Karl Radek


The political situation in Poland
and Pilsudski’s provocation policy

(19 October 1921)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. I No. 7, 11 November 1921, pp. 53–54.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2019). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The situation in Poland becomes more intense every day. The main factor that aggravates this situation is Poland’s complete financial bankruptcy. The weekly, The Tribune, a Polish opportunistic sheet presents the following picture of the approaching catastrophe in its issue of the 5th of October:

“A Swiss franc now costs from 600 to 900 marks; for 100 Soviet rubles one gets 2 or 3 Polish marks. What does that signify? Merely that Polish currency stands 18 times nearer to the Soviet currency than it does to the Swiss. This relation can be graphically represented as follows: the Polish mark is 1 kilometer to the right of the Soviet ruble, 1½ km to the left of the German mark, 9 km from the French franc, and 18 km from the Swiss franc Two years ago one received 4 Polish marks for 2 French marks. Now the French franc costs 400 Polish marks. In the course of two years Polish exchange suffered an unheard of depreciation – 10,900 per cent. For two years the Polish currency was sinking at the rate of 15 per cent per day, or 0.6 per cent per hour. During the same period the exchange of ‘poor Austria’ sank only 1,400 per cent, or 2 per cent per day. From March of this year until autumn the currency dropped 360 per cent. These are only relative figures. Were we to use an absolute scale (i.e. – one gold franc=0.8 Polish gold marks) the depreciation of the Polish currency would then equal 28,000 per cent in 200 days, or 140 per cent per day. That means that a person possessing 100,000 Polish marks on April 1st could then buy 715 carats of gold; today the Polish government gets for the same sum only 385 gold carats. The signifies that the possessor of the 100,000 mark suffered a daily loss of 1½ carats.’’

This financial situation, which makes all import impossible and which is paralyzing Polish industry, causes a fabulous price increase and may lead to a complete social catastrophe. The Polish bourgeoisie has decided to carry out finance reforms. For this purpose it summoned the banker Michalski from Lvov, a former tax-inspector, and invited him to unroll his salvation plan before the Sejm. This plan is very simple The State obligated itself in the previous year to purchase the land from the land-owners, leaving not more than 60 hectares to any one landowner in the industrial districts, not more than 400 in the Posen, Podol and Wolin districts, and no more than 180 hectares tn the other Polish regions. The land thus purchased was to be given over to the small peasantry. The minister of finance now proposes to annul this law of the 16th of July, 1920, which was passed in order to stimulate the war-lust of the peasantry. Now that there is no war for the moment, the Government is to withdraw from all its obligations and leave the purchase of the land from the Junkers to the peasants. The State is to be cleared of all financial obligations. At the same time the eight-hour day is to be displaced by a ten-hour day. Such measures will yield no favorable results just now, not even for the capitalists, because unemployment increases from day to day. These measures may serve, however, as a substitute, which will present the Junkers and capitalists, together with the Agrarian reforms, a sum of 80 billion Polish marks. But Mr. Michalski is playing the part of a saviour. His plan will not save Poland’s financial situation, not even if the ruling classes would give 80 billions of paper marks, which is doubtful. The depreciation of the Polish currency would stop only for a moment, because its main cause lies in the lack of faith which the bourgeoisie of the world has in the Polish bourgeoisie’s policy. This distrust is clearly shown by the refusal to extend large credits since there can be no talk of any economic restoration of Poland. The attempt to establish the ten-hour day will lead to considerable social unrest, which is already heralded by the demonstrations of 60,000 workers in Warsaw. The annulment of the Agrarian reforms will speed up the process of radicalization among the poor peasants and the village proletariat. The latter will be supported in their march to communism by the small peasantry. Mr. Pilsudski and the National-democrats are surely conscious of the growing danger. That is why the war-clique of the Belvedere (Pilsudski’s palace) as well as Roman Dmovsky’s clique are striving for a dictatorship, so that as payment for a war with the Soviet republic they can get a big loan from France, and by bleeding the Polish proletariat secure the hinterland.

