, by a man eager for recognition on the one hand, and visibly bitter on the other. I have therefore concluded that this particular account – contrary to the diary of Michał Kossakowski,7 Commissioner-General’s representative in Warsaw – does not actually hold the value attributed to it by many historians, and I resorted instead to reconstructing the period’s events mostly on the basis of the official documents produced in 1919–1920. However, despite the above reservations, these memoirs proved to be of significant assistance in writing this study. The Special Collection at the National Library in Warsaw contains, moreover, the archive of Stefan Szwedowski, a nationalist activist.

The queries made at those places have enabled me to attempt a personal evaluation of the circumstances surrounding the events in question. I did my supplementary research at three archives in Warsaw. Apart from the Kossakowski diary, the Archive of the Polish Academy of Sciences contains the documentation of Marceli Handelsman and a (barely legible) diary by Ludwik Kolankowski, the first Civil Commissioner. At the Central Archives of Modern Records [AAN], in ←14 | 15→addition to the minutes/records of the Council of Ministers, I made use of the Borderland Guard Society fond and the ‘Collection of Duplicates’, as well as the fond of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Lastly, at the Central Military Archives, I studied the Laudański Dossier.

During my several visits to Vilnius, I conducted queries in the manuscript collection of the Vilnius University Library (Vilniaus universiteto mokslinė biblioteka), where I studied in detail the dossier of Marian Zdziechowski. The abundant correspondence gathered therein, even the letters from the 1930s, allowed me to see the beginnings of the formation of Polish statehood after the Great War in a different light. Although I do not cite these letters in my work, they helped me considerably to obtain an effective insight into the events of the period in question.

The collection of manuscripts at the Lithuanian National Library (Lietuvos nacionalinė Martyno Mažvydo biblioteka) contains the documentation of the estates owned by the Kossakowski family, among which ‘compromising’ materials were concealed. The Lithuanian Archives of Modern Records (Lietuvos centrinis valstybės archyvas) offer a clearly structured collection of materials left behind during the 1920 evacuation, entitled ‘Civil Administration of the Eastern Territories’. Its most interesting portion includes proofs of the political preferences of Poles; namely, the inhabitants of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania, as of 1919, and their correspondence with the Polish National Committee in Paris. The manuscripts at the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (Lietuvos mokslų akademijos biblioteka) are a treasury of knowledge for researchers of all periods. Among the many collections that I have found there, Marian Świechowski’s dossier deserves particular mention for the extent and significance of its materials concerning Polish-Lithuanian relations. Its controversial contents, arousing much emotion, have already been published.8

Lithuania’s Archives of Historical Records (Lietuvos valstybės istorijos archyvas) contains, among others, the collection of the Society of the Friends of Science in Vilnius (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk w Wilnie), which includes the incredibly valuable Vilnius Land’s Collection of Documents. It should be borne in mind that access to the vast majority of these materials was practically impossible before 1991, for many more than just Polish nationals. Therefore, not only was I the first Polish researcher to reach these records, but some folios in the files were numbered for the first time only because I had ordered for them. The ‘stock’ compiled during these queries was subsequently complemented ←15 | 16→by photocopies of five important documents concerning Lithuanian matters from the Józef Piłsudski Institute in New York, donated by Dorota Cisowska-Hydzik, MA, an attendee of Professor Andrzej Ajnenkiel’s doctoral seminar, who researched the Polish National Committee. My gratitude is also due to Mr Andrzej Czarniakiewicz from Grodno, who provided me with photocopies of valuable documents from the Belarusian archives.

