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.

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.

A large painting by Wojciech Kossak (1856-1942) - Pilsudski on Horseback, is one of the most recognized artpieces of the Institute's collection. Kossak is a leading representative of the historical style in art. One of the most famous portraits of Józef Piłsudski was painted in 1928. It depicts Marshal on his famous horse - Chestnut. Piłsudski is located centrally, in the foreground, there are three officers of the cavalry corps in caps, with symbolic colors of the rims: magenta, white and yellow. The scene takes place at the edge of a pine forest. The artist painted several very similar portraits of Piłsudski on horseback. One of them from 1928 can be seen at the National Museum in Warsaw, while another from 1933, is kept at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in the Vatican. thumb 800Pilsudski on Horseback, Wojciech Kossak

Kossak wanted to pay tribute to Marshal Pilsudski, one of the most influential persons in the history of Poland, the one who changed the future of the nation in 1918.  At that time, Piłsudski was already 61 and was already seriously ill. It was a time when Pilsudski could be proud of himself - after a long battle, Poland regained its independence.

At the Institute's online collection, one can research documents about the life, military and political activity of Marshal Pilsudski. Additionally, documents about the fight for Polish borders 1919-1921, are also availiable. From the completely digitized collection of the Adjutantura General of the Commander-in-Chief (1918-1922), as well as from the files of the Chief of General Staff of the Polish Army, Gen. Tadeusz Rozwadowski, the researchers can learn more about the of Battle of Warsaw of 1920.