The intentions of Pilsudski are beyond the shadow of a doubt. In his conference with Panafieu, the French ambassador io Warsaw, and with General Nissel, the French military agent, he declared himself to be in complete accord with the war projects of France against Soviet Russia. The recent attempts of the second division of the Polish general-staff at provocation of the Russian Embassy in Warsaw, clearly established the fact that Mr. Pilsudski will try in the course of the winter to bring the situation to a head, so that he can launch his attack in the spring, which time Mr. Pilsudski and the French general staff consider more favorable because of their expectations that the famine at that time will be more intense. The national-democratic press speaks in a more moderate tone, but it would be folly to trust it. The representatives of this party agreed with Panafieu’s idea of a campaign against Soviet Russia. They only demanded that the military dictatorship be given to General Dowbor-Musnitzky or Haller, and not to Pilsudski. The truth of this is established not only by our sources, but also by those of the Manchester Guardian, which published these reports based on information from its London representatives. It is understood of course, that the success of such a move depends upon the annihilation of the Communist movement in Poland.

When a few weeks ago we declared that the Communist victory in the sick-benefit elections meant that Communism is gaining ground in Poland, and that its victories were having a great influence upon the Polish government’s policies, Robotnik, the official organ of the Polish Social-patriots, and the inofficial organ of Mr. Pilsudski, laughed at us. During this time the Communists received a majority of votes in the sections in Sosnovitz, the center of the coal industry; they received 16,000 out of a total of 26,000 votes. The opportunistic weekly, the above-mentioned Tribune, writes: “Poland is at present permeated by one great fear, the fear of Communism.” The national-democrats proposed in the Sejm the following: “Membership in the Communist Party should be considered high treason and punished by court-martial.” We do not know whether the Sejm will approve this measure. One thing is certain however, Mr Pilsudski knows only too well, that such a measure can in no way scare away a class which could not be broken even by the courts-martial of Czarist absolutism. Pilsudski is surely preparing a greater coup. He wants to prepare a bloodbath for the Polish proletariat. The recent demonstrations have surely strengthened the self-confidence of the workers: Mr Pilsudski only hopes that these demonstrations repeat themselves more often, and render the workers more militant in their demands. Then he could fight them with cannon instead of with police-agents.

We hope the Polish Communists will consider the situation from a sober point of view. Thanks to the chaos in Polish industry, and thanks to the scattered condition of the Polish proletariat, its social influence is now much less than before the war. Alone, without the aid of the villages the proletariat cannot seize power. As a result of Poland’s economic decay, the village movement will grow. The repeal of the agrarian laws will speed it up, and bring nearer the moment when the proletariat will no longer be isolated. The Polish Communists would commit a great strategic error, were they to force events. Their task now consists m working with all their energy for a majority of the workers everywhere; they must fight for it, and let their voices be heard loudly from the legal tribunes by the Polish people. They must launch a vast campaign in all factories against any attempt to gag the communist Dombal, in the Polish Parliament. Let the ruling classes know that the Polish proletariat will not stand for having their representative shut up. Let the ruling class feel this in their pockets. The communists should not organize demonstrations, except when the PPS and the Christian labor organisations are doing so.

The Russian Soviet Government is ready to live in peace with the bourgeois Polish government. We leave it to the Polish workers. Mr Pilsudski is making a big mistake when he thinks that he will succeed in exhausting the patience of Russia, and effect a break of relations on the part of the Soviet republic, or when he hopes to succeed in starting a fire of national enmity, preparing for war or destroying the Polish Communist Movement by force of arms. Soviet Russia will loyally fulfil the Riga agreement; it will always know how to acquaint the Polish people coolly and calmly with any provocative attempt to break that agreement. Soviet Russia needs no war with Poland. Soviet Russia regards the independence of Poland and the destruction of the national pressure, which burdened the Polish masses, as the best means of liberating the Polish people from the influence of the bourgeoisie. It is Pilsudski and the Paris war clique who need the war.

Moscow, Oct. 19, 1921

Last updated on 10 January 2018