Poland lies at 52 00 N and 20 00 E, which places it in the midst of several ancient empires. These empires include the German and Russian/Soviet which overran the country during World War II. One major deficit Poland has is no natural boundary. To the north there is the Baltic Sea. In the Baltic Sea, Poland has three major seaports, Gdynia, Gdansk, and Szczecin. In the east, the border runs along the Bug River which separates the country from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. In the south, there are the tall Tatra Mountains to separate the country from Slovakia and Czech Republic. To the west was the Odra River which separates it from Germany.
Another reason for Poland’s difference is its uniqueness in Europe. It’s the only Northwestern European non-Germanic country. There are other smaller countries like Finland, but they are too influenced by other big countries. On the other hand, Poland is large enough to be noticed, developed distinct cultural traits, and develop unique art, architecture, and personalities of the people residing in there.
Poland is a relatively small country, nearly the same size as New Mexico, Unites States. During winter, Poland has cold temperatures, cloudy days and nights, as well as moderately severe winters. In the summer, the temperature is mild and the country has frequent showers and thunderstorms. It’s mainly flat plains which give a lot of living space and a mountainous south. The story of the struggles and endurance of this country began at approximately the tenth century.
Poland’s recorded history began in the tenth century when the eastward spreading of the Holy Roman Empire found the well organized state of Polanie, which had been developing a separate Slavic culture for approximately 200 years. In the marriage of Bohemian princess Dobrawa in 966 Prince to Duke Mietszko, many Christian missionaries arrived in Poland to Christianize the area. This marriage also produced the Piast dynasty (reigned 960-1370), which reigned the country for a long period of time. Under the rule of the Piast dynasty, Gniezno became the first official capital of the country and a writing system was developed. After the death of Duke Mietszko, Boleslaus I (reigned 992-1025), became the new ruler of the country. By now, Poland had become officially Christian and joined the ranks of the Medieval European Countries.
After generations of succeeding Polish monarchs, the country started crumbling because of the constant invasions of alien armies. A prince of a region in Poland invited the Teutonic Knights, a German Crusading Order, to destroy the tribes of northern Poland. By 1288, they had conquered the tribes of northern Poland and settled in the area. They soon became a major power and tried to expand their power. The expansion started threatening nearby countries.
King Wladyslaw Lokietek, of Lithuania, soon united the Polish and Lithuanian armies to fight the Teutonic Order. Casimir III, son of King Wladyslaw Lokietek, increased the power his father gained. He fortified the country, created laws, and stimulated trades. He also increased migration of Jews into the country, because almost all other Medieval European Countries had persecuted them. Using his powers as King, he created treaties with the Teutonic Order and Bohemia. In Krakow, city founded by King Krakow, he created the first Polish university.
In 1370, Casimir “the Great” died and ended the Piast Dynasty. His nephew, Lous I from Hungary (reigned 1370-1382) and the French d’Anjour Dynasty, became kind, but came to a quick end. The problem was that he had only two young draughts to inherit his throne. After the death of Lous I, Jadwiga (reigned 1384-1399), the younger of the two daughters, became Poland’s Queen. Knowing that the country required a ruler with leading capabilities, she married Jagiello, the archduke of Lithuania. The marriage created an alliance between Poland and Lithuania. Jagiello was then baptized and crowned King of Poland, as well as began being known as Ladislaus II (1386-1434).
Probably around the mid-13th century, the Teutonic Knights started extending their territory. They expanded from the area around the village of Stary Torun to the vicinity of wooden settlements that were recently destroyed in a Prussian raid. Soon, the joint forces of Poland and Lithuania faced the power of the Teutonic Order at Grunwald in one of the largest battle of medieval times. Even though King Jagiello triumphed, he could not exploit his victory. The Teutonic forces retreated to the safety of their great fortress at Malbork. Fighting continued over the following thirteen years when the land along the Vistula River up to Gdansk rejoined the Polish Empire. The land under the control of the Teutonic Order (later became East Prussia) became an important state of Poland.
The late 15th and early 16th centuries were the height of the Jagiellonian Dynasty. It was a Golden Age for Poland, the alliance of Poland and Lithuania strengthened the eastern borders against incoming invasions. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was also being influenced by the European Renaissance. The arts and sciences flourished during the Jagiello dynasty. At the same time of the Golden Age of the Jagiellonian Dynasty, a group of people names the gentry were beginning to acquire great political influence. In 1572, the Jagiellonian Dynasty came to an end and a reform in the government of Polish began.