As it emerges from the collected material, the effects of the special policy pursued proactively by the Germans after their capitulation played a role in 1919 not to be underestimated in the development of the situation in the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s territory. The author was unable to conduct detailed queries in the German archives; this gap, however, is repaired to some extent by the source-based paper delivered by German historian Wolfgang Petter at the conference ‘1920. On the 80th Anniversary of Poland’s Victory over the Red Army’.9

Volume-wise, the outcome of the archival queries has surpassed my wildest expectations, although further research could undoubtedly reveal more hitherto-undiscovered materials. Printed documents are a valuable addition to the source material, notably: Akta i dokumenty dotyczące sprawy granic na konferencji pokojowej w Paryżu [Files and documents related to the issue of borders at the Peace Conference in Paris], Part I: Program terytorialny delegacji polskiej [Territorial agenda of the Polish Delegation] (Paris: Société générale d’imprimerie et d’édition, 1920). As far of the canonical Polish source publications are concerned, I have included the following: (i) Kazimierz W. Kumaniecki, Odbudowa państwowości polskiej [Reconstruction of Polish statehood] (Warsaw: J. Czernecki, 1924); (ii) Remigiusz Bierzanek and Józef Kukułka (eds.), Sprawy Polski na Konferencji Pokojowej w Paryżu w 1919 r. Dokumenty i materiały [The affairs concerning Poland at the Peace Conference in Paris in 1919. Documents and materials], vols. 1–3 (Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnicwo Naukowe, 1965–8); (iii) Halina Janowska and Tadeusz Jędruszczak (eds.), Powstanie II Rzeczypospolitej [The emergence of the Second Republic of Poland] (Warsaw: Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza, 1981); Tadeusz Jędruszczak and Maria Nowak-Kiełbikowa (eds.), Dokumenty z dziejów polskiej polityki zagranicznej 1918–1939 [Documents from the history of Polish foreign policy 1918–1939], Vol. I: 1918–32, (Warsaw: Instytut Wydawniczy PAX, 1989); Natalia Gąsiorowska-Grabowska et al. (eds.), Dokumenty i materiały do historii ←16 | 17→stosunków polsko-radzieckich [Documents and materials related to the history of Polish-Soviet relations], vols. I–IV (Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, 1961–5); Witold Stankiewicz and Andrzej Piber (compiled by), Archiwum polityczne Ignacego Paderewskiego [The political archive of Ignacy Paderewski], Vol. II: 1919–21 (Wroclaw: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1974) (I have also taken note of the material prepared for the second edition). I have moreover included information from the anthology Vytautas Petras Plečkaitis and Jan Widacki (compiled and commented by), Lietuvos ir Lenkijos santykiai 1917–1994: dokumentų rinkinys [Lithuanian-Polish Relations 1917–94. A collection of documents], (Vilnius: Valstybės Žinios, 1998), and from the publication Arkhivy Byelaruskay Narodnay Respubliki [Archives of the Belarusian People’s Republic.], Vol. I, issue 1 (Vilnius–New York–Minsk–Prague: Byelorusskii Institut Navuki i Mastatstva Tavarystva Belaruskaga Pis’myenstva, 1998).

The historiographical literature on the subject is listed in the bibliography at the end of the book. The pre-war historical works, which discussed those of the reasons behind the failure of the Eastern programme that remained within the range of influence of the Polish authorities, were affected by the understandable reluctance to undermine the morale of the state at a time when the tears of widows and orphans of the recent war had not yet dried. This topic was not explored during Piłsudski’s lifetime, either by his followers or, strikingly enough, by the Marshal’s numerous antagonists. No witnesses were contacted and few accounts survive, whereas the existing ones tend to omit the subject.10

For several decades after the Second World War, there were no appropriate conditions to discuss any issues related to the Polish-Soviet War. In the last decade, one important study by Janusz Szczepański saw the light of day,11 but it ←17 | 18→offered no new findings in the field concerned in the present book. The abundance of archival source material that has so far remained outside scholarly interest or discourse, as well as the adopted method of reconstruction of the mechanism that dismantled the ZCZW, has prompted me to limit the amount of personal comments on the literature to the necessary minimum.

