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Władysław Grabski

Władysław Grabski (1874–1938) was a politician, social activist and economist. He came from an old family of landed gentry. He studied in Poland, France, and Germany. In his youth, he sympathised with socialist ideas, but quickly moved closer to the nationalist ideology. In 1905, he was arrested by the Tsarist authorities and briefly imprisoned at the Pawiak prison for participating in a campaign for self-government and the polonisation of public institutions in the Kingdom of Poland. He was a delegate to three successive sessions of the Russian Duma in the years 1905–1912.

After the outbreak of World War I, he became a member of the Central Citizens’ Committee (Centralny Komitet Obywatelski) and the Polish National Committee (Komitet Narodowy Polski). In 1918, he was briefly imprisoned by the Germans as a representative of the anti-German sentiment. In 1919, he was elected a member of the Legislative Sejm (Sejm Ustawodawczy) on behalf of the Popular National Union (Związek Ludowo-Narodowy), and then he became Treasury Minister in the government of Leopold Skulski.

Grabski became Poland’s prime minister for the first time during the Polish-Soviet war in 1920. He represented Poland at the international conference in Spa, but the failure of the negotiations resulted in Grabski’s resignation. In the years 1923–1925 he once again became head of the government, in which he also served as Minister of the State Treasury. Under his leadership, the Polish government carried out currency and fiscal reforms, which resulted in the introduction of a new currency, the Polish złoty, improvement of the state budget, and suppression of hyperinflation. He resigned from his post in 1925, after which he withdrew from political life, devoting himself to scientific and journalistic work.

Grabski published many works in the field of agrarian economy, seeing the peasant class as the foundation of the nation’s strength. He laid the groundwork for a new area of science – rural sociology. In 1935, he published a paper entitled Idea Polski [An Idea of Poland], in which he analysed the internal situation of Poland, warning against the numerous dangers threatening the recently reborn Polish Republic.

Other key works by Władysław Grabski include Historia Towarzystwa Rolniczego [The history of the Agricultural Society], Materiały w sprawie włościańskiej [Case materials on the issue of peasants], Dwa lata pracy u podstaw państwowości naszej (1924-1925) [Two years of work at the foundations of our statehood (1924-1925)], O własnych siłach [On our own].

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