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Independence DayMyth, Symbol, and the Creation of Modern Poland$
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M. B. B. Biskupski

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658817

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658817.001.0001

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Formalization of a Discourse, 1926–35

Formalization of a Discourse, 1926–35

(p.46) 4 Formalization of a Discourse, 1926–35
Independence Day

M. B. B. Biskupski

Oxford University Press

When Piłsudski returned to power the 11th became a central part of the Piłsudskiite project to re-invent Poland. The principal goal was unity, vitally important for a country with 30 percent of its population minorities. Piłsudski attempted a victory of the ‘state’ versus the ‘nation’ concept in Polish political discourse in which civic patriotism would replace membership in the national community as the definition of a Pole. To make the ‘state’ attractive to all elements of the country — and not just ethnic Poles — required new symbols for a new patriotism. Here the 11th bulked large. It was, after all, the celebration of victory not, like so many Polish holidays the commemoration of sacrifice and defeat. The 11th was proffered as representing of Poland's psychological victory over historic depression. It had created a ‘new Pole’. Piłsudski's bizarre radio address on November 11th, 1926 suggested that the restoration of Polish independence on that day had magical properties and had worked a fundamental transformation of the Polish soul.The practice developed of beginning the celebration of the 11th on the night before — perhaps an effort to assimilate the Catholic religious practice of celebrating the Vigil of the Lord's birth. Redoubled efforts were made to include all citizens in the national celebration of the 11th. Even the smallest cities held ceremonies and minority participation was specifically encouraged. Only the Jewish minority participated eagerly — a harbinger of growing minority problems in the state.The right countered by an elaborate explanation for Polish independence which denied all the essential arguments of November 11th's proponents. It centred Dmowski, and dismissed local developments in favor of larger efforts in the war, arguing that the proper pictures to display on the 11th were Foch and the battlefield of Verdun. The return of independence was credited to large anonymous factors in Poland and Piłsudski and the Legions were dismissed as the efficient cause of Independence, rendering November 11th essentially fatherless.

Keywords:   Piłsudski, May Coup, minorities, state vs. nation, Jews, Dmowski, Endecja, Bbwr, Brześć

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