However, several titles should be mentioned at this point. Quite a number of authors have explored Józef Piłsudski – the man/figure and his political activity, as well as his interactions with the National Democratic camp.12 The works by Jan Jurkiewicz,13 Aleksy Deruga,14 Adolf Juzwenko,15 and Józef Lewandowski16 all carry an extremely high value owing to the material they contain. The period in question is also covered in a study by Leon Grosfeld,17 to whose discussions with Tadeusz Jędruszczak (with the participation of Colonel Kazimierz Rosen-Zawadzki) I listened attentively at the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Institute of History in the early 1980s. One cannot deal with the history of the ←18 | 19→region concerned without being acquainted with the valuable studies of Piotr Łossowski18 or Andrzej Skrzypek.19 The contents of the Warsaw Public Library’s ZCZW fond has also been of interest to Krystyna Gomółka20 and Aleksandra Bergman,21 both of whom were exploring the Byelorussian question. Roman Wapiński22 devotes attention and numerous publications to the history of the Polish national(ist) camp’s Eastern policy in the period 1917–1921, which constituted a political alternative to the concepts of the Chief of State. Among the works published in recent years, several deserve a mention. The internal policy constitutes the subject of the document collections Communiqués of the Supreme ←19 | 20→Command of the Polish Army, Section III [Komunikaty Oddziału III Naczelnego Dowództwa Wojska Polskiego] and Reports and Communiqués of the Supreme Military Authorities on the internal situation in Poland [Raporty i komunikaty naczelnych władz wojskowych o sytuacji wewnętrznej Polski].23 External politics, shaped by the circumstances of the defeat, i.e. beyond the influence of the Poles, is discussed in Andrzej Nowak’s analysis of the Eastern policies,24 as well as in a dissertation by Piotr Okulewicz,25 written under the tutelage of Przemysław Hauser.26 Regardless of the political convictions of certain authors, these studies unquestionably permit the establishment of numerous important facts.

Politics in the first years following the restoration of Poland’s independence consisted mainly in exploiting a new political factor, i.e. exerting public pressure on the bodies of the democratic state, or even seemingly provoking a public response (if not outrage), in order to achieve one’s own political goals. By a lucky coincidence, one of the members of the Section of the Twentieth-Century Political History of Poland at the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Institute of History, where this book was conceived, was Andrzej Zakrzewski, a historian who never severed contacts with his colleagues despite his engagement in ‘practising history’, i.e. in politics; in fact, he has contributed to historical events. My exchanges with him have shed a new light on such sources as the minutes/records of the Council of Ministers, making me understand the necessity of relying upon several records, even if seemingly less important, in view of confirming a given argument – rather than on just one single record or message whose authors or compilers might have aimed to achieve a predetermined effect, and which later has been interpreted in the same way for a number of years.

←20 | 21→A historian must also consider the fact that the omission of some important information in a document may not result from its author’s obliviousness, but rather from the desire to withhold some knowledge for personal reasons, in the hope of achieving an expected reaction from the recipient. Politics is also an art of manipulation and, in my opinion, only relying on details brings us closer to the historical truth. And, as Józef Mackiewicz once said, only the truth is interesting. A comprehensive synthesis of all assembled facts is the only way to bring the reader closer to the true picture of the situation in the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania, allowing in parallel to recreate, even if only partly, the highly significant atmosphere prevailing in the Polish administration as well as within the ZCZW itself.

The complexity of the problems tackled in this book on the one hand, and the abundance of the extremely interesting material obtained through queries on the other, caused considerable difficulty in deciding on the structure of the study. Many issues essential to discussing the policies of the Entente, the strategy adopted by Germany, or the actions of the Government in Warsaw, are covered only to the extent necessary for the purposes of this dissertation.27

History values chronological order, but applying a chronological structure here has proved impractical. The only acceptable arrangement was to discuss individual problems separately, taking into account their interdependence, all the more so that many of the published findings extend beyond the chronological scope of the subject. Another difficulty was caused by the distinctiveness of social and economic issues related to the District of Volhynia as detached from the ZCZW in January 1920. Due to the overlapping and intertwining of issues and their dependence on the same external factors, repetitions and referencing to the other relevant parts of this study is unavoidable. However, the final layout appears to be optimal, given the content of the collected materials.

Chapter I provides the necessary, albeit naturally very brief, overview of the political situation worldwide and in Poland, as well as the political and social situation in the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s territory in the spring of 1919.

Chapter II describes the process of establishing the ZCZW, its core agenda, it structure and the later attempts at its reorganisation. Due to very frequent ←21 | 22→rearrangements at lower levels, I have refrained from meticulously reporting all the changes that took place in the organisation of the various departments and sections.

