thumb MoscickiNowyTarg800President Mościcki in Nowy Targ, Poland in 1929

I really like black and white photographs, and those from the time period of the Second Polish Republic have special charm. It was undoubtedly a very interesting, though not easy, period in the history of Poland. The process of merging the multinational and multireligious parts of the Republic, which until recently were part of three different states, was extremely challenging. Economically, the country was backward after many years of Partitions, three different currencies were used, and the existence of the state at the beginning of the 1920s was very fragile. It was a period of dramatic struggle for the shape of Poland's borders: the heroic defense of Lviv and the fights for Eastern Galicia, conflict with the Czechs over Zaolzie, the time of the Silesian uprisings, the Greater Poland Uprising, and the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1919-1921.

Rebuilding the state was a long and difficult process. Undoubtedly, despite the enormous difficulties that Poland was facing at that time, a lot was achieved. The extraordinary enthusiasm of both: intellectual elites and ordinary people, helped in the transformation process. In the 1920s, the Polish government introduced a monetary reform. The reform saved Poland from hyperinflation and a new currency - the Polish zloty was introduced. A number of new universities were opened; including, University of Science and Technology in Krakow, University of Poznań, and Stefan Batory's University in Vilnius was re-opened.

A few months ago, the Institute received an e-mail from a historical reconstruction group from Poland, in connection with the 80th anniversary of the defense of Tobruk (located in Libya, near the border with Egypt). The group wanted to see the photos of the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade's soldiers. We keep many photos of the Independent Brigade in our archives, thus the email was an impulse for us to digitize another part of our collection. This time, we managed to prepare an unique collection, a great source of the information about the WWII battles in North Africa. thumb SBSK1553Anthony Eden, British Foreign Secretary with the soldiers of the Brigade, October 1941

Preparing the photos for an online presentation is a tedious process, first, we have to research the collection diligently, then make a selection of photos, next the photos have to be scanned, annotated and finally posted online. After a few weeks of work, the project was successfully completed. We have posted photos showing the soldiers' training, the construction of the Latrun camp, fortifications near Tobruk, exercises and combat operations of the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade's soldiers. In the black-and-white photos we see soldiers' difficult life in the desert, all the sacrifices; fight in unfavorable weather conditions, under the constant threat from the enemy.

The Pilsudski Institute of America is named after none other than Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, whose leadership and efforts largely contributed to Poland’s independence. 
thumb Marszalek w Belwederze800Marshal Pilsudski at Belvedere palace 1930r.

Our archives contain many photos, letters and documents that illustrate Pilsudski’s character, personality and life. As for any historical figure, the interpretation of such records allows us to better assert an individual’s role in history. The following photographic collection depicts Pilsudski with soldiers, family and significant historical figures living during his time period. There are likewise many portraits and individual pictures that convey his character and physical appearance.

Born in 1867 Zułów, then under the Russian Empire, Jozef Pilsudski was born into a patriotic family where Polish literature, history and culture were daily present. In 1887 he was exiled to Siberia as a result of affiliation with a Russian revolutionary movement. Following his return, he became actively involved in the Polish Socialist Party. At the start of World War I, Pilsudski formed the First Cadre Company, arguably becoming Poland’s most important military leader. After World War I, Pilsudski served first as Chief of State, then Marshal and twice as a prime minister of Poland. Informally, de facto, he was a leader of the Second Polish Republic.

The collection of Marshal Pilsudski's photos




Marshal J. Piłsudski was an independence fighter, a statesman, the "father" of reborn Poland in 1918. The charismatic leader, an experienced, sometimes even ruthless politician, in private life was a warm and affectionate person, appreciating family life. When he retired from political life in 1923, the manor house in Sulejówek at the outskirts of Warsaw, became his favourite place. The Marshal loved this house, called "Milusin". In Sulejowek, he enjoyed the family life, the company of his wife Aleksandra and daughters: Wanda and Jadwiga. He liked taking strolls in the garden and watching his favorite pasque-flowers grow.

Z corkami sepiaJ. Pilsudski with his daughters: Wanda i Jadwiga.

In "Milusin", the Marshal was working on his book "The reminiscence of Gabriel Narutowicz" and "The Year 1920". Although Piłsudski officially withdrew from political life, the most important state decisions were still made in Sulejówek. In 1926, after the May Coup, the Piłsudski family had moved to Warsaw and settled in Belweder Palace. However, "Milusin" remained their family residence.

Ministerstwo Kultury
Biblioteka Narodowa
Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowych
Konsulat RP w NY
Fundacja na rzecz Dziedzictwa Narodowego
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs