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Roman Dmowski

At the outbreak of World War I few Polish politicians had a clear vision of the future. Among the exceptions was Roman Dmowski, the co-founder, leader and ideologist of the national camp. In his book Germany, Russia and the Polish Cause (1908), Dmowski voiced the opinion that Germany posed a major threat to Polish aspirations for independence. In this concept Russia was recognized as a weaker enemy because in spite of its great efforts it could not wholly Russify the territories conquered during Poland’s partitions. For Dmowski, support for the anti-German coalition of France, Russia and the United Kingdom, in view of a plausible victory of this alliance, could initiate favourable processes for the Poles: first - a reunification of all provinces of the former Polish Commonwealth under Russian rule, and afterwards – a gradual separation from the Tsarist Empire.

From summer 1914 Dmowski advocated the Polish point of view in numerous countries. However, by 1917 the position of Russia in the Entente was too strong to openly seek support in Western capitals for the idea of a reactivation of the Polish Commonwealth. This situation changed after the toppling of the Tsarist regime and the significant weakening of Russia’s military power. In August 2017, Dmowski chaired the Polish National Committee in Paris, which was recognized by France, United Kingdom and Italy as the beginning of the Polish government.

On 11 November 1918 the war ended in Europe, and on 22 November Józef Piłsudski was declared the Chief of State and formed the Polish government. Based on an agreement between both statesmen Dmowski became an accredited delegate to the Peace Conference in Paris.

At this Conference Dmowski – who could fluently speak several languages – evocatively presented Polish territorial demands to the leaders of the victorious countries. Although not all of these claims were met, Dmowski’s substantial influence exerted on the decisions taken during the Versailles Treaty regarding the Polish-German border renders him one of the fathers of independent Poland.

Andrzej Chojnowski