Chapter III attempts to portray the ZCZW staff as a group. Owing to the lack of personal files, it was impossible to draw up a classical collective portrait; hence, the second part of the chapter provides a detailed overview of the Administration’s key figures.

Chapter IV analyses the attitude of the Supreme Command of the Polish Armed Forces towards the ZCZW. The latter was originally established as a subordinate unit of the Supreme Command, but afterwards de facto grew formally independent. One valuable supplement to the picture of their mutual relations is the short history of the ZCZW’s Conscription-and-Enlistment Department, dissolved – at the request of the Supreme Command of the Polish Army and the Borderland Guard – soon after the final decoupling of the Administration from the Supreme Command.

Chapter V discusses the evolution of the attitude of the Legislative Sejm of the Republic of Poland towards the Eastern policy of the Chief of State. The ZCZW was established in consequence and as part of the latter.

Chapter VI addresses the reception in Polish society of the claims of the Proclamation to the inhabitants of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the attitude of politically active personalities to the plebiscite announced in the Proclamation.

Chapter VII seeks, based on staff reports and statistics of the ZCZW’s Education Section, to establish the facts concerning of the ZCZW’s widely-criticised school policy. My intention was to portray the struggle between the loyal executors of the programme announced in the Vilnius Proclamation and the supporters of national concepts for the authority over the education and school system in the Borderlands. The freedom in choosing the language of instruction introduced by the first director in charge of education in that area could allow the school statistics to be interpreted as a sui generis plebiscite in the Eastern Territories. This motivation probably became the reason for the fierce political battle over education in the area, which also impacted the form and content of the preserved sources.

Chapter VIII describes the process of compiling the ZCZW’s agenda concerning Lithuania and Byelorussia. As the files of the ZCZW’s Department of Ethnic Affairs were largely lost to fire during the evacuation in 1920, the section is essentially based on an analysis of materials mostly originating from the archival documentation of Marian Świechowski, Acting Head of the Ethnic Affairs Department. The letters of Bronisław Krzyżanowski, found by Dorota ←22 | 23→Cisowska-Hydzik and presently kept at the Józef Piłsudski Institute in New York City, form a valuable supplement.

Chapter IX analyses the situation in the counties of the District of Volhynia under the ZCZW’s jurisdiction until January 1920. Due to its social composition differing from that in other districts, largely implied by the economic structure, this particular area can serve as an exemplar of the processes that also occurred in the other districts, but were much more difficult to grasp.

The book concludes with an extensive annex covering the political and social situation in the Vilnius, Brześć Litewski, and Minsk Districts in 1919, i.e. at the time when the Volhynian District, discussed in detail in Chapter IX, was also subject to the ZCZW. Essentially, it was then that the opportunity to implement the Chief of State’s Eastern policy was squandered. In order to provide the reader with an opportunity to become familiar with the atmosphere of the sources discussed here and to draw independent conclusions, I have decided to adopt an unconventional form of presenting the supporting materials in a quasi-original form of extracts of the most interesting information preserved. The uniqueness and significance of the recovered archival material reassured me as to the relevance of this procedure: reports of agents of the ZCZW’s Conscription-and-Enlistment Department, the unit dissolved in December 1919, as a result of, among others, the backstage activities of the Borderland Guard. However, a comprehensive comparison of the Conscription-and-Enlistment Department’s. reports against those produced by the Borderland Guard, its ‘rival’ entity (the latter reports having the advantage of containing information from the three districts under the ZCZW’s administration until the summer of 1920) would exceed the framework of my intended study on, specifically, the Civil Administration of the Eastern Territories.


IV, 580
ISBN (Hardcover)
Open Access
Publication date
2022 (October)
Józef Piłsudski Federation program Incorpotation opposition Polish-soviet war Eastern territories Multi-ethnic population
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. IV, 580 pp., 14 fig. b/w, 22 tables.

Biographical notes

Joanna Gierowska-Kałłaur (Author)

Joanna Gierowska-Kałłaur is professor in the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences and lecturer at the Centre of Eastern European Studies at the University of Warsaw, Poland. Her research primarily concerns the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, modern history, and 19th and 20th century empires.


Title: The Civil Administration of Eastern Territories (1919–1920)
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