January 20, 2018




Duke Wladyslaw Lokietek was crowned King of Poland. He was a Duke until 1300, and Prince of Kraków from 1305. He was nicknamed, "Lokietek" because of his short stature. (Lokietek is a diminutive of the word "lokiec" which means "ell" or "elbow", a medieval measure of length, as in "elbow-high".) For the two hundred years preceding Lokietek's birth, Poland was besieged by dynastic wars (due to infighting among the princes of each of the five provinces). During Wladyslaw's reign, he reunited these disparate provinces and restored order and stability in the Kingdom of Poland.


Treaty of Andrussovo ended the Thirteen Years War (also called the Russo-Polish War) between Tsarist Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Though the Commonwealth initially suffered defeats, it regained strength and won several battles. However, the Commonwealth's economy had been severely plundered by the Russians, so that Poland could not continue to finance a prolonged war - to do so would have incited civil war and unrest. The Commonwealth were forced under these circumstances to sign a truce which gave the Russians the extensive territories of the Left-bank Ukraine, Siever lands, and Smolensk, as well as the city of Kiev, among other terms. It was a truce signed for 13.5 years during which time both states agreed to prepare the conditions for the eternal peace. It marked the beginning of the rise of Russia as a great power in Eastern Europe.


At the end of World War One, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, and imposed several restrictions on the German nation.  As a result of President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, the Treaty also restored the sovereignty and independence of Poland -  after 123 years of oblivion. The Second Republic of Poland (1920–1939) was granted control of 130 km of the Baltic shoreline in the corridor dividing East Prussia from the rest of Germany and the entire Duchy of Posen.


The Wannsee Conference was held in Berlin, led by Reinhard Heydrich,  to coordinate a Europe-wide "Final Solution of the Jewish Question", and to ensure the cooperation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the deportation to Poland of European Jewry, their detention in extermination camps located in the General Government (Nazi-occupied Poland),and their systematic murder. Although killing of Jews had already been underway, the persecution and murder of Jews reached unprecedented levels after Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. By the end of World War II, 6 million Jews had been killed through starvation, disease, murder, as well as 4 to 5 million ethnic Poles. Many other victims were non-Jews and including Germans and Soviets. These statistics do not include all the Nazi genocides committed.


Winston Churchill met with representatives of the Polish government-in-exile in an effort to break the diplomatic impasse with the Soviets. Churchill pressured the Poles to accept the Curzon Line as a basis for discussion, explaining that the Soviets' need for security as well as their enormous battlefield sacrifices to liberate Poland from the Germans entitled the Soviets to ask for revision of Polish frontiers. Churchill promised in return to challenge Moscow's demand for changes in the Polish government.


The German Evacuation of East Prussia towards the end of World War Two. It is not to be confused with the expulsion after the war had ended, under Soviet occupation. The evacuation was initiated due to German fears of the advance of the Red Army during the East Prussian Offensive. Some parts of the evacuation were planned as a military necessity, such as that of Operation Hannibal. But many German refugees fled of their own accord due to the reports of Soviet atrocities against Germans still in Soviet-controlled areas.


Wladyslaw Gomulka won Poland's parliamentary election. Gomulka was the de facto leader of post-war Poland until 1948 and again from 1950 to 1970. Initially, his reforms were very popular, ie a "Polish way to socialism" but during the 1960s he became more rigid and authoritarian, unwilling to permit changes, and supported the persecution of the Catholic Church and intellectuals (particularly Leszek Kołakowski, who was forced into exile).


Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish-American diplomat served as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from January 20, 1977 to January 20, 1981. Before that he was a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1966 to 1968. Major foreign policy events during his time in office included the normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China (and the severing of ties with the Republic of China on Taiwan); the signing of the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II); the brokering of the Camp David Accords; the transition of Iran from an important U.S. ally to an anti-Western Islamic Republic; encouraging dissidents in Eastern Europe and emphasizing human rights in order to undermine the influence of the Soviet Union;  the arming of the mujahideen in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; and the signing of the Torrijos–Carter Treaties relinquishing U.S. control of the Panama Canal after 1999.

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