May 12, 2018


MAY 12


May Coup:  Marshal Piłsudski led a coup d'etat on May 12 to 14, 1926, overthrowing the government of President Stanisław Wojciechowski.  Pilsudski had previously resigned his government post, in response to the Chjeno-Piast Coalition. He had strongly criticized the coalition which formed the basis of the two consecutive governments of Wincenty Witos.  Pilsudski accused the government for the assassination of President Gabriel Narutowicz and for the effects of the massive worker riots in Kraków. The second government had even less support and was overthrown in the May coup led by Pilsudski. He was supported by the Polish Socialist Party, Liberation, the Peasant Party, and the Polish Communist Party. Piłsudski had anticipated a bloodless coup, but the government had refused to back down. The subsequent violence resulted in deaths of  215 soldiers and 164 civilians. Over 900 people had been wounded.


Marshal Jozef Pilsudski died from live cancer at Warsaw's Belweder Palace. Unbeknownst to the public, his health had been declining for several years.  Immediately, the Polish Communist Party attacked Piłsudski's legacy as fascist and capitalist, though fascists did not consider him as one of them. Other opponents of the Sanation regime were more civil; socialists (such as Ignacy Daszyński and Tomasz Arciszewski) and Christian Democrats (such by Ignacy Paderewski, Stanisław Wojciechowski and Władysław Grabski) expressed their condolences. The peasant parties were split in their reactions (Wincenty Witos expressed criticism of Piłsudski, while Maciej Rataj and Stanisław Thugutt were supportive), while Roman Dmowski's National Democrats expressed a toned-down criticism. Jozef Pilsudski  is regarded as the Father of the Polish Nation. He once described himself as a descendant of the culture and traditions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He believed in a multicultural Poland,recognizing ethnic and religious diversity, and maintaining a strong alliance with independent states of Lithuania and Ukraine. He proposed the creation of an "Intermarium" federation, comprising Poland and other independent states in the Baltic region to establish a balance of power between Germany and Russia.  His main opponent was Roman Dmowski whose vision of Poland was founded on ethnically centred Polish demos and Roman Catholic identity.


Leopold "Poldek" Socha  (died on May 12, 1946) Socha was a Polish sewage inspector in the city of Lwów (now Lviv, Ukraine). During the Holocaust Socha used his knowledge of the city's sewage system to shelter a group of Jews from Nazi Germans and their supporters of different nationalities. In 1978 he was recognized by the State of Israel as Righteous Among the Nations.  In 1946 Socha and his daughter were riding their bicycles when a Soviet military truck came careening toward them. He steered his bicycle in her direction to knock her out of the way, saving her but dying in the process. After his death the Jewish people Socha had sheltered returned to pay their respects.

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