Since then, the king would be chosen by an assembly of nobles known as the Sejm. Their election system had some flaws much like any political system. The candidates were from royalty outside of Poland. The first elected king was Henryk Walezy who was brother of Charles IX of France.
Using near-war situations with the Cossacks and the Tartars and troubles within the Polish Commonwealth, the Swedish invaded Poland. A new King was soon elected, King Jan Kazimierz. The Polish people soon began to push the invaders out of Poland and in 1665; the Sweden’s signed a peace agreement with Poland. A Turkish invasion threatened Europe and Poland entered into an alliance with the Hapsburg monarchy of Austria.
The method by which Kings were elected was very weak and disorganized. Corruption and disorganization among the nobles in Poland soon led to elected officials who didn’t have Poland in their top priorities. In 1772 Poland began to lost territory as Prussia, Austria, and Russia began taking portions of Poland. Seeing an opportunity, a group of reformers in the Sejm, the noble’s senate, began work on a written constitution. On May 3rd, 1792, the Polish constitution was finalized passed.
Originally, Poland hoped that Napoleons conquest of much of Europe would benefit Poland. Poland soon allied them with France, but the demise of France also brought de-stability to Poland and several generations of corruption and disorganization. The beginning of World War I brought hope to the people of Poland that perhaps their nation could be unified once more.
Two political groups soon became to be because of the war, each had very unique and different ways to revitalize and strengthen Poland. One side sided with the Germans and the other side sided with the Russian. The movement of Russia soon came through Poland. Many people were nearly forced to join both sides. Soon, the Allies won the war and Poland was left in chaos. Woodrow Wilson, current president of the US, wanted a fully restored and free country of Poland. Armistice Day, day in which World War I fighting ended, is currently a national holiday in Poland. In the next few decades, Poland’s attempted to restructure itself, but their attempts soon came to a devastating end.
World War II was a tragedy for Poland.
On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and soon, France and Britain announced war against Germany. The German armies went through Poland quickly and stopped near the Russian borders. The Polish government soon escaped and moved their headquarters to Britain. On Sept. 17, Russian troops invaded Poland. Poland’s resistance was crushed and the country was split between Germany and Russia. In 1941, Germany set out to attack Russia, codenamed Barborossa, and all of Poland soon went under German rule.
When Russia began their attack on Germany, Poland was forced to be in the middle because it’s in-between Germany and Russia. Throughout the war, Poland was always under control by either the Russian’s or the German’s. During the war, Poland suffered tremendous losses in life and property. The German’s killed a large part of the population by massacres, starvation, and extermination in concentration. Approximately six million Poland citizens were killed and two and-a-half million were deported to Germany for slavery. Poland Jews suffered the worst casualty rate, there were over three million Jews in Poland before the war, and after the war there was a mere one-hundred thousand Jews.
During the next half a century, Poland was under the control of the Russians, formerly known as the Soviet Union. Even though Poland was technically a free and separate country, it was under the control of Russia. When the Russians turned World War II around, they settled in the territory they conquered and didn’t recede back to the mainland of Russia. In the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Poland was one of many countries that separated from the Soviet Union and caused its demise.
Due to the reforms instituted in the early 1990s by Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz, Poland’s economy began to stabilize. A major problem in this was an increasing unemployment rate which was nonexistent when Russia controlled the country. An important part of the reforms was the privatization of over fifty percent of the country. A stock market was put in to the previous headquarters of the Communist Party.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes in Poland was the relationship between it and Russia, formerly known as the Russian Federation. Poland wanted to stabilize its relationship to Russia because it was a huge trading partners and an important factor in their economy. Warsaw is currently the political and economical center of the country. In 1997 Poland was invited to join NATO and since, has been approved for membership by most of the NATO countries.
The reason I chose Poland was because of it’s proximity to my heritage. It borders the country I was born in and is very similar to the culture I come from. Also, it was the best choice of the two I received. Our society has not learned a lot from it if anything, but it influenced our society a lot.
Because of the invasion of Poland by the German’s in the late 1930’s, World War II begun. This caused much war and conflicts in Europe which in turn indirectly influenced the United States. The United States later entered the war and the Allies (group of countries that the United States was part of), won the war. During the war, the national economy was restarted because of the need of wartime supplies. Women now began to be a major part of the workforce, which in the end